FOX News Channel host Sean Hannity echoed two false claims from the anti-Kerry film Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal. He claimed that "some of those guys" who testified at the Winter Soldier Investigation hearings, which formed the basis for Senator John Kerry's 1971 testimony before the Senate foreign relations committee, "turned out to be liars ... turned out to be paid by Jane Fonda." Hannity also suggested that American prisoners of war in Vietnam were subjected to torture as a result of Kerry's testimony.
Hannity's comments came during a discussion with guest and Kerry supporter Bobby Muller, president and co-founder of the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation and co-founder of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning International Committee to Ban Landmines.
From the October 15 edition of FOX News Channel's Hannity & Colmes:
HANNITY: Some of those guys [veterans who testified in the Winter Soldier Investigation] turned out to be liars, and some of those guys turned out to be paid by [actress and prominent anti-war activist] Jane Fonda who was funding that whole thing. John Kerry lied.
Later in the same show, in an interview with Van ODell, a member of the discredited anti-Kerry group Swift Vets and POWs for Truth:
HANNITY: We've had these guys [POWs] on the program, Van, and they were there being tortured, hearing, like in the version of Tokyo Rose, that before a Senate committee, that these things were being, these allegations were being made by a fellow soldier.
As Media Matters for America has previously documented, while conservative historian Guenter Lewy claimed in his 1978 book, America in Vietnam, that a Naval Investigative Service report about the Winter Soldier allegations had discredited many of the witnesses and accounts, Naval Criminal Investigative Service public affairs specialist Paul O'Donnell could not confirm this report's existence. Further, a February 14 Baltimore Sun article cites Lewy himself as admitting that "he does not recall if he saw a copy of the naval investigative report or was briefed on its contents."
Apart from Lewy's allegations, an MMFA search uncovered no other evidence that any Winter Soldier witness was an impostor. One veteran, who is portrayed in Stolen Honor as a fraud who "never set foot" in Vietnam, has filed a libel lawsuit against the film's producer, Carlton Sherwood. The Associated Press notes that the veteran, Kenneth J. Campbell, now a professor at the University of Delaware, "attached copies of his military records to the lawsuit, showing that he received a Purple Heart and eight other medals, ribbons and decorations for his service in Vietnam."
MMFA has also noted that two of the POWs featured in Stolen Honor contradict the claim that Kerry's 1971 testimony was used to torture Americans held in Vietnam. Former POW Jim Warner said that "the last torture that we knew of had taken place in September of 1969," and that when Kerry's testimony was invoked in an interrogation of Warner, it was "without torture." Former POW Leo K. Thorsness also admitted in a published bio that the use of torture had decreased by the time Kerry testified.
Furthermore, MSNBC correspondent David Shuster reported that he found no evidence Kerry's name was used in the interrogation of all American POWs in Vietnam: "[T]he film only features POWs who say John Kerry's name was invoked by north Vietnamese prison guards. But we've spoken to dozens of POWs who spent years in Vietnamese prison camps and say they never heard John Kerry's name mentioned once."