Sunday, February 03, 2008

Is this the "McCain dirt"?

There have been rumors for years about some major dirt on McCain which could destroy his political career. A reader left a link to this blog entry in the comments to one of my McCain posts:

The number of fellow Senators who think John McCain is psychologically unstable is large. Some will admit it publicly, like Thad Cochran who says, "The thought of his being president sends a cold chill down my spine."

Others relate times when McCain screamed four-letter obscenities right in their faces in the Senate cloak room, like Dick Shelby, Rick Santorum, or Jim Inhofe. "The man is unhinged," one Senator told me. "He is frighteningly unfit to be Commander-in-Chief."

That John McCain is clinically nuts is scary enough. What worries a small group of GOP Senators and Congressmen even more is a deep and dark skeletal secret in McCain's glorified past to which they are privy, and which the Clintons will use to blackmail him.

They have been having discussions with a Russian whom we'll call "T" for Translator. T's father was the Soviet military intelligence officer who ran the "Hanoi Hilton" prison holding captured Americans during the Vietnam War. One of those prisoners was John McCain.

The GRU -- Glavnoje Razvedyvatel'noje Upravlenije or Main Intelligence Directorate of the Soviet (now Russian) Armed Forces - operated the entire North Vietnamese prison system holding American prisoners of war. GRU officers, all of whom were Russians, oversaw the interrogation of every American POW.

The interrogations themselves were conducted by Vietnamese who spoke some English. After each interrogation session, which could often include torturing the prisoners at the direction of the GRU officers, the Vietnamese interrogator would write a report of the session - in Vietnamese.

These reports had to be translated into Russian. T, a bright teenager living in the GRU compound in Hanoi, had become fluent in Vietnamese, and ended up translating many of the reports and interrogators' notes.

John McCain, flying his A-4 Skyhawk, was shot down over Hanoi on October 26, 1967. Badly injured from the ejection, he was beaten and abused by his captors. In July, 1968, his father, US Navy Admiral J. S. McCain, was made CINCPAC, Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Command, commander of all US military forces in the Vietnam theatre. Upon learning this, the Vietnamese offered - according to McCain - to release him.

McCain claims he refused, because he demanded all American POWs captured before him be released as well. He thus remained a prisoner when he could have gone home, and was subjected to constant brutal beatings and torture for years: that is the source of the "war-hero" saga making McCain a greater war-hero than any other American POW.

Yet the offer of release would had to have been approved by the GRU overseers of the North Vietnamese - and T does not recall any such offer being made. T admits, however, that this took place before McCain was transferred to Hoa Loa prison, nicknamed the "Hanoi Hilton" by the POWs. T had only direct knowledge of what happened at Hoa Loa, and not the other prisons, where T's father was in charge.

McCain was kept at the Hanoi Hilton from December 1969 until his release, along with all the remaining POWs, in March of 1973. During this time, T translated all the Vietnamese interrogators' notes and reports regarding John McCain.

According to T, they reveal that McCain had made an "accommodation" with his captors, and in exchange, T's father saw that he was provided with an apartment in Hanoi and the services of two prostitutes. Upon returning to his prison cell, he would say he had been held in solitary confinement. That may be why so many of his fellow prisoners said later they saw so little of him at Hoa Loa.

The notes and reports written in Vietnamese were sent to Moscow, where T was a now a college student, for T's translation into Russian, then placed into GRU archives. That's where they stayed until 1991. Late that year, as the Soviet Union was collapsing, the CIA and the GRU made a deal for a document swap.

All of what it involved, T doesn't know. What T's father, by now retired but still with substantial contacts within the GRU, did learn (and thus T learned) was that the swap included all of T's translations.

In other words, the CIA has in its possession the notes and reports of John McCain's interrogators at the Hanoi Hilton, in both the original Vietnamese and translated Russian, showing collaboration with his Communist captors.

Allegations of this nature have been made over the years, many by Vietnam veterans. There is an even an organization, Vietnam Veterans Against McCain. But they are based on suspicions and circumstantial claims. There has never been any hard direct evidence.

This tracks pretty closely with what I was told by a retired Army officer back in 2000 when McCain made his first run for the White House.

I can think of reasons why this seems plausible and some for why it seems unlikely to be true. On the pro side it would explain why McCain seems about ready to blow a gasket even on his best days. On the con side one wonders why McCain would even bother to run with this Sword of Damocles hanging over his head. But then if he's crazy . . .

If anyone out there has any hard data, not rumors or speculation but hard evidence, of whether this story is either true or false please get in touch with me either in the comments or by email.

If this is true it is the weapon that will put John McCain's political ambitions down like a mad dog. But if false it will backfire and actually benefit McCain. Again, any info will be appreciated.