Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Friend of Shane Osborn, not Navy, issued memo that supports him ^ | Monday, March 24, 2014 | Steve Liewer

Posted on 05/07/2014 8:58:25 PM PDT by SoConPubbie

Read the memo circulated by Shane Osborn's U.S. Senate campaign to counter criticism about his decision in April 2001 to land a disabled Navy reconnaissance plane in China.

* * *

Dogged by questions about his 2001 decision to land a crippled Navy EP-3 reconnaissance plane in China, U.S. Senate candidate Shane Osborn has distributed an official-looking Navy memo supporting his account.

The memo, written Aug. 8, 2013, on Navy letterhead, is titled “Disposition of actions by EP-3E flight crew on April 1, 2001.” It explains that Osborn's plane was authorized to land on China's Hainan island “due to the extreme circumstances and condition of this aircraft.”

But The World-Herald has learned that the unsigned memo was not authorized by the Navy, or vetted through normal channels, and was written as a favor to Osborn by a Navy buddy working at the Pentagon.

“We cannot confirm the authenticity of this document,” said Lt. Cmdr. Katie Cerezo, a Navy spokeswoman. “We couldn't discuss a memo that we can't authenticate.”

Osborn's campaign sent the memo to a World-Herald reporter Feb. 26. The paper later contacted the Navy's public affairs office to verify its accuracy and requested an interview with the author, who was not named in the memo. After three days of searching, the Navy said it couldn't authenticate the memo and declined to discuss it further.

Ultimately, John Comerford, a St. Louis attorney who is a fellow Navy veteran and close friend of Osborn's, put a World-Herald reporter in touch with the author.

Osborn sought the memo to respond to critics, including some former military reconnaissance pilots, who have said that he should not have landed in China. Analysts have concluded the Chinese were able to recover some documents and equipment from the aircraft despite the crew's efforts to destroy classified intelligence.

Osborn said the landing was proper and saved the lives of his crew. He dismissed the complaints as politically motivated or as being from Cold War veterans who don't understand that surveillance rules have changed since they served.

The three-paragraph memo cites classified Department of Defense instructions. It supports Osborn's account and concludes that he “acted on the best information that he had and made the decision to land at the closest suitable airfield.”

The author of the memo was a Navy commander who then worked on the staff of the chief of naval operations. He said he drafted it as a favor to Osborn at Comerford's request.

Osborn said he asked Comerford — who also survived the EP-3 incident — for help last summer after questions from a World-Herald reporter about the China incident.

“I said, 'Johnny, some Cold War veterans in another campaign are questioning that we should have ditched,' ” Osborn recalled. “ 'Can you please go back and get the instructions (for such missions) to show that what we did was right?' ”

So Comerford approached his Navy friend, a former squadron mate of his and Osborn's, about drafting a version of the instructions that could be publicly released.

The memo's author said the contents are accurate. He said his immediate supervisor at the time OK'd it, but he declined to give that officer's name and said he is currently unavailable because of a deployment.

“This was an effort to put (the orders) into an unclassified format, on a tight timeline,” he said. “It was not something that was intended to go through channels.”

The author asked for anonymity, saying he was concerned his career could be jeopardized if anyone learned he had written the memo.

“We didn't do anything wrong. But we did it to sort of shortcut the process,” the officer said. “I'm passionate about it. I flew with John and Shane. If they would have ditched that aircraft, none of these guys would be alive.”

A typical Navy vetting process would send a memo slated for public release to relevant military offices for approval to ensure that it is accurate and that classified information isn't leaked.

For the Osborn memo, that might include the U.S. Pacific Command, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Office of the Secretary of Defense — all offices mentioned in the memo.

For a commissioned military officer, circulating an unauthorized memo could potentially lead to a criminal charge of violating orders or dereliction of duty. It could also result in administrative punishments such as a reprimand or fine.

If it were prepared on a government computer or during working hours, it could also represent a violation of the Hatch Act. That law forbids federal employees from participating in political activities while on duty.

Navy officials said they wouldn't speculate on whether there would be an investigation.

Neither Osborn nor his campaign manager, Bill Novotny, could say how many people have received the memo, which is being shared among some Republican activists locally.

“We haven't posted it on our website,” Osborn said. “It's not like we're putting it out in a mass email to supporters.”

TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Government; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections; US: Nebraska
KEYWORDS: china; osborn; parpro; shaneosborn; spyplane
"If we must have an enemy at the head of Government, let it be one whom we can oppose, and for whom we are not responsible, who will not involve our party in the disgrace of his foolish and bad measures." - Alexander Hamilton
"We don't intend to turn the Republican Party over to the traitors in the battle just ended. We will have no more of those candidates who are pledged to the same goals as our opposition and who seek our support. Turning the Party over to the so-called moderates wouldn’t make any sense at all." -- President Ronald Reagan
"A thing moderately good is not so good as it ought to be. Moderation in temper is always a virtue; but moderation in principle is always a vice." - Thomas Paine 1792
"It does not take a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men." - Samuel Adams
"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen." - Samuel Adams

1 posted on 05/07/2014 8:58:25 PM PDT by SoConPubbie
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: SoConPubbie
The plane had at least one life raft. Everyone in the crew had parachutes. There are multiple emergency egress procedures for which the crew had trained, including exiting the plane if/after it had sunk. That's why they get hazardous duty pay, folks!

And for the record - I never had sympathy for the CO of USS Pueblo, either - a cowardly man that was derelict in his duties on several levels.

2 posted on 05/08/2014 4:16:26 AM PDT by Pecos (The Chicago Way: Kill the Constitution, one step at a time.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Pecos

I agree on both scores.

3 posted on 05/08/2014 6:44:36 AM PDT by onedoug
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Pecos
I'm glad I never faced any situation like those guys did. Put on survival gear and headed towards the rear hatch and waited for the "3 shorts and a long" ring of the warning alarm, but never had to find out if any of the gear worked.

Pueblo people had a different set of worries, much much worse than the guys on the EP-3. Satan's demons would seem rational next to Norks, especially the 1960s-vintage.

Powers had a poison pill he was expected to use, but he also decided that life is more precious than politicians' comfort.

Still, it's hard to say how it would've turned out if the Aries II crew had decided to egress or ditch. Those little life rafts in the parachute kits ("butt boats") seemed pretty skimpy out in the nice, warm waters of Biscayne Bay, I couldn't imagine them in the ocean, waiting hours for rescue (from where?).

Sullenberger made that water landing look easy on the Hudson, but that was a one in a million landing on a nice, flat river, no big waves tearing off your props and smashing in the cockpit windows.

The aircraft commander had to make a decision, and he put his crew first. Lots of A/C's I've known had the philosophy, "if there are two pieces of aluminum with a rivet between them, I'm riding it in."

Pretty sure that the backseaters spent the rest of the flight smashing and degaussing and soaking water-soluble paperwork before getting to Hainan. Half the gear was probably Chinese manufactured to begin with.

It's pretty scary up there in the stratosphere when things go wrong. Runways are so much better than the alternative, it's as if they were made for that.

4 posted on 08/06/2014 8:30:57 PM PDT by struwwelpeter
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson