April 21st, 2009
03:39 PM ET
6 years ago

McCain demands White House apology

McCain said a recent DHS report is 'insulting' to veterans.
McCain said a recent DHS report is 'insulting' to veterans.

(CNN) – A recent report from the Department of Homeland Security is downright "insulting" to veterans, Arizona Sen. John McCain said Monday.

In an interview on FOX News, the Vietnam veteran and former Republican presidential candidate said the Obama administration owes veterans an apology after releasing a report last week suggesting that members of the military returning from Iraq and Afghanistan could fall victim to "right-wing extremism."

Specifically, the report - "Right-wing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment" - said right-wing extremist groups may be using the recession and the election of the nation's first African-American president to recruit members.

"The last people on earth we need to worry about are our veterans," McCain said. "And by the
way, after the Vietnam War, for years there was this portrayal of the Vietnam veteran as crazed and committing - having committed war crimes. There were all of these problems they were going to have. Studies years later have proven that it's totally false."

Related:  Napolitano defends report

McCain also took issue with the report's suggestion that Timothy McVeigh's military background made him more susceptible to committing terrorist acts.

"Timothy McVeigh didn't learn to make that huge bomb while he was in the military," McCain said. "He learned it afterwards. So to point out one veteran who committed an act of atrocity I think is outrageous. And as a veteran and having thousands and thousands of friends of mine who are fellow veterans, I think a real apology is owed throughout the administration.

Appearing on CNN's "State of The Union" on Sunday, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said the report is not meant to paint veterans themselves as "right-wing extremists."

"The report is not saying veterans are extremists, far from it," she told CNN's John King. "What it is saying is returning veterans are targets of right-wing extremist groups that are trying to recruit those to commit violent acts within the country. We want to do all we can to prevent that."

The homeland security secretary also expressed regret that in "the politicization of everything that happens in Washington, D.C.," some have taken offense to the report.

"But when you read the report, what it was saying is that, look, we have a threat of terrorism within our own shores and one of the groups being targeted to see if they will be aligned with that are some of our veterans," she said.


Filed under: John McCain
soundoff (304 Responses)
  1. GOP = 21st century dodo

    The report that has so infuriated the GOP base which says that all conservatives and all members of the military are potential terrorists does not exist anywhere except in the FOX News/Rush Limbaugh echo chamber.

    April 21, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  2. Rick

    I am a veteran, and work with a lot of veterans. The report isn't completely wrong...

    April 21, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  3. Nancy

    WHY is anyone paying attention to this has-been whatsoever? He is obviously senile if he belives is own load of bull.

    April 21, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  4. rggny

    Poor John. He still hasn't gotten over his resounding defeat. And I'm a Republican but c'mon all he has been doing is sniping at Obama offering little if any support. And this is a man who claimed he wanted to do things differently in Washington? I want to see plans, alternatives to present policy. I can watch realty tv if all I wanted to see was hostility and pettiness. Don't the Republicans have something to offer? I'm ashamed of my party.

    April 21, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  5. Florida Joe

    After how many votes against the Vets, now he is concerned. What a joke he has become!

    April 21, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  6. Vanessa Graham

    Timothy James McVeigh who was convicted of bombing the Alfred P. Murrah Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995 was a veterran of the US Army.

    April 21, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  7. devin

    Our military has more power than any other organized group on earth. Polls have shown it is also the most trusted institution in America. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that somebody with nefarious intentions would try to exploit such an organization to achieve their own selfish ends. The history books are filled with such powerful organizations (usually military for obvious reasons) that have been corrupted and used to bring down nations.

    The vast majority of members of the military are good, well-intentioned people. That doesn't mean we should blindly trust that no harm can come from giving nearly unlimited power and trust to a human institution. History has shown that's a recipe for ruin over and over again.

    April 21, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  8. donna

    This report came out when?? Did someone wake McCain up from his nap or something?

    This is the same McCain who voted against an increase to the GI bill right?

    April 21, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  9. ldk

    Why do conservatives always use these things out of context. I too am a veteran and was not offended in the least. There's no reason to be as the reports stated these extremist groups will attempt to recruit veterans. No one slammed vets. Besides the report was started when Bush was in office. Everyone knows that it takes forever to draft, coordinate, and publish a government document.

    April 21, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  10. Donald Belmont

    Come on John. No one is pointing to veterans and saying watch out. It just recognizes that extremest groups would love to find the next Tim McVeigh. You're just grabbing at something to make a phony issue. Considering the paucity of idea among your GOP confederates I can see why.

    April 21, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  11. Lee-- Dallas, TX

    I think normal people understood exactly what that report was saying; that these types of times can be used as recruiting mechanisms for those that are fragile and facing difficulty. Not to mention Sec. Napolitano has apologized for the misinterpretation of the information and has detailed when asked, what was meant by these statements made in the report.

