Michigan Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI) accidentally proved to the Daily Beast he lied on his campaign website and on the campaign trail about his military record as part of an effort to disprove a Breitbart News investigation–and the Daily Beast’s Tim Mak fell hook, line and sinker for the Peters’ campaign’s spin despite being provided with evidence by Peters that Peters lied.
“To rebut the Breitbart story, the Peters campaign provided The Daily Beast with a document signed by a commanding officer showing that the candidate qualified as a Seabee Combat Warfare Specialist on August 5, 1998,” Mak wrote, referencing a nearly 4,000-word Breitbart News investigative article published Sunday evening. “Peters qualified as an ‘expert’ on the M16A1 in 1993 and the .38 revolver in 1995. He qualified as ‘sharpshooter’ on the M1911A1-45 ACP handgun in 1994.”
Interestingly, however, the documents that Mak was provided by Peters’ campaign prove that Peters and his campaign spokeswoman Haley Morris lied to local media–and that Peters lied on his campaign website.
First off, the M1911A1-45 handgun qualification of “sharpshooter” appears in Peters’ record jacket, obtained by the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) from the Department of the Navy and published by Breitbart News on Sunday evening–so the documents Peters’ team gave to Mak prove that was correct. In that record jacket provided by the Department of the Navy via FOIA, the qualification Peters is listed as having for the M16A1 rifle is “sharpshooter”–not “expert” as Peters’ campaign’s document provided to Mak shows, according to Mak. While one can’t be clear about what the document actually shows, since neither Peters nor Mak have published the document in full, both documents the Peters campaign provided to Mak on the firearms qualifications actually prove–despite Mak buying Peters’ campaign’s spin–what Breitbart News and the sources who went on record for the piece said about Peters’ fabrications on his firearms qualifications said all along about his firearms qualifications.
Peters and Morris have both told local media that Peters was an “expert marksman” qualification in both rifle and pistol, and Peters claims on his campaign website that he was “an expert pistol and rifle marksman.”
“Peters spokeswoman Haley Morris said Peters was classified an expert marksman with pistol and rifle during his time in the U.S. Navy Reserve,” MLive.com reported in September 2013.
“Peters said when he was in the U.S. Navy Reserve, he was qualified as an expert marksman in the M16 rifle and 9mm pistol,” the Detroit Free Press reported in February 2013.
Even if the second document Mak was provided by Peters’ campaign regarding the M16 was accurate–that Peters was “expert” level in it, something his record jacket contradicts–the two documents Mak was provided show that each of those statements Peters and his campaign made, on his website and in comments to local media, are false.
The reason they are false is that Peters, as Breitbart News originally reported, made up a new cool-sounding firearms qualification that does not exist to further his case.
Former Rep. Allen West (R-FL), a retired Lt. Colonel in the U.S. Army, confirmed for Breitbart News that such a firearms category does not exist–as did Republican National Committee (RNC) director of military and veterans outreach Bob Carey.
“In the case of Michigan Congressman Gary Peters I found his claims about his personal weapons qualifications perplexing,” West told Breitbart News. “First of all professional officers rarely tout weapon qualification badges. Secondly, there are three levels of weapon qualification — marksman, sharpshooter, and expert — Rep. Peters claims to be an ‘expert marksman’ which does not exist. This leads one to believe that if one would embellish something so trivial what else could also be questionable.”
“I have never made a big deal about my skill with a pistol or rifle– using a firearm is the stock in trade of the military,” Carey added. “So it is odd that Rep. Peters decided to tout his skills on the campaign trail. What is more troublesome than him making a big stink about his skills with a firearm is that he isn’t an Expert like he claims. He should be proud of serving his country, but he shouldn’t claim that he posses skills he doesn’t have. His misrepresentation makes me wonder what else isn’t true?”
So, with the admission he’s only a “sharpshooter” in pistol and the claim in a new document he’s an “expert” in rifle, Peters and his campaign have openly admitted they are lying on their campaign website–something they still have not fixed–and that they lied to local media about his qualifications.
The other document Peters’ campaign gave to Mak–the Seabee Combat War Specialist designation–was published on Sunday night by Breitbart News. Mak didn’t need to get it from Peters, as it was on page 39 of the 49-page dossier published by Breitbart News.
Like the other documents Mak wrote about that were provided to him by Peters, this again proves what Peters’ indirect commanding officer retired Navy Commander Jim Semerad and retired Navy Captain Joseph John–who now runs the group Combat Veterans For Congress–said, and what Breitbart News wrote about the claims by Peters he was a Seabee and that he was trained to “build bridges while getting shot at.”
