A letter to the Times
My email is acting wonky, but when it comes back I’ll be sending a letter to the New York Times. It’s a response to a real shark-jumper of a David Brooks column. Sez Brooks:
Back in December 2001, when bin Laden was apparently hiding in Tora Bora, Kerry supported the strategy of using Afghans to hunt him down. He told Larry King that our strategy “is having its impact, and it is the best way to protect our troops and sort of minimalize the proximity, if you will. I think we have been doing this pretty effectively, and we should continue to do it that way.”
But then the political wind shifted, and Kerry recalculated.
This is a direct misrepresentation – the CNN transcript makes that clear.
KING: Mount Holly Springs, Pennsylvania — hello.
CALLER: Hello. Yes, I would like to ask the panel why they don’t use napalm or flamethrowers on those tunnels and caves up there in Afghanistan?
KING: Senator Kerry?
CALLER: My golly, I think they could smoke him out.
KING: Senator Kerry?
KERRY: Well, I think it depends on where you are tactically. They may well be doing that at some point in time. But for the moment, what we are doing, I think, is having its impact and it is the best way to protect our troops and sort of minimalize the proximity, if you will. I think we have been doing this pretty effectively and we should continue to do it that way.
KING: Congressman Cunningham, what do you think of that question?
CUNNINGHAM: I think Senator Kerry is right on the mark. To use a flamethrower, you’ve got to get right into the area close in. And plus, it doesn’t penetrate that deep in those tunnels. You’ve got to go in there after him. So I think you have to neutralize that threat. And then you can get him out in a lot of different, various ways including what the gentleman spoke about.
It’s telling that David Brooks must misrepresent John Kerry’s public statements in order to make his point. Mr. Brooks cites an old interview with Mr. Kerry to claim the senator originally supported the strategy of using Afghans to hunt Osama bin Laden in Tora Bora in order to “protect our troops.” But Mr. Kerry’s remark was a response to the idea of using “napalm or flamethrowers on those tunnels and caves” – specifically whether that kind of weaponry would blow back and injure soldiers. Using Mr. Brooks’ editing technique, one could write that the columnist believes “the Osama bin Laden we saw last night was not a problem.”
But this would be dishonest.