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Sam Stein:

Why McCain's Time With Council Of World Freedom Matters: [D]uring the 1980s, Sen. John McCain served on the board of a far-right conservative organization that had supplied arms and funds to paramilitary organizations in Latin America.... "John McCain sat on the board of...the U.S. Council for World Freedom," said Begala, "The Anti-Defamation League, in 1981 when McCain was on the board, said this about this organization. It was affiliated with the World Anti-Communist League - the parent organization - which ADL said 'has increasingly become a gathering place, a forum, a point of contact for extremists, racists and anti-Semites.'"...

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....

[D]uring the 1980s it became a vehicle for the Reagan administration to prop up some of the more totalitarian, anti-communist efforts in Central America.... The McCain campaign, in a statement to Politico, defended the efforts of the council. Brian Rogers, a spokesman, said that the Senator "disassociated himself" from the group "when questions were raised about its activities, but that in no way diminishes his leadership role in ensuring that the forces of democracy and freedom prevailed in Central America." But Singlaub "does not recall any McCain resignation in 1984 or May 1986," the Associated Press reported early Tuesday, "nor does Joyce Downey, who oversaw the group's day-to-day activities."...

In January 1987, Sen. Patrick Leahy criticized Singlaub and, by extension, the Reagan administration, for directly circumventing the will of Congress, which had cut off funds to paramilitary organizations like the contras. "The open courting of General Singlaub and his groups," said Leahy, "I've never seen anything like it. The active fund-raising among wealthy people to back these programs - I think it's unprecedented... There seems to be more and more of a feeling that, 'Gee, we really want to do something to help the contras, but don't tell me what you're doing because I'm not supposed to know.'"...

McCain's association with a group that reportedly circumvented law, financed right-wing military institutions, and engaged in sometimes brutal anti-communist tactics... provides a window of sorts into the foreign policy vision that he held back in the 1980s and one that he still seemingly holds today...

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