On Nov. 21, I was interviewed by John Vandiver, a Stuttgart-based reporter for Stars and Stripes, the newspaper published continuously since 1942 for members of the U.S. military community in Europe. The subject of the interview was my book, Three Days In August: A U.S. Army Special Forces Soldier’s Fight For Military Justice, which chronicles the life story and wrongful conviction of a highly-decorated Green Beret combat veteran, Sgt. 1st Class Kelly A. Stewart.
Near the end of my interview with Vandiver, he told me, “I really appreciate you taking some time to talk about the book and the case, so we can have a story out shortly about the efforts of Kelly to have a retrial.” I was hopeful.
During the 98 days since that interview took place, several well-respected writers and journalists have shared their opinions about the book. For instance:
• Richard Miniter, the award-winning investigative journalist, New York Times best-selling author, radio host, public speaker and frequent world traveler, read the book and described it as “Well-written and thoroughly researched” before adding that it “paints a convincing portrait of a military justice process that appears to have lacked one essential element – justice.”
• American Legion New Media Editor Mark Seavey, himself an Army combat veteran, read the book and used 1,700 words to explain his conclusion that Stewart “was railroaded by German protection laws”; and
• Pamela Geller, best-selling author and founder of AtlasShrugs.com, read the book and published a glowing review which included this harsh conclusion: “What emerges is a picture of a military establishment that is cowed by political correctness to the extent that it is even willing to throw our fighting men and women to the wolves to appease the left.“
For some reason, however, Stripes hasn’t published Vandiver’s article.
On Feb. 21, Vandiver forwarded bad news in the most recent of many email exchanges since the interview. His editors had told him they “need a more solid news development in order for the story to run” and, as a result, he’s “in a holding pattern until the hearing is held on Kelly’s appeal request.”
Apparently, the publication of a book that essentially shreds the government’s case against a soldier is either not considered “newsworthy enough” by Stripes editors or it’s simply too hot for them to publish. I suspect the latter.
It could be that Stripes editors are intentionally suppressing the story in an attempt to maintain good relations with German government officials while keeping U.S. military personnel in the dark about the case, the details of which might cause them to think, “That could’ve been me!”
Alternatively, it could be because Vandiver, through no fault of his own, was not able to land interviews with key players — because none of the players on either side are talking — or obtain a copy of the Record of Trial which I was able to get. As the appeal process approaches another important milestone, none of the key players — including, on the advice of his attorney, Stewart — are talking.
Regardless of what Stripes editors choose to report about Stewart’s case, you don’t have to wait to find out what really happened. You can make your own judgments based upon never-before-published details of the case found only in my book, Three Days In August: A U.S. Army Special Forces Soldier’s Fight For Military Justice.
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UPDATE 12/28/2012 at 9:37 a.m. Central: Five days ago, I shared a new observation about the latest Stripes article on Stewart’s case. It’s a doozie. See German Police Detective Has Memory Issues.