WARNER, JAMES HOWIE
|Name: James Howie Warner
Rank/Branch: O2/United States Marine Corps/Back-seater
Unit: VMFA 323
Date of Birth: 26 February 1941
Home City of Record: Ypisalanti MI
Date of Loss: 13 October 67
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 170300 North 1070400 East
Status (in 1973): Returnee
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F4B, tail #150477
Other Personnel in Incident: Edison Miller, returnee, pilot
Source: Compiled by P.O.W. NETWORK from one or more of the following: raw
data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA
families, published sources, interviews, personal note from James Warner.
REMARKS: 730304 RELEASED BY DRV
The Honorable James Warner and his wife Judy reside in Maryland. They have 3
children and 2 grandchildren. He enjoys gardening, hunting and shooting. He
has served as a former Senior White House Domestic Policy Advisor.
For 5 months 'I stayed in the box'
By James H. Warner
June 29, 2005
As a Marine Corps officer, I spent five years and five months in a prisoner
of war camp in North Vietnam. I believe this gives me a benchmark against
which to measure the treatment which Sen. Richard Durbin, Illinois Democrat,
complained of at the Camp of Detention for Islamo-fascists at Guantanamo
The senator's argument is silly. If he believes what he has said his
judgment is so poor that his countrymen, assuming, of course, that he
considers us his countrymen, have no reason not to dismiss him as a witless
boob. On the other hand, if he does not believe what he said, the other
members of the Senate may wish to consider censure.
Consider nutrition. I have severe peripheral neuropathy in both legs as a
residual of beriberi. I am fortunate. Some of my comrades suffer partial
blindness or ischemic heart disease as a result of beriberi, a degenerate
disease of peripheral nerves caused by a lack of thiamin, vitamin B-1. It is
easily treated but is extremely painful.
Did Mr. Durbin say that some of the Islamo-fascist prisoners are suffering
from beriberi? Actually, the diet enjoyed by the prisoners seems to be
healthy. I saw the menu that Rep. Duncan Hunter presented a few days ago. It
looks as though the food given the detainees at Guantanamo is wholesome,
nutritious and appealing. I would be curious to hear Mr. Durbin explain how
orange glazed chicken and rice pilaf can be compared to moldy bread laced
with rat droppings.
In May 1969, I was taken out for interrogation on suspicion of planning an
escape. I was forced to remain awake for long periods of time -- three weeks
on one occasion.
On the first of June, I was put in a cement box with a steel door, which sat
out in the tropical summer sun. There, I was put in leg irons which were
then wired to a small stool. In this position I could neither sit nor stand
comfortably. Within 10 days, every muscle in my body was in pain (here began
a shoulder injury which is now inoperable). The heat was almost beyond
bearing. My feet had swollen, literally, to the size of footballs. I cannot
describe the pain. When they took the leg irons off, they had to actually
dig them out of the swollen flesh. It was five days before I could walk,
because the weight of the leg irons on my Achilles tendons had paralyzed
them and hamstrung me. I stayed in the box from June 1 until Nov. 10, 1969.
While in the box, I lost at least 30 pounds. I would be curious to hear Mr.
Durbin explain how this compares with having a female invade my private
space, and whether a box in which the heat nearly killed me is the same as
turning up the air conditioning.
The detainees at Guantanamo receive new Korans and prayer rugs, and the
guards are instructed not to disturb the inmates' prayers. Compare this with
my experience in February 1971, when I watched as armed men dragged from our
cell, successively, four of my cell mates after having led us in the Lord's
Prayer. Their prayers were in defiance of a January 1971 regulation in which
the Communists forbade any religious observances in our cells. Does Mr.
Durbin somehow argue that our behavior is the equivalent of the behavior of
Actually, I was one of the lucky ones. At another camp, during the time I
was being interrogated in the summer of 1969, one man was tortured to death
and several were severely beaten. In fact, according to Headquarters Marine
Corps, 20 percent of my fellow Marines failed to survive captivity. Have 20
percent of the Islamo-fascists failed to survive Guantanamo?
The argument that detainees at Guantanamo are being treated badly is
specious and silly. In the eyes of normal Americans, Democrats believe this
argument because, as Jeanne Kirkpatrick said 20 years ago, they "always
blame America first." This contributes to the increasing suspicion, in red
states, a problem that Democrats are aware of and are trying to counter,
that Democrats cannot be trusted with our national security. Only the
Democrats can change this perception, most recently articulated by White
House adviser Karl Rove. The ball is in their court and I am certain there
are steps that they can take to change this perception, but making silly
arguments about imaginary bad treatment of enemy detainees is not a move in
the right direction.
James H. Warner is corporate counsel practicing intellectual property
law in Northern Virginia. He served as domestic policy adviser during
the second Reagan administration.
Tony Blankey's column will appear tomorrow.
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