I remember reading a few weeks back that Tom Brokaw said something to the effect that John McCain couldn't be questioned for his fitness to office on the basis of being a POW. I wondered at the time , WHO is deciding that the American public can't discuss anything the fool they want and WHY is corporate media making those decisions? During the Kerry-Bush campaign, corporate media sure did play all the Swift Boat attacks constantly and have the players in that on all the time. I still have a clip I recorded of nutty Michelle Malkin saying that Kerry deliberately shot himself. I also recall the huge clamor for George Bush's Texas Guard records, which, frankly, ended with Dan Rather's disgrace but still didn't answer the mystery of why he was AWOL. It's still a little shocking that man who DID have bonafide military experience lost in points to a man who joined the Guard (as others did at the time) to escape it.. and then didn't even complete it.
Seems to me that the opposition party MUST make the media pay attention and do its job, and I see no reason not to examine McCain's military records or his positions about POWs. After all, despite some poor-mouthing to the contrary, he has made the fact that he is a POW the central plus for his campaign, as if being a POW makes you more fit to be a president, than, say, being an attorney, or being a doctor, or having Senate experience, or just plain having common sense! Fine, he believes that. But we can QUESTION it!
Treason-There are some people,including one prominent group of Veterans, that believe that John McCain committed treason, that he wasn't a POW but merely a *survivor*.
John McCain seriously violated the Military Code of Conduct by trading "military information" and making numerous public statements that appeared favorable to the communist war effort in exchange for "special treatment."...
After being periodically slapped around for "three or four days" by his captors who wanted military information from him, McCain called for an officer on his fourth day of captivity. He told the officer, "O.K., 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
McCain was taken to Gai Lam military hospital normally unavailable to American POWS. (U.S. government documents)
"Demands for military information were accompanied by threats to terminate my medical treatment if I [McCain] did not cooperate. Eventually, I gave them my ship's name and squadron number, and confirmed that my target had been the power plant." Page 193-194, Faith of My Fathers by John McCain.
Nov. 9, 1967 (U.S. government documents) Hanoi press began quoting him giving specific military information.
One report dated read, "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.'"
In that report, McCain was quoted describing the number of aircraft in his flight, information about rescue ships, and the order of which his attack was supposed to take place.
Here's the bottom line on that.
In 1993, during one of his many trips back to Hanoi, McCain asked the Vietnamese not to make public the records they hold pertaining to returned U.S. POWs.
Why not? Why would McCain want to keep what happened with him quiet? More on that in a bit.
Military records-I read the other day that McCain apparently was One Terrible Pilot. He was in at least 3 air mishaps. Why doesn't he release his military records to the public?
POW records - John McCain is not for open government. He, like Bush, has worked to hide records that others in this country wanted to see. And the only reason I can determine for it is that he wanted to hide his own records. -I vaguely remember the uproar that happened when McCain and Kerry decided to STOP LOOKING FOR POWS and close the book on them. There were a lot of families who were sure or at least strongly wondered if their loved ones were still being held in North Vietnam or who thought that the Vietnamese had information about them that they weren't releasing. I personally thought that was reasonable, although I wondered after time had passed by, if they were holding onto false hopes about their loved ones being alive. On the other hand, I would imagine that sometimes people might simply want to know what happened, to put a period on the mystery, even if the person at the center of their hopes was not longer living.
What did McCain do? From "The War Secrets Senator John McCain Hides" by Schanberg.
The voters who were drawn to John S McCain in his run fo the Republican presidential nomination the this year (2000) often cited, as the core of his appeal, his openness and blunt candor and willingness to admit past lapses and release documents that other senators often hold back. .. But there was one subject that was off limits, a subject the Arizona senator almost never brings up and has never been open about- hit long-time opposition to releasing documents and information about American prisoners of war in Vietnam and the missing in action who have still not been accounted for. Since McCain himself, a downed Navy pilot, was a prisoner in Hanoi for five-and-a-half years, his staunch resistance to laying open the POW/MIA records has baffled colleagues and others who have followed his career. Critics say his anti-disclosure campaign, in close cooperation with the Pentagon and the intelligence community has been successful. Literally thousands of documents that would otherwise have been declassified long ago have been legislated into secrecy.
