The Un-American Hero: The Crimes of John McCain
by Brandon Turbeville, Activist Post
On Thursday January 29, 2015, famed mass murderer Henry Kissinger was once again scheduled to address the US Senate Armed Services Committee. Because the tradition of allowing some of the most bloodthirsty killers, traitors, and psychopaths to address members of Congress or provide them with marching orders is par for the course in Washington, Kissinger’s appearance should have come as no surprise to anyone.
Nor should it have come as a surprise that this committee boasted a terrorist sympathizer and notorious color revolution artist like John McCain as a member. What was surprising, however, was that this particular address saw a small number of protesters who disrupted the scheduled meeting both before and during Kissinger’s speech.
Both Kissinger’s arrival as well as the beginning of his speech were interrupted by protesters from Code Pink, who attempted to list off the crimes of Henry Kissinger but were unable to continue their presentation for the requisite number of days it would take to do so due to the fact that Capitol Hill police were called in to remove them.
It has been said that birds of a feather flock together and proof of that statement can be seen in the fact that terrorist sympathizer John McCain then appeared on his white horse to act as Knight in Shining Armor for Kissinger.
McCain, always a friend to those who have committed or are doing their best to commit atrocities on a mass scale, erupted in typical angry fashion screaming at protesters, “You know, you’re going to have to shut up, or I’m going to have you arrested.” As the protesters were being removed, McCain also screamed, “Get out of here you low-life scum.”
McCain went on to apologize to Kissinger by stating that “Dr. Kissinger, I hope on behalf of all of the members of this committee on both sides of the aisle — in fact, from all of my colleagues, I’d like to apologize for allowing such disgraceful behavior towards a man who served his country with the greatest distinction. I apologize profusely. Many Americans, particularly Vietnam veterans, however, may indeed remember “such disgraceful behavior towards a man who served his country with the greatest distinction” taking place in the Capitol. Indeed, John McCain’s performance in front of Congress when arguing against any further investigation or revelation of whether or not American POW’s were still being held in Vietnam, would certainly count as one such instance.
There was not only one of these performances, however, there were many.
McCain Dismisses Missing Military Personnel
As Sydney Schanburg wrote in his excellent article, “The War Secrets Sen. John McCain Hides,” McCain was consistent, at least in his actions, in his refusal to allow any further attempts to discover and recover missing American POWs in Vietnam as well as even the possibility of allowing any further investigation as to the possibility that Americans were still being held captive. This is, of course, despite McCain’s incessant reliance on his military service as some type of qualification for whatever his political position of the day might be.
But there was one subject that was off-limits, a subject the Arizona senator almost never brings up and has never been open about — his 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 5 1/2 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.
Many Vietnam veterans and former POWs have fumed at McCain for keeping these and other wartime files sealed up. His explanation, offered freely in Senate hearings and floor speeches, is that no one has been proven still alive and that releasing the files would revive painful memories and cause needless emotional stress to former prisoners, their families and the families of MIAs still unaccounted for. But what if some of these returned prisoners, as has always been the case at the conclusion of wars, reveal information to their debriefing officers about other prisoners believed still held in captivity? What justification is there for filtering such information through the Pentagon rather than allowing access to source materials? For instance, debriefings from returning Korean war POWs, available in full to the American public, have provided both citizens and government investigators with important information about other Americans who went missing in that conflict.
Would not most families of missing men, no matter how emotionally drained, want to know? And would they not also want to know what the government was doing to rescue their husbands and sons? Hundreds of MIA families have for years been questioning if concern for their feelings is the real reason for the secrecy.
Others, however, suspect that all of McCain’s insistence in keeping the information classified revolves around whether or not releasing the debriefings would open the door to McCain’s closet, suggesting that there skeletons lurking inside it that the Senator does not want falling out. Schanburg writes,
A smaller number of former POWs, MIA families and veterans have suggested there is something especially damning about McCain that the senator wants to keep hidden. Without release of the files, such accusations must be viewed as unsubstantiated speculation. The main reason, however, for seeking these files is to find out if there is any information in the debriefings, or in other MIA documents that McCain and the Pentagon have kept sealed, about how many prisoners were held back by North Vietnam after the Paris peace treaty was signed in January 1973. The defense and intelligence establishment has long resisted the declassification of critical records on this subject. McCain has been the main congressional force behind this effort.
The prisoner return in 1973 saw 591 Americans repatriated by North Vietnam. The problem was that the U.S. intelligence list of men believed to be alive at that time in captivity — in Vietnam, Laos and possibly across the border in southern China and in the Soviet Union — was much larger.
Possibly hundreds of men larger. The State Department stated publicly in 1973 that intelligence data showed the prisoner list to be starkly incomplete. For example, only nine of the 591 returnees came out of Laos, though experts in U.S. military intelligence listed 311 men as missing in that Hanoi-run country alone, and their field reports indicated that many of those men were probably still alive. Hanoi said it was returning all the prisoners it had. President Nixon, on March 29, 1973, seconded that claim, telling the nation on television: “All of our American POWs are on their way home.” This discrepancy has never been acknowledged or explained by official Washington. Over the years in Washington, McCain, at times almost single-handedly, has pushed through Pentagon-desired legislation to make it impossible or much harder for the public to acquire POW/MIA information and much easier for the defense bureaucracy to keep it hidden.
Then there is also the case of the Truth Bill. A relatively simple bill which stated that
[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.
As one might suspect, a Pentagon implicated in the abandonment of these soldiers thus vehemently opposed the bill.
The bill was defeated in 1989. In 1991, it reappeared only to quickly disappear again. Although the interest from family members of the missing veterans as well as the American public had not necessarily waned, another bill was inserted in its place – The McCain Bill. As Schanburg describes,
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 1991, 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”).
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.
In 1996, however, another bill appeared. Entitled the Missing Service Personnel Act, the bill attempted to force the Pentagon to do more and act faster to find and subsequently recover missing military service personnel. The bill contained measures that required very strict reporting requirements for these purposes.