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Friday, October 24, 2008

Was John McCain an "Unlawful Combatant" in Vietnam?

Senator John McCain voted for the Military Commisson Act of 2006 from which we take the following:
The term 'unlawful enemy combatant' means – (i) a person who has engaged in hostilities or who has purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States or its co-belligerents who is not a lawful enemy combatant...

In reviewing footage recently I found an interesting piece in which an American pilot that had been shot down over Vietnam was claiming Prisoner of War status. He was threatened by a North Vietnamese Army officer who responded "War? What war? You are a criminal!"

Now, it is to their credit that the Vietnamese Communists respected the 1949 Geneva Convention and never seriously questioned the P.O.W. status of the captured American combatants. It is also their credit that the NVA paid a cash reward only for POWs that were brought to them alive. That's not the American way! And if the cells at the Hanoi Hilton weren't fit for human habitation, we must remember that they were originally built by the French for the Vietnamese.

There is no question that the Vietnamese considered John McCain a Prisoner of War, but as we are not in the habit of relying on our enemy's definitions, the question is: Was John McCain a "Prisoner Of War" or was he rather an "Unlawful Combatant" in the Bush-McCain legal terminology? Taking the definition above, and naturally substituting "Vietnam" for the "United States", there is no question that John McCain was "a person who has engaged in hostilities." Dropping bombs on a civilian area, which is what he was doing when he was shot down, definitely qualifies. So in the black/white world of Bush McCain he was either a "lawful enemy combatant" and entitled to POW status and the protections of the the Geneva Convention or he was an "Unlawful enemy combatant" and entitled to diddly.

Since WWII the United States has gotten into the, frankly, sloppy habit of going to war without a Declaration of War. In the Vietnam War there was no Declaration of War! Now that may be very convenient for a President and his War Mongers, but it definitely could cause problems when the question of the legality of the hostilities is considered my the other side.

Now I admit that I don't really know beans about International Law, but I do know something about how Law is commonly practiced in American, so I just know that if I go down to the World Courthouse in Anytown, U.S.A. and apply for P.O.W. status, the first thing the Clerk is going to ask me for is my Declaration of War, and it had better be current, and it had better be duly authorized, and it had better be dated before my hostilities, before he will even accept my application for POW status. After all, we live in a country of laws. A small business can't even sue in Small Claims Court if it has allowed its Fictitious Name Statement to expire. A citizen can't even vote if he's moved since the last time he registered. So how can any American expect Prisoner of War status when his country hasn't even Declared War?

So I call upon John McCain to reject the label that the Vietnamese Communist, U.S. Government and Media put on him, and apply his own standards to his own history and boldly proclaim, "I was not a POW, I was an Unlawful Combatant."


See Vietnam: American Holocaust

Vote November 4th: Put a maverick out to pasture!

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