Rep. Sam Johnson, ex-POW, rips Obama for linking Ho Chi Minh with Jefferson
By: Todd J. Gillman, Dallas Morning News
Air Force Col. Sam Johnson, newly freed POW, at homecoming in Plano. (DMN file photo)
Texas congressman Sam Johnson, who spent seven years in the Hanoi Hilton, isn’t at all happy that President Obama linked North Vietnam’s revolutionary founding father with Thomas Jefferson and the other American founders.
The former POW called it outrageous to suggest that a “ruthless dictator, Ho Chi Minh, was inspired by the U.S. Declaration of Independence and Constitution.”
Obama met Thursday with the president of communist Vietnam, Truong Tan Sang, who gave him a letter Ho Chi Minh sent in 1946 to President Harry Truman, seeking U.S. aid. In a brief session with reporters, Obama said he discussed trade and military cooperation with his counterpart. And they had a “candid conversation” about human rights, including “the progress Vietnam is making and the challenges that remain.”
Sang shared a copy of the letter to Truman, Obama told reporters, and “we discussed the fact that Ho Chi Minh was actually inspired by the U.S. Declaration of Independence and Constitution, and the words of Thomas Jefferson. Ho Chi Minh talks about his interest in cooperation with the United States. And President Sang indicated that even if it’s 67 years later, it’s good that we’re still making progress.”
This didn’t sit well with Johnson, 82 — a 12-term Plano Republican and highly decorated Air Force pilot whose plane was shot down over North Vietnam in 1966.
“Sadly, when it comes to individual liberty, the President doesn’t have a clue,” he said in a statement issued by his office Friday afternoon. “What an insult to the POWs brutally tortured at the merciless hands — and rifle butts — of our captors. This is a slap in the face to those who served — and especially those who paid the ultimate price for freedom during that dark time in history. Let me tell you, there was nothing ‘free’ about my seven years in captivity in Hanoi — more than half of that time in solitary confinement. As a fellow POW etched on a prison cell wall, ‘Freedom has a taste to those who fight and almost die that the protected will never know.’ ”