January 16, 2008, - 1:52 pm

Swiftboating McCain: Who’s Behind Trashing Vietnam POW’s War Record?

By Debbie Schlussel
As most of you know, I don’t really like any of the Presidential candidates too much. None is a true down the line conservative who also has a proven track record in opposing Islamofascism. As you also know, I like Giuliani the best because of his strong anti-terror stands and record. I don’t like his social agenda or his record on and flip-flopping vis-a-vis immigration and amnesty for illegal aliens, but I’m willing to look the other way on those (because I believe and hope that he won’t push amnesty and will get tough on border security as Prez), if he picks up speed again after horrible campaign moves in neglecting Michigan and other early states.
That said, even though John McCain is not my candidate–and I’m troubled by many of his positions on issues, I’m disgusted by the actions of Vietnam Veterans Against McCain:

John McCain’s campaign blasted as “garbage” a mailing sent out by a small band of Vietnam veterans that accused the Arizona Republican of betraying fellow prisoners of war.


POW John McCain in Vietnam

The two-page mailing, which began arriving in South Carolina mailboxes Monday, includes a cartoon showing McCain in POW garb, sitting in a prison cell. Scrolled on the cell wall are, among other things, “songbird” and “The POWs I helped leave behind.”
“These two pieces of paper are a collection of half truths and misinformation and simply done to try and destroy John McCain,” former POW Orson Swindle said Tuesday in a conference call with reporters that McCain’s campaign arranged.
Swindle is part of what the McCain campaign is calling its “Truth Squad” to debunk negative attacks against the GOP candidate in advance of the upcoming South Carolina primary. . . .
A group called Vietnam Veterans Against McCain, formed early last year by Garnerville, N.Y., resident Jerry Kiley, 61, distributed this week’s mailing. . . .
Among other things, Kiley’s group believes McCain gave away confidential information during his time as a POW, received preferential treatment from his captors and, since returning home, has turned his back on fellow POWs whom Kiley believes were left behind in Vietnam.
Swindle dismissed such notions as the ideas of a “a very few zealous conspiracy theory people.”
In 2004, Kiley led a similar effort against Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry and even staged a protest at the Democratic National Convention in Boston.
The anti-McCain mailing was sent to 80 newspaper editors in South Carolina, Kiley said.

I used to like John McCain a lot, when he really was a conservative, as an Arizona Congressman. (He “moderated” as a U.S. Senator.) At that time, I was in high school, and I met John McCain. If you’ve ever seen him in person, his arms hang in a weird way from his body. That’s because he was tortured by the VietCong for, among other things, refusing to attend an anti-U.S. Jane Fonda rally. His arms and legs were broken, and with no medical treatment in captivity, they never healed correctly. I’d love to know how that constitutes “preferential treatment” from the VietCong. It’s the exact opposite.
I do agree that full normalization with Vietnam should have included more stringent requirements for locating and releasing American POWs, something I don’t think McCain pressed enough.
Still, that these alleged Vietnam Veterans would defame McCain’s POW experience is nauseating. But the question is: Who is behind it? Are they Romney supporters? Or Fred Thompson supporters? It’s apparently one or the other. Defaming the troops is New York Times territory, not the action of any legitimate Republican would-be President.
It’s truly outrageous. Um, sorry, but John McCain is no John Kerry. He didn’t throw away his medals. He served with honor–even in amidst torture and risk to his life.

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11 Responses

I’m not at all a fan of McCain the politician.
BUT!!!, it’s beyond comprehension a single person can even think of besmirching his patriotism.
John McCain is one of the great heroes of this country.
That’s just beyond disgusting for them to attempt to defame the Hero John McCain.
Thanks for the article pointing out those cowards, Debbie.

Jeff_W on January 16, 2008 at 2:46 pm

File this under “Are you kidding me?” So, John McCain enduring years of brutal, crippling treatment at the hands of the Communists equals preferential treatment. But jihadists legally detained as unlawful combattants, who get such great medical care and halal meals that they PUT ON WEIGHT…THAT equals torture. I also find it odd that this guy is giving McCain the same treatment as Kerry. Kerry tried to make himself out to be a downtrodden war hero when he led the “Winter Warrior” testimony before Congress, when he was in fact just a ticket-puncher doing the minimum time possible in a war zone. McCain lost years of his freedom and came home when all the other POWs did.
I have the same concerns about McCain’s record as you do , Debbie. But this kind of treatment is unbelievable.

SeanM on January 16, 2008 at 3:03 pm

I don’t think this is a question of swiftboating, the families of people who believe there are POW’s left in Vietnam have been very harshly critical of McCain who has himself been very harshly critical of people claiming that there are POW’s left behind
most such people don’t accuse him of having been a traitor which is going much too far, but this issue has been around for a while and resurfaces each time McCain runs for office

sultan_knish on January 16, 2008 at 3:14 pm

This is really beneath you Debbie: “Who is behind it? Are they Romney supporters? Or Fred Thompson supporters? It’s apparently one or the other.”
That’s a great leap from reality. It could be Huckabee, or Giuliani, or it could be the donks hoping to knock McCain out before the primaries are over. — Or it could be DS trying to influence the primaries.

