April 21st, 2009
03:39 PM ET
11 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. George

    BULL The republicans said the same thing about some being left wing extremists. Chill Big John. The way you ran your campaign, half of your radical base could be extremists. You had you pit bull Sarah, never once saying Obama wasn't a Muslim. She encouraged hatred.
    Its over John. Go visit Chenny and you 2 can be stereo.

    April 21, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  2. Pat Omaha, NE

    There we go again...jumping to conclusions without reading the FACTS!!!
    But then, facts never were very important to him...like all the stuff surrounding Plumber Joe....

    Some veterans ARE a target...get over it and move on!! Help them...dont get caught up in a chance to get your name in the news when all it does is show how ignorant you are!!!

    April 21, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  3. Lynn West Bloomfield, Michigan

    McCain owes us an apology for putting Sarah Palin in our faces and putting the security of this entire country in jeopardy. Silly old man!

    April 21, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  4. Huh?

    Why does the DHS owe an apology for something that may be factual? If extremists are targeting veterans, where's the insult? Get over it John. Veterans who have been exposed to long periods of "combat stress" may, or may not, be suseptible to recruitment tactics. They may be targeted in higher numbers by extremists. No telling, but you of all people should know what it's like to transition back to a "normal" life following combat, and it's not as easy as just changing jobs. In your own campaign you kept pointing out how America was turning its back on veterans. Let me see. It seems rather logical to think that if a returning vet finds unemployment, homelessness, and feels like after serving their country, their country failed to serve them...they might just be easily recruited by an organization that tells them that they're justififed in being angry. Not all vets fall into a fortune when they get out. I would bet it wouldn't take much to recruit someone who's down on their luck, looking for somewhere that will accept them, and make them feel they are heros. It's the reality of the situation.

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

    This is such a crock. Once again, the report didn't accuse veterans of being terrorists. The report said that a lot of right-wing extremist groups would target war veterans for RECRUITMENT because they have military expertise. It also doesn't hurt that members of the military tend to be more ultra conservative (my addition, not the report). And ultra conservative people tend to be, I'm sorry to say, more racist, sexist, and intolerant of changes to the status quo. Does the name Timothy McVeigh ring any bells?

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

    So he's going to denounce a non-partisan study conducted by experts in their fields because he doesn't like what it says. Yes, instead of using this information to make sure our veterans get the mental health care they desperately need let's make it a partisan issue and ignore the data and recommendations. More of the same.

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

    For what McCain. Tell me why should everyone not know how the GOP's treated the prisoner. They are human and deserve respect just like our soldiers. Remember McCain what is good for the goose is good for the gander. So let's not do something to someone else of another culture if we can't have it done to us.

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

    Once again a Republican would like us to be blind to reality. War Vets are far from Saints, if they were they would have never joined the military. This blind patriotism is going to get us in trouble.

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

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

    Lee Harvey Oswald – JFK's killer was a veteran
    Timothy McVeigh – OK City bomber was a veteran
    Randy Weaver – Ruby Ridge FBI agent killer was a veteran

    Yeah, good thing we didn't worry about them.

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

    Yesterday, Obama smiled with by David Gargen. Today, Gloria is demanding "outrage" Mr. President!. What next? for this President to do to please, these people?. Have you noticed all Obama critiques are interviewed in at CNN and Fox and people who have favorable opinion about the President are found in MSNBC. Here are some of the people I am talking about. Bill Benet, Newt, Cheney, Former HLS lady andCNN reporters. The sad thing is that when these people are interviewed they hardly have some one to offer counter point. Check it out

    April 21, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  11. johnrj08

    I'm all for supporting veterans. I'm one myself. However, being a veteran does not make you an angel incapable of being corrupted. And, if you're a veteran returning from a horrific war zone suffering from PTSD and you come home to a penniless existence, it has to increase the likelihood that you will direct your frustration at the government. An heightened awareness of this phenomenon can only help returning veterans by drawing more attention and empathy to their plight. McCain should shut up.

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

    these obstructionist on the right awaits any little thing to make news. hahah republicans, you people are all clowns with a BIG C. macain why dont you go relax in iraq and never to show again.?

    April 21, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  13. Little too late????

    If the military accidentally released classified documents, the person/unit that released the info would get crucified!! ...and the flow of heads rolling would be both up and down hill! EVERYONE, military or civilian, who has access to classified material is bound by law to protect it.

    The President must make the Secretary of the DHS accountable, request her resignation and fire all the 'do-gooders' who leaked the document.

    April 21, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  14. Big Ed

    McCain is looking to remain relevant. I think he is reading into things here. McCain should apologize for submitting us to Sarah Palin first!

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


    Just remember what John McCain endured so you can spew your hate filled comments.

    April 21, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  16. Pam

    As said by a right-wing extremist such as John McCain.

    Wow! – is that all this man can do since he lost the election?whine...whine....whine......

    April 21, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  17. Sterling Smith

    So McCain, are you supporting Timothy McVeigh?

    April 21, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  18. KevinBob

    Obama doesn't apologize to Americans. He apologizes to the enemies and socialist leaders from other countries. McCain should know this so he should not expect anything from Obama.

    April 21, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  19. Mrs. P

    Ok is he serious??? No...John McCain needs to cut it out. For real. He acts as if he really gives a rip about Veterans but if he did, then he wouldn't have said that we were gonna be in Iraq for at least the next 50 years. He is a Warmonger and that's all he cares about. Let it go John...ya lost. Obama doesn't have to apologize for ANYTHING!!!!!!

    April 21, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  20. the real common sense

    John McCain is an angry old man who can't bear the idea that he lost the presidential election. The old coot reeks of denial and hatred. Let the old jac-rabbit vent. He will soon be in the nursing home.

    April 21, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  21. Kreeana Lew

    Whatever McCain is saying, it's wrong. Period. He's never spoken anything good in his life – after all, he's a Republican & they are incapable of good.

    April 21, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  22. Tiffany

    While I agree that how this is addressed needs to be sensitive to our troops and the committment they have given the USA, there is something to be said for being cautious. Troops are returning from a war that many feel we shouldn't be in, including troops themselves. To be niave to the idea that they might be angry with the government is not that far off base. John McCain is also taking one part of this report out of context. The fact is troops are easy targets for any extremist group and would be a great "catch" in that they are well trained, potentially armed and have knowledge that most American's would not have.

    April 21, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  23. Gordy

    Two words for Senator McCain: Timothy McVey.

    April 21, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  24. Moderate Democrat

    OH Please McCain. As a veteran and patriot, I demand an apology from YOU for your acts of treason.

    Being held as a POW does not give you the right nor excuse to commit treason. You gave up your oaths and country, rolling over and handing the enemy the lives of your fellow service members. You jumped on their radio stations and spouted off propoganda against your country. You are no hero, unless we wish to rewrite the history books and define Benedict Aarnold an american hero.

    You sir are a disgrace to the uniform and to all veterans, especially vietnam vets, everywhere. Before you ask for apologies, you have alot to apologize for first!

    April 21, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  25. Real Change

    Have you ever heard of Timothy McVey Senator?

    April 21, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
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