SWETT: Hello, and welcome to The Inquisition. This is Scott Swett for RighTalk Radio. Tim Ziegler is either in Utah or on an airplane and is not available to be with us today.

We do however have two guests with us. We have Tony Snesco, who served onboard swift boats in Vietnam, and we have Pete Webster, who served largely underneath swift boats in Vietnam.

Gentlemen, welcome to the show.

SNESCO: Thank you.

SWETT: Tony, let's start with you. Could you give us just an overview of the sorts of things that you did and what your experiences were serving in the war in Vietnam.

SNESCO: Well, I was - I had volunteered for Vietnam, actually extended my year of service in the Navy to go to 'Nam after reading stories of what the Viet Cong were doing over there and watching some films. So I wrote to the Secretary of the Navy asking permission to go to Vietnam and extending for a year, and he granted my wish, and I'm glad I did it.

But when I got over there in June of '67, it was mostly coastal and not more than a few miles into the rivers, and when I went from Kwee Non (phonetic spelling) to Chu Lai, Da Nang, and up to Qua Viet, and most of what we did was searching.

We did some Army support, firing into their skirmishes along the coast, but other than that, it was more search than anything else.

SWETT: So that would have been about a year or so before the onset of Operation Sealords, which was the effort to take the war up the rivers to the Viet Cong.

SNESCO: Yes. We wanted to get deep into the rivers, but at that point they wouldn't allow us. They said that the rivers were much too shallow. Apparently they weren't that shallow since they were sent up there later.

SWETT: Okay. And Pete, your service in Vietnam was not directly on swift boats, but was for the Navy largely in support of swift vets. Is that correct? Swift boats.

WEBSTER: Yeah, the last full year that I did in Vietnam, in '70/'71, I was on the (unintelligible), which was a tinder, and we were stationed for a long time there at An Thoi, and tied up alongside of us was the A-P-L - or we called it an Apple - Apple 21, that housed CosDiv 11, Coastal Division 11, which was a squadron or division of swift boats, and our primary mission was the care and feeding of swift boats.

And I did that for a good while, but I had been in Vietnam a number of times since '67, '68, '69, until '70, on other ships that came and went for, you know, shorter periods of time on and off throughout the years. This was the full one year in country tour that I did.

I got back to Vietnam again in '72 for the last time for two more weeks right at Tet in '72 after I'd been home and on shore duty for six months or so. But in that year that I spent, I was at An Thoi and at Na Bay.

SWETT: Of course, the thing that has brought the Vietnam war back into sharp focus in the public eye is the candidacy of John Kerry. So let me just go ahead and ask each of you: Did either of you, during your various times and locations in Vietnam, see anything that you would consider a violation of the rules of war?

SNESCO: I have never seen anything that - as a matter of fact, we went out of our way to be as pleasant as possible to the natives of that country. We would trade food with them, and a major public relations battle was going on for their hearts. Everyone that we came across, we'd give them gifts or food or - and in no way would we just indiscriminately fire or harm these people. We wanted to help them.

That was - most of the guys that I knew in Vietnam at the time that I went, five of the six men on my boat had volunteered to go there. And practically every person that served in Vietnam that I knew at the time had volunteered to go there because we believed in what we were doing and we were not an out-of-control bunch. We - total control, and wanting to save this country from communism and the people from the terror that the VC were bringing to them.

SWETT: You touch a point that's not widely understood, which is that a solid majority of all who served in Vietnam from the United States were in fact volunteers, in contrast to World War II in which a slight majority were draftees.

Both of you gentlemen took an active part in the political campaign in Operation Street Corner, and Tony, it was your work down by the Vietnam Memorial Wall which essentially pioneered that effort. So if you could, I'd like you to describe a little bit about how you came up with that and what your experiences were.

SNESCO: Well actually, it began on Memorial Day weekend when I was with Rolling Thunder, and I had parked my motorcycle along the parade route, and on my Harley I had anti-Kerry bumper stickers, and had a couple of hundred people come by and ask if they could have their picture taken with me along with the bumper stickers.

And then a Spanish television crew came by and interviewed me, and they said, "You know, we've been along this entire route, and we've not found one veteran who is in support of John Kerry."

