September 23, 2004




Hon. Gordon R. England                                  Hon. Joseph E. Schmitz

Secretary of the Navy                                       Inspector General

U.S. Navy                                                        Department of Defense

2000 Defense Pentagon                                    1000 Defense Pentagon

Washington, DC  20301                                   Washington, DC  20301



ADM Vern Clark, USN

Chief of Naval Operations

U.S. Navy

2000 Navy Pentagon

Washington, DC  20350



Re:            Naval Inspector General R. A. Route’s Letter of 17 September 2004, In the Matter of Awards Granted to LT(jg) John Forbes Kerry, USNR.


Reference:        Paragraph 116.2, SECNAVINST 1650.1G





      This letter appeals a decision by the Naval Inspector General (“IG”), Vice Admiral Ronald A. Route, not to investigate the awards and related conduct of John Kerry.


      As we have yet to receive response to our letters from you requesting an investigation, we hope that the Naval IG’s letter is not the final word on the matter.


      Specifically, at 5:12 PM on Friday, September 17, 2004, IG Route transmitted a letter via facsimile (Enclosure 1) to our offices addressing limited aspects of a request for investigation Judicial Watch made on August 18 and September 8, 2004 concerning the awards and conduct of Lieutenant (junior grade) John Forbes Kerry, USNR.




      A Reuters news report from 6:34 PM on Friday evening indicates IG Route communicated similar information to your office.[1]  Judicial Watch did not release the IG’s letter to the press until 8:40 PM on Friday.  We learned subsequently that a Kerry campaign staffer was aware of the contents of the IG’s letter on Friday afternoon. 

It is not clear to us how Senator Kerry’s political campaign organization could become aware of the IG’s letter before Judicial Watch.


      In his letter, IG Route    claims to have “carefully examined the process by which Senator Kerry was awarded the Silver Star, Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts in 1968 and 1969.” [Emphasis added]  According to publicly available records Senator Kerry did not receive any of the mentioned awards in 1968.


      IG Route’s letter states existing documentation was found indicating the awards approval process/procedure was followed properly.  He claims that senior officers were operating under properly delegated authority for awarding medals and that procedures were correctly followed for approving the awards.  No specific documentary examples (i.e. SECNAVINST, regulations, memoranda) were cited or offered as exhibits.


       Now that the IG has concluded John Kerry’s award paperwork was, to be blunt, properly stamped, a real investigation must commence.  No serious investigation would merely examine whether the right individuals signed the right documents.  The uninvestigated questions are whether the facts in the documents are correct, and if they are not correct, did John Kerry knowingly put forward these falsehoods.  Furthermore, a careful investigation would also consider facts outside the documentary record, such as new sworn statements concerning Kerry’s conduct.  That is the reason Paragraph 116.2 of SECNAVINST 1650.1G exists.  Paperwork, administration, signatures, filing and recordkeeping are neither the predicates for valorous conduct nor ends unto themselves.  The Navy IG has elected to ignore Paragraph 116.2 and focus solely on process and procedure.  In doing so he is derelict in his affirmative duty to investigate the credible substantive claims set forth in Judicial Watch’s letters (and exhibits) of August 18 and September 8, 2004.


      Paragraph 116.2 clearly states:  “Any award for a distinguished act, achievement or service may be revoked . . . after presentation by SECNAV, if facts subsequently determined, would have prevented the original approval of the award, or if the awardee’s service after the distinguishing act, achievement or service has not been honorable.” [Emphasis added]


      Further, 10 U.S.C. ' 6249 states: “No medal, cross, or bar, or associated emblem or insignia may be awarded or presented to any person or to his representative if his service after he distinguished himself has not been honorable.” [Emphasis added]



      IG Route dismisses an investigation of the eyewitness accounts of officers, sailors and one medical doctor as an unproductive, unreliable reconstruction of facts and circumstances outside a[n] (undefined) contemporary context. There is no statute of limitations, as the Navy IG seems to suggest, for fraudulent medals and related conduct.  IG Route’s letter states: “Conducting any additional review regarding events that took place over thirty years ago would not be productive,” and concludes saying that he would “. . . take no further action in this matter.”


      IG Route must explain what precisely he considers “productive,” and how his subjective and political determination fulfills his official duty and obligation to investigate credible claims of fraud and misconduct.  While the September 17th letter addresses the narrow subject of process and procedure, it is unconscionable for the Navy leadership to dismiss cavalierly the facts and circumstances documented by a former Secretary of the Navy, flag officers (Admirals Hoffman and Schachte), and nearly 300 commissioned officers, petty officers and sailors who served aboard swift boats in Vietnam.  If medals are to have any meaning, the likely fraudulent obtaining of them must always be thoroughly investigated.