    And Sen. McCain how about really supporting our troops and fight for a better GI Bill and compensation and cut the red tape... oh, that's right, this already came up and your didn't. Talk about political posturing.

    April 21, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  12. Sam Sixpack

    Step 1: vilify veterans - call them suspected future terrorists.

    Step 2: cut off health care benefits for veterans.

    Step 3: give the money to your fat, greedy, rich friends.

    Step 4: secretly laugh at the stupid morons who stick up for you.

    Not so different from the last administration. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

    April 21, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  13. Obamanure

    Totally agree. Obamanure's communist cabinet of left-wing radicals is totally out of touch. A bunch of tax evaders, baby killers, liars, and cowards.

    I am, however, enjoying watching Obamanure's poll ratings drop faster than Bill Clinton's pants.

    April 21, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  14. Lauren

    It's hard to believe that McCain has "thousands and thousands" of friends, vets or not.

    April 21, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  15. Mike

    I agree, it was crazy to think of our veterans as I am also as possible right wingers at any time. Ever since George Bush turned Vice President Cheney loose on America, we lost rights and wasted billions looking for the boogey man in every shadow. We fired up the TSA to fight unemployment, and built a torture machine to make permanent enemies and a bureaucracy to think of the endless possibilities of dangerous scenarios to the extreme. We are so afraid of the potentials of ourselves as enemies that we've forgotten that the enemy is over there. For political reasons of voting numbers, we no longer have an immigration policy, and opened the borders. Our own politicians are our own worst enemy, and have created a more dangerous America.

    April 21, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  16. Mike

    Drama queen McCain whines again.

    April 21, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  17. Eric

    I lost respect for McCain a long time ago when he allowed the Bush admin. in 2000 to criticize him and he just took it for the betterment of the party rather than the nation. He should have stood up then, now he is nothing to me.

    April 21, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  18. John McCain

    I brought Joe with me, Joe the Plumber. Joe, are you here? I guess Joe isn't here. He was going to read the report to me.

    April 21, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  19. Bonnie Kimberly

    Taken out of context I will agree this sounds like something that should not have been said. But lets me frank here Timothy McVeigh was a soldier whose mind got all caught up in things like 'guns" and states rights and Ruby Ridge,and he became the monster he was because of it. So how do you not say some in the military may come home and listen to Rush Limbaugh or Ann Coulter and decide it is a good thing to try to bomb something or shoot someone. If they didn't see their point of view addressed.I think the military is over looking a lot of mental health issues and a lot of these guys had head trauma. I do not subscribe to the PC thing here. Lets just say point well taken and move on Mr McCain.

    April 21, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  20. Doc

    We, or McCain can catagorise or group all we want, but the simple fact is that ANYONE from any group can go terrorist, or nutso if you wish. Military individuals are well trained in killing, but that per se is not the problem. Stress and disillusionment and all sorts of other problems are. We all remember Columbine. Who would have thought two kids would have done what they did there. And of course, Oklahoma City. Military tradition, honor, etc is fine, but all that will not prevent military personnel from committing acts of violence here in America even if one addresses the problem only from a statistical standpoint. I would most certainly hope this never happens for many reasons, one being that I was Army in the 1960's and most...most of the guys I knew and worked with were decent people, but some were not. The report is timely and appropriate and McCain is simply playing politics...again.

    April 21, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  21. disgusted

    Give me a break! I am so sick of this BS. Who has read the report? It states that extremist groups seek out veterans. It does not say anything that puts veterans in a bad light.

    April 21, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  22. The lonely Libertarian of Liverpool NY

    Oh boy more finger pointing, bickering, and mud slinging. This is productive NOT !
    HEY John, by the way the nation is in crisis, the people are loosing their jobs to overseas workers, the people are loosing their homes, the people are loosing their freedom and Liberty to the "New World order" .
    So to Congress and everyone else in Washington stop peeing down my back and telling me it is raining.
    Get it together! and Fix it!

    April 21, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  23. Shari, NY

    McCain and Cheney need to laze on a nice beach on a remote island and let go of the active political arena. Also, the media needs to stop giving them the time of day.

    April 21, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  24. just truth

    if the report had said americans are prone to this kind of thing it would be correct. don't just say veterans. we veterans defended your rights and this is how the OBAMA administration thinks? maybe we need a president and members of government who actually defended this great country of ours.

    April 21, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  25. Cindy Garner

    This from the guy that opposed expanding the GI Bill to provide more educational benefits to the military because it might "lure them away" from a military career if we give them a better education........Of course, he appears to be a man that doesn't believe in education for the masses......he didn't worry about "educating" Gov. Palin either.

    April 21, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
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