So at that point I realized that there was - something could be done to reach the public there. And so the following week I went back down, and I had developed a couple of smaller signs, parked my motorcycle right next to the Vietnam Wall entrance on Constitution Avenue, and set up my signs and spent the day in debate, had many, many people come by, hundreds of people.

But watched inside the park and saw that thousands of people that I was missing. They were walking by from the park or from the memorial to the World War II memorial, so I decided that I needed to get inside there and set up some signs.

And at that point - and I don't know where I got the idea to use the U-Haul wardrobe box, open it up, and paste all of the documents of Kerry's quotes over the years, and the story - much of the story that was from your web site, Scott, that I posted on this board, but when you opened up this U-Haul box, it opened up into eight foot by five foot.

And then that's where it was born was a couple of weeks after that into the middle of June where I started spending my weekends and some weekdays standing by this display board, and thousands of people walked by.

And then I contacted some of my swift boat friends via the internet, and a couple of the guys decided to try to duplicate what I was doing, and then Larry Bailey with Swift Boat Veterans for Truth stumbled upon me and said, "You know, this needs to happen throughout the country." And he said, "if you don't mind, why don't we call this Operation Street Corner and I'll get a webmaster and we'll develop this."

And from that point on, all I had to do was digitize everything that I had on my board, put it on CD, and I started sending out CDs across the country, and we ended up getting the Operation Street Corner in multiple locations in 38 states.

But the idea was just - it was birthed by my sitting with my bumper stickers displayed on my motorcycle and just gradually grew from there.

SWETT: The U-Haul kiosk, or the U-Haul boxes, did lend themselves rather nicely to setting up a nice and still fairly portable display.

A quick correction: Larry Bailey is with Vietnam Veterans for the Truth, not the Swift Vets.

SNESCO: Oh, that's right. I'm sorry. Vietnam Veterans for Truth, that's right. I'm sorry.

SWETT: Just to clarify that minor point.

SNESCO: Minor point.

SWETT: Mr. Webster, you then picked up on this idea and did some proselytizing of your own in the State of Florida.

WEBSTER: Yeah, I was one of the first people that had seen pictures of Tony there at the wall in June.

You see, all of this really came to a head after the May 4th press conference which the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth held for an hour and 20 minutes at the Washington Press Club -

SWETT: Yes, I was there.

WEBSTER: - where, you know, I mean, 50 different news outlets were there covering it, and no one showed it on their - in the media, so we were kind of desperate for how we were going to get the word out to the people.

We were all feeling pretty strong about this around the end of May, and when I saw in early June that Tony had taken matters in his own hands and was doing something on his own that the media couldn't control, I said, "I've got to do that too," and I got in contact with them through the Swift Boat Veterans Association in an e-mail and said, "Hey, can you tell me what to do here and download some of these documents to me, and I'll do the same thing."

And I went out and I bought a wardrobe box and painted it and pasted the pictures of Kerry sitting there at the table with the representative from the South Vietnamese Communist Party, Madame Binh -

SWETT: Yeah.

WEBSTER: - and Lee Duc Tho, the North Vietnamese delegation looking over his shoulder. I pasted those kind of things on the board and Kerry's statements about how we were all war criminals, and I decided I've got to go out and find myself a Vietnam vets memorial.

Well, I had ran into some political problems here with a lot of the government people and organizations that had public parks and places not wanting to allow political activity on them. Even though there's a First Amendment that says we can do it, they try and keep you from doing anything that's going to be confrontational.

SWETT: Did you get the sense that the opposition was general, that they didn't want any political activity, or did you get a sense that it was in opposition to specifically what you were doing?

WEBSTER: Evenly split, some of each.

SWETT: Okay.

WEBSTER: And then I found the NRA people willing to let me set up with them a gun show, and that was about maybe the third week in June, toward the end of June. And my wife and I set up our kiosk at the first of many gun shows, and from then on it was one after another because we met so many people and we were so well received.

