Conservative icon Weyrich repeated Winter Soldier falsehood

In Paul M. Weyrich's commentary, posted October 19 on conservative news websites and, Weyrich repeated the discredited claim that testimony given in the 1971 Winter Soldier Investigation, from which Senator John Kerry drew parts of his Senate testimony later that year, has been “proven ... false.” Weyrich is chairman and CEO of the conservative Free Congress Research and Education Foundation. His official bio notes that he has been described as “one of the conservative movement's more vigorous thinkers.”

From Weyrich's October 19 commentary:

His [Kerry's] testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during which he indicted his fellow servicemen in Vietnam, claiming that they committed all sorts of unspeakable atrocities, was typical left-wing tripe. It turned out that the accusations were totally false.

The so-called Winter Soldier hearing conducted by Kerry and Jane Fonda had testimony from soldiers who claimed to have committed the atrocities. It later was proven that this testimony was false. Many of the men who testified never set foot in Vietnam. Others were nowhere near where they claimed to have committed or witnessed these terrible acts.

As Media Matters for America has repeatedly noted, Kerry simply recounted in his Senate testimony the stories of other Vietnam veterans who returned to the United States and related their personal experiences in the Winter Soldier Investigation. There is no credible evidence of a Winter Soldier witness being discredited (though one witness claimed in September that he lied in his testimony).

MMFA has also documented that while conservative historian Guenter Lewy claimed in his 1978 book, America in Vietnam, that a Naval Investigative Service report about the Winter Soldier allegations had discredited many of the witnesses and accounts, Naval Criminal Investigative Service public affairs specialist Paul O'Donnell could not confirm this report's existence.

Further, a February 14 Baltimore Sun article cited Lewy himself as admitting that “he does not recall if he saw a copy of the naval investigative report or was briefed on its contents.”

Invoking the frequently used right-wing tactic of seeking to link Kerry to actress and prominent antiwar activist Jane Fonda, Weyrich claimed that the Winter Soldier Investigation was “conducted by Kerry and Jane Fonda.” As noted in an October 17 San Francisco Examiner article, the investigation was “financed in part by Fonda”; however, she apparently did not attend. Kerry served as a moderator on one panel of witnesses who testified, according to a February 22 article in Newsday. As MMFA has documented, Fonda has said that “she does not recall meeting Kerry during the antiwar movement.”

Weyrich is considered to be one of the founders of the contemporary conservative movement. As well as being the current chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Foundation, he is the founding president of the conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation and founder and former director of the American Legislative Exchange Council.