Is McCain a War Criminal Who Has Served His Time?

Bomb, bomb Hanoi

For sure, it's not Radovan Karadzic and his 8,000 Muslim corpses in Bosnia. But neither is it the stuff of George Washington taking on the redcoats, or even Stonewall Jackson standing tall against the better-armed Yanks.

Of course, despite his officer's rank, McCain was only following orders, not giving them. And the real architects of that callous and blundering war have never been called to account. Henry Kissinger, who ordered the deadly Christmas bombings of Hanoi in 1972 using high-flying B-52s incapable of hitting precise targets, still waltzes through New York cocktail parties. But Kissinger is a major hero for McCain, who suggests in his book that had those raids continued, the U.S. would have won. (Kissinger is today a McCain campaign adviser.)

Thanks to the Internet's inherent factual sloppiness, there's a bevy of zealous left-wing websites, including a YouTube posting, that mistakenly claim that McCain admitted in a 1997 interview with Mike Wallace on 60 Minutes that he committed war crimes. "I am a war criminal," the sites have him saying. But that's just a lefty leap of fantasy. The transcript shows that McCain was in the midst of explaining to Wallace how he had finally broken under torture. "I wrote a confession," he told Wallace. "I was guilty of war crimes against the Vietnamese people. I intentionally bombed women and children."

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Of course, he did no such thing. You can't read McCain's account of his imprisonment and not seethe with fury at his jailers. There was the teenage guard who delighted in slapping him in the face and spilling his food every morning; the relentless interrogators who doled out beatings and rope-torture; the endless months in solitary confinement. Those five wrenching years as a prisoner of war, as well as McCain's daring flights through enemy anti-aircraft fire, make him a very brave man. But they don't make him innocent. Or, for that matter, an expert at winning wars.

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