The John McCain Dossier

  • What about John McCain's claim of having been tortured in Hanoi?

  •  'Hanoi Hilton' jailer says he'd vote for McCain. John McCain has an unusual endorsement — from the Vietnamese jailer who says he held him captive for about five years as a POW and now considers him a friend. "If I were an American voter, I would vote for Mr. John McCain," Tran Trong Duyet said Friday, sitting in his living room in the northern city of Haiphong. At the same time, he denies prisoners of war were tortured. Despite detailed POW accounts and physical wounds, Duyet claims the presumed Republican presidential nominee made up beatings and solitary confinement in an attempt to win votes. His statements seem to echo the communist leadership's overall line on America: It insists the torture claims are fabricated. McCain spent 5 1/2 years behind bars in Hanoi. McCain still bears the evidence of his wounds and has described being repeatedly bound and beaten by his captors. After his plane was hit by a surface-to-air missile during a bombing mission over Hanoi in 1967, McCain ejected and suffered a broken leg, two broken arms, and was briefly knocked unconscious. The Vietnamese mob who found him smashed his shoulder and he was bayoneted.
    "Of course the Americans started the war in Vietnam and killed so many people - but now we want to leave the past behind", said Tran Trong Duyet, the head of the Hanoi Hilton. (BBC, 06/23/08).
    West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller (chair of the Intelligence committee) believes McCain has become insensitive to many human issues. "McCain was a fighter pilot, who dropped laser-guided missiles from 35,000 feet. He was long gone when they hit. "What happened when they [the missiles] get to the ground? He doesn't know. You have to care about the lives of people. McCain never gets into those issues." (Charleston Gazette, April 8, 2008).
    In blogs there was this response by Tom Cleaver: Yeah, McCain wasn’t flying along at 35,000 feet zzoming and booming - he was poking around at 2,000 feet, at around 300 mph, when he got the chop. Like his “firebug” moment on the Forrestal, he was doing exactly what he’d been taught not to do, because doing it would put his ass in danger.
    And Steve had this to say: John S. McCain (S standing for stupider-than-a-freshly-napalmed-rice-paddy) has go to be the piss-poorest excuse for a combat veteran that ever lived. Any other Naval aviator who had smashed up as many aircraft as John S. McCain (again, the S stands for stupider-than-a-freshly-napalmed-rice-paddy) would never have had the opportunity to be shot down while hot-dogging above known antiaircraft emplacements, below minimum allowed speed and altitude as per the articles of Naval combat engagement. The only reason that he wasn’t hauled before court and stuffed into a meatgrinder was because of his “daddy” and his “grand-daddy.”
    Katy Hill
    The WARMONGER is trying to make Vietnam some kind of honorable American mission. Like Iraq we were somewhere we didn’t beloing & we killed thousands & thousands of innocents. McCain should be ashamed for his part in it not holding himself up as a hero.
    Critics have accused McCain of war crimes for bombing targets in Hanoi in the 1960s. Sunday, a widely read liberal blog accused McCain of "disloyalty" during his captivity in Vietnam for his coerced participation in propaganda films and interviews after he’d been tortured. "A lot of people don't know… that McCain made a propaganda video for the enemy while he was in captivity," wrote Americablog's John Aravosis. "Putting that bit of disloyalty aside, what exactly is McCain's military experience that prepares him for being commander in chief?" "Getting shot down, tortured, and then doing propaganda for the enemy is not command experience," Aravosis wrote in the blog post, entitled "Honestly, besides being tortured, what did McCain do to excel in the military?" The newsletter CounterPunch published this April an article by Doug Valentine headed "Meet the Real John McCain: North Vietnam's Go-To Collaborator." Valentine suggested McCain contemplated suicide—something the candidate has written about, and attributed in part to his guilt at not withstanding torture—because he was a "war criminal" whose bombs fell on civilians. In a Huffington Post blog, a former editor of Mother Jones magazine, Jeffrey Klein, called—in tones reminiscent of right-wing attacks on Kerry in 2004—on McCain to release elements of his Navy record that the candidate has not made available to the public or the press. "Some of the unreleased pages in McCain's Navy file may not reflect well upon his qualifications for the presidency," he wrote. As to why, Klein speculated that "From day one in the Navy, McCain screwed-up again and again, only to be forgiven because his father and grandfather were four-star admirals." David Fenton, a prominent progressive public relations executive who works for MoveOn and other groups, also inquired about details of McCain's Navy sorties. "I wouldn't characterize anybody who fought in Vietnam as a war hero," said Medea Benjamin, a co-founder of the theatrical anti-war group Code Pink. "In 23 bombing sorties, there must have been civilians that were killed and there's no heroism to that." Noam Chomsky, the linguist and activist, said in an email that he thought Americans should question the relevance of McCain's torture in an unjust war to his campaign. "The questions could scarcely even be understood within the reigning intellectual and moral culture—though I don't doubt that much of the population would understand," Chomsky said. "I know and like McCain," Tom Hayden, a former California State Senator and prominent anti-war activist, told Politico in an email. "From my own perspective and that of many anti-war activists of that era, the fact that he bombed North Vietnam some 25 times, probably killing civilians, gets blurred with the facts that he suffered through that long prison ordeal, then also went on to promote diplomatic relations between the two countries." "It's like asking a guy that served his jail term here—you'd say he's done his time so that's behind him," Hayden said.
    A search of Obama’s community website, my.BarackObama.com, finds two posts calling McCain a “war criminal.”
    Here they are and more:
    Post from Tiowa Reynolds's Blog: A vote for John McCain is a vote for a war criminal who dropped bombs on innocent people from high altitudes in an illegal war and spent five years in a POW camp. And todays #1 reason not to vote for John McCain is "Because another 100 years of war is NOT just what this country needs."
    Miss Bunny "Hussein" - May 26th, 2008 at 4:12 am EDT: McCain a War Criminal, not a Hero
    Zeitgeist - May 19th, 2008 at 2:33 am EDT: McCain is a Vietnam era war criminal, not a war hero. Watch the following brief commentary. http://digg.com/political_opinion/John_McCain_War_Criminal. The Vietnamese had good reason to hate McCain.  On his previous 22 missions, he had dropped God knows how many bombs killing God knows how many innocent civilians.  “I am a war criminal,” he confessed on “60 Minutes” in 1997. “I bombed innocent women and children.”
    !Bitter-Sweetie ★kjoftherock★NO Telecom Immunity! - May 1st, 2008 at 2:58 pm EDT citing Left Unity for A Left-CenterCandidate. . By Keith Joseph. Rutgers SDS Member: In November, we must make sure Obama defeats the war criminal John McCain.

