Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Update: Swift-boating John McCain in South Carolina
Supporters of John McCain in South Carolina are describing as "absolutely despicable" a flier (see right) claiming that he turned his back on fellow prisoners of war in Vietnam. Now it turns out that the man behind it all hails, far from South Carolina, up here in my home county of Rockland, just north of New York City. I've found a quote from our local paper, the Journal News, in which the man, Jerry Kiley, who lives in the tiny town of Garnerville, said last March that McCain had turned his back on POWs and their families. He called McCain a traitor to prisoners of war who he believes were left behind in Vietnam. “If he had the power of the presidency, I’d really fear for this country,” Kiley said.
The Journal News also reports that Kiley "once confronted a female Manhattanville basketball player who was protesting American policy by turning her back on the flag. He sneaked past security and interrupted a game to confront the college student on the court with an American flag." On his Web site, Kiley bills himself as Vietnam vet, "a key figure in the battle for U.S. POWs and MIAs and other U.S. veteran issues since 1983," a consultant to a billion dollar New York company.
The flier in South Carolina features a cartoon of McCain, a former POW, sitting in a cell and a supposed "fact sheet" accusing him of collaborating with his captors. You will remember that McCain was victimized by other smears in the state (fathering a black baby?) when he ran, and lost, there in 2000.
The First Read blog at msnbc.com reports, "The mastermind of the anti-McCain veterans mailer, Jerry Kiley of the group Vietnam Veterans Against McCain, told NBC News/National Journal that he created the ad, and it was printed and mailed by a group that publishes the like-minded journal US Veteran Dispatch. According to Kiley, who ran a similar group in 2004 that opposed John Kerry, the flier was distributed to 80 editors at newspapers throughout South Carolina, and that it was not mailed to any households. Kiley says he was not in contact nor did he accept any funding from any political campaign .... Among Kiley’s claims is that McCain gave his captors information about U.S. flight paths in exchange for better medical care after being shot down in Hanoi. He added that a similar effort to discredit McCain will be made in other states in the future."
is author of a dozen books (click on covers at right), including the new "THE TUNNELS: Escapes Under the Berlin Wall and the Historic Films the JFK White House Tried to Kill." He was the longtime editor of Editor & Publisher. Email: email@example.com. Twitter: @GregMitch