Tags: Vet: | Kerry | Pressured | Lie | About | Atrocities

Vet: Kerry Pressured Me to Lie About Atrocities

Tuesday, 19 October 2004 12:00 AM

Pitkin had been a key participant in John Kerry's infamous "Winter Soldier" hearings of the same year, which concluded that the U.S. military was allegedly engaging in war crimes against the Vietnamese.

These days, Pitkin appears in the controversial anti-Kerry documentary "Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal." The film features a clip of Pitkin from another documentary film, "Winter Soldier."

In that clip, the bearded and bandana-wearing Pitkin seems stunned and vague while being questioned by John Kerry in a preliminary interview – apparently overwhelmed over being asked to describe his combat tour.

Today, however, Pitkin discloses that his lack of candor in the 1971 film clip actually reflected his efforts to avoid giving Kerry what he so desperately wanted: war stories about how American troops in Vietnam were daily committing war crimes in a last-ditch attempt to turn the tide in that 10-year conflict.

In the end, Pitkin said, he gave in to Kerry's pressure and made up allegations of war crimes.

"The VVAW [Vietnam Veterans Against the War] found me during a difficult time in my life, and I let them use me to advance their political agenda," Pitkin now confesses. "They pressured me to tell their lies, but that's no excuse for what I did. I just want people to know the truth and to make amends as best I can. I'd hate to see the troops serving today have to go through what Vietnam veterans did."

During a speech at the Kerry Lied Rally on Sept. 12, 2004, Pitkin first identified himself as a vet who, with prodding from Kerry, lied about atrocities in Vietnam:

"They knew I was one of the very few real combat veterans in the room. I told them I didn't have anything to say. Kerry said, ‘Surely you've seen some of the atrocities.'

"I kept saying ‘no' and the mood turned ugly. One of the other leaders whispered to me, ‘It's a long walk back to Baltimore.' I'm not proud of this, but I finally agreed to speak. They told me what to talk about – American troops beating civilians and prisoners, shelling and destroying villages for no reason, and acts of racism against the Vietnamese.

"John Kerry knew that the Winter Soldier testimony was a pack of lies. I know, because I was there, and I told some of those lies."

In "Stolen Honor," Col. Bud Day, a Medal of Honor winner who spent 67 months as a POW, and 16 other POWs of that war lambaste Kerry for creating the myth of brutal GIs terrorizing the countryside.

"The thing about the Kerry comments in 1971 is that they were so sensational, so outrageous, that they were precisely the kind of thing that a propaganda expert and the news media were looking for ...," Day said. "He has destroyed the good name of all Vietnam veterans. Now he wants us to forget. I can never forget."

In "Stolen Honor," Day and the sixteen other POWs who served years in captivity while undergoing torture claimed that Kerry's Winter Soldier hearings gave the North Vietnamese fodder for their attacks on the POWs and their desire to continue the war.

After years of living a lie, the turnabout by Pitkin is 180 degrees.

In 1971 he introduced himself before the "Winter Soldiers" investigative panel this way:

"My name is Steve Pitkin, age 20, from Baltimore. I served with the 9th Division from May of '69 until I was air-evacuated in July of '69. I'll testify about the beating of civilians and enemy personnel, destruction of villages, indiscriminate use of artillery, the general racism and the attitude of the American GI toward the Vietnamese. I will also talk about some of the problems of the GIs toward one another and the hassle with officers."

Now, in a sworn affidavit recently executed in Palm Beach County, Fla., he has set the record straight:

"... During my service in Vietnam, I neither witnessed nor participated in any American war crimes or atrocities against civilians, nor was I ever aware of any such actions. I did witness the results of Vietcong atrocities against Vietnamese civilians, including the murder of tribal leaders. ...

"I joined Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW), at Catonsville Community College in Baltimore in 1970.

"In January of 1971, I rode in a van with John Kerry, a national leader of the VVAW, and others from Washington D.C. to Detroit to attend the Winter Soldier Investigation, a conference intended to publicize alleged American war crimes in Vietnam. Having no knowledge of such war crimes, I did not intend to speak at the event.

"During the Winter Soldier Investigation, John Kerry and other leaders of that event pressured me to testify about American war crimes, despite my repeated statements that I could not honestly do so. One event leader strongly implied that I would not be provided transportation back to my home in Baltimore, Maryland, if I failed to comply. Kerry and other leaders of the event instructed me to publicly state that I had witnessed incidents of rape, brutality, atrocities and racism, knowing that such statements would necessarily be untrue."

In his affidavit, Pitkin also describes how John Kerry's famous medal tossing in front of the U.S. Capitol was staged:

"In April 1971, I attended a VVAW protest in Washington D.C. known as ‘Dewey Canyon III.' During this event I was present when protestors, including John Kerry, threw medals and ribbons over a fence outside the U.S. Capitol. I witnessed a man holding a bag of ribbons and medals and handing them out to other protestors. I saw that many of the ribbons and medals were not those that would be received by veterans of combat in Vietnam."

Pitkin served with the Ninth Division of the U.S. Army beginning May 25, 1969. A mortar explosion wounded him and later the wounds became infected, resulting in his removal from the combat zone. During his tour he received the Combat Infantry Badge, Army Commendation Medal, RVN Cross of Gallantry, Air Medal and Purple Heart. He went on later in life to retire from the U.S. Coast Guard.

NewsMax spoke to Scott Swett of SwiftVets.com and Wintersoldiers.com, who gave some background as to how Steve Pitkin surfaced after three decades.

According to Swett, Pitkin placed a comment on the SwiftVets.com bulletin board about a month ago. Swett says it was he who followed up, interviewing Pitkin over the course of a couple of days.

Says Swett: "Pitkin is unique in a couple of ways. He is the only Winter Soldier investigation subject to come forward and under oath recant his testimony. Pitkin is furthermore the only investigation interviewee to return to the military. But most significantly, Pitkin was interviewed directly by Kerry himself on a segment called the ‘miscellaneous panel.'"

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Pitkin had been a key participant in John Kerry's infamous "Winter Soldier" hearings of the same year, which concluded that the U.S. military was allegedly engaging in war crimes against the Vietnamese. These days, Pitkin appears in the controversial anti-Kerry...
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Tuesday, 19 October 2004 12:00 AM
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