By Ted Sampley
U.S. Veteran Dispatch
December 1992 Issue
Those following the proceedings during the past year of the Senate Select Committee on POW and MIA Affairs have been mystified by the rabid actions of the one man on the committee who should be grateful that for the nearly three decades there have been activists in America who have refused to let die the issue of the fate of Americans lost and missing in Southeast Asia from the Vietnam War.
I am speaking of course of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). None of the Senators on the Select Committee have been as vicious in their attacks on POW/MIA family members and activists than the man behind the mask of war hero, former POW, and patriotic United States Senator . . .
Not even Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), who went into his job as chairman of the Select Committee with a predisposition that no one was left alive in Southeast Asia, that it was therefore "time to put the war behind us" and normalize relations with Hanoi, has shown such a bias against those who have fought and kept alive the POW/MIA cause.
Not even Sen. Kerry, with his own record as an anti-war protester during the early 1970s after serving in Vietnam--has turned a totally deaf ear to the numerous individuals and groups who are, correctly or not, convinced that Americans were and are alive in captivity in Southeast Asia.
What, therefore, motivates a John McCain to attack as a pit bull everyone and anyone who has the opinion that men are still alive in the very same captivity that he himself once experienced? Mr. McCain disguises his attacks on the POW/MIA by claiming he is on the committee to ask "the tough questions" to grill and berate in order to get to the truth. What motivates the man, who at the same time has shown a sensitive, almost patronizing approach to U.S. government officials who have lied to the committee? . . .
Borrowing from the title of a popular movie of some years ago, many activists who have felt the fangs of this pit bull call him the "Manchurian Candidate." Is that a fair accusation to level at Senator McCain, the war hero and the former POW?
In the movie, "The Manchurian Candidate," actor Lawrence Harvey portrayed the character of a former POW and war hero of the Korean War, whose brainwashing by his communist captors resulted in his enemies being able to manipulate his actions. To trigger him to do their bidding all they had to do was have him play solitaire with the Queen of Diamonds being the trigger that made him theirs, body and soul . . .
SOMETIMES TAKES EXTREMES
While there are some who have over the years taken extreme measures to keep alive the POW/MIA issue, to paint everyone--even some of the most extreme--with a broad brush as being frauds and predators is not just.
As Senator Kerry, once an activist himself, knows, and I am sure understands in his heart, the activist must be at times an extremist. He must do extreme things because he is the David taking on the Goliath, or, to put it another way--you can't fight a tiger with a dish rag.
In the case of Kerry, the anti-war activist, he could not fight the powerful, often vengeful government officials with the proverbial dish rag. So, he and his followers disrupted Senate committee meetings, threw red paint, representing blood, on the Capitol steps, etc.
In the case of the POW/MIA activists they have chained themselves to the White House fence, at times verbally abused government officials--whatever it took to peacefully draw attention to their cause, just as Kerry before them.
Presently, Kerry the senator does not approve of POW/MIA activists and POW/MIA activists, particularly Vietnam veterans, do not approve of the pro-Hanoi Kerry. And yet there is a common ground with Kerry.
There is none with McCain. He has, simply put, declared his own personal war on POW/MIA activists, and one must ask why?
Even during the Select Committee hearings, H. Ross Perot, perhaps at one time, one of the most devout POW/MIA activists of all, was a target of Senator McCain. And yet, it is doubtful if another POW in America would have anything but the deepest respect for Mr. Perot.
When someone suggested during the committee hearings that Mr. Perot's efforts in drawing attention to the plight of the POWs in Vietnam during the war years which ultimately caused the POWs to receive more humane treatment from their captors, McCain snidely remarked that he thought it was the bombing of Hanoi that was responsible for their better care.
But after his release by Hanoi in 1973, McCain had nothing but praise for Perot and his followers who ignited and fanned the flames of POW/MIA activism.
Nor has McCain stopped there. He has also viciously attacked fellow war hero, fellow POW and fellow retired Navy captain, Eugene "Red" McDaniel, as a fraud and a dishonorable man who preys upon the families of those still unaccounted for from the war.
Again, it is a case of McCain attacking the activist. McDaniel has been in the forefront of activism in keeping the POW/MIA issue alive during the years, before the Select Committee, when few, particularly much of the press, could have cared less.
