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Letters to the editor

Deirdre C. Noble

Mr. Mazzuca writes that the swift boat controversy involving Sen. John Kerry is polarizing. He claims that he had no intention of commenting on it, as there are more important issues to discuss. There are more important issues to discuss: the decline in real wages for the second year running; the transformation of al-Qaida from an organization into a world-wide movement; the loss of over 1,000 American lives in a country that never had WMD or ties to al-Qaida; and the decline in American prestige and respect worldwide. There are many more important issues this election year, but I am compelled to address the numerous distortions and falsehoods in Mr. Mazzuca’s column, as they perpetuate the negative campaign against the only candidate running for president that served his country in Vietnam. Mr. Mazzuca’s aim is to prevent discussion of the real issues affecting Americans. Mr. Mazzuca contends that this is not simply a vendetta kept alive by one or two people. To support this assertion he writes that “hundreds of decorated veterans have questioned the senator’s Vietnam and post-Vietnam record.” In no account that I have read of the events of March 13, 1969, does it mention that hundreds of military personnel were present. Therefore, the “hundreds” that Mr. Mazzuca writes about have no first-hand knowledge of what they seem to feel so strongly about. This is a personal vendetta on the part of Mr. Larry Thurlow of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (SBVT). SBVT, according to the group’s IRS filing, is largely financed by Houston builder Bob J. Perry and the Crow family, both major Republican donors from Texas. Perry is a longtime Bush supporter who donated $200,000 to fund the ads attacking Kerry. Messrs. Thurlow and Kerry have been sparing on the issue of war crimes for over 30 years. In fact, they did just that over 30 years ago on national television on the “Dick Cavett Show.” The issue Sen. Kerry vehemently objected to on the Cavett show was the employment of free-fire zones. As a signatory to the Geneva Convention of 1949, the United States agreed to take reasonable precautions that civilians and non-combatants are not fired upon. To do so is in contravention to that international treaty. Free-fire zones mean indiscriminant firing in areas that may, and often do, contain civilians and non-combatants. Mr. Mazzuca describes then Lt. Kerry’s subordinates as “boat mates.” Using that terminology one might think they were vacationing on a house boat together. These sailors were brothers-in-arms, not “boat mates.” Mr. Jim Rassmann, whose life Lt. Kerry saved, was not his “boat mate” but a highly-trained Special Forces soldier. Thurlow claims that there was no enemy fire on the day in question when Kerry was awarded his Bronze Star. The accounts of Sen. Kerry’s crew, the man whose life he saved, and Thurlow’s own military records corroborate Sen. Kerry’s version of events. This is how Mr. Rassmann remembers that day: “On March 13, 1969, John Kerry’s courage and leadership saved my life. While returning from a SEA LORDS operation along the Bay Hap River, a mine detonated under another swift boat. Machine-gun fire erupted from both banks of the river, and a second explosion followed moments later. The second blast blew me off John’s swift boat, PCF-94, throwing me into the river.”Mr. Michael Dobbs of The Washington Post writes, “Thurlow’s military records, portions of which were released to The Washington Post under the Freedom of Information Act, contain several references to ‘enemy small arms and automatic weapons fire’ directed at ‘all units’ of the five-boat flotilla. Thurlow won his own Bronze Star that day, and the citation praises him for providing assistance to a damaged swift boat ‘despite enemy bullets flying about him.'” Mr. Thurlow would not provide his military records to the press. Since his own records contradict his current claims, it is not difficult to see why he refused. Mr. Mazzuca claims that veterans and their families feel that Sen. Kerry “did not earn the right to besmirch the honorable service of others.” Kerry knew he would be inviting personal attacks by speaking out against the war. Whistleblowers are often attacked for their lack of loyalty. And while loyalty is an admirable value, it pales in comparison with integrity. Sen. Kerry stepped forward to speak out. That is courage and integrity. I was quite surprised by Mr. Mazzuca’s claim that Sen. Kerry’s misstatement regarding the events of Dec. 24, 1968, calls into question “the senator’s action both during and after Vietnam.” Can anyone tell us where George W. Bush was for five months in 1972? Because he definitely wasn’t reporting for Guard duty. Members of the 187th Flying Squadron in Alabama never remember seeing him, ever. New revelations reported by The Associated Press, Sept. 9, 2004: “Addressing questions that have lingered for years, newly unearthed memos state that George W. Bush failed to meet standards of the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War, that he refused a direct order and that his superiors were in a state of turmoil over how to evaluate his performance after he was suspended from flying. ‘On this date I ordered that 1st Lt. Bush be suspended from flight status due to failure to perform to USAF/TexANG standards and failure to meet annual physical examination … as ordered,’ says an Aug. 1, 1972, memo by a superior officer, Lt. Col. Jerry Killian.” The men who served under Kerry have nothing but praise for his leadership and courage