You just knew this was coming…
After the devastating report yesterday, the White House admitted to ABC today that form letters were sent to the families of fallen SEAL Team 6 members after the deadliest single loss for U.S. forces in the decade-long war in Afghanistan.
It also made a great photo-op.
But two months later he sent rapper Heavy D’s family a personal letter of condolence.
The White House did say the signatures were real and not from an autopen. That’s what they told ABC today.
Jake Tapper from ABC reported:
The White House did not dispute that the letters were form letters, but that would appear to not be unique to this president. A 2003 Newsweek story reported that the sympathy letters grieving families had received from President George W. Bush were “form letters. With the exception of the salutation and a reference to the fallen soldier in the text, the letters the families shared with me are all the same.”
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was in 2004 criticized for using an auto-pen to sign condolence letters to the families of fallen troops. At the time he issued a statement saying, “I wrote and approved the now more than 1,000 letters sent to family members and next of kin of each of the servicemen and women killed in military action. While I have not individually signed each one, in the interest of ensuring expeditious contact with grieving family members, I have directed that in the future I sign each letter.”
MORE— Just so you know, there is more to this story that I will be reporting on when I get back to St. Louis. I am currently traveling back home from the RNC Convention.
For much of the past seven years, President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have waged a clandestine operation inside the White House. It has involved thousands of military personnel, private presidential letters and meetings that were kept off their public calendars or sometimes left the news media in the dark.
Their mission: to comfort the families of soldiers who died fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and to lift the spirits of those wounded in the service of their country.
On Monday, the president is set to make a more common public trip – with reporters in tow – to Walter Reed Army Medical Center, home to many of the wounded and a symbol of controversy earlier in his presidency over the quality of care the veterans were receiving.
But the size and scope of Mr. Bush’s and Mr. Cheney’s private endeavors to meet with wounded soliders and families of the fallen far exceed anything that has been witnessed publicly, according to interviews with more than a dozen officials familiar with the effort.
“People say, ‘Why would you do that?’” the president said in an Oval Office interview with The Washington Times on Friday. “And the answer is: This is my duty. The president is commander in chief, but the president is often comforter in chief, as well. It is my duty to be – to try to comfort as best as I humanly can a loved one who is in anguish.”