John McCain’s Link To Death Squads and Neo-Nazis

This year the issues rather than the freak show are more likely to decide the election, but this hasn’t stopped John McCain from trying typical Republican smear tactics against Obama. The problem for McCain is that there is little substance to either the Ayers or Rezko stories, while there are past associations of McCain and Palin which are more meaningful. While Obama has avoided going this route, coverage of the extremist associations of McCain and Palin do help to minimize any harm from McCain’s smears. At very least voters will hear about such associations on both sides and decide they balance out, leaving them free to concentrate on the issues which help Obama. The rare voters who bother to look at the details will see that McCain and Palin have far more in their past to explain than Obama.

Yesterday the Keating 5 scandal was raised, and other stories have noted Sarah Palin’s association to the Alaska Independence Party. Today AP has reported on another embarrassing association for McCain:

GOP presidential nominee John McCain has past connections to a private group that supplied aid to guerrillas seeking to overthrow the leftist government of Nicaragua in the Iran-Contra affair.

McCain’s ties are facing renewed scrutiny after his campaign criticized Barack Obama for his link to a former radical who engaged in violent acts 40 years ago.

The U.S. Council for World Freedom was part of an international organization linked to former Nazi collaborators and ultra-right-wing death squads in Central America. The group was dedicated to stamping out communism around the globe.

The council’s founder, retired Army Maj. Gen. John Singlaub, said McCain became associated with the organization in the early 1980s as McCain was launching his political career in Arizona. Singlaub said McCain was a supporter but not an active member in the group.

Sam Stein makes an argument for why this matters, providing some of the more unsavory aspects of this group’s history:

The USCWF was founded in Phoenix, Arizona in November 1981 as an offshoot of the World Anti-Communist League. The group was, from the onset, saddled with the disreputable reputation of its parent group. The WACL had ties to ultra-right figures and Latin American death squads. Roger Pearson, the chairman of the WACL, was expelled from the group in 1980 under allegations that he was a member of a neo-Nazi organization.

I doubt most voters will care to look at past history, but this is a far more significant association than Obama’s association with a 60’s radical who was no longer involved in radical activities when Obama knew him as a university professor.

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