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Vietnam Veterans for Peace Demonstrate

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http://www.democracynow.org/2008/9/1/vietn...nstrate_against

September 01, 2008

On Sunday, Veterans for Peace, a large national organization made up of veterans of every war, from Korea to Vietnam and Iraq, led a protest in the streets of St. Paul against the Republican National Convention. Among the members of Vets for Peace, there is a sizable contingent of Vietnam War vets. So, too, is the man they are demonstrating against: the presumptive presidential nominee John McCain. Democracy Now! correspondent Jeremy Scahill files a report from the streets of the Twin Cities.

VIDEO STREAM: http://play.rbn.com/?url=demnow/demnow/dem...&proto=rtsp

AUDIO STREAM: http://play.rbn.com/?url=demnow/demnow/dem...&proto=rtsp

[rush transcript] :

Democracy Now! correspondent Jeremy Scahill filed this report from the streets of the Twin Cities.

BRUCE BERRY: My name is Bruce Berry, and I am from Minneapolis. I’m a member of Vets for Peace and a veteran of Vietnam, in 1968, [inaudible]. Here, we’re at the Vietnam Memorial here in Minnesota at the State Capitol. I was here for the dedication, and Westmoreland was here, and I believe it was in 1982. And there’s somewhere in the range of 1,200 that were killed in Vietnam from Minnesota. I come here two, three times a year to just pay homage to and respect for those that were killed, and it could have been me. And my heart kind of sinks sometimes when I am here. It depends on the day.

JEREMY SCAHILL: Bruce Berry has been joined in his hometown this week by 400 friends. They’re all veterans who have come to Minneapolis, St. Paul, to protest the Republican National Convention. Many of them are Vietnam War vets, just like John McCain.

INTERVIEWER: What is your rank?

JOHN McCAIN: Lieutenant commander in the Navy.

INTERVIEWER: And your official number?

JOHN McCAIN: 624787.

McCAIN AD NARRATOR: John McCain, the American president Americans have been waiting for.

SEN. JOHN McCAIN: I’m John McCain. And I approve this message.

JEREMY SCAHILL: McCain has put his record as a fighter bomber in Vietnam front and center in this campaign, particularly his five years spent as a prisoner of war in Hanoi. On October 26, 1967, John McCain’s plane was shot down over Vietnam. McCain was captured and held for five years in a POW camp.

SEN. JOHN McCAIN: I was on a flight over the city of Hanoi. And I was bombing.

JEREMY SCAHILL: In some ways, this is a story of two kinds of veterans: John McCain, who’s running on his record in Vietnam, calling for an escalation of US wars; those members of Vets for Peace who have gathered here in the Twin Cities are trying to use their experiences in Vietnam to prevent war.

WARD REILLY: My name is Ward Reilly. I’m with Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Veterans for Peace, and I’m also associated with Iraq Veterans Against the War. I’m here to try to save the Constitution.

JEREMY SCAHILL: And what exactly was the action today?

WARD REILLY: Well, we just want to peaceably assemble and try to draw attention to the fact that we’re still occupying two completely innocent nations and that we’re living in a police state.

JEREMY SCAHILL: While much of the focus of the anti-RNC protest centers around the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the McCain camp’s promotion of their candidate as a war hero has once again made the Vietnam War and McCain’s role in it an issue.

WARD REILLY: Well, I respect John McCain’s having served his country, but, by nature, dropping bombs on innocent villages in Vietnam does not make you a war hero. I appreciate that he was a prisoner of war, and I respect him for that. And he has post-traumatic stress, and I don’t think a man with post-traumatic stress is a good man to have his finger on the red button.

STEVE McEWEN: My name is Steve McEwen. I served in Vietnam from ’66 to ’67. If anything, he should be using his experience to try and prevent war, instead of trying to do the things that he’s doing right now to heat it up.

MIKE CASEY: My name is Mike Casey. I was a medic in Vietnam. I served in Vietnam from 1970, ’71. I was getting—I got there toward the end of the war, so I was seeing the homicides, the suicides, the rampant drug addiction, heroin addiction, shootouts. We had assault helicopters. We had Cobra gunships. We had APCs. We had dusters. We had 155-millimeter howitzers. We had 175-millimeter howitzers. And we were killing people.

JEREMY SCAHILL: John McCain, of course, is also a Vietnam vet and is running in part on his war record. Your response?

MIKE CASEY: You know, he had twenty-three combat missions over Hanoi. I know what those airplanes hit. I have many friends that have walked into villages that had been bombed by napalm, that have killed hundreds and thousands of innocent civilians. He bombed civilian targets, because civilian targets are military targets. You have to remember that. It’s the most important thing that you can remember. We kill innocent civilians on purpose. They are military targets. This Geneva Convention stuff is bull [blank]! And that’s what we’re doing in Iraq. That’s what we’re doing in Afghanistan. It’s what we did in Vietnam. It’s what we did in Laos, Cambodia, Panama. You name it.