DOUGLAS VALENTINE: War.  If you’re a Glory Boy like John Sidney McCain III, you really have no idea what it is.  You drop bombs on cities, on civilians, maybe on enemy forces, maybe on your own troops.  Glory Boys like John McCain rarely get a taste of the horror they inflict on others.  Their suffering rarely extends beyond the high anxiety that they might get shot down and that some bombarded mob on the ground might take its revenge. In the fall of 1967, Navy pilot John McCain was routinely bombing Hanoi from an aircraft carrier in the South China Sea. On October 26, he was trying to level a power plant in a heavily populated area when a surface-to-air missile knocked a wing off his jet.  Banged-up John McCain and what was left of plane splashed into Truc Bach Lake. A compassionate Vietnamese civilian left his air raid shelter and swam out to McCain.  McCain’s arm and leg were fractured and he was tangled up in his parachute underwater.  He was drowning.  The Vietnamese man saved McCain’s sorry ass, and yet McCain has nothing but hatred for “the gooks” who allegedly tortured him. As he told reporters on his campaign bus (The Straight Talk Express) in 2000, “I will hate them as long as I live.” The man who rescued McCain tried to ward off an angry mob, which stomped on McCain for a while until the local cops turned him over to the military. McCain was in pain, but suffering no mortal wounds.  He was, however, in enough pain to break down and start collaborating with the Vietnamese after three days in a hospital receiving treatment from qualified doctors – something no other POW ever enjoyed. War is one thing, collaborating with the enemy is another; it is a legitimate campaign issue that strikes at the heart of McCain’s character…or lack thereof. McCain, in his carefully prepared statements, claims he was tortured while in solitary confinement, and that is why he signed a confession saying, “I am a black criminal and I have performed the deeds of an air pirate. I almost died and the Vietnamese people saved my life, thanks to the doctors.” McCain had a unique POW experience. Initially, he was taken to the infamous Hanoi Hilton prison camp, where he was interrogated.  By McCain’s own account, after three or four days, he cracked.  He promised his Vietnamese captors, "I'll give you military information if you will take me to the hospital."One can only wonder when the concierge at the Hanoi Hilton started taking calls from Admiral McCain.  Rather quickly, one surmises, for the Vietnamese soon took John Boy McCain to a hospital reserved for Vietnamese officers.  Unlike his fellow POWs, he received care from a Soviet doctor. For his part, McCain acknowledges that the Vietnamese rushed him to a hospital, but denies he was given any "special medical treatment." However….two weeks into his stay at the Vietnamese hospital, the Hanoi press began quoting him.  It was not “name rank and serial number, or kill me,” as specified by the military code of conduct.  McCain divulged specific military information: he gave the name of the aircraft carrier on which he was based, the number of US pilots that had been lost, the number of aircraft in his flight formation, as well as information about the location of rescue ships. Collaborating during the first two weeks might have been pragmatic, but he soon became North Vietnam’s go-to collaborator for the next three years. Not content with divulging military information, McCain provided his voice in radio broadcasts used by the North Vietnamese to demoralize American soldiers.Vietnamese radio propagandists made good use out of McCain.  On June 4, 1969, a U.S. wire service headlined a story entitled "PW Songbird Is Pilot Son of Admiral.” The story reported that McCain collaborated in psywar offensives aimed at American servicemen.(CounterPunch).

General Wesley Clark: "Well, I don’t think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president." (NYT, 07/01/08)
Phoenix New Times
, March 25, 1999 -- Two former POWs, Air Force Colonels Ted Guy and Gordon "Swede" Larson, said in a feature article that while they could not guarantee that McCain was not physically harmed, they doubted it. Both Guy and Larson were senior ranking officers (SRO's) in McCain's POW camp at a time he claims he was in solitary confinement and being tortured. Larson told the New Times, "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']. "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."

