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ZIEGLER: Welcome to RighTalk. This is The Inquisition with Scott Swett and Tim Ziegler. I'm Tim Ziegler.

This afternoon we have the distinct pleasure of having Mary Jane McManus on air, and I want to introduce you to Mary Jane by playing a clip from one of the most effective political advertisements that ever was run in America. This is Mary Jane's voice:

AUDIO: Three months after we were married my husband was shot down over Hanoi.

Paul and I were married in 1963. Two years later he was shot down over North Vietnam.

All of the prisoners of war in North Vietnam were tortured in order to obtain confessions of atrocities.

On the other hand, John Kerry came home and accused all Vietnam veterans of unspeakable horrors.

John Kerry gave aid and comfort to the enemy by advocating their negotiating points to our government.

Why is it relevant? Because John Kerry is asking us to trust him. I will never forget John Kerry's testimony. If we couldn't trust John Kerry then, how could we possibly trust him now?

Swift Vets and POWs for Truth are responsible for the content of this advertisement.

ZIEGLER: Mary Jane McManus joins The Inquisition. Mary Jane, thank you for your time today.

McMANUS: Oh, you're most welcome.

ZIEGLER: It was a real pleasure to hear your ad and hear the work you've done behind it. It is an incredibly poignant portrayal of your husband in danger and the testimony of a fellow officer being used against him by his captors.

McMANUS: Absolutely. We were astounded then, but God knows, much more astounded that that man could conceive of running for the presidency of the United States, and I think that hit many veterans, and of course, it certainly hit many wives of POWs and probably the wives of active combat veterans as well.

SWETT: This is Scott, Mary Jane. How old were you when Kevin was shot down? That would have been in 1967.

McMANUS: It was. He left in October of '66 for Vietnam. We were going to get married when he returned in June of '67, but we changed our minds about midstream. He called me from Hawaii, and I flew from New York to Hawaii to marry him in March. We spent about three days there, and then I flew back to New York. He flew back to Vietnam, to Danang, and he was shot down on June 14th, about two weeks before he was due to come home.

SWETT: Where were you stationed at that time?

McMANUS: I wasn't stationed anyplace. Remember, I was a new bride. I went back to mother and father.

SWETT: So you weren't living on an air base at all.

McMANUS: No, was not. I didn't learn about the active military until the families joined together in 1970 to form the National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia.

SWETT: You were a founding member of that organization; is that correct?

McMANUS: Yes. It wasn't so much being a founding member. I think we all consider ourselves that, and rightly.

SWETT: Uh-huh.

McMANUS: But I ran the office in Washington for about a year and a half. It was a non-profit charitable organization, and at that point and sometime in 1972 it became very clear that remaining non-political was not going to help the situation. So -

SWETT: When you say "remaining non-political," do you mean that most of the families of POWs had been very careful not to -

McMANUS: Yes.

SWETT: - express opinions on the war for the obvious reasons -

McMANUS: Exactly.

SWETT: - that to do so might endanger their loved ones who were -

McMANUS: Well, that was, yes, absolutely, prior to 1970. We were advised, rightly, not to give interviews, not even to discuss, you know, the matter that our relatives were prisoners of war because any information could have been used in their interrogations. It could have been used to hurt them.

It was not until we were sure they were being tortured that we banded together, with the Department of Defense's permission - I shouldn't even call it permission, but their - at least they agreed that, yes, now was the time, because torture was just something that had not been thrown in to the mix. I mean, we had no idea that that was going on until it came out forcefully in, say, late '68.

SWETT: One of the things that John Kerry was involved with during his anti-war activities that wasn't very widely publicized was that he was involved in an effort to make use of POW families -

McMANUS: Yes.

SWETT: - essentially as political props to denounce the war. Were you aware of that at the time?

McMANUS: We were, indeed. There were - as a matter of fact, I just spoke to a group about a very, very small group, Families Against the War, which was part of six or seven other groups that were all part of the same group, led by Cora Weiss, who was the daughter of a communist, and led Women Strike for Peace and about four other organizations, all with the same phone numbers, and the same P. O. box number, all working against any kind of American policy in Vietnam.

It wasn't simply a POW effort or try to do anything for the POWs. They insisted right throughout their short lives, or the organizations' short lives, that the POWs were not being tortured. I mean, you hear that from Jane Fonda. You read it in her book. Of course they were tortured. That's not even a matter of argument.

I think she admitted at some point that yes, they may have been, but only until 1969. So I think they're coming around. It's taking a long time. But they did use the families to prop up exactly the same notion that John Kerry had, which was to follow the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese negotiating points verbatim.

SWETT: Yes.

McMANUS: And if we did that, we would someday get our prisoners back.

ZIEGLER: It was a unilateral discussion that Kerry and Fonda led that -

McMANUS: Yes.