Frank Laughter on January 16, 2008 at 5:42 pm

It’s Hillary’s attack machine trying to cause trouble.

lexi on January 16, 2008 at 7:24 pm

If you don’t think we left POWs behind in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Russia, you don’t know squat. Attacking McCain is wrong, but attacking the POW/MIA contingent is worse.

code7 on January 16, 2008 at 9:52 pm

Using the term “swiftboating” is what’s outrageous here.
John Kerry filed his first Purple Heart medal after being thrown out of a MASH in Viet Nam for reporting with a self-inflicted “injury” that the doctor determined didn’t even warant a single stitch. He also faked recommendations on his own behalf for his other two Purple Hearts. Then he forged Zumwalt’s signature on his Silver Star recommendation, which Zumwalt could not even recall, an unlikely scenario.
John Kerry Viet Nam after only 3 months, having been treated with only a few stitches for his minor injuries.
It is also true that John Kerry was a turncoat and a liar, which got him thrown out of the Naval Reserves, forcing fellow-traveller President Jimmy Carter to seal Kerry’s tawdry service record.
So, if speaking with intellectual honesty, “swiftboating” is a positive concept, and has nothing to do with the McCain smear.
To this day, the allegations laid out in Unfit For Command are true, which is why they have gone unchallenged by Kerry.

Alarmed Pig Farmer on January 17, 2008 at 1:35 pm

McCain is definitely a courageous man, but his record in support of amnesty for illegals and other liberal causes disqualify him from the Republican candidacy.

TheOmegaMan on January 17, 2008 at 1:54 pm

Yeah, Yeah, Debbie, I read the whole post, twice, I was speaking to a group of McCain’s supporters or anybody else’s that would paint the MIA/POW group as conspiratorial nuts, that misunderstanding is my fault. McCain doesn’t owe anything to the POWs or MIAs, it was hoped that he would take up their fight, simple as that. As far as what he knows about illegal immigration, not a whole lot, almost embarrassing.
Alarmed Pig Farmer – My understanding is that Kerry’s Silver Star was actually approved by his commanding officer, as required by regulation. That being said, I understood, maybe incorrectly, that Kerry was acting in that capacity, thus approved his own Silver Star.
Kerry’s role in the POW/MIA story really never got the scrutiny in the last election it deserved. It is enough to make you sick. The Dems insulted everyone who ever served in the Reserves or National Guard attacking Bush’s Military record. Forget the “Swiftboat” crowd, the truth is, that no one cares about the very small minority that carries this country’s defense anymore. Until they get a suicide bomber walking into their coffee shop, they just won’t get it. Only a tiny group of Americans serves in the Armed Forces and only a tiny group of those actually carry the load in the “Combat Arms”. Not to knock the rest, just walk a mile in the infantryman’s shoes. Peacetime or at war, they sacrifice everyday for this country and they don’t work at Walmart or Sears at night they work one job 24/7 no excuses.

code7 on January 17, 2008 at 10:08 pm

Yeah, I heard about this years ago. Rumors also said his father was a high-ranking military man who changed some rules to get John pardoned for snitching.
Whether John is guilty or not, this story is still suspect. I’d rather see a few more sources to confirm it’s validity – it’s the historian in me. For now; this qualifies as “poltics as usual.”
Just a side note: I’m not voting for anybody. They’ll all get us killed. I’m just going to vote against the judges and all tax hike bills, and go home.

bhparkman on January 18, 2008 at 1:15 am

The Flying Curmudgeon has always admired John McCain’s war record.
As his father, ADM. John S. McCain, Jr., was CINCPAC at the time, the North Vietnamese had offered him early release. The then LCDR. John S. McCain III, recognizing what a propaganda coup this would give the enemy, courageously refused their “kind” offer.
Anyone who would besmirch John McCain’s war record is either a fool or an idiot, or both.
Fast forward to the present.
Aside from Sen. Joe Lieberman, the now Sen. John McCain was the lone voice of support for President Bush’s policy in Iraq, during the darkest days one short year ago.
With the success of “The Surge,” both the President’s and Sen. McCain’s dogged refusal to give in to naysayers has been vindicated. Since the War in Iraq has, for the most part, disappeared from the front page of the “Newspaper of Record,” this illustrates just how successful “The Surge” has obviously been.
Will Sen. McCain go on to win the nomination?
At this point, only time will tell.
(Would that the Fred Thompson of the South Carolina Fox News debate had appeared six months earlier. 🙁 )
His war-time heroism notwithstanding, Sen. McCain will need to convince a skeptical Republican base(TFC among them), that he is going to be true to the principles espoused by the great Ronaldus Maximus, which so many of his fellow RINO’s seem to have forgotten.
(At least he didn’t win the endorsement of the New Hampshire NEA.)

TheFlyingCurmudgeon on January 20, 2008 at 11:46 am

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