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The Wizbang Interview - John E. O'Neill

Who is John E. O'Neill?

John E. O'Neill is a U.S. Naval Academy graduate who served in Coastal Division 11 in Vietnam and took command of PCF 94, John Kerry's Swift Boat, after Kerry's departure. Outraged by Kerry's anti-war slanders against his fellow veterans, O'Neill faced Kerry in a famous debate on the Dick Cavett Show in 1971 refuting Kerry's accusations of rampant American war crimes in Vietnam. O'Neill served with the same men as Kerry and knew that none of the atrocities that Kerry was quick to claim as everyday activities ever happened in their Swift Boat unit.

Wizbang has been following the story of O'Neill's group Swift Boat Veterans For Truth (Since renamed Swift Vets And POWs for Truth) since May. With the 2004 election less than two weeks away I had the opportunity to speak by phone with O'Neill about the experiences of the Swift Vets and their plans for the immediate future. What follows is a reconstruction of the conversation from my notes.

Aylward - I know you have stayed on the sidelines in previous Kerry Senate campaigns. What prompted you to re-enter the debate with Kerry, so to speak, over 30 years after your last debate?

O'Neill - This was a matter of duty, not choice. John Kerry's service and his post-war activities are an issue because he wants to be the next Commander-In-Chief, and the full story was not being told.

Aylward - Let's go back to May 2004 and your press conference at the National Press Club. What did you expect to happen as a result of you charges against John Kerry, and were you at all surprised by the media coverage your group got or didn't get?

O'Neill - Yes we were somewhat surprised, actually probably more naive than anything else. We expected that a neutral media would pick up the story, report the facts, then we could all go home. Obviously that's not what happened.

Aylward - How have alternative media sources helped?

O'Neill - The interesting thing about the mainstream media is that we expected a set of facts would lead reporting to an fact informed opinion, but it turns out that opinion or bias drives the presentation (or non-presentation) of facts.

What we've gotten from blogs and other non-traditional media is a willingness to examine the facts and draw conclusions from them, which is what we expected from traditional media. Alternative media sources have been instrumental for us because of the willingness to base conclusions on the evidence, not start with a conclusion and shape content to support the preconceived conclusion.

Aylward - So you must have been flabbergasted by the presentation and reporting of John Kerry at the Democratic National Convention?

O'Neill - Yes. Their position with regards to the Swift Vets coming out of the convention was first to ignore us, then to lie about us, and finally to disassociate from us. We all know that Kerry first ignored the charges in Unfit For Command even while he was presenting himself to the country as a war hero.

Aylward - Have you been surprised that the Swift Vets have been portrayed in some quarters as "a bunch of liars?"

O'Neill - The term that comes up a lot in interviews is "generally discredited," What I've found is that it's the editors who are directing that reporters refer to the Swift Vets as "generally discredited," not the reporters themselves. When I challenge reporters to name one fact that has been disproved they generally can't. If they do bring up a point of confusion they've gotten from Kerry loyalists, I give them the well documented proof behind our claims. The fact that Kerry himself wrote most of the after action reports lead to confusions. We've show in several cases that the after action reports don't match the facts.

Aylward - I've noticed that you don't see Kerry the War Hero much anymore, you're much more likely to see Kerry the Catholic, or the wrong war, wrong time Kerry. Do you think that has anything to do with your book and ads?

O'Neill - Yes, that's the disassociate part. It's like he's no longer one of us now.

Aylward - The initial coverage of the charges in Unfit For Command focused on John Kerry's Purple Hearts as opposed to his post-war activities. Was this planned?

O'Neill - No. You have to remember that we were just a small bunch of veterans with no way to shape the coverage. The media initially focused on the Vietnam portion of the book so we didn't have much choice but to go with the current.

Aylward - With two weeks until the election, what's on the agenda for the Swift Vets?

O'Neill - As you know the Swift Vets started on a shoestring. The show of public support has been staggering. There have been over 110,000 individual contributors that helped us raise $20 million dollars to fund our ad campaigns.

We have 5 to 6 million dollars left, all of which is going toward media buys in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida, and Minnesota - all states with large veteran populations. There are two new ads (Why? And Questions) airing as well as some of the previous ads. We're doing on average 20-25 interview a day, mostly radio and occasionally some TV appearances.

