New Evidence Reveals that Senator John McCain and other high-ranking Vietnam War POWs may have lied to the American public about being tortured

Collusion by the White House, the Pentagon, and the mainstream media resulted in disparagement, denial, and suppression of eyewitness testimony confirming that most POWs were actually well-treated by their North Vietnamese captors (in contrast to the brutal torture and death often meted out to North Vietnamese POWs by U.S. forces). When numerous U.S. POWs began to understand the truth about the war they had been fighting, they spoke out against it—voluntarily—as an act of conscience. But they were cynically portrayed as traitors, turncoats and “camp rats,” their reputations and lives destroyed, driving many to despair and even suicide.


Covert Action Magazine: Among the few memories that most Americans still retain of the Vietnam War—now nearly 60 years in the past—one of the most vivid centers around the torture suffered by Senator John McCain at the hands of his brutal Vietnamese captors while a prisoner of war in Hanoi’s Hoa Lo prison (AKA The Hanoi Hilton).

This story has been told, retold, and continually burnished countless times by admiring media interviews and a flood of books and memoirs, including several by McCain himself.

Another memory of the war, still believed by millions of Americans, is that hundreds or even thousands of American soldiers classified as MIA (Missing in Action) are actually being held and tortured in secret North Vietnamese POW camps, callously abandoned by our government and desperately praying to be rescued—preferably in a Hollywood-style rescue by Chuck Norris or Sylvester Stallone, who starred in the spate of Commie-hating blockbuster movies inspired by their plight.

Dissenting POWs: From Vietnam's Hoa Lo Prison to America Today

This belief is continually reinforced by POW/MIA flags which fly at every post office, and a ready supply of new books and movies, such as the 2018 release of the film M.I.A. A Greater Evil.

But both memories of the Vietnam War are false memories. However passionately believed, they were cynically manufactured fantasies implanted in all-too-willing American minds for political purposes.

How and why these counter-factual beliefs were so successfully foisted on the American public is the subject of the new myth-shattering book by Tom Wilber and Jerry Lembcke, Dissenting POWs: From Vietnam’s Hoa Lo Prison to America Today (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2021).

Wilber is the son of a dissenting POW, Walter “Gene” Wilber, who is featured in the book, and has contributed to the award-winning documentary film The Flower Pot Story by Ngọc Dũng. Lembcke is a distinguished sociologist from College of the Holy Cross who has written a number of books debunking popular myths about the Vietnam War.

The two start their book by noting that the dominant war hero image of the POW—who endured torture and resisted service to enemy propaganda—was to a large extent created by high-ranking men like McCain who were captured early in the conflict.

John McCain Was a War Hero. But He Shouldn't Have Been.
John McCain embodied the war hero image of someone who endured torture at the hands of his North Vietnamese captors while retaining loyalty to the United States. [Source:]read more…

Paul Benedikt Glatz is the author of Vietnam’s Prodigal Heroes: American Deserters, International Protest, European Exile, and Amnesty (Lexington Books, 2021).


Jeremy Kuzmerov

Jeremy Kuzmarov is Managing Editor of CovertAction Magazine. He is the author of four books on U.S. foreign policy, including Obama’s Unending Wars (Clarity Press, 2019) and The Russians Are Coming, Again, with John Marciano (Monthly Review Press, 2018). He can be reached at:

Steve Brown

Steve Brown is a member of the Editorial Board of CovertAction Magazine.

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  1. According to holly-wood the USA won ww2. The Russians lost 20 million beating the Germans. Russia won ww2. Russia was attacked and defended itself legitimately. The USA provoked the attack on Pearl harbor with its hegemonic baloney. The top politicians during the 20th century were all satanists.

  2. On Pages 318-323, Stevenson described a failed 1981 POW rescue mission involving the perennial “covert source” (and often hard to fathom) Scott Barnes who wrote a book about the mission entitled BOHICA (Bend Over Here It Comes Again). After passing polygraph and truth serum exams Barnes recounted how he had been issued atropine (nerve gas antidote) injectors as a prelude to entering areas in Laos where POW camps were known to exist. He also states that, once in the region, he was ordered to “liquidate the merchandise.” “Merchandise” was the code word for POWs.

  3. In 1984, Barnes claimed in an interview on ABC’s “World News Tonight” that the CIA had asked him to kill Honolulu financier Ronald Rewald, who had formerly operated a CIA front company and was being tried for fraud. After the CIA, in an unprecedent move, filed a complaint against ABC with the Federal Communications Commission, the network acknowledged that it could not confirm Barnes’ allegations.

    Last year, in an affidavit filed in federal court in North Carolina, Barnes claimed that on one mission into Laos, he learned that the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand, had issued instructions that if any U.S. prisoners were located, “the merchandise was to be liquidated.”

    In 1982, Weekly, Gritz and three other people were arrested in Thailand after staging an unsuccessful mission into Laos in search of U.S. prisoners. That mission, named “Operation Lazarus” by Gritz, was financed in part with money Gritz obtained from actors William Shatner and Clint Eastwood. BIOG: NAME:

  4. Lol. If McInsane’s singing of Barbara Ann isn’t an indication of anything, this is:
    “Controversy explodes over Iranian images of U.S. sailors. Sen. McCain calls Kerry’s remarks about the good treatment of the sailors ‘unbelievable'”

  5. OK, let us assume for a moment that the article information is true. What say you about the secret U.S. Tiger squads (Gritz, Weekly, others) (the Lucy’s Tiger Den gang) (the Freeway Ricky gang) that went back into Vietnam and Laos to identify and to kill American POWs? …As the joyful POWs ran to the Americans, thinking they were being liberated? As the men were promptly gunned down, i.e. “package received, liquidated”? What about “Mr. Stinky” (mockingly named by the Tigers), one of those freshly liquidated POWs, who was allowed to properly rot/decompose by the campfire before the Tigers released the “discovered” corpse to family members back at the states? Most of the POWs/MIAs were 2nd Seaters, who had held the coveted jewel boxes and were working on the Laotian pipeline. What ’bout them? From Lucy’s With Love: 😉

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