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O’NEILL: Yes. We — it’s not simply me — but Admiral Hoffman, our commanding officer in Vietnam, then a captain but now an admiral, started calling all of us basically last January and February. We got together in March, and what we did, na?ve souls that we were, we issued a letter to John Kerry saying basically, “Kerry, please admit you lied about our record back in ’71 and also in your book tour, and please straighten out your record and quit exaggerating it.” We had a press conference in Washington. We thought that people would go ahead, it would be covered, and then the matter would be straightened out. Instead of that, it received a little coverage but not very much, and we realized that writing a book was the best possible way of getting what is complicated, but is pretty conclusive evidence, in front of the American people. So my job, then, was to go ahead and write the book, and I began and did write the book with the assistance of more than 60 guys who were right there with Kerry. I’ve given the royalties from the book away so that there won’t be any question that I’m trying to exploit our unit like Kerry has, and the book is divided into two parts. Half deals with his actual service in Vietnam and half with what he did afterwards.
RUSH: Did all of the swiftvets that worked with you on this know fully well what you were getting involved in as you joined a presidential campaign, so to speak?
O’NEILL: I think I did. I think I knew that when we sailed our little boat up alongside his battleship, that he would attack us all just as he did in ’71. To be fair, I don’t think that some of our guys did. We have several people who have been very viciously attacked that, you know, are tremendous heroes of the United States. I mean, they’re legends within the Navy, and I don’t think that they knew quite the violence of the attack would be directed towards them.
RUSH: That’s somewhat surprising given the attack machine that the Democratic Party has demonstrated it’s capable of mounting, going back. I mean, you look at what happened to Monica Lewinsky, the Arkansas state troopers, Gary Aldrich. Now, these are single individuals and it was easy to attack them. You’ve either got a group of 60 or over 200 here. The thing I’ve noticed, Mr. O’Neill, about all of this is that your campaign, your effort is working. Now, when I look at these things impartially and I try to figure out when you have two virtually competing stories, when somebody starts changing theirs, it tells me that the first version isn’t true. It seems to me that your story isn’t changing. It seems to me that Senator Kerry is changing a lot of his story to the extent that he’ll deal with it. What struck me is that if you guys are lying, if you guys are strictly a political organization that is working in cahoots with people, and he can disapprove it, then he would. He would have done it right out of the box and he would have gotten rid of you guys and maybe sailed away to the election in a landslide. But he doesn’t address what you’re saying. He changes his version of the story.
O’NEILL: That’s what’s amazing, Rush. Honestly, this guy pretends to be a war hero. Forget that he was no hero, but at least he could have the integrity to come out in a sensible way, admit where he lied, set forth a straightforward version. Instead, when I go on shows there’s always some Washington lawyer on the other side or there’s never anybody that was really there because they know, like his Christmas in Cambodia story, they’d all start laughing even on his side. This story that he told about “no man left behind” where all of our boats were supposed to have fled and he came back, and in reality he fled and everybody else stayed to save the three boat, the same thing is true. He won’t ever find a swift boat guy that will say that, because it’s a lie. Would have to change the physical facts of the three boat actually being blown up, unable to move and keep on the water.


