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. Brian

    Right... yet almost every infamous serial killer and out of control sniper has military background. Like the majority of Americans the troops are great, but just like the general population some can be bad people. Declaring them all as angels is naive.

    April 21, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  2. Penny

    and yet McCain does not ask for an apology from Limbaugh for calling him a liar about his own torture.

    I would think he would be personally insulted rather than generally insulted for all the vets.

    April 21, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  3. aware of nothing

    I hope McCain also blasts the Bush admin because in 2007 they wrote a memo stating the same thing. Timothy McVeigh anyone?

    April 21, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  4. B Meadows

    Hey John, ever heard of PTSD, McVeigh, Oswald or the Marine that just got arrested for carrying bomb-making supplies?
    Didn't think so. Go back to sleep.

    April 21, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  5. Just saying ....

    With Daniel Andreas San Diego being added to the FBI's most wanted list, I think left wingers need to worry more about their own extremists. There are crazy people on both ends of the political spectrum — and McCain is right on this one. Issuing a report suggesting that veterans are more likely to be recruited by right wing extremist groups is insulting and demeaning to those who have sacrificed much to defend this country. Kudos to McCain for speaking up.

    April 21, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  6. 30m-Democrat-voted Clinton then McCain

    Right wing extremism? I guess Bill Ayers, Obama's buddy, would be considered left wing extremism?

    April 21, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  7. Dr. Ed Holmes

    What about Timothy McVeigh and his merry men? I am retired from the Army and during my career, I had the pleasure of working with several nut jobs. Now the services are taking in convicted felons, 42 yo losers, and high school drop outs. There a bunch of skin heads and gang members in the Army. I don't think veterans should be singled out, but they should not get a free pass either. Every section of society should be monitored to protect us all law abiding citizens from the fringe elements of society..

    April 21, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  8. ken

    John, learn what's going on before you speak. Read & know SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER publications–they've followed the HATE groups for years; you're dead wrong and stirring up trouble just like the terrorist. Veterans coming home without a JOB or anyone without a job might , might and maybe COULD turn to terror. John, it might help you to be a better PATRIOT if you would listen to your Daughter.

    April 21, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  9. Vet

    He does realize that this report isn't so much about vets as it is about extremist groups...right? The groups are targeting people with military backgrounds, which totally makes sense. Its not a knock on the military at all. These groups want people with the skills that those in the military posess.

    Lets see some comments with some substance behind them rather than just blanket statements.

    April 21, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  10. Donovan

    McCain's right, we should never worry about our vets falling prey to extremism... I mean look at Timothy timothy Mcveigh... Sighs....

    April 21, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  11. R

    Seems like the right wing is coming at President Obama with something virtually everyday. Sure would be good for the country if they would let up and be constructive for once instead of existing just to try and make him look bad. Where were they when that dirty little man from texass was trashing our country daily?

    April 21, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  12. Christian

    I am a Marine medically retired from the Coprs from serving my country as an infantryman....I find any remarks from Sen. McCain about anything relating to Vets as irritation, and outrageous. I have absolutely no respect for man who buts his political ambitions ahead of the needs of this country..aka Sarah Palin.

    April 21, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  13. Lisa B

    Whoa. Hold on there Mr. McIdiot. How about you apologizing to the entire American electorate for elevating one of the right wings most disgusting examples of a candidate in the history of our country. One Sarah Palin. How about we DEMAND an apology for that!

    April 21, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  14. Jake

    Timothy James McVeigh, Terry Lynn Nichols were both veterans. Do we need to say more? The sad part, we knew about both of these American born terrorists.

    April 21, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  15. Kelby In Houston, TX

    the stugy produced by the Department of Homeland Safety should represent the facts without pride or prejudice. If the study shows that our returning veterans are subject to influence by right wing radical groups like the KKK or the GOP than, our returning veterans are subject to influence by right wing radical groups.
    Don't get mad because the fact don't make you look good.
    Don't ask for an apology when someone is telling you the truth.

