John Kerry has something to hide about the nature of his discharge from the U.S. Navy. That's a reasonable assumption given Kerry's stonewalling going back to the '04 campaign.
In a heated campaign, in which each candidate's military service was front and center, President Bush signed SF 180 and released his full military records. John Kerry balked. Why?
After the election, Tim Russert asked Kerry, on Meet The Press, January 30, 2005, if he would sign SF 180. Kerry said he would. February passes: nothing. March: nothing. April: nothing. Most of May passes and FINALLY the Boston Globe reports that Kerry has signed SF 180 and authorized the release of his records to the Globe.
Why? Why did it take Kerry so long to sign SF 180? And when he finally did, why did he not request his records from the National Personnel Records Center? Why did he request the records from the Department of the Navy, instead?
Surely he knows that the National Personnel Records Center is the custodian of full military records of discharged military personnel. I mean as a veteran and a long-serving U.S. Senator, shouldn't Kerry know this? Of course he should.
So why the games? Follow the discharge.
During the '04 campaign, JohnKerry.com - John Kerry's Official Naval Records (gone now, can't find a cached copy) showed 4 Discharge dates:
1. January 3, 1970
2. February 16, 1978
3. July 13, 1978
4. March 12, 2001
4 discharge dates?? Having more than 1 discharge date is HIGHLY unusal. In all my years in the military and since I retired, I've never known or even heard of someone with more than one discharge date -- that is, until John Kerry.
The Boston Globe has so far shed no light on these discharge dates.
But more importantly what was the nature of Kerry's discharge. DD Form 214 documents the nature of the discharge. Follow the discharge(s). Follow the DD Form 214 (s).
There are 5 types of discharges from military service.
3 types of discharges may be given administratively:
1. Honorable Discharge - meritorious military service.
2. General (under honorable conditions) - military service was not sufficiently meritorious to deserve an Honorable Discharge.
3. Other Than Honorable - misconduct or security reasons
There are 2 discharges that may be given at a courts-martial:
1. Bad Conduct Discharge - separated from the service under conditions other than honorable. BCD can only be given by a general or a special courts-martial.
2. Dishonorable Discharge - separated from the service under dishonorable conditions. DD can only be given by a general courts-martial.
Why does Kerry have four discharge dates? What is the nature of each? We don't know.
Back in October '04, Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Buzz Patterson gave the best answers I've yet to see:
(All emphases are The Monk's)
Here's the crux of the confusion. On February 18, 1966, Kerry obligated himself to a six-year commitment to the Navy, and to the tenets of the military judicial system, with an expiration date of July 1, 1972. On January 3, 1970, Kerry asked for, and was granted, an early transfer from his active duty service to the Naval Reserve. As a reservist, he was still under oath as a commissioned officer and subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice. He still carried a military ID card and was still a member of the U.S. armed forces. Kerry's service commitment came to an end, as scheduled, in July, 1972. As such, a DD Form 214 with a discharge status was due.
Kerry's "honorable" discharge, though, doesn't come until February 16, 1978. Why? Possibly because President Jimmy Carter, through Proclamation 4483, granted a full and complete pardon to all military personnel who committed offenses and violations of the Military Selective Service Act during the Vietnam War. He pardoned deserters, draft dodgers and those who went absent without leave (AWOL).
Interestingly, Kerry's honorable discharge letter from the Department of the Navy, dated February 16, 1978, notes that Kerry's discharge was taken "by direction of the President" and "with the approved recommendations of a board of officers convened under the authority of reference [10 USC Sec. 1163] to examine the official records of officers of the Naval Reserve." This is extremely unusual. Review boards are not convened for discharges and certainly not "by direction of the President." The "authority of reference," 10 USC Sec. 1163, refers to "the grounds for involuntary separation from the service." What was being reviewed, then, was Kerry's involuntary separation from the service or, more likely, the disposition of his service. This simply would not have occurred if Kerry's discharge in 1972 had been "honorable." Why did Kerry's discharge meet a board? In all likelihood, he sought relief to improve his status of discharge from "dishonorable" or "less than honorable" to "honorable." If he signed his Form 180, we'd know. If he'd release his DD214 from 1972, we'd know.
Finally, and most bizarre of all of Kerry's military records so far released is a DD 215, "Correction to DD Form 214," initiated for John Forbes Kerry on March 12, 2001. Among other things, the new form changes Kerry's official US Navy separation date to March 1, 1970! As noted earlier, he wasn't eligible for discharge until July, 1972, and was so. Why, then, the new document in 2001? Why, 29 years later, is there the need to correct or change the record?
Here's why. By moving Kerry's discharge date to early in 1970, all of Kerry's post-Vietnam activities would be theoretically exempt from military justice. By moving his discharge date to March of 1970, Kerry's meeting with the enemy, North Vietnamese Communists in Paris in May of 1970, would be exempt. His joining the Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) in June of 1970 and his radical, anti-war anti-government activities that followed would be exempt. The Winter Soldier Investigation in January, 1971, and Kerry's infamous testimony to Congress in April, 1971 would be exempt. His arrest for his protest activities in May, 1971, would be exempt. His attendance at a VVAW meeting in Kansas City where the assassination of several prominent and hawkish U.S. senators was discussed and voted on would be exempt.
