Corsi also co-authored the August 2004 book “Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry,” which gathered testimony from a group of Vietnam veterans claiming the then Democratic presidential candidate had lied about numerous aspects of his service in the Vietnam War.
The Swift Boat vets drew significant media attention and became a major feature of the 2004 presidential contest — though many of the group’s claims were later criticized for lacking evidence or being contradicted by other eyewitness accounts and military documents.
The group questioned how Kerry won his three Purple Heart medals, which are awarded to military personnel wounded in service. Some members who had served alongside Kerry in Vietnam claimed he lied about acts of wartime valor for which he was later celebrated.
Kerry had become a vocal anti-war activist after finishing his service in the Navy in 1970, and had testified before Congress about war crimes allegedly committed by Americans against the Vietnamese.
Kerry said that, during an investigation, he had heard 150 veterans’ stories about “times they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, tape wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the country side of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war, and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country.”
The resentment fomented by his 1971 testimony is still listed as a chief catalyst for the group’s formation on some affiliated websites. Kerry’s depiction of war crimes is brought up more than 50 times in “Unfit for Command,” according to The New York Times.
“If John Kerry loses the presidential election, ”Unfit for Command,” by John E. O’Neill and Jerome R. Corsi, will go down as a chief reason,” the Times’ Susannah Meadows wrote in her review of the book.
Kerry did lose the 2004 election to incumbent George W. Bush, and the success of the campaign to undermine his military record gave rise to the term “swiftboating” as political slang for political attacks of dubious veracity.