June 4th, 2010
10:44 AM ET
8 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. d-dub

    Iam sure the fixed news i mean fox news pundits will be quiet on this

    June 4, 2010 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  2. Erik

    "Communicate his accomplishments in 'Civilian Speak'"?!? Does he consider the primary language of American citizens to be LIES???

    There's NOTHING more pathetic than a hypocrite!

    June 4, 2010 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  3. Steven P

    Lied, did he? Step down, numb-nuts. Oh wait...he's a politician. By definition, if the mouth is moving, he or she is lying.

    June 4, 2010 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  4. wake up

    what a shock the far left media (cnn...) is trying to bury kirk. kirk is a moderate, alexi is a chicago machine mobster...and his daddy's bank which he bragged about running just got shut down. obama's boy alexi also made millions of low loans to mobsters.

    June 4, 2010 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  5. Leslie

    This guy is a big fibber, if he has any integrity left at all he will resign. Our Nation can no longer tolerate self-indulgent liars.

    June 4, 2010 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  6. pierce

    I say, give the Republican guy a pass on this.

    You see, Republicans are big on war and they like to appear war-like. This guy was just trying to live up to the GOP image of a warrior.
    But, more important than fibbing about his war record, I want to know what else he has lied about re no military bio/matters.

    June 4, 2010 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  7. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Those weren't mischaracterizatons. They were flat out, bald face LIES!!!

    June 4, 2010 11:20 am at 11:20 am |

    At least Kirk WAS in the military and DID win many awards and commendations. Note to state-controlled MSM: Don't try to draw a false moral equivalency with Blumenthal, who LIED about his very involvement in Vietnam, which NEVER HAPPENED.

    June 4, 2010 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  9. Libertyman13

    Hahahaha, hilariously, this guy is way worse than what Blumenthal said. At least Blumenthal sometimes said the truth. This guy has "misspoken" every time he talks about it.

    June 4, 2010 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  10. Robin Bray

    Duh, me too stupid to understand. Me only understand "civilian-speak." Keep talking and shoving that foot further down your throat.

    June 4, 2010 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  11. Ross

    yes.......and the lies go on and on!

    June 4, 2010 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  12. G Oliver

    Who can believe someone who has admitted three separate lies? How many more are there out there?...Would I vote for this guy...Never in a million years.

    June 4, 2010 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  13. Psychologist

    GOP: Liar, liar, pants on fire. Republicans would not pass one single polygraph test. How unfortunate too many dumb Americans don't seem to get it.

    June 4, 2010 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  14. Bob

    Why do we keep hearing about this story but the Blumenthal story was swept under the rug? Oh, I remember...CNN is part of the main stream media.

    June 4, 2010 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  15. PalmReader

    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.

    Rather like defining what the word is, is, isn't it Kirk? Or stating that you came under fire during a Bosnia trip, when in fact there wasn't any hostile fire at all. Or stating your father died fighting Nazi Germany, when in fact, said father never served in the military and died 10 years after WWII ended, as in Az Gov. Brewer's situation? Or be against big government when your own family has received well over $200,000 in farm subsidies, as in MN Rep. Bachmann's case.

    Each party has a plethora of mischaracterizations. One wonders why voters continue to vote these liars into public office.

    Or, how trustworthy they can be to the people who do vote for them?

    June 4, 2010 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  16. Normhombre

    Yuk, Yuk!! The GOP is self-destructing. Lying about military service, calling members of their own party rag heads, and stealing from the party. You GOPers better get your collective act together!

    June 4, 2010 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  17. red

    Ah just a simple mischaracterization. No biggie. Just like saying that health care costs will rise for everyone with the new health care bill but leaving out the most important part – you get better coverage with the increase in cost. Simple really. Just omit what you do not want the ignorant to know.

    June 4, 2010 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  18. Steven

    Every vet knows what he did, where he did it, and what happened. "trying to communicate his accomplishments in "civilian-speak."" ROFL, you have to be kidding. He tried to pump up his accomplishments to look good. Integrity. He has lost that.

    June 4, 2010 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  19. flatbroke

    So, Kirk is essentially saying that he didn't lie, we civilians are just too stupid to understand "military-speak!?" Another consumate GOPer trying to pass the blame for his own transgressions on to someone else.

    June 4, 2010 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  20. btannerski@gefcc.org

    I live in Illinois and look forward to voting for this liar's opponent.

    Not only did he personally lie a multitude of times during campaigns, on the House floor, and in campaign ads, but his office did as well.

    Further, when the story initially broke, he claimed items were 'mischaracterizations', blaming his opponent.

    Now, he finally begins to accept responsibility. A bit late.

    I am tired of politicians who openly lie, and more tired of my fellow citizens who elect such hypocrites and liars.

    In addition, this Republican is further evidence that the supposedly Christian, family-values, conservative party is nothing more than a sham of greedy, anti-progress persons. Thank God they are no longer the majority!

    June 4, 2010 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  21. 90% of an Iceberg is Underwater

    Being a Veteran is of no special value to being a mayor, a governor, a Congressman, a Senator or President.

    Now that the WWII generation is aging, the misplaced emphasis that was put on military service, as it pertains to holding public office, should wane. The loss by John McCain [who would have been a DISASTER AS PRESIDENT] suggests that Americans are over their John Wayne fantasies about soldiers as leaders.

    Honesty and integrity is what counts. On this count Mr. Kirk falls short. He is not fit to serve in the Congress and I hope, for the good of the country, he loses. It is the wrong example.

    June 4, 2010 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  22. Repulsican Nerds

    Actually, he should apologize for being a Rethuglican, G-No-P puppet.

    June 4, 2010 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  23. Chris

    I get a little weary of these politicians who feel the need to tout their military records while campaigning. Is it supposed to give them some sort of "street cred" with the average voter...that they're automatically fit for public office? I served in Desert Storm – was actually in ground combat – but I couldn't care less whether or not my elected officials served. During the 2008 election, I asked a female friend how Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin would influence her vote, as a woman. Her reply was, "I don't vote with my vagina". I guess my take on this whole issue of politicians and their military would be, "I don't vote with my DD214 form"

    June 4, 2010 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  24. Larry

    As a veteran myself...Kirk is an embrassment. He lied, plan and simple.

    June 4, 2010 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  25. Naqib


    The guy wins an annual award... calls himself winner of the year...
    These things are constant in the military, monthly, quarterly, 15 annual awards... Pro of the year and NCO of the year... either one is an annual winner. This after a quarter century of service...

    Not like he said he served in combat in a country he's never seen!
    A common Liberal error... Vietnam, Sniper Fire... etc

    June 4, 2010 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
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