RUSH: One of the things that has struck me about this is we have two competing sets of veterans. In your case the swift boat vets. John McCain and the mainstream press, Kerry allies, have come out and immediately assumed that you all are dishonorable, even though you personally have been following this course since 1971. Everybody that remembers your Dick Cavett Show debate with then-Vietnam vet against the war Kerry. But nobody to my knowledge is examining the honorable status of Kerry’s band of brothers. This is disquieting. As I said to the audience on Friday, there’s a part of me that resented Kerry reopening this whole Vietnam wound by making his four months there the centerpiece of his presidential campaign. The other side of me says, “No, that’s good because those wounds have been festering and they haven’t healed and this is evidence of it, and it’s about time we square this.” And I think that’s the role you’re playing here and it’s a good one.
O’NEILL: I think that’s really true, Rush. We haven’t attacked. There are very few people from our division that support Kerry. I guess he had 12 or 13 people on the stage. He may be able to produce 15 or 20, or something. We have 254 I guess so far that have signed our letter, they include 17 of the 23 officers that bunked with him most nights there and during the limited period of time he was there and the whole chain of command, most of the sailors. I think it’s very, very important for two reasons. First, I don’t think you can have someone as commander-in-chief of the United States that comes back and fabricates war crimes charges against the people that he was there with and against everybody else. I just can’t conceive that in a free democracy, forget anything else or forget any party, that we would ever make someone like that president of the United States, particularly after they admit that the charges they made were exaggerated, over the top, not true, in fact were total lies. Second, I cannot conceive that where a guy shows up, even, you know, two or three weeks ago at the Democratic convention and fabricates major stories that are just totally untrue, that we would ever consider such a person to be commander-in-chief.
RUSH: Well, especially since he’s made that the centerpiece of his campaign. Which part of the story is it that you think grates most on you and your group? Is it his postwar activities or —
O’NEILL: It is, to be fair. The portion of it that’s more captured press attention is the first half of the book Unfit for Command. To all of us, though, when he came back and he met with the North Vietnamese, I mean, he met with them in Paris on almost the same day that our boat, the 94 boat, that he had commanded and that I was then commanding, was rocketed. He came back and said that we were “like the army of Ghengis Khan,” that we were “committing war crimes on a day-to-day basis,” that our officers were like Lieutenant Calley. Rush, we had people that sat and died. I mean, several of them very close to my boat. I had one guy die literally on my helmet because they went up into a canal without opening fire just to broadcast at very slow speeds. We did everything we could do to reduce civilian casualties, and so you can imagine what a — I mean, the day he testified is the day as deeply emotional to the people in our unit, many other Vietnam veterans, as the day the Challenger went down or when Kennedy died, because it just dropped directly at the heart of all of us, our service, and the people we lost there.
RUSH: And he didn’t see any of this. He even says that these are stories others told him, that he assumes and assigns to everybody else. Something else about this: why didn’t Senator Kerry, if he heard about this and saw some of this while he was there, and admits to engaging in some of it himself, why didn’t he report it then? Why didn’t he go to a commanding officer and say, “Hey, atrocities are taking place. This is not right.” Why did he wait till he gets back to start making political hay out of this, if it was so bad and so rotten when he saw it or heard about it? Why didn’t he stop it then or try to?
O’NEILL: And as the book details, he was exactly the opposite. He was considered too aggressive, if anything. He never protested, never reported anyone. On that Dick Cavett Show I said, “Look, if some of this stuff occurred, tell people. For God’s sake tell people and let’s go prosecute whoever was involved.” That was all those years ago. They never showed with anything. Of course, many of the people he was relying on were documented fakes. I mean, they were never in Vietnam. The classic is the guy who was the cochairman, the founder of his organization, Al Hubbard, who supposedly was a pilot in Vietnam wounded by shrapnel who had blown up villages, who turned out to never have gone to Vietnam; he was a sergeant in the Air Force on disability from playing on the basketball team and hurting his back. But the book Stolen Valor recounts case after case of total fakes.

RUSH: Senator Kerry says he’s released all of his records. It’s on his website. Is that true?

O’NEILL: Totally false. A good example of a record not released is his January 20th, 1969 report where he lies about this junk incident in which a small family is — what is obviously a tragedy — is shot and he reports it instead as a huge squad of Vietcong and reports the mother and baby as prisoners captured in action. There are many other examples. He has a ledger, a record, a diary that he maintained on Vietnam. He gives friendly people a peek at it but won’t produce it. His medical records he will not produce. They, of course, would, you know, show that he had minor or non-existent injuries, and spent no time off. His first Purple Heart, there is no hostile fire report, and there is no casualty report as required for any Purple Heart. Instead, there’s nothing to support it at all.

RUSH: What do you say about — or what were your thoughts on Senator Dole’s comments yesterday about, ‘He hasn’t bled. He didn’t spend any time in the hospital’?

O’NEILL: I was really proud of Senator Dole. It has to be hard to come forward. Look, we’re all coming forward because this is a deeply personal thing. We just have to speak. We don’t have a choice.

