DURING THE LAST FEW WEEKS in Washington the pieties about torture have lain so thick in the air that it has been impossible to have a reasoned discussion. The McCain amendment that would ban "cruel, inhuman, or degrading" treatment of any prisoner by any agent of the United States sailed through the Senate by a vote of 90-9. The Washington establishment remains stunned that nine such retrograde, morally inert persons--let alone senators--could be found in this noble capital.
If Congress, in their infinite wisdom, should write into law a no torture provision under any circumstances, I think that they should also pass enabling legislation that would provide a bullseye for every citizen of the US to wear.
John McCain has great moral authority on this issue, having heroically borne torture at the hands of the North Vietnamese. McCain has made fine arguments in defense of his position. And McCain is acting out of the deep and honorable conviction that what he is proposing is not only right but is in the best interest of the United States. His position deserves respect.
McCain thought EXpresident Clinton, who dodged the draft rather than serve in Vietnam, was the perfect presidential role model. He told the press that Clinton "is the best politician I have ever seen."
McCain, however, does not think so highly of the POW/MIA families and activists who openly challenged the U.S. government's POW/MIA policy, many of whom walked the halls of Congress during the Vietnam War years demanding America's prisoners of war, including POW McCain, not be forgotten.
McCain, as a member of the 1992 Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs, took the lead in demanding a U.S. Justice Department investigation of the POW/MIA activists and their organizations. He accused the activists of fraud because in some of their fund-raising literature the activists claimed the U.S. government knowingly left U.S. POWs behind after the Vietnam War and that some remain alive today.
McCain openly attacked the activists telling the press, "The people who have done these things are not zealots in a good cause. They are the most craven, most cynical and most despicable human beings to ever run a scam." The Justice Department did investigate the POW/MIA activists and their organizations and found no reason to charge any POW/MIA activist.
McCain's use of the words craven, despicable and scam are mighty powerful and poisonous words from a man who admittedly traded "military information" to his communist captors in exchange for better medical treatment--or who divorced the wife that stood by him while he was a POW, after she became crippled in an accident.
Those words are hypocritical from a man whose younger and richer wife (she's an heir to Hensley & Co., the second largest Anheuser-Busch beer distributor in the United States) got caught after stealing drugs for two years from a charitable organization of which she was president.
U.S. Navy pilot John McCain was shot down on his 23rd mission over North Vietnam, October 26, 1967. He was released March 1973 after being held captive by the North Vietnamese for 5-1/2 years.
Days after his release, McCain wrote the following account of his captivity, which was published in U.S. News and World Report - May 14, 1973:
"I think it was on the fourth day [after being shot down] that two guards came in, instead of one. One of them pulled back the blanket to show the other guard my injury. I looked at my knee. It was about the size of a football . . . when I saw it, I said to the guard, 'O.K., get the officer' . . . an officer came in after a few minutes. It was the man that we came to know very well as 'The Bug.' He was a psychotic torturer, one of the worst fiends that we had to deal with. I said, 'O.K., I'll give you military information if you will take me to the hospital.'"
McCain said it was only a coincidence that at the same time he was offering "military information" in exchange for special medical treatment, his captors discovered that his father was Adm. John S. McCain Jr., commander of all U.S. forces in Europe and soon-to-be commander of all U.S. forces in the Pacific, including Vietnam.
After learning about McCain's father, the communists rushed McCain to one of their military hospitals where he received treatment not available for other U.S. prisoners of war.
"Nhan Dan published answers to questions by one of its correspondents made by a U.S. air pirate detained in North Vietnam. "He is Lt. John Sidney McCain . . ."
Hanoi VNA International Service in French - November 9, 1967
"To a question of the correspondent, McCain answered: 'My assignment to the Oriskany, I told myself, was due to serious losses in pilots which were sustained by this aircraft carrier due to its raids over North Vietnam territory and which necessitated replacements. From 10 to 12 pilots were transferred like me from the Forrestal to the Oriskany . . . upon arrival near the target, our formation, with six bombers, would mount the attack according to the following order: I would be number three, and the chief of the formation, number one. Each pilot would have to approach the target from a different direction, the choice of which would be left to him.'"
