A Winter Soldier footnote

Earlier this week the Wall Street Journal published a powerful column by the former Romanian intelligence officer Ion Mihai Pacepa. The subject of Pacepa’s column was the destructive effect of the left’s intemperate attacks on the president. Buried in Pacepa’s column is this intriguing paragraph:

During the Vietnam War we spread vitriolic stories around the world, pretending that America’s presidents sent Genghis Khan-style barbarian soldiers to Vietnam who raped at random, taped electrical wires to human genitals, cut off limbs, blew up bodies and razed entire villages. Those weren’t facts. They were our tales, but some seven million Americans ended up being convinced their own president, not communism, was the enemy. As Yuri Andropov, who conceived this dezinformatsiya war against the U.S., used to tell me, people are more willing to believe smut than holiness.

The themes identified here by Pacepa were of course products of the “Winter Soldier investigation” in which John Kerry participated. Kerry featured each of the themes identified by Pacepa in his testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in April 1971. Pacepa’s comments warrant attention.
I saw Kerry regurgitating his Foreign Relations Committee testimony when he appeared at Dartmouth on the second floor of the student center later that spring as head of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War. One of the students in the audience stood up to walk out on Kerry’s speech and shouted to Kerry as he approached the steps to go down to the first floor: “You phony. You’re just in this to promote your own career.” Kerry was only momentarily flustered, bending down to the microphone and asking the guy to stay and talk after he’d already gone down the steps. At the time I couldn’t believe the obtuseness of the student; I bought Kerry’s act completely.
In her column yesterday, Michelle Malkin names the phenomenon represented by Kerry “Winter Soldier Syndrome.” She diagnoses its current manifestation in Scott Thomas Beauchamp and the New Republic and concludes:

Winter Soldier Syndrome will only be cured when the costs of slandering the troops outweigh the benefits. Exposing Scott Thomas Beauchamp and his brethren matters because the truth matters. The honor of the military matters. The credibility of the media matters.

And there are at least a few “editors” (if not readers) who profess to believe Beauchamp’s bilge with less excuse than I had for believing Kerry’s in 1971.
UPDATE: Reader Tom Heard reminds me of Pacepa’s 2004 NRO column
“Kerry’s Soviet rhetoric.”
JOHN adds: Pacepa’s NRO column is more detailed and more devastating, with regard to Kerry, than his WSJ piece. If Pacepa is credible, John Kerry built his political career as a willing dupe of a hostile foreign power, the U.S.S.R. There was a time when such a history–especially an unregretted history–would disqualify a politician from prominence as a national leader; that time is gone, apparently.
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