Wednesday, March 12, 2008

McCain's torture should raise questions about his fitness to lead

John McCain did not deserve to be tortured. Neither does anyone else - even putting aside the fact that it just doesn’t work. The fact that he had to endure the physical and emotional suffering that he did - for more than five years - is a testament to the determination he showed during that terrible time in his life.

But that doesn’t make him more fit to lead the US military and exercise the measured, calculated, deliberative judgment that is required if that White House phone rings at 3AM. Rather, it raises questions about whether his decision making ability is clouded (and if you listen to his republican Senate colleagues, it certainly isn’t for the better) by his experience.

Of course, John Kerry, who heroically served in Vietnam and receive Purple Hearts is a terrorist loving traitor, and the press will no doubt be just as fair to someone whose fellow soldiers in Vietnam remind us as the one who lost 5 US Navy aircraft and was a below average student in the Naval Academy.

Our own CIA declassified documents that were prepared in the 1960s that dealt with brainwashing and torture. Other than the fact that there are “interrogation techniques” referred to as “torture” in these documents that are way less extreme than some that our own administration and much of the republican party thinks is just peachy keen, there are some interesting notes.

For starters, note the passage in bold regarding isolation. John McCain spent approximately 2 years in solitary confinement. That’s a helluva long time. The CIA document referenced in the link above (the link in the diary is broken but if you play around with it, you can get to the entire document) has the following to say about isolation and the impact on a person subjected to it (emphasis mine):

A major aspect of his prison experience is isolation. Man is a social animal; he does not live alone. From birth to death, he lives in the company of his fellow man. His relations with other people and, especially with those closest to him, are almost as important to him as food or drink. When a man is totally isolated, he is removed from all of the interpersonal relations which are so important to him and taken out of the social role which sustains him. His internal as well as his external life is disrupted.


After a few days it becomes apparent to the prisoner that his activity avails him nothing and that will he will be punished or reprimanded for even the smallest breaches of the routine. His requests have been listened to but never acted upon. He becomes docility of a trained animal. Indeed, the guards say that prisoners are “reduced to animals”. It is estimated that in the average case it takes from four to six weeks of rigid, total isolation to produce this phenomenon.

Four to six weeks in isolation will produce that. John McCain was in isolation for two entire years. And within those two years, he was also bound into painful positions with rope and beaten every two hours.

This is terrible to do to any human being and way more than McCain should have ever had to endure. But it changed him. That is a fact, not a guess. And certainly not his fault, nor is it something that should be looked down or poorly upon. Sadly, we have seen from the far too many of our troops who are coming back to the US with PTSD and a life that revolves around emotional or physical therapy as well as just trying to get through the day - let alone trying to piece their lives back together.

The long term effects of solitary confinement have been well documented, and there is little doubt that the torture that McCain endured had a profound effect on him, both short and long term.

There is, of course, the quote from none other than republican Senator Thad Cochran, who has known McCain for over 30 years:

"The thought of his being president sends a cold chill down my spine," Cochran said about McCain by phone. "He is erratic. He is hotheaded. He loses his temper and he worries me."

Is there any doubt that McCain feels some level of anger, bitterness, holds a grudge or wants revenge for what was done to him? Hell, I know I would. I’d be permanently pissed off and looking for a fight - and I’m a pretty mild mannered guy. But, do we want to have a Commander in Chief who is even more hawkish on foreign policy than Bush is? On Iraq? On Russia? On China? Someone who talks openly about more wars, especially at a time when we are hated around the world for our confrontational and reckless foreign policy, not to mention with troops already stretched to the breaking point?

It is extremely telling that McCain would not vote to outlaw torture, yet he tells 60 Minutes that torture is wrong and the US shouldn’t do it anymore.

Can we afford to have someone who endured such horrific treatment that has been well documented to have profound negative effects on their personality and judgment? The fact that McCain served this country is admirable. The fact that he was tortured is horrific and more than regrettable - in fact, it is inexcusable.

However, it is a fact that is far from helpful for someone that would be our Commander in Chief, even more so at this time in history, and who would be answering that hypothetical phone call at 3AM.


judy said...


John McCain just blew off speaking with thousands of minority journalists at the Unity '08 National Convention in Chicago all the while complaining he's not getting nearly enough news coverage. With all these journalists losing out on a great opportunity to meet with and write about the man, could it be they might be looking for something to report, a story to investigate?

Feel free to forward the following "news tip" to them. We can kill three birds with one stone - take mainstream media to task for not giving voters coverage on the full McCain, bring attention to a health issue affecting many veterans, and give Senator McCain the level of news coverage he craves.

