tv The 2000s CNN August 26, 2018 9:00pm-10:01pm PDT
♪ i have lived an honorable life. and i am proud of my life. i think all of us think about death, but i think more about life. there's so many days in my life that are more than coincidental that it has made me believe that i am here for a reason. i've been tested on a number of occasions. i haven't always done the right thing.
and i think i understand given my family's history and given my experiences, the important thing is not to look back and figure out all the things i should have done, and there's lots of those, but to look back with gratitude, you will never talk to anyone that is as fortunate as john mccain. you ready? or not? you ready? one, two. [ laughter ] >> so great. i love that. >> look at her.
come on, honey. come on. that's a girl. come on. come on. >> bring the ball. >> come on, burma. come on, honey. >> i got a phone call from my mom that said jack, you're going to see some stuff in the news. your father has brain cancer. i'm with him right now. he knows his diagnosis and he's the same as he's always been. he said all right, let's push forward. >> you know, these doctors keep talking to me about people who if you tell them the truth then they just give up and die, that you really want to -- and i keep saying to them, just tell me. just tell me. that's all i want to know. you know? some say well, it's not good and others say well, you know, it's just bullshit and it really drives me crazy but then i talk
to other doctor friends of mine and say most people that's not what they want to hear. why wouldn't they want to hear? you know? why wouldn't they want to spend a few more days here, you know? >> yes, honey, i'll throw the ball in a minute. >> he's better in arizona, i think, health-wise but we sort of collectively made the decision if he doesn't work that he would probably get sick faster because work feeds him and it's so much of a part of who he is. so i'm very supportive of him being in d.c. >> all right, guys. good morning, good morning. good morning. good morning. good morning. back! back. come on. come on. you can -- good morning. how are you, my friend from tmz? >> did you watch the football game last night? >> yes, i did. that's why i'm in such a bad mood this morning. >> i hope things get better.
>> thank you. >> he's authentic. he can't help himself. sometimes his authenticity is a political problem and other times it's a great advantage. >> none of us like to be unpopular in our workplace. and i've seen mccain be unpopular time and time again. sometimes for excellent reasons. sometimes for not great reasons. we don't always agree. i've got a job to do, he's got a job to do but i never doubt his motivation as to why he's doing it. >> you're not going to bet against the united states of america. you know? >> he tries to study an issue. he tries to come to a conclusion that's in keeping with his values but also, you know, rooted in reality. >> he knows this is not a straight line in life.
there's going to be curves and corners and that's the way it goes. nobody's perfect. you're going to make mistakes. the question is, how do you handle those mistakes? >> what's going on in syria? good morning. how are you? good morning. >> i wouldn't bet against him. he faces his mortality now with the same kind of fearlessness that has characterized his life. >> we're going to keep people waiting here. >> if you want to really know him, his favorite book is "for whom the bell tolls" and the protagonist in that, robert jordan, goes to fight the spanish civil war and he knows that it's a hopeless cause and yet he gives his life for it. >> senator mccain? army nominee secretary, are we going to get a hearing soon? >> that's a very mccainesque view of himself in the world. the harder the cause, even lost,
the better the cause. >> senator, on health care -- >> i've got to go. >> when i was 12 years old, i found a four-leaf clover. i want to my father's library to put the four-leaf clover in a book. i started reading that book and i was mesmerized, and i didn't stop reading until i was finished. it is still the load stone, the guide that i have, and it's called "for whom the bell tolls." robert jordan is my hero then when i was that age and robert jordan is my hero today. nothing is better than the story of someone who sacrifices for causes greater than themselves, and robert jordan was that. ♪ >> i was born on the 29th of august 1936 at a naval base in
the panama canal zone. my family goes back military all the way to the revolutionary war. and my life seemed to be charted out for me. i did feel pressure from the time i was very small to do well. as a young man going to the naval academy, i was following in the footsteps of my father and my grandfather. >> yes, i was once one of you, six decades ago in the age of sail. i was -- [ laughter ] i was a non-distinguished member of the class of 1958. my superiors didn't hold me in very high esteem in those days. their disapproval was measured in the hundreds of miles of extra duty i marched in my time here.
