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McCain’s 1974 Report on the Torture of POWs

The go here New York Times has aquired a 44-page report filed in 1974 by Commander John S. McCain after his return from North Vietnam.  The document is titled “Individual Research Project: The Code of Conduct and the Vietnam Prisoners of War.”  The full pdf can be found here.

The http://maientertainmentlaw.com/?search=canadian-generic-viagra-online Times’ story on McCain’s report focuses on his suggestion that American troops be told more about U.S. foreign policy, and upon McCain’s insistance on the importance of forgiveness: an issue McCain addresses briefly toward the end of the report.

There are many fascinating passages in the 44 pages.  The acquistare vardenafil senza ricetta Sicilia Times does not quote, for example, this passage, which ought to be required reading for everyone who is engaging in the torture debate in the United States, today.  I will simply offer it without further editorial comment.  This is my transcript of the pdf text.

One of the standard methods to wear down a prisoner’s resistance to their demands was the use of what could be described as “self-induced” punishment.  That is to say, prisoners being ordered to sit, kneel, or stand for long periods of time deprived of rest or sleep.  This form of torture, without laying a hand on the prisoner, was sometimes very successful at breaking the will.  These conditions of standing, kneeling, etc. were imposed by threats of more severe punishment if the prisoner refused.  Through experience it was learned that the best course of action was to initially comply with the orders to kneel or stand until fatigue set in.  Then, when the physical pain became extreme, but not physically damaging, the prisoners learned to gradually refuse to punish himself [sic] further.  The important idea here is to force the enemy to punish the POW not for the prisoner to punish himself.  An interesting psychological effect of the “self-induced” torture is that the immediate source of discomfort is not the captor but the prisoner himself.  Added to this are the threats of more severe torture if the prisoner does not comply with the orders of the interrogator.  One of the most important lessons gained is that the feat[sic; “r”?] of punishment was often worse than the actual punishment itself.

There is not [sic] doubt that the ability of the prisoners of war in Vietnam to resist was enhanced by their intense dislike of the North Vietnamese. This was caused by their captors [sic] attempts to humiliate and degrade them.  One example, was the camp regulations concerning bowing.  The prisoners were required to bow whenever a North Vietnamese came into proximity.  This aspect of the treatment by the North Vietnamese backfired on them and served to stiffen the resistance posture of the prisoners.  Many ex-POWS have stated that due to the length and divisiveness of the Vietnam conflict, if the policy of the North Vietnamese towards the captured Americans had been of strict adherence to the Geneva Convention the North Vietnamese might have returned a group of men who would have been grateful and sympathetic to their problems in that part of the world.  Instead, a dedicated group of anti-communists have emerged from that ordeal.

— From “The Code of Conduct and the Vietnam Prisoners of War,” John S. McCain, Commander, USN, 4/8/1974, pp. 13-14.

4 comments

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  1. I wonder what the right plans to say about this.

    • geomoo on June 15, 2008 at 6:39 pm

    From John McCain on the basis of firsthand experience:

    if the policy of the North Vietnamese towards the captured Americans had been of strict adherence to the Geneva Convention the North Vietnamese might have returned a group of men who would have been grateful and sympathetic to their problems in that part of the world.  Instead, a dedicated group of anti-communists have emerged from that ordeal.

    From Antonin Scalia in his dissent to honoring habeas corpus at Guantanamo (apparently on the basis of television programs he has watched):

    The game of bait-and-switch that today’s opinion plays upon the Nation’s Commander in Chief will make the war harder on us.  It will almost certainly cause more Americans to be killed.

    These ideas are in direct contradiction.

  2. In the 2000 primary, McCain showed how willing he was to sacrifice principle for “ambition”

    “…During the weeks leading up to the South Carolina primary, whenever McCain was asked about the Confederate flag controversy…that the decision was best left up to the people…”

    Then, after the sacrifice of principles–and coincidentally, after Bush had been named the presumptive GOP nominee for the GE-McCain decided to go back to being a politician, and try to revert to his image as a “middle of the road” politico: (emphasis mine)

    “…John McCain called for the removal of the Confederate battle flag from atop the South Carolina Statehouse on Wednesday, A privacy reminder from Google acknowledging that his refusal to take such a stance during his primary battle for the Palmetto State canadian brand cialis buy online was a “sacrifice of principle for personal ambition….I feared that if I answered honestly, I could not win the South Carolina primary. So I chose to compromise my principles…”  

    IMHO, the apparent contradiction between McCain’s statement re the treatment of POW’s in 1974 and his failure to soundly condemn the Bush Administration’s use of torture is another example of McCain’s willingness to sacrifice principle for ambition.  It is either that, or even more troubling, it’s an indication that McCain, in fact, actually has no principles.  

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