Sen. John S. McCain III will be long remembered for his political battles with the more conservative wing of his own party, a milquetoast brand of Republicanism which he called being a ‘maverick’ his pathetic defeat by Barack Obama and his final feud with a sitting Republican President: Donald J. Trump. But an unfortunate footnote in history, something overlooked by the mainstream is McCain’s darkest little secret. Worse than his July 31, 1967 ‘wet start‘ incident on the USS Forrestal as a naval aviator which cost the lives of 134 sailors. Worse even than his shoot down and capture by North Vietnamese forces and his forced ‘confessions’ under torture. The ultimate fact is that according to multiple sources, as a “Republican” Senator McCain crippled efforts to bring home American POWs from Vietnam and even went so far as to ‘debunk’ their existence.
A Quick History Lesson About Vietnam POW/MIAs
As of 2021, there are still 1,584 unaccounted-for Americans Lost in the Vietnam War, 1,244 in Vietnam itself, others in Laos, Cambodia, China, and some 470 “non-recoverable”. The fall of Saigon took place on April 30, 1975, at which point all American POWs should’ve been long before repatriated, the U.S. under President Nixon having promised $.3.25 Billion in aid “without any political conditions.” which was dependent upon Congressional approval, an approval that would never come.
History records that the repatriation of 591 American POWs held by the North Vietnamese Army, Viet Cong, and their allies concluded in April 1973 under the terms of the Paris accord. When the money never arrived, the flow of POWs home stopped and the Vietnamese insisted they would make no further efforts until they received the money they felt promised. “Postwar reconstruction aid” became a ransom. Nixon and Henry Kissinger denied for decades that the aid was “unconditional”, but rather was conditioned on several terms all of which Hanoi violated. Kissinger famously told Congress in 1976 “We owe them nothing,”
The New York Times reported at the time,
North Vietnamese leaders had not specifically linked the aid and the information on the missing servicemen, but he said that “the two should go forward together.”
“They told us they would give us more information as they get it, and we should make reciprocal gestures,”
Fast Forward To The Nineties and Sen. John McCain
As of a 1992 broadcast of Current Issues on CSPAN references were made to a KGB agent who testified that he was interviewing American POWs in Hanoi as late as 1978, and 69% of Americans polled believed firmly that there were still Americans held by the Vietnamese Government. Evidence of Americans still being held was leaking out of so many sources the bleeding couldn’t be staunched and the governments under Presidents George Bush and later Bill Clinton were getting desperate to finally close the book and normalize relations with Vietnam as a hedge against China.
Three years later in 1995, ‘Hanoi Hilton’ prisoner Sen. John S. McCain III, son of a Four-Star Admiral and Grand-son of a Four-Star Admiral (a first in U.S. History) would be the instrument chosen by the Pentagon to make the POW problem ‘go away’.
“McCain was also instrumental in amending the Missing Service Personnel Act, which had been strengthened in 1995 by POW advocates to include criminal penalties, saying, ‘Any government official who knowingly and willfully withholds from the file of a missing person any information relating to the disappearance or whereabouts and status of a missing person shall be fined as provided in Title 18 or imprisoned not more than one year or both.’
A year later, in a closed House-Senate conference on an unrelated military bill, McCain, at the behest of the Pentagon, attached a crippling amendment to the act, stripping out its only enforcement teeth, the criminal penalties, and reducing the obligations of commanders in the field to speedily search for missing men and to report the incidents to the Pentagon.”
“McCain argued that keeping the criminal penalties would have made it impossible for the Pentagon to find staffers willing to work on POW/MIA matters. That’s an odd argument to make. Were staffers only “willing to work” if they were allowed to conceal POW records?
By eviscerating the law, McCain gave his stamp of approval to the government policy of debunking the existence of live POWs.”
Bill Clinton announced the formal normalization of diplomatic relations between the United States of America and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam on July 11, 1995
The Independent Minute in a 2018 piece prior to McCain’s death wrote,
“What’s even more sick is how McCain demonized the two Pentagon chiefs’ sworn testimonies who testified under oath about the men left behind, while insisting that all the evidence — to include documents, witnesses, satellite photos — be completely buried.
He would go on to paint the entire story as an “unpatriotic myth” calling the testimony of anyone coming forward Vietnam’s POW’s the “bizarre rantings of the MIA hobbyists.”
To this day, McCain regularly vilifies those who try to get their hands on these classified documents (that he’s worked for decades to conceal) as “hoaxers,” “charlatans,” “conspiracy theorists,” and “dime-store Rambos.”
“Ironically, the very same man who for decades has been propped up and hailed a POW war hero and crusader for the interests of other POWs, is the very same man responsible for their deaths. It’s absolutely sick how this man, despite his murdering and treasonous and crooked antics for decades, is to this day regarded as a “hero” in the minds of millions of Americans.
It’s finally time that we set the record straight on who John “Songbird” McCain truly is before he dies of brain cancer, and nauseating tributes are made about his “patriotic service” to our country.”
With Senator McCain, long dead, and a period of respectful mourning observed for his family, it’s time for the American People to take a good, long look at John McCain with an honest historian’s eye.