TARGET 8 fact checks Eric Greitens' campaign ads

11 months 4 weeks 1 day ago July 21, 2016 Jul 21, 2016 Thursday, July 21 2016 Thursday, July 21, 2016 8:26:00 PM CDT in Target 8
By: Meg Hilling, KOMU 8 Reporter

BOONVILLE - KOMU 8's Target 8 team looked into claims former Navy Seal Eric Greitens made during recent campaign ads in the run up to Missouri's gubernatorial election about his career as a Seal.

As part of this fact check, Target 8 has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Department of Defense for full documentation of Greitens' military achievements.

As of July 19, the request had passed the evaluation phase and was awaiting assignment. According FOIA officials with the United States Department of Justice, the request should be processed and closed within 20 days, but may take longer depending on the location of the documents requested. 

The Target 8 team will update this story upon receiving the FOIA documents.

Accusations and controversy

Greitens, who has leaned heavily upon his military career in his campaign, came under fire when an anonymous  video, was released in February that called into question his service with the Navy. The video was later claimed by a group of Navy SEALs, including a former staffer for candidate John Brunner's team, Paul Holzer, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Brunner's team condemns the ad and said "As a veteran himself, John Brunner respects everyone who has worn the uniform and served honorably." Brunner's team also adds that Holzer has not been with the campaign since September 2015.

Greitens responded shortly after with a video of his own in an effort to dispel what he called "false" accusations by citing information from his military documents.

Target 8 reached out to Greitens' team for the documents he used in the rebuttal video. His team responded by sending 39 pages of Greitens' redacted military records in the campaign's possession. 

Each of the following statements from the campaign ads are designated as true, false, or incomplete based on the facts, as well as documents volunteered by Greitens' team and an interview with Greitens himself.

'You know Eric Greitens is a Navy Seal': TRUE

According to the documents released by Greitens this statement is true. The military records cite that Greitens did in fact become an active member of the Navy Seals in 2002.

As stated above, Target 8 is awaiting independent verification of Greitens' military achievements from the Department of Defense.

'That he hunted terrorists': TRUE

According to the documents released by Greitens this statement is also true. In the "Comments On Performance" section of a report filed on regarding his performance between February 1 and November 30 of 2007, Greitens "Led directly to the capture and kill of senior terrorist operatives in the city."

'Commanded an Al-qaeda targeting unit': TRUE

According to the documents released by Greitens, this statement is as well true. Comments on his performance during the same time period reported in the statement above, showed that Greitens was, "Hand selected to serve as the CDR of Al-qaeda targeting cell in Fallujah."

'Now Eric Greitens is ready to fight the career politicans': TRUE

Given this statement is an opinion stance, Target 8 turned to Greitens to verify the authenticity of the statement.

"We (team) knew that the career politicians would come after us, and it doesn't bother us one bit," Greitens said.

Target 8 asked him if he were to become governor, wouldn't that potentially set him up as a "career politician?"

According to Greitens that wouldn't happen.

"No, as governor I'm going to lead. What people want is they want leaders, they want leaders who are going to stand up and serve and get results for people," Greitens said.

Watch Greitens' full ad here.

Correction: Editors note that the story above has been corrected for accuracy to clarify Brunner's connection and response to the ad.

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