What was the Reach of the North Vietnamese Propaganda Machine?

HAS COMMUNIST INFLUENCE PERMEATED THE U.S.?

by Sharon Rondeau

Hanoi is located in the north of what is now a united, communist Vietnam

(Aug. 25, 2016) — On August 4, TruNews interviewed journalist Charles C. Johnson of GotNews.com and WeSearchR.com, who reported that he located a 1969 recording captured by the CIA and kept at the National Archives of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) allegedly reciting communist propaganda for what was then North Vietnam.

Attempts by this publication to contact McCain’s office to verify the claim have been met with no response.

Historical newspaper articles from the 1960s through the 1990s provide varying accounts as to whether or not McCain and others did, in fact, make propaganda recordings while prisoners of war in Hanoi between late 1967 and March 14, 1973, when a significant number of POWs were released.

In an article in the Omaha World-Herald dated April 5, 1973, U.S. Air Force Col. Thomas H. Kirk described having been tortured by his North Vietnamese captors until he “snapped my cork” and agreed to make a propaganda recording.

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Kirk was captured the same month as McCain, in October 1967.  “The North Vietnamese can (force compliance) in a relatively short time,” Kirk was reported to have said after his release in describing how he was forced to sit on a stool for between seven and ten days at a time “with no shaving and no washing.”

In an Associated Press article in the same publication on the same day, McCain was quoted as having said that “his life was saved by the North Vietnamese because his father was a prominent admiral.”  The article incorrectly reports McCain’s crash in Hanoi and subsequent injuries as having occurred in 1966 rather than 1967.

McCain said that after his capture by the North Vietnamese, he was originally told that it was “too late” for him to be provided with medical treatment but that after his captors discovered that his father was an admiral, they took him to one of their medical facilities.

In the recording played by TruNews and discovered by Johnson, McCain’s voice allegedly is heard saying that the North Vietnamese provided him with good medical care which restored him to health.  In an Agence France-Presse article posted by The New York Times News Service from 1967, McCain was reported to have said for propaganda reasons, “The morale of the Vietnamese people is very high, the Vietnamese people are very strong, present events are moving to the advantage of North Vietnam and the United States appears to be isolated.”

In an article in the Baton Rouge, LA State Times Advocate dated January 22, 1991 following the outbreak of the Gulf War, it was reported that McCain’s broken bones “had not been set” following his capture in Hanoi.

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The article also states, “the North Vietnamese tortured others like former U.S. Sen. Jeremiah Denton of Alabama for hours at a time by cutting off their circulation with ropes in efforts to extract propaganda statements.” Denton was quoted as having told the newspaper, “Most of the POWs in Vietnam were forced to make statements like that, some kind of statement” in referring to those reported to have been made expressing opposition to U.S. military action in Iraq by three U.S. pilots captured by Iraq’s then-dictator, Saddam Hussein.

The final paragraph of the article states that “When McCain refused to be used for propaganda purposes, he was confined for an entire summer to a 6-foot by 2-foot room with a 6-inch by 2-inch window.”

In an article dated August 17, 1969 in the Boston Record American, the North Vietnamese were reported to have classified U.S. prisoners of war as “criminals” who had invaded their country.  Writing from Saigon in what was then South Vietnam, Edwin Q. White began his article detailing the more than 1,300 missing U.S. servicemen to date with, “Herded in bamboo pens in the jungle or isolated in solitary confinement cells in Hanoi are the Americans the war has passed by.”

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White’s article concludes with:

The only glimmer of information concerning the men held in North Vietnam has come from propaganda films and broadcasts, a few score letters that the prisoners have been permitted to send out, and interviews with a few journalists (illegible) to Hanoi.

On July 4, 1983, M. Stanton Evans in The Springfield (MA) Union began an editorial critical of Jane Fonda and Tom Hayden, both anti-Vietnam-War activists who sympathized with Hanoi, repeated its propaganda, supported communism and reportedly visited with captured airmen in 1972, with:

Rep. John McCain R-Ariz., was understandably upset the other day when he found that movie star Jane Fonda and spouse Tom Hayden had been official guests at the launching of the Challenger space shuttle.

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In the article, Evans quoted an unnamed NASA employee within the Reagan administration as having described Fonda as viewed as “a role model by a lot of young women.”  Evans strongly disagreed, describing Fonda as “a shameless and so far unrepentant propagandist for Hanoi” who “faithfully mouthed the Marxist line.”

Gloria Steinem was also invited to the shuttle launch, which took place at Cape Canaveral, FL.

Fonda’s anti-war activism earned her the title “Hanoi Jane,” a congressional investigation, and being named a traitor by many.

Fonda and Hayden divorced in 1990.

In 1961, Hayden co-founded Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), which is described as “the largest and most influential radical student organization of the 1960s” and had ties to Weathermen, which became The Weather Underground, co-founded by Bill Ayers, who has ties to both Hayden and Barack Obama.

