Friday, August 06, 2004

The sound of crushing dissent 

My friends at Swift Boat Veterans for Truth are under fire again, 32 years after President Nixon declared the end of major combat operations in Vietnam.

This is
the ad that got them into trouble. This is the letter from Kerry's lawyers.

God, I love legal drafting! The ability to intimidate the non-legal folk with big words and bold assertions, even if your case doesn't have the legs to stand on. Brings back some fond memories of the law school.

Let us look briefly at what the letter says the ad said, and what the ad actually said:
"The advertisement contains statements by men who purported to have served on Senator Kerry's SWIFT boat in Vietnam..."
No, it doesn't. The ad is clear that the men served with Senator Kerry, which has a quite broad meaning.

"Further, the 'doctor' who appears in the ad, Louis Letson, was not a crewmate of Senator Kerry's and was not the doctor who actually signed Senator Kerry's sick call sheet. In fact another physician actually signed Senator Kerry's sick call sheet. Letson is not listed on any document as having treated Senator Kerry after December 2, 1968 firefight."
I wonder if the quotation marks around the word doctor imply that Letson is merely pretending to be one? Gosh, that would be defamatory, wouldn't it? But I'm more fascinated by the legalise hair-splitting. Louis Letson never claims that he was Kerry's crewmate. Notice also that the letter doesn't actually say that Letson in fact did not treat Kerry - only he hasn't signed the official document and is not listed on any document, which proves... just what exactly? That he hasn't signed the official document and is not listed on any document. Can anyone repeat after me, "Depends on what the definition of 'is' is"?
"Moreover, according to news accounts, Letson did not record his 'memories' of that incident until after Senator Kerry became a candidate for President in 2003."
And? Why would he have? Kerry's military record in Vietnam did not become an issue until after Kerry became a candidate for President in 2003. Alas, poor Letson, not only is he a "doctor" but he also has "memories." "He" probably only "served" in "Vietnam" and "attended" to other "soldiers."

And in the end we have the usual vast right-wing conspiracy charge thrown in for a good measure:

"The group [Swift Boat Veterans for Truth] is a sham organisation spearheaded by a Texas corporate media consultant. It has been financed largely with funds from a Houston homebuilder."
Which has no bearing on whether the people appearing in the ad are telling the truth. Secondly, the Democrats can of course speak from the position of moral superiority, because the ads that attack President Bush miraculously finance themselves from a pot of gold found at the end of the rainbow.

Glenn Reynolds says: "Well, if Bush had threatened legal action to block Michael Moore's film from showing, I know what people would say." But not the ones in the media.


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