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Did McCain lie about Vietnam story?

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By Ben Cohen

I got over my blogging blues when I read this on Andrew Sullivan's blog:

I've now heard it countless times. McCain has used what appears to
be an intensely personal moment in a prison camp as a reason to vote
for him in a campaign ad. As he tells it today, it was the pivotal
moment in his struggle to survive in the Hanoi Hilton. And yet, in his
first thorough account of his time in captivity, in 1973, the story is absent. The story is also hauntingly like that recounted by Solzhenitsen, as told in Luke Veronis, "The Sign of the Cross":

Leaving his shovel on the ground, he slowly walked to a crude bench
and sat down. He knew that at any moment a guard would order him to
stand up, and when he failed to respond, the guard would beat him to
death, probably with his own shovel. He had seen it happen to other

As he waited, head down, he felt a presence. Slowly he looked
up and saw a skinny old prisoner squat down beside him. The man said
nothing. Instead, he used a stick to trace in the dirt the sign of the
Cross. The man then got back up and returned to his work.

As Solzhenitsyn stared at the Cross drawn in the dirt his entire perspective changed.

I have one simple question: when was the first time that McCain told this story?

If this is true, it could spell disaster for McCain's campaign. What an unnecessary lie to tell.