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Hiding The Record

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Was McCain Really The War Hero He Claims To Have Been?

By James Donahue

If ever there was a lop-sided race for the presidency, it is the one shaping up for electoral decision next November. Voters will be choosing between a dynamic young Democratic candidate who offers the grace and charisma of the late John F. Kennedy, and the elderly Arizona Senator and former Vietnam prisoner-of-war John McCain.

Obama, if elected, will be a welcome and refreshing change for a nation that has been all but disgraced by the crooked and misguided presidency of George W. Bush. Our prestige in the world has been severely damaged, the national debt has been raised almost to the point of bankruptcy, our armed forces are engaged in two wars that appear to have no end, our infrastructure, our schools, and our health system are falling apart, our citizens are losing their homes and their jobs and our government has stripped most Americans of their Constitutional freedoms.

We would not expect Mr. Obama to fix all of this in four, or even eight years if he gets in office. But we believe this man has the mind to try, and if voters give him a cooperative legislative body willing to work with him, there is still a chance of saving America before we fall to complete ruin.

The alternative choice, Mr. McCain, appears to be a bungling elderly man who is having difficulty remembering where he is when giving public speeches, not having his facts when he talks about our war efforts in Iraq and other matters of public concern, and is supporting not only the two wars, but nearly all of the Bush economic policies that got us into the mess we presently face.

In other words, electing John McCain to the presidential office is like giving Mr. Bush another four years in the White House. And that would be a fatal blow for America and possibly the world.

We had the privilege of meeting Mr. McCain about ten years ago, when he was serving as an Arizona Senator but before he ever jumped into a race for the nation’s top job. He appeared as a kind, soft-spoken politician even then, and popular among Arizonians because of his war record. But folks in the area where we worked never regarded him as a man who got much done in Washington.

That is how we still see Mr. McCain. He is a nice guy and claims to be a former war hero, but he should have stayed out of the race for the White House. That he won the primary elections and skunked a line of other more viable candidates for the nomination, perplexed us for a while.

But if you think about the way elections seem to be rigged in this country, maybe it isn’t a surprise that McCain is in that slot after all. Could it be that the GOP leadership knew that Bush has wrecked their chance of enjoying another four years of leadership, and chose to throw this man into the ring, knowing he didn’t stand a snowball’s chance of victory?

And if, by chance, voters did do something weird and choose McCain for the office, he is the perfect guy for the job. He will be going right along with the Bush Administration's twisted program. It will be four more years of business as usual.

To look at McCain’s Navy record is to gaze upon a military hero decorated with the finest commendations our government can dream up. He has so many medals he might not be able to wear his military jacket without having his feet sink through the floor. There was even a story circulating that if McCain had remained in the Navy, he would have eventually been promoted to the rank of Admiral. But was all of that just for show?

There are some dark stories told by other inmates, who shared the “Hotel Hanoi” with McCain during those years he spent in captivity as a prisoner of war. They say McCain walked around relatively freely, always appeared clean shaved and well fed. This was not the way the other prisoners were treated. Why was he given special favors?

Writer Mark Salter who co-authored the McCain memoir Faith of My Fathers, said in an interview with the Arizona New Times that when asked about his experiences while a prisoner of war, the senator said “Other guys had it a lot worse. I think they took it easier on me because of who my dad was . . .”

Indeed, McCain is the son of Admiral John S. McCain Jr., who in turn was the son of Admiral John S. McCain. But former prisoners of war say there may have been another reason why this son and grandson of admirals was treated better by the North Vietnamese during his five years of captivity. He appears to have cooperated with the enemy.

Some say McCain appeared in over 50 propaganda films, prepared by the North Vietnamese. They deny that McCain was ever tortured like the other American prisoners of war.

It is true that McCain’s A-4 Skyhawk was shot down over North Vietnam. He fractured one leg and both arms because he forgot to tuck them in when he ejected from the aircraft. U.S. News & World Report stated in its May 14, 1973 edition that McCain offered military information in return for medical care.

Jack McLamb, a decorated Arizona police officer and FBI hostage negotiator, said every one of the POWs he has talked with consider McCain a traitor. “He was never tortured. The Vietnamese Communists called him the Songbird. That's his code name, Songbird McCain, bcause he just came into the camp singing and telling them everything they wanted to know.”

Since his election to the U.S. Senate, McCain has succeeded in keeping all files sealed on information about military personnel either missing in action or prisoners of war in World War II, Korea and Vietnam.

A report by investigative journalist Jeffrey Klein noted that McCain's military record has been under attack by several other columnists who have talked about his poor scholastic records and his many blunders as a Navy pilot, including the fact that he crashed at least five aircraft, not including the Skyhawk lost over North Vietnam. Some say he was involved and may have caused the deadly $72 million fire that killed 134 sailors on the carrier Forrestal off the Vietnam coast in 1967.

While the Navy claims it has released McCain's record to the Associated Press, Klein notes that the files contain only 19 pages, most of them detailing awards and decorations. He said another 617 pages of McCain's military file have not been released.

All of the allegations about McCain's misdeeds would be easy to refute, if untrue, Klein writes. “All he needs to do is sign Standard Form 180, which authorizes the Navy to send an undeleted copy of McCain's naval file to news organizations. To date, McCain's advisors have released snippets from his file, but under constrained viewing circumstances.

“Some of the unreleased pages in McCain's Navy file may not reflect well upon his qualifications for the presidency. From day one in the Navy, McCain screwed-up again and again, only to be forgiven because his father and grandfather were four-star admirals. McCain's sense of entitlement to privileged treatment bears an eerie resemblance to George W. Bush's,” Klein wrote.

If these stories are true, John McCain is as much a fraud, if not worse than George W. Bush. He is not worthy to be president of the United States.