JEREMY SCAHILL: Both the Republicans and the Democrats refer to John McCain as a war hero.

MIKE CASEY: Bull [blank].

JEREMY SCAHILL: Why?

MIKE CASEY: I got a Bronze Star in Vietnam. Am I a hero? No! I did—I made a difference in Vietnam, and I’m proud—to a large degree, I’m proud of my service, because I think it made the difference between helping a lot of people in Vietnam with their injuries, because, like I say, I saw injuries. I saw dead American soldiers taken off of helicopters. And, you know, gentleman, there is nothing worse than to see an American soldier take his last breath. And there’s nothing worse than seeing a dead Vietnamese civilian that was killed irresponsibly by an American GI.

I get so tired of this hero stuff. I was not a hero in Vietnam, end of story, Bronze Star or not, Combat Medical Badge or not. I did my duty in Vietnam. But John McCain riding on a hero status? Give me a break! You know, I get so tired of John McCain thinking he’s the only one that was damaged in Vietnam with his post-traumatic stress disorder. It’s funny that when he came back as a POW, they never interview the enlisted men that were in those camps. And I know some of those people that were in those camps.

HAL MUSKAT: My name is Hal Muskat. I am with Veterans for Peace, San Francisco Bay Area. I was in the US Army from 1965 to 1970.

SEN. JOHN McCAIN: Keep that faith. Keep your courage. Stick together. Stay strong. Do not yield. Stand up. We’re Americans. And we will never surrender.

HAL MUSKAT: I don’t trust him. I don’t like him. I don’t think he speaks for veterans. I think he speaks for a very small, very—too vocal minority of right-wing veterans that would just as soon McCain said, “Vietnam wasn’t fought right. We’re going back.”

JEREMY SCAHILL: Vietnam War vet Ward Reilly has a message for today’s generation of veterans.

WARD RIELLY: I say they should be out here on the streets with me protecting the Bill of Rights, which is what we swore to uphold. We swore to defend the Constitution, not blind obedience to the commander-in-chief. And the oath we took was to defend this nation against all enemies, both foreign and domestic. And right now, the domestic enemy is in the White House.

JEREMY SCAHILL: For Democracy Now!, this is Jeremy Scahill, with Rick Rowley of Big Noise Films, in the Twin Cities.

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I almost laughed hearing Lieberman last night say of McCain in the Hanoi Hilton how he 'didn't break'.

Luck Of The Admiral's Son Not For "Grunts"

By Ted Sampley

U.S. Veteran Dispatch

October 1999

............The severely wounded McCain was finally thrown on the back of a truck and hauled to the infamous Hanoi Hilton prison camp. Immediately, his captors began to interrogate him using sadistic methods they had perfected on hundreds of captured U.S. servicemen before him.

His interrogators demanded military information. When he refused, his guards kicked and pounded him mercilessly.

McCain admits that three to four days after he was captured, he promised the Vietnamese, "I'll give you military information if you will take me to the hospital."

McCain also admits that the Vietnamese rushed him to a hospital, but denies he was given "special medical treatment" because of his promise.

He claims he was given medical care normally unavailable to captured Americans only because the Vietnamese learned he was the son of Admiral John S. McCain, Jr., the soon-to-be commander of all U.S. forces in the Pacific including those fighting in Vietnam.

The Vietnamese figured that because POW McCain's father was of such high military rank that he was of royalty or the governing circle in the United States. Thereafter the communist bragged that they had captured "the crown prince"and treated him as a "special prisoner."

Less than two weeks after McCain was taken to a hospital, Hanoi's press began quoting him giving specific military information, including the name of the aircraft carrier on which he was based, numbers of U.S. pilots that had been lost, the number of aircraft in his flight, information about location of rescue ships and the order of which his attack was supposed to take place.

There is also evidence that McCain received "special" medical treatment from a Soviet physician.

After he was out of the hospital, McCain continued cooperating with the North Vietnamese for a period of three years. He made radio broadcasts for the communists and met with foreign delegations, including the Cubans. He was interviewed by at least two North Vietnamese generals one of whom was Vietnam's national hero, General Vo Nguyen Giap.

On June 4, 1969, a U.S. wire service story headlined "PW Songbird Is Pilot Son of Admiral," reported one of McCain's radio broadcasts: "Hanoi has aired a broadcast in which the pilot son of the United States commander in the Pacific, Adm. John McCain, purportedly admits to having bombed civilian targets in North Vietnam and praises medical treatment he has received since being taken prisoner.

"The broadcast was beamed to American servicemen in South Vietnam as a part of a propaganda series attempting to counter charges by U.S. Defense Secretary Melvin Laird that American prisoners are being mistreated in North Vietnam."