Today, there is extreme pressure on members of Congress to lift the trade embargo with Vietnam and to establish diplomatic relations with Hanoi, both actions are opposed by the POW/MIA activists.
McCain, like his fellow Senator, Mr. Kerry, favors lifting the embargo and both were on record as such long before they became associated with the Select Committee. In fact, the efforts of both have reflected at times more interest in bettering relations with Vietnam, in consort with greedy U.S. big business interests, than resolving the POW/MIA issue by accounting for the missing men; in McCain's case his FELLOW POWs.
However, before becoming a powerful figure in Congress, McCain the candidate, said: "The regime in Hanoi, politically degenerate even by totalitarian standards, refused to provide or even assist in providing a satisfactory accounting of American MIAs . . .
EXPLOITATION OF POWS
While the Senate Select Committee in its final days of existence is spending its time and resources on alleged instances of what it considers to be "fraud," and "predator fund-raising activities," it has and is ignoring an issue which is vital to resolving the POW/MIA riddle, that being the issue of intelligence exploitation of U.S. prisoners of war by Soviet, Chinese, Cuban and Vietnamese psychological warfare experts.
There has been some debate in the committee as to the extent of Soviet KGB and GRU (Soviet military intelligence) involvement in attempts to "turn" American POWs, with attempts by the Pentagon, supported always by McCain, to deny that the Soviets were involved in any such activity. Nevertheless, there was extensive testimony that POWs were interrogated and possibly recruited before the Paris Peace Accords were signed in 1973 ending U.S. military involvement in the war--and afterwards, possibly as late as 1978.
"While we all assume the very best about our servicemen who were held it captivity," one POW/MIA activist wrote to Sen. Kerry, "there is a historical precedence of Soviet, Chinese and North Korean exploitation of American prisoners of war. The success of the communist program in Korea may well have been duplicated to a degree in Vietnam."
The communist definitely had a sophisticated system of "turning" U.S. prisoners of war in Korea and, ironically, the movie, "The Manchurian Candidate," fiction that it may be, was not a misrepresentation of the creative experiments and attempts by the communists to "turn" American prisoners of war into agents.
According to some, the FBI has/had a program to monitor the activities of returned prisoners of war from Indochina. That FBI investigation is based on historical knowledge which concluded that some American POWs had been "turned" into agents of the communist.
"Turning" a prisoner of war is not necessarily the prisoner being convinced or "re-educated" by his captors to change his beliefs or politics. The process can involve the use of a variety of means, both subtle and brutal, elaborately contrived to manipulate an otherwise patriotic U.S. prisoner's situation or environment to a point where he is convinced that he must cooperate with his captors in order to remain alive.
One method which had been used successfully by the KGB for their clandestine purposes was the use of threats of exposing embarrassing behavior, particularly any illicit sexual behavior. As a classic example, several years ago, the KGB used sex and seduction to get the U.S. Marine guards to allow them to infiltrate the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.
Another example, if a subject, in this case a POW, became involved in a homosexual situation and his captors found out about it, his captors would most certainly make a record of the homosexual behavior. Later an interrogator would use that record as blackmail to extort intelligence information from anyone involved.
Thus, an otherwise defiant prisoner could be blackmailed into becoming an unwilling collaborator and agent of his captors. After the first collaboration it is a process of threatening to expose the prisoner to his peers or family back home unless the prisoner further "cooperates" by giving even more information.
Another example, if U.S. prisoner "X," under duress or torture, reveals sensitive information about prisoner "Y," which causes prisoner "Y" to be tortured or punished, prisoner "X" certainly doesn't want prisoner "Y" to know he was the source of that information.
Thus, even more information or collaboration can be extracted from prisoner "X." What in the beginning would seem a necessary collaboration to save one's reputation or life, could be used over the long term by experienced interrogators to create an extensive dossier of collaborations by the prisoner. Anyone trained in the interrogation of enemy prisoners knows this.
Nearly all of the POWs have reported that they were threatened with the denial of medical treatment unless they provided their captors with specific information.
