Anti-American Rhetoric Used in Torture of POWs
Former POW Jim Warner today told HUMAN EVENTS that he first learned about Lt. John Kerry in a North Vietnamese prison camp. When his captors brought him out of solitary confinement in the infamous Skid Row punishment camp for an interrogation, they made him read the typewritten transcript of a statement by Kerry, speaking in the United States. His interrogator kept pointing at Kerry's words, saying, 'See? This officer from your Navy says you deserve to be punished.'"
"All I could think of was that this must be a really contemptible human being," said Warner, although We can't expect the rest of the country to share our disgust at Kerry for turning on us. A lot of people are too young to remember that."
But the Kerry campaign has worked tirelessly to remind all voters of Vietnam, focusing almost entirely on his experience as a Vietnam veteran.
Since then, when speaking in nearly every forum and on nearly every issue, Kerry has emphasized the fact that he is fit to be president because he knows what war was like--he was there. At the Democratic convention, he even began his acceptance speech with a salute, telling the crowd of loyal Democrats that he was "reporting for duty."
"It wasn't a very good salute," remarked Warner, his voice strained with a decades-old bitterness. "If you're going to run as a war hero, somebody at least ought to teach you to salute."
Warner said his first experienced Kerry's anti-American rhetoric in 1971 when he was a Marine first lieutenant suffering in solitary confinement in the Skid Row punishment camp. His F-4 fighter had been shot down three and a half years earlier, and since that time he had been tortured and interrogated regularly. He was in a special punishment camp at the time with 35 other POWs who had been uncooperative when their captors tried to prohibit religious observances in their cells.
One morning--Warner thinks it was a Saturday--his captors brought him out for an unusually long three-hour interrogation, during which they made him read the transcript of a statement by a U.S. Navy officer and Vietnam Veteran speaking in the United States. The speech included a litany of war crimes American soldiers were committing in Vietnam.
However, Warner acknowledges that the statement could have come from of a number of speeches Kerry gave during his career as an anti-war protester.
Tom Collins, another Vietnam POW whose plane was shot down in 1965, was made to listen to Kerry's testimony on tape during his captivity. He explained that the North Vietnamese were constantly trying to elicit confessions of war crimes from Americans, promising them better treatment.
"What they wanted to do was get us to make statements that they could use for propaganda, no matter what it took to get it" he said. "They would torture us, some were even killed for it...For over seven years, their goal was to get propaganda out of me. And then I see somebody like John Kerry and the Vietnam Veterans [Against the War] giving them the same propaganda they want me to give them, free of charge, on American television."
"He knew he was putting us at risk," Warner went on. "And he was demanding unilateral withdrawal, which means our value as bargaining chips would be gone. And what do you think would have happened to us then?"
"We can forgive and forget," said Collins. "But then when he decides to bring it up and run for the highest office in the land based upon outright lies, we're not going to stand for that."
These charges by POWs and more questions about John Kerry's "war hero" status have been generated by the release of the blockbuster new book Unfit for Command (Regnery, a HUMAN EVENTS sister company) and two TV ads produced by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. The book and the ads deal not only with the dubious claims of heroics surrounding the various medals Kerry received during his four-month tour in Vietnam, but also with his virulent anti-war and anti-American actions upon his return from the war.
Human Events Online was the first to post the full transcript from Kerry's April 22, 1971, testimony and the Q&A before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the war in Vietnam online. The full document can still be read, in its original format, here.