June 4th, 2010
10:44 AM ET
4 years ago

Kirk apologizes for military mischaracterizations

Kirk has apologized for a string of mischaracterizations about his military record.
Kirk has apologized for a string of mischaracterizations about his military record.

(CNN) - Six days after Republican Rep. Mark Kirk first admitted to having mischaracterized portions of his 21-year long military record, the Illinois Senate candidate issued an apology and said it was the result of trying to communicate his accomplishments in "civilian-speak."

"I am sorry, absolutely," Kirk told the Chicago Tribune editorial board Thursday. "You should speak with utter precision. You should stand on the documented military record."

Kirk also pledged to speak more clearly about his tenure in the Navy going forward and said he would soon release military fitness reports that demonstrate his years of continuous service.

But in the same interview, Kirk acknowledged other mischaracterizations committed by his campaign and congressional office - first when campaign promotional materials described him as having faced fire while flying aboard a reconnaissance plane over Iraq in 2000 and second when a 2009 letter to constituents said he was a veteran of Operation Desert Storm.

Kirk told the paper he's actually not sure if he was fired upon in Iraq during the 2000 mission and said that he did not serve in Desert Storm.

The initial controversy began nearly a week ago, after his Democratic opponent, Alexi Giannoulias, raised questions about a naval award Kirk claimed to have received. The Kirk campaign and the candidate himself falsely claimed he was awarded the Navy Intelligence Officer of the Year Award - a prestigious honor that is given to only one individual a year.

Kirk and his unit were instead the recipients of the Rufus L. Taylor Intelligence Award, given by The National Military Intelligence Association, which is a professional group. That award recognizes the "exceptional achievements of an outstanding Naval Intelligence career professional," though the citation itself did not single out Kirk. The Republican characterized the mix-up as inadvertent and said it was a "disgrace" that Giannoulias was trying to make political hay out of it.

But since that admission, several other mischaracterizations have come to light, including statements that he "command[s] the war room of the Pentagon," faced combat in Kosovo, and served in the Iraq war.

Kirk's campaign has vigorously responded to Democratic allegations of intentionally misleading voters, saying Kirk has in fact commanded "the intelligence section of the alert center – the information 'war room,'" was stationed in Kosovo at some point during the conflict, and flew in support of airstrikes over Belgrade.

The campaign also said the language about serving in the Iraq war was a simple mistake of using "in" instead of "during," because Kirk was stationed stateside in the opening years of the conflict.

"In public discourse, for high office, you should make sure that there is a degree of complete rigorous precession," Kirk told the Tribune Thursday.


Filed under: Illinois • Mark Kirk
soundoff (106 Responses)
  1. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    ....And that is NOT my Porsche nor my hair. I did NOT graduate COLLEGE, and it goes without saying that it wasn't Magna Cum Laude. In addition, I am NOT married, I am in fact gay and living in a Mormom-like arrangement with 10 partners.

    Now that I've cleared that up I hope I can count on your vote!!:)

    June 4, 2010 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  2. jm for sc

    If your are a Republican, your lies are called mischaracterizations or some other lesser term. If you are a Democrat, Repubilcans charaterize a simple change of mind due to circumstances as a lie. Even on national television the word "You Lie," was popular among the GOP liars.

    This man just simply lied to gain votes.

    June 4, 2010 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  3. ja

    what matter of men and women are America selecting to lead the country

    June 4, 2010 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  4. Duck Fallas

    So? He said he served in Iraq when he didn't. It's not like he said he served in Iraq.

    June 4, 2010 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  5. Guy

    Intelligence Group of the year versus Intelligence Officer of the year. That doesn't seem like such a big deal. Didn't a democrat out East get caught 2 weeks ago completely lying about serving in Vietnam? How does this Kirk story bump that off the headlines?

    June 4, 2010 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  6. Bubba

    Sorry he got caught out is about how it sounds. Blumenthal vaguely insinuating he was in Nam is bad enough, but this guy claiming specific honors he never earned is just wrong. There are lots of people in politics, so throw this one back into the pool.

    June 4, 2010 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  7. gate

    We really don't need another opportunist liar in Congress. He should be dishonorably discharged from the military for this. He should also be prosecuted under the Stolen Valor Act.

    June 4, 2010 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  8. larry

    If putting words into "civilian-speak" means lying to the stpid republican masses then I guess we have to give him credit for that. Also "Kirk told the paper he's actually not sure if he was fired upon in Iraq during the 2000 mission". If you are not sure then you probably were not fired upon so don't make up crap and say you were. If you are going to BS it the least you should do is shoot yourself in the foot.

