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2 SEALs identified in error

September 06, 2008|Julian E. Barnes | Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — A teleprompter error at the Republican National Convention, not the ad-libbing of a former prisoner of war, led to the identification of two Navy SEALs in violation of military rules, a GOP official said Friday.

At the convention on Tuesday, delegates watched a moving video tribute to Medal of Honor winner and fallen SEAL Michael A. Monsoor of Garden Grove. Afterward, Orson Swindle, a retired Marine officer who shared a North Vietnamese prison cell with Republican presidential nominee John McCain, asked two members of Monsoor's SEAL Team 3 to stand, naming them.

The appearance by the active duty military members troubled some at the Pentagon because of rules against active duty personnel participating in political activities.

On Wednesday, Navy officials said they had given permission for the SEALs to attend the convention on the condition that the Republican National Committee neither showcase them in the media nor publicly recognize them.

After Swindle clearly identified the two in his remarks, Republican officials initially told the Navy that the retired lieutenant general had ad-libbed. A Times article Thursday, quoting Navy officials, reported that conclusion.

But Matt Burns, director of communications for the Republican National Committee, said Friday that the error actually occurred when an old speech was placed in the teleprompter being used by Swindle; he offered an apology to Swindle and the Navy SEALs.

"There was an inadvertent mistake," Burns said.

The two SEALs attended the convention at the request of Monsoor's sister Sara Monsoor.

Navy officials said they accepted the Republican National Convention officials' explanation of how the error occurred but emphasized that the SEALs should not have been identified.

"We did have an agreement that they would not be recognized," said Cmdr. Jeff Davis, a Navy spokesman.

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julian.barnes@latimes.com

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