McCain says he violated the Code of Conduct only when the North Vietnamese brutally tortured him. He further claims that he was so distraught afterwards that he tried to commit suicide. He has never explained why his "aid to the enemy" continued for more than three years.

Even though there are no reports in the public record from other POWs who witnessed McCain's claims of torture and heroics or his attempted suicide, the American media has accepted his version of events word for word, no questions asked.

Yet, the same press that transformed the admiral's son into an "incredible war hero--an inspiration to all Americans," vilified the two grunts.

Comparing the incidents surrounding the fates of three POWs,' who collaborated with the enemy, makes one question why two faced possible execution for treason, while the third won acclaim as a hero fit to be President of the United States.

http://www.usvetdsp.com/smith_mc.htm

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its good to see the North Vietnamese media are considered a trustworthy source

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I almost laughed .................
Oh, go right ahead and laugh. Chuckle and chortle at the brutal, inhuman treatment heaped upon a good man by sadistic Communist bastages. That you find humor in this is disgusting.

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Oh, go right ahead and laugh. Chuckle and chortle at the brutal, inhuman treatment heaped upon a good man by sadistic Communist bastages. That you find humor in this is disgusting.

yeah me and alot of vietnam vets are laughing. McCain sold out .

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yeah me and alot of vietnam vets are laughing. McCain sold out .

While I bear no love for McCain and have no intention of voting for him, I believe the proper term is "Beaten into compliance." Not quite the same as selling out.

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While I bear no love for McCain and have no intention of voting for him, I believe the proper term is "Beaten into compliance." Not quite the same as selling out.

beaten into compliance ? others were beaten and treated the same if not worse than him and didn't sign statements nor make ads.

not to mention 2 others that did just as McCain did =

McCain says he violated the Code of Conduct only when the North Vietnamese brutally tortured him. He further claims that he was so distraught afterwards that he tried to commit suicide. He has never explained why his "aid to the enemy" continued for more than three years.

Even though there are no reports in the public record from other POWs who witnessed McCain's claims of torture and heroics or his attempted suicide, the American media has accepted his version of events word for word, no questions asked.

Yet, the same press that transformed the admiral's son into an "incredible war hero--an inspiration to all Americans," vilified the two grunts.

Comparing the incidents surrounding the fates of three POWs,' who collaborated with the enemy, makes one question why two faced possible execution for treason, while the third won acclaim as a hero fit to be President of the United States.

Once more, Lady Luck had smiled on John McCain . . . or was it the admiral?

http://www.usvetdsp.com/smith_mc.htm

remember also , McCain has only ever released 19 of over I believe it was 600 pages relating to his time in the service. nothing is released on his status as a POW. We only have his word.

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Fellow POWs stand by McCain

ST. PAUL — John McCain is accused of talking too much about his experience as a prisoner of war, but many of his fellow Vietnam POWs say the Republican presidential nominee can't talk about it enough.

In McCain's acceptance speech, scheduled for tonight, "we think he should play it up more," says Dave Wheat, a retired Navy pilot from Minnesota who was a POW for more than seven years. "People have always been interested in our experience, and they tout it more than we do. … To say he's milking it" — as former president Jimmy Carter did last week — "is a gross injustice."

Tom McNish, shot down and captured in 1966, says the senator "is telling his story now to allow the American people to understand who he is."

For the POWs, McCain's nomination is a reminder of what they endured in captivity and achieved after it.

Wherever they watch his speech — living room, corner bar, convention floor — they'll think of how far they've come and how much they and others like them have paid: suicides and divorces, lost promotions and missed opportunities, wounds and nightmares.

"We've gone from the bottom of the heap to the top of the heap," says Alan Brunstrom, an Air Force pilot captured in 1966. Adds Bill Baugh of Colorado Springs, shot down on his 25th combat mission, "John's the epitome of how we've hung in there."

McCain was a Navy pilot when he was downed over North Vietnam in October 1967. He suffered crippling, life-threatening injuries; received poor medical treatment; turned down an early release offered by the North Vietnamese after they learned his father was a top Naval commander; was isolated and tortured.

Like most of the other POWs, he was released in 1973.

Today, they're still tight. "If you've walked through a fire together like that, you've shared an experience very few people can relate to," says McNish, who was in a cell next to McCain's in the prison known as the Hanoi Hilton.

Almost all of McCain's former fellow captives like and respect him, even when they disagree. "I know him as a man, and that's most important," says Bill Austin, a former fighter pilot downed a few weeks before McCain. "He is who he says he is."

More of the article here: Link

------------------------------------------------------------

Interesting...