BOTH KOREA AND VIETNAM
According to sources, some of the same KGB agents and their associates, often the latter posing as foreign journalists, were involved in attempting to exploit American POWs for intelligence and propaganda purposes in both Korea and Vietnam. To cite as just one example, Australian communist journalist Wilfred Burchett, well known to American POWs for this activity in Korea, later appeared in the same role in Vietnam.
Pentagon files regarding exploitation of U.S. prisoners of war in Indochina are kept secret, except from the hierarchy of the U.S. intelligence community and some high U.S. government officials. It of course also remains in the files of the communist exploiters of the POWs.
As it stands, the American people will never know the truth about this exploitation in Vietnam, unless some official body, such as the Senate Select Committee, subpoenas the files from the Pentagon. As an example, the Senate Select Committee has never followed up on the explosive testimony of former KGB Maj. Gen. Oleg Kalugin, who testified, under oath, that the KGB interrogated U.S. POWs in Vietnam.
Kalugin stated that one of the POWs worked on by the KGB was a "high-ranking naval officer," who, according to Kalugin, agreed to work with the Soviets upon his repatriation to the United States and has frequently appeared on U.S. television.
Whether this is true or not it certainly begs to be investigated and, like it or not, Sen. John McCain fits the description, and his behavior, also like it or not, raises serious questions. The fact that he is a United States Senator should not be a factor, alas, "The Manchurian Candidate" possibility.
When it comes to matters of national security and the welfare of every man, woman and child in the United States, there should be no sacred cows, and it must not be forgotten that Sen. McCain was being considered for higher office, prior to his numerous appearances on national television defending his involvement in the Savings and Loan scandal.
In November of 1991, when Tracy Usry, the former chief investigator of the Minority Staff of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, testified before the Select Committee, he revealed that the Soviets interrogated U.S. prisoners of war in Vietnam. Sen. McCain became outraged interrupting Usry several times, arguing that "none of the returned U.S. prisoners of war released by Vietnam were ever interrogated by the Soviets." However, this was simply not true and Sen. McCain knows that from firsthand experience.
Col. Bui Tin, a former Senior Colonel in the North Vietnamese Army, testified on the same day, but after Usry, that because of his high position in the Communist Party during the war, he had the authority to "read all documents and secret telegrams from the politburo" pertaining to American prisoners of war. He said that not only did the Soviets interrogate some American prisoners of war, but that they treated the Americans very badly.
Bui Tin, who indicated he favored a normalization of relations between the U.S. and Vietnam, also offered the committee his records concerning his personal interrogations of American POWs.
A WARM HUG FOR THE ENEMY
Sen. McCain stunned onlookers at the hearing when he rushed forward to the witness table and warmly embraced Bui Tin as if he was a long, lost brother.
"Was that hug for Bui Tin, a Vietnamese official responsible for the torture of some American prisoners of war, a message 'please don't give them my records?'" one activist questioned at the time.
In any case, many of McCain's fellow Vietnam War POWs were aghast, not to mention former POWs of World War II and Korea, who could, only in some instances after decades, forgive but never forget the inhumanity of their captors--certainly not to the point of embracing them.
Shortly thereafter, as a direct result of Sen. McCain's lobbying of other Republican Senators, Usry, a distinguished Vietnam veteran, and all other members of the Minority Staff, who had participated in the POW/MIA investigations, were abruptly fired.
If the Senate Select Committee finds it pertinent to investigate alleged instances of "fraud" by POW/MIA activists, then certainly, by even the most liberal standards, the charge of collaboration with the enemy by a "high-ranking naval" officer should be investigated just as seriously as were the charges against Marine Private Robert Garwood, the only American POW charged and convicted of this crime.
THE ADMIRAL'S SON
John McCain was born in the Panama Canal Zone on August 29, 1936. His father was Admiral John McCain II, who became commander-in-chief of the Pacific forces in 1968. Admiral McCain later ordered the bombing of Hanoi while his son was in prison. His grandfather was Admiral John S. McCain, Sr., the famous commander of aircraft carriers in the Pacific under Admiral William F. Halsey in World War II . . .
On his 23rd mission in Vietnam on Oct. 26, 1967, he was shot down by a surface-to-air missile.
To relate the event, McCain later recalled that he was "flying right over the heart of Hanoi in a dive at about 4,500 feet, when a Russian missile the size of a telephone pole came up--the sky was full of them--and blew the right wing off my Skyhawk dive bomber. It went into an inverted, almost straight-down spin.
"I pulled the ejection handle, and was knocked unconscious by the force of of the ejection--the air speed was about 500 knots. I didn't realize it at the moment, but I had broken my right leg around the knee, my right arm in three places and my left arm. I regained consciousness just before I landed by parachute in a lake right in the center of Hanoi, one they called the Western Lake. My helmet and my oxygen mask had been blown off. "I hit the water and sank to the bottom . . . I did not feel any pain at the time, and I was able to rise to the surface. I took a breath of air and started sinking again."After bobbing up and down, he was eventually pulled from the water by Vietnamese who had swam out to get him.
A mob gathered on shore and McCain was bayoneted in the foot and his shoulder was smashed with a rifle butt. He was put on a truck and taken to Hanoi's main prison.
After being periodically slapped around for "three or four days" by his captors who wanted military information from him, which McCain claims he refused to give, providing only his name, rank and serial number, he realized he was in critical shape and called for an officer. He told the officer, "O.K., I'll give you military information if you will take me to the hospital."
Regardless of the reasons, the offer to give "military information" in exchange for better treatment was a violation of the military Code of Conduct and Collaboration No. l.
The doctor, according to McCain, said about taking him to the hospital, "It's too late."
At that point, McCain knew he was in big trouble. According to information obtained by the U.S. VETERAN, the flier in desperation invoked the name of his famous father, Admiral John S. McCain, Jr., the soon-to-be commander of all U.S. Forces in the Pacific.
And that was a violation of the Code of Conduct and Collaboration No. 2.
McCain admits that because of the Vietnamese having the knowledge of who his father was, he thus survived because they rushed him to the hospital. The Vietnamese figured that because POW McCain's father was of such high military rank that he was of royalty or the governing circle. Thereafter the communist bragged that they had captured "the crown prince."
Later, the Vietnamese would erect a monument in Hanoi near the site of his landing in the lake, stone figure of a pilot raising his arms skyward in surrender and referring to their catch McCain, by name, as an "air pirate."
At the hospital his wounds were treated. He readily admits that other U.S. prisoners with similar wounds were left to die, pointing out "There were hardly any amputees among the prisoners who came back because the North Vietnamese just would not give medical treatment to someone who was badly injured. They weren't going to waste their time.
"McCain has failed to mention in public what he has confided to another U.S. prisoner privately, that since the Vietnamese felt they had in their hands such a "special prisoner", a propaganda bonanza, a Soviet surgeon was called in to treat him.
HOW MUCH MORE INFORMATION DID HE GIVE?
McCain has admitted that the Vietnamese repeatedly threatened to withhold much needed operations unless he would give them more information. Did he provide it?
After six weeks of this type of threats and medical treatment, he was delivered to Room No. 11 of "The Plantation" and into the hands of two other POWs, who helped further nurse him along until he was eventually able to walk by himself.
For the next 22 months, McCain was kept isolated from the other American prisoners. Because the Vietnamese considered him a "special prisoner" he was the target of intense indoctrination programs. His communist interrogators believed that because McCain came from a "royal family," he would, when finally released, return to the United States to some important military or government job.
The communist were very much aware that POW McCain would be under great psychological pressure not to do or say anything that would tarnish his famous military family and they considered that to be the key to eventually breaking and then "turning" him.
During that period of time McCain was visited by several foreign delegations (including Cubans) and interviewed by many high ranking North Vietnamese leaders including Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap, North Vietnam's Minster of Defense and national hero . . .
On Dec. 7, 1969, McCain was moved out of "The Plantation" and into the "Hanoi Hilton" with other prisoners of war.
McCain was released as a prisoner of war on March 15, 1973.
Following various medical and surgical procedures, he attended the National War College in Washington, D.C. and was later posted as commanding officer of Replacement Training Squadron 174 in Jacksonville, Fla.
In 1977, McCain was ordered to the Office of Legislative Affairs and was assigned as the Director of the Navy Senate Liaison Office, where he remained until disability retirement in April 1981.
A year earlier, in 1980, his marriage and personal life soured. His marriage to Carol, who had been seriously injured and crippled in a motor vehicle accident during his confinement in Vietnam, ended in divorce.
