Obama and “Autopen”-Gate
There is a veterans’ group that has vowed to get a handwriting expert to determine if the letters sent to parents of Navy SEALs killed in Afghanistan were signed by President Obama himself or an electronic autopen that can replicate his signature. Looks like Obama may have offended another group of people. Entering the controversy is Karen and Billy Vaughn, whose son Aaron Vaughn was one of 17 SEALs and 13 other Americans killed in a helicopter crash Aug. 6, 2011, raised the issue at a Tea Party rally in Tampa during the Republican National Convention.
Karen Vaughn said she compared the signature on her letter, dated Sept. 23, 2011, with those received by other families of SEALs and determined the signature was mechanical. But the White House says every letter sent out to the families of fallen service members is signed by the hand of the Commander-in-Chief.
“The President signs every such letter personally,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Friday. Fox News
An autopen is a machine that is programmed to duplicate an individual’s handwriting. It is considered more personal than using a stamp, but less than a hand-signature, the device was first used in the White House by President Harry Truman. Obama made history when he became the first chief executive to use the device to sign a bill, authorizing its use to extend key provisions of the Patriot Act last year while he was in France.
Then last year, Aaron Vaughn was part of a rescue team that was sent to a mountainous area in the Wardak Providence in August of last year to assist an Army Ranger unit that was under heavy fire. The team had completed their mission but their Chinook helicopter was shot down as they were departing. Nearly 40 people perished, marking it one of the deadliest single incident losses in the decade-long war in Afghanistan.
Veterans for a Strong America, a nonpartisan military watchdog group pledged to get to the bottom of the matter.
“After reviewing letters from several families of fallen Navy SEALs it appears that the letters may have been auto-penned, so we are going to have nationally recognized handwriting experts review the letters given the strong circumstantial evidence which exists in this case,” Joel Arends, chairman of Veterans for a Strong America said in a statement to FoxNews.com. Fox News
Arends also stated that all the letters she saw were form letters, with only the names of the recipients changed. The White House conceded that point, but noted sending form letters has long been common practice for presidents, especially when war casualties mount.
2003, Newsweek reported that condolence letters from President George W. Bush were also form letters, “With the exception of the salutation and a reference to the fallen soldier in the text.”
However, four years later, the Washington Times ran a story claiming that Bush had sent personal letters to more than 4,000 families of soldiers killed in action and 9/11 victims during his presidency which was largely unnoticed by the public.