    April 21, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  16. dee

    I do not understand why people are getting upset about his report. The white house has nothing to apologize for. In my opinion, the fact that some veterans may be likely targets to be recruited for terrorist acts is not too far from the truth. Veterans, as members of the military are in a number of cases forced to fight in a war that they do not believe in, they may feel that the US government deceived them into going to war only to discover the truth once they are in situations witnessing their fellow brothers and sisters die as a result of mis-governance, those who survive come back to discover false promises- the government lied about sending you to college once you serve, government lied about providing mental health services, and getting treatment for physical war wounds is a nightmarish process. I can absolutely see why a veteran might seek vengeance against government, especially after the Bush administration-

    lets just say that some are full of anger (justifiable or not), and the righ person with the right words can turn that anger into a desire for retribution. In light of this, we as a country should stop trying to silence this insight from the White house, and instead seek ways to ameliorate the relationship that the government has with the veterans.

    April 21, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  17. RAG

    The false outrage that the Republicans use over and over again just makes them appear smaller and smaller. Pretty soon they will disappear altogether.

    The report was begun under the Bush administration and completed by a Bush appointee. McCain's several day delay in responding to this report betrays his real intent.

    John your false outrage is a disservice to America, the veterans you claim to support, and thinking decent people everywhere.

    April 21, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  18. Steph

    As someone who did vote for Obama I do think it's an outrage that our veteran's have been labelled as 'possible terrorists.' I have so many friends that have served and risked their lives and lost friends so that they can come back and be treated like criminals by their own country? Ridiculous! I don't think McCain should get an apology directly but just a general 'sorry' to all of the veterans that this has offended.

    April 21, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  19. Josh in TN

    It seems that everyone else economically is falling victim to the repubs. So I believe it may be so. I am a veteran too.

    April 21, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  20. Dee

    What an absurd reaction! Seems to me that this report addresses PROTECTING our veterans from exploitation when they are most vulnerable – returning from war. I was married to a Viet Nam veteran and he was needing a lot of support and care on his return in order to come to terms with his anger and confusion upon "re-entry" into "normal" life. We should all be concerned about the wellbeing of our returning veterans and if extremist groups are targeting them, we should be proactive about preventing further damage to their psychies!

    April 21, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  21. Video Guy

    If anyone needs to give a apology its McCain. Once for bring Sara in to the national arena and the other is for what you did to the GOP.

    April 21, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  22. Dear TV - Please Read Books

    People have to apologize for reporting FACTS now? It makes sense when you think about it. Obviously the report was not saying that veterans are terrorists. But lets face it, some people return from active duty having seen things that have traumatized them and sometimes they can't cope with it. In a small number of instances, veterans develop psychological issues as a direct result of service...its a fact and its one of the reasons that America needs to take good care of its veterans...to provide them the treatment and the help they need when these situations arise. Its a proven fact that people who have seen violence are more prone to commit acts of violence. Take the study that shows that individuals who have seen a gun fired at someone are more likely to do it themselves. Therefore, its not unreasonable to believe that a traumatized war vet returning from active duty might be recruited by a right-wing extremist organization. Let's not forget that some of these groups think they're the REAL Americans and that everyone else is ruining the country. Veterans are certainly not immune from having these ideas. When you think about it, its natural that these groups would want veterans on their side. Let's not attack people because they presented a factual report. I understand that facts have been against John McCain and the Republican party for a while now but this is ridiculous.

    April 21, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  23. kjm

    Have you heard of Timothy McVeigh, Senator?

    April 21, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  24. loveobama

    get over it Mccain didn't the repubs did the same tthing when fush buck was in.

    April 21, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  25. today

    you are what is an insult to our veterans mccain, the fact that you went along with bush on a war that was based on lies, these lies cost over 4000 of out veterans their lives, i believe it is you who owes OUR VETERANS AN APOLOGY mccain.

    April 21, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
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