It was such a delightful forum to be able to display your message in that they helped us get other places. People we would meet at one show would tell us about another one and turn us on to another event until one day we had gone to one of these gun shows over in Lake City, and one of the guys who had worked with us a number of times came up and said, "You know, you're more than welcome here; we love having you." But co-located with where the gun show was was a flea market. He said, "but the real action's over in the flea market, and we can get you a booth over there."

And we discovered the flea markets. And that was a great place to go too because there you encountered not just the loving faithful that you would expect at a gun show, but Kerry supporters.

And so for the first time we ran into a mixed crowd were maybe 20 or 30 percent of the people were oppositional and confrontational.

And we kind of went through basic training on how to handle that, and we learned, and we moved on, and pretty soon we were going to bigger and bigger rallies and more and more events, and it ended up toward the latter part of the fall that's all my wife and I did besides help other people throughout the country set up their own Operation Street Corners.

We were being called out not just on the weekends but to this rally and that rally and what have you on Tuesday night and on Thursday night, and there's this club meeting and there's that university group of students, and they want you to speak here.

We ended up having a mobile display built up on a truck that we started taking around right into the camp of the opposition. We went to the Kerry Rally down at the Prime Osbourne Convention Center, the Edwards Rally at Metro Park, Mike Moore's rally here in Jacksonville, and -

SWETT: Did you get any -

WEBSTER: - we put up some tremendous displays of protests against those guys.

SWETT: Did you get media coverage for these essentially counter events that you held?

WEBSTER: We did some. We did - we got an article written about us when we were there at Kerry's rally. They said, you know, they could hear us chanting "Kerry Lied" three blocks away.

We had a pretty big crowd there. We had about 300 people out there in front of the Prime Osbourne Convention Center right in his face.

My wife, at that point, had sewn a huge, big 10 foot long by three foot wide banner that was a replica of the yellow and red campaign ribbon with the green ends on it, and it said, "Kerry Lied" in black letters right across it. Well, when he came by in that big, black Suburban that - he doesn't own, now, that he just uses.

SWETT: It's a family vehicle.

WEBSTER: We had it right at 10 feet from his face, so yes, we got some press off of that.

SWETT: Was that the event at which the good senator delivered himself of an obscene gesture, or was that another occasion?

WEBSTER: No, that was two other occasions. He did that once out at the Wall where Tony was, to Ted Sampley.

SWETT: I know that story.

WEBSTER: When Sampley offered to escort him away from the Wall, telling him he didn't belong there, and then he had done it a few weeks before. He was here in Jacksonville down at the Cape. A bunch of our guys had gone down there to greet him, and he heard about it while he was still in flight coming from Ohio on his way to Florida, and diverted the plane in mid flight to an emergency Red Sox game he suddenly had to attend.

SWETT: Uh-huh.

WEBSTER: Thinking that, well he wasn't going to land when they thought he would, and he'd sneak in there in the wee hours of the morning when they wouldn't be ready, because after all, we're a bunch of, you know, disgruntled alcoholic shills, and at 6:00, 7:00 o'clock in the morning, we're bound to be hung over and not fit to do anything.

Well, they were there, and when he came from Titusville, from the airport to Titusville, at 6:30, 7:00 in the morning, Mike Bradley, who's one of our confederates in here in North Florida, had this big "Kerry Lied" sign that he stuck right in his face as he went by in his SUV, and Kerry saluted him with his middle finger about two feet away as he went by, and we did not have a camera poised quick enough to get that.

SWETT: Yeah.

WEBSTER: We got the scowling face after he pulled his hand down, but we missed the extended digit, but I would've given $1000 if we could have captured that moment.

SNESCO: You could have sold it for $100,000.

SWETT: Oh, I'll bet.

WEBSTER: We could have sold it to Kerry for $100,000.

SNESCO: That's true.

SWETT: A great photo moment gone aglimmering. Certainly that thing would have gone screaming across the internet in a matter of about 10 minutes.

I think it's fair to state that the Kerry forces throughout the campaign underestimated the - well, first the depth of feeling against what he had done, and as you touch on also, the resolve of his opponents.

They were still trying to kind of purvey the idea that well, you know, Kerry's a war hero and therefore we can expect that most veterans will support him, but meanwhile, largely due to the efforts of people such as yourself, this grassroots wave was swelling out there in the hinterlands.

