Thursday, February 12, 2004

Yesterday's scurrilous Washington Times article "Photo of Kerry with Fonda Enrages Vietnam Veterans" made at least one leap up the media food chain, to CNN ("Kerry Takes New Fire Over Vietnam," plus this interview with Jane Fonda).

Meanwhile, the good Roger Ailes points to this page, where you can read a chapter on Ted Sampley from Susan Katz Keating's book Prisoners of Hope:  Exploiting the POW-MIA Myth in America.  Sampley, as I noted yesterday, was the only actual enraged veteran quoted in the Washington Times story, apart from two GOP congressmen.

More important, Sampley is, as Ms. Keating makes clear, a piece of work.

What do you want to know about? The time he told the family of a missing soldier in the first Iraq war that he had been killed and mutilated by an anti-Semitic Iraqi mob because of his Jewish-sounding name? (The soldier later returned home alive and in one piece.) The time he punched an aide to Senator John McCain? The time he created a potentially deadly road hazard as a publicity stunt? Yeah, let Keating tell you about that one:

In 1986, for example, when Sampley was in Washington, D.C., attending one of his many POW functions, he set up a publicity stunt that could have killed or seriously injured someone. Shortly before 2 A.M., bar closing time, Sampley and a few confederates erected a barrier at the top of a freeway on-ramp that handles traffic coming from Capitol Hill. They coated the ramp with oil, so that unsuspecting motorists would slither wildly before crashing into the barrier. The cars' headlights would illuminate a sign on the barrier that read "Free the POWs."

The next day I learned about the on-ramp trap from Sampley, who called to announce what he had done. He was proud of his effort but disappointed that the trick had not come off. While Sampley and friends had watched from a nearby hiding place, police officers had found and dismantled the arrangement before any cars ran into it.

When I told Sampley he had risked people's lives with the stunt, he accused me of being a spoilsport. He also said he was dismayed at missing the chance for newspaper coverage.

That's The Washington Times's idea of a reliable source.

Oh, and just for good measure: Is this the same Ted Sampley who pushed for the Kinston, North Carolina, city council to pass a resolution "recognizing God as the foundation of this country's heritage," a resolution that claims that "the majority of those who drafted and signed the U.S. Constitution … never intended that there be a separation between [God] and the affairs of government" -- which many Kinston city councillors felt was "crammed down [their] throat"? (Answer: Yup. Here's a story about Sampley's POW bracelets, accompanied by a picture of Jan Barwick, who's ID'd as his business partner in the city council story.)

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