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The night that changed McCain's life

Discussion in 'Political Zone' started by Doomsday101, Aug 19, 2008.

  1. Doomsday101

    Doomsday101 Well-Known Member

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    WASHINGTON (CNN) -- It was September 1967, and Lt. Cmdr. John McCain was back from Vietnam on home leave. He invited Chuck Larson over for dinner, and during a late night game of bridge, McCain pulled his buddy from the U.S. Naval Academy and flight school aside.

    Larson recalls being stunned at what he heard.

    "You know Chuck, I might have to get out of the Navy," McCain told him. "And I said, 'Why is that John?' and he said, 'Well I want to be a serious naval officer. And when I go places now, people tend to not take me seriously. They hear all the stories, they look at the early days and if they can't take me seriously, I don't know how I can perform.' And I said, 'John, you're going back.' "

    A few weeks later, McCain reported for duty on the USS Oriskany and, as he did on his previous assignment on the USS Forrestal, began flying bombing missions over North Vietnam.

    October 26, 1967, was McCain's 23rd mission. His target was a power plant on the outskirts of Hanoi.

    "I was still in the dive, I had just started to pull out and got hit by a surface-to-air missile, and it basically took the wing off the aircraft," McCain told CNN in one of a series of conversations for "McCain Revealed." "And so I was gyrating very violently, almost straight down, so I had to eject very quickly."

    Retracing McCain's steps in Vietnam was a fascinating experience. On the shores of Ho Truc Bach -- White Bamboo Lake -- we spent time with Nguyen Dang Doanh, who said he was on the far side of the lake that morning when he saw a parachute splash down in the water.

    McCain was "stretched out -- he was lifted by the life jacket," Doanh said. "Then we all pushed him here [to the edge of the lake] and the security forces surrounded him. .. At that point everyone in the village was here. Everyone came down to see the American pilot."

    Nguyen Thi Tranh was a nurse on duty at a neighborhood first aid station that day. Its purpose was to treat local residents hurt in the American bombardment, but Tranh remembers the day more than four decades ago when police came in carrying a white-haired American pilot.

    Tranh, now 82 and living in a modest home not far from the lake, told us she bandaged McCain's arms and one leg. She said she "hated the American pilots" because of the deaths and destruction caused by their bombing runs, but she viewed it as her job and her duty to help treat him.

    She would later learn that the man who was in her care for 15 or 20 minutes that day became a politician after he returned to the United States. "Would you like him to be president of the United States?" we asked Tranh.

    "That depends on the U.S. people. I don't know," Tranh said.

    Another Vietnamese official who had close contact with McCain in those days did express hope the Arizona senator wins the election.

    Tran Trong Duyet was the director of the Hoa Lo prison, known as the notorious "Hanoi Hilton" to American POWs, from 1968 to 1973. He has kept track of McCain's political career, and said he admires the man once in his custody because of his work to push the United States, during the Clinton administration, to normalize relations with Vietnam.

    As for his prison days, Duyet said in his conversations with McCain, "He would never admit the United States made a mistake in the war. ... Therefore I say John McCain is an extremely conservative man. He was loyal to his ideology."

    The low point for McCain came in 1968, before his transfer to the Hanoi Hilton. In his own accounts of those days, McCain wrote that after four days of beatings -- including a re-breaking of his left arm -- he signed a confession admitting to war crimes.

    "I wasn't as tough as I had hoped to be and I certainly wasn't as strong as some of my comrades," McCain said.

    The Vietnamese knew his father was the admiral commanding U.S. forces in the Pacific, and they offered McCain early release. But he refused, on grounds the code of conduct instructed that prisoners be released in the order in which they had been captured.

    "There was a correlation between my refusal to accept early release and my treatment," McCain told us. "Because after it was clear to the Vietnamese I would not do that, then the treatment got very much worse."

    As for his father, who knew from U.S. intelligence that increased bombing could result in harsher treatment for his son, McCain said: "I think in many ways it was harder on him than it was on me."

    Duyet grew animated and agitated when pressed about accounts by McCain and dozens of other American POWs who said they were beaten and tortured, including being hung from the ceilings of their cells with their hands bound behind their backs.

    "This is not true, because our nation is civilized and humanitarian and you do not understand the Vietnamese nation," Duyet said. "We never beat anybody."

    Ernie Brace is among the many who tell a different story of their time as a POW, including time at Hao Lo when McCain was there.

