Army Spied on Hero Will Swenson Over Amazon.com Book Review

Jason Reed/Reuters
Jason Reed/Reuters
President Obama gave this outspoken, brave soldier the Medal of Honor. The Army dug through his trash and bothered his girlfriend.

Will Swenson is officially an American war hero, awarded the Medal of Honor, the military’s most prestigious decoration for his actions in Afghanistan. But in the eyes of the Army, he was, for a time, a target of surveillance. Army investigators staked out his house. They went through his trash. And it all started because Swenson was mentioned in a book review posted to Amazon.com.

The Army’s treatment of Swenson is one of a number of high-profile cases where the military has launched investigations into highly-decorated troops—only to have the investigations themselves come under scrutiny. Top congressmen have demanded answers from the Secretary of the Army, while insiders speculate that the deep dive into Swenson’s life was a political stunt. Before President Obama gave Swenson the Medal of Honor, he was known as much for his stinging criticism of Army leadership as he was for his heroism at the Battle of Gangal.

“There’s good reason to suspect that the investigation into Swenson was really about his award, his criticism of the Army, and the hope that agents would find something to shut him up,” said a source knowledgeable about the investigation. “All of the details the Army was looking to confirm were all within their reach from the beginning, without speaking to Swenson.”

A single Internet comment started the trail that led agents to Swenson’s Seattle condo in May of 2012, a year before Obama hung the medal on him. Documents obtained exclusively by The Daily Beast show that the Army’s Criminal Investigative Division, or CID, sent agents to question Swenson because he was thanked—along with several other people—in a paragraph-long book review.

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Source: The Daily Beast | Jacob Siegel

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