Tim sends us a link to today’s Arkansas Democrat-Gazette which reports that Aden’s own party has asked him to apologize for claiming to be a “Green Beret”, so he refuses and pulls out some orders that the Special Warfare Center says should have been revoked. The Democrat-Gazette’s story is behind a pay wall, so;
Candidate asked to apologize for Beret claim
By Bill Bowden , Amy Schlesing
This article was published today at 5:08 a.m.
LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Democratic Party has asked 3rd Congressional District candidate Ken Aden to apologize for exaggerating his military record.
Aden, a Democrat running against Republican incumbent Steve Womack, admitted in a written statement Thursday that he “misspoke” when he said he served “with a Green Beret Unit,” but continued to assert that he earned a Special Forces designation.
The U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Bragg, N.C., released academic records this week confirming that Aden never graduated from Special Forces training after failing it three times.
Aden was honorably discharged in December 2010 after serving in combat as a staff sergeant for the 82nd Airborne Division, the records show.
Additional documents that the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette obtained Thursday from the National Personnel Records Center and U.S. Army Human Resources Command reinforced the finding that Aden can’t claim to be a Green Beret.
Not only does Aden’s military file not contain Special Forces training certificates, it also shows that he didn’t receive the Military Outstanding Service Medal, which he has claimed on his website and in public statements.
When asked to provide the certificate of that award earlier this week, Aden provided a poor-quality copy of part of a document recommending him for the award that had the medal misspelled. Aden said he didn’t have the entire document, although he has provided several other military documents.
Candace Martin, a spokesman for the state Democratic Party, said it was “unfortunate that he has overstated his military service.”
“He served. He saw combat and was discharged honorably,” she said. “So it is very unfortunate that his service may be overshadowed by the fact that he misspoke. We do feel that it would be appropriate for him to apologize for the misstatement, to military members.”
Martin said someone with the party called Aden but was unable to reach him as of Thursday afternoon. Aden also didn’t return calls from the Democrat-Gazette.
Vince Leibowitz, a consultant with Aden’s campaign, said in an e-mail Thursday that Aden hadn’t received the message from the state Democratic Party.
“Certainly, Mr. Aden is sorry for having misspoken concerning having been assigned to a Green Beret unit,” he wrote, adding that Aden had “served honorably in combat as a [Special Forces weapons sergeant], though with the 82nd Airborne and not a Special Forces Unit.”
According to U.S. Special Operations Command, Aden could not have deployed as a Special Forces weapons sergeant because he started but never completed the required training.
But Leibowitz said Aden “has nothing to apologize for” in regard to his claim that he was designated as a Special Forces weapons sergeant.
Aden has repeatedly said in interviews and statements that the designation of “18B” denoting a Special Forces weapons sergeant on his official military record, called a DD214, proves that he was a Special Forces soldier. He provided a copy of orders given to him when he was in training as proof of receiving that specialty.
The U.S. Army said the orders are not proof.
Janice Burton, deputy public affairs officer for the Army’s Special Warfare Center and School, said the orders should have been revoked when he failed the course.
“As I said yesterday, he is not a Green Beret. He was relieved for academic reasons,” she said Thursday. “He never finished the [18B] training. The orders were saying he was going to that course. In fact, he failed out of the 18B training. Twice.”
Leibowitz tried to discredit a Democrat-Gazette article about Aden’s record by saying that a reporter never called the Special Forces training program. He also said the Army was not allowed to release Aden’s academic records.
But Burton said Thursday that no one in her office has spoken to Leibowitz or Aden about media inquiries.
Also, Burton said, “This is public information. We’re not telling you anything that’s not out there in the public for anyone to request.”
Leibowitz countered that the U.S. Army isn’t reading its own records accurately.
“Unfortunately, it would appear that the Special Warfare Center has their facts wrong,” he said.
Burton said the person who filled out Aden’s DD214 should have checked to see if he graduated from Special Forces training. Without a graduation certificate, she said, the 18B designation is invalid. “In order to be a Green Beret, you must complete all phases of the qualification course,” Burton said. “And you would get a graduation certificate. He did not make it through that process.”
Aden said in a phone interview Wednesday and in a written statement Thursday that he has requested his “complete military file from the National Archives” but did not know when those records would be available.
All military records, however, are stored at the National Personnel Records Center in St.Louis. On Thursday the Democrat-Gazette requested that Aden’s military file be pulled and a complete list of his military education and all awards and honors be provided.
Mark Edwards, chief of media relations for the U.S. Army Human Resources Command, released those records within three hours.
While records indicate that Aden appears to have exaggerated several elements of his military career, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday that it is not a crime.
The court struck down a federal law making it a crime to lie about receiving the Medal of Honor and other prized military awards, with justices branding such false claims “contemptible” but nonetheless protected by the First Amendment.
The court voted 6-3 in favor of Xavier Alvarez, a former local elected official in California who falsely said he was a decorated war veteran and had pleaded guilty to violating the 2006 law, known as the Stolen Valor Act. The law, enacted when the U.S. was at war in Afghanistan and Iraq, was aimed at people making phony claims of heroism in battle.
A statement Aden issued early Thursday did not address academic credentials listed on his website that were incorrect. But later Thursday, Leibowitz sent an e-mail blaming the mistakes on the website designer who inputted the information.
The website was changed Thursday to say Aden “attended” Arkansas State University, Mid-South Community College in West Memphis and City Colleges of Chicago.
Aden’s website previously said that Aden had an associate of arts degree from ASU, though none of its campuses has a record of Aden taking classes.
Leibowitz said Wednesday that Aden took online courses through ASU and had accumulated enough credits for an associate degree. But that would be indicated in the school’s records, and it’s not, said Beverly Weems, graduation coordinator in the registrar’s office at ASU in Jonesboro.
Leibowitz said Thursday that Aden has requested his transcripts from ASU, and they will be provided to reporters as soon as they are available.
The website also previously said Aden attended the University of Chicago. A search of Aden’s academic records through student clearinghouse. org indicated that he attended Mid-South Community College in 2011 but not that he attended the University of Chicago.
Leibowitz’s Texas firm, The Dawn Group, designed the campaign website aden4arkansas. He said Thursday in an e-mail that “the material on the website was not written by the campaign, but by the website designer, and it is in error.”
The erroneous information has been on Aden’s website for more than six months.
“The campaign did not realize this error until it was pointed out by the media, and it will be corrected,” Leibowitz wrote in an e-mail. “In fast paced campaigns such as this, once static material such as this is put on the web, it typically gets far less attention than the dynamic parts of the website, such as press releases, etc.”
The Democrat-Gazette was unable to get verification of Aden’s academic record at City Colleges of Chicago on Thursday.
TAH posts on Aden over the last several weeks;