RUSH: How are you afraid this will manifest itself in a Kerry presidency? What kind of things would you be frightened of because of these, what you claim are lies, distortions, untruths of his service?

O’NEILL: The problem you really have, Rush, is this man as commander-in-chief is a disaster. In the military, trust has to run from the lowest guy all the way up the chain to the commander-in-chief. They have to believe that if something happens to him, he’s going to come back in and get them. They have to believe that he’s going to support their service. They have to believe in what he is saying. What we have here is a guy who is exactly the opposite. I mean, who came back to the United States and betrayed literally the guys he was in the field with at exactly the same time, who lied over and over and even characterized them as war criminals for political benefit, and then who has told massive lies about his own experience there. I’m going to tell you, I don’t think the kids that are out there, I think they’re coming home if this guy is the commander-in-chief, and I have one of them, it’s my nephew, and an awful lot of children of my friends.

RUSH: We’ve got to take a break here. We’ll come back here, and I want to ask you about the whole strategy of the Kerry campaign, get your reaction to it, of trying to take a war that nobody liked, pluck a hero from it, make it valorous in that sense, and then try to turn the current Iraq situation into Vietnam all over again. It’s hard to follow this, and I think maybe I can get your insight as to — because you’ve gotten to know him in your own ways and you know people who have known him personally.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: We’re honored to have John O’Neill with us here today for the hour as we talk about where they are now in the swift boat vet campaign and their effort here to educate and inform the American people as to their view of Senator John Kerry. Let me ask you about this question specifically, and this has to be at the root of one of the things that bothered you given the second half of the book. Here you have a war which the Democratic Party back then despised. They called it ignoble. It was immoral. It was unjust and almost criminal, and John Kerry comes around after the war and promotes that for apparent political gain. Now all of a sudden the Democratic Party, desperate during the war on terror to be able to say they have a candidate who was a war hero, pluck John Kerry out of a war they hated and despised and now try to turn that war into something valorous and him into something valorous — which you dispute in the book — and at the same time they do that, they then try to take the war in Iraq and the war on terror and try to make it sound as though it’s no different than Vietnam. We have presidents ‘lying’ to get us involved. We’ve got conspiratorial reasons. It seems to me it plays right into your hands.

O’NEILL: I think I speak for every one of us. We may have different feelings in our group about the war in Iraq, but we feel very, very strongly that the people that voted for that war, including Kerry, should support those kids over there and not just with mouth language but I’m talking seriously. With respect to what he did Vietnam, it’s just unbelievable. He wrote a book, Rush, called The New Soldier. He wrote it in 1972. It begins with a caricature of the Iwo Jima Memorial and it goes downhill from there. It’s basically a collection of many false war crimes confessions.

RUSH: Is this the one he doesn’t want anybody to see?

O’NEILL: He won’t let anybody see it. I’ve offered to reprint it. It costs, you know, over a thousand dollars to buy it on eBay. I promise you, Rush, any American voter whether they’re Democrats or Republicans, whatever they are, if you stick that in their hands and say, ‘Look, you’re going to have to tell the kids, the kids in the armed forces this is the new commander-in-chief.’ None of them would vote for him. So what he’s attempted to do is suppress that book, The New Soldier.

RUSH: Now, what is it that makes you think he hasn’t changed? Is it his Senate voting record?

O’NEILL: He’s the same guy, completely the same guy, that everybody knew. You could start with the total lies at the Democratic convention about what he actually did in Vietnam. It’s exactly the same thing. It’s the lies he told in Vietnam to his commanders to get medals there. With respect to the ability to flip-flop, when he was in Vietnam he was regarded as sort of a harsh operator. People wouldn’t operate with him because his fire control was so bad. He’d fire at anything, and then he comes back from Vietnam and instantly he’s a war protester, supposedly, and we’re all criminals. So we have a guy, at the heart of him there aren’t the values and stuff that we all had. This is a guy literally where there’s absolutely nothing there except ambition, no loyalty to comrades, no, allegiance to the truth.

RUSH: I was going to say —

O’NEILL: — just basically ambiguous.

RUSH: — it sounds like a totally calculating individual that you portray here. He’s in Vietnam, behaves in a certain way to be perceived a certain way; comes home, finds out the public mood is different, changes the way he looks and says what he did, all to be received favorably at that point in time. No core there, it sounds like.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Making the complex understandable, Rush Limbaugh, the EIB Network, talking with John O’Neill, the author of Unfit for (Command). Welcome back, Mr. O’Neill. First off, real quick question: What’s the availability of the book? I’m hearing back orders, people going into stores unable to get it, some people thinking bookstores are purposely not stocking it. What’s the status?

O’NEILL: Everybody is trying to get the book out as fast as possible. The easiest place to buy it, Rush, is on Amazon.com where it’s delivered, you know, pretty darn promptly. You know, we basically wrote this book so that people would read it and not for any other reason. We just begged people to try and get hold of this book. Also Barnes & Noble, can be ordered online from there, too.

RUSH: And you’re up to 500,000 copies scanned; is that right?

O’NEILL: That’s what they say, 550,000 copies that either have been printed or —

RUSH: You’re going to outsell Bill Clinton before this is all over. You might outsell Hillary Clinton before this is all over.

O’NEILL: And if it does, that will be a great thing because people will pick up an awful lot of information from this, and also will generate a nice royalty check for an awfully nice charity.

RUSH: Which is?

O’NEILL: I’m not sure if I should say, but what we’ve offered is, I’ve offered my total royalty interest in this to the Navy and Marine Corps Relief, which is the organization that aids —

RUSH: Children?


O’NEILL: — families of people that are killed, servicemen —
RUSH: Feel free to. I’m very involved in one of those of my own, the <a target=new href=”http://www.mc-lef.org/”>Marine Corps Law Enforcement Scholarship Foundation</a>, does the same thing. That’s tremendous.
O’NEILL: — and that’s exactly where the total royalty interests attributable to me has been offered, and we hope that they’ll accept that. If we don’t, the money will also be given to another charity.
RUSH: I don’t think you’ll have any problem having it accepted. I’m glad I asked. Now, I want to hear it from your words. I’ve heard the story what happened in the river with Jim Rassmann. In fact, somewhere in my stack today, the Kerry camp has changed this, or I don’t think changed it, or somebody “misspoke,” but somebody, it might have been Tad Devine or Podesta, somebody, claims that Kerry now dove in after Rassmann. I always thought he pulled Rassmann out. Let me start with what is John Kerry’s version of this story, and then tell us what your eyewitnesses say really happened.
O’NEILL: Yes, sir. Kerry said in over $50 million of advertising and at the Democratic convention, this was the famous story of March 13th entitled “No Man Left Behind.” Actually that was the name of his ad that he ran: “No Man Left Behind.” According to his story, a mine went off near another boat. There were five swift boats. They all began to take off. The mine went off near Kerry’s boat. This knocked Rassmann in the water. There was intense fire, you know, small arms fire after these boats —
RUSH: Enemy fire?
O’NEILL: Enemy fire. The five boats cleared the kill zone, and then Kerry looked back and realized Rassmann was no longer there, and then single-handedly Kerry had been wounded by the water mine, both in the hip and had a bleeding arm. Nonetheless, despite his wounds, he led his boat back in and under terrible fire he crawled up to the bow, and I guess he dove in now, but in the old days, he pulled him out supposedly with his wounded arm. What this story is, is a total fabrication built around a small truth, and it’s a very demonstrable fabrication. I might explain it if that’s okay.
RUSH: Sure, go right ahead.
O’NEILL: There are three basic elements to the story that are a complete lie. The first element of the story is Kerry’s wound. The Kerry camp has now admitted that although Kerry reported to the Navy that his hip wound came from an underwater mine, that his wound actually came from throwing a grenade into some rice earlier that morning when there was no enemy fire and no enemy around. He simply was playing around. He threw a grenade into some rice and got a tiny amount of rice and shrapnel in his fanny.
RUSH: Pardon me. Is there a strategic reason, like blowing up food stocks, blowing up rice, or is it just a thing to pass time?
O’NEILL: I think it was just horsing around. Nobody would ever throw a grenade into rice to try and destroy it. It doesn’t destroy it, Rush, as far as I can tell. But be that as it may —
RUSH: Thought that.
O’NEILL: — he had a tiny, I’m talking tweezer and Band-Aid deal.
RUSH: Yeah.
O’NEILL: What he did was report to the Navy that it came from a water mine. Now, that seemed to be very unlikely having seen a few water mines of my own in Vietnam.
RUSH: Were there witnesses to this that could contradict what he said?
O’NEILL: Yes. That was his first problem. There were at least two: Jim Rassmann, who had written about it earlier, and Larry Thurlow, who heard the grenade go off and was aware of it. But the biggest and most killing witness to Kerry was himself, because his own journal was quoted in the Brinkley book Tour of Duty and outlined exactly this incident. Brinkley apparently wasn’t aware that he had lied to the Navy about it.