Now, some in mainstream media even have the gall to question whether these minority journalists will pander to Obama because of race, while disregarding their own consistent record of filling us full with stories of McCain's war 'hero' trials and tribulations without giving us the full story. Journalists within the old school mainstream media indulge themselves with numerous articles on his status as a POW, inform us each and every time one vet speaks out about the torture of John McCain, even going into great detail about the types of torture and the number of years the man was tortured. Yet, it never enters their minds to ever ask the obvious question - "Could the man running for the highest office in the United States of America, a job with incredible stress, possibly suffer from PTSD?"

Google the general web with the words 'mccain ptsd' and over one half million hits will appear. Most are articles by veteran groups having to do with McCain's lack of support for veterans and his actions to shut down the MIA/POW investigations, while many others discuss the very real possibility he suffers from PTSD. Now go to Google News section and enter 'mccain ptsd'. To be fair, google the entire archive. Out of a grand total of approximately 80 hits, you will be lucky to pull up one or two articles addressing this issue.

As you can see, there is NO mainstream media coverage questioning whether John McCain may suffer from PTSD or perhaps LOSS. They are more than willing to write about the details of McCain's torture but not
the probable result of said torture.

“Among U.S. servicemen taken captive during the Korean War, as many as nine out of 10 survivors may suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental disorders more than 35 years after their release" [psychologist Patricia B. Sutker of the New Orleans Veterans Administration Medical Center and her colleagues report in the January AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PSYCHIATRY]

McCain has a nine out of ten chance of having PTSD, displays many of the symptoms, yet no one in mainstream media will question him, a candidate for Commander in Chief, a man who has an infamous history of an out of control temper who refuses to release his full military medical records to the general press.

Nine out of ten - Anyone willing to take book on the possibility John McCain does not suffer from ptsd? Call me, I need gas money.

'Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, can result from wartime trauma such as suffering wounds or witnessing others being hurt. Symptoms include irritability or outbursts of anger, sleep difficulties, trouble
concentrating, extreme vigilance and an exaggerated startle response.'

Before the Iraq invasion, many of us begged mainstream media to fully question the history and events leading us into war. They refused. To their credit, however, they 'apologized' years later for their failure to fully report these events. Today, we ask them to help the voters answer one simple question: 'Is John McCain emotionally fit for the most stressful job in our country, the President of the United States, our Commander in Chief?"

Journalists have a choice. They can continue to tiptoe around the elephant in the room, put a politician before country, violate the spirit of journalism and ignore the ethics that bind them, or they can do their job.

They can give us the full McCain.

Anonymous said...

Kerry's Cambodia Whopper

By Joshua Muravchik

Tuesday, August 24, 2004; Page A17

Most of the debate between the former shipmates who swear by John Kerry and the group of other Swift boat veterans who are attacking his military record focuses on matters that few of us have the experience or the moral standing to judge. But one issue, having nothing to do with medals, wounds or bravery under fire, goes to the heart of Kerry's qualifications for the presidency and is therefore something that each of us must consider. That is Kerry's apparently fabricated claim that he fought in Cambodia.

It is an assertion he made first, insofar as the written record reveals, in 1979 in a letter to the Boston Herald. Since then he has repeated it on at least eight occasions during Senate debate or in news interviews, most recently to The Post this year (an interview posted on Kerry's Web site). The most dramatic iteration came on the floor of the Senate in 1986, when he made it the centerpiece of a carefully prepared 20-minute oration against aid to the Nicaraguan contras.

Kerry argued that contra aid could put the United States on the path to deeper involvement despite denials by the Reagan administration of any such intent. Kerry began by reading out similar denials regarding Vietnam from presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon. Then he offered this devastating riposte:

"I remember Christmas of 1968 sitting on a gunboat in Cambodia. I remember what it was like to be shot at by Vietnamese and Khmer Rouge and Cambodians, and have the president of the United States telling the American people that I was not there; the troops were not in Cambodia. I have that memory which is seared -- seared -- in me."

However seared he was, Kerry's spokesmen now say his memory was faulty. When the Swift boat veterans who oppose Kerry presented statements from his commanders and members of his unit denying that his boat entered Cambodia, none of Kerry's shipmates came forward, as they had on other issues, to corroborate his account. Two weeks ago Kerry's spokesmen began to backtrack. First, one campaign aide explained that Kerry had patrolled the Mekong Delta somewhere "between" Cambodia and Vietnam. But there is no between; there is a border. Then another spokesman told reporters that Kerry had been "near Cambodia." But the point of Kerry's 1986 speech was that he personally had taken part in a secret and illegal war in a neutral country. That was only true if he was "in Cambodia," as he had often said he was. If he was merely "near," then his deliberate misstatement falsified the entire speech.

