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. Brandon

    How many "mischaracterizations" can one man make before someone in the media has the guts to call one of the a lie?

    June 4, 2010 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  2. Bill from GA

    Should have done it from the start, the lying weasel.

    June 4, 2010 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  3. Mike in SA

    Really??? This is a story to rehash over and over??? That a candidate misstated not his service, but what medal he received 15 years ago even though the medal he actually received is considered comparable??? Really CNN??? Pathetic.

    June 4, 2010 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  4