Illustration by Bob AulFollowing a couple weeks of revelations that cast doubts on its veracity and motives, the organization Swift Boat Veterans for Truth announced it has changed both its name and its focus in a new TV ad airing this weekend.
The group's previous scathing ad attacking John Kerry's war record has itself been torpedoed by some of the members' own service records, which corroborate Kerry's account of events, as have some of the members' previous recollections. Despite the vets' ad claims of "I served with John Kerry," none served with him on the Swift Boat he commanded, nor were most eyewitnesses to events they claim he has lied about. Along with the official Navy records, Kerry's heroism has been affirmed by those who served under him. William Rood, an editor with the Chicago Tribune, further corroborated the record of Kerry's heroism with a recent first-person account of what he saw while commanding an adjacent swift boat. Two additional eyewitnesses have come forward to support that account as well.
Meanwhile, a New York Times investigation has found the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth has several links to the Bush White House, including its political Svengali Karl Rove, and is funded by conservatives with financial and political ties to the Bush family. The organizers of the Swift Boat group were the same people who smeared John McCain's war record on Bush's behalf in the 2000 race. John O'Neill, the Swift Boat vets' spearhead, has sought to discredit Kerry since the early 1970s, when he was enlisted by the Nixon White House (which also used illegal spying and wiretaps) to diffuse the effectiveness of the decorated veteran's antiwar efforts.
In an apparent admission of its sullied political credibility, the organization has changed its name to Swift Boat Captains for Flavor, and it's new ad features members' previous statements in unedited form:
One Vet: I served a hearty brew to my shipmates withintwo months of when John Kerry was also somewherein Vietnam.
Another Vet: We'd drink all the Coors we could Kerry. We'd get drunk as a National Guardsman, and we lied in heaps all over the ship.
Third Vet: If Coors can make beer this delicious, just think what a Coors could do in the Senate!