Additionally the Swift Boat veterans are manning phonebanks this week, and next, in an effort to get out 500,000 calls to veterans in swing states.

Aylward - Do you have plans for after the election, in the event that Kerry wins?

O'Neill - No. For us this was a matter of duty, not choice. We have an obligation to the men who served and those who died to tell the full story of John Kerry's service and his post-war activities because he is running for the Presidency and to be Commander-In-Chief. Our goal was to expose the facts and raise the awareness of the John Kerry that we knew so that Americans could make an informed choice. Those who served with him overwhelmingly feel he is unfit for this command.

Aylward - On a personal level, what has been the most surprising or shocking thing that you've learned through this whole experience.

O'Neill - The level of depravity in John Kerry's soul. I knew of his post-war activities, but I believed some of the stories in the Brinkley biography. I had no idea he fabricated the Sampan event. There was a point in our 1971 debate when I pinned him down and he was forced to admit he had never personally seen atrocities committed. In the writing of Unfit For Command and gathering the stories of other Swift Boat veterans we learned of the Sampan event, of Kerry burning villages with his Zippo lighter, slaughtering animals, etc. It turns out the Kerry lied about every single bit of his Vietnam story.

John E. O'Neill's bestseller Unfit For Command - Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry is available via Amazon.

You can download the brand new epilogue to Unfit For Command here (right click "Save As").


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Comments (22)

Bravo, Kevin! ... (Below threshold)

Bravo, Kevin!

"The level of depravity ... (Below threshold)
Jim Hines:

"The level of depravity in John Kerry's soul."

Wow! Great interview. Great American.


I heard the new Swiftie ad ... (Below threshold)

I heard the new Swiftie ad today. I've become very jaded. But I must say, the new ad is very powerful. I think it's their best so far.

Oh, good job, Kevin!... (Below threshold)

Oh, good job, Kevin!

Way to go, Kevin. <p... (Below threshold)

Way to go, Kevin.

Kerry has no concept of what honor means, and THAT is the man's essential shortcoming. His politics are simply details.

Thanks much. I'm ve... (Below threshold)
jack rudd:

Thanks much. I'm very glad they have resources left, and that they plan to reach a great number of veterans.

O'Neill's opinion of Kerry's depraved soul is more favorable than mine. Kerry has no soul at all that I can discern.

On the subject of honor....... (Below threshold)

On the subject of honor..... I hope everyone appreciates the level of dedication the Swift Vets, especially John O'Neill, have demonstrated. It isn't easy to 'buck the system' under normal circumstances. In this case they took on a 20-year Senator, the second largest political organization in the country, and even the MSM itself. They have done well.

Like combat, there are losses. They aren't younsters anymore; but they risk public ridicule, the loss of neigborhood friendships, and invested enormous time and effort. Still they put the protection and integrity of our nation ahead of their own personal interests, and continued to serve our country. To John O'Neill and the Swiftees: a heart-felt salute.

Great job, Kevin. O'Neill c... (Below threshold)

Great job, Kevin. O'Neill captures the true nature of John Kerry better than a hundred spin doctors. Isn't it amazing how the media ignore these decorated men who served in Vietnam? How they ignore the fact that over 70% of military men and women (active, reserve and NG) serving today prefer Bush over Kerry? How they ignore the fact that a majority of police officers and commanders prefer Bush over Kerry? How the MSM ignore the fact that the president of the largest police union in the nation sent Senator Kerry a letter demanding he stop lying to people about US all police officers and first-responders supporting him? John Kerry was and will always be nothing more than an anti-war protester. He possesses a record of a pathological blowhard who deserves to be physically thrown into the ash heap of history rather than becoming the Commander-in-Chief. I've just looked at a couple more polls before reading Kevin's interview article and, although Bush still leads, the fact this election is still so close attests to another fact -- that the enemy within seems to be growing in numbers. A creep like Kerry couldn't even get nominated 20 years ago.

- Thank you Kevin... Unfort... (Below threshold)

- Thank you Kevin... Unfortunately many of the people out there in America who need the most to know about the whole mess will probably never get this critical information in a non-hostile setting where it can be disscussed with reasonableness and examined in the cold light of day....

- I was hoping the question of that pesky form 180 would come up.... But it was a great interview...I seem to remember someone somewhere recently saying "He can run but he can't hide"... *chuckle*

Seriously Kevin, someday po... (Below threshold)

Seriously Kevin, someday political scientists like me and Rusty are going to write American government textbooks, and your blogging during this campaign season is going to be shown as a turning point in media and politics.

