Illinois Republican Senate candidate Mark Kirk continues to explain inaccurate statements about his military record.
Rep. Kirk has now backtracked on three statements he made about his military record as a Naval intelligence officer.
Were the statements embellished? Were they mistakes? Lies?
“I simply misremembered it wrong,” Rep. Kirk told the Chicago Sun-Times editorial board this week.
Kirk was talking about the “Intelligence Officer of the Year” award he claimed he received from his service during the war in Kosovo. Kirk listed it on his resume, boasted about on the floor of Congress and mentioned it in a recent television commercial for his U.S. Senate race.
Turned out it was a group medal awarded to Kirk’s Naval unit as a whole.
“I apologize to you and your readers for misstatements made by me and my campaign,” Kirk told the Sun-Times.
The Sun-Times asked:
“How could he have sent out a letter to constituents in recent days saying, “As a veteran of Operation Desert Storm and Operation Enduring Freedom…” when Kirk served stateside as a reservist in Maryland?
A staffer wrote it, Kirk said.
“I wouldn’t have written it that way,” Kirk said. “These letters go out under my signature, so they are my responsibility.””
The most recent revelation about Kirk-
“The last time I was in Iraq I was in uniform, flying at 20,000 feet, and the Iraqi Air Defense network was shooting at us,” Kirk said in a 2003 speech before Congress that was captured by CSPAN.
Before the Chicago Tribune editorial board Thursday, Kirk said his 2003 assertions may not be true because there is no record of whether his aircraft was being fired upon.
“I want to be very contrite and say there is a casualness with which I sometimes describe military details,” Kirk told the Sun-Times. “And if it gave the impression that my military record is larger than it was, I want to apologize.”
Kirk also apologized for the repeated misstatements during his meeting with the Tribune on Thursday.
“You should speak with utter precision. You should stand on the documented military record,” Kirk said. “In public discourse, for high office, you should make sure that there is a degree of complete rigorous precision.”
Or what? I wonder.
What would the honorable thing be for Rep. Kirk to do in this episode?
As a reporter and teacher, I’ve visited the Balkans and Middle East seven times in the past 20 years. Along the way, I’ve met, worked with, reported on and traveled with active and reserve members of the U.S. military. Some served in intelligence capacities. Some have become good friends. All understood the importance of trust and dependability.
One of my former military friends asked a logical question about Kirk’s TV clip for his U.S. Senate campaign- The one that claims Kirk received the “Intelligence Officer of the Year” award.
“The clip was misleading to me,” said the former intelligence officer who served in Iraq and Kosovo. He added; “Small details yes, but misleading. Intelligence officers don’t miss details like that.”
Military intelligence officers are trained to pay particular attention to details. It’s their stock in trade. It’s also their responsibility. The intelligence they gather, decipher, analyze and report involves accurate information. Lives may depend on their work. For their own credibility, they take this responsibility seriously.
Like good journalists, the quality, accuracy and consistency of an intelligence officer’s work is their currency. The better the “intel,” the more valued, trusted and respected the intelligence officer.
Conversely, if their work is inaccurate, faulty or poor, intelligence officers get booted. Some are reassigned. Others get demoted. A few are strongly encouraged to leave the military.
What do you think? Did Rep. Kirk embellish, make mistakes or lie?
Pick any one and you’ve chosen a form of bad intelligence.