    "I had my front teeth knocked out, I had my cheekbone broken, I had my nose broken," said Brace. He described other inmates who were, among other things, "beaten with a fan belt for three of four days." He said the captors would "put your elbows behind your back and tighten up the rope around your elbows until your shoulders dislocated."

    Many of McCain's friends said he rarely brings up his POW days in their conversations, and won't discuss details of his treatment unless pressed.

    "It's just a chapter in my life that I'd rather remember the good parts than the bad parts," McCain said. "I don't know what the point is of going through all that."

    It was while in the cell next to McCain that Brace said he first got a sense of his neighbor's politics -- communicated through taps on the wall using an alphabet code developed by the prisoners. Watch Brace talk about their secret code »

    According to Brace, when Richard Nixon was elected president in 1968, McCain was "elated."

    "He said, 'Nixon will get us home. Nixon won't sit there. He'll listen to the generals and get, you know, no more running this war from the basement of the White House.' "

    "Well, it didn't happen," Brace recalled recently. "We thought we'd be home for Christmas of '69 and there we were. And there we were for three more Christmases -- '70, '71, and '72."

    And his take on his neighbor's politics back then?

    "He was a conservative. He was an archconservative," said Brace. "And his theory on the war at that time was 'Do it. Do it right, and get it over with.' "
  2. zrinkill

    zrinkill Diamond surrounded by trash

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    'Do it. Do it right, and get it over with.'

    Seems to me that McCain was an average Military man ...... but a good leader.

    I have known a few.
  3. Doomsday101

    Doomsday101 Well-Known Member

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    I think he may have been both, I don't think you have many average Navy Pilots landing on the deck of a moving aircraft carrier.
  4. burmafrd

    burmafrd Well-Known Member

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    Surviving carrier landings and takeoffs makes a pilot WAY more then average. NOW as regards being an officer, that is another story. Still its got to toughen you up quite a bit. That is one thing about McCain: that man surely has no worry about doubting his ability to stand up to the worst that can happen= been there, done that, has the scars to prove it.
  5. yeahyeah

    yeahyeah New Member

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    Oh..this is'nt about Depends?
  6. Ben_n_austin

    Ben_n_austin Benched

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    :laugh2:
  7. burmafrd

    burmafrd Well-Known Member

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    Well, I guess nothing more needs to be said by these two. Not like anyone would be surprised. Someone who actually put it all on the line and survived some PRETTY BAD happenings. And these two show their contempt. But then again considering them...
  8. Ben_n_austin

    Ben_n_austin Benched

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    You sleep with dogs, you lie with dogs.

    [IMG]
  9. Bach

    Bach Benched

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    No it's not. But when it is, I'll let you know.
  10. Doomsday101

    Doomsday101 Well-Known Member

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    Just ask Bill Clinton. :lmao2:
  11. BrAinPaiNt

    BrAinPaiNt Bad Santa Staff Member

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    What do you mean bad happenings? According to you and some others he was not tortured because you don't believe some of the same methods used by the US now is torture.

    Kind of find yourself contradicting yourself.

    I of course find it torture for him when he was there and agree making a joke of it as silly and I find some of the same methods used against him that are being used by the US now as torture.
  12. zrinkill

    zrinkill Diamond surrounded by trash

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    Does not surprise me at all.
  13. Doomsday101

    Doomsday101 Well-Known Member

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    Water boarding is not the same as what was done to McCain and many others over there. I know you like to think we are the bad guys but US treatment of POWs is very light weight compared to what our men have gone through it is not even in the same ball park
  14. BrAinPaiNt

    BrAinPaiNt Bad Santa Staff Member

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    Not talking about water boarding.

    There were other techniques used on him there such as sleep deprivation, stress positions and long time standing. And let's not forget that there were beatings at Abu and things that resulted in some deaths.

    But since you brought up waterboarding at one time John McCain was clearly against harsher techniques and considered water board torture...

    In 2007
    At an Iowa Falls event, The Times' Aaron Zitner heard the Arizona senator criticize Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani for saying, in McCain's words, that waterboarding could be used under certain circumstances. "Now, my friends," McCain said in his familiar speech pattern, "waterboarding is torture . . . No mistake about that."


    Only to change his stance later...

    In 2008 he voted the continuation to allow waterboarding that the bush admin was pushing.

    So...he thinks it was torture, but then votes for it anyways.

    He was tortured but now is ok with torture.

