(CNN) – A recent report
from the Department of Homeland Security is downright "insulting" to veterans, Arizona Sen. John McCain said Monday.
In an interview on FOX News, the Vietnam veteran and former Republican presidential candidate said the Obama administration owes veterans an apology after releasing a report last week suggesting that members of the military returning from Iraq and Afghanistan could fall victim to "right-wing extremism."
Specifically, the report — "Right-wing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment" — said right-wing extremist groups may be using the recession and the election of the nation's first African-American president to recruit members.
"The last people on earth we need to worry about are our veterans," McCain said. "And by the way, after the Vietnam War, for years there was this portrayal of the Vietnam veteran as crazed and committing — having committed war crimes. There were all of these problems they were going to have. Studies years later have proven that it's totally false."
Related: Napolitano defends report
McCain also took issue with the report's suggestion that Timothy McVeigh's military background made him more susceptible to committing terrorist acts.
"Timothy McVeigh didn't learn to make that huge bomb while he was in the military," McCain said. "He learned it afterwards. So to point out one veteran who committed an act of atrocity I think is outrageous. And as a veteran and having thousands and thousands of friends of mine who are fellow veterans, I think a real apology is owed throughout the administration.
Appearing on CNN's "State of The Union" on Sunday, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said the report is not meant to paint veterans themselves as "right-wing extremists."
"The report is not saying veterans are extremists, far from it," she told CNN's John King. "What it is saying is returning veterans are targets of right-wing extremist groups that are trying to recruit those to commit violent acts within the country. We want to do all we can to prevent that."
The homeland security secretary also expressed regret that in "the politicization of everything that happens in Washington, D.C.," some have taken offense to the report.
"But when you read the report, what it was saying is that, look, we have a threat of terrorism within our own shores and one of the groups being targeted to see if they will be aligned with that are some of our veterans," she said.
McCain demands White House apology