- The Washington Times - Friday, August 20, 2004

Medal or meddle?

Judicial Watch filed a request yesterday with the U.S. Navy and the Defense Department for an investigation into awards granted to Sen. John Kerry during his service with the U.S. Navy in Vietnam.

The District-based legal group also wants to look into Mr. Kerry’s anti-war activities, including “a meeting with North Vietnamese and Viet Cong delegations in Paris, while he was a member of the Naval Reserve.”

They note that “unresolved allegations against Kerry include: false official reports and statements; dishonorable conduct; aiding the enemy; dereliction of duty; misuse and abuse of U.S. government equipment and property; war crimes; and multiple violations of U.S. Navy regulations and directives, the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the U.S. Code.”

Meanwhile, multiple Washington Times readers have questioned Mr. Kerry’s military records posted at his Web site (www.johnkerry.com) — which they think have been amended for effect.

They note that although Mr. Kerry received citations signed by two admirals, duplicate citations were signed by Navy Secretary John Lehman a dozen years after Mr. Kerry served in Vietnam, with “words added that personally aggrandize Senator Kerry,” according to one observer — a retired Navy admiral.

Mr. Kerry also amended his discharge papers in March 2001, “burnishing his Vietnam Service medal by adding four bronze service stars,” noted another. “Why anyone would go through that effort to make meaningless changes is beyond me.”

Screen gems

Both parties have seized upon the military records of President Bush and Sen. John Kerry as fodder for argument. But the conservative Media Research Center (MRC) has found that ABC, CBS and NBC are siding with the Kerry cause.

The three networks devoted 75 stories on Democrats’ accusations that Mr. Bush had been “AWOL” during his service in the Alabama Air National Guard, but featured only nine stories on Mr. Kerry’s “embellished war record” and gave “no respect to Swift Boat vets for truth,” noted the MRC’s Richard Noyes yesterday.

“Back in February, the three broadcast networks were obsessed with the story of President Bush’s National Guard service. But in May, when John Kerry’s former Navy colleagues from Vietnam went to the National Press Club to charge that Kerry’s tales of heroism as a Swift Boat commander were highly exaggerated, those same networks acted as if their job was to bury the news, not report it,” Mr. Noyes said.

Hearken to Harkin

Sen. Tom Harkin referred to himself as a “fighter pilot” in a speech he made last year.

That’s a loaded statement from the Iowa Democrat.

To understand the greater implications, we must hearken back to Monday, when Mr. Harkin criticized Vice President Dick Cheney’s military service deferment during the Vietnam era and called him a “coward.”

Press accounts of the incident by the Associated Press and other news organizations dutifully described Mr. Harkin as a onetime “Navy fighter pilot,” though he was, in reality, a less glamorous transport pilot.

The phenomenon peeves the Wall Street Journal, which noted in an editorial yesterday that Mr. Harkin “is a proven fabricator when it comes to his own Vietnam-era record.” The paper cited its 1991 story that quoted Mr. Harkin saying he had flown “F-4s and F-8s on combat air patrols” over Vietnam.

“It turned out Mr. Harkin had not seen combat and was stationed in Japan,” the paper stated.

But Mr. Harkin described himself as fighter jock much more recently, proof that the lawmaker is not too anxious to amend his flying designation.

“I spent eight years, eight months and eight days as a fighter pilot for the United States Navy and Naval reserves. There is no person who is more proud of our men and women in uniform today than I am,” Mr. Harkin told a group of Colorado Democrats during a March 15 speech in Denver in 2003 — the text of which is available at the lawmaker’s Senate Web site.

Clinton vignette

There was no blue dress evident. But a 957-page memoir, DVDs, a cell phone and campaign buttons? Sure.

That’s what went in former President Bill Clinton’s official “time capsule,” which was buried yesterday in front of the $165 million Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, set to open in November.

The 200-pound, stainless steel capsule was hoisted into a vault below Celebration Circle, the grand driveway outside the front door. It was buried in honor of Mr. Clinton’s 58th birthday and will be unearthed in 100 years.

“I encourage you, the readers of this message, to work together for a safe, happy, and successful future, and to never stop thinking about tomorrow,” Mr. Clinton wrote — on a typewriter — in a letter to future excavators.

Ted to Tom

Oh dear. Even lawmakers can’t always fly the friendly skies.

The Senate Judiciary Committee got an earful yesterday from Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. Owing to an unexplained error, the Massachusetts Democrat ended up on the dreaded “no fly” list, a security measure meant to catch would-be terrorists before they board an aircraft.

U.S. Airways ticket agents eventually would allow Mr. Kennedy on the Washington-Boston shuttle.

After a spate of phone calls, Mr. Kennedy was able to fly home. But the process was repeated when he returned to Washington, according to the Associated Press.

It took three more calls to Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge before Mr. Kennedy could get his name stricken from the vexing list — a process that took three weeks, the lawmaker said.

Bush vignette

Along the campaign trail, President Bush faces appreciative audiences and surly Democrats alike. Wednesday’s rally in St. Paul, Minn., was typical.

His supporters had almost filled the 18,000-seat Xcel Energy Center, home to the NHL’s Minnesota Wild. Mr. Bush rolled into the arena on his campaign bus to applause worthy of a rock concert — or a winning goal.

“It sounds like a Wild game in here,” said St. Paul Mayor Randy Kelly, a Democrat who broke with his party to endorse Mr. Bush.

But Minnesota liberals were feisty outside the arena. Several dozen protesters greeted the presidential bus and motorcade, holding signs that read “Bush eats babies,” among other things.

Not to be outdone, Kerry supporters lounged at the outdoor tables of a tavern across the street, drinking beers, turning thumbs down and a single finger up to the buses as they passed.

Mr. Bush lost Minnesota in 2000 to Al Gore by 2 percent. A poll released by Strategic Vision on Aug. 3 shows that Mr. Kerry’s once-comfortable lead for the 10 Electoral College votes in the state has shrunk to 2 percent.

Contact Jennifer Harper at [email protected]washingtontimes.com or 202/636-3085.

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