RUSH: That’s another thing. All these people are coming out and you’re debating them on TV. You’re debating Lanny Davis and James Carville, and they stacked the deck against you. They weren’t there. They’re having to take somebody’s word for what happened, and they’re broadcasting it all over the place as though it’s gospel. Nobody assumes that any of their sources are making anything up. It’s gospel. They weren’t there but yet they’re noted authorities. You have eyewitnesses who were there and saw this, and you are still subject here to being impugned and discredited and laughed at, and you’re bearing up under it rather well. But I can’t help but think people are noticing this because you’re out there so much doing this and you’re keep your cool. You’re not blowing up, and because you’ve got the facts on your side. I know you’re a lawyer and you know how to do this and you know that facts speak volumes.
O’NEILL: It’s exactly right. For example, on that, Rush, I have the false report. I have all the false accounts he filed on his website and all the false ads and then I have Kerry himself in his own book admitting that this rice deal was in the absence of enemy fire. He just threw a grenade in. There was no water mine.
RUSH: Well, now, wait. There has to have been a water mine. Something blew Rassmann in the water. Something blew up. Was there enemy fire or not?
O’NEILL: Well, we believe there was no enemy fire, but I think it’s very important here to take this a step at a time.
RUSH: Okay.
O’NEILL: Step number 1 is, he wounded himself that morning, and also with respect to this wounded and bleeding arm, the records show that the was contusion minor, small bruise treated with cold cloth. There was no wounded, bleeding arm. So the third Purple Heart that he picked up to leave Vietnam in this incident was a complete fraud.
RUSH: Do you think he was trying to get out of Vietnam?
O’NEILL: Without question, Rush.
RUSH: Did not want to be there.
O’NEILL: He wanted out with medals, but he wanted out as fast as he could.
RUSH: But you all wanted out, right? Everybody wanted to get out.
O’NEILL: Oh, no, Rush. We were all volunteers. We were. Of course it was a hard time —
RUSH: I know, but I mean, you volunteered, but I mean, this is hell on earth over there. This is not something you get up to looking forward to every day.
O’NEILL: It was hard, but we all knew we were doing our duty. It was the honor of the thing. It may sound silly, but there aren’t any 401(k)s for kids in the military. They’re proud to be there. They just don’t bail out. They’re all there because they feel like they’re doing the nation’s work. It’s honorable, and someday they hope to tell their kids about it. That’s what motivates them, motivated all of us.


RUSH: But you believe he wanted out.
O’NEILL: He wanted out with some medals. The second big problem he’s got in No Man Left Behind, remember he’s got all five boats fleeing–
RUSH: Right.
O’NEILL: The physical evidence shows that PCF-3, not his boat, a boat captained by a man named Dick Pees in Cleveland, Ohio, was blown out of the water. That’s how the whole action began. It was blown out of the water, and the guys on the boat, several of them, were blown into the water. The people left were unconscious or trapped in the boat, and so PCF-3 could go nowhere. The theory that all five boats escaped, they couldn’t escape, Rush. PCF-3 couldn’t go anywhere. What happened is all the boats, with one exception, went to the aid of PCF-3. That is, they closed on PCF-3 picking up swimmers, began trying to bring the boat under control and save it because it was sinking with people trapped on it. The one guy who was not there was John Kerry, exactly as he said, he fled. His boat took off and fled, and that was true. When he said he fled, that was right. He did.

RUSH: But none of the others did.
O’NEILL: They all stayed. Rush, we all drank out of the same cup. We would never flee a boat in those circumstances. We all would rather sit and die together.
RUSH: What did he do, mistake the mine for enemy fire?
O’NEILL: No, he simply bailed out. He’s never explained why he bailed out. He tried to claim in some accounts, one account he claimed it was, or one of his crewmen, that it was just a turn. It was the longest turn, Rush, ever made by a PCF.
RUSH: I think guys like this, they drive me nuts.
O’NEILL: The next story was he was really going down somewhere to put troops in far away, but you see, Rush, the problem is we had guys right in the water there that were unconscious. They’d be dead by the time anybody got back to them and that’s why all the other guys stayed. Now, that’s undeniable. One and two are established as fact. You can look at the Washington Post diagram of yesterday, and I don’t think Kerry denies that he may try and explain it. What Kerry has tried to do is let the tail on the dog be the dog. He’s trying to argue while there was fire beyond the original mine. That, of course, is the smallest question of all, because it meant that the wound was fabricated on the, you know, this hip shrapnel wound. He admits that he fled and everybody else stayed. Now he’s really trying to claim that when he came back to where everybody else was, there was still fire. I’ve got to tell you, I think we have overwhelming evidence we are right. Here’s the evidence. We have ten guys on those boats including all the officers who say that there was no fire. We have the width of this little river as 75 yards. Those boats were there for an hour and a half saving the three boat and saving the people on it. There is not a bullet hole on any of those boats from that day. There’s not a man wounded that day from anything but the original mine.
RUSH: Except John Kerry.
O’NEILL: Except John Kerry’s hip wound from the rice explosion —
RUSH: Yes.
O’NEILL: — and then the elbow that he claims banged up against the bulkhead, that was a minor bruise. Unlike our evidence on all this, the way he’s been able to cloud that issue is at least one or more of his crewmen and Rassmann say there was fire. With respect to Mr. Rassmann, I think it’s important to realize that he was in the water struggling for his life after he fell off the Kerry boat and that he did see the Kerry stern disappearing and maybe that’s why he thought everybody left.
RUSH: Now, was he blown off? Do you know whether he was blown off? If the mine did not hit Kerry’s boat, if it hit the 3 boat —
O’NEILL: Right.
RUSH: — then how did Rassmann fall off?


O’NEILL: That’s a wonderful question. First of all, all of our guys say there was no second mine, as reported by Kerry. At least none of them heard it. There’s no evidence of any damage to the Kerry boat from any second mine. Kerry produced a damage report, but it reflects injuries the day before to his boat, not that day. We know that from page 304 of his book Tour. So there’s no indication of any damage to the boat, and one of his crewmen now says there was no mine, it must have been a grenade. But a grenades wouldn’t move a boat or tip a boat or push someone into the (water). I mean, Rush, we had I don’t know how many grenades, you know, hit our boat or rockets, that didn’t move the boat. These are deals that went through the boat. It would never cause someone to bump up against the edge or fall off. But, in any event, that’s what they say. I don’t think it’s particularly material to the story because the problem is first, he fabricated the wounds and that wound and used it to leave Vietnam, even the tiny little scratch on his fanny, and second he fled when they all stayed. With respect to whether there was fire afterwards, I strongly believe that our guys are telling the truth, and truthfully any combat veteran I think will agree with us, but he’s trying to use the third issue to cloud one and two.
RUSH: Okay, this happened. He’s young. He wants out of there. You’ve stipulated that.
O’NEILL: Right.
RUSH: Three Purple Hearts and you go. How, in your estimation, does this damage his credibility or qualifications to be president of the United States in 2004? I mean, essentially he’s going to have more to do as president than just be commander-in-chief. What does it say about his character? Is this a character problem that you have with him? Is it a veracity or honesty problem you have with him overall?
O’NEILL: It’s a terrible problem, Rush. It isn’t just lying to the Navy all those years ago. The problem is he was lying to the whole country, you know, three weeks ago about this incident. The Cambodia deal he described as the turning point in his whole life.
RUSH: Right.
O’NEILL: This incident here he described as the military highlight. I mean, he had a hundred million dollars —
RUSH: So the highlight and the searing point in his life seemed to have vagaries?
O’NEILL: They’re made up. I mean, what they always are is a tiny amount of truth and a huge amount of lie built up, and they have a common theme. The theme is always everybody’s a villain or a coward like all those guys that really went to the three boats’ aid and then there’s one big hero. It’s always John Kerry. The other guys are always weaklings or cowards or they’re ordering him to do things that are wrong.
RUSH: Yeah. John O’Neill is our guest and we’ve got a couple more segments to go.
BREAK TRANSCRIPT
RUSH: Mr. O’Neill, I just got this from the San Francisco Chronicle website. It’s an AP <a target=new href=”http://apnews.myway.com/article/20040823/D84L30100.html”>story</a>, and it was posted just three minutes ago, and I just want to read the first paragraph to you —
O’NEILL: Yes, sir.
RUSH: — and get your reaction to it. “President Bush denounced TV ads by outside groups attacking both John Kerry and himself on Monday and called for a halt to all such political efforts. He said, ‘I think they’re bad for the system.'” Now, I know you’ve said that the president could personally ask you to cease and desist and you wouldn’t. What’s your reaction to this?