      Additionally, IG Route asserts, without any substantiation, “. . . Senator Kerry’s post-active duty activities were public and that military and civilian officials were aware of his actions at that time.”  Even if true, this would not be persuasive.  Dereliction by officials in the past is no reason not to uphold the rules today.  The fact that the Federal Bureau of Investigation was actively investigating Kerry (and the group Vietnam Veterans Against the War), as well as conducting clandestine surveillance of Kerry belies IG Route’s assertion.  In fact, publicly available FBI files and other reliable reports concerning Senator Kerry’s anti-war activities reveal that there was, in fact, a great deal government officials did not know about his contacts, associates, and actions.  And certainly unknown at that time was the negative impact of Kerry’s pro-North Vietnamese and Viet Cong activities on our Prisoners of War in Vietnam.[2]


      In another egregious omission, no discussion or explanation is provided in IG Route’s letter as to how Senator Kerry’s DD Form 214 lists a “Silver Star with Combat ‘V,’” which is not an award in the United States Armed Forces.  While IG Route offers undocumented assurances that procedures and processes were followed correctly, he fails to address former Navy Secretary John Lehman’s categorical denial of approval of the citation for the republic’s third highest award for heroism.  In an August 27, 2004, interview for the Chicago Sun Times, Secretary Lehman stated: “It is a total mystery to

me.  I never saw it.  I never signed it.  I never approved it.  And the additional language it contains was not written by me.”



      In an effort to document IG Route’s examination, decisions and findings, we filed a Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) request (pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 552) with the Navy IG on September 20, 2004.  We seek all agency records concerning:


                        1)  The subject of Navy Inspector General Ronald A. Route’s

                        Letter response to Judicial Watch President Thomas Fitton,

                        dated 17 September 2004. (Reference: 2040700, Ser N5/1348)

                        (See Exhibit 1, attached)


                        2)  Records of the Inspector General report, review, procedure

                        examination, investigation, audit, inspection and/or findings

                        predicated upon the subject of Judicial Watch’s requests for

                        investigation dated August 18 and September 8, 2004, and the

                        subsequent Department of Defense Inspector General referral

                        for “information and action as appropriate.”


3)  Name(s) of person(s) contacted, interviewed, consulted,

                        deposed, or relied upon as an eyewitness, subject matter expert,

                        historian or archivist for the matters identified in Items 1 and 2



                        4)  The legal and/or regulatory basis for the decisions of Navy

                        Inspector General Ronald A. Route documented in Items 1 and 2 above.


                        5)  Records, instructions, regulations, orders and other things

                        that document the lawful delegation of authority, approval process

                        and procedures for awards to LT(jg) John Forbes Kerry, USNR.

                        (To include copies of the Navy Instructions and regulations

                        for U.S. Naval Forces Vietnam and Pacific Fleet for the awards

                        process the Navy Inspector General “carefully examined.”)


                        6)  Any award or decoration presented by the U.S. Navy to LT

                        (jg) John Forbes Kerry in 1968.


                        7)  Communication between the Navy Inspector General, the

                        Defense Department Inspector General and the Secretary of the

                        Navy concerning the matters identified in Items 1 and 2 above.


                        8)  Communications with any party other than the Defense

                        Department Inspector General and the Secretary of the Navy

                        concerning the matters identified in Items 1 and 2 above.   





      We anticipate the Navy IG will reply substantively to our request in an expeditious manner consistent with the 10 day statutory requirement.  Secretary England’s support in ensuring full, rapid compliance with our request would be appreciated.


      Finally, this letter serves as our formal request to meet with Secretary of the Navy Gordon R. England to discuss IG Route’s letter and to review the factual basis for our

complaint and request for investigation.  Judicial Watch, in consultation with military, naval and historical experts, has produced additional briefing material, timelines and analyses concerning the subject of our request.  We wish to provide a briefing to Secretary England and other appropriate Navy and/or Defense Department officials.


      Thank you for your consideration and cooperation.  We look forward to hearing from you shortly.









Thomas Fitton




CC:            Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld

                  Naval Inspector General Ronald A. Route 

[1] “Navy Rejects Probe of Kerry’s War Medals,” Reuters, Friday, September, 17, 2004, 06:34PM ET. (Enclosure 2)

[2] David Freddoso, “Stolen Honor Shows Kerry's Effect on POWs,” Human Events, September 10, 2004, on the Internet at: