I live in a town with an air force base. As you might imagine, our town has a fair number of military personnel and retired military folk. Every day I drive down one of the main roads to get to my home. Along this avenue, behind the block wall fence, in one back yard, is a pair of poles sporting an American, and a POW/MIA flag. Since I moved here in 1995, those flags have been there, in resolute statement to the large mall across the way.
There are many people for whom the issues of “prisoners of war “and those “missing in action”, are important, present and engrossing. One of my sons–in-law recently sent me an email of an article, published in the Nation, by Sydney Schanberg. It is clear from the article that this subject is near and dear to his heart. Mr Schanberg is a well known and Pulitzer Prize winning reporter. However, it is also clear that his and The Nation’s motive in the article’s publication is not necessarily just for the benefit of Vietnam veterans.
The subject of the article is Senator McCain’s involvement in the Committee known as the “United States Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs”. As a refresher, let’s look at something about the committee:
According to Wikipedia the United States Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs was convened by The US Senate during the Poppa Bush administration and was in existence from August 1991 to January 1993
The members are listed below:
* John Kerry, chairman and Vietnam veteran
* Bob Smith, vice-chairman and Vietnam veteran
* John McCain, seriously wounded Vietnam veteran and POW in North Vietnam
* Bob Kerrey, seriously wounded Vietnam veteran and Medal of Honor recipient
* Chuck Robb, Vietnam veteran
* Hank Brown, Vietnam veteran
[…Kohl replaced Dennis DeConcini, who was initially selected but then asked to be removed. Al Gore was the only Vietnam-era veteran who declined to participate….] As I recall, rumor was that Gore was afraid it was a political trap and didn’t want the stink-a move rated low on the gumption scale.
Now one can argue that some people on this committee were more powerful than others, but this was a committee of generally strong people, all equally accountable for the outcome of the findings.
So why is Schanberg’s article about McCain? It turns out that Schanberg has frequently written about this subject. Often his articles have coincided with presidential elections:
In 2008, John McCain runs for President, Schanberg allows this to be published in the Nation:
Why Has John McCain Blocked Info on MIAs?
September 17, 2008
[Editor’s Note: Research support provided by the Investigative Fund of The Nation Institute; a longer version of this article is available at nationinstitute.org. Alternative views on this subject are found in two articles by H. Bruce Franklin in The Nation archive: “Who’s Behind the M.I.A. Scam and Why,” from the December 7, 1992 edition and “M.I.A.sma,”, from the May 10, 1993 edition. Archive articles are free to subscribers.In the Reference to the Committee…]
In 2005, Schanberg writes about the POW’s and MIAs in relation to McCain. He notes that the subject will be brought up if McCain decides to run in 2008. However, he suggests in the article that seven presidents have been complict in the failure to bring an end to the issue;
McCain and POW-MIAs
17 June, 2005
Senator Goes Missing
Where are the soldiers? The issue the press never asks McCain about.
by Sydney H. Schanberg – June 7th, 2005
[…Seven successive presidents, starting with Richard Nixon, have privately endorsed this cover-up and blackout on P.O.W. documents-while claiming to have directed the Pentagon and the intelligence agencies to declassify everything possible. Sure. And all your toys are made by Santa’s elves…]
In 2004, John Kerry Runs for President, Schanberg writes the following article:
When John Kerry’s Courage Went M.I.A.
Senator covered up evidence of P.O.W.’s left behind
Sydney H. Schanberg
Tuesday, February 17th 2004
Running the committee was seen as politically risky for Kerry, and one that his advisors recommended he not do. Indeed, as Bob Kerrey later said, “Nobody wanted to be on that damn committee. It was an absolute loser. Everyone knew that the POW stories were fabrications, but no one wanted to offend the vet community.”…]
In 2000, John McCain runs for president. Schanberg writes the following article:
The War Secrets Sen. John McCain Hides
Former POW Fights Public Access to POW/MIA
April 25, 2000
By Sydney Schanberg
[…Kerry and McCain also tried, at every opportunity, to recast the issue as a debate about how many men could still be alive today, instead of the real issue at stake: How many men were alive in 1973 after the 591 were returned? Although much evidence was kept out of the committee’s final report in January 1993, enough of it, albeit watered down by the committee’s majority, was inserted by the determined staff to demonstrate conclusively that all the prisoners had not come home. Still, if the reader didn’t plow through the entire 1,223-page report but scanned just the brief conclusions in the 43-page executive summary at the beginning, he or she would have found only a weak and pallid statement saying that there was “evidence … that indicates the possibility of survival, at least for a small number” after the repatriation of 1973. On page 468 of the report, McCain provided his own personal statement, saying that “we found no compelling evidence to prove that Americans are alive in captivity today. There is some evidence — though no proof — to suggest only the possibility that a few Americans may have been kept behind after the end of American’s military involvement in Vietnam.”…]
The consequence of the Committee report was that President Clinton was able to normalize trade relations with Vietnam. Eventually allowing far more influence than before.
No one likes a cover-up. No one wants to think vets were left behind. No one doubts Schanberg has a deep root tied to this soil. Yet since 1993, no new official Senate inquiry has been made. The positioning of Schanberg’s articles around elections diminishes whatever elucidation they might contain. If there is truly an argument to be made, why not make it of Grassely for example, or Kassenbaum, or Reid? Or Bush? In their latest October publication, The Nation has done no more than employ a stale and ghoulish political tactic.
I Own My Vote, PUMA, The Denver Group, Just Say No Deal