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Independent Group Attacks McCain's Time as POW

By Perry Bacon
Arizona Sen. John McCain's campaign responded forcefully today to a group called Vietnam Veterans Against McCain that has sent out mailers blasting the senator in South Carolina. On its web site, the group says the former prisoner of war and onetime Navy pilot did not deserve the medals he earned in Vietnam. The group charges that he earned "medals for valor" equal to nearly a medal-and-a-half for each hour spent in combat, and also alleges that he discussed U.S. military operations with the North Vietnamese while in captivity.

The flier put out by the group, which the McCain campaign provided to The Post, shows a bloated picture of McCain with the phrases "SONGBIRD" and "AN ENORMOUS CRIME, THE POWS I HELPED LEAVE BEHIND" beside his face. The mailer from the group repeats the web site's charge that McCain received medals despite putting in very few hours in combat.

McCain's campaign was quick to jump on the falsehoods promoted by the group, which are of a sort increasingly common in presidential contests. In 2000, McCain lost the presidential primary race in South Carolina thanks in part to a smear campaign alleging he'd fathered a black child out of wedlock, and, in 2004, a campaign by a group like the one now attacking McCain lit into John Kerry's military service and seriously damaged his campaign for the presidency.

McCain was held as a prisoner of war for more than five years. Orson Swindle, a prisoner of war with McCain in Vietnam, countered the group's charges in a statement put out by the campaign. "Nothing could be further from the truth. I know because I was there," he said. McCain never told the Northern Vietnamese anything and refused release from a prison camp unless his fellow POWs were released, Swindle added.

By Web Politics Editor  |  January 15, 2008; 11:31 PM ET
 
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Comments

Of COURSE John McCain talked to the North Vietnamese after he had been tortured to the breaking point by them. So did every single POW held in the Hanoi Hilton. Most of them were broken under torture, then later refused to cooperate, and were broken again and again. So WHAT? There's no evidence whatsoever they any of those men gave ANY information of military importance to the enemy. They mostly gave gibberish and information so outdated as to be completely useless. There's a REASON the UCMJ was changed after Vietnam; it was bc of the realization that EVERYONE would cooperate, eventually, after sufficient torture (or die in the process). So now, POWS are supposed to try to hold out for a few days, at most, but not to the point where they are maimed or killed. This has undoubtedly saved countless lives and greatly lessened the suffering of U.S. POWS since the change in the UCMJ. WITHOUT harming the interests of the US in any discernible manner.
I disagree with Sen. McCain on just about every major point of American domestic and foreign policy and wouldn't even think about voting for him, but I have no doubt that he's a true American hero and deserves the respect of every American for his service.

Posted by: nations_ha | March 15, 2008 5:29 AM | Report abuse

I'm a lifelong conservative who'll definitely not vote for John McCain because of his record as a politition.

However, to attack and belittle his military service is disgraceful. He was a POW for five and a half YEARS and was horribly tortured. To this day, he cannot get dressed without help because both his arms are so damaged he can't even put a shirt on!

As for the "Democratic war hero" as stated above. John Kerry was in VietNam four and a half MONTHS! Two of the three wounds that got him out of there needed Band-Aids, and the last boo-boo (self-inflicted accident) that caused him to run to a doctor was so insignificant he was told, "....it's nothing that needs medical attention." Kerry finally wore the doctor down with multiple return visits and got his Band-Aid (along with his ticket out).

Referring to John Kerry as a "war hero" is akin to calling a canoe an "ocean liner."

Posted by: djeanne124 | February 1, 2008 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Danielhancock: Your belief that "it doesn't matter" if Mc Cain talked is a position only someone who never served in the military could have. Collaborating with the enemy would most certainly diminish his military record, if not destroy it completely. IF Mc Cain DID talk, than he has lived a lie ever since. Not to mention that, through his surrogates, he continues to lie. And while you suggest that Mc Cain has " a lot to be proud of", I cannot help but wonder how much you know about Mc Cain and the POW issue that is the basis for the attacks on him.
Please realize that my posts are not intended to attack YOU. You sound like a very sincere person and I think you should know more about the man you are trying to
defend.

Posted by: Rmontg5805 | January 16, 2008 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Bukkonon-Bad News!

After reviewing his supporters, his Voting, and his arrogant attitude,

I consider John McCain a Republican, as much as I consider Nancy Pelosi one.

Then again, at least Nancy Pelosi can think of Business!