Larry Bailey told me on this show a few weeks ago that he believed that he was aware of at least 300 individual Operation Street Corner displays similar to the ones that both of you pioneered -

SNESCO: That's about right. There were approximately 300 of us.

SWETT: But that -

SNESCO: I know because I set up about 40 of them myself.

SWETT: Okay. But that's just the ones he knew about. It was certainly possible for people to download the materials and pass them around and not bother to report back.

SNESCO: Well, that's true too. We had some ad hoc people that sprang up that we didn't even know about. We had - I know one guy here that I kind of got started. His name is Norm Longston (phonetic spelling). He's with FreeRepublic. Saw what I was doing, and he never had anything to do with Vietnam Veterans for the Truth other than knowing me, but he just started going out and doing the same thing. He even got some Swift Boat stickers and was selling them.

I mean, he was doing this on his own hook. He wasn't affiliated with either the Swift Boat Veterans for the Truth or Vietnam Veterans for the Truth, But he was definitely a fellow traveler.

SWETT: Well, a lot of people, in my experience, simply picked up the materials that you guys helped distribute and that some others of us helped research and generate and just put them out there for interested parties to see, and I think that was one of the ways that the word got out.

SNESCO: A lot of people took the stuff to work with them and handed it out in the lunchroom.

SWETT: Yeah.

SNESCO: And we had confederates in places we never even had any idea that were helping us.

SWETT: Okay, were coming up on a break. When we come back, I'd like to talk a little bit about - a little more about Operation Street Corner and how you dealt with detractors.

This is Scott Swett for Tim Ziegler, and this is The Inquisition on RighTalk Radio. We're going to pay some bills and we will be right back.

(Commercial break.)

SWETT: Welcome back to The Inquisition. You're listening to RighTalk Radio. This is Scott Swett. Tim Ziegler, my usual co-host, is in the wilds of Utah battling the mastodon, or whatever it is he's doing there. He'll be back in a couple of weeks.

We continue our discussion with Tony Snesco and Pete Webster, both of whom were involved with Operation Street Corner, an effort to educate the public on the genuine reality of John Kerry's actions, particularly after he returned from the war in Vietnam, and his involvement with Vietnam Veterans Against the War and the atrocities propaganda campaign that has in many ways poisoned the reputation of Vietnam veterans across more than three decades.

Gentlemen, welcome back.

SNESCO: Thank you very much. It's a pleasure being here.

WEBSTER: Thank you, Scott.

SWETT: Tony, we'll start with you. During your time near the Vietnam Memorial Wall dealing with large numbers of the public - I assume this is not something similar to anything you had ever done before, that you didn't have a background in any kind of street theater or street protest. Is that accurate?

SNESCO: No, I had never - well, actually, yes I did. When Jane Fonda came to our college campus back in 1970, I had a friend of mine design a large poster with chalk of a wood screw spinning downward into the block letters the name of Jane, and her name flying into pieces.

Our student body had hired Jane Fonda for thousands of dollars of our dues to come speak to the campus, and so I had this poster drawn up and I marched around campus all day with it, and then as she got up on the stage to speak to the students, I got behind her stage with the sign, lifted it high in the air, and her nonviolent supporters became violent and physically forced me off of campus.

But yeah, that was my first protest and my only experience at protesting.

But this experience at the Wall was a whole new experience in that - and I stood out there and stood. I mean, I took a chair with me every day, but over the five months that I was there, I don't think I sat for a total of 10 minutes.

But every day the arguments and debates - and I always maintained a very professional decorum when speaking with people. I never got angry. I always tried to smile. But still, when you've got people who are standing there and yelling in your face - although it was an excellent opportunity to explain my point of view.

By the end of each one of these debates, audiences of 20, 30, 40 people would gather listening to these people yell at me and me responding, more with questions than anything else. And by the end of each one of these debates, every one of them, without exception, the audience would applaud, and then everybody would come up and shake my hand, and the opposition would storm out.

SWETT: So your real target, then, was the bystanders. You're not going to convert people that are fanatically opposed to what you're trying to do.

