|"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
|"The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
On June 20, 1996, Senator John McCain allegedly assaulted a family member of a Vietnam War prisoner of war (POW) who was missing in action (MIA), as a group of about 15 family members of POW/MIAs watched in astonishment. Within about one month, five ethics complaints had been filed with the Senate Ethics Committee by five eyewitnesses. But the Senate Ethics Committee refused to investigate the matter.
According to eyewitness Carol Hrdlicka, wife of Vietnam War POW/MIA air force pilot Col. David Hrdlicka, the group had been waiting in the hall of the Russell Office Building in Washington, D.C. for McCain to come out of an office in order to hand deliver letters asking him to forego an amendment to the Missing Service Personnel Act (MSPA) of 2005. The MSPA had been signed into law in February 1996 as part of the Defense Authorization Act of 1996 (P.L. 104-106). This law, which updated a 1942 law, had been a major victory for the families of POW/MIAs who worked tirelessly to get it through Congress.
The MSPA required the Pentagon to beef up its resources to find and rescue missing service personnel in a timely manner. For instance, it required the filing of reports on missing persons within 48 hours. Among other substantive provisions, it also criminalized withholding information from the families of POWs by broadly stipulating that "any person who knowingly and willfully withholds from the personnel file of a missing person any information relating to the disappearance or whereabouts and status of a missing person shall be fined as provided in title 18 or imprisoned not more than one year, or both." McCain's amendment eviscerated these new changes. For instance, it increased the reporting time to 10 days, and it deleted entirely the stated provision penalizing the withholding of information.
These family members of POW/MIAs had come to speak with McCain to try to convince him to leave the law alone. Mrs. Hrdlicka gives the following description of what happened:
When he [McCain] realized who we were, his face turned red and he became enraged. He would not accept the letters we had brought, he burst through our group assaulting the niece of Jane Duke Gaylor, mother of a MIA. I followed Senator McCain down the hall asking that he leave the legislation alone and all the while he is denying that he knew anything about the Missing Personnel Act. ...As we reached the elevator he said to me that I didn't know what he had been through ... I then stated I understood what he had been through and David Hrdlicka was still going through it. I had the capture picture of my husband and tried to show the picture to him but he would not look at it. ...The elevator arrived and Senator McCain quickly jumped in -- that ended our conversation. After this incident we went to the Capitol Police and filed a report. We also sent complaints to the ethics committee on the Senator's behavior.
"He went from a smiling, congenial, happy face to a beet red, totally enraged face in an instant," she said. "I have never seen a senator act in this way. We were all dumbfounded how this happened. He threw his arm up, and she goes flying and Jane [who was in a wheelchair] gets pushed aside as he brushes by her. All I see is people flying and I'm behind him [McCain]... This was assault."