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. Lisa

    How dare they!!??? The Obama administration is outright disgusting. I am sickened by what is happening to our country because of the election of this man. Sickened.

    April 21, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  2. Too True For You

    Sigh. Another example of republican persecution complex. McCain, like most half-cocked right wing bloviators obviously didn't read the report.
    It only said vets were targets of recruitment because:
    – their skills were exactly what the extremists were looking for
    – a poor job market creates a ripe environment for recruitment (which it said applies to everyone – not just for vets)
    – the lack of returning vet re-integration programs also can lead to disaffection and higher susceptibility to recruitment
    – the paramilitary structure of the militias can resonate with returning vets

    It DID NOT say, as McCain mistakenly implies, that veterans are more likely to become right wing extermists, only that ll of the above lends to their being prime recruiting targets.

    I thought conservatives were such huge critics of political correctness? Yet here they are, demanding an apology where none is necessary. Better to spend their time and energy on programs to help vets, instead of manufacturing another burst of sanctimonious outrage. But, again, conservatives would see that as a hand out, a social program, and they still seem to condemn those unless it is for their rich, elite financial backers.

    April 21, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  3. RH

    Where are the violins?

    April 21, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  4. Bob

    Has the good senator conveniently forgot about Timothy McVeigh who was a United States Army veteran and security guard who was convicted of bombing the Alfred P. Murrah Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995?

    April 21, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  5. Ry

    Really. I'm not one to speak ill of the brave men and women who defend our nation. But if the findings of the report are that Veterans are being targeted by extremist groups, why should that info be censored.

    April 21, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  6. Some Guy

    I have nothing but respect for the folks who serve our country. But... the Apartment building I lived in from birth to the age of 1 was blown up by an IED just after we moved out. That IED was manufactured by a Vietnam vet who wanted to kill himself and his mother because he heard voices. He succeded. That said, there are a lot of crazy people out there and most of them are not vets. Oh and John, please don't crash any more planes. Have a nice day!

    April 21, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  7. Say It Out Loud

    What on earth is in the Republican Kool-Aid??!!??

    April 21, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  8. Gary

    Every single veteran that I know is a proud american that would defend their family and their country and would never do anything to hurt the country. I'm proud of them.

    I guess that I think anyone can be influenced by terrorist but I think soldiers are no more likely than the rest of the country (probably less likely).

    We need to focus on the real terrorists, Al queada. Al queada doesn't want freedom of speech or freedom of religion. They don't give women equal rights. They don't respect democracy. They'll kill or torture a Westerner without giving it a second thought. They will kill innocent people, even innocent muslims. Bin Laden and his buddies are a cancer and need to be the target of DHS attention.

    April 21, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  9. Mancie Raines

    Has there been a less classy loser than McCain? Take a lesson from past presidential losers and keep your trap shut for awhile, John.

    April 21, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  10. jeff

    Obama needs to apologize to the people of the United States for making friends with Iran and Chevez telling countrys how bad we are and also makes us look weak

    April 21, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  11. Operation Crush Rush

    Go away old man McCain.Theres good and bad in everything and everyone.Some of these service people raped and pillaged.You wont hear about it though,we are lead to believe they are all saints.This wont get posted though,the truth hurts too much.

    April 21, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  12. brenda

    I could have sworn he lost. Who cares what he thinks???

    April 21, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  13. Good Texan

    Oh poor McCain... Is your daughter taking away some of your shine! Or is it that you need to show your face because the GOP is on it's last leg as you can remember it!!!

    Ah the good ole days are no more "My Friends" lol This guy is a joke and everyone knows it! Your daughter may need that new life that the GOP is talking about. Give her a shot it can't be any worst than you & Palin. lol McCain + Palin = two of the biggest jokes in the GOP, besides Bush! lol

    Don't demand from the President, you have no POWER SON!

    April 21, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  14. Lash

    McCain has got to be kidding... "The last thing we need to worry about is our veterans..."

    I "worry" that they will be left to pay their medical expenses on their own, I worry their families aren't getting by while they are serving in Iraq and after they have been killed fighting for our country.

    Stop grasping at straws and trying to find fault with this president for your own political gain with your base.

    Where was your outrage when the Bush admin was in office? You partisan hack.

    April 21, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  15. bb

    I believe I read that Bush actually ordered the review (during the campaigns), Obama only released it.

    April 21, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  16. pete peterson

    The Maverick did it again, and this time without Maddog at his back. He's an idiot.

    April 21, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  17. Woeful

    The Republicans have failed. The Republicans should disban, The Republicans have become extinct. The Republicans hate the success of Middle America. The Republicans rule with corrupt religious beliefs. The Republicans cannot separate church from state. The Republicans have lost and cannot except that. Just about every blog or site pertaining to politics indicates that the GOP is full of nothing but disfunctional loud mouthed religious radicals.

    April 21, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  18. CriticalThinker

    I'm a military vet and I believe an extremely low percentage of returning vets are at risk for extremist recruitment. However, there could be enough due to the sheer numbers returning to fuel this problem. Most returning vets don't kill their wives in a fit of anger or severely abuse their families when they return, but some do. The mental health experts have acknowledged that combat adversely affects some vets who normally would not be dangerous to society and themselves...they are probably the ones this report is targeting and rightfully so. This combat mentality is why vets are supposed to be screened as I recall when they return from combat zones.

    April 21, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  19. Dean in PA

    I'm a veteran and I wish that John McCain would just shut his mouth for a change. Anything to argue... anything to pick apart... and he's all over it like stink on a monkey. Hey, McCain... do us all a favor and retire!!

    April 21, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  20. Anonymous

    mccain needs to SHUT UP!!! no one cares what this has been says and if anyone owes the american people an apoligy it would be this jerk for pushing the lunatic ignorant vice president pick on us americans. get over it mccain...you lost the election and the respect of the american people!!

    April 21, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  21. John from Ft Sill

    Where was Sen McCain's outrage when the FBI released the same findings in Sept 2008. The sad truth is that Pres. Obama's election has brought out a hidden racism in alot of people. And talk to people in the military, they are the most close minded people when it comes to an individuals rights as you"ll find anywhere, and I'm a career military man, believe me.

    April 21, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  22. eric

    Truth Hurts you are so clueless regarding our country it is pretty comical. You will be blaming Bush for everything that goes wrong with this country for the next 50 years. I am guessing that you are not a veteran since you are a lefty. Obama will never aplogize for anything unfortunately since he is a liberal and liberals are never wrong. If you don't believe me just ask one.

    April 21, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  23. Hagerman, ID

    The report was not an accusation, just a notation that returning Vet’s are targets by these groups. Considering the case of Timothy McVeigh and the private militias of the 90's, this is a legitimate concern. It’s called being intelligently proactive. Apparently, this is a difficult concept for the GOP.

    April 21, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  24. Bob

    Like we didn't have to worry about Timothy McVeigh. Remember the Oklahoma City bombing. Just another opportunity for the Republicans to gripe about something.

    April 21, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  25. steve

    the alienation of war veterans is the same thing that stalin did after WWII claiming they (russian war vets) were corrupted by the ideals of democracy

    is anyone noticing a pattern?

    April 21, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
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