Very intereting column today from Gordon Dillow of the Orange County Register, the local newspaper. Dillow, also a Vietnam veteran and formerly an embedded journalist when we first went into Iraq, writes about Edison Miller.
Miller was a POW in Vietnam, a Marine Corps lieutenant colonel whose plane was shot down. He claims now that John McCain "lied" about Miller. Earlier this summer, another Register reporter wrote a story about Miller.
"He lied about me," said the Irvine resident, who retired as a Marine Corps colonel shortly after the war. "The attacks on my character and integrity are totally without merit or justification. I did stand up and say the war was wrong. I would speak against the war, but I never spoke against my country. And I gave up no secrets."
In McCain's book, "Faith of My Fathers," the Republican presidential candidate writes about two "camp rats" who "had lost their faith completely.""They not only stopped resisting but apparently crossed a line no other prisoner I knew had even approached," McCain wrote. "They were collaborators, actively aiding the enemy."While McCain did not name the two in the book, Miller and Walter Eugene Wilber are identified as the POWs in question in a June 15 New York Times story on McCain's 1974 essay about POW traitors. Miller said the newspaper story brought McCain's claims to his attention.
But Miller does not deny making anti-American statements while prisoner, as in today's column it states, "[Miller] went on to say that although he did speak out against the Vietnam War while he was a prisoner, he never betrayed his country or his fellow POWs." As Dillow points out:
But there's something different about Miller's case. Although he was honorably discharged after his release in 1973, he was also officially censured, the censure letter stating that he had "placed (his) personal comfort and welfare above that of (his) fellow prisoners of war," and that his conduct was "severely detrimental" to POW welfare and morale. (Miller disputes that.) Also, when he ran unsuccessfully for election as county supervisor in 1980, more than 200 former Vietnam POWs denounced Miller as a willing collaborator, or worse.
Amazingly, Miller had this to say about his prison time in North Vietnam:
As for North Vietnamese prisons, he almost makes them sound like La Costa Resort and Spa. Despite the well-documented abuses of American POWs by the North Vietnamese, Miller says his prison was "a Boy Scout camp," complete with ping-pong tables, books, even POWs strumming guitars. He says the guards were "fairly humane."
"There was very little torture," he says. "They probably beat up more people in the Orange County jail at that time than they did in Hanoi."
I take from this article that Miller's hubris is enjoying a very brief moment in the sun because of McCain's relevance in the news now.