Republican Senator John McCain chooses his words carefully…

… and yet speaks powerfully to the dangers that we face. This is something that the Europeans in the crowd should not miss (and I don’t know how often they see news of Sunday-morning television in the States). But there’s more than that to my decision to post the video. We presently have a Chrumptian propaganda piece, “Trump Hysteria,” on the front page of The Skeptical Zone. The author, William J. Murray, goes so far in his support of Trump as to endorse torture (see the comments section). John McCain in fact suffered torture as a prisoner in North Vietnam, and has opposed torture steadfastly in his political career. And, perhaps more to the point, he’s anything but hysterical. It is McCain’s caution and restraint that make his remarks chilling.

In March 1968, McCain was put into solitary confinement, where he remained for two years. Unknown to the POWs, in April 1968, Jack McCain [John McCain’s father] was named Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Command (CINCPAC) effective in July, stationed in Honolulu and commander of all U.S. forces in the Vietnam theater. In mid-June, Major Bai, commander of the North Vietnamese prison camp system, offered McCain a chance to return home early. The North Vietnamese wanted to score a worldwide propaganda coup by appearing merciful, and also wanted to show other POWs that members of the elite like McCain were willing to be treated preferentially. McCain turned down the offer of release, due to the POWs’ “first in, first out” interpretation of the U.S. Code of Conduct: he would only accept the offer if every man captured before him was released as well. McCain’s refusal to be released was remarked upon by North Vietnamese senior negotiator Lê Đức Thọ to U.S. envoy Averell Harriman, during the ongoing Paris Peace Talks. Enraged by his declining of the offer, Bai and his assistant told McCain that things would get very bad for him.

In late August 1968, a program of vigorous torture methods began on McCain. The North Vietnamese used rope bindings to put him into prolonged, painful positions and severely beat him every two hours, all while he was suffering from dysentery. His right leg was reinjured, his ribs were cracked, some teeth were broken at the gumline, and his left arm was re-fractured. Lying in his own waste, his spirit was broken; the beginnings of a suicide attempt were stopped by guards. After four days of this, McCain signed and taped an anti-American propaganda “confession” that said, in part, “I am a black criminal and I have performed the deeds of an air pirate. I almost died, and the Vietnamese people saved my life, thanks to the doctors.” He used stilted Communist jargon and ungrammatical language to signal that the statement was forced. McCain was haunted then and since with the belief that he had dishonored his country, his family, his comrades and himself by his statement, but as he later wrote, “I had learned what we all learned over there: Every man has his breaking point. I had reached mine.” Two weeks later his captors tried to force him to sign a second statement; his will to resist restored, he refused. He sometimes received two to three beatings per week because of his continued resistance; the sustained mistreatment went on for over a year. His refusals to cooperate, laced with loud obscenities directed towards his guards, were often heard by other POWs. His boxing experience from his Naval Academy days helped him withstand the battering, and the North Vietnamese did not break him again.

Other American POWs were similarly tortured and maltreated in order to extract “confessions” and propaganda statements. Many, especially among those who had been captured earlier and imprisoned longer – such as those in the “Alcatraz Gang” – endured even worse treatment than McCain. Under extreme duress, virtually all the POWs eventually yielded something to their captors. There were momentary exceptions: on one occasion, a guard surreptitiously loosened McCain’s painful rope bindings for a night; when, months later, the guard later saw McCain on Christmas Day, he stood next to McCain and silently drew a cross in the dirt with his foot.

[Source:Early Life and Military Career of John McCain,” Wikipedia]

“Anyone who knows what waterboarding is could not be unsure. It is a horrible torture technique used by Pol Pot and being used on Buddhist monks as we speak,” McCain said after a campaign stop in Iowa in October 2007.

“People who have worn the uniform and had the experience know that this is a terrible and odious practice and should never be condoned in the U.S. We are a better nation than that.”

“And again, I would hope that we would understand, my friends, that life is not 24 and Jack Bauer. Life is interrogation techniques which are humane and yet effective,” McCain said. “And I just came back from visiting a prison in Iraq. The Army general there said that techniques under the Army Field Manual are working and working effectively, and he didn’t think they need to do anything else.”

“My friends, this is what America is all about. This is a defining issue and, clearly, we should be able, if we want to be commander in chief of the U.S. armed forces, to take a definite and positive position on, and that is, we will never allow torture to take place in the United States of America.”

[Source:McCain Consistently Opposed to Torture,” PolitiFact]

Correction. The post erroneously linked the name of the author of “Trump Hysteria” to the website of a nonprofit operated by an individual of the same name. Advocacy of torture under any circumstance is heinous — that is one of the points of this post — and it was never my intention to say that someone other than the “William J. Murray” posting at The Skeptical Zone was taking the position.

