Expertise's Politics and Sports Blog


Tuesday, August 24, 2004
Media Matters and FactCheck.org distort Purple Heart Qualifications.

Every once in a while I check out Media Matters for America, the brainchild created by David Brock to counter the "conservative media", as he calls it.  We can talk about how conservative it is and how misleading that label is later.

Anyway, Gabriel Wildau posted today that Mort Kondracke was wrong in regards to the requirements of a Purple Heart.  On Special Report with Brit Hume, Kondracke said this:

KONDRACKE: Now, there's questions about the third Purple Heart as well. Because in this exhaustive Washington Post analysis of that incident, this March 13, 1969, incident, where [then-Kerry crewmate Jim] Rassmann got knocked overboard. Part of the story is that the shrapnel that Kerry took in his buttocks was from a grenade that he -- that he threw himself. And therefore, that would not qualify for ...

CONNOLLY: But that's a ...

KONDRACKE: Just a minute. He also got -- he also had a contusion, didn't break the skin apparently. A contusion on his arm, and the Purple Heart was awarded for the two of them combined. Now, if it turns out that the -- that the shrapnel in his buttocks, which did bring blood, was self- inflicted, then he didn't deserve that Purple Heart.

To which, Wildau responded:

The truth is that Kondracke is ignorant of the relevant requirements for awarding a Purple Heart. Annenberg Public Policy Center's Political Fact Check pointed out that the buttock wound alone -- which Kerry sustained while blowing up a cache of rice that was a source of food for the Viet Cong -- would have qualified Kerry for a Purple Heart, even without the arm injury Kerry subsequently sustained in full-fledged combat later that day. A "friendly fire" injury can qualify for a Purple Heart "as long as the 'friendly' projectile or agent was released with the full intent of inflicting damage or destroying enemy troops or equipment," according to the website of the Military Order of the Purple Heart. All agree that rice was being destroyed that day on the assumption that it otherwise might feed Viet Cong fighters."
Wildau is flat out wrong, and it's obvious that he nor FactCheck.org either didn't read the Military Order or they purposely distorted it.  I'm willing to give the benefit of the doubt that Wildau was just repeating the charge made by FactCheck, but I'm not willing to give the same benefit to FactCheck themselves.

Here's what the Military Order website actually says:

b) Individuals wounded or killed as a result of "friendly fire" in the "heat of battle" will be awarded the Purple Heart as long as the "friendly" projectile or agent was released with the full intent of inflicting damage or destroying enemy troops or equipment.
This is not "friendly fire", as these were grenades set off by both Kerry and Rassmann themselves.  Friendly fire comes from other members of your unit, not from yourself.  Second, this passage explicitly states "heat of battle", meaning that you have to be engaged by enemy troops.  Now unless you are trying to assert the rice bin was attacking Kerry and Rassmann, then this does not constitute as the heat of battle.

The Military Order also states this:

(5) Examples of injuries or wounds which clearly do not qualify for award of the Purple Heart are as follows:

(a) Frostbite or trench foot injuries.

(b) Heat stroke.

(c) Food poisoning not caused by enemy agents.

(d) Chemical, biological, or nuclear agents not released by the enemy.

(e) Battle fatigue.

(f) Disease not directly caused by enemy agents.

(g) Accidents, to include explosive, aircraft, vehicular, and other accidental wounding not related to or caused by enemy action.

(h) Self-inflicted wounds, except when in the heat of battle, and not involving gross negligence.

(i) Post traumatic stress disorders.

(j) Jump injuries not caused by enemy action.

Now check out (g) and (h).  (g) specifically states:  "Accidents, to include explosive, aircraft, vehicular, and other accidental wounding not related to or caused by enemy action."  Those grenade explosions would constitute as an explosion that was not caused by any enemy action, unless, once again, the rice bin attacked Kerry and Rassmann.

Now having said that, it is possible that an argument could be made that this was "related to" enemy action, considering they did it for the express purpose for hurting the VietCong.  But then you have to decide whether a VietCong rice bin standing by itself bothering no one constitutes an enemy action.  *shrugs*

(h) is the killer.  "Self-inflicted wounds, except when in the heat of battle, and not involving gross negligence."  Do I really need to go into detail about this one?  Does this not sum it up in regards to what actually happened with Kerry, if this account is indeed true?

Media Matters needs to correct their false allegation.  Of course, I know they won't.  But it's always good to hope they had some sort of integrity. 

Posted at 07:24 pm by Expertise

 

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