Next, the campaign leaked a new version through the medium of historian Douglas Brinkley, author of "Tour of Duty," a laudatory book on Kerry's military service. Last week Brinkley told the London Telegraph that while Kerry had been 50 miles from the border on Christmas, he "went into Cambodian waters three or four times in January and February 1969 on clandestine missions." Oddly, though, while Brinkley devotes nearly 100 pages of his book to Kerry's activities that January and February, pinpointing the locations of various battles and often placing Kerry near Cambodia, he nowhere mentions Kerry's crossing into Cambodia, an inconceivable omission if it were true.

Now a new official statement from the campaign undercuts Brinkley. It offers a minimal (thus harder to impeach) claim: that Kerry "on one occasion crossed into Cambodia," on an unspecified date. But at least two of the shipmates who are supporting Kerry's campaign (and one who is not) deny their boat ever crossed the border, and their testimony on this score is corroborated by Kerry's own journal, kept while on duty. One passage reproduced in Brinkley's book says: "The banks of the [Rach Giang Thanh River] whistled by as we churned out mile after mile at full speed. On my left were occasional open fields that allowed us a clear view into Cambodia. At some points, the border was only fifty yards away and it then would meander out to several hundred or even as much as a thousand yards away, always making one wonder what lay on the other side." His curiosity was never satisfied, because this entry was from Kerry's final mission.

After his discharge, Kerry became the leader of Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW). Once, he presented to Congress the accounts by his VVAW comrades of having "personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires . . . to human genitals . . . razed villages in a fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan . . . poisoned foodstocks." Later it was shown that many of the stories on which Kerry based this testimony were false, some told by impostors who had stolen the identities of real GIs, but Kerry himself was not implicated in the fraud. And his own over-the-top generalization that such "crimes [were] committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command" could be charged up to youthfulness and the fevers of the times.

But Kerry has repeated his Cambodia tale throughout his adult life. He has claimed that the epiphany he had that Christmas of 1968 was about truthfulness. "One of the things that most struck me about Vietnam was how people were lied to," he explained in a subsequent interview. If -- as seems almost surely the case -- Kerry himself has lied about what he did in Vietnam, and has done so not merely to spice his biography but to influence national policy, then he is surely not the kind of man we want as our president.

The writer is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

That Senator Kerry has presented his Vietnam record as his major qualification to be president of the United States is obvious to any ETPer that has followed the Presidential candidate.

Another issue of contention with Senator Kerry's Vietnam record, in addition to the issue of Kerry's medals and valor, is that Senator Kerry volunteered to go to Vietnam only after the draft deferment Kerry had applied for was turned down.

"Before we get to his record in Vietnam, however, we should examine the widespread misconception about how he got to Vietnam. The oft-repeated claim that Mr. Kerry volunteered to go to Vietnam misleads: He apparently volunteered only after the draft deferment he had applied for was turned down ¿ thus allowing him to choose service in the Navy to avoid being drafted into the Army.

I served as a combat surgeon in DaNang, (U.S. Naval Support Hospital) from Dec. 10, 1967, through Dec. 11, 1968.

During my year in DaNang, a few combatants urged me to verify small abrasions as "wounds" so they could get a Purple Heart. I refused them. But some went shopping for another opinion. Unfortunately, we had some antiwar physicians in Vietnam who were happy to become accomplices in these frauds. Most with valid Purple Hearts didn't need to apply to leave Vietnam: The seriousness of their wounds demanded it.

Lt. John Kerry's collecting three Purple Hearts within 100 days ¿ all for wounds too minor to require hospitalization ¿ recalls the distasteful memories of having to deal with those few miscreants in DaNang. More disturbing is the revelation that crewmen on Mr. Kerry's boat denied they had received any gunfire from shore at the time when Lt. Kerry claimed such gunfire had caused his wound. The doctor who disapproved Lt. Kerry's application for his first Purple Heart for that wound agreed that the tiny metal splinter sticking in the skin of his arm was inconsistent with enemy gunfire from shore. His crewmates claimed that Lt. Kerry, himself, had fired a grenade launcher from the boat striking a rock on the nearby shore ¿ and his wound was from a metal splinter from the grenade that ricocheted back, striking him in the arm.

