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. Debra Austin, Texas

    I demand that McCain retire.

    April 21, 2009 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  2. txleadhead

    Just this once I'll agree with the man.

    April 21, 2009 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  3. Chas in Iowa

    With the reports of mental issues with our returning vets, compiled with the right wing extremists that are allowed free run of the airwaves it seems perfectly logical to discuss where the new returning military types will go. Halburton isn't getting any more US contracts. Maybe they can hire out to some South American intrests like before.

    April 21, 2009 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  4. Michelle

    The comments here are outrageous. If each person angry at McCain had been accused of something like the veterans have been accused of, then you would be mad too. No all veterans are not saints, but the group as a whole is and to even suggest those who have fought and served our country specifically in a war that no one supported or wanted is insidious and shows the level that this administration has sunk to to bring fear among the people.

    April 21, 2009 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  5. obama/mama

    John McCain is not stable. He is overreacting again....Running around like Fred Sanford. Get the straight jacket on him.

    April 21, 2009 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  6. matt

    the only one that needs to be arrested is obama and all the dem in the white house making friends with iran and chevez and telling the world that the US is arrogant and making us look week

    April 21, 2009 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  7. John

    Have we forgotten about the Oklahoma City bombings already? Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

    The sad reality is that what the report said is true. That is not saying in any way that veterans are more prone to terrorism than anyone else. But as history has shown, just like other populations, some veterans are prone to terrorism – and when that happens, it could involve people with the knowledge to create a deadly tragedy.

    I am sick of Republicans trying to play politics with everything anyone in the Obama administration does, and this is a prime example of that!

    April 21, 2009 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  8. A

    This whole ticker thing is really depressing. It only serves to highlight the ridiculous minutia that our leaders engage in while "Rome is burning."

    April 21, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  9. geecee

    Be honest people. You know that there are tons of paramilitary groups in this country, KKK groups, White Supremicists groups, Neo-Nazi groups, etc. who would LOVE to have returning veterans to recruit. This country is full of misguided haters and they want members. Disgruntled and psychologically-damaged vets are prime recruits for these haters. It only takes a few. No one is suggesting the entire military is full of psychos, but, again, it only takes a few, and sadly there are lots of hate groups in this Country who want them.

    April 21, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  10. MarkDaMan

    Oh geeze, another repub whining?

    Funny John McCain mentioned the "portrayal of the Vietnam veteran as crazed"

    I don't know many Vietnam vets, but I do know John McCain doesn't need to be portrayed as crazed. Even before the Palin pick, he portrayed himself as a senile man.

    April 21, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  11. Jackie

    McCain needs to retire! and take Palin with him. He is just blowing smoke. Don't like the truth John? Go back to AZ and stay there.

    April 21, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  12. Winston Smith

    Wasn't the report saying that White Supremacist Organizations were targeting returning Veterans ?
    It's amazing that the Right Wingers somehow interprit that as meaning that Veterans are being targeted by the Administration.
    It's just more Republican nonsense – and it's too bad that McCain is buying into it.
    As a matter of fact...why is McCain holding up Chris Hill's nomination ?
    And McCain should be more upset that Rush Limbaugh is using McCain as the reason that "torture works" because, supposedly the Viet Cong broke McCain.
    McCain isn't choosing the right battles.
    Good thing he's NOT our President.

    April 21, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  13. Rafael VA

    The White House dose owes an apology. I am still wondering why was that report even mention it was honestly a stupid mistake from DHS and Obama. They should retract it and Obama should apologize and then move on.

    April 21, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  14. Frank, Las Vegas

    McCain continues to show America why they rejected him and why he LOST.

    April 21, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  15. VA 4 Obama

    I feel as if this report is actually more directed at the GOP's extreme right-wingers, not necessarily service members...they are probably trying to take it out of context in order to fool service members since there was a large amount that voted Democrat this year. As one Soldier told me why he was voting Democrat for the first time in his life: "I'm just really sick and tired of going to Iraq."

    April 21, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  16. Open Your 3rd Eye

    Our veterans come from all walks of life and all corners of this country.

    Some of them have been raised with decent morals and values, others have not.

    Just because you served this country in Iraq, or wherever, if your views don't include my well being due to my culture or skin color, then your service means nothing to me.

    There are ignorant folks in this country in and out of uniform.

    Just because you are an armed forces member, that doesn't make you a role model.

    T.R.U.T.H. H.U.R.T.S.


    April 21, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  17. deandre

    Mr McCain should perhaps go back and study history then he'd notice that hate groups greatly benefit from grievances of normal people, and will try harder to recruit them.

    Its something we saw from the KKK/Hitler.

    Its not like the report said that ex soldiers will be extremist later, just those are whom they will TARGET for recruitment due to their situation.

    Stop playing games McCain.

    April 21, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  18. stuart

    If anything the Republicans should send a apology down the line to all the veterans for treating them like garbage once they return and for the drastic cuts in V.A. Benefits. John McCain flashes his "I'm a War Hero/Vet" badge when it comes in handy, but I tell you, he is no friend to the Vet.

    April 21, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  19. jmsent

    Methinks old John is having a flashback.

    April 21, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  20. T

    How about this. Why not demand an apology from the right-wing extremist groups that are attempting to take advantage of our soldiers by trying to incite racism and radicalism. Or better yet, how about supporting our troops by increasing their wages, RESTORING their retirement and medical (retiree and spousal) benefits, and financing the GI Bill so that they can live their lives with the dignity and honor they deserve.

    April 21, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  21. maeve

    Oh just sit down and be quiet, John.

    After spouting off your "America first" mantra and then selecting the gov. of Alaska, with all her divisive accusations and selective recognition of others' patriotism as your running mate, it's become clear you don't know your own rear oriface from a hole in the ground.

    If you can't understand that the aim of the homeland security report was to warn against extremists laying in wait to recruit returning vets, then, I'm sorry, but you're experiencing an intellectual deficit that's your problem alone.

    Maybe reading Napolitano's words S-L-O-W-L-Y will help you out of that small, angry reactionary's corner you've painted yourself into.!

    April 21, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  22. Jason

    I guess McCain (and many of the commenters here) have already forgotten about how Tim McVeigh, a US Army veteran never adjusted to civilian life after the first Gulf War and killed 168 people (many of whom were children) in his right wing politically motivated bombing of the Oklahoma City Federal Building during Bill Clinton's presidency.

    April 21, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  23. Dennis

    It is truly amazing reading some of these post. I see people making fun of John McCain and then telling people that agree with him to shut up. It's like anyone that disagrees with the administration should not have a voice. It sounds like many liberals want to keep critisism quiet so they can do what they want to do. Obama is starting to feel his image is slipping and his supporters cant stand it. He is not what he protrays to be.

    April 21, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |

    Mr. McCain,

    Can you be any more gratuitous and transparent in your continued fruitless efforts to disrespect our president and undermine his authority?

    You need to have a long sit down with your daughter.. she may be able to bring your antiquated and tired strategy into the 90's.


    April 21, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  25. Annoyed.

    Timothy McVeigh was a decorated war veteran. Tell the families who lost people in the OKC bombing that we shouldn't invest some thought into this idea.

    April 21, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
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