31 Replies to “Republican Senator John McCain chooses his words carefully…”

  1. William J. Murray
    Ignored
    says:

    McCain is part of the entrenched deep-state status quo corrupt power structure that kept Bernie Sanders out of the Democratic nomination and did everything it could to stop the populist wave that carried Trump despite being wildly outspent by his competitors. They are doing everything they can now to undermine, disrupt and delay the implementation of his agenda policies even while his agenda policies enjoy widespread popular support.

    As far as torture, I don’t really understand your point. McCain is against it. So? I’m for it in certain situations, as I explained in that thread.

    As far as what he said about Trump’s tweet and the press, McCain is either a fool or is just contributing to the narrative the corporate oligarchy is attempting to write, as if having constitutional protection means the press cannot or should not be called out or criticized. My response to that is here.

    Are you referring to me as “reverend” because you’ve confused me with the other William J. Murray?

  2. Erik
    Ignored
    says:

    William J. Murray: Are you referring to me as “reverend” because you’ve confused me with the other William J. Murray?

    Then who are you? Can you provide a birth certificate just to make sure you are not a Muslim?

    On the one hand, this website has a rule against outing. On the other, you are participating with your full name. I remember reading somewhere, “You knew what you were getting yourself into and this was the kind of experience you wanted, complete with no “safe word” easy out.”

  3. newton
    Ignored
    says:

    William J. Murray: They are doing everything they can now to undermine, disrupt and delay the implementation of his agenda policies even while his agenda policies enjoy widespread popular support.

    Define widespread.

  4. Tom English Tom English
    Ignored
    says:

    William J. Murray ASTERISK: Are you referring to me as “reverend” because you’ve confused me with the other William J. Murray?

    No, And you have to believe whatever I say, because I have to believe you when you say that you not a fascist. So I won’t say you’re a fascist. I say instead, “William J. Murray* is fascist.”

    William J. Murray* is nothing but a stream of words in The Skeptical Zone. I do not connect it with any person.

  5. Tom English Tom English
    Ignored
    says:

    William J. Murray*: McCain is part of the entrenched deep-state status quo corrupt power structure that kept Bernie Sanders out of the Democratic nomination and did everything it could to stop the populist wave that carried Trump despite being wildly outspent by his competitors. They are doing everything they can now to undermine, disrupt and delay the implementation of his agenda policies even while his agenda policies enjoy widespread popular support.

    As far as torture, I don’t really understand your point. McCain is against it. So? I’m for it in certain situations, as I explained in that thread.

    As far as what he said about Trump’s tweet and the press, McCain is either a fool or is just contributing to the narrative the corporate oligarchy is attempting to write, as if having constitutional protection means the press cannot or should not be called out or criticized. My response to that is here.

    Does William J. Murray* claim to be a Christian? If so, then I’ll write un-Christian instead of non-Christian.

  6. keiths keiths
    Ignored
    says:

    Tom English, in the OP:

    We presently have a Chrumptian propaganda piece, “Trump Hysteria,” on the front page of The Skeptical Zone. The putatively reverend author, William J. Murray, goes so far in his support of Trump as to endorse torture (see the comments section).

    Tom,

    “Our” William J. Murray is not the “putatively reverend” William J. Murray.

  7. keiths keiths
    Ignored
    says:

    A prominent erratum should be added to the OP, indicating that Tom’s statement above is false. The author of the Trump Hysteria thread is “our” William J. Murray, not the “putatively reverend” William J. Murray.

    The latter is the son of the late Madalyn Murray O’Hair.

  8. keiths keiths
    Ignored
    says:

    I’ve notified the moderators of the error, since Tom may not have the ability to correct his OPs now that they’ve been published.

  9. Tom English Tom English
    Ignored
    says:

    I corrected the post, despite the fact that William J. Murray came right out of the box with a demonstration of how he, along with Team Trump, will keep telling the story they’ve been telling, no matter what. He is getting better from me than he deserves.

  10. William J. Murray
    Ignored
    says:

    ROFL!! Tom is the gift that keeps on giving.

  11. Alan Fox Alan Fox
    Ignored
    says:

    Tom English,

    Apologies, I think, Tom. I thought you were poking gentle fun rather than not realising WJM of UD is not WJM, son of Ms O’Hair. WJM of UD is an author at UD because Barry Arrington made that mistake and brazened it out when called on it.

  12. Tom English Tom English
    Ignored
    says:

    Alan Fox:
    Tom English,

    Apologies, I think, Tom. I thought you were poking gentle fun rather than not realising WJM of UD is not WJM, son of Ms O’Hair. WJM of UD is an author at UD because Barry Arrington made that mistake and brazened it out when called on it.