    June 4, 2010 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  9. Gary

    The only thing I see more repulsive than this would be to dodge the draft
    With 5 deferments, go on to be VP of the US and start a war based on lies resulting in the deaths of over 4000 brave Americans.

    June 4, 2010 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  10. RickD

    Scum – nothing but Repuke SCUM!

    June 4, 2010 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  11. Duck Fallas

    He has an impressive record of service to his country. The fact that he saw the need to make things up shows a serious character flaw. Either that, or he didn't see the need to get personally involved with his campaigns.

    June 4, 2010 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  12. David in Dallas

    All of these politicians are like little children. They constantly lie and then think by just saying, "I'm sorry" their lies will be forgiven and forgotten. They should be smart enough to know that in the 21st century with all of the electronic technology and 24 hour media, it is almost impossible to lie and not get caught; so, just tell the truth.

    June 4, 2010 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  13. Gary

    The only thing Kirk is sorry about is he got caught!

    June 4, 2010 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  14. David - Highland Park IL

    Congressman Kirk is the poster child for all that is wrong about politics today. He feels as though he needs to appeal to his constituancy with lies and fear. His record is one of un-abiding support for war, the wealthy, and and own personal gain.

    June 4, 2010 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  15. geecee

    To all politicians – please, don't try to embellish your military career, or anything else. You should know by now, everything and anything will get found out and made into a BIG deal, whether or not it is. But especially military services. Just be honest, people like that. We appreciate honesty, candidness, and expect human beings to have faults, just like all of us. Don't lie, cheat, exaggerate. Just be yourself and we will vote for you, or not, based on that. You can't lose that way, even if you lose the election. Honestly is always the best policy, (sorry to use such a cliche.)

    June 4, 2010 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  16. Mike, Dallas

    Hmmmmm. A Congressman who lied about his record??? How novel; Oh I'm sure we'll see him a few years from now caught in some restroom or in the arms of a "Lady" (who isn't his wife) You're well on your way to becoming a predictable congressman!

    June 4, 2010 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  17. Fed Up!

    This doesn't let Kirk off the hook. He continued perpetrating these lies until he was caught. Then he insulted us by stating that the two intelligence awards were equal in status. And then he sniffs that while he was wearing the uniform, the only uniform his opponent wore was that of a basketball team.

    At least Alexi Giannoulias didn't lie about his scoring or his basketball team's accomplishments.

    Quite frankly I expected far more honesty from someone who wore the uniform of our country's military.

    I will have a difficult time trusting anything he says again and an even more difficult time casting my vote for Mark Kirk.

    June 4, 2010 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  18. Steve (the real one)

    Looking at this from a fair point of view, we fussed at Blumenthal for the very same thing. We called for him him to drop out, he didn't! In fact, he won his party's nomination. It is only fair that Kirk be handled the same way Blumenthal was. Fuss at him, demand he drop out!. If he doesn't drop out and still win the nomination, so be it! Blumenthal's apology was accepted by some and not by others! The same applies to Kirk! That woud be fair, right?

    June 4, 2010 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  19. Dennis

    It is amusing when Republicans try to rewrite history. Just like tax breaks for the rich will result in job creation and Republican fiscal policy will result in future economic growth. Well, with 8 years of Republican policy, the future is NOW. Guess that worked out really WELL!!!!!!

    June 4, 2010 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  20. Wisconsinite - Conservatives want to take their country back. Progressives want to move their country forward.

    "said it was the result or trying to translate his accomplishments into "civilian-speak."

    Soooo he defines "civillian-speak" as lying???? He should probably just shut up.

    June 4, 2010 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  21. Mesa Mick

    When it comes to characterizing "I'll say and do anything to get elected as just asimple misstatement the only thing that comes to mind are the infamous words of that other "family values" hypocrite from SC...
    "YOU LIE"

    June 4, 2010 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  22. deko2222

    And...uh yeah,....I, ummmm.......landed on the moon....with big bird,...in my.....ummm......time machine. yeah, that's the ticket.

    June 4, 2010 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  23. Borgster

    Of course Giannoulias needs to attack Kirk on this. Giannoulias can’t espouse his own credentials because all he has is loan officer of a failed bank and chief financial officer of a state that can’t pay its bills.

    June 4, 2010 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  24. Rob

    What a loser. Next..

    June 4, 2010 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  25. Mike T

    Sorry doesn't cut it. I think he is only sorry he got caught. I am sure he would be on his opponents back if the situation were reversed. What does a military career or not have to do with anything regarding legislative talent.

    June 4, 2010 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
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