Friday, 17 February 2017
John McCain: When “Tokyo Rose” Ran for President - Ron Unz
What Was John McCain’s True Wartime Record in Vietnam?
With Sen. John McCain so much in the headlines these days due to his harsh criticism of the foreign policy positions of Donald Trump, a few people suggested that I republish my article from a couple of years ago exploring McCain’s own very doubtful military record.
Given the massive media coverage of rather fanciful allegations that the Russians are blackmailing Trump, perhaps similar resources should be devoted to investigating a much more plausible case of blackmail, and one that is far better documented.
Although the memory has faded in recent years, during much of the second half of the twentieth century the name “Tokyo Rose” ranked very high in our popular consciousness, probably second only to “Benedict Arnold” as a byword for American treachery during wartime. The story of Iva Ikuko Toguri, the young Japanese-American woman who spent her wartime years broadcasting popular music laced with enemy propaganda to our suffering troops in the Pacific Theater was well known to everyone, and her trial for treason after the war, which stripped her of her citizenship and sentenced her to a long prison term, made the national headlines.
The actual historical facts seem to have been somewhat different than the popular myth. Instead of a single “Tokyo Rose” there were actually several such female broadcasters, with Ms. Toguri not even being the earliest, and their identities merged in the minds of the embattled American GIs. But she was the only one ever brought to trial and punished, although her own radio commentary turned out to have been almost totally innocuous. The plight of a young American-born woman alone on a family visit who became trapped behind enemy lines by the sudden outbreak of war was obviously a difficult one, and desperately taking a job as an English-language music announcer hardly fits the usual notion of treason. Indeed, after her release from federal prison, she avoided deportation and spent the rest of her life quietly running a grocery shop in Chicago. Postwar Japan soon became our closest ally in Asia and once wartime passions had sufficiently cooled she was eventually pardoned by President Gerald Ford and had her U.S. citizenship restored.
Despite these extremely mitigating circumstances in Ms. Toguri’s particular case, we should not be too surprised at America’s harsh treatment of the poor woman upon her return home from Japan. All normal countries ruthlessly punish treason and traitors, and these terms are often expansively defined in the aftermath of a bitter war. Perhaps in a topsy-turvy Monty Python world, wartime traitors would be given medals, feted at the White House, and become national heroes, but any real-life country that allowed such insanity would surely be set on the road to oblivion. If Tokyo Rose’s wartime record had launched her on a successful American political career and nearly gave her the presidency, we would know for a fact that some cruel enemy had spiked our national water supply with LSD.
The political rise of Sen. John McCain leads me to suspect that in the 1970s some cruel enemy had spiked our national water supply with LSD.
It is certainly acknowledged that considerable numbers of American POWs were indeed tortured in Vietnam, but it is far from clear that McCain was ever one of them. As the original Counterpunch article pointed out, throughout almost the entire war McCain was held at a special section for the best-behaving prisoners, which was where he allegedly produced his Communist propaganda broadcasts and perhaps became such good friends with his guards as they later claimed. Top-ranking former POWs held at the same prison, such as Colonels Ted Guy and Gordon “Swede” Larson, have gone on the record saying they are very skeptical regarding McCain’s claims of torture.
I have taken the trouble to read through John McCain’s earliest claims of his harsh imprisonment, a highly detailed 12,000 word first person account published under his name in U.S. News & World Report in May 1973, just a few weeks after his release from imprisonment. The editorial introduction notes the “almost total recall” seemingly demonstrated by the young pilot just out of captivity, and portions of the story strike me as doubtful, perhaps drawn from the long history of popular imprisonment fiction stretching back to Dumas’s Count of Monte Cristo. Would a young navy pilot so easily develop and remember a “tap code” to extensively communicate with others across thick prison walls? And McCain describes himself as having a “philosophical bent,” spending his years of solitary confinement reviewing in his head all the many history books he had read, trying to make sense of human history, a degree of intellectualizing never apparent in his life either before or after.
One factual detail, routinely emphasized by his supporters, is his repeated claim that except for signing a single written statement very early in his captivity and also answering some questions by a visiting French newsman, he had staunchly refused any hint of collaboration with his captors, despite torture, solitary confinement, endless threats and beatings, and offers of rewards.
Perhaps. But that original Counterpunch article provided the link to the purported text of one of McCain’s pro-Hanoi propaganda broadcasts as summarized in a 1969 UPI wire service story, and I have confirmed its authenticity by locating the resulting article that ran in Stars & Stripes at the same time. So if crucial portions of McCain’s account of his imprisonment are seemingly revealed to be self-serving fiction, how much of the rest can we believe? If his pro-Communist propaganda broadcasts were so notable that they even reached the news pages of one of America’s leading military publications, it seems quite plausible that they were as numerous, substantial, and frequent as his critics allege.
When I later discussed these troubling matters with an eminent political scientist who has something of a military background, he emphasized that McCain’s history can only be understood in the context of his father, a top-ranking admiral who then served as commander of all American forces in the Pacific Theater, including our troops in Vietnam. Indeed, the alleged headline of the UPI wire story had been “PW [Prisoner of War] Songbird Is Pilot Son of Admiral,” highlighting that connection. Obviously, for reasons both of family loyalty and personal standing it would have been imperative for John McCain’s father and namesake to hush up the terrible scandal of having had his son serve as a leading collaborator and Communist propagandist during the war and his exalted rank gave him the power to do so. Furthermore, just a few years earlier the elder McCain had himself performed an extremely valuable service for America’s political elites, organizing the official board of inquiry that whitewashed the potentially devastating “Liberty Incident,” with its hundreds of dead and wounded American servicemen, so he certainly had some powerful political chits he could call in.
Placed in this context, John McCain’s tales of torture make perfect sense. If he had indeed spent almost the entire war eagerly broadcasting Communist propaganda in exchange for favored treatment, there would have been stories about this circulating in private, and fears that these tales might eventually reach the newspaper headlines, perhaps backed by the hard evidence of audio and video tapes. An effective strategy for preempting this danger would be to concoct lurid tales of personal suffering and then promote them in the media, quickly establishing McCain as the highest profile victim of torture among America’s returned POWs, an effort rendered credible by the fact that many American POWs had indeed suffered torture.
Audio tape of McCain's propaganda recently surfaced, which confirms the allegations aired here. The issue is not that McCain co-operated with his captors, not a good thing in itself, but that he built his career on a lie that he was a torture surviving war hero that didn't co-operate with the enemy.
JOHN MCCAIN BUSTED! 'MISFILED' CIA RECORDING PROVES HIS ENTIRE CAREER BUILT ON A LIE
[Posted at the SpookyWeather blog, February 17th, 2017.]