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beaten into compliance ? others were beaten and treated the same if not worse than him and didn't sign statements nor make ads.

not to mention 2 others that did just as McCain did =

McCain says he violated the Code of Conduct only when the North Vietnamese brutally tortured him. He further claims that he was so distraught afterwards that he tried to commit suicide. He has never explained why his "aid to the enemy" continued for more than three years.

Even though there are no reports in the public record from other POWs who witnessed McCain's claims of torture and heroics or his attempted suicide, the American media has accepted his version of events word for word, no questions asked.

Yet, the same press that transformed the admiral's son into an "incredible war hero--an inspiration to all Americans," vilified the two grunts.

Comparing the incidents surrounding the fates of three POWs,' who collaborated with the enemy, makes one question why two faced possible execution for treason, while the third won acclaim as a hero fit to be President of the United States.

Once more, Lady Luck had smiled on John McCain . . . or was it the admiral?

http://www.usvetdsp.com/smith_mc.htm

remember also , McCain has only ever released 19 of over I believe it was 600 pages relating to his time in the service. nothing is released on his status as a POW. We only have his word.

You're disgusting.

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You're disgusting.

Why would you find her disgusting ? These are words of other vets held and tortured as McCain was . who violated the Code of Conduct just like McCain did.

The only difference ? They were held for treason and McCain was called a hero.

That is disgusting.

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Why would you find her disgusting ? These are words of other vets held and tortured as McCain was . who violated the Code of Conduct just like McCain did.

The only difference ? They were held for treason and McCain was called a hero.

That is disgusting.

Her consistent degrading of McCain's war record for longer than you've been a member of this forum is disgusting. Her comments judging McCain's conduct under torture are disgusting. McCain has stated that he simply reached his breaking point and deeply regrets it, but along comes Ripley to imply that his breaking point was too low. It's easy to cast judgment on someone when you live in security due to the sacrifices of the very people you're judging.

Criticizing a man for breaking under torture so brutal that he's permanently unable to raise his arms above his head as a result? Yeah, that's sure showing how tough and smart you are, and how right your side is.

What a ******g pathetic excuse for a criticism.

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Her consistent degrading of McCain's war record for longer than you've been a member of this forum is disgusting. Her comments judging McCain's conduct under torture are disgusting. McCain has stated that he simply reached his breaking point and deeply regrets it, but along comes Ripley to imply that his breaking point was too low. It's easy to cast judgment on someone when you live in security due to the sacrifices of the very people you're judging.

Criticizing a man for breaking under torture so brutal that he's permanently unable to raise his arms above his head as a result? Yeah, that's sure showing how tough and smart you are, and how right your side is.

What a ******g pathetic excuse for a criticism.

oh but degrading of Obama by cons is ok ? go boo hoo somewhere else if you can't take it.

What I posted was the truth. and you can't handle it. Funny how most other POW's didn't break and were treated the same if not worse. And the 2 as mentioned above that broke exactly like McCain had were treated like **** and faced charges of treason while McCain't was treated like a hero for 3 years of anti american propaganda.

try educating yourself on facts while your at it. His arms were broken by the crash not his captures.

A Navy fighter pilot captured by the Vietnamese when his plane went down over Hanoi in 1967, McCain broke both arms and hurt his right knee. The injuries were never properly cared for and worsened by torture during his more than five-year imprisonment.

As a result, McCain has a slight limp, cannot raise his arms above his head and has arthritis.

the only thing pathetic is you can't face the truth.

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oh but degrading of Obama by cons is ok ? go boo hoo somewhere else if you can't take it.

What I posted was the truth. and you can't handle it. Funny how most other POW's didn't break and were treated the same if not worse. And the 2 as mentioned above that broke exactly like McCain had were treated like **** and faced charges of treason while McCain't was treated like a hero for 3 years of anti american propaganda.

try educating yourself on facts while your at it. His arms were broken by the crash not his captures.

A Navy fighter pilot captured by the Vietnamese when his plane went down over Hanoi in 1967, McCain broke both arms and hurt his right knee. The injuries were never properly cared for and worsened by torture during his more than five-year imprisonment.

As a result, McCain has a slight limp, cannot raise his arms above his head and has arthritis.

the only thing pathetic is you can't face the truth.

The way many members of our armed forces were treated when they returned to the US was as sickening as the way you're now treating McCain's torture. It's funny that you try to refute my claim that he can't raise his arms above his head due to torture, and then go on to state that his injuries were worsed by his long-term torture. :rolleyes:

I've never degraded Obama in any way, shape, or form. I've expressed disgust with the way Kerry was treated in 2004; the same way you are treating McCain now. Your baseless smears and haughty judgments offer nothing to the advancement of any kind of political dialogue whatsoever. Your sincere readiness and willingness to criticize someone for breaking under brutal torture is one of the most despicable displays I have ever witnessed by anyone on the internet. Congrats on such a distinction.

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