November 9, 1967 - Department of Defense
"A meeting which will leave its mark on my life: My meeting with John Sidney McCain was certainly one of those meetings which will affect me most profoundly for the rest of my life. I had asked the North Vietnamese authorities to allow me to personally interrogate an American prisoner. They authorized me to do so. When night fell, they took me--without any precautions or mystery--to a hospital near the Gia Lam Airport reserved for the military. (snip) The officer who receives me begins: I ask you not to ask any questions of political nature. If this man replies in a way unfavorable to us, they will not hesitate to speak of "brainwashing" and conclude that we threatened him. (Passage omitted) "This John Sidney McCain is not an ordinary prisoner. His father is none other than Admiral Edmond John McCain, commander in chief of U.S. Naval forces in Europe."
Francois Chalais - January 1968
"Reds Say PW Songbird Is Pilot Son of Admiral
. . . Hanoi has aired a broadcast in which the pilot son of 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."
Saigon-UPI, June 4, 1969
"The English-Language broadcast beamed at South Vietnam was one of a series using American prisoners. It was in response to a plea by Defense Secretary Melvin S. Laird, May 19, that North Vietnam treat prisoners according to the humanitarian standards set forth by the Geneva Convention."
Washington Post - June 5, 1969
"Dr. Fernando Barral, a Spanish psychiatrist residing in Cuba, returned from the Democratic Republic of Vietnam . . . he brought back some journalistic news: an interview with a North American pilot captured in the DRV after bombing Hanoi on 26 October 1967. The meeting between him and the pilot took place in an office of the Committee for Foreign Cultural Relations in Hanoi. The pilot interviewed is Lt Cmdr John Sidney McCain, son and grandson of American Navy Admirals . . . "In the course of the interview, on various occasions he showed that knowledge of the language, saying some words, dates, and so forth in Spanish, or [using it] when he thought the interpreter was seeking the corresponding French word. "Naturally, from the beginning this established a more direct communication between us, and more than one question or my response was made directly in Spanish."
Havana Granma - January 24, 1970
"Let me emphasize that there were many, many fine women who supported what they knew their husbands believed in. My wife, Carol, was one of those and I am proud of her."
U.S. New and World Report - May 14, 1973
Editor's note: In 1980, McCain's personal life soured. He divorced Carol, who had been seriously injured and crippled in a motor vehicle accident, and married Cindy Hensley, whose father Jim is an Arizona "beer baron."
"Republican Sen. John McCain reported a net worth of at least $830,705 but possibly as much as $1.2 million or more, excluding personal residences . . . McCain listed his wife, Cindy, as the source of most of his assets. . . the bulk of McCain's assets consisted of stock in three Glendale firms - Hensley & Co., a beer distributorship headed by his father-in-law; Western Leasing Co., which leases trucks and equipment; and Eagle Enterprises, which invests in real estate and stock."
Phoenix Gazette - May 19, 1987
"So why has Sen. McCain, R-Ariz., gone to unprecedented lengths to block reform of the Senate campaign finance system? Why does he oppose letting this important matter even come to a vote? Perhaps it's because he is a prime beneficiary of the special interest funding of congressional elections. "McCain raised over $2.5 million for his 1986 election . . . more than $760,000 of his campaign funds came from political action committee (PACs) . . . especially disturbing are the contributions to McCain's campaign coffers from PACs outside of Arizona."
