Steven Rosenfeld / AlterNet – 2008-09-21 23:02:22
(September 21, 2008) — A 1992 video featuring a Republican senator, Republican congressman and top Capitol Hill staffers who worked on Vietnam prisoner of war and missing in action issues say John McCain collaborated with North Vietnamese while a POW, and then covered up that involvement to the detriment of POW/MIA families seeking access to classified Pentagon records about their own family members.
The video raises probing questions about the 2008 Republican presidential nominee’s war record, especially after McCain made his captivity a major part of his qualifications for the presidency at the Republican National Convention. In 2004, the GOP focused on Democratic nominee John Kerry’s war record to criticize his candidacy.
To date, the video has been posted on a handful of blogs but has been ignored by the mainstream media. While it features Republican stalwarts on POW/MIA issues, it also suggests that McCain’s war records at the Pentagon and in North Vietnam would reveal potentially very controversial details about the GOP’s presidential candidate.
The nearly eight-minute video is posted on YouTube under “Vietnam Veterans Against McCain.” It begins with the title, “1992 Senate Select Committee on POW/MIAs,” and features ex-Sen. Bob Smith (R-NH), Rep. Robert Dornan (R-CA), senate staffers Tracy Usry, James Lucier, and military family members Lynn O’Shea, of the National Alliance of Families and retired Army Cpl. Bob Dumas, whose brother was a POW lost in the Korean War, and Joseph Douglass, Jr., author of Betrayed, about America’s missing POWs. The video has no author credits.
The footage begins with Douglass, Usry, O’Shea and Smith all saying that McCain worked to kill legislation that would have opened the Pentagon’s classified archive of POW/MIA files. “Many, many documents were held back for no reason,” former Sen. Smith said. Dorman said legislation that passed the House with no opposing votes was single-handedly blocked in the Senate by McCain. “On the Senate side, we had one person standing in the way,” Dornan said, referring to McCain.
Dumas then gave the reason why – the Pentagon’s records would reveal McCain had collaborated with the Vietnamese. “He didn’t want nobody to check his background because a lot of POWs who were with him in the camp said he was a collaborator with the enemy,” Dumas said. “He gave the enemy information they wanted.”
Lucier, identified as a former U.S. Senate Chief of Staff, said “we do know that when he was over there, he cooperated with Communist news services in giving interviews that were not flattering to the United States.” Usry, identified as U.S. Senate Minority Staff former chief investigator, said “information shows that he made over 32 tapes of propaganda for the Vietnamese government.”
Dornan said there were transcripts of other POWs reacting to McCain’s false statements, saying, “Oh my God, is that Admiral McCain’s son Is that the admiral’s son? Is that Johnny, telling us that our principle targets are schools, orphanages, hospitals, temples, churches? That was Jane Fonda’s line.”
Dornan said those transcripts are in war museums in North Vietnam, where McCain, as a senator, pressured the country not to release them or face opposition concerning normalization of relations with the United States.
“McCain could not have wanted those to turn up in the middle of a presidential race,” the ex-congressman said. “He knows that. I know that. And a few other people know that. That’s why he was against Bob Dole’s legislation.”
Dornan then offered another interesting explanation why McCain refused an offer by the North Vietnamese to be released. Dornan said those released first were collaborators, which would have ended McCain’s military career and hurt the Navy, where his father commanded the Pacific fleet.
“Nobody takes that one step beyond that,” Dornan said, speaking of McCain’s refusal to be released. “If Admiral John McCain’s son had accepted this princely status and come home in 1967, while others sat there for five years, what would the Navy have done with the son of an admiral who opted to get special treatment and come home? No Navy career. No House seat. No Senate seat. It would have been the end of his career.”
Steven Rosenfeld is a Senior Fellow at AlterNet.org, where he reports on elections from a voting rights perspective. His books include Count My Vote: A Citizen’s Guide to Voting (AlterNet Books, 2008), What Happened in Ohio: A Documentary Record of Theft and Fraud in the 2004 Election (The New Press, 2006), and Making History in Vermont: The Election of a Socialist to Congress (Hollowbrook Publishing, 1992). An award-winning journalist, he has been a staff reporter at National Public Radio, Monitor Radio, TomPaine.com, and at daily and weekly newspapers in Vermont.
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