Posted by: rat-the | January 16, 2008 2:47 PM | Report abuse

DANIELHANCOCK, why do you believe that VVAJM is NOT comprised of Vietnam veterans?
Why would you immediately assume that the group is NOT legitimate? Is your memory so short that you forget that the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth were attacked because they exposed the media's darling, John Kerry?
In todays world, the public doesn't have to rely on the old media for information.
Today, the TRUTH is FAR MORE LIKELY to be exposed. John McCain's hero status has mystified large portions of the Vietnam veteran community. And for those who have studied the POW/MIA issue, McCain is a dispicable character who betrayed those who were left behind after Operation Homecoming. READ; AN ENORMOUS LIE by Bill Hendon for a better understanding of who VVAJM really is. And why McCain is hated by so many Vietnam veterans.

Posted by: Rmontg5805 | January 16, 2008 2:10 PM | Report abuse

I to disagree with the above post. Even if McCain did talk, it does nothing to diminish his record. If you torture anyone enough, they will eventually crack. I am not a McCain supporter but I don't think he has anything to be ashamed of and he has a lot to be proud of. I still think that the Post is wasting a lot of time with stories like this.

Posted by: danielhancock | January 16, 2008 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Perry Bacon's article is typical of the kind of biased nonsense I've come to expect from the Washington Post. Bacon's
statement, that the veteran's claims are "falsehoods," is unsupported by EVIDENCE of any kind. Clearly Mr. Bacon
doesn't know his subject. John McCain may be a media "hero" but, to thousands of Vietnam veterans who witnessed his despicable behavior while serving on the Senate Committee on POW's/MIA's, he's a liar and a traitor.
As far as Orson Swindle's statement is concerned, what does he know about it?
Apparently nothing, given the FACT that McCain, himself, has admitted to giving information to the North Vietnamese. So, although Swindle may have been there, he apparently doesn't know what he is talking about. As far as McCain's record being "beyond reproach," I doubt most people have any idea what McCain's record REALLY is. All we know is the trash the media has fed us.
The Vietnam Veterans Against McCain web site backs up it's claims with evidence. Why not review the information before making a judgement as to the group's varsity?
And for Mr. Bacon's information, the group that attacked John Kerry was the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth...and, in the end, they were right and all you talking-heads were wro

Posted by: Rmontg5805 | January 16, 2008 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Perry Bacon's article is typical of the kind of biased nonsense I've come to expect from the Washington Post. Bacon's
statement, that the veteran's claims are "falsehoods," is unsupported by EVIDENCE of any kind. Clearly Mr. Bacon
doesn't know his subject. John McCain may be a media "hero" but, to thousands of Vietnam veterans who witnessed his despicable behavior while serving on the Senate Committee on POW's/MIA's, he's a liar and a traitor.
As far as Orson Swindle's statement is concerned, what does he know about it?
Apparently nothing, given the FACT that McCain, himself, has admitted to giving information to the North Vietnamese. So, although Swindle may have been there, he apparently doesn't know what he is talking about.
The Vietnam Veterans Against McCain web site backs up it's claims with evidence. Why not review the information before making a judgement as to the group's varsity?
And for Mr. Bacon's information, the group that attacked John Kerry was the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth...and, in the end, they were right and all you talking-heads were wrong!

Posted by: Rmontg5805 | January 16, 2008 10:58 AM | Report abuse

HA HA HA HA! You Republican dirtballs crack me up. You threw slime all over a Democratic war hero, John Kerry, and now you're doing it to someone in your own faction. What next, sliming your own mother? Meanwhile, not one of you wants to acknowledge the truth about the draft-dodging murderers in the White House or Blair House...

Posted by: Bukkonen | January 16, 2008 12:37 AM | Report abuse

Stuff like this makes me want to throw up.

Posted by: metrofanatic88 | January 16, 2008 12:03 AM | Report abuse

I seriously doubt that this is put out by any of the candidates or any legitimate group. No one would be that stupid.

The Swiftboat vets actually did address serious issues about Kerry which he has never answered to this date. But McCain's record is much more beyond reproach than Kerry's record.

This group is hardly newsworthy because these days, any nut can create a website and post smears.

Non story unless the Post or anyone else can provide real people to link to this organization to prove that it actually has some substance to it.

By the way, Orson Swindle (what a name) was active in the Reform Party that was created from the remnants of Perot's 1992 run.

Posted by: danielhancock | January 15, 2008 11:57 PM | Report abuse

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