SNESCO: No, but the idea there also was to - perhaps because -

Let me go back to this one incident where a little World War II veteran rolled up in his wheelchair, and he said, "Do you want to have a lot of fun with Kerry supporters?" And I said sure.

He said, "Well, when a Kerry supporter comes up to you, just ask him, "Without saying the name 'Bush,' why are you voting for John Kerry?"

And you'll notice that for about a few seconds they'll stumble and mumble and try to think of some answer, and then eventually they'll come out and blurt out, "Well, education" or "the environment."

And then say, "Well okay, what has he done for that in the past 20 years?"

And you know, that became my greatest tool at the Wall because it happened without exception. Every single Kerry supporter stood there and stumbled trying to figure out why it is they supported him, and I think by arguing with them, I think perhaps I may have neutralized some to where when election day came, they may have just decided to stay home because they realized that, you know, voting for Kerry just because they didn't like Bush was not a reason to put this man into office.

SWETT: That's hilarious. I think that most of them had received the talking points on why they should despise President Bush, but there weren't really any equivalent talking points on why John Kerry was such a great guy. Perhaps that's an oversight that the DNC would like to remedy.

SNESCO: Well, they tried to get me out of there few times. As a matter of fact, for the first - probably the first three weeks down there, Kerry supporters -

SWETT: That would be the park police? Excuse me.

SNESCO: The park police -

SWETT: Okay.

SNESCO: - and also the Rangers. Well, actually, my very first day down there a couple of police officers came up to me and told me that I had 10 seconds to pack up my gear and get out of there.

And I said, "I have a right to be here."

They said that I didn't and they threatened to take all of my display and to take me to jail.

I had an apple in my hands, so I was eating my apple as I was putting things away, and they said I wasn't going fast enough, and they, "You've got 10 more seconds."

So I was - because I was on the Los Angeles Police Department for a couple of years, I know how police officers are supposed to act.

SWETT: Right.

SNESCO: And I waited until I cooled down, and then I went over to the park police office, spoke to the sergeant of the day there, and he said, "You know, they were wrong and you were right."

He took a half an hour to highlight all of the laws that pertain to displays at the park, and he brought those two officers in, chewed them out, told them never to go back to my site.

And I'm glad that he gave me the copies of these regulations because on every - every day that I was out there for the next several weeks, police officers harassed me and tried to get me to leave, but thank God for what I was given because I just showed them all that was highlighted by the sergeant at the park police office.

So they were all eventually leaving me alone, and things went well except for the fact that I had a lot of crazies, a lot of crazies that would do anything to disrupt me.

And I had actually had some shills that was sent over by the DNC that would come up and ask me a question. Then I would ask them a question, and instead of responding to me, they would turn around to the crowd - and these were the twenty-somethings. You know, the young - and would have a prepared presentation that they were going to then speak to the crowd.

SWETT: Uh-huh.

SNESCO: But what was so great is that our points were irrefutable. Everything that we had was solid. They had nothing.

So there wasn't one time when they succeeded in making their point because they could not respond to the questions about John Kerry's character or his service in Vietnam.

WEBSTER: Well, mostly we were using pictures of Kerry himself.

SNESCO: That's right.

WEBSTER: Quotes from his own speeches, things he did and said.

SNESCO: That's right.

WEBSTER: Copies of the dust cover of the book he published.

SWETT: I think that's one of the things that made the Swift Vet ad so devastating is that they relied so heavily on Kerry's own words and direct actions.

There really wasn't any way to say that this wasn't true, and so I think that's one reason that you gentlemen were all so effective on the street.

In addition to learning the techniques, Tony, that you just described as psychological Judo.

Now, do you think -

SNESCO: Let me just tell you this one story -

SWETT: Go ahead.

SNESCO: - very quickly, where this man came up and debated me for probably a half an hour. Actually, now that I think of it, closer to an hour. He left and I went back to my board and was talking to people, and I felt this tap on my shoulder. And he stuck out his hand and he said, "You know, I just want to thank you for being here and doing what you're doing."

Even though he was opposed to what I was doing, he would thank me for being there because he believed in what I was doing.

You know, I had every - I probably had hundreds of Vietnam veterans who came up to me who stuck out there hand, tears in their eyes, could barely talk, just in gratitude for standing out there and defending them.

