In my opinion, there are no "sacred cows" when it comes to the office of the President of the United States of America. At this point, there is a "flying squad" of returned POWs from the Vietnam War protecting the image of Senator John S. McCain. One can but wonder why Senator McCain would require such a team. He is not under attack or even serious scrutiny by the "liberal media." TV commentators who usually attack anyone who shows a less than pristine bent for the most part are mum on the Arizona Senator.

My concerns are simple. I believe that any and all of the intelligence held by U.S. Government agencies on Senator McCain's time as a POW must be made available to the media and public. There is too much danger of a President being held hostage by things in the files of Intelligence agencies and, even more dangerous, held in the files of foreign governments in Asia and Europe.

My intentions have nothing to do with any feelings I may harbor toward John McCain personally. I have none. My intentions in all of this have to do with him professionally. They have to do with his treatment of Bui Tin, who I consider nothing more than a "sent agent." They have to do with his simplistic attitude toward the issue of MIAs and his utterly vile behavior toward those who disagree with him, including family members. Lastly, I feel for any of the "Keating Five" to have the audacity to make "Campaign Reform" the cornerstone of his platform is the height of hypocrisy. He took the money right along with the others. To claim he did not know is not the type of answer one who aspires to be President should give in my opinion. He was responsible, but he did everything in his power to shift the blame. He sounded too much like Clinton for me. He disappointed me in that.

I don't care if he has a temper unless he decides to vent it on an aging MIA mother, and he did just that. I can't forgive that and no one else should. MIAs? I wrote then-Congressman McCain while still in the Army, from Korea, about the MIAs. Senator Denton wrote to me encouraging me to trust the Government. I didn't like the answer, but I got an answer from Senator Denton. My letter to McCain was answered by DIA. I wrote to him as one of the few POWs the Communists returned along with himself, and he checked nothing. So much for John's concern about MIAs.

A friend of mine was with Admiral McCain when he came to meet his son upon his return to U.S. control. When he reminded Senator McCain of this, John responded with a tirade and claimed that he received no "special treatment" and even denied his father was there. I'm sorry, but that was just a lie. There was deep concern among the intelligence community about John McCain. His interviews and statements from Hanoi and pictures of him in an actual hospital gave great worries to many, including Bill Colby himself. His hero image was not nearly as solid in 1973 as it is now. That may have been wrong, but it was a fact.

I don't know why John did many of the things he did in captivity and since, but I do know that none of this is off limits, when it concerns someone running for President. Andrew Jackson was a war hero and he and his wife endured terrible rumors, innuendo and the washing of dirty laundry. If "Ole Hickory" was not immune, someone captured by the enemy also is not.

Some are issuing damning statements about Senator McCain, which I have never seen anything to justify. Unless there are verifiable facts to back them up, these people should shut up. Most importantly, Vietnam Veterans have some serious questions to ask about which the media seems too timid to even venture a query. These must be answered and answered now.

Lastly, for returned POWs to stand up and say that no MIAs could have been alive after 1973 "Because we knew everyone in the system," is a self-serving lie and has no place in the utterances of honorable men. If they truly do not know better, they should support their candidate and keep their mouths shut about MIAs. They know nothing of remains still reeking of decay long after the war, nor have they ever been in the arena of which they try to speak as "experts." All of this to support a political candidate for President?

That is what McCain is and the leadership of our nation is too important to take anyone's word on a candidate. After all, there is a large segment of time when none of these POWs were with McCain in Hanoi. To state or even insinuate otherwise is to lie and that is unacceptable, even if one believes all that John now says.

Like I have said in the past, I hope John is everything that he claims to be. But that does not excuse giving military intelligence to the enemy, his supposed "open mind" on MIAs, his treatment of MIA family members, or his attacks on PFC Garwood, a man he never heard of as a POW. Perhaps he could address why all those boys in Hanoi were on the radio I had to listen to in 1972-73 and none were being tortured. Contrary to the carefully contrived belief within the media, the vast majority who I heard were "highly trained and disciplined pilots" and not a bunch of "Army and Marine" enlisted men.

I find it totally unprofessional for professional military men to attack people who have legitimate questions about a political candidate regardless of who he is or who his father was. I find many things said about Senator McCain to be unsavory and with out merit. Those things are easily dealt with by John's campaign staff. His friends have every right to defend him on these things, but they have no right to issue blanket statements about McCain's captivity unless they were with him all the way. They were not unless his claim of isolation is a fabrication. One would hope the same people are more accurate in their description of McCain than they were in their totally meritless claim of "knowing everyone in the system." This is a self-serving lie and a totally dishonorable one at that. You knew? You knew nothing!

In closing, let me say this. The very insinuation that anyone who challenges John McCain is a lesser person in the returned POW community is so much bunk. This is political, pure and simple. John must be judged as a candidate for President, on what his past actions truly were. Where he has stood on the issues as a politician are open to scrutiny and he is also certainly allowed his defenders. However, to put out totally inaccurate statements about what the POWs in Hanoi knew about who was a POW and who was not, and who collaborated and who did not, while ignoring the dishonorable actions of those let back into the fold in the last minutes of captivity, has no merit. We are talking about the leadership of the Nation, and I and many others have serious questions about McCain's suitability for that position. We are allowed to have these positions and there is no requirement based on honor that requires us to remain mum.

Furthermore, there is no challenge as to our right to be judged on our performance on the battlefield or in prison. I welcome anyone to debate me on my performance in either scenario and I find the insinuation that we in the jungle somehow suffered less or served with less honor to be not only professionally and historically reprehensible, but, also laughable. Perhaps some in our number learned the value of propaganda a little too well during our captivity. I will not be steam-rolled by a "flying squad" of propagandists. I want some damned answers, not another self-serving book that builds the images and egos of my high-flying compatriots from Hanoi.

Information Added 18Jan00


I was very pleased to see John McCain take a cogent, very clear approach to the case of the little Cuban boy whose mother died in her attempts to bring him to freedom in America. The argument he put so well was that no one, of any age, should be returned to a Communist country, once they have reached freedom's shore. He rightly excluded those criminals shipped by their Governments to our country.

He stated that if he were President, he would not allow this child to be shipped back to Cuba against his wishes. He pointed out that even if the father came to Florida to claim him, it would be prudent to determine if the other family members were being held hostage to insure the return of both of them to Cuba.

I think all of us should congratulate Senator McCain for his stand on this issue. It makes no difference how I, or any one else feels about John on other issues. On this he is right, and all of us should tell him exactly that. When any politician does what we consider to be wrong, we have the right and, I believe, the responsibility to say so. It is just as much a moral responsibility to commend politicians when they do what is right. That is what true honor requires.

John's stand on this is absolutely and unequivocally correct. I ask each of my fellow Americans to commend him for his stand on allowing this young lad to remain free and in this land. I wish we could agree with more of his stands.

Copyright 1999, by Mark A. Smith, Major, USA, Retired

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