    I don't know how you could have a bigger flip flop ever considering he was tortured and was always against it until he was ramping up to run for President and had to get on board with the GOP.

    That is one of the big issues that turned me against him.

    Go even on step further concerning waterboarding.

    The US charged crimes against some japanese WWII soldiers for torture and one torture they described and charged against was described just as waterboarding is described.

    So it was ok to charge others with it, not ok to charge us with it. It was torture then, not torture now.
  15. Doomsday101

    Doomsday101 Well-Known Member

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    And water boarding has been debated pro and con and we know which side McCain fell on with that issue. As for sleep deprivation hell the police use that as a forms of interrogation that is widely used and acceptable. But hanging POW be the arms until they dislocate and beating them in the process? Our guys over the years have gone through living hell and we have never gone to that point
  16. zrinkill

    zrinkill Diamond surrounded by trash

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    I am on record as being against torture including waterboarding.

    Physical torture is outdated and not as effective as some of the mental manipulations the CIA has men that can do.

    I have no problem with fear tactics, sleep deprivation, and long time standing, as these are part of the mental defensive breakdown of these men.

    Physical torture is just easier. Its a clumsy ineffective tool that if used by our Military men infringes upon the Honor of the entire Military.
  17. Ben_n_austin

    Ben_n_austin Benched

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    I finally agree with you. See you next month! :thumbup:
  18. zrinkill

    zrinkill Diamond surrounded by trash

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    Wait a minute ..... now I have to rethink my entire opinion.
  19. BrAinPaiNt

    BrAinPaiNt Bad Santa Staff Member

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    Again McCain WAS against Waterboarding and did a 180 turn and voted for it...that is a freaking HUGE flip flop there in order to gain the GOP backing.

    As far as we have never gone to that point? You do realize that people died as a result of the things that happened in Abu Gharib right? You do know that right?

    Army Reserve Staff Sgt. Chip Frederick, a participant in the abuse, whose civilian job was as a corrections officer at a Virginia prison. Frederick stated, "We had no support, no training whatsoever. And I kept asking my chain of command for certain things ... like rules and regulations," says Frederick. "And it just wasn't happening." Frederick's video diary, sent home from Iraq, provided some of the images used in the story.

    In the diary are listed detailed, dated entries that chronicle abuse and names, for example,

    They stressed him out so bad that the man passed away. The next day the medics came in and put his body on a stretcher, placed a fake I.V. in his arm [to suggest he died under medical care] and took him away. This OGA (other governmental agency) [prisoner] was never processed and therefore never had a number.
    —Ivan Frederick


    Here is another...

    These were not the first photographs taken on the block that night, or the last. That afternoon, when the night shift M.P.s reported for duty at the hard site, their platoon commander had called them to a meeting. “He said there was a prisoner who had died in the shower, and he died of a heart attack,” Harman said. The body had been left in the shower on Tier 1B, packed in ice, and shortly after the session with Gilligan somebody noticed water trickling out from under the shower door.

    As Harman entered the shower room, she snapped a picture of a black rubber body bag lying along the far wall. Then she and Graner, their hands sheathed in turquoise latex surgical gloves, unzipped the bag. “We just checked him out and took photos of him—kind of realized right away that there was no way he died of a heart attack because of all the cuts and blood coming out of his nose,” she said, and she added, “You don’t think your commander’s going to lie to you about something. It made my trust go down, that’s for sure. Well, you can’t trust your commander now.”

    Translucent plastic ice bags covered the dead prisoner from the neck down, but his battered, bandaged face was exposed—mouth agape as if in mid-speech. Harman, the aspiring forensic photographer, shot him from a variety of angles, zooming in and out, while Charles Graner swabbed the floor. When he was done, he took a photograph of Harman posing with the corpse, bending low into the frame, flashing her Kodak smile, and giving the thumbs-up with one gloved hand; and she used his camera to take a similar shot of him. After about seven minutes in the shower room, she zipped the body bag shut, and they left.


    Not only were there deaths there, they tried to say they were caused by other things.

    Finally the truth came out and they sent some soldiers to prison, notice nobody ever heard what became of the CIA or other non military people there?

    I bet money that if these images did not get out and a few soldiers did not report it...this would never have resulted in those soldiers going to prison.

    So let's not act like the US has not done stuff. Please.
  20. trickblue

    trickblue Old Testament... Zone Supporter

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    Good point...

    [IMG] [IMG] [IMG] [IMG] [IMG]

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