2 Nov 2008

McCain in 'humane treatment by Vietcong' shock

I must admit if McCain had just bombed my village I would not be tempted to treat him well however his claims of mistreatment are rejected by his Viet Cong captors.

This is from the Morning Star, soon going free online!

McCain's tales of war don't add up
(Friday 31 October 2008)

Guard talks of tough but humane conditions, writes JAMES TWEEDIE.

US Republican presidential candidate John McCain has built a reputation as a war hero on the basis of his claims of torture as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

He was shot down over Hanoi on October 26 1967. It was his 23rd mission over Vietnam and it ended in a lake in Hanoi known as Silvery Rushes, where he came down after bailing out from his burning plane.

But the chief prison guard of the jail where he was imprisoned revealed recently that Mr McCain had not been mistreated at all.

In an interview with the Italian daily Corriere della Sera, Nguyen Tien Tran acknowledged that conditions in the prison were "tough, though not inhuman."

But, he added: "We never tortured McCain. On the contrary, we saved his life, curing him with extremely valuable medicines that, at times, were not available to our own wounded."

Shortly after his release in 1973, Mr McCain told US News & World Report that his prison guards had beaten him "from pillar to post."

After being worked over at intervals for four days, he said that he had become suicidal and agreed to sign a "confession" admitting to war crimes.

In his 1999 autobiography, Faith of My Fathers, Mr McCain described how he had been subjected to inhumane treatment in an effort to force him to disclose his ship's name, squadron number and the target of his final mission.

But in his 1972 book The Vietnam Story, Soviet author Ivan Shchedrov reproduced the following transcript of Mr McCain's interrogation.

He was asked for his name, rank and then for his opinion of Hanoi's air defences. "As to the ground-to-air missiles," said the major, a son and grandson of US admirals, "I think they are quite accurate and we often cannot evade them. I had almost reached my target when I suddenly saw the missiles heading towards me. Then there was a terrific blast. And now I'm a prisoner."

Vietnamese former nurse Nguyen Thi Thanh recalled this week how she had treated Mr McCain after he had been shot down.

In an interview with the BBC, she said: "My responsibility was to care for my own countrymen only.

"But Ho Chi Minh advised people to show compassion and to save the enemies. So I told myself that I had to fulfil my duty.

"That evening, when I left the clinic, an old man came to me and yelled at me for caring for an enemy. I told him I just did what Ho Chi Minh asked all of us to do."

Asked if a McCain presidency would be good for Vietnam, Mrs Nguyen said: "He is friendly and he has done some good things for the Vietnamese, but it is difficult to predict the future."

As for Barack Obama, she said: "I don't think he has any ties with Vietnam. But a clean slate can be a good thing.

"If American people are wise, they will choose someone who loves peace."

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