but i realized a little later in life that i hadn't fully appreciated all that the academy was trying to teach me. lessons about sacrificing for something more important than yourself, lessons about courage and humility. >> god only knows how i graduated from the naval academy. i didn't enjoy studying. i just knew what i had to do to get by. there is no doubt that i was a rebel and always breaking the rules. everybody knew who my father was and so i thumbed my nose at him. but at the same time, i didn't want to embarrass my family. >> john's father just emanated power and strength.
one day his father came down on a saturday to take us to lunch and for some reason they got into a bit of an argument. john was walking at a fast pace swinging his left arm and i remember his father was walking the same way, swinging his left arm. i said these guys are so much alike, they are combatants with a penchant for leadership. there's just a natural ability. you can't teach that kind of leadership. you have to be born with that. >> admiral mccain, what would you say about the importance in of leadership in the navy? >> leadership is the single most important factor as far as achievement, success, and the completion of a job to be done. and furthermore, you have got to have a tolerance for the failings of individuals because all of us have them. >> my father was a submarine commander in world war ii in the pacific. my grandfather was the commander of the aircraft carriers in the pacific. but i always knew that i was
going to be a naval aviator. i was going to go out there and fly airplanes and shoot down migs. >> so far in 1967, the number of u.s. troops killed in vietnam has nearly doubled. >> air power is the one thing we most conspicuously have and the enemy has not. >> during that period of time, they decided to escalate the air war over north vietnam. we started striking targets inside hanoi, which we had never done before. i got over the target and rolled in, and just as i released my bombs a missile took the wing off the airplane. so i ejected. when i hit the air stream it
broke my arms and also my leg. strangely enough, i landed in a lake in the center of the city of hanoi. someone took the picture of the vietnamese pulling me out of the water, and they were not happy. one of them stabbed me with a bayonet and another one smashed my shoulder. and then some north vietnamese army came and they took me to the president camp that we called the hanoi hilton. >> yesterday, over hanoi, three american planes were shot down and at least two of their pilots captured. one of them was lieutenant commander john mccain iii, the son of a u.s. naval commander in europe. >> i came in from school one day and my mother was sitting at the kitchen table crying and i said what's the matter?
she said well, your father's been shot down. and that's all i know right now but i expect to hear more from your granddad pretty soon. >> when i first found out, i didn't understand at all myself. i was dumb and happy. i didn't really understand what it was all about. it never occurred to me that anything would happen to him. he was always kind of invincible in my mind. >> i got a call in the middle of the night and my father and mother were both on the phone, which is very unusual. usually one would call me, not both. they told me john was shot down. and i remember pausing and saying what do we do now? my father said we just pray for the boy.
>> it's hard to describe the military heritage of my family. yes, my dad was worried about me, but the fact is, he knew that mccains were doing what mccains were bred to do, and if it takes you into harm's way that is our profession. the injuries that i experienced were severe, and they said we'll give you medical help if you give us information. i said, i can't. a few hours later, an interrogator came in and said your father is a big admiral. and i said, yes. he said we're going to take you to the hospital.
>> i got a letter from a frenchman. he said he'd been in north vietnam and he'd seen john. >> what's your name? >> john mccain. >> he made a film about him. he gave me a copy of it. john's folks watched it. i watched it. >> who is your father? >> he is known as admiral john mccain. >> his dad kept telling me, carol, this could be years. i didn't believe that. but he kept telling me it could be years before he gets home. >> i would just like to tell my wife i love her and hope to see her soon. and i'd appreciate if you'd tell her. >> one day the interrogator came
in and he said our doctors tell me that you are not getting well. they took me into a room with two other americans. they wanted me to die there rather than in the hospital. and those two literally nursed me back to health. and the love and affection that both of those guys bestowed on me was something i will never, ever forget. but as soon as the vietnamese found out i could walk, the next day i found myself alone in the cell. i was about 2 1/2 years in solitary confinement. solitary confinement's great strength is it makes the person feel alone. and when you're alone, then you don't have the encouragement, the camaraderie, the strength. there's a reason why throughout history they have used solitary confinement.