“In addition, Congressman Peters’ continued claims he was a Seabee–an elite unit of Naval engineers who build bridges and other structures in combat zones for the U.S. military–is a stretch of the truth,” John said told Breitbart News. “He worked alongside Seabees, sure, but only as an Assistant Supply Officer. The documents of Peters’ military service show he was a Supply Corps officer with designator ‘3105.’ The three digits ‘310’ indicate he was with the Supply Corps, and the digit ‘5’ indicates he was a Naval Reserve officer. That means he was not a Seabee, or member of the Civil Engineer Corps, which would have meant he would have a ‘5105’ designator.”
Mak wrote in his piece that “even the Seabees officer [Semerad] says Peters’s service qualifies the candidate to call himself a Seabee.” Again, Mak could have read the Breitbart News article and it was right there in it, as published Sunday evening: “Semerad, Peters’ old commanding officer when he served with the Seabees, said he’ll give Peters the claim he’s a Seabee. ‘If I work as a burger cook at a McDonald’s franchise, am I still an employee of McDonald’s?’ he asks rhetorically to make the analogy before answering: ‘Yes.'”
Mak was also provided by Peters’ campaign with several fitness reports from Peters’ time in the service–which were redacted in the Department of the Navy FOIA documents of his record–but neither he nor the campaign actually published the documents so at this time voters need to just take the politicians’ word for it.
“Excerpts from Peters’s fitness reports, written by his commanding officers between in 1994 and 2004 and provided by his campaign, describe the senatorial candidate as a ‘recognized expert’ who ‘perform[s] exceptionally’ and has ‘unlimited potential,'” Mak wrote, adding: “‘LCDR Peters is an outstanding Supply Corps officer…’ says one one fitness report from 2004. ‘LCDR Peters’ attention to detail, along with his working relationship with Air Force officers, has been instrumental in the continuation of a very successful and visible joint service operation while providing first class training.'”
To top it off, Mak actually got several easy-to-follow details wrong in his story–which claimed Breitbart News was engaged in a “sloppy” attempt to “swift boat” Peters.
First off, Mak wrote: “Breitbart cites two major sources to back up its claims: a commanding officer who served in the Seabees but whom Peters did not report to directly and the Republican National Committee’s ‘military expert.'”
There was actually four major on the record sources, and 49 pages of documents that were used to back up the story. The RNC’s director of military and veterans outreach Bob Carey, and Peters’ old indirect commanding officer retired Navy Commander Jim Semerad were two of them. That’s correct, but incomplete. West was also a source on record for the story, someone Mak seems to have conveniently overlooked, as was John–the retired Navy captain who runs Combat Veterans For Congress. Mak was aware this statement he wrote was untrue because John actually told Breitbart News earlier–before Mak published his story–that Mak had attempted to contact him for the piece, something Mak left out.
Another false statement Mak wrote in his piece was that the “RNC’s military expert appears to disparage Peters’s overseas service in Bahrain simply because he was not stationed more closely to a war zone.”
That’s untrue because Carey’s quote to Breitbart News focused exclusively on the aforementioned firearms fabrications. Semerad, Peters’ old commanding officer, did discuss how Peters was never overseas in a combat zone–and that his deployment for two weeks to Bahrain was like going to “Las Vegas” in the Middle East.
Then there’s also the things that Mak completely ignored in his piece–which include the claim from Peters that he learned to “build bridges while getting shot at.” Mak conveniently ignores that Peters falsification, and the Peters campaign didn’t seem to give him any evidence to back it up.
Here’s Peters’ commanding officer Jim Semerad on how it’s an untrue claim by the congressman that he ever learned to “build bridges while getting shot at.”
“He’s purchasing the supplies for the other guys to build bridges and it’s not likely he’s ever getting shot at,” Semerad said. “He’s back in an office in a safe place. He is in an office on a computer and on the telephone. My friend just came back from Afghanistan–she’s a supply officer. I know dozens of supply officers who went to Iraq. I can tell you that some of the supply officers in the early days of Iraq did get shot at, but that’s not normal. I seriously doubt he was getting shot at–especially if he was only deployed for 30 days. It’s not likely in 30 days he would even be put in a combat role because before they even put you in the role where you are at the slightest risk of getting shot at you have to go through a six-week expeditionary combat school. I seriously doubt he was in any position whatsoever to get shot at.”