Sunday, February 03, 2008

Let's Have Some Straight Talk About John McCain

It appears that John McCain is on a roll and is building up enough momentum to most likely become the GOP candidate who will run against the democratic candidate for president in the upcoming presidential election.

After Rudy Giuliani's failed strategy of placing all his hopes upon the Florida primary, he withdrew from the race and endorsed John McCain, calling McCain an "American hero".

Then in a not unexpected move, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger gave his endorsement to Senator McCain as well, also calling him a "great American hero". The news media, including the self proclaimed best political team of CNN, are all saying that John McCain is the current front runner and will be tough to beat for the GOP nomination.

With only two candidates left on the democratic side and Senator McCain the favored to win the republican nomination, I am left feeling utterly disgusted, although this scenario was not unexpected.

The country is still divided along party lines, much as it was in the past few presidential elections, yet there is the war in Iraq and the supposed threat of another terrorist attack that may be a major factor in how people vote. In that instance I have heard it said that any republican is better than any democrat. I wish I could be so sure about that.

Senator McCain claims he has the "experience, the knowledge, and the judgment."
Furthermore Senator McCain stated, "And as president, I will follow in this tradition of sticking to my principles no matter what and bring our troops home with honor."

Senator McCain is thought of as a hero by those who endorse him, he has stated that "...I was prepared to sacrifice whatever was necessary in order to stand up for what I believed in." Senator McCain, to use your own words, it is time for some straight talk.

In the last debate Senator McCain's stated that he had the honor of serving this country in uniform for 22 years. Let's look at some facts regarding Senator McCain's service to this country.

During Senator McCain's time in the military academy he was known for his hard drinking rowdy behavior. According to the book, The Nightingale's Song, "being on liberty with John McCain was like being in a train wreck." Senator McCain drew so many demerits for disciplinary issues that he graduated fifth from the bottom of his class. Yet somehow he managed to bypass other more qualified cadets to find a slot as a naval aviator.

While in training in Pensacola Florida, Senator McCain continued to party and live an extravagant lifestyle. He drove a Corvette and dated an exotic dancer named Marie the Flame of Florida.

During his training Senator McCain lost his first of five aircraft when it ditched into Corpus Christi Bay during a landing attempt. Nevertheless McCain graduated from flight training in 1960.

When Senator McCain was stationed in the Mediterranean he lost his second plane when he flew into some power lines. Once again the military ignored his apparent inability to keep a plane airborne and promoted him to flight instructor at Naval Air Station Meridian, in Mississippi.

As a flight instructor Senator McCain lost his third plane while flying solo to Philadelphia for an Army-Navy football game. The Navy again ignored the loss of a third plane, calling it unavoidable, and assigned Senator McCain to the USS. Forrestal.

While on the Forrestal Senator McCain lost his fourth jet when a rocket somehow slammed into it while it was loaded with bombs. The ensuing explosion killed 134 sailors. McCain survived and was transferred to the USS Oriskany.

While serving on the Oriskany, Senator McCain was shot down and captured by the Vietnamese, where he was held as a prisoner of war for five and a half years. No one other than those who have actually been held as prisoners of war can relate to the difficulties and hardships they face. I, as a veteran, however was briefed upon the Military Code of Conduct, rules that apply to all who might be captured in time of war. Article 5 of the Code of Conduct states, “When questioned, should I become a prisoner of war, I am required to give name, rank, service number, and date of birth. I will evade answering further questions to the utmost of my ability. I will make no oral or written statements disloyal to my country and its allies or harmful to their cause.”

When Senator McCain lost his fifth plane over Hanoi and had to eject, he suffered fractures to both arms and one leg. Although he must have been in severe pain, after three or four days of being slapped around and questioned by his captors Senator McCain called for an officer and told him “OK, I’ll give you military information if you will take me to the hospital.” U.S. News and World Report, May 14, 1973 article written by former POW John McCain.

Senator McCain was taken to Gai Lam military hospital which was normally unavailable to American POWS. While technically still a prisoner of war, Senator McCain seemed to have certain privileges not shared by his fellow servicemen. In his own words again, ". . . Many visitors came to talk to me [John McCain]. Not all of it was for interrogation. Once a famous North Vietnamese writer-an old man with a Ho Chi Minh beard-came to my room, wanting to know all about Ernest Hemingway . . . Others came to find out about life in the United States. They figured because my father had such high military rank that I was of the royalty or governing circle . . . One of the men who came to see me, whose picture I recognized later, was Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap, the hero of Dienbienphu."

In 1967 Hanoi press started running quotes by Senator McCain which gave away specific military information. One such report stated, "To a question of the correspondent, McCain answered: 'My assignment to the Oriskany, I told myself, was due to serious losses in pilots, which were sustained by this aircraft carrier (due to its raids on the North Vietnam territory - VNA) and which necessitated replacements. From 10 to 12 pilots were transferred like me from the Forrestal to the Oriskany. Before I was shot down, we had made several sorties. Altogether, I made about 23 flights over North Vietnam.'" McCain is further quoted as describing the number of aircraft in his flight and information concerning rescue ships.

