The Republican Party, in its search for consistency, has now nominated a confessed war criminal to be its presidential nominee. Having a war criminal for president for the past eight years, at least now the republicans have a candidate who admits it.
While John McCain states that he signed a confession admitting to being a war criminal after being tortured repeatedly, this was most likely the only time in his military/political career he embraced the truth. Still, there are many in the Prisoner of War/Missing in Action community, including former POWs, who have their doubts about McCain ever being tortured while a Prisoner of War, and actually believe he received preferential treatment at the hands of the North Vietnamese, Russians and Cubans.
Perhaps the reason both McCain and Bush support torture as a means of obtaining military intelligence is they know that is the only way anyone could ever get them to be truthful!
In 1987—88, I spent a multitude of hours volunteering with the American Foundation For Accountability of POWs/MIAs in Arlington, Virginia. My duties in the foundation included traveling to colleges and high schools throughout the US in an effort to bring public awareness to the plight of military service personnel who had been left in the hands of our enemies in WWII, Korea and Vietnam by the irresponsible government who sent them in harm’s way.
I distinctly remember when members of the foundation, myself included, made a trip to “The Hill” to speak with members of the US House of Representatives and the US Senate to solicit their help in getting legislation passed that would bring pressure on those we believed still held American Servicemen as prisoners and to pass legislation that would protect future service personnel should they be captured. When we visited the office of Senator McCain, we were told by his staff that he did not have time to visit with us and that “he believed he could not have survived that long in captivity and therefore he doubted anyone else could have.”
Just a couple of days later, while working at our vigil near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, I witnessed Senator McCain alight from his Mercedes Benz sports car with a couple of young, beautiful women, one on each arm, whom he escorted on a tour of the Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial area. It was more than obvious from his actions; he had a great deal of time for these ladies.
My duties with the foundation brought me in contact with many former Prisoners of War; it was fantastic to visit and listen to the late Colonel Laird Guttersen, Captain Eugene “Red” McDaniel, Major John Parcels, and Larry Stark, not to mention the hundreds of family members of those still missing in either Laos or Vietnam. I also enjoyed my conversations and time with former Senator Bob Smith and former Congressmen Billy Hendon and Bob Dornan. Never in any of my conversations with these folks did I ever hear a positive word said about John McCain. In fact, Colonel Laird Guttersen spoke often of his utter contempt for McCain and his conduct while a prisoner of war.
In the late 1980’s and the early to mid 1990’s, John McCain would lead the battle to keep the fate of those left behind in the hands of their captors secret from their families and the American public, and was known for his angry verbal attacks on both family members and veterans.
Many find it ironic that the North Vietnamese erected a monument which features prominently a bust of John McCain at the sight of his shoot down. This is tantamount to the citizens of New York erecting a monument with the bust of Mohammad Atta, or the citizens of Hawaii erecting a monument with the bust of Japanese Fleet Commander Nagumo!
Why has John McCain fought so hard to keep the facts of his imprisonment secret?
How can anyone defend the character of John McCain, much less support him for president? His character began to show its dark side as a Cadet at the U.S. Naval Academy where he was known as a womanizer and underachiever. He, at his own admission, received preferential treatment at the hands of the North Vietnamese, while true heroes such as US Air Force Academy graduate Captain Lance Sijan endured torture to the death rather than betray their fellow soldiers.
In the case of John McCain, it is true we get the government we deserve!
Michael Gaddy [send him mail], an Army veteran of Vietnam, Grenada, and Beirut, lives in the Four Corners area of the American Southwest.