White House Stands by Medal of Honor Story About Sgt. Dakota Meyer
Asked by a reporter from McClatchy newspapers about her organization's investigation - which concluded that "crucial parts of the story of Meyer's deeds that the Marine Corps publicized and Obama described to the nation are untrue, unsubstantiated or exaggerated" - the White House Thursday stood by the Medal of Honor recipient.
"The president was very proud to present the Medal of Honor to Sergeant Meyer for his extraordinary service in Afghanistan," White House press secretary Jay Carney said. "As the president said that day, in Sergeant Dakota Meyer we see the best of a generation that has served through a decade of war."
The McClatchy newspapers story stated that Meyer "didn't save as many people, kill as many enemy fighters or lead the final push to retrieve his dead comrades, as the record says. Moreover, it's unclear from the documents whether the 23-year-old Kentucky native disobeyed orders when he entered the Ganjgal Valley on Sept. 8, 2009, as the record says he did."
Carney said that the White House is not concerned and not looking into the Medal of Honor narrative.
"The answer to your question is no," he said. "Everyone, even the reporter who wrote yesterday's article, agrees the Sergeant Meyer displayed extraordinary heroism. Indeed, a subsequent article within, I think, hours by that same reporter last night, makes it clear that Meyer's comrades feel he deserves the Medal of Honor. President Obama was proud to present it on behalf of a grateful nation."
The writer, the well-respected Jonathan Landay, did note that, "What's most striking is that all this probably was unnecessary. Meyer, the 296th Marine to earn the medal, by all accounts deserved his nomination. At least seven witnesses attested to him performing heroic deeds "in the face of almost certain death."
Carney said "I would refer you to the Marine Corps. And the process of vetting for Medal of Honor - proposed Medal of Honor recipients is, as I understand it, quite extensive and thorough. Obviously that's done at the Department of Defense and by the branch of the military that's affected here, in this case the Marine Corps. The president was very proud to present the Medal of Honor to Sergeant Meyer. He was that day and he remains proud today of his extraordinary service."
Carney said the "president's remarks were based on the extensive documentation provided by the Department of Defense and the Marine Corps, including sworn testimony from Sergeant Meyer himself and sworn eyewitness testimonies of others present at the scene. White House staff also personally spoke with Sergeant Meyer. You know, our primary resource for the president's remarks was the official documentation provided by the Marine Corps, including sworn testimony from Sergeant Meyer and, as I said, sworn eyewitness testimonies of others present. The president remains very proud of Sergeant Meyer and the remarkable acts of bravery that he displayed on that day."