O’NEILL: Well, you know, President Bush, all these guys are entitled to whatever opinion they want. To us this is not a matter of politics. This is deeply personal. We have 60 guys in our group that were wounded in Vietnam, and not wounds like Kerry, but real wounds. We have 254 people that were there for at least a year except for the ones who were badly injured. This guy has lied about our unit. He’s lied about his service in our unit, and the truth is, we could care less what anybody has to say about it. We’re going to go forward and get the facts to the American people to our last dollar and our last bit of energy, and all our guys feel that way.

RUSH: How are you dealing with the questions of whether or not you and Mr. Perry and so forth have had direct contact with the Bush campaign?


O’NEILL: Well, we haven’t. The long and short of it is we really haven’t. You know, it’s interesting, because, for example, this MoveOn group is headed by Kerry’s old campaign manager, and all these groups are pretty closely related, looks like to me, to the political figures. The one group of all of them that has an independent right to speak is ours. We were set up with our own money, although we collect money from whoever will give it to us legally. Who we are, just turn to our website,
SwiftVets.com.We list the names of all 254 people. We outline exactly what we’re going to do, what we stand for. We outline what our appearances are going to be. We filed our financial reports early. Actually, we’ve got huge amounts of individual contributions. On one day, Rush, we got $320,000 in contributions that average $59 apiece.

RUSH: And you’re still accepting them at that website address?

O’NEILL: Absolutely. We’ll accept them big or small. If George Soros wants to give us some money, we’ll take it from him.

RUSH: (Laughing.) Yeah, you got a long way to go to get to his money. He’s into $15 or $20 million already, to various Democrat 527s. Time is running short here. Let me ask you, are there any more ads coming? Are you in this for the duration of the campaign, or is there an end here for what you have to say and when?

O’NEILL: Not at all, sir. We’re in to the very end. We have additional ads coming to the extent that we can raise money to see it. We have our guys going around at press conferences, and our guys are there. We’re particularly there now since some of the attacks on us. We all served in Vietnam; we’re not about to be intimidated by a bunch of people attacking us.

RUSH: I was going to ask about this, and that’s something that struck me about Senator Kerry. Here he is a big war hero with all these medals and he’s acting very afraid of you.

O’NEILL: Well, amazing for a war hero, he’s afraid to even come out publicly and answer directly himself these rather obvious factual questions.

RUSH: Yeah. Mr. O’Neill —

O’NEILL: He’s no war hero.

RUSH: Well, you are certainly one, and in the eyes of many in this country you’re doing the Lord’s work today, and for them I’ll say, ‘God bless you,’ and because you’re incurring a lot of personal assaults, personal attacks, as are your men, and as you just said you’re doing it because you believe it, and you’re willing to undergo it and take it. So we appreciate the time that you’ve given us today. We appreciate what you’re doing and support your effort, and wish you the best in the coming months, and the best to you and your wife, too, and your health.

END TRANSCRIPT


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