For example, all the Pentagon debriefings of the prisoners who returned from Vietnam are not classified and closed to the public under a statute enacted in the 1990's with McCain's backing. He says this is to protect the privacy of former POWs and gives it as his reason for not making public his own debriefing.
But the law allows a returned prisoner to view his own file or to designate another person to view it.
You really have to wonder about why McCain, if he truly was on the sides of veterans, POWs and the missing in action would have done THIS.
Opposed by Pentagon
Bitterly opposed by the Pentagon, “The Truth Bill” got nowhere. It was reintroduced in the next Congress in 1991 — and again disappeared. Then, suddenly, out of the Senate, birthed by the Arizona senator, a new piece of legislation emerged. It was called “The McCain Bill.” This measure turned “The Truth Bill ” on its head. It created a bureaucratic maze from which only a fraction of the available documents could emerge. And it became law. So restrictive were its provisions that one clause actually said the Pentagon didn’t even have to inform the public when it received intelligence that Americans were alive in captivity.
First, it decreed that only three categories of information could be released, i.e., “information … that may pertain to the location, treatment, or condition of” unaccounted-for personnel from the Vietnam War. (This was later amended in 1995 and 1996 to include the Cold War and the Korean conflict.) If information is received about anything other than “location, treatment or condition,” under this statute, which was enacted in December 199l, it does not get disclosed.
Second, before such information can be released to the public, permission must be granted by the primary next of kin, or PNOK. In the case of Vietnam, letters were sent by the Department of Defense to the 2,266 PNOK. More than 600 declined consent (including 243 who failed to respond, considered under the law to be a “no”).
Hurdles and limitations
Finally, in addition to these hurdles and limitations, the McCain act does not specifically order the declassification of the information. Further, it provides the Defense Department with other justifications for withholding documents. One such clause says that if the information “may compromise the safety of any United States personnel … who remain not accounted for but who may still be alive in captivity, then the Secretary [of Defense] may withhold that record or other information from the disclosure otherwise required by this section.”
Boiled down, the preceding paragraph means that the Defense Department is not obligated to tell the public about prisoners believed alive in captivity and what efforts are being made to rescue them. It only has to notify the White House and the intelligence committees in the Senate and House. The committees are forbidden under law from releasing such information.
At the same time, the McCain act is now being used to deny access to other sorts of records. For instance, part of a recent APBnews.com Freedom of Information Act request for the records of a mutiny on merchant marine vessel in the 1970s was rejected by a Defense Department official who cited the McCain act. Similarly, requests for information about Americans missing in the Korean War and declared dead for the last 45 years have been denied by officials who reference the McCain statute. (Read a denial letter.)
Another bill gutted in 1996
And then there is the Missing Service Personnel Act, which McCain succeeded in gutting in 1996. A year before, the act had been strengthened, with bipartisan support, to compel the Pentagon to deploy more resources with greater speed to locate and rescue missing men. The measure imposed strict reporting requirements.
McCain amended the heart out of the statute. For example, the 1995 version required a unit commander to report to his theater commander within two days that a person was missing and describe what rescue and recovery efforts were underway. The McCain amendments allowed 10 days to pass before a report had to be made.
In the 1995 act, the theater commander, after receiving the MIA report, would have 14 days to report to his Cabinet secretary in Washington. His report had to “ certify” that all necessary actions were being taken and all appropriate assets were being used “to resolve the status of the missing person.” This section was stricken from the act, replaced with language that made the Cabinet secretary, not the theater commander, the recipient of the report from the field. All the certification requirements also were stricken. ‘Turn commanders into clerks’ “This, ” said a McCain memo, “transfers the bureaucracy involved out of the field to Washington.” He argued that the original legislation, if left intact, “ would accomplish nothing but create new jobs for lawyers and turn military commanders into clerks.”
In response, the backers of the original statute cited the Pentagon’s stained record on MIA’s and argued that military history had shown that speed of action is critical to the chances of recovering a missing man. Moving “the bureaucracy ” to Washington, they said, was merely a way to sweep the issue under a rug.
So the question comes up again, why won't McCain release, to the public, his own POW records? He has made his POW experience the centerpiece of his campaign and frankly, it's pathetic to realize to what lengths he has gone to hide his experience, unless he's the one that gets to tell it his way.
Overall, since that is what he's running on, that should be fair game for the media to examine and question. As I said yesterday.