NEW WIFE, NEW LIFE, ENTER McCAIN THE POLITICIAN
Later that year, McCain married Cindy Hensley, whose father, Jim, was an Arizona "beer baron," owning Hensley and Co., the Anheauser-Busch distributor for Phoenix and Tempe, where McCain settled with his new wife after his retirement from the Navy in the spring of 1981.
His new father-in-law made him vice president in charge of public relations for Hensley and Co., and soon McCain was writing guest editorials for Arizona newspapers and thus paving the way for a career in politics. Most of the articles were of a patriotic nature--"For POWs in Hanoi, Christmas Eve 1971 marked a spiritual turning point," "America--Bastion of liberty, beacon ofhope," "Remember MIAs fought for valid cause," etc.
It was not long until McCain caught the attention of Sens. Barry Goldwater and Paul Fannin, both Arizona institutions and devout conservative Republicans, men who could easily be identified with "America--Bastion of liberty, beacon of hope."
Soon, McCain was their choice to succeed veteran Congressman John J. Rhodes, a Republican representing Arizona's 1st Congressional DIstrict, which conveniently included the city of Tempe.
When McCain was still with the Navy's congressional liaison office it was no secret that Rhodes, the House minority leader, was getting ready for retirement. The seat to be vacated in the House was a ripe plum waiting to be picked. The would-be Congressman had long envisioned a career in government service.
And thus began John McCain's first run for elective office. From the beginning the cards were in his favor, even though he was accused of being a carpetbagger since he had only recently moved to Arizona . . .
THE COUNTERFEIT HERO
McCain's rising political power in Arizona Republican politics was due in large measure to his friendship with Duke Tully, the publisher of the conservative and powerful ARIZONA REPUBLIC and the PHOENIZ GAZETTE, with a combined daily circulation of about 400,000.
Described as "equal parts cowboy, commando, swashbuckler and elegant tycoon" by the CHICAGO TRIBUNE (Jan. 9, 1986), Tully was, according to the Chicago paper, "a George Patton who drove a Corvette, a Randolph Hearst who flew an F-16, a John Wayne in aviator glasses and Air Force dress blues."
"I tell Arizona what to think," he stated in public more than once, and it was particularly true regarding backing for the efforts of his friend, Congressman McCain.
Tully appeared to have a lot in common with his close friend, former Navy combat pilot and war hero John McCain. He boasted of his 100 missions over Vietnam, retiring from the Air Force as a lieutenant-colonel. His service, according to Tully, also included air combat in Korea, where he once was forced to crash land his P-51 Mustang fighter and spent time in a hospital as a result--so he said. His smashed front teeth were replaced with stainless steel, he also said.
He had, just like his friend John McCain, received the Purple Heart, Distinguished Flying Cross and the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry.
However, the day after Christmas 1985, it was revealed, according to the CHICAGO TRIBUNE, that John McCain's close friend had "an imagination as big as his ego."
In fact, the man who even was the godfather to one of McCain's daughters, was a total fake.
Duke Tully, the man who had arranged to have his newspapers endorse and further the chances of McCain's first run for the House and was already touting him as Goldwater's successor, had "never even went to boot camp."
Nevertheless, the genuine American patriot, Barry Goldwater, almost a national icon, decided not to run for re-election in 1986 and McCain quickly moved in to fill his shoes.
According to the NEW YORK TIMES (June 1, 1988), "When John McCain arrived in here [in Washington] as a freshman Republican Congressman in 1983, one of the issues very much on his mind was how the United States should deal with Vietnam . . . He was, he said, dismayed by the Reagan Administration's flat refusal to afford any kind of diplomatic recognition to Hanoi, something he thought could help clear up a number of issues, including the fate of those servicemen still missing in action . . . Mr. McCain, now the junior Senator from Arizona, is leading a legislative effort to force the Administration to open a lower-level American post in Vietnam, which could be preliminary to more formal relations."
SPEAKING OF FRAUD
Otherwise, McCain after his switch to the Senate differed little on any Reagan Administration policy.