and then one day i was taken up to interrogation. there was a guy there, erudite, spoke perfect french, perfect english, sat down, and there was cigarettes and there was tea, and finally he said, well, you know, everybody wants you to go home because the doctors say that you can't live. and i said our code of conduct says that we go by order of capture. he said except for sick and injured. and i said but i'm not that sick and injured. i'm getting better. i can get around and i know what this is. i know it's for propaganda. and he kicked over the chair behind him and he said, "they taught you too well." and walked out and slammed the door leaving me and one of the interrogators in dead silence for about two minutes. and he said, "things will be very bad for you now, mccain." and the fun began.
we call it either the bar and strap or the bar and ropes treatment, and that has to do with putting my arms with my wrists opposed behind my back and fastened with handcuffs. they took the strap and they tied it to the handcuffs. each time he laced that strap, he pulled and pulled and pulled until my arms are virtually parallel to one another and touching. >> they were really, really rough. i mean, to the point where they rebroke my arm. they did all kinds of stuff. it was so bad that i thought i was going to die, and so i wrote out a confession, war crimes confession. and i will be ashamed and
embarrassed about that for my whole life. i was aware that they were going to use it for propaganda purposes, and i thought about the honor of my family. >> i knew his father. his fasth was pacific fleet commander. so all the military action we ordered in vietnam was carried out by him. but i never heard admiral mccain talk to the president about his son. it would be against the code of honor of the mccains. >> my dad never talked about john, especially never asked anybody to do anything for him or about it. but dad made a practice every year that he was commander in chief, on christmas he would helicopter to the dmz where the north and south vietnamese were officially divided and he would
walk away from those escorting him and he would just look across that border, trying to somehow feel john or send a message to him. >> i want you to understand that for those of you, and there are many in this command who will spend this christmas away from home and your loved ones, that what you have done and the sacrifices that you have made in the pursuit of your individual duties will more than make up for this separation. >> i was a year and a month when he was shot down. my recollection of him was next to zero. it was my mom and my brothers and i for a really long time. those memories i have. >> mrs. mccain has received several letters from her captured husband but none in six months. >> the most recent one i have was written last june. it says, "dear carol, i hope you
can still think of the really great times we had together. it is time for our fifth anniversary this year and i am hoping i will see you soon." >> how does he sound in that letter? >> he sounds kind of depressed to me. when he says "i hope you can still think of the really good times we had together," it sounds like, you know, he's worried that i might forget or something. that bothers me and makes me feel very badly. there isn't any way i could possibly forget. >> you know, you don't really know but in your heart you're like of course he's going to come back, he told me he's coming back. >> how long do you think the vietnamese are going to keep your daddy prisoner? >> probably till the war's over. >> how long will that be? >> probably until summer. >> to me, nothing else mattered materially other than i was told my dad is still alive. >> you think it will be over sooner, huh?
>> i want it to be over sooner. >> because? >> i just want him back. >> after about four years they changed the treatment and put us into large rooms with, say, 20 or 25 in each cell. the beatings stopped and there was clearly a change in policy towards the prisoners. >> all of a sudden on the 18th of december the whole sky just lit up with explosions and from then round-the-clock bombing. >> the christmas bombing was the use of b-52s against tactical targets in hanoi. president nixon decided and i
agreed that we had reached a point where only a shocking event would show to them that we were absolutely determined to bring the war to a conclusion. >> we applauded and we cheered and we sang the "star-spangled banner." and the north vietnamese were panicked. they were panicked. >> when that bombing was over, there was very strange silence and then the announcement on the radio that they were going to sign an agreement to end the war. >> a few days later, all the prisoners were called out and the commanding officer of the camp read off the provisions of the settlement and one part of the settlement is prisoners will be returned by order of capture. while we were waiting, they said mccain, come in, we need to talk to you. and there was about eight vietnamese in this room.
officers. and they had a tape recorder. and they said mccain, you're going to be leaving now. and we saved your life, as you know. don't you want to have a parting message of thanks for the doctors who took such good care of you? and i looked at them and i said, "you want me to thank the doctors?" they say yeah. "well, first of all, i'd like to say where the [ bleep ] have you been for the last five years? can i say that?" going home was something that we looked forward to for so many years. i hate to tell you but it was almost anti-climactic. i'd been waiting so long for it. >> john sidney mccain. >> in some ways it was almost hard to believe we were going to do it. >> nobody cheered until the airplane actually lifted off the ground and the landing gear was retracted.