under fire. This stands in stark contrast to his opponents. Dick Cheney used five deferments to avoid Vietnam service. George Bush entered the Guard and then failed to fulfill his military commitment, despite the enormous expense of taxpayer dollars to train him. Sen. Kerry had the courage to serve and then had the courage to tell the truth about his experience. Now can we talk about where our country is going, instead of where it has been? Deirdre C. NobleShanghai, ChinaEditor’s note: Those “newly unearthed memos” have been found to be fabrications since Ms. Noble submitted her letter. Useful idiotsThose who spread propaganda about “the U.S. invasion of Iraq for oil” certainly do Stalin’s “useful idiot” theory proud. While the truly liberating forces of free enterprise are maligned, authoritarian political forces are misrepresented as sympathetic.Socialist influence over “human rights” groups now plays a large role in the selective “liberation” of countries. Politically advantageous or resource-poor countries are off the list. No one is liberating the masses trapped by India’s caste system, and the United Nations overlooks the legions who suffer horribly in the Sudan.However, global Marxists found apartheid a convenient way to raid South African mines and gain control of the country’s Western infrastructure. As socialist/Marxist factions weaken global stability, world currencies decrease in value as South Africa’s world-leading production of gold and diamonds proportionately increases, having the potential one day to provide enormous wealth and power.Nearly 20 years since the “liberation” of South Africa, the natives still endure some of the world’s highest rates of murder, rape, kidnapping, land pillaging and other violent crimes. (Sounds like what Democrats did for America’s inner cities, doesn’t it?) The leftist media consistently ignore or underreport these stories. Also, when riots and explosions racked South African cities and thousands of people were killed in the mid to late ”80s, the mass media portrayed these ongoing street battles as necessary to progress. Iraq, however, after less than two years, is presented as a terribly mismanaged mistake.Boycotts don’t work as with South Africa because authoritarian regimes such as Iraq’s seldom have a diversified global commerce or widespread media collusion. Indeed, the Iraqi oil boycott turned out to be a front for an oil-for-food scam that netted the United Nations and Saddam Hussein billions of dollars. As with much of the relief sent to Africa, very little went to aid the average person, who instead risked politically motivated imprisonment or execution should they dare speak out against rampant disease and inculcated ignorance and poverty.Mike SpaniolaVailWho do you trust?John Kerry is out there now assuring his audiences of veterans that he is their true brother in arms. Was he their brother in arms when he told the U.S. Congress in 1971 that every day in Vietnam his fellow soldiers raped and tortured and burned down villages – charges that have never been substantiated?I don’t know how anyone could even consider trusting this man to be our commander in chief. Which is the real John Kerry: the brother in arms, or the Kerry who betrayed his fellow soldiers lying in Hanoi prison cells where their captors played Kerry’s words over and over, torturing the American prisoners to admit to what Kerry was saying?Every chance Kerry has gotten in Congress, he has voted against important weapons systems – the very tanks and aircraft and equipment that are today protecting our country and our soldiers. After Vietnam, he gave aid and comfort to the enemy, and today he wants to put our nation’s soldiers at a strategic disadvantage.If he is elected, he has said he will withdraw our troops from Iraq. There will be nothing to prevent that whole terrorist-spawning part of the world to continue to teach its children to hate Americans for untold generations. And our country will suffer terrorist attacks unimaginable today.Joy OverbeckEdwardsBearing with itThank you for writing the very disturbing piece on Mr. Tietbohl’s shooting (with a very bad aim) the bear. I am glad he could bunk at The Ritz while the bear was bleeding in the forest. I tried to write a letter to him, but he isn’t listed in the phone book. Guess he’s not here often enough for a listing, or too important to give it out. Whether he likes it or not, he is in the bear’s space. All of us are, but most of us choose to value our endangered wildlife and make the best of it. As often stated, this is not a bear problem, but a greedy human one. As the Ritz’s rates don’t seem to bother Mr. Tietbohl, maybe he should have just checked in until the bear hibernates, thus giving him (the bear) a chance to live. Susan BlackThanks for helpI would like to thank Brian and Amy of Highline Sports and Entertainment for donating a booth at the Oktoberfest to Battle Mountain High School.This is giving us the opportunity to earn a little extra cash. All profits made from our booth will be used for the 2005 BMHS Prom. Thank you and we look forward to working with you again. Lauren VickersEdwardsWhat a wasteDon Rogers’ columns after the dismissal of this case have hit the nail on the head. Props to you for standing up to call out the prosecutors and the … accuser whose goal I believe has been just for big money settlement. I believe most Vail people feel the same way, that this case is a farce and the charge shouldn’t have been filed. What a waste of the taxpayers’ money and the emotional drains.Lisa ChiuVail, Colorado


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