During his featured Kent State address commemorating the killing of four students by the Ohio National Guard on May 4, 1970, Ayers said that McCain “committed daily war crimes” in Vietnam but justified The Weather Underground’s destruction of U.S. landmarks during the 1970s because no lives were lost.

In an editorial dated February 4, 1968 in the San Diego Union titled “Tricking Media Into Trap” and subtitled “Red Propaganda is not News” began with, “A continuing source of amazement is how small, primitive North Vietnam and her claque of Communists can constantly upstage the United States of America in the propaganda war.”

The article stated that in violation of the Geneva Convention, the North Vietnamese “exploited individuals to pursue their aims,” including “The parade of captives from the USS Pueblo and their subsequent so-called ‘confessions’ couched in the weirdest dialectic of Communists. It was not a verbiage any American would use seriously, yet unfortunately the contrary impression was conveyed in far too many instances.”

The unnamed author continued, “Another nadir recently was the vicious, underhanded and cruel television exposure given to Lt. Cmdr. John S. McCain III, a captured American pilot.  The film came straight from Hanoi through a French leftist source, yet it was used here. The Communists planned well. Lt. Cmdr. McCain’s father is commander in chief, U.S. Naval Forces Europe, and Hanoi was aware of the impact its television offering would get.”

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On July 20 of last year, Business Insider excerpted parts of McCain’s book, “Faith of My Fathers:  A Family Memoir,” in which McCain reportedly stated that under intense torture by the North Vietnamese, “he confessed to whatever war crimes he was accused of and was left alone in his cell for 2 weeks.”

The Post & Email has not read McCain’s book.

On the website Military Money Matters in a section about Jane Fonda, founder of NAM-POWs Capt. Mike McGrath (USN, Ret) wrote that a “story” circulated on the internet falsely claimed that POWs underwent “torture or beatings to see Fonda.”  According to the story which is likely related here, Fonda was given notes from some POWs during her 1972 visit.  “That story about the notes has a nice theatric touch, but no such thing ever happened. The only ones who met with Jane willingly, to my knowledge, were CDR Gene Wilber and LCOL Ed Miller. One NAM-POW was forced to go before the Fonda delegation. And I think that was only to sit at a table for a photo opportunity. I doubt he even got a chance to talk to her let alone slip her a note,” McGrath wrote in an undated post.

In the linked page to Military Money Matters titled “History Repeats Itself” appearing to have been written in 2007, it is stated of the Fonda “meeting” that “Much of the story is not true. Fonda was never taken to the Hanoi Hilton, the infamous Hoa Lo prison in downtown Hanoi, but she did meet with some POWs in an alternate location for a photo opportunity.”

“The men named in the false e-mail story have tried to have their names disassociated with the story, but it keeps circulating as truth. Here is their plea, written and circulated by Mike McGrath, former president of NAM-POWs,” MMM reported.

McGrath was staunch in his denial of claims that McCain made propaganda statements for his captors. “He never cooperated with the enemy,” McGrath wrote.  “We have dozens of roommates who will vouch for the loyalty and courage and conduct of John McCain.”  He wrote that McCain was first treated harshly, then provided with medical care and “good guy treatment for a couple of weeks,” after which “they threw him in a cell with Bud Day (MOH recipient) and Maj Norris Overly. McCain was in danger of dying from maltreatment. Maj Overly had to nurse both men back to health.”

Day passed away in 2013. Through MMM, The Post & Email requested to be put in contact with McGrath and sent an email to Overly with a request for comment.  We later found McGrath’s email address and contacted him directly, receiving a response just before press time that he would be able to respond to us later in the day.

After publication of our article stating that we contacted McCain’s office for comment on the TruNews/Johnson report, The Post & Email’s own OPOVV, a Vietnam War Navy veteran, left the following comment:

First of all I don’t like nor respect “Please don’t mention Obama’s middle name” McCain.
It’s a crying shame that he was ever elected to anything.
He doesn’t stand for Veterans or, for that matter, for America.
That said, I’d have to give a free pass to what any prisoner of war said while in captivity. There’s always the “We’ll start shooting every POW in the knee unless you cooperate; if you refuse we’ll shoot them all in the other knee; and if you still refuse we’ll shoot them all in the elbow; and if you still refuse we’ll pour battery acid in their eyes; and if you still refuse…”
So take it with a grain of salt what any POW said or wrote while a prisoner.
I’d give them all a free pass.
There was a time in my life that there was a very real possibility of being a POW but I managed, through pure luck and raw animal determination (born from the will to survive), won the day for my men and myself. The cost was 17 years of nightmares, but at least I was around to have them while my adversaries are not.
But we were, as I said, lucky.
McCain: not so lucky.

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