Phoenix Gazette - December 8, 1987
"While Sen. John McCain's wife and father-in-law were investing with Charles H. Keating, Jr. in a shopping center, McCain was helping Keating battle federal regulators who questioned his operation of Lincoln Savings and Loan . . . [photo caption] Documents show that Sen. John McCain's wife, Cindy, and father-in-law, James W. Hensley (second from right) are the largest investors in Fountain Square Shopping Center. Their partnership is managed by subsidiaries of American Continental Corp., run by Charles H. Keating, Jr. (right). But John McCain contends there was no conflict in his helping Keating battle federal regulators."
Arizona Republic - October 8, 1989
"Sen. John McCain had more than a constituent relationship with Charles H. Keating, Jr. prior to 1987 . . . the McCains - sometimes with their daughter and baby sitter - made at least nine trips at Keating's expense from August 1984 to August 1986 aboard either Keating's American Continental Corporation's jet or chartered planes and helicopters owned by Resorts International. Three of the trips were for vacations at Keating's luxurious retreat in the Bahamas."
Arizona Republic - October 8, 1989
"McCain, in a radio talk-show appearance last week condemned disclosures of his family's ties to Keating as "irresponsible journalism."
Arizona Republic - October 17, 1989
" . . . both in telephone conversations with reporters and on a live radio talk show, the Republican senator was far from calm. He was agitated. Angry. And the way he dealt with unpleasant questions was to bully the questioners . . . 'You're a liar,' McCain snapped Sept. 29 when an Arizona Republic reporter asked him about business ties between his wife, Cindy McCain, and Keating . . . 'That's the spouse's involvement, you idiot,' McCain sneered later in the same conversation. 'You do understand English, don't you?' ". . . Not content with just bullying reporters, McCain tried belittling them: 'It's up to you to find that out, kids.' . . . McCain wasn't talking to liars. He wasn't talking to juveniles. The senator was talking to two reporters."
Arizona Republic - October 17, 1989
"Employees at Hensley & Co., a $100 million Anheuser-Busch distribution firm, also say that during McCain's first campaign for Congress, some workers were pressured into going door-to-door in neighborhoods to hand out McCain election pamphlets . . . Hensley employees say they must take the checks to work, where they are collected by supervisors. I asked one person if employees were assured that all contributions were voluntary . . . 'no way,' I was told. 'And my (spouse) and I aren't even registered (to vote). That's what makes us so mad."
Arizona Republic - November 1, 1989
"As a 100 percent, service-connected, disabled ex-prisoner of war, I sought help from John McCain when he was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and I needed help in regard to a claim for back service-connected disability compensation. I did so because I thought that as an ex-POW himself he could relate to my problem. When I could not reach him via letters to his office, I wrote to his home address. That was a very enlightening experience . . . my letter, addressed to the congressman, was opened by his wife, Cindy. She didn't like what she read, so she wrote me a nasty letter. Apparently John McCain isn't even capable of communicating on a one-to-one basis with someone who was a POW and returned from his experience in far worse physical condition than John McCain returned from his experience . . . M. "Shane" Schoenborn."
Phoenix Gazette - November 4, 1989
"Reporters also 'discovered' that the senator's wife and father-in-law invested $359,100.00 in one of Mr. Keating's projects in 1986 . . ."
Phoenix Gazette - November 13, 1989
"The liquor case is particularly intriguing as it resulted in criminal charges against Marley's subordinates, James and Eugene Hensley. If the last name sounds familiar, it's because James is papa to Cindy McCain, who is wife of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who is infamous lately as a member of the Keating Five . . . Marley also has been a shadow figure in the 1976 slaying of Republic reporter Don Bolles. Bolles wrote extensively about Marley's lucky past. And about how the Hensleys (Marley's managers) bought Ruidso Downs racing track in New Mexico. He wrote about Eugene Hensley spending five years in federal prison for a skimming scam. And about the Hensleys selling their track to a buyer linked with Emprise Corp. And about Marley's liquor ties with Emprise . . . one of Bolles' final dispatches appeared as Marley was about to become a member of the Arizona Racing Commission - the agency that regulates racetracks, including those run at the time by Emprise . . . the story dispatched Marley's appointment. Two months later, a car bomb killed Bolles."