And you know, there were some days out there, let me tell you, when -

WEBSTER: That was the most heartwarming part of it all. When mothers and aunts and sisters came up to you -


WEBSTER: - and wanted to hug you because you were finally speaking out for their sons and their brothers and their uncles.

SNESCO: Oh, and there were more tears shed at my display -

WEBSTER: Oh, that was heartwarming.

SNESCO: - by those relatives, by a Navy Vietnam nurse who came there who had never visited the Wall, and she said that she couldn't go to the Wall and see the names of the men that she held in her arms as they died, but today she was committed to do it one way or the other, and I got to hug her and hold her while she cried, and then sent her off down to the Wall.

But let me tell you, getting to the Wall was hard. I don't know if you've ever been in a fistfight. It's like - but what I was young I used to have fistfights, and -

SWETT: It's been a while.

SNESCO: - before the fight started, you'd get this knot in your gut. Or even in Vietnam, before you went into a battle, you'd get a knot and some butterflies, some heavy-duty butterflies. And that's the way that it felt preparing to come to the Wall.

It was not something that I was excited about doing after a while because you knew every day was going to be a battle.

But on this one particular day I didn't want to go at all, but I had to, and I just prayed all the way up there for God to give me the strength to get through that day.

And what was so amazing was the very first two people who came up to my display that day were independents who didn't want Bush in at all, but by the time I finished talking to them, they both said, "You've changed my mind." And that made the rest of my day like skating on ice.

As a matter of fact, I was flying after that because God had answered my prayer. And as long as you're changing people's minds, I think that's where you got the energy and the courage, actually, to come back out there and do it again.

SWETT: There is about this whole effort the sense of a deep and long-buried injustice slowly being reversed, and I think that that provided a tremendous amount of emotion and power behind this.

The treatment of Vietnam veterans is certainly, in my opinion and that of many others, a stain on the good name of the United States of America to have treated people who served honorably in the way they were treated.

So did you get the sense, as you went through your own efforts, that this was perhaps about - well, of course, about more than just whether Kerry was or was not elected?

SNESCO: Well, you know, I had a lot of young people who came to me and said, "You were murderers. You did do those things," you know. "You committed war crimes." And they really believed, based upon, you know, the innuendo and the rumors from 35 or 40 years ago and what they've been hearing now in school. These kids today really believe that we committed war atrocities back there en masse.

(Cross talk)

WEBSTER: And they would challenge you with questions like, "Well, are you going to tell me there were no villages destroyed?"

SNESCO: Right.

WEBSTER: You know, and things like that, trying to bait you into fool's debates.

SNESCO: Right.

WEBSTER: You know, because they didn't understand the war, they didn't understand the nature of a counterinsurgency type of combat. They didn't - no one's ever told them the truth about what we were really doing.

They - the only thing they know about it are the liberal myths that have been spread over the years: well, it was a immoral war, it was an illegal war, it was a civil war, and we didn't have any business in it. Well, it was never civil war. There wasn't anything about two different political groups within one party or within one country fighting each other -

SWETT: Okay, I'm going to -

WEBSTER: There were at all times two different countries fighting each other.

SWETT: Okay, I'm going to have to wrap up for this segment here, and I would add to that, of course, the mass murders that occurred after we left have been inadequately publicized.

This is Scott Swett for Tim Ziegler. You're listening to The Inquisition on RighTalk Radio, and we'll be back in three minutes with Tony Snesco and Pete Webster. Stay tuned. Don't touch that mouse.

(Commercial break)

SWETT: Welcome back to The Inquisition on the RighTalk Radio network. This is Scott Swett, and I'm here with Tony Snesco and Pete Webster. They were pioneers in Operation Street Corner, an attempt to bring the facts about John Kerry to the people on the streets. And you can see some of the work that they did and that others did at OperationStreetCorner.com, which essentially is an outgrowth of KerryLied.com, the home site of Vietnam Veterans for the Truth.

Tony and Pete, welcome back.

SNESCO: Thank you.

WEBSTER: Thank you, Scott.

SNESCO: Good to be here.

