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. thomas

    Give it a break McCain! The Republicans are so upset that they are out of power that they would say and do anything. McCain has voted against bills that would support veterans. What is the concern now?

    April 21, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  2. Bleep

    For a homeland security statement to be made like this is for what purpose, what good purpose can this serve. It is geared to accomplish what. What can we do about it , with this information. It does cause anger and insecurity... and creates caos. What is the government thinking to target this group. Are they deliberately creating class warfare.

    April 21, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  3. So Sad

    How about you demand an apology from your buddy Rush who used your torture experience as an excuse to explain that torture works.

    April 21, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  4. Mike from New York

    John Mc Bush portrays himself as a super-veteran... He is not! There are veterans who have served this country well who are in the shadows of american life. No lights, no camera, no action! With all his " Super-Heroism " the coutry still smelled rat! It did'nt work then and it won't work now...... Mc Bush!

    April 21, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  5. Lisa K.

    I don't think Mr. McCain is in a position to be "demanding" anything, frankly...

    April 21, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  6. Winston Smith

    Dennis: This administration does not understand nor respect the traditions of the military.
    Does the military have a fine "tradition" of having returning Vets join up with White Supremacist and Anti-Government groups ?
    If so...maybe that "tradition" need to be re-evaluated.

    April 21, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  7. Bravado in Boston

    If McCain took a moment, took a breath, he would realize the report was initially commissioned and started while Mr. Bush had the grip on the country.

    April 21, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  8. Dubo

    Truth Hurts: Your grammar hurts.

    April 21, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  9. AaronofMadison

    This old geezer is completely irrelevant, as is Dick Cheney. Why the press keeps giving them face time is beyond me. They need to disappear...hopefully, forever.

    April 21, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  10. Kyle

    Did McCain ask the Bush Admin to apologize for reducing veteran pay and benefits? This is absurd. All the report said was that certain extremist groups will be looking to recruit people with military experience. A concept every rational person would conclude as well. Didn't the KKK come into being via southern confederate soldiers some of which were trained at West Point? It follows that fringe groups will always try to pick off the disenchanted and in particular those with training to cause the most mayhem.

    McCain, please focus on issues that help the American people not those that you hope will enhance your political party's dwindling credibility.

    April 21, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  11. Linda B., Ga.

    It's amazing that ALL of a SUDDEN John Mc is worried about our Veterans. Yes, he was a war hero that will never be disputed, but, where have we seen him in support of our Veterans, in the past few years.......

    I'll tell Johnny Mc what I told Mitch.... GET A LIFE and get on LIVING IT...

    April 21, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  12. Ray

    It's funny that conservatives scream that we are not safe under the Obama administration, yet they scream when the administration comes out with a warning that says some members of our military "might" be susceptible to being recruited by right wing terrorist groups. I support our military, but the individual members are people, too, from all walks of life. There are bound to be some who drift towards right wing extremism, especially with all the scare tactics and hate mongering coming out of the Republican party and its supporters.

    April 21, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  13. KC

    This administration cares nothing for our Vets. Those politicians on the Hill are the same radical extremists who spit on my husband and called him baby killer when he returned from Vietnam (he was drafted by the way). There is an extremely dangerous and discriminatory group of politicians in control of our government making all the "new" laws. They are attacking Vets, conservatives and Christians. Our rights are dwindling and soon we will be treated criminally for having morals and ethics. I will more than likely be put on a list just for this post.

    April 21, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  14. ann

    I would think they said that because vets returning from the Iraq war are susceptible to just about anything. If they had racist attitudes before they went, it would have gotten worse, I bet. But McCain really doesn't seem to be doing much other than trying to stay in the spotlight... which I would think is a bad idea considering the threats against his daughter.

    April 21, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  15. Carolyn

    I am a veteran (a military retiree) and I wasn't insulted at all. Some of these really radical right-wingers could make an attempt to draw some military veterans in to their madness. That is a reflection on how low the radical right-wingers might go and is not a reflection on the veteran.

    April 21, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  16. gerry stannard

    When will Mcshame ask or admit his lost life.
    As a vet I know have seen and will watch again.....how people adjust to being a professional killer when they re-enter after service in the harmed serves of any country.
    Once you see the enemy you realize he is just like you, an nothing is ever the same...thankgod.. seems Mc Cain has lost his way again.

    April 21, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  17. Craig- Easton, PA

    Is the Senator being purposedly dense? The report said that the extremists are targeting returning veterans, not that veterans were forming or seeking out these groups. If this is what has been discovered to be the case, then why on earth would we not report it? It could help a veteran from being sucked into something they would not want to be involved with. And finally, veterans are people and thus can sometimes go astray, just like any other population. Especially given the strain of combat that they have been subjected to. And if these extremists can find a willing participant, they are getting one with military training.

    April 21, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  18. The Right Isn't

    Party Crasher April 21st, 2009 12:50 pm ET

    I guess John forgot that people in the military are affected the same way as any other person. Being a Vet does not shield you from being lead down the wrong path.

    Exactly- These veterans are coming home to a crappy economy, possibly no job, personal financial hardships, and just like ANY segment of the population, there will be some that succumb to violence just to get by. Is that so hard for you wing nuts to comprehend? That is ALL this report (which was commissioned by the Bush admin) was saying. I can just hear the faux outrage, should one of these nuts decide to blow up a building and injure or kill one of your loved ones. How quickly the tune would change.

    April 21, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  19. Gavin

    McCain needs to pay attention.

    The report stated that right-wing extremists would attempt to recruit veterans for their battle skills. It didn't state the opposite.

    Also, the report was first requested under the Bush Administration. If McCain wants an apology, get it from Bush.

    Oh, the irony.

    April 21, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  20. ATR

    McCain is a joke. The report is a warning to veterans not an accusation. I read something the other day which likened the Repub response to the report to a situation where people are mad a the cops for warning parents that their children could fall victim to pedofiles. Idiots. BTW, the Bush administration ordered the investigation. Ask him to apologize if your offended.

    April 21, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  21. T R A

    There is no offense here. I'm a veteran and when I was stationed overseas we were warned that because of our hair cuts and being American we could be targets for those who do not like the US. This issue is a reality and no more an insult than what I experienced. John is becoming to veterans what sharpton is to issues of race.

    April 21, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |

    I am a democrat and I love what Obama is doing, but I honestly didn't see the purpose of releasing the report to the public. This was not a must know for the American people.

    April 21, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  23. GC from Virginia

    Hey Kyle – Wasn't McVeigh a veteran? Answer: Yes. That's the whole point. It just so happens that DHS issued similar reports under Bush. And it just so happens that similar reports re: left-wing extremists have been issued. Those just didn't make it onto CNN's ticker. The problem isn't with the DHS, it's with the overblown reaction by the media to a relatively routine report.

    April 21, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  24. Noans, South Pasadena

    Gee, John, why don't you do something constructive to HELP AMERICANS, like take on BANK CEOs who are putting the screws to us by hiking bank fees after WE BAILED these jerks out. No, instead, you'd rather complain and whine like a bitter, old woman instead of earning your money by actually working for the American public who hired you. Sorry to all old women, who I am sure don't whine and complain like John McCain.

    April 21, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  25. Flip

    Have any of you geniuses read the report?

    What it say in a NUTSHELL, for those of you who are to lazy to read:

    "Right-wing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment" [TITLE OF REPORT] ... right-wing extremist groups may be using the recession and the election of the nation's first African-American president to recruit member including disaffected veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

    If your education level is below basic reading comprehension levels, "disaffected" means

    a plot by disaffected soldiers dissatisfied, disgruntled, discontented, malcontent, frustrated, alienated; disloyal, rebellious, mutinous, seditious, dissident, up in arms; hostile, antagonistic, unfriendly.

    April 21, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
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