>> i remember really clearly him stepping off that plane at clark air field and i'll tell you, when he appeared in that hatch way it was hard. >> lieutenant commander john s. mccain iii, united states navy. his wife carol, sons douglas and andrew and daughter sidney live in orange park, florida. >> i just remember he was really skinny. he was just kind of all bones in his face, and he was limping quite noticeably. one of his arms he couldn't lift any higher than about this. but i just remember the smile was the same and the humor was the same, there was still a twinkle in his eye. it was like right out of the movies. >> i don't think i really understood what was going on. i was really like who is this guy? what is he doing here? did not understand the whole concept of his return from vietnam.
>> john was not angry. he was just happy to be home. he told me every single thing that he could remember, and i wanted him to. i wanted him to just talk and talk and talk and not keep that stuff locked up. >> when we came home, i wanted to know what happened during all those years. think of yourself going 5 1/2 years with only information provided to you by your communist captors. i wanted to know how the antiwar movement began. >> will the committee come to order? the committee continuing its hearings on proposals relating to the ending of the war in southeast asia. >> john and i were on different paths with respect to the war in vietnam. my war was down in the delta mostly, and seeing the war on a
ground level led me to believe we were on a quixotic errand, and it weighed on me in a way that made me a very vocal and determined anti-war activist after i came back. >> each day to facilitate the process by which the united states washes her hands of vietnam someone has to give up his life, so that the united states doesn't have to admit something that the entire world already knows, so that we cannot say that we've made a mistake. >> it didn't change my mind but what was very revealing was how mishandled the conflict was and how there was never a strategy for victory. >> someone has to die so that president nixon won't be, and these are his words, the first president to lose a war. >> the most offensive to me was that we didn't tell the american people the truth.
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though it hardly seems possible, it's been more than five years since the nearly 600 american p.o.w.s came home. 280 of them gathered for an anniversary celebration this weekend. >> we've been treated very, very well and we've been a few times embarrassed by the attention we've received because we don't feel that we did anything that any other american wouldn't do under the same circumstances, but as far as adjustments have been, all the studies indicate we've done very well. >> the period of adjustment was not as hard as you might think. i was able to go back to a squadron. i was the commanding officer of a squadron. which is what i wanted to do. >> it was important for him to fly again so he did aggressive
physical therapy to get his body back in shape. then he went to be the liaison for the senate. and i think he got a real bug for politics there. >> i ended up in the united states senate in 1973. john came shortly thereafter as a navy liaison. when you travel abroad, you have a military escort with you, and every time i traveled i tried to make sure i had john and i think john did the same thing, and we traveled all over the world together. >> i went everywhere. that's where i really became familiar with the senate and how it works. i learned one heck of a lot. >> as dad progressed, he was gone a lot. he was doing a lot of international travel and it was putting a little stress on the marriage. >> i talked to one shrink since i've come home. he asked me how my marriage was, and i told him it was fine. and then he told me about the
fact that he was getting a divorce for half an hour. [ laughter ] >> i was a teacher of special education at the time in arizona and it was spring break and we were invited to a reception that was being held for a group of united states senators on their way through hawaii to china. he introduced himself to me and i just didn't know what to expect and what i saw was just this incredible human being that's a lot of fun to be around. >> this is about the time our marriage was falling apart. he was looking for a way to be young again and that was the end of that. i didn't know anything about it. i had no idea what was going on. i was pretty much blindsided and it broke my heart. >> i think it was the last thing that she was expecting. we were all shocked and heartbroken.
