Garrett tried to discredit Winter Soldiers with irrelevant factsSeptember 16, 2004 12:45 PM EDT ››› GABE WILDAU
On September 14, FOX News Channel general assignment reporter Major Garrett falsely suggested that the 1971 Winter Soldier Investigation has been discredited by errors in a 1970 book by Mark Lane that relied in part on witnesses who later testified at the Winter Soldier Investigation. (The investigation formed the basis for Senator John Kerry's 1971 Senate testimony.)
In fact, though several individuals Lane interviewed for his book, Conversations With Americans: Testimony from 32 Vietnam Veterans, were exposed as frauds, none of those discredited witnesses testified at the February 1971 Winter Soldier Investigation.
On the September 14 edition of FOX News Channel's Special Report with Brit Hume, Garrett tried to use Lane's errors to discredit Kerry's April 1971 testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee:
GARRETT: Months after the Winter Soldier Investigation, Kerry told the Senate, U.S. war crimes in Vietnam were widespread and condoned at the highest levels of command, attributing that to Winter Soldier testimony.
But even before the Winter Soldier Investigation was convened, a journalist raised serious questions about claims of massive U.S. atrocities. Many Winter Soldier witnesses also appeared in a 1970 book called Conversations With Americans, which New York Times reporter Neil Sheehan found riddled with errors. The author, Mark Lane, a Winter Soldier organizer, told Sheehan he would not correct the mistakes.
In a review published a month before the Winter Soldier Investigation, Sheehan said, "This kind of reasoning amounts to a new McCarthyism, this time from the left. Any accusation, any innuendo, any rumor is repeated and published as truth."
In fact, while Sheehan's review of Lane's book identified interviewees Greg Onan and Michael Schneider (aka Dieter von Kronenberger) as unreliable and also severely undermined the accounts of Terry Whitmore and Garry Gianninoto, none of these men testified during the investigation, according to Winter Soldier transcripts.
As Media Matters for America previously explained, there is no credible evidence of a Winter Soldier Investigation witness being discredited (though one such witness, Steven J. Pitkin, has since claimed that he lied in his own testimony).
Further, Lane's book does include interviews with Winter Soldier Investigation participants; in the same review Garrett cited, Sheehan wrote of Lane's book: "Some of the horror tales in this book are undoubtedly true." He added: "Anyone who spends much time in Vietnam sees acts that may constitute war crimes. One of the basic military tactics of the war, the air and artillery bombardments that have taken an untold number of civilian lives, is open to examination under the criteria established by the Nuremberg tribunal.