Nice work.

The MSM are quilty of treas... (Below threshold)

The MSM are quilty of treason during a time of war. Imagine if one, let alone 250 vets came out against Bush and his guard record? It is shameful the way the media is trying to throw this election to kerry. It is shameful the way kerry is using (again) the war to divide the country, putting our men (again) at risk. How much blood is on kerrys hands from Nam and now Iraq? He does nothing but give aid and conmfort to the enemy. He is a traitor.

Thx for using my question. ... (Below threshold)

Thx for using my question. There are certain groups that will not stop hounding Kerry, especially if he's elected. But I understand -- these guys have got to get back to their lives. The best they can do is to get the facts out there, and if the voters decide to ignore it, there's not much more to be said.

Jack - as a Catholic, I've got to believe Kerry has a soul. Beyond that, I'm making no calls.

Nice job, Kevin.Hi... (Below threshold)
Son Of The Godfather:

Nice job, Kevin.

History, if written accurately (this time) will record the "SwiftVets and POWs for Truth" as a group of patriotic individuals who suited up one last time to defend their nation. I cannot tell you the respect and gratitude I feel towards these folks.

Thank you John O'Neill and the Swiftees.


Great job Kevin!The ... (Below threshold)

Great job Kevin!
The questions you selected were perfect.
I am so impressed with Mr. O'Neill and his ability to remain cool calm and collected under fire from the libs and the MSM. When a man has truth on his side there is no need to raise his voice in defense.
From one veteran to another Mr. O'Neill, I salute you and your dedicated service to our country.
Each and every one of the swifties deserve more thanks than any of us could ever muster.

Terrific interview...... (Below threshold)

Terrific interview...
I continue to be more and more impressed with Mr. O'Neill. He is consistently assailed from all sides with shifting attacks against his character. He has however remained steadfast and unbending in his presentation of the facts (often in Kerry's own words.)

I am glad that the Swift Vets came forward, but I am disappointed that their testimony was even needed. Kerry should never have made his "service as a young man" the centerpiece of his convention and his campaign.

Thank you, Kevin, and Mr. O... (Below threshold)

Thank you, Kevin, and Mr. O'Neill and all the amazing Swift Boat Veterans!

I was very touched by the recent ad shown on Fox TV where the camera pans across all the faces, all with their mouths closed. I strongly felt an unspoken message - how they kept quiet under torture, refusing to lie about their fellow soldiers and country. In contrast to Kerry then and now.

Heh, Kevin, did you use any... (Below threshold)
Brian Macker:

Heh, Kevin, did you use any of the questions from the comment section that you requested. If you knew beforehand that didn't have time to ask them then you shouldn't of bothered requesting them. I understand that things may not have worked out the way you expected and I am not particularly disappointed but it was a waste of my time.

I've already given my thanks to O'Neill prior to my questions by donating to his group. I have been following this closely and I think those were the only areas where the info available was not clear.

Brian...sheesh..is it just ... (Below threshold)

Brian...sheesh..is it just me here or do you sound a bit hung up on yourself?
sorry it was such a waste of your time...
Oh..and thanks for tooting your own own..I'm sure your donation was much appreciated.

DUH....must be too early fo... (Below threshold)

DUH....must be too early for me an the coffee hasn't yet kicked in...
Should have been "tooting your own horn"
My apologies..

Debra,Tags added t... (Below threshold)
Brian Macker:


Tags added to help your reading comprehension.

Now that you have outed me I will have to come clean. I was promoting my latest book titled "I Victim : The Unanswered Question". There was no other motive other than the money I was going to make off this book. I communicate only to "toot my horn" so my fans can admire me as I pass, paying tribute via. book sales.

Brian:"Well that's j... (Below threshold)

"Well that's just gonna leave a mark!"
I may not be able to sleep tonight knowing that your sarcasm has left me totally embarassed and absent of rebut.

I have seen Mr. O'Neill on ... (Below threshold)
Mojave Mark:

I have seen Mr. O'Neill on a number of shows. He is an excellent example of the Naval Academy education which he had. What a great spokesman for truth. The more unhinged the opposition gets he stays cool, calm, and collected.






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