Phoenix Gazette - January 4, 1990
"Bradley J. Funk, an antique dealer linked to the 13-year-old Don Bolles murder case through his family's former ownership of dog-racing tracks, has died of a heart attack, authorities said Jan. 2 . . . Bolles, 47, a former investigative reporter with the Arizona Republic, died June 13, 1976, about 11 days after a dynamite-based bomb blew up beneath his car . . . in his last statement before lapsing into unconsciousness, he mentioned the Mafia, John Adamson and Emprise Corp., a Buffalo, N.Y. company with a far-flung sports empire which once included ownership of the Boston Bruins hockey team and the former Cincinnati Royals basketball franchise . . . now known as Delaware North Cos., Emprise was convicted in 1972 of a federal charge of conspiring to hide Mafia interest in a Las Vegas, Nev., casino . . . Emprise and the Funk family were partners in six dog-racing tracks in the state and the Prescott Downs horse track, and Bolles had ripped their operations in print."
Arizona Business Gazette - January 5, 1990
"McCain's involvement with Keating . . . when reporters called him with questions last year about previously unknown ties to Keating, an investment by wife Cindy McCain in a Keating shopping center and trips to Keating's Bahamas home, McCain went into a rage."
Arizona Republic - April 29, 1990
"Cars, homes and bank accounts of 18 people, including eight state legislators, were confiscated in a civil racketeering lawsuit that paints a portrait of lawmakers eager to sell their influence for as little as $660 and as much as $750,000 . . . Richard Scheffel, another lobbyist indicted but not targeted in the civil racketeering suit, is reputed to have been paid $20,000 to identify and approach lawmakers interested in trading votes for money . . . in a bid to establish his professional credentials with Stedino, Scheffel is reported to have boasted that '(U.S.) Sen. John McCain's father-in-law gives money to politicians through him' . . . Bauer, in his report, said Scheffel claimed that 'each January he receives $30,000 from the local Anheuser-Busch distributor, Jim Hensley,' adding that Hensley also supplied him with names of people to list as contributors."
Phoenix Gazette - February 6, 1991
". . . Bob Delgado, executive vice president for Hensley. He also pointed out that Scheffel was a lobbyist for Anheuser-Busch Inc. and not Hensley & Co . . . Hensley & Co. has a pattern, according to state campaign filings, of registering key executives as lobbyists."
Phoenix Gazette - February 9, 1991
"Hensley & Co., a Phoenix-based beer distributor, rewards its drivers and sales people with parties at Phoenix Greyhound Park . . . 'It's been an excellent motivator for us to use for incentive contests,' said Dave Daulton, assistant vice president at Hensley."
Arizona Republic - February 15, 1991
"Don't overlook that multifaceted beer distributor Jim Hensley, father-in-law to Republican Sen. John McCain of modest Keating fame. According to current AzScam records, Hensley is a financial godfather to hosts of lobbyists."
Phoenix Gazette - March 16, 1991
"McCain, meanwhile, reported assets of more than $5.4 million, much of it held jointly with his wife, Cindy. The couple reported holding at least $2 million in stock in Hensley & Co., a beer distributorship owned by Cindy McCain's father, Jim Hensley . . . John McCain, R-Ariz., also reported at least $500,000 in Anheuser-Busch debentures, with most of the rest of the assets primarily in land holdings that his wife has invested in with her family . . . last year, McCain's wealth was estimated by Roll Call at closer to $2.9 million."
Arizona Republic - May 16, 1991
"At the time, Devereux stumbled upon Bolles' notes concerning Charles C. Morgan, a Tucson escrow agent who took a bullet to the head in 1977 while wearing a bulletproof vest. According to Devereux, Morgan worked for organized crime figures . . . Devereux says, Danny Casolaro called 'out of the blue' to ask about laundering operations, a Tucson bank, the Bonanno family and Reagan administration officials . . . a few weeks after that conversation, Casolaro was found in a West Virginia motel room with his wrists slashed. The case, initially ruled a suicide . . .