SWETT: We were going to talk a little bit about the circumstances of John Kerry's strange separation from the United States Naval Reserve.

As both of you are quite aware, he posted a DD214 on his web site dated 1978 which purports to show that he received an honorable discharge and that he in fact did receive an honorable discharge.

WEBSTER: Scott, let me stop you right there. It's not a DD214. That's one of the first things that's wrong.

SWETT: Okay.

WEBSTER: It's a letter from SecNav to John Forbes Kerry, USNR, dated February 18, 1978. It's not a DD214.

SWETT: Okay, I stand corrected. It is a document that refers -

WEBSTER: It's by the Chief of Naval personnel, Reserve personnel, down in New Orleans, and the subject is "Honorable Discharge from the U.S. Naval Reserve."

But it's a letter; it's not a DD214. And it's not an honorable discharge like the rest of us have. The rest of us have a document called an honorable discharge that was issued by the last parent command to which we were attached from the command level. And there's various levels of command.

Some of them have authority to convene special court martials. Some of them have authority to convene general court martials.

At these two different levels of command, you have officers as commanding officers who have other powers commensurate with that level of court-martial authority.

At the unit that can convene a special court martial, you have appointing authority and discharge authority. You have authority to enlist people. You have authority to discharge people as well as convene special court martials.

The next higher up, the general court martial level of authority, is the reviewing authority for those actions.

Most major commands in the Navy that are a ship have an officer in charge of the commanding officer that can convene a special court martial or a discharge board and award an unsuitable discharge as well as -

SWETT: OK, let me back -

WEBSTER: - grant honorable discharge.

SWETT: Okay, let me back you up just a second.

To review, John Kerry joined to the Naval Reserve in 1966 with presumably a six-year commitment. That would have meant that his discharge, original discharge in what ever flavor it was issued, would have occurred in 1972, but there are no publicly available documents about that event.

WEBSTER: No, because he won't sign the SF180. That's why they're not public. They're in his record and he won't reveal them.

SWETT: The SF180 being the authorization of release of all military records.

WEBSTER: Yeah. That means Standard Form 180.


WEBSTER: It's the waiver, the release, a document to waive the right of privacy to your military records.

SWETT: Okay, let's jump back into the circumstances of his discharge. In 1978 President Carter had just initiated a general amnesty for a wide variety -

WEBSTER: That was right after he was inaugurated at the end of January, and this letter is dated three weeks later in February, February 18th or 16th - I can't quite read it - 1978.

SWETT: Okay, well President Carter would have been inaugurated January 1977, so this is some point after the general amnesty that he signed in 1977.

WEBSTER: Okay, it's the following year, then.

SWETT: Yeah.


SWETT: But the point is that the general amnesty provided the opportunity for large numbers of draft dodgers, draft evaders, and military personnel with bad paper to have those facts expunged from their permanent record, as we used to say in elementary school.

WEBSTER: Or corrected by a board of officers for cause.

SWETT: That brings us back to the document that we were discussing that is not a DD214, which makes specific reference to a board of officers having been involved in Kerry's ultimate discharge.

Would you care to talk about that a bit?

WEBSTER: Right. This letter has three references and one enclosure. The three references, which - again, this makes it different than the one that Tony and I have. This is just the only references, the Bu- - in our language, BuPersMan, the Bureau of Personnel Manual.

SWETT: Uh-huh.

WEBSTER: That would be the only reference needed for a normal appointing authority with discharge authority to grant a discharge and sign it. You know, mine was signed by the commanding officer of my ship when I was released, and that was the end of it.

But this isn't like that. This has three references, of which BuPersMan is - number three is C.

The first two references are Title 10, USC, United States Code, Section 1162, and then reference B is Title 10, US Code, Section 1163.

And the first sentence of this letter reads, "By direction of the President." That means Jimmy Carter ordered this be done.

SWETT: Right.

WEBSTER: And "pursuant to reference A," which is the United States Code, Section 1162.

And if you did any research that, which Kerry hopes you don't, you'll never know what that means, but that's the section of the code that at that time dealt with the involuntary separation for misconduct for officers of the Naval Reserve.