ZIEGLER: - by following Madame Binh's talking points -

McMANUS: Exactly.

ZIEGLER: And that meant that the United States would run and get on the nearest aircraft, fly back to the United States, and whatever else happened, happened.

McMANUS: That's right, and then hope that you got the prisoners back, and probably not until you had paid war reparations far in excess of anything that anybody had ever asked for before.

This was a communist government, after all. I mean, people forget that. This was not a war for independence in Vietnam. It was the communists versus non-communists, and we know the results in other foreign - in other communist countries.

SWETT: The communist point of view on America's involvement in Vietnam has really permeated the American view of Vietnam in many ways due to the leftist disinformation campaign that was very successful, became part of the culture through how Hollywood portrayed the war and -

McMANUS: Absolutely.

SWETT: - many other avenues, historians and so forth.

McMANUS: Yes.

SWETT: Full disclosure: I'm working along with you in a new effort that is targeted at correcting that record and extending what the Swift Vets and POWs for Truth did last year in the area of trying to document and provide factual evidence behind what really happened in Vietnam, and that's the Vietnam Legacy Foundation.

McMANUS: Vietnam Veterans Legacy Foundation, correct.

SWETT: At VietnamLegacy.org.

McMANUS: Correct.

SWETT: And so perhaps you could talk a little bit about what led you and other various POWs involved in that effort to start the organization.

McMANUS: Well, there are several factors, some of them will be relayed in greater detail very soon, but of course, the main one was that it did not appear that Senator Kerry was going to stand down. He certainly is giving the impression of waging a battle for the nomination four years from now. We can't take that chance.

We have also, I think, noticed that there are enough Vietnam veterans who really do believe that it's about time we corrected the misconceptions and the myths about Vietnam. I think we will get a wide hearing on this.

And speaking of hearings, we may even be able to introduce new testimony on Vietnam. Some of that may come about on the web site itself, which we urge people to go to as often as they can. There will be new information as we get it and there will be big new information fairly shortly.

ZIEGLER: The VVLF.org web site is essentially a repository of information about the Vietnam war, Vietnam veterans, prisoners of war, that have been overlooked by the mainstream media and the popular culture.

McMANUS: Exactly. And by the way, our chairman is the most decorated living veteran of any war, Bud Day.

SWETT: That's Colonel Bud Day.

McMANUS: Colonel George E. Bud Day, and he is giving everything to this, as we all hope to be, because it's vitally important.

I mean, we are now in another war, and unless we do something about it - and I don't just mean the members of VVLF; I mean concerned Americans - we can have the same - we can be subject to the same mistakes in policies because of the media, because of politicians whose interest groups refuse to allow them to see the truth. We need to get this straightened out.

SWETT: We do have some tools at our disposal - and of course, this is a subject very near and dear to my own heart - that were not available 30, 35 years ago.

McMANUS: Exactly.

SWETT: We have the Internet. We have, perhaps almost as important, the e-mail network among Vietnam veterans.

McMANUS: Yes.

SWETT: We have the ability to receive real-time information from Iraq and from Afghanistan -

McMANUS: Yes.

SWETT: - that counters the picture that you see on the nightly news, and of course, the nightly news itself has lost a considerable amount of influence.

McMANUS: As it should have. As well it should have.

ZIEGLER: Mary Jane, why is it that the - in the VVLF it looks to me as an outsider that it is started and driven by - for Vietnam prisoners of war? Why did the Swift Vets stand down and the prisoners of war say, "No, this is worth fighting for and why we're going to continue to work on this" and prevent another Kerry candidacy?

McMANUS: I don't know that all the Swift Vets will remain in that state. We do know that the POWs who came in on what I consider very much more the important part of the message need to continue. I think they are believed whereas - I don't know. The Swift Vets started out with a very hard proposition, which I believe most Americans, at least who voted for Bush, believed completely, as I do, but that is far harder to prove than the second part of the proposition, which was Kerry's testimony.

ZIEGLER: Right, his Senate testimony.

McMANUS: Absolutely. That's not - I mean, that's right there. That's open

ZIEGLER: Where he read into the record the Vietnam talking points -

McMANUS: Uh-huh, exactly, and the fact that 200,000 murders were being committed every year by the United States.

ZIEGLER: Which was totally false.

McMANUS: I beg your pardon.

ZIEGLER: Which was totally false.

McMANUS: Oh, completely false. As a matter of fact, you go through that testimony and you wonder, these were senators to whom he was giving this testimony. Where were the questions that challenged this information? Did they believe that because he had two Silver Stars at the time -

SWETT: One.

McMANUS: - that he was able to - to - well, I can't even talk about it.

SWETT: Well, one bit of background on that is the reason that they allowed him to speak unimpeded and without any harsh questioning was because he was there essentially at their invitation.

McMANUS: Absolutely.