Another document against McCain's lies:
Senator McCain is pictured embracing Mai Van On in Hanoi, November 13, 1996. On identified himself as one of the Vietnamese who pulled McCain from Hanoi's Truc Bach Lake, where McCain parachuted in 1967 after his bomber was shot down. McCain has said, many times, that, after pulling him from the lake, the Vietnamese brutally beat him and stabbed him with a bayonet.
Newsweek's Evan Thomas writes:
He wanted combat in Vietnam and got it. On his 23rd mission over North Vietnam, on Oct. 26, 1967, he was flying through heavy flak over Hanoi, dodging SAM missiles that looked "like flying telephone poles," when he heard a "beep" signaling that a SAM had locked on to his plane. McCain was just about to drop his bomb on target. He writes that he should have jinked to evade the missile, but out of stubbornness, or a mad kind of bravery, he flew straight on and toggled the bomb switch—just as the missile blew off the right wing of his plane. The force of the ejection from the spinning plane broke his right leg and both arms. The magazine prints a photo showing McCain lying in a Vietnamese hospital with his arms in cast, thus indirectly contradicting his claims that his captivators broke his arms during interogations or as Thomas continues to write: After he parachuted into a lake in the middle of Hanoi, a North Vietnamese guard shattered his shoulder with a rifle butt and plunged a bayonet into his ankle and groin.. A few sentences later: With regular beatings, the guards tried to break him and make him confess his sins as an "air pirate."He couldn't stand captivity and tried to kill himself: He climbed on his waste bucket and tried to hang himself by tying his shirt to a window shutter and wrapping it around his neck. Before he could kick the bucket, the guards stopped him. (He tried a second time, in a more halfhearted way; "I doubt I really intended to kill myself," he writes.) McCain did make a meaningless confession of his "air piracy," and it haunted him to think his father would find out. Released after the 1973 Peace Accords, McCain returned to the United States a hero. Another photo (only online) shows Vietnamese saving his life by pulling him out of a lake. Evan Thomas does not question the legality of the 23 air raids McCain had flown over North Vietnam and how many innocent Vietnamese he had killed during these missions. Feb 11, 2008 Issue.
When President G. W. Bush visited Hanoi he said one of the most poignant moments of the trip was passing the lake that Senator John McCain, as a Navy pilot, was pulled from after his plane was hit while on a bombing run. "He suffered a lot as a result of his imprisonment," Bush said, "and yet we passed the place where he was, literally, saved, in one way, by the people pulling him out." In fact, McCain was met onshore by a large, hostile crowd, which hit, kicked and even bayoneted him. (Time, Nov.27, 2006).
Jeffrey Klein: McCain's Secret, Questionable Record. Despite graduating in the bottom 1 percent of his Annapolis class, McCain was offered the most sought-after Navy assignment -- to become an aircraft carrier pilot. McCain's file should also include records and analytic reviews of McCain's subsequent sub-par performances. Instead of the sleek and newer Phantoms and Crusaders, McCain flew the dependable Douglas A-4 Skyhawk in an attack, not a fighter squadron. He was thus on the lower end of the flying totem pole. .One Saturday morning, as McCain was practicing landings, his engine quit and his plane plunged into Corpus Christi. Flying too low over the Iberian Peninsula, he took out some power lines, which led to a spate of newspaper stories in which he was predictably identified as the son of an admiral.... [In 1965] he flew a trainer solo to Philadelphia for the Army-Navy game. Flying by way of Norfolk, he had just begun his descent over unpopulated tidal terrain when the engine died. 'I've got a flameout,' he radioed. He went through the standard relight procedures three times. At one thousand feet he ejected, landing on the deserted beach moments before the plane slammed into a clump of trees. As Carl Bernstein reported in Vanity Fair, he piloted an ultra-light, single propeller plane -- and crashed another time. His fifth loss of a plane has vanished from public records, but should be a subject of discussion in his Navy file. It wouldn't be surprising if his naval superiors worried that McCain was just too defiant, too reckless and too crash prone.

John Aravosis: I find it fascinating that John McCain, who is refusing to vote for the GI Bill for our troops because "it's too generous," is himself getting $58,000 a year, tax-free, from the US government for his military service. Had McCain been getting that amount every year since Vietnam, that would total $2,000,000 for the man who isn't into overgenerous government.

Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) waded into the debate over John McCain's military service Monday to say that the Republican should avoid using military service in politics. "I think what we really need to work on over the next four, five months, and it goes back to the speech that Sen. Obama gave [Monday] and this little fight that I've been watching and that is, we need to make sure that we take politics out of service," Webb said. "People don't serve their country for political issues."He continued: "And John McCain's my long-time friend, if that is one area that I would ask him to calm down on, it`s that, don't be standing up and uttering your political views and implying that all the people in the military support them because they don't, any more than when the Democrats have political issues during the Vietnam War. Let's get the politics out of the military, take care of our military people, or have our political arguments in other areas."