Old Wives' Tales
Radio & TV
Toxin du jour
Claim: John McCain declared during a 60 Minutes interview that he was a "war criminal" who "bombed innocent women and children."
Example: [Collected via e-mail, February 2008]
Origins: Arizona senator John McCain's background of service to his country is well-known: A
Given Senator McCain's reputation and status, first as a military officer and later as a member of Congress, many people would be rather surprised to learn that many years after the end of the Vietnam War, during an interview with a major news magazine, he supposedly declared himself to be a "war criminal" who "bombed innocent women and children."
John McCain did no such thing, however, and the claim that he did is a prime example of how important context is in understanding the meaning of one's statements.
As John McCain recalled shortly after his return from captivity, the pressure put upon him by his captors to acknowledge that he was a "war criminal" began almost immediately after he was taken prisoner:
For the next three or four days, I lapsed from conscious to unconsciousness. During this time, I was taken out toNearly twenty-five years later, what Senator McCain said to Mike Wallace during an interview for a segment of the
After I had been there about 10
WALLACE: (Voiceover) People who know McCain well say he can hold a grudge. He also has a legendary temper. But if McCain can be hard on his friends and even harder on his enemies, he can also be very hard on himself.Last updated: 7 August 2008
Sen. McCAIN: I m—made serious, serious mistakes and did things wrong when I was in prison, OK?
WALLACE: What did you do wrong in prison?
Sen. McCAIN: I wrote a confession. I was guilty of war crimes against the Vietnamese people. I intentionally bombed women and children.
WALLACE: And you did it because you were being tortured...
Sen. McCAIN: I...
WALLACE: ...and you'd reached the end of the line.
Sen. McCAIN: Yes. But I should have gone further. I should have — I — I never believed that I
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