Ken Aden, you may remember, is the infantry combat vet running for Congress, which kind of civic engagement from the gruntosphere is something we’d usually applaud. But Ken, who had the guts to try and get selected for Special Forces training, only to flunk out of the school after running out of second chances, insisted in a splash of publicity that he weally weally was a Gween Bewet. Only, as we pointed out in our initial story and a follow-up this week, he weally weally isn’t.
In the face of media and veterans’ enquiries into his bona fides, and in the face of the Special Warfare Center’s very public and specific repudiation of him (which we’ll get to in a minute), Aden continues to steal the valor of Special Forces.
We are pleased that men want very badly to join SF and that so many attempt the very difficult pathway to qualification. We are not thrilled when quitters, dropouts and flunkouts like Aden then go around lying about how they left the course.
Here is the timeline of Aden’s actual attendance at SFQC, courtesy of the Special Warfare Center and School:
|11/9/06||Aden completes Special Forces Assessment and Selection (SFAS), is selected as a Special Forces Candidate.|
|4/26/07||Aden completes BNCOC, a basic NCO leadership school that is one of about a dozen elements of the Special Forces Qualification Course (SFQC), and one of the few that provides a qualification and diploma of its own.|
|9/16/07||Aden completes SERE Level C, a survival school for personnel with duties that present a high risk of isolation (being separated from friendly forces) and capture.|
|10/9/07||Aden fails the Special Force Medical Sergeant (18D) MOS phase, roughly three weeks into the yearlong course|
|3/3/08||Recycled into Special Forces Weapons Sergeant (18B) school, a common “second chance” for dropouts from the extremely difficult medical course, Aden fails 18B MOS phase also. He is given a second second chance in a subsequent class.|
|8/12/08||Aden slams gun vault door on his hand, is out of training for an unknown period, ultimately recovers well enough to stay in Army (and if he was healthy enough to stay Infantry, he’s healthy enough for SF).|
|4/29/09||Aden fails a third time in either MOS Phase or other training (language? Robin Sage? It’s not clear from immediately available records what he failed, but it is clear that he failed). He is sent to the 82nd Airborne Division. He leaves active duty at the end of his service obligation (2010?) and joins the National Guard.|
Now, there is no shame in failing Special Forces training. Most of the men selected fail, and this is after coming through a sieve of administrative requirements (medical, fitness, IQ, etc) and passing a very tough selection process. The Command Sergeants Major in the 82nd Airborne Division, where the guys who fail go, have asked the Special Warfare Center if it could please fail a few more, because these SF rejects tend to be some of the best troopers in their units. They were only half joking. And Aden has released an award recommendation that indicates that his National Guard infantry unit might have felt that way about him. (On the other hand, they only recommended him for an Army Commendation Medal, which is one of the lower rungs of the pyramid of recognition. If he had really distinguished himself, he’d be up for the bronze star for service. But many conventional units assign medals by rank, which isn’t fair but that’s the Army for you).
But there’s a great deal of shame in claiming honors you did not earn. It’s only going to get worse for Ken Aden and for Vince Liebowitz, the political consultant who says he’s en expert in military records but who has backed up Aden’s thoroughly debunked lies. Other candidates who are opposed by Liebowitz’s other clients might want to take a good hard look at any military claims they have put forward.
As is usual with phonies, the phony service claims aren’t the sum of Aden’s deception. He has also made a false claim about an injury (that he “lost two fingers” — as photographs still show him with ten. Unless he started with 12. [Insert your own Arkansas joke here]). He’s also claimed that the injury is what ended his stay at SF school, but the school is crystal clear on that And he’s also made many misleading claims about his educational attainments. He claims a degree from Arkansas State University, but the registrar’s office has no record of him. He claimed classes at Chicago, but when that registrar never heard of him either, backpedaled after hours to say he misspoke again and meant City Colleges of Chicago (an open enrollment community college, not the prestigious university in the same city). Even that hasn’t been independently confirmed.
- Another post at This Ain’t Hell. The post reports on the continuing first-class investigative reporting of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette newspaper on Aden. In the comments, Jonn Lilyea notes that Aden apologized by email.
- The apology didn’t signify, apparently, because Aden sent a furious press release to this blog for Arkansas Democrats, reiterating his lies about his Special Forces status and his “modified, limited hangout” position of having “miisspoken” once.
- Another Arkansas Democrat blogger reports that Aden, whom he endorsed, lied to him and extended his Green Beret claims in a phone call (meaning, that Aden’s claim that he only misspoke about it once [and what, the reporters just imagined it in two years' worth of publicity and interviews? - Ed.] was more of Aden’s usual output: poseur bullshit). Hey, fellow blogger, we’re sorry you got used and taken in by a liar. It happens. Better luck next election. It’s worth quoting what this guy says verbatim:
For my part, I can say that when folks on the right began asking questions, Ken and I had a phone conversation where he was livid about the questions and said specifically “they’re saying I was never a green beret”. Ken himself though hedged on that in the D-G article
For the record, it wasn’t “folks on the right” that began asking questions, and if it was, it wasn’t in their capacity as Republicans or Conservatives or whatever. All those guys are worried about other political issues, not a quiet Congressional race in Arkansas where the result is apparently a foregone conclusion (the district is very heavily Republican). It was Veterans and Soldiers who began asking questions. And they’re not going to let up until Ken Aden does the right thing and apologizes and retracts the claims he knows are false (which is our preference), or he’s utterly destroyed as a political and public figure (which seems to be the cliff Aden is heading for). But hey, Tony Kennedy says his lying is OK. Unfortunately Tony Kennedy can’t shut the SF veterans’ community up. We’re small, but we’re pretty big for a small thing.
- Ken Aden’s campaign has posted a statement on the website, saying that he’ll have no further statement, implying that the records the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette obtained are false, completely failing to address the Special Warfare Center spokeswoman’s flat and unqualified statement that Aden was never a Green Beret or Special Forces soldier, and once again putting up the long-discredited erroneous or forged DD-214. The statement also fails to address Aden’s equally fraudulent educational claims.
Ken Aden, you and we all know that you are not a Special Forces Soldier. You made your best effort and even made it most of the way, but you cannot continue to claim the laurels of completion for yourself. Apologize. Retract. Every new discovery in this case has controverted your position and exposed new untruths in your self-written biogtaphical information. The longer this continues, the more damage you do your reputation — although you may be thinking that as an exposed valor-stealing phony Special Forces soldier you’re so low the whales are crapping on you. We know your type and there is always lower. You set yourself on this path to self-discreditation when you first aggrandized yourself with the false Special Forces claim.