More lies, smears and distortions: Limbaugh rushed to defense of Swift Boat Vets


In discussing the new attack ad by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth on the August 11 edition of his radio show, Rush Limbaugh issued a series of false statements, attacks and distortions in support of the group, formed to oppose Senator John Kerry. Limbaugh falsely accused Kerry of refusing to release his military records, incorrectly stated that it is "not in dispute" that Kerry "fled" during the combat that earned him a Bronze Star, denied one Unfit for Command co-author's partisan Republican ties, defended the other's extreme comments, and apparently referred to Kerry's Navy-issued fatigues as "Fidel Castro garb."

Limbaugh accused Kerry of refusing to release military records; they're posted on his website

Limbaugh repeatedly asserted that the Kerry campaign is seeking to "personally humiliate and intimidate" the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth rather than agreeing to "release his [military and medical] records" from Vietnam that could end this controversy "in a slam-dunk." Limbaugh said "[i]t would be nice to see his performance reviews and the history of these medals."

Kerry's official Naval records (including medals and citations), after-action combat reports, and command history for Coastal Division 11 are all readily available at the official website of Kerry-Edwards '04. A summary of Kerry's medical records was released by Dr. Gerald J. Doyle on April 23. Upon releasing the summarized records, the Kerry campaign noted that "[w]hen the U.S. Navy sent Kerry his official Naval records, his military medical records were not included. Kerry reconstituted the military medical records from his personal files."

Limbaugh claimed it "is not in dispute" that Kerry's boat "fled" before he returned to save his crewmate; official Naval records dispute this claim

Limbaugh said that in examining Kerry's rescue of former crewmate Jim Rassmann -- "John Kerry saved my life," Rassmann has declared -- "[w]hat is not in dispute is that of the four boats that were in this patrol, the one that fled was Kerry's, which is not policy." The claim that Kerry "fled" while the other boats remained has been issued recently by John E. O'Neill, co-founder of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.

As Media Matters for America has reported, O'Neill's claim that Kerry's boat fled while the other boats remained is inconsistent not only with Rassmann's firsthand account, but also with the account of Kerry's actions in his Bronze Star citation: "Kerry's calmness, professionalism and great personal courage under fire were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service."

Limbaugh claimed that Swift Boat Vets co-founder O'Neill "is a Democrat"

Two days after claiming that O'Neill is "not a Republican. I think he's an Independent," Limbaugh asserted on August 11 that "O'Neill is a Democrat" who is "trying to warn the [other] Democrats about Kerry."

O'Neill, a Houston lawyer, is a Republican -- as the Houston Chronicle noted on April 21, O'Neill voted in the 1998 Republican state primary. And, as MMFA has documented, O'Neill's ties to the Republican Party extend beyond party affiliation. An article in the January 5 issue of The New Yorker explained that O'Neill was a creation of the Nixon administration as a pro-war "counterfoil" to Kerry, who protested the war upon returning from service in Vietnam. The Chronicle also noted that O'Neill "was considered by former President [George H.W.] Bush for a federal judgeship," and in a separate article from March 31, reported that O'Neill clerked for Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist, a Nixon appointee. And since 1990, O'Neill has donated $14,650 to federal campaigns - all to Republicans.

Limbaugh said Unfit co-author Corsi has been subject to "professional business-like assault"

Citing the Kerry campaign's condemnation of the extreme comments made by Jerome R. Corsi, PhD, co-author with O'Neill of the Regnery book Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry --comments first exposed by MMFA on August 6 -- Limbaugh said "it's an amazing thing to watch these guys [Corsi and Swift Boat Veterans] now come under the professional business-like assault led by the Lanny Davises of the Democratic Party."

Limbaugh claimed that Kerry wore "Fidel Castro garb" to 1971 TV appearance

Referring to Senator John Kerry's debate with O'Neill on the Dick Cavett Show in 1971, Limbaugh claimed that "Kerry came out in Fidel Castro garb, if you recall, and I think -- yeah, no, no, no, it was another appearance where he looked like Castro in the camouflage, the greens and all that." Kerry wore a suit and tie in his appearance on the Cavett show. For his April 18, 1971 appearance on Meet the Press and testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations committee on April 22, 1971, Kerry wore his Navy-issued fatigues.

Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, 2004 Elections
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