The Intercept, last week, published what they consider journalism–an article claiming that Navy SEAL Chris Kyle had lied about his medals in his book, American Sniper.
American Sniper claims that Kyle left the Navy with 2 Silver Stars and 5 Bronze Stars.
This number didn’t jive with the Navy’s response to a recent Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. The Navy listed Kyle’s medal count at 1 Silver Star and 3 Bronze Stars, which is 1 Silver Star and 2 Bronze Stars short of Kyle’s count.
Why the discrepancy? Could it be that the fabled Kyle–the legendary sniper that so many idolize is a fraud? Is he guilty of stolen valor? That, it seems, is what the intercept would have us believe.
No. There’s more to the story. The FOIA noted some information had been redacted, though they didn’t say why. The Navy also noted that the number on Kyle’s official service record (his DD-214) was higher.
You might think that the official number would be more important to those looking for an accurate account of Kyle’s heroism, but that doesn’t really make headlines. That’s not news.
So many have come to the defense of Kyle, including former Texas Governor Rick Perry. Perry wrote a scathing retort for Fox News.
“Veterans speak a language peppered with acronyms like DD-214, jargon like ‘watch your six’ and recollections of shared hardship that can leave others scratching their heads. That gap of understanding between the protected and their protectors is typically bridged by mutual respect, but can also be a gutter in which liars and character assassins slither.”
“As any veteran will tell you, a DD-214 is THE definitive record of a person’s time in the military, used to prove the authenticity, duration and character of said service. The official name for the form is Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty and veterans learn early on to keep a copy handy. In separation briefings, service members are carefully coached to review it thoroughly because, once it’s filed, it’s filed.”
Yet he didn’t stop at the actual rebuttal of the Intercept’s claims. He looks to Chris Kyle’s DD-214 for a correction of the record:
“The writer’s assertion is that Kyle laid claim to more medals than the military had awarded him for his valor in combat. At issue was a disparity between Kyle’s account in his book, ‘American Sniper,’ records obtained from a seemingly indifferent Navy through a Freedom of Information Act request and Kyle’s official DD-214. The first mentioned two Silver Stars and five Bronze Stars, the Navy recalled one Silver Star and 3 Bronze Stars and the DD-214 credited him with TWO Silver Stars and SIX Bronze Stars. If there is any inaccuracy in Kyle’s account it’s that he didn’t take ENOUGH credit for his awards.”
The intercept cited Navy officials and “current and former” SEALs who claim Kyle lied about his record, yet not one was willing to go one record with their claims.
As a result, Perry asks for justice.
“I am calling on people of conscience to join me in calling for the retraction and deletion of the offending article and reprimand of the Navy personnel who have fed this misperception with their lackadaisical handling of the original information request. Both also owe an apology to Taya, Chris Kyle’s loving widow, and to service members, past and present, for disparaging one of their own.”
Seems reasonable to me. I can’t really understand the motivation behind the attack in the first place.
“Freedom of speech and deliberate libel are two entirely different things,” Perry concluded, “and to honor the memory of an American hero, the latter cannot be tolerated.”