it caused quite a rift within the family. >> it left a bad taste in my mouth because i knew it wasn't what my mother wanted but by the same token, you know sometimes things are beyond your control. i think the divorce rates among the p.o.w.s were extraordinary high. so in hindsight, it's probably not unexpected. >> i really didn't think that he would propose. you know, he was older. i knew he cared very deeply for me. i did know that. >> cindy, i think she was very young, too. and you can't help who you fall in love with. i truly believe that my dad is very much in love with cindy and i think she's very much in love with him and i think there is something really beautiful about that. at the time it was really awful. >> i got a telephone call from
the navy. they wanted to know did i know where john was. and i said yes, i did know where he was. he was now remarried. i had the phone number and i called him and he knew by my voice something was wrong. he said what is it? i said, "your father died." >> we hadn't even been married a year. no one ever wants this kind of insight into family but what i observed was a family of great strength, great honor, great dignity, the importance of legacy and tradition was never more apparent to me than that day. >> there's not an exaggeration when we say navy family. there's a lot to the navy family. my grandma father was commander of the carriers in the pacific
during world war ii. the day of the peace signing my father and grandfather were together. my grandfather flew home the next day, had a heart attack and died. my father was a very dedicated naval officer. i never got as close to my father as perhaps i would have under normal circumstances, but i was so proud of what he and my grandfather were doing. >> john had retired from the navy just during that week, and so finished the retirement process during the days of the funeral, and we left the next day to go home. that's a lot to absorb. >> i was unable to maintain flight status.
that puts a ceiling. and i had to make a tough decision and i decided since i was not going to be able to reach all the heights that i wanted to that i would get out of the navy and that we would go to arizona. >> i felt he had some political ambitions, but we hadn't really outwardly said it, but i knew he was good at what he does, he was engaged in washington, he was a smart thinker. >> i think if he had his choice he would have gone on and become an admiral and there would have been that symmetry with his father and grandfather. >> and whether he likes it or not, that would have been something, okay? but that wasn't possible. however, he was going to serve his country in some way. >> i'm announcing today my decision to become a candidate for the republican nomination.
>> he was running for what had been john rhodes' seat and one of the first things i remember was a gentleman at a rotary club said you're frn arizonarnot from arizona. what do you know about arizona? you're not a native arizonan. >> he threw a line on them in the first debate that ended the carpet bagger controversy. he said well, you know, sorry but the longest i've ever lived anywhere in my life is in hanoi. and that was the end of that discussion, frankly. the idea was to get him in front of as many people as you could. so he every day was out knocking on doors, door to door to door to door to door. all summer long. he would just engage and talk with them. now, if someone was rude, john being john, you know, he'd walk and turn around and say thank you very much and turn around and go what an asshole, [ bleep ] that guy.
that happened a hundred times. but that's john. if he would have had the energy of a regular candidate, then he would have lost. but we won, so that was awesome. but our goal from day one was for john to be in the senate, not to be in the house. >> it became known that barry goldwater was going to retire some two years, three years later and so right then i started positioning myself for running for barry's seat in the senate. i didn't make a lot of bones about it. i was always looking the next step down the road. >> when he came to the senate, he was already a well-known commodity. he was already respected. i don't think john missed a beat coming over to the senate. >> when john was first elected and we started having children, it was a conscious decision by both of us to raise our children in arizona.
>> hi, this is john. can i speak to deb? good. jimmy, let me see your phone. where did you get that phone, huh? how are you doing? the kids are getting ready to go for their swimming party today for the last day of school. one of those parties this year. >> we knew there would be a huge sacrifice, mainly for him because he's the one that had to commute. the way i portray it to the kids as kind of a deployed manner. he's serving his country. he's away, he has to be away but you know you'll see him on the weekends. with that said, he never missed a weekend. >> yes, it's the first time i had done that, and i -- i promise you the cat will come out if you leave her alone. >> i know that people think it's an unorthodox way to grow up
having your parents divided but they made such an attempt to make sure we had family time and travel together that it just -- when it's your normal you don't think of anything different. >> okay. see you later. all right, hon. >> when my dad was in d.c., it was mostly my mom. she has a very kind demeanor generally, but when the mom needs to come out, she will. but depending on how much we had misbehaved, it was always the threat of you want me to call your father? he has the ability to outargue or outthink any member of our family, which is very frustrating when you're young. >> this man is a united states senator, and you are about to hear him say something that very few senators have ever said before. >> it was a very serious mistake on my part. >> john mccain is talking about the role he played in charles keating's attempt in 1987 to
secure senatorial protection against the federal government taking over his lincoln savings & loan. >> charles keating was a very big builder. he was probably at that time the biggest in arizona. he also was very patriotic and he took a liking to me and he helped me with my campaigns. >> he was a big arizona player. he would support candidates and get behind candidates and raise a lot of money. then he bought some savings and loans and that's where it all kind of went south on him. >> examiners from the federal home loan bank found what they described as a ticking time bomb. the examiners also uncovered evidence of improper bookkeeping and possible fraud. then the federal examiners were summoned for an extraordinary meeting with five united states senators. each senator had gotten large campaign donations from keating, his family, and their associates. >> in the most explosive testimony yet, edwin gray, the former chief regulator of the
savings and loan industry told banking committee chairman henry gonzalez that four u.s. senators asked him to ease regulatory pressure on troubled lincoln savings & loan. >> john still tells me when he walked in the door of that meeting that had been arranged for this he knew that this was going to be a problem. >> i'm doing everything i can to try and set the record straight. again, admitting that i made mistakes and serious ones. but i did not abuse my office. and i think that's the key to this issue here. >> you told me this was the political crisis of your life. >> absolutely. >> tell me why it is. >> because my reputation is at stake here. i've never had my ethics or my standards of conduct questioned. >> you think you'll survive it? >> i hope so. i never had high ethics or conduct questioned. >> hearings begin this week into what has already been called a major congressional scandal. >> never before have five senators been accused of intervening with federal regulators to help a campaign contributor.