Phoenix Gazette - March 28, 1992
"Miller blamed the car-bomb slaying on former greyhound owner John Harvey Adamson, who has confessed to murdering Bolles; Phoenix lawyer Neal Roberts; and the late Bradley Funk, whose family used to race greyhounds in Arizona . . . 'this is a case of two contracts, a contract to kill and a contract to cover up who ordered the killing,' he said . . . Granville contended that Dunlap plotted with Adamson to have Bolles killed in behalf of Kemper Marley Sr., a Phoenix land and liquor baron."
Arizona Republic - February 10, 1993
"An Oregon racing regulator who has been offered the top post in the Arizona Racing Department thwarted in 1990 a Portland newspaper's investigation of a possible link between an Oregon track and an alleged organized-crime figure . . . on Friday, Gov. Fife Symington offered Barham the position of director of the Arizona Racing Department. Barham also would become director of the State Gaming Agency, which regulates Indian gaming . . . the Oregonian was looking into a possible connection between Oregon Racing, Inc. and the Emprise Corp., which had been forced out of Oregon because of allegations involving organized crime . . . the Oregonian became curious about Oregon Racing after learning that one of its early investors shared an office in Kenner, La., with John G. Masoni, a longtime Emprise partner . . . the Oregonian said Florida officials consider Masoni an 'associate' of the Detroit Mafia . . . Emprise, now called Delaware North Cos., long has had an interest in Arizona racing. At one time, the company had a virtual monopoly on dog and horse racing in the state in partnership with the Funk family of Phoenix . . . in the mid- '70s, the state moved to break the monopoly in light of a 1972 felony conviction of the company. Emprise was convicted in U.S. District Court in California of conspiring with racketeers to hide an ownership interest in the Frontier Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas."
Arizona Republic - June 23, 1993
Photo caption: "Below, Charles Keating III and McCain, then a member of the U.S. House, celebrate their August birthdays at the Keating's beachside estate at Cat Cay in the Bahamas."
Phoenix Gazette - September 12, 1993
"Cindy McCain, the wife of U.S. Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, admitted in a series of media interviews Monday that she became addicted to the painkillers Percocet and Vicodin. She said that she used the drugs from 1989 to 1992 and acknowledged that she had stolen some pills from the American Voluntary Medical Team, a charitable organization of which she is president . . . at one point, McCain, 40, was ingesting 15 to 20 pills a day . . . the normal dosage for seriously ill patients is 6 to 10 a day for a short period."
Arizona Republic - August 24, 1994
"Cindy McCain, who admitted to drug addiction this week, faces more problems, this time involving the adoption of a Bangladeshi baby two years ago.
"Sources confirmed Wednesday that a former employee of McCain's volunteer medical team has accused her of demanding that he commit perjury in adoption proceedings for her daughter, Bridget."
Phoenix Gazette - August 25, 1994
"Her husband is Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz."
"Cindy McCain was investigated recently by the Drug Enforcement Administration for stealing and using Percocet and Vicodin, both narcotic painkillers from her aid organization . . . the county attorney's report provides a window to drug dealings within Cindy McCain's nonprofit corporation . . . Gosinski also alleged that Cindy McCain abused her husband's office and diplomatic privileges by transporting illegal substances overseas. He also claimed, according to her lawyers, that Cindy McCain tried to prevent him from providing accurate information to the DEA."
Phoenix Gazette - August 25, 1994
"About 300 guests turned out Saturday night to celebrate the 90th birthday of Joseph 'Joe Bananas' Bonanno, retired boss of New York's Bonanno crime family. He retired to Tucson in 1968 . . . John McCain, R-Ariz., and Gov. Fife Symington sent their regards by telegram."
Arizona Republic - January 17, 1995