Unfit to review

Today’s New York Times Book Review carries a predictably lame and misleading review of Unfit for Command by Newsweek reporter Susannah Meadows: “Hostile fire.” A reader has forwarded us the response to this review sent to the Times by Steve Sherman and Bud Barnes. We contacted Mr. Sherman this morning and he has kindly granted us his permission to reprint the reponse here:

Susannah Meadows’ review of Unfit For Command should be embarrassing to the New York Times. Unfortunately, she lacks both military and investigative experience. Her review just parrots the Kerry campaign’s impugning of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, but offers no facts or analysis, and reflects no knowledge of the details revealed by actual investigators.
Her sole venture into the facts is to say that “Navy records have discredited the book’s claim that Kerry lied to get his Bronze Star and third Purple Heart.” The Navy did state that the medals were issued at the proper levels of command and that it is not looking further into the matter. But Judicial Watch stands ready to challenge the Navy’s avoidance. She ignores the fact that more than sixty men who witnessed Kerry’s actual actions have signed sworn affidavits citing false claims in the reports authored by Kerry. Tom Lipscomb’s Chicago Sun-Times articles have proven that Kerry authored the misleading “After Action Report,” which was integral to his award of the Bronze Star and third Purple Heart.
[Michael] Dobbs at the Washington Post also investigated the Bronze Star and third Purple Heart, concluding that the story raised additional questions and that further investigation was blocked by Kerry’s failure to fully release relevant documents. What the non-veteran commentators fail to appreciate is the expectation of integrity from both officers and enlisted personnel (unlike journalists and politicians) and the collective concern regarding Kerry’s demonstrated lack of integrity in his actions during and after the war. Unlike Kerry’s accounts, the Swiftees’ rebuttal resonates with Vietnam veterans. Indeed, the attorney at the Beldarblog challenged the entire internet to prove a single “unsubstantiated” charge in Unfit For Command, and found no one able to do so.
In the remaining five paragraphs of the review, Ms. Meadows asserts that Swift Boat Veterans’ anger toward Kerry is not to be trusted. She maintains that Kerry did not heap false calumny on all Vietnam veterans in his 1971 testimony, but just repeated what others said. Anyone can read the news reports of 1971 and know that is untrue. They can listen to any POW held in Hanoi in 1971 and know that it is untrue. Kerry knew that many of the vets he cited had not served in Vietnam or otherwise and their yarns have subsequently been proven false. Veterans have the insight and maturity to see through the continuing, self-defeating slurs and lies touted by Kerry.
Ms. Meadows is apparently not embarrassed by her incompetent review. But the New York Times should be. It is regrettable that the newspaper of note would not adopt a new watchword: “I’ve Just Begun to Investigate!”
Very respectfully submitted,
Steve Sherman
Houston, TX
5th Special Forces Group 1967-68, presently Archivist/Historian for Special Forces in SE Asia.
Bud Barnes
Little Rock, AR
Lieutenant Commander, US Navy Retired, a former Navy Seawolf helicopter gunship pilot providing close air support to the Swift Boats in the lower Ca Mau Peninsula, 1969.
Messrs. Barnes and Sherman have been identifying and locating personnel involved in these operations and not heretofore mentioned in the media.

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