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Errant Armitage Legend Persists at State

© 2002 Q4
Restless Warrior | Double Tap | Dispatches
DP: 010500Z OCT 2002

WASHINGTON -- Media reports continue to proclaim Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage to be a former U.S. Navy SEAL, nevermind that he wasn't.

The most recent installment of such journalistic excellence was served up by Bill Gertz and Rowan Scarborough of The Washington Times describing, in the May 3, 2002 Inside the Ring column, the ongoing rift between the Pentagon and the State Department over the prospect of invading Iraq. It was enough to grab the passing glances of several knowledgeable Beltway insiders who, for far too long, have been all too aware of the long-standing myth surrounding the current Deputy Secretary of State.

Following a barrage of email, Gertz issued a courageous "we weren't the only ones" retraction, but failed to respond to repeated requests from VeriSEAL to clarify the source of the errant Armitage factoid.

What's more preposterous still, Washington's blabbering media "elite" -- generally opposed politically to any pre-emptive attack on Iraq -- have taken to citing Armitage's "SEALness" to bolster their own anti pre-emption stance when launching spitballs at Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and the pro pre-emption camp, who are accused of amateur war mongering by way of having never worn a military uniform. Ironically, neither have 99% of the pundits sniping at Wolfowitz for his failure to defer to Armitage's fictitious Navy SEAL expertise.

It appears Armitage has not exactly gone out of his way to disabuse reporters of the notion that he is a former Navy SEAL. Nor has the State Department issued even a single media advisory to correct the common misconception. Lately, possibly feeling a slight increase in temperature regarding his faux military persona, Armitage has taken to claiming that he "worked with" the SEALs or "trained" them when questioned in a public forum about his alleged SEAL background.

During one Q&A session on Shadow Day at the State Department, Armitage was quizzed by a tag-along student about his Navy SEAL background. Armitage's response: "No. I was their instructor"

Nothing could be further from the truth, according to one former SEAL of nearly 30 years in Naval Special Warfare. Another, one of the few U.S. personnel left stationed in Saigon in 1973, states in a sworn affidavit that Armitage approached him at that time and identified himself as a SEAL officer.

What remains to be determined is not whether Armitage was or was not a Navy SEAL -- he wasn't -- but where so many in the Press continue to acquire the idea that he was. Reporters such as Bill Gertz do not appear inclined to address that question.

And that seems to sit just fine with the Deputy Secretary of State.


Following the above October 2002 posting of VeriSEAL's article "Armitage: Of Myth And Men", featured prominently in "The Fake File" at Hackworth.com, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage has publicly acknowledged that he was not a Navy SEAL, as he has so often been mislabeled in the media.

In a March 18, 2004 interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Armitage corrected interviewer Kerry O'Brien after O'Brien misidentified him as a "former Navy SEAL".

Up to that point, Armitage was not known to have corrected media reports that wrongly affixed the SEAL acronym to him.  Instead, he opted to let the label stand, in essence allowing the fiction to become "fact".

In the interview, Armitage states: "I was not a Navy SEAL", but then continues, "I was a counter-insurgency officer but it's not far from a Navy Seal."

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