Is there any way we can determine who was telling the truth about this first Purple Heart? Yes, there is. The type of wound can reveal much about the weapon that caused it. The tiny sliver of metal and its very superficial penetration is typical of fragments from explosive devices ¿ like grenades. It would not have resulted from the most likely gunfire from shore ¿ small arms rifle fire. The AK 47 rifle, used by the enemy, fires a 30-caliber bullet, which is 50 times or more as heavy as the sliver of metal sticking in Lt. Kerry's skin. Such a bullet would have passed through any part of his body it struck, and certainly no part of it would have remained sticking in his skin.

In the absence of the medical records that Mr. Kerry apparently declines to make public, the only details we have about his second and third Purple Hearts are that he also based them on wounds too minor to require hospitalization.

Dr. Louis Letson was entirely correct in turning down Lt. Kerry's first Purple Heart ¿ even if the wound had been the result of enemy action. Can there be any doubt that the tiny metal sliver could have been removed easily, and safely, by a Navy corpsman? It certainly did not "require" treatment by a medical officer (an MD).

So where and how did Lt. Kerry eventually obtain a Purple Heart for his first wound? Nobody seems to know. Only his medical records will tell ¿ and the American public needs that information to evaluate candidate Kerry's qualifications and candor."

Source and for more:
'Trying to acquire Purple Hearts'
Dr. Martin L. Fackler

I have been to Paris. I have talked with both delegations at the peace talks, that is to say the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the Provisional Revolutionary Government and of all eight of Madam Binh's points it has been stated time and time again, and was stated by Senator Vance Hartke when he returned from Paris, and it has been stated by many other officials of this Government, if the United States were to set a date for withdrawal the prisoners of war would be returned.

I think this negates very clearly the argument of the President that we have to maintain a presence in Vietnam, to use as a negotiating block for the return of those prisoners. The setting of a date will accomplish that.

-- John Kerry, testifying before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, April 22, 1971

Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

-- U.S. Code, Title 18, Part I, Chapter 45, Section 953: Private correspondence with foreign governments

Anonymous said...

Barack Obama 'wanted to join US military'
Barack Obama has said he considered joining the United States military when he left school but decided not to because the Vietnam war was over and "we weren't engaged in an active military conflict at that point".

By Toby Harnden in Washington
Last Updated: 6:54PM BST 07 Sep 2008

Mr Obama is more vulnerable than most Democrats on the patriotism issue Photo: GETTY
The statement is thought to be the first time during the 19-month-long presidential campaign that the Democratic nominee for the White House has indicated he once wanted to serve in uniform. The aspiration was not mentioned in either of his two volumes of memoirs.

Mr Obama was asked by George Stephanopoulos of ABC's "This Week" programme whether he'd ever thought about military service and replied: "You know, I actually did. I had to sign up for Selective Service [a means of conscription in case of war] when I graduated from high school.

"And I was growing up in Hawaii. And I have friends whose parents were in the military. There are a lot of Army, military bases there.

"And I actually always thought of the military as an ennobling and, you know, honourable option. But keep in mind that I graduated in 1979. The Vietnam War had come to an end. We weren't engaged in an active military conflict at that point. And so, it's not an option that I ever decided to pursue."

All male American citizens are legally required to register for Selective Service within 30 days of their 18th birthday.

The Illinois senator's newly-disclosed military ambition came after the choice of Sarah Palin as the running mate of his opponent John McCain ensured that for the first time in modern history three of the four candidates on the two presidential tickets would have a son that had served or would serve in a war zone.

Mrs Palin's eldest son Track, 19, is due to leave for Iraq on Thursday, the seventh anniversary of the September 11th attacks on America and exactly a year after he joined the US Army as an infantryman.

John McCain's youngest son Jimmy, also 19, is a lance-corporal in the US marine corps who served in Ramadi, deep in Iraq's Sunni triangle, last year. His other son Jack, 21, is currently training to be an officer at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis.

Beau Biden, 39, elder son of Senator Joe Biden, Mr Obama's running mate, is scheduled to go to Iraq early next year. Beau Biden is attorney general of Delaware and a captain in the legal corps of the US Army's National Guard. He is in line to inherit his father's Senate seat should Mr Obama win the White House.

Voters often fault Democratic candidates on issues of patriotism and support for the military. Bill Clinton was vilified by Republicans as a Vietnam draft dodger, though he defeated two Second World War veterans, President George H.W. Bush in 1992 and Senator Bob Dole in 1996.

But Al Gore, a US Army journalist in Vietnam, and John Kerry, a decorated Vietnam veteran who won a Silver Star while serving in patrol craft on Vietnam's Mekong Delta, both lost to George W. Bush, who avoided active service in Vietnam by joining the Texas Air National Guard.