"In accordance with reference A, you are hereby honorably discharged from the US Naval Reserve effective this date. This action" -

Paragraph 2: "This action is taken in accordance with the approved recommendations of a board of officers" - it took a board of officers to recommend he get an honorable discharge - "convened under the authority of reference B," which is the same Title 10 U.S. Code, Section 1163, dealing with the involuntary separation of officers of the Naval Reserve for misconduct.

Now, a board convened under the authority of reference B to examine the official records of officers of the Naval Reserve on inactive duty to determine whether they should be retained on the rolls, et cetera, et cetera.

SWETT: Involuntary discharge, by definition, means less than honorable, probably -

WEBSTER: Well, that's exactly right. If you're involuntarily separated, you're not getting an honorable discharge.

SWETT: Exactly.

WEBSTER: You're going to, at best, get a general discharge under conditions other than honorable, and the only - to generally get that is if you sign a waiver agreeing to accept that in lieu of either court-martial or being put before another board of officers called an administrative discharge board hearing, and they can award an undesirable discharge.

Now, I was looking at a tape today, a CD ROM, that the Swift Vets had put together, and it showed Kerry talking about how he said, quote, "I gave back my medals. I don't know. Six, eight, nine, 10 of them, but I gave them back."

Yes, he did. He gave them back when he signed that waiver because they stripped him of them. He was forced to give them back because an other than honorable discharge takes those away from you. That's why he didn't have any to throw over the fence and he had to throw his ribbons over there because they had taken his medals away. They had to be re-awarded by Carter and Clinton subsequently.

SWETT: Okay.

WEBSTER: And that's why the citations for the Silver Star are rewritten two and three times in the '70s and '80s.

SWETT: Okay, I'm going to have to stop us here. We're going into a break. This is Scott Swett on the Inquisition for RighTalk Radio. We'll be back to wrap up in two minutes.

(Commercial break.)

SWETT: This is Scott Swett. Welcome back to The Inquisition right here on RighTalk Radio. This is the fastest hour in radio and this one is nearly over. We've been talking to Tony Snesco and Pete Webster - Tony, a swift boat veteran, and Pete, a Naval veteran of the Vietnam War.

Mr. Webster was just explaining to us how the circumstances of Kerry's separation from the Naval Reserve as described in the documents posted by his own web site show that his initial separation from the Navy could not have been under honorable circumstances.

I wanted to let you know out there that Mr. Webster's background includes having been a ship's legal officer, law degree, prosecuting attorney, and a legal practice as well. So this is the basis from which he makes those observations.

Is that substantially accurate?

WEBSTER: That'll do.

SWETT: Okay.

WEBSTER: That's pretty good. I tell people now, though Scott, that I'm a recovering attorney.

SWETT: I like that line. I think all attorneys should be in that status and should be in a 12-step program.

WEBSTER: I know. But no, I retired here on a disability about three or four years ago. I'm forgetting everything I ever knew about the courtroom. I'm trying to. I'm doing my best.

SWETT: Well, you apparently haven't forgotten what you knew about how to communicate, both here and out on the streets.

Were tight on time. Let me throw it to you, Tony. Where do things go from here?

SNESCO: Well, I'd like to direct your listeners to OperationStreetCorner.com.

Kerry's making the sounds. He's definitely going to run again for president. We've got to get this into every state, every community. And even if he doesn't make the Democratic nomination there and he runs for senate, we need to - but we need to go to Massachusetts. We need to get this man out of office. He's done things that should not have been done by an American, and we need to get him out.

SWETT: Well, among other people, Jerry Corsi appears to have taken an interest in that very topic, and we'll see what he can do in terms of surfacing some of these issues and posing some opposition to Kerry in the State of Massachusetts, taking the battle to him.

SNESCO: Well, thanks for having us aboard, Scott.

SWETT: Well, thank you very much for being here. It's been a privilege.

This is Scott Swett. I have been interviewing Tony Snesco and Pete Webster. This is The Inquisition right here on RighTalk Radio.

The fastest hour in radio has come to a close, and we will see you in two weeks.

(End of transcript)

Last Updated Monday, November 05 2007 @ 09:15 AM MST|4,631 Hits