An Associated Press reporter is standing by his story that describes an anti-Bush veteran as a former Navy SEAL in the face of questions about whether or not the man was in fact a member of the elite unit.
The reporter, Elliott Minor says the Albany, Ga., man, Ahmad Majied, doesn’t show up on lists of former SEALs because he changed his name when he converted to Islam after leaving the Navy.
In a story reporting the reactions of U.S. military personnel and veterans to allegations that President Bush failed to perform to National Guard standards, Minor quotes several current and former military men. Here is an excerpt from the AP story:
Ahmad Majied of Albany says the latest allegations about Bush’s military record are more troubling to him than allegations about service honors leveled at Democratic challenger Kerry.
Majied, a Democrat from Albany who served 30 years in the Navy, including five years as a SEAL in Vietnam, said the memos support his belief that Bush was a “playboy” during his service years.
“He had enough money to get what he wanted,” Majied said. “I think his main concern was not to go to Southeast Asia. I bet he never dreamed it would come back to haunt him.”
After reading the account, a poster on FreeRepublic.com calling himself Travis McGee contacted the organization AuthentiSEAL, which researches claims by people posing as Navy SEALs, to see if Majied indeed had been a SEAL. According to his post, McGee received a response from Gregory Platt, an investigator with the group, saying the name Ahmad Majied does not come up on a search of former SEALs.
McGee says he became suspicious of the claim when he read that Majied had been in Vietnam for five years.
“When this fake SEAL’s claim of spending five years in Vietnam was pointed out to me, I knew he couldn’t be for real,” he writes at Free Republic. “SEALs deployed to VN for six month tours, so ‘five years in Vietnam’ seemed highly improbable. I knew lots of multiple tour ‘real deal Vietnam SEALs’ during my peacetime duty in the teams in the 1980s, and I never heard of this guy.
“This only took a couple of minutes time for ‘amateurs’ on Free Republic to check out. The ‘professional’ journalists at the AP must have been to busy to do this basic checking.”
In an interview with WorldNetDaily, however, Minor says he has no reason to disbelieve Majied’s story.
“I really trust this guy,” he said. “I believe he’s a real straight shooter.”
Minor says Majied didn’t give him his previous name, “and I didn’t press the matter.”
The vet has received “nasty calls” since the issue has been publiclized, Minor says, adding, “This is a very peaceful guy. … There’s a peace about his voice.”
Minor says Majied homeschools his seven children. “These are really upstanding people,” he told WND.
The AP reporter addressed McGee’s criticism of spending five months in Vietnam, saying Majied told him he was based in the Philippines and would go to Vietnam for short stints and then return to the islands.
“Altogether it was probably five years [in Vietnam],” Minor said.
Minor spoke to Majied this afternoon to try to verify the issue, and he said the veteran has refused to speak to other media about the issue.
He said of the Majieds: “I’ve met them around town, and they’re just nice people. … I just really think a lot of him.”
Internet bloggers challenging the claims of mainstream media outlets has become more prevalent recently. It was on the Net where the first questions were raised about National Guard memos CBS News claims show that Bush’s former commander, Lt. Col. Jerry B. Killian, was resisting pressure from his superior, Col. Walter B. “Buck” Staudt, to “sugarcoat” Bush’s officer evaluation files.
Document experts and amateur sleuths began questioning the memos’ authenticity within hours after they were published on the Internet, citing typographical and formatting issues that suggest they were created by a modern-day word processor rather than a Vietnam War-era typewriter.
Despite the irregularities of the memos and the fact that a source CBS used to prove its case is saying the documents are forgeries, network anchor Dan Rather stands by the story he presented on “60 Minutes II” last week.