He made few waves until suddenly he found himself on television trying to explain himself as one of the "Keating 5," five U.S. Senators who became enmeshed in the scandal involving the collapsed Lincoln Savings and Loan and the financial machinations of now convicted cheat Charles Keating. The U.S. taxpayers will feel for years the aftershocks of what has become known as the "S & L scandal" and will be paying off the billions that S & L clients found themselves swindled out of by Keating and others involved in the massive fraud.
As one of the "Keating 5" Senators, John McCain saw his chances to higher office go down the drain.
Reports from a variety of U.S. publications tell of the involvement of McCain in the ever-widening scandal.
ECONOMIST, Mar. 9, 1991--"Mr. McCain, despite his claims of innocense, was the only one of the five who benefited personally--family holidays in the Bahamas on Mr. Keating's tab."
NEW REPUBLIC, Dec. 31, 1990--"The only Republican of the bunch [the five Senators], John McCain of Arizona wins credit for finally drawing the line. After the second of the two April meetings [with Federal regulators] he told Mr. [Sen. Dennis] DeConcini [D-Ariz.] and Mr. Keating that he wouldn't lean on the regulators any more. Mr. Keating called him a wimp. But before the rupture, Mr. McCain and his family were regular guests of Mr. Keating's on trips to the Bahamas. Mr. McCain reimbursed the owner of Lincoln Savings and Loan for only a small fraction of the cost of these holidays. Yet, he never reported the vacations on Senate disclosure forms, or his income taxes. He said he thought his wife had paid Mr. Keating back. This is hard to believe."
NEW REPUBLIC, Sept. 9, 1991--Calling McCain part of the "Senatorial Lincoln Brigade," the NEW REPUBLIC reported that Keating, while bankrupting his Savings and Loan, had channeled $1.4 million to the campaigns or causes of the five Senators, who in turn pressured the Savings and Loan regulators to "back off our friend."Ultimately, the fall of Lincoln Savings and Loan will cost the U.S. taxpayers $2 billion. It lost $1 million dollars a day from the time Keating bought it in 1984 until its collapse in 1989, and yet he continued to pay off McCain as "one of his assets," REGARDIE'S magazine reported in its April-May 1992 issue.
POT CALLS THE KETTLE BLACK
Referring to POW/MIA activists who have raised public funds for their work in trying to resolve the issue of Americans left behind in Vietnam, McCain said while seated on the Senate Select Committee on POW and MIA Affairs:
"The people who have done these things are not zealots in a good cause. They are criminals and some of the most craven, most cynical and most despicable human beings to ever run a scam."
Yet, it's difficult to find anything bad Sen. McCain has said about his friend, Charles F. Keating. And words like "craven" and "despicable" are impossible to find at all to describe his friend, who cheated, among others, little old ladies out of their life savings . . .
The U.S. VETERAN has also learned that during a meeting with Vietnamese officials last July, Frances Zwenig, the $118,000-a-year staff director of the Senate Select Committee, was told by the Vietnamese that something had to be done about the POW/MIA activists.
Not long after the meeting in Hanoi, the Senate Select Committee started after POW/MIA activists, painting them as cheats and con artists, prompting one observer to ask, "Are the Vietnamese now directing the affairs of the Senate Select Committee?"
The Senate Select Committee will make its final report to the Senate and the American people on Jan. 5, 1993, as its plans now stand. If Sens. John McCain and John Kerry have their way, as all factors seem to indicate that they will, the report will trash POW/MIA activists, whose activities the Vietnamese have asked the senators to curtail.
The report will conclude that U.S. Prisoners of war were left behind but all have since died and that the Vietnamese are doing all they can to help search for the remains of the dead.
Nevertheless, a report by Senators, each following his own personal agenda, will not be written in stone and it will not end the dispute.
And the U.S. government will soon lift the trade embargo with Vietnam and normalize relations.
However, if there are no POWs/MIAs left alive in Southeast Asia then it must be assumed that in one way or another the Vietnamese caused their deaths. Certainly, Sen. John McCain, a former POW, knows the current leaders of Vietnam were responsible for murdering many while he was in a Hanoi prison.
Why, Sen. McCain, is there such a rush by you and others to do business with the same regime, which you, yourself, once called "degenerate" and whose leaders' hands are dripping with the blood of captive, helpless Americans--your fellow POWs?
By Ted Sampley
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