Read the entire article
More Questions Regarding Senator Kerry's Military Record
A Powerline reader explains more about SF 180 process and records custody.
From Jim Geraghty, of TKS (formerly, The Kerry Spot):
Take it from a guy whose individual posts still say "Kerry Spot." It's time to let him go.
Sure, John Kerry will probably attempt to run for president in 2008. He probably thinks that he will do better when there is no incumbent. It is almost unimaginable that the Democrats, with options like Hillary or some governor or even Edwards, will turn to John Kerry again. Perhaps I'll be proven wrong, but I suspect his 2008 campaign will be announced with great fanfare and then the candidate will quickly learn that the party's donors aren't interested in a second go-round.
Thus, Swifties, Pajamahadeen, Kerry Crushers... John Kerry is the past. It's time to let him fade into obscurity in the Senate. It was a long, thrilling ride, but it's time to put aside his French looks, his thin legislative record, his windy, droning speeches, his voting for bills before he votes against them, his windsurfing, his constant references to the 1960s, his ability to answer any question with Vietnam, his comparisons of U.S. troops to "Jen-Jis Khan"...
To borrow a phrase, it is time to Move On.
Move on, Jim. But I'm not inclined to let it ride. That "letting it ride" attitude is just the reason John Kerry was able to slander and libel his fellow veterans, lie about his service in Vietnam and work his way up the political ladder to the U.S. Senate and Democrat nominee for president. The SOB needs to be held accountable.
UPDATE (June 9, 2005):
Thomas H. Lipscomb, Chicago Sun-Times, isn't ready to move on.
In his latest column, he asks Did Kerry really release Navy records?
Swift Boat Veterans for Truth head John O'Neill, who raised many of the charges against Kerry during the campaign, was challenged by Kerry on "Meet the Press" in January. Kerry promised he would sign his Standard Form 180, but he wanted former Swift Boat officer O'Neill to sign as well.
All depends on how it's filled out
O'Neill did sign it and provided copies to the Chicago Sun-Times. According to O'Neill, "The Standard Form 180 could release 'the full military and medical records.' Or it could release just a few. It all depends on how it is filled out and where it was sent."
"There is nothing magic about signing a SF 180," said former Naval Judge Advocate General Mark Sullivan. "It is sort of like your checkbook. You can fill out a check for one dollar or a million. It is the same check form."
"And the Globe story says Kerry sent it to the Navy Personnel Command, which is only a limited storage location. So it is not surprising that the Globe then notes that what they received was largely 'duplication' of records previously released. The Navy Personnel Command primarily stores a subset of service records rather than a person's full military records. There is no doubt there are a lot of after-action records missing from what Kerry has released," said Sullivan.
Kerry's not talking
Washington Post reporter Michael Dobbs has already found a discrepancy confirmed by the Department of the Navy of "at least a hundred pages" missing from those already disclosed by Kerry.
"If you take a look at my SF 180," O'Neill said, "you will see I have authorized the total release of all my records to anyone requesting to see them. But without seeing how Kerry's SF 180 was filled out, everyone is only guessing about what was released."
So how an SF 180 is filled out is as important as signing it. But no one in the press has yet claimed to have seen a copy of Kerry's SF-180. When asked if she had a copy of Kerry's SF 180, the Globe's Managing Editor Mary Jane Wilkinson said, "I haven't seen it, and I don't know if anyone here has."
Kerry's Senate offices could not provide a copy of the Kerry SF 180 and would not answer inquiries. Is it possible that Kerry filled it out wrong or sent it to the wrong place?
O'Neill made Kerry an offer. "I'll be happy to bring one to Kerry's office and help him fill it out. And then we can take mine and his and deliver them to the right place together to make sure, as Kerry puts it, 'the truth in its entirety will come out.' "
John O'Neill is a hero. On and off the battlefield.
UPDATE (June 12, 2005):
Thomas Lipscomb has more on the Kerry SF 180 story: Questions Remain About Kerry's Military Records
In response to my story in the Chicago Sun-Times on Thursday, the Managing Editor of the Boston Globe, Mary Jane Wilkinson, has now told Sun-Times editors that the Globe does indeed have a copy of Kerry’s Standard Form 180 used in delivering the documents to the Globe. That is reassuring, but it remains to be seen whether the Globe will release copies of the SF-180 in their possession, and that is important.
According to Mark Sullivan, a former Navy JAG officer who worked directly for the Secretary of the Navy, the SF-180 can release anything and everything and nothing much at all, depending on how it is executed. So it is incumbent upon anyone relying on statements, much less making them, concerning the production of documents to examine its wording carefully. One must evaluate it the same way an attorney would examine a request for discovery document in a legal case to see if it is artfully worded in a way not easily apparent to a non-specialist that excludes vital material.
UPDATE (June 14, 2005):
Polipundit has a damn good question:
"Why can't The Globe be just as forthcoming with Kerry's purportedly complete military records as it was with forged documents used to slander a sitting president in a time of war 50 days before an election?"