Mr Obama is more vulnerable than most Democrats on the patriotism issue because of his exotic life story, his past radical associations, his previous refusal to wear an American flag pin - though he has since relented and is now seldom seen without one - and inaccurate smears that he is a Muslim.

The Illinois senator's maternal grandfather Stanley Dunham served in the US Army in Europe during the Second World War.

His maternal great uncle Charlie Payne helped liberate Ohrdruf, a part of the Buchenwald concentration camp network - though he was criticised for misstating this on the campaign trail as an uncle who liberated Auschwitz.

But these military connections pale in comparison with Mr McCain's fabled biography as the son and grandson of admirals who spent more than five years in the Hanoi Hilton prison after his jet was shot down over Vietnam.

Mr McCain took as his Republican convention theme the slogan "Country First" and both Mrs Palin and Rudy Giuliani, the former Republican mayor of New York, mocked Mr Obama's time as a "community organiser" in Chicago when he was in his twenties.

Hillary Clinton, who Mr Obama defeated in the Democratic primaries, was ridiculed in 1994 for stating that she tried to join the US marines in 1975, the year she married, but was rejected because she was too old and had poor eyesight. Her husband Bill said this year that she had tried to join the US Army.

During the ABC interview, Mr Obama sought to broaden the concept of national service beyond serving in uniform. Asked about the jibes related to his work when he first arrived in Chicago, he said: "It's curious to me that they would mock that, when I, at least, think that that's exactly what young people should be doing.

"Understand what I did as a community organiser. When I got out of a college as a young person, 24, 25 years old, I moved to Chicago and worked with churches, who were dealing with steel plants that had closed in their neighbourhoods, to set up job training programmes for the unemployed and after-school programmes for youth."

He also tried to "deal with asbestos in homes with poor people - community service work - which John McCain has been talking about, putting country first and extolling the virtues of national service".

Obama's verbal slip fuels his critics: 'My Muslim faith'...
ST. LOUIS, Mo. - Sen. Barack Obama's foes seized Sunday upon a brief slip of the tongue, when the Democratic presidential nominee was outlining his Christianity but accidentally said, "my Muslim faith."

The three words -- immediately corrected -- were during an exchange with ABC's George Stephanopoulos on "This Week," when he was trying to criticize the quiet smear campaign suggesting he is a Muslim.

But illustrating the difficulty of preventing false rumors about his faith from spreading, anti-Obama groups within one hour of the interview had sliced it out of context and were sending it around via email. They also were blogging about it.

Mr. Obama, who is a Christian and often proudly speaks about how his faith has influenced his public service, said he finds it "deeply offensive" that there are efforts "coming out of the Republican camp to suggest that perhaps I'm not who I say I am when it comes to my faith."

The exchange came after Mr. Obama said that Republicans are attempting to scare voters by suggesting he is not Christian, which McCain campaign manager Rick Davis said was "cynical."

Asked about it on ABC, Mr. Obama said, "These guys love to throw a rock and hide their hand."

"The McCain campaign has never suggested you have Muslim connections," said Mr. Stephanopoulos, who repeatedly interrupted Mr. Obama during the interview.

"I don't think that when you look at what is being promulgated on Fox News, let's say, and Republican commentators who are closely allied to these folks," Mr Obama responded, and Mr. Stephanopoulos interrupted: "But John McCain said that's wrong."

Mr. Obama noted that when Republican vice presidential nominee Gov. Sarah Palin "was forced" to talk about her pregnant 17-year-old daughter, he issued a forceful statement to reporters that the line of inquiry was "off limits." But he said the McCain campaign tried to tie him to "liberal blogs that support Obama" and are "attacking Governor Palin."

"Let's not play games," he said. "What I was suggesting -- you're absolutely right that John McCain has not talked about my Muslim faith. And you're absolutely right that that has not come."

Mr. Stephanopoulos interrupted with, "Christian faith."

"My Christian faith," Mr. Obama said quickly. "Well, what I'm saying is that he hasn't suggested that I'm a Muslim. And I think that his campaign's upper echelons have not, either. What I think is fair to say is that, coming out of the Republican camp, there have been efforts to suggest that perhaps I'm not who I say I am when it comes to my faith -- something which I find deeply offensive, and that has been going on for a pretty long time."

Asked to comment on the accidental misstatement illustrating the difficulty of the issue, Obama spokesman Bill Burton offered this comment: "I'm not surprised that the only outlet doing this story is The Washington Times."

Anonymous said...

Hm hm.. that's amazing but frankly i have a hard time determining it... wonder what others have to say..

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