SWETT: The Democratic party of that time financed the entire week-long Dewey Canyon III demonstration through the Democratic fund-raisers.

McMANUS: Yes.

SWETT: They were delighted to have a decorated veteran sit up there and speak against the war and denounce -

McMANUS: Uh-huh.

SWETT: - it in the strongest terms because then they didn't have to.

McMANUS: That's right. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee had their own stooge right there.

SWETT: The Fulbright Committee. Of course, Fulbright had been opposed to the war -

McMANUS: Exactly.

SWETT: - for some time.

McMANUS: And it wasn't - I don't want to give the - I mean, I fully blame the Democrats for that, but there were Republicans that were equally at fault allowing him to speak and allowing things to go unchallenged on that committee.

SWETT: That's true. He did get one minor challenge on the point where he suggested that only two to three thousand -

McMANUS: Oh, yes.

SWETT: - victims might occur after we unilaterally -

McMANUS: That's right.

SWETT: - withdrew from Vietnam. One of the senators - I think it was Senator Case - pointed out that after the communists took over North Vietnam, the casualties were orders of magnitude higher than that.

McMANUS: Oh, that's right. I'm thinking something like 60 to one?

SWETT: Thereabouts.

McMANUS: Uh-huh.

SWETT: And to me, that's one of the great indictments of the supposedly anti-war left was that when we left and the communists did commit genocide in Southeast Asia, they never said a word.

McMANUS: Exactly. And they still say nothing about it. That just - you get silence when the subject is brought up.

ZIEGLER: Well, you're certainly not being silent now, and it looks to me like the VVLF.org is a web site worth person's review. I think high school and -

McMANUS: Oh, yes.

ZIEGLER: - college instructors should be using the site as a counter to the tons and tons of information that's out there -

McMANUS: Oh, absolutely. Please go to that site. There are wonderful links: Winter Soldier and Viet Myths. I mean, they are fantastic. And these are things that are documented. It's not like something out of "The New Soldier," where the documentation is scarce if it exists at all, and some even false. This you can check on.

Tet, for instance. The biggest lie of the Vietnam war, outside the atrocities, that we lost Tet or that we lost the Easter uprising in '72.

They are outright lies permeating the media to this day. Where Giap and Bui Tin of the North Vietnamese told the world they had lost. Out of 77,000 odd men Giap took into battle in Tet, he lost 55,000.

SWETT: But that's not what Walter Cronkite said on the nightly news.

McMANUS: Of course it's not.

SWETT: And so the perception of the American people is what Cronkite said which was that the war was a stalemate that could only be settled by negotiation.

McMANUS: We probably could have won before that year was out if it had not been for the likes of Walter Cronkite and the Foreign Relations Committee. Well, Nixon might have had a clear path at that point, and he didn't.

SWETT: We spoke with Colonel Cordier on - actually, I was a guest with Colonel Cordier on a show a couple of days ago here, and we were talking about the "Myths of the Vietnam War" booklet that we've been looking at and are going to publicize.

McMANUS: Oh, yes.

SWETT: And it makes precisely that point, that one of the key myths was that the Tet '68 was a loss for the United States.

McMANUS: Uh-huh.

SWETT: And it goes on and discusses several other classic myths, such as that the war was fought by victims of U.S. society -

McMANUS: Yes.

SWETT: - such as minorities and so forth, which is actually not the case.

McMANUS: And that it was a war for independence.

ZIEGLER: My pastor was a -

SWETT: Civil war.

ZIEGLER: - infantry man in the Marine Corps at Khe Sanh during the siege, and one of the biggest mistakes General Giap made was that by placing those marines in siege, he allowed the focus of U.S. firepower on his troops, and they were absolutely devastated.

McMANUS: They were.

ZIEGLER: And my pastor reflects about how the Marines were sitting in their foxholes watching the B-52 strikes come in danger close, and just annihilating NVA divisions.

McMANUS: Oh, yes.

ZIEGLER: And a huge loss for the North Vietnamese army and -

McMANUS: And nearly wiped out the Vietcong.

ZIEGLER: And the media reported it as the siege of Khe Sanh rather than the victory that U.S. forces -

McMANUS: I know it, and this stands in our history books.

SWETT: And yet reported as a North Vietnamese victory.

ZIEGLER: Absolutely.

McMANUS: Yes.

ZIEGLER: Well Mary Jane, it's been a pleasure having you on the air today. Thank you.

We're going to interview Paul Driessen when we get back from this break on the topic "Eco-Imperialism - Green Power Black Death."

Mary Jane's web site can be found at VVLF.org, and the Vietnam Veterans Legacy Foundation.

Mary, thank you for your time.

McMANUS: Thank you very much. Bye-bye now.

[End of transcript]

Last Updated Monday, November 05 2007 @ 09:02 AM MST|4,989 Hits