An open letter from a 9/11 survivor to President Obama requesting that the president cease invoking the death of Osama bin Laden as a re-election tool has been answered with a completely unrelated form response from the White House.
That response, provided to The Daily Caller, did not include a single reference to Army Major David King’s objections and instead reminded him that, “Each day, I hear from concerned men and women who are struggling in this economy.” What follows is an 1100-word insistence that Obama is attempting to turn the economy around. The letter ends by telling Maj. King, “For more information on jobs, health benefits, housing assistance, and other public resources, you may also call 1-800-FEDINFO or visit www.USA.gov.”
Nowhere in the White House letter is the bin Laden raid mentioned. A Google search of the text shows the same response letter is often sent to individuals who write critical letters to the White House.
“I was disappointed that I didn’t receive anything specifically addressing my concern,” King told TheDC in a phone interview. “All I got back was a re-election letter.”
King is a former Army Special Forces operator and wounded survivor of al Qaida’s September 11, 2001 attack on the Pentagon. One of his colleagues described King’s injuries that day.
“Maj. David King came walking out of the smoke from the direction of the fire,” recounted former Army Major Bill Delaney in a description published on VillageLife.com in 2011.
“As he limped toward us with his shredded uniform and skin hanging from his burns, completely covered in a white ash, he looked like a ghost. Dave shared an office with Jerry Dickerson and Staff Sgt. White. Tragically both were killed in the [plane's] impact, but miraculously Dave had survived. Dave had burns on 70 percent of his body and would endure many months of recovery before he returned to duty,” said Delaney.
The White House did not return a request for comment on whether King’s unique credentials should have merited a personalized response instead of a form letter.
King said he was surprised the White House wouldn’t at least write back something to the effect of, “‘Let it be known that we understand from where you’re coming from, from your position and what you’ve gone through that you are making a legitimate complaint and we will address that.’ They didn’t even try.”
The Obama Administration may view responding to King’s letter as a political liability.
In 2012, King has publicly criticized the president alongside a group of former service members that make up the Special Operations OPSEC Education Fund. The group has received a flurry of media attention for criticizing the president over “politically capitalizing on US national security operations and secrets,” including the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.
On April 27, Obama’s campaign posted a one-and-half-minute video to YouTube called “One Chance.” It featured former President Bill Clinton praising Obama for his decision to give the Navy SEALs who killed bin Laden the go-ahead.
“Look, he knew what would happen. Suppose the Navy SEALs had gone in there and it hadn’t been bin Laden,” Clinton suggested, “Suppose that they had been captured or killed. The downside would have been horrible for him [Obama].”
WATCH THE OBAMA CAMPAIGN AD, ‘ONE CHANCE.’:
That video was also shown at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC at the beginning of September. That’s when King decided to speak out.
“[A]s both a Special Forces veteran and a survivor of the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon,” King wrote to Obama on September 10, “it was frustrating and disappointing to me that your re-election campaign used the bin Laden raid as the basis for a divisive and partisan ad.”
The video, King wrote to Obama, also “unleashes a vicious attack on your political opponent,” framing Mitt Romney as unwilling to pursue bin Laden in 2007.
“That was a terrible lapse in judgment,” King wrote. “Why is it appropriate to use our nation’s response to 9/11 as the basis for a partisan campaign ad?”
“It was an awful mistake to make this ad,” King concluded, “but you can correct it by ordering it to be removed [from] your campaign websites and YouTube. You can further do the right thing and pledge that neither you, nor anyone associated with your campaign, will use the operation that brought justice for the attacks of 9/11 for partisan political advantage again.”
King told TheDC that he realizes the White House receives a lot of correspondence, but given the White House’s unrelated response, it’s unlikely anyone there ever read his letter.
“I don’t even think they ever read it,” King said. “Maybe they read the beginning of it and said ‘oh we’re not going to waste our time with this. Who cares? This one individual — he doesn’t matter’ — and just sent back a form letter.”
King believes that the way his letter was handled is “a reflection of the folks that are running things in the White House — the lack of knowledge, to the point of ignorance, about the military that exists there.”
“It’s almost like there’s a lack of concern about the yeoman soldiers that are out there doing the bidding for the king,” he concluded.