For nearly two years McCain was held in isolation. During this time no one other McCain and his captors know for sure what took place. Some claim the McCain underwent “intense indoctrination and psychological programs”.

Towards the end of his internment as a POW Senator McCain was interviewed by Dr. Fernando Barral, a psychiatrist from Spain who was living in Cuba at the time. The interview was photographed by the Vietnamese and shows McCain drinking coffee and eating oranges and cakes with Dr. Barral. During this interview McCain answered questions freely in Spanish, another apparent violation of the Code of Conduct by failing to evade answering questions to the utmost of his ability.

McCain states that he was physically beaten and physically abused while held captive at one location known as the Plantation. According to an Article in the Phoenix New Times in March of 1999, two former POW’s who were McCain’s senior ranking officers at the time state that although they could not state for sure that he was not beaten, they doubted the events McCain claimed had happened, actually did occur.

One of these men, Gordon “Swede” Larson, stated, "Between the two of us, it's our belief, and to the best of our knowledge, that no prisoner was beaten or harmed physically in that camp [known as "The Plantation"]," Larson went on to say, ". . . My only contention with the McCain deal is that while he was at The Plantation, to the best of my knowledge and Ted's knowledge, he was not physically abused in any way. No one was in that camp. It was the camp that people were released from."

As I stated, no one, other than John McCain and his captors, knows for sure what took place while he was held captive as a POW. It is interesting though that in 1993 on one of Senator McCain’s trips back to Hanoi he asked the Vietnamese not to make public the records they held pertaining to U.S. POW’s.

There is an unwritten code among servicemen that to the best of their ability they will leave no man behind. In 1973 the U.S. saw the repatriation of 591 U.S. servicemen who had been held captive as POW’s. However, it was estimated that still there were a large number of POW’s held in Vietnam, Laos, and possibly even in Southern China.

In 1973 the State Department stated that data showed the prisoner list to be starkly incomplete. Only nine of the 591 returnees came out of Laos although experts in military intelligence listed 311 men as missing in that country. Yet on March 29, 1973 President Nixon proclaimed that ‘all our American POW’s are on their way home.’ That discrepancy has never been explained.

As a former POW, you would think that Senator McCain would want to do all that he could to settle this dispute once and for all. In 1989 the House of Representatives introduced a measure entitled ‘The Truth Bill’. This simple legislation stated, “[The] head of each department or agency which holds or receives any records and information, including live-sighting reports, which have been correlated or possibly correlated to United States personnel listed as prisoner of war or missing in action from World War II, the Korean conflict and the Vietnam conflict shall make available to the public all such records and information held or received by that department or agency. In addition, the Department of Defense shall make available to the public with its records and information a complete listing of United States personnel classified as prisoner of war, missing in action, or killed in action (body not returned) from World War II, the Korean conflict, and the Vietnam conflict.”

Opposed by the Pentagon, The Truth Bill got nowhere. In 1991 it was reintroduced again, and once again was stymied. Then out of the blue, in the Senate comes a bill written by Senator John McCain came a new piece of legislation bearing his name alone, ‘The McCain Bill’. This legislation created a bureaucratic nightmare that made sure only a handful of the available documents would ever see the light of day. It miraculously passed and became law. Now the Pentagon is not required to inform the public when it receives intelligence stating that Americans are still alive and held in captivity.

What gives Senator McCain? Where is your loyalty to your fellow servicemen? The POW/MIA movement is still alive in this country, but it has faded to the background, only to be kept alive by those who still have loved ones unaccounted for. They have little to no hope of ever finding out the truth regarding the whereabouts of their loved ones, yet they still hang on to hope.

Yet a professor of law at the University of Wisconsin, and the editor of The Encyclopedia of the Vietnam War, calls these people ‘sick’. Professor Kutler states, “If it weren't so sick, it would be laughable. These are not nice people. They are the other side in an ongoing uncivil Civil War in America. They would refight Vietnam, criminalize abortion, make public school prayer mandatory, prove that Hillary bumped off Vince Foster, and indict Teddy Kennedy for Chappaquiddick. They are uncivil and intolerant of any views or information they do not share."

I wonder if Professor Kutler and Senator McCain would say the same, and block every effort of the families of loved ones who disappeared in abduction cases across America?

Senator McCain claims to have what it takes to be Commander in Chief. He claims he has the leadership qualities that this nation needs. In simple straight talk that Senator McCain is so fond of using I would like to see him explain his conduct regarding the points I have just made. The American people deserve the truth, and it appears that Senator McCain has not been very straightforward when it comes to that commodity.


The Zombieslayer said...

I can't stand McCain. I think he's the worst of the Republican candidates. I don't trust him on any issue, and I know he has an F in guns. I don't trust him to protect the border either.

POW Warrior said...

More on McCain and what he has done to POW/MIA Families.

The POW Warrior

Anonymous said...

My father was on the USS Forrestal when it's firey fate happened.
I have pictures of the craft while in flames and after the damage.