    My apology is to the director of the Religious Freedom Coalition.

  13. Tom English Tom English
    Ignored
    says:

    William J. Murray:
    ROFL!! Tom is the gift that keeps on giving.

    You’ve just been downgraded from social activist to windbag. You’re in the same category now as Vincent Torley. Congratulations.

  14. Mung Mung
    Ignored
    says:

    Me, I’m just a simple fart. 🙂

  15. keiths keiths
    Ignored
    says:

    Muing:

    Me, I’m just a simple fart. 🙂

    A shart, actually. 🙂

  16. Tom English Tom English
    Ignored
    says:

    Mung:
    Me, I’m just a simple fart. 🙂

    You are the nexus. People don’t like what you say, but they usually accept that you say what you mean.

  17. Acartia Acartia
    Ignored
    says:

    keiths: Me, I’m just a simple fart.

    No, you are an irreducible complex fart.

  18. Kantian Naturalist Kantian Naturalist
    Ignored
    says:

    Tom English: Does William J. Murray* claim to be a Christian? If so, then I’ll write un-Christian instead of non-Christian.

    The William J. Murray who comments here (and at Uncommon Descent) has never claimed to be a Christian, and has vigorously denied it. He refers to himself as a theist but he explicitly denies affiliation with any organized religion.

  19. Mung Mung
    Ignored
    says:

    I’m a member of a highly disorganized religion.

  20. Kantian Naturalist Kantian Naturalist
    Ignored
    says:

    Mung:
    I’m a member of a highly disorganized religion.

    Unitarian? Discordian?

  21. Mung Mung
    Ignored
    says:

    Christianity. 🙂

  22. Tom English Tom English
    Ignored
    says:

    Mung: I’m a member of a highly disorganized religion.

    1. So disorganized that I cannot see any sense in the term “member.”
    2. Less disorganized than were Christians before the term “Christian” existed.

  23. Tom English Tom English
    Ignored
    says:

    Kantian Naturalist: The William J. Murray who comments here (and at Uncommon Descent) has never claimed to be a Christian, and has vigorously denied it. He refers to himself as a theist but he explicitly denies affiliation with any organized religion.

    The Chatbotians aren’t yet organized.

  24. Mung Mung
    Ignored
    says:

    Tom English: The Chatbotians aren’t yet organized.

    How do you know this?

  25. Tom English Tom English
    Ignored
    says:

    Mung: How do you know this?

    The IRS decides. I should have said, “The Chatbotians aren’t yet organized in the United States.”

  26. Gregory Gregory
    Ignored
    says:

    Psycho Johnny McCain. Now there’s a sane USAmerican one can trust, revere & follow nowadays, especially on the topic of Russia. Not. Seeking Russian campaign donations in 2008, Johnny. Why?

  27. Tom English Tom English
    Ignored
    says:

    Gregory,

    Yes, the tricks are easy to learn. No, I don’t believe you’re so stupid as to believe you have evidence.

    (Your video qualifies you as a real person. Nobody could fake being Gregory.)

  28. newton
    Ignored
    says:

    Gregory:
    Psycho Johnny McCain. Now there’s a sane USAmerican one can trust, revere & follow nowadays, especially on the topic of Russia. Not. Seeking Russian campaign donations in 2008, Johnny. Why?

    Looks like this is untrue

  29. Neil Rickert
    Ignored
    says:

    newton,

    HERE is the snopes report.

  30. newton
    Ignored
    says:

    Neil Rickert: HERE is the snopes report.

    Now usually not a big conspiracy guy but the timing of Wikileaks releasing this old info seems convenient for Trump undermining a potential threat.

    At the CPAC today the chanting of USA!USA!USA! while Trump was speaking was very unsettling.We are fixing to get fucked. William’s wet dream come true

  31. Tom English Tom English
    Ignored
    says:

    newton: At the CPAC today the chanting of USA!USA!USA! while Trump was speaking was very unsettling.We are fixing to get fucked. William’s wet dream come true

    In 2013, CPAC was, um, packed with libertarians seeking to make Rand Paul the winner of the straw poll for president (they succeeded). That contingent did not reflect what the conservative movement was “really about,” and I’m hoping that the turnout this year was also unrepresentative. However, the list of speakers suggests that the CPAC leadership has abandoned its principles, and taken to dealing in power.

    I agree that we are fixing to get fucked. However, the clearest indication I saw yesterday was the exclusion of top-drawer journalists from Spicer’s “gaggle.” Anyone who’s not distressed by that is ignorant and/or fascist. I can’t think of any other alternatives. The “William J. Murray” construct delights in explaining away such stuff.

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