April 21st, 2009
03:39 PM ET
5 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. Ryan, Denver

    This coming from a man who's consistantly voted against funding the troops. When did Republicans become such babies?

    April 21, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  2. Jack

    "There were all of these problems they were going to have. Studies years later have proven that it's totally false."

    Totally?
    Yeah, John... no such thing as PTSD.

    April 21, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  3. Joe the Troll

    "The last people on earth we need to worry about are our veterans"

    Isn't that the same thing you said when you opposed the GI Bill? You only care about the veterans when you can use them to score political points.

    Beside that, the report does not insult veterans in the eyes of anyone who can READ. It says that extremist groups will target veterans because of their skills. It does NOT say that all veterans are terrorists.

    Thank you, America, for not letting this idiot be in charge.

    April 21, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  4. Sam

    i think mccain is being sincere. but i also think he's not used to hearing hard truths from those in power. and this is a hard truth.

    April 21, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  5. enlightenus

    Where was the outrage when the Bush admin used the same language in a similar report last year?

    April 21, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  6. Sam

    How do these Republicans keep getting away with not actually reading the report? NOTHING in the report said anything about veterans being more susceptible to terrorism. What it did say, which is true, is that due to veterans' easy access to and knowledge of how to use weapons, they are a more likely TARGET of terrorist recruiting efforts. By rule, if a group is more likely to be targeted for recruitment, then that group is more likely to have some members actually get recruited, no matter how good the group as a whole is.

    In other words, the report, put out by the same Obama-controlled Department of Homeland Security that just two months ago put out a similar report warning of Left-Wing Extremists, contains true assertions which Republicans in their "victim" mentality have somehow twisted into insults.

    April 21, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  7. Florida Dude

    Why are people outraged over this. The truth is that military people are targets for this kind of thing. How many movies have we all seen where some nutcase was a former Marine or some other branch. Facts are facts and there is no need to apologize for it. I served in the Military and I have no problem with the report.

    April 21, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  8. Ron - Saint Louis

    I'm a veteran and I don't feel insulted at all. I am glad the study was done because the whole reason I joined the service was to protect my country. I would hope that my country is doing the same and looking for radical factions that might attempt to disrupt the government.

    The one thing that American's know little about is terrorism. While there was 9-11 and Oklahoma, we have never experienced daily bombings in our markets, malls, schools, and theaters.

    To report that some veterans might be returning back to the US with a less than favorable view and therefore be potential targets for extremist recruitment just makes sense. Someone needs to tell John McCain to quit trying to score media points and focus on fixing the nation he helped break.

    April 21, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  9. Greg

    The report comes from a bush appointed official in a bush created agency...and its not white house policy, its an intelligence report. What does Obama have to apologize for?

    April 21, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  10. Dan, TX

    The report was written by the Bush adminstration and just published. So, shouldn't George Bush be the one asked to apologize?

    April 21, 2009 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  11. seriously

    The White House is not telling any lies.

    April 21, 2009 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  12. Tina, NC

    After running the most insulting and degrading campaign I've ever witnessed McCain has some nerve to talk.

    I don't know how it's a stretch to think that these extremist groups might target veterans.

    BTW, I think it's pretty insulting to veterans to say that you support them yet vote against bills that help them with education, health care, housing etc.

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

    Homeland Security was Bush's baby. The people that wrote the report were hired in the Bush administration. Can Bush apologize for it?

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

    Wonder why McCain wasn't upset when the Department of Homeland Security issued a virtually identical report in September, 2008. Must have been because McCain was doing his best to make Obama look like a terrorist.

    April 21, 2009 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  15. Mike D. in San Diego

    I'm a combat veteran and Barack Obama owes me no apology. He is 100% correct in his assessment. The military is full of right wing loonies... Last year I lost my job and health care and went to the VA for medical treatment only to be denied becuase I had made too much money in the previous year. Who was responsible for this? The Republicans. You want an apology issued to veterans Mr. McCain? Why don't you go first?

    April 21, 2009 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  16. Joel from Ohio

    Wasn't the Oklahoma city bomber an US Army veteran? Case closed no need for an apology.

    April 21, 2009 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  17. Red, North Carolina

    Is this why the Vets have the highest homeless and unemployment rates after they return??? I absolutely believe in respecting and supporting our troops, so why didn't the Bush admin. take care of their basic medical needs over the past 8 years??

    April 21, 2009 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  18. Fernando

    God, everytime you question anything the military does you are suddently UNAMERICAN... when is this nonsense going to end?

    McCain, leave the bitterness behind, move on and stop making excuses for the GOP.

    April 21, 2009 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  19. tedious898

    Jimmy Boy.....I'd bet you graduated for "Dum Dum U". The President hasn't even been in office for 100 days, showing immense popularity in the entire world, and making significant progress against our many problems – and all this working against the 'FAILINGS OF THE PREVIOUS ADMINISTRATION"

    Read a newspaper every now and then instead of getting ur talking points from Hannity and Limbaugh. Geesh ...u people embarass the level of intelligence of this country

    April 21, 2009 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  20. Marc in MS

    Once again, the report says these whack job groups target veterans, not that veterans are falling over themselves to join.

    These wannabe weekend warriors know that having veterans in their little play groups will lend some legitimacy to them, plus having the tactical and operational skills of returning veterans is a plus.

    This feigned outrage is almost as funny as the lipstick nonsense during the campaign.

    April 21, 2009 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  21. Ernesto

    Read the whole report, McCain. Nobody is accusing veterans of being crazy. This is less about veterans and more about Right-Wing Extremist Groups' recruiting techniques focused on returning vets. As a Vietnam Vet, I might or might not be crazy, but I can still read.

    April 21, 2009 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  22. Sue, NY

    Oh Please! Why is it that republicans only want to talk about nonsense and not solutions. McCain and everyone else knows exactly what the HSA report was about...they only want to make trouble. No one is implicating any veterans...only that extremists look to veterans as TARGETS...

    April 21, 2009 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  23. Doug, New Jersey

    So those who have spit on our soldiers when they were younger have grown up to now work in the White House and target them as terrorists, well you really can't say that libs ever walk out of step of their hate filled, dishonest, socialist ideology.

    April 21, 2009 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  24. George

    Enough is enough! How old are are we? Our politicians spend more time reading and listening to what each person is saying then fixing the problem. It is very easy to point fingers and accuse each other but it doesn't fix anything. Look I am not a Democrat or Republican I am a Citizen of the United States of America.

    It's about time that people should have a mind of their own. Meaning that we keep dividing ourselves and our nation because of the media, people so on and so on.

    The biggest issue now is what is going on with the Republican Party. Its about time for the Republicans to realize they lost and its time for them to understand what they need to do? I am not in the whole idea that Democrats should rule but if the Republicans don't get their act together and most importantly figure out what they represent in the end they will represent nothing. I would rather have a bipartisan party then one single party representing our great Nation. What the hell happen to us, why did we let ourselves fall this bad? Where did we fall off the boat?

    April 21, 2009 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  25. Alverant

    Both the KKK and the Hells Angels were started by veterans. Today gangs are using the military to train themselves in tactics putting our police force at risk. The Bush administration didn't give our veterans returning from service the proper medical care making themselves a target for hate groups. Maybe McCain should take a closer look at what his fellow conservatives have done before pointing fingers.

    April 21, 2009 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
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