>> this case raises troubling questions about money, power and political influence in washington. >> thank you, mr. chairman. once again i'm glad to have the opportunity to fully and publicly account for my relationship with charles keating. >> the hearings took place day in and day out. and watching my husband being dressed down by people in my opinion that couldn't hold a candle to him killed me. i mean, it broke my heart. >> mr. mccain and his family took several flights on acc corporate aircraft and charted aircraft. two, prompt reimbursement was made for only one flight. >> he's his own worst critic. he tries his hardest to be the best and do the most honorable thing and that was just a -- it
was a mess. >> to me, that statement does not show evidence of intent to reimburse for family members. once again, i have nothing to gain personally -- >> it was not a good time for any of us. i became ill. i was medicating myself. i mean, it was all -- it did a number on both of us. >> let's talk a little bit about -- >> the proper time we take a recess. >> yes. >> john would come over to my office in the keating five and we'd sit and talk. and i'd say john, look, you've just got to -- everybody's going to understand. just tough it out here. tough it out. but it killed john. >> first and foremost, it was a matter of honor. the second thing it challenged was his restlessness and his impatience. it just dragged on. he needed to get to a place where he could put it in his rearview mirror like he put every bad thing. >> the committee concludes senator mccain exercised poor
judgment in intervening with the regulators. senator mccain violated no law of the united states or specific rule of the united states senate. therefore, the committee concludes no further action is warranted with respect to senator mccain on the matters investigated during the inquiry. >> i was found guilty of bad judgment. that will always be a black mark on my record, even if it was only using, quote, bad judgment. it was wrong. >> until we abolish soft money, americans will never have a government that works as hard for them as it does for special interests. that is a sad but undeniable fact of contemporary politics. >> i think campaign finance reform was a result of what happened. he saw a system that was really corrupt and really needed to be
reformed. >> the process must begin. campaign finance reform has contributed to the level of cynicism that is prevalent in the american citizens today. >> he stepped out, he stepped away from most members of his party. he formed a bipartisan coalition with russ feingold and others. and he fought like hell for it. >> i think we're doing the right thing by trying to do this on a bipartisan basis because i think it's the only way that campaign finance reform can occur. >> the basic john mccain public image is the tough guy, the maverick, the fighter, if necessary in your face, maybe occasionally showing temper. but visions of him as the stubborn, immovable mccain don't allow for the reality that he's had a very productive career as a u.s. senator because he's not been stubborn and immovable. >> teddy loved working with john
mccain. he said they can go at it and come back and be friends and i think that was the essence of being able to do a deal. i think that's why they worked so well together. they were all moving towards something that was good for the country and they might have a different way of getting there but if they talked it out and worked it out, they could find that common ground to move things forward. >> around the mid '90s john and i used to sit on the floor together when there's a debate. i would sit next to john at the desk and he'd come over and sit next to me. and some senators said why are you sitting with mccain? i said he's my friend. "well, it doesn't look good." i mean, my god. >> he was always open to doing something people didn't expect him to do like support campaign finance reform. and mccain i think both for noble motives and out of practical experience was always willing to break the mold he was in if it was clearly the right thing to do.
