Here’s what Kerry has posted on his website:
November 1, 2006
Statement of Senator John Kerry
As a combat veteran, I want to make it clear to anyone in uniform and to their loved ones: my poorly stated joke at a rally was not about, and never intended to refer to any troop.
I sincerely regret that my words were misinterpreted to wrongly imply anything negative about those in uniform, and I personally apologize to any service member, family member, or American who was offended.
It is clear the Republican Party would rather talk about anything but their failed security policy. I don’t want my verbal slip to be a diversion from the real issues. I will continue to fight for a change of course to provide real security for our country, and a winning strategy for our troops.
He didn’t slander me, so it isn’t for me to say whether this is an apology. Active duty military serving in or just returned from Iraq can e-mail me their responses and I will post them. Unlike the MSM, I understand it is up to you to accept or reject Senator Kerry’s statement.
I also note, though, that on Imus this morning, Senator Kerry resurrected his 35 year old slander on Vietnam era veterans:
Incidentaly, when you say I have done something in the past I have told the truth in the past. I have never done anything except tell the truth. And I’m not going to take anybody’s comment to suggest that somehow my telling the truth was a mistake. The American people rely on the truth, and when I came back from southeast Asia, I told the truth, and I am proud that I stood up and told the truth then, and I have told the truth about Iraq every single step along the way.
Other veterans of that era are welcome to weigh in on this statement.
UPDATE: From a master sergeant combat medic:
I was the Air Force combat medic who called you yesterday seething with rage over the esteemed senators comment as I had just returned from Iraq a little over three weeks ago. (from my second tour of duty) As I see it, Mr. Kerry has effectively “non” apologised. He did not say these words in public but released them via his web site…frankly, thats a chicken**** way to go about it. It also arrives about 24 hours too late, smacking of the after shock of a phone call from Bill Clinton basically telling Kerry to get on the bus or be thrown under it… the damage has been done in my opinion….and just to think, I used to think John O’neil was an idealogue…”Oh the times they are a changin'”
And a second Air Force master sergeant:
Master Sgt, Air Force, 3 tour Iraq.
Do I accept Kerry’s apology.
1) First Kerry said I was stupid.
2) Then he said I was stupid if I thought he said I was stupid for a
3) Then he apologized, said that the policies and actions of my
country and my fellow service members in Iraq were stupid — in
essence calling me stupid for voluntarily supporting them.
4) Then in apologizing, he said that I’m stupid for thinking the
Democratic mindset towards the military is a “diversion” from real
issues — my believing this to _be_ a real issue marks me stupid.
Leaving aside his reaffirmation of his Vietnam “testimony,” he’s only
apologized for #1. He still owes me a policy for 2, 3, and 4.
Mark Steyn’s not buying it. Neither is Geraghty. Which doesn’t go to the question of whether active duty military who have served or are serving in Iraq buy it, but suggests that the master sergeant above will not be alone in his contempt for the statement.
From an Air Force major, also an MD:
I would normally say yes, if it had not been qualified as the previous explanation was. He still says we misinterpreted him. The truth is we took him at his literal word for word quotation. If he misspoke, ok that’s all he had to say. Instead he basically said we weren’t smart enough to understand what he meant. It still seems like a highly qualified “apology”.
Christopher Hitchens hasn’t heard from military insulted by Kerry’s remark or skeptical of his “apology.” His e-mail –which he provided for me to post– is firstname.lastname@example.org. Feel free to copy me: email@example.com.
You asked for veterans of the Vietnam War to comment on Kerry’s recent statement. Here is my comment:
I did not hear his 1971 testimony because in April 1971, I was under triple-canopy jungle somewhere in III Corps. I did see his testimony later, and it has stayed with me since 1971 until now.
My reaction when I came back and saw what he had said, was that while my unit was under fire, while my platoon was taking casualties, he had sold us out. He betrayed us while we were taking casualties. And I have not forgotten it.
The week that John Kerry gave this testimony, seventy five — seventy five — U.S. service members were killed in action while he was simultaneously stabbing them in the back and telling falsehoods about them. Seven were killed on the day of his testimony, 22 April 71.
What I might say about his testimony is not important. What is important was his own words. Listen to his words. Listen to what John Kerry himself said, to the country, to the nation, to the United States Senate in 1971.
People under 40 don’t realize what it was like — they were just kids back in 1971 — they don’t realize that his testimony was part and parcel of a campaign among the so-called antiwar crowd to absolutely vilify, not just the war, not just the policy, but the individual soldiers who fought the war: “baby killers,” “war criminals,” and the like. And his testimony has to be viewed in that light and as part and parcel of that effort.
So here is what he said. He said that,
“In addition to the normal ravages of war, soldiers in Vietnam had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in a fashion reminiscent of Genghis Kahn, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam.”
Those are his words, not mine.
What was he actually saying about the U.S. soldiers who were there at the time and before? Here is what he said — his words, not mine — about the soldiers:
“The country doesn’t know it yet, but it has created a monster, a monster in the form of millions of men who have been taught to deal and to trade in violence” –that’s you infantrymen out there — “and who are given the chance to die” — think about this next phrase every time you see him when he talks as he did just last night about how “I served this country as a young man” — “who have been given a chance to die for the biggest nothing in history.”
There you have it: “monsters” dying “for the biggest nothing in history.”
Was he saying this was an aberration, individuals gone wild, or was he saying it was part of a policy? He left absolutely no doubt about that. Again, his words, John Kerry’s words:
“The torture of prisoners, the killing of prisoners, all was accepted policy” — not just by a few — “but by many units in South Vietnam. . . . It is part and parcel of everything.”
Could he really have meant that? Could this man who was at the time an officer in the United States Navy really mean that? Absolutely, he left no doubt about it. He repeated it. Again, his words, not mine:
These things that he described, he said, “These were not isolated incidents, but were crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command.” “Full awareness of all officers at all levels of command.” “All officers,” he said.
This was not a man ‘shooting from the hip,’ this was not a comment ‘off the top of his head.’ We know now that this was a carefully crafted speech written by a former speechwriter for Robert Kennedy who sat with John Kerry and crafted these words that he spoke so carefully. And he tells the American people that all levels of command — that means from platoon on up — were part and parcel of this effort to torture people, to murder prisoners and to raze villages in a fashion reminiscent of Genghis Kahn.
It was a calculated assault on those of us who fought there.
John A. Lucas, 1970-71 infantry veteran of the 1st Cavalry Division.