|John E. O'Neill
AKA John Ellis O'Neill
Birthplace: San Diego, CA
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Activist, Military
Party Affiliation: Republican
Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Longtime John Kerry antagonist
Military service: US Navy (1968-70)
In 2004, Texas trial lawyer and Vietnam vet John O'Neill wrote the 214-page book Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry along with coauthor and longtime friend Jerome Corsi. For his part O'Neill has nurtured a hatred for John Kerry ever since 1971, when Kerry returned from Vietnam and spearheaded the vocal anti-war group Vietnam Veterans Against the War.
Thirty years later, in 2002, Richard M. Nixon's chief counsel Chuck Colson disclosed the White House's response with Joe Klein of The New Yorker: "[John Kerry] was a thorn in our flesh. He was very articulate, a credible leader of the opposition. He forced us to create a counterfoil. We found a vet named John O'Neill and formed a group called Vietnam Veterans for a Just Peace. We had O'Neill meet the President, and we did everything we could do to boost his group."
In an internal White House memo dated 15 June 1971, Colson set up the meeting to introduce John O'Neill to President Nixon. In the memo, Colson advised: "Let's destroy this young demagogue [Kerry] before he becomes another Ralph Nader." The next day, O'Neill arrived at the White House for a meeting in the Oval Office. President Nixon and Henry Kissinger met with O'Neill for 40 minutes. According to the surviving audiotape of the meeting, the President of the United States strongly urged the young veteran to continue attacking Kerry: "Give it to 'em. Give it to 'em. You can do it."
Colson sent a followup memo on the meeting to Chief of Staff Bob Haldeman: "O'Neill went out charging like a tiger, has agreed that he will appear anytime, anywhere that we program him and was last seen walking up West Executive Avenue mumbling to himself that he had just been with the most magnificent man he had ever met in his life."
Two weeks later, O'Neill debated the morality of the Vietnam War with Kerry on The Dick Cavett Show. According to White House tapes, the next day Haldeman told Nixon: "Your boy, O'Neill, debated Kerry last night. I hear he did very well." (When asked in March 2004 whether he had been a Nixon operative, O'Neill bristled: "My involvement had nothing to do with Nixon. [...] I got involved because I was outraged with Kerry.")
The next year, 1972, O'Neill was a featured speaker at the Republican National Convention, and had nothing but good things to say about Nixon. And in 1974, O'Neill clerked for Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist (coincidentally a Nixon appointee).
In his book Unfit for Command, O'Neill excoriates Kerry for (among other things) falsely claiming that he had been sent to Cambodia on Christmas Eve 1968: "Kerry was never ordered into Cambodia by anyone and would have been court-martialed had he gone there." But thanks to Nixon's secret Oval Office tape from the 16 June 1971 meeting, we know that O'Neill told the same lie about himself to the nation's Commander-in-Chief, when he bragged to President Nixon: "I was in Cambodia, sir. I worked along the border."
Confronted with his inconsistency in August 2004, O'Neill's lame excuse was precious: "I've never represented on the floor of the Senate, or told people 50 times like John Kerry did that I was in Cambodia." True, O'Neill never had the opportunity to recite his lie -- precisely the same lie he's accusing Kerry of -- on the floor of the Senate. Instead, O'Neill told his lie in the White House Oval Office, right to the face of the President of the United States.
Somehow that's supposed to be different.
Wife: (2 children)
University: BS, US Naval Academy (1967)
Law School: JD, University of Texas at Austin (1973)
Law Clerk for William Rehnquist (1974-75)
Center for the Study of Popular Culture Board Member
Swift Boat Veterans for Truth
Order of the Coif
Bronze Star twice, with "V" device
FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
Celsius 41.11 (1-Oct-2004) · Himself
Author of books:
Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry (2004, politics)
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