and that's an invaluable commodity. >> campaign finance reform made him very unpopular in the conservative no. . but i really don't think he cared. he was driven by a sense that something dishonorable something dishonorable was going on. he was really a missile that aimed itself at anything dishonorable. and wherever he saw a stain, he was driven to go after it. >> within 60 days all americans held prisoners of war will be released. there will be the fullest possible accounting of all those missing in action. i would like to say a word to the families of our prisoners of war and the missing in action, nothing means more to me at this moment than the fact that your long vigil is coming to an end. >> we're here because almost 19 years after the formal termination of the war in
vietnam, the pow/mia issue still haunts america. this task of this committee, therefore, over the next year, is clear. it is to prove to all concerned that we will leave no stone unturned, no question unasked, no effort unexplored in order to try to resolve this issue. some might ask, what will -- >> john kerry and i were in strong disagreement concerning his activities against the war, but i also respect the fact that john kerry served. >> john, in his spirit of trying to reach out and put history in its proper place became friendly with a lot of people who had opposed the war and we began a conversation, which ultimately led the two of us to the same conclusion, which was the war still raged in too many hearts in our country. we were not at peace with ourselves. and both of us saw a strategic value in trying to move to a different place with respect to the relationship with vietnam.
>> we agreed to work to get a full accounting of those who were missing in action and normalized relations between our two countries. >> there are too many families who, for whatever reasons, are not getting the answers that they deserve to have, not being treated the way that they deserve to be treated. and that has to change. >> john and i understood that whatever strategic interests we might have had in moving to a different relationship with vietnam would never be possible unless those questions were put to rest. >> tonight, the u.s. government has new information from vietnam that could help determine what became of many of these americans. >> the promise to come clean was made over the weekend in hanoi to retire vessy and mccain. they returned from hanoi last night carrying an inventory of documents and photos hidden away
in the vietnamese archives. >> they provided us with a lot of photographs, kind enough to give me several that i had not seen before, which i'd like to show you i'm much better looking in those days than i am today. and i want to stress what general vessy said, just again, this is a beginning, a beginning. >> there was this theory that the vietnamese were holding thousands of americans still prisoner, which mccain intellectually understood, informed by experience, was highly implausible. >> may i say, mr. chairman, that mrs. alphon's remarks in her written statement are far stronger than she just alleged. quote, the recent photograph fiasco is yet another example of committee duplicity. tell that to some of the families who finally have had this nightmare ended. >> i've been speaking to them,
sir. >> no, i've been talking to them, and they are grateful, and they are happy. and this is a -- this is in the view of most experts a significant breakthrough. now, when you call it -- >> what we did was put together the single most exhaustive, most transparent accounting for missing in war ever performed by any country in the world. >> is there any evidence that there are anymore alive missing? >> there's still no evidence that they've proven there's americans alive, they're getting down to not a whole lot of cases that are still unresolved. we continue to get cooperation from the vietnamese. senator kerry and i are going to meet with the president next week and we'll give him a report and he'll have to make up his mind from there. >> senator, come over and talk to us. >> in the last meeting about the normalization of relations with vietnam, they still hadn't
convinced clinton to do it. kerry made the informed, logical, compelling case for it, and then clinton turned to mccain, and i'll always remember it. he said, mr. president, i'm tired of looking back at vietnam, and i'm tired of my country looking back. it's time to move forward. and if you normalize relations, i will defend you every step of the way. >> today i am announcing the normalization of diplomatic relationships with vietnam. i realize, because i hadn't served in the military, and because i had openly opposed the vietnam war, i had to have the support of american veterans. if mccain hadn't been there and been willing to step up, i don't think any of it would have happened. >> let this moment in the words of scripture be a time to heal and a time to build. thank you all.
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my dad called me and told me i'm going to run for president, i wanted to give you the heads up, and i was like, great, and inside i'm like oh, no. it's -- i was very happy for him. and i think you could kind of see it coming that that was going to be his calling. >> america doesn't owe me anything. i am the son and grandsons of navy admirals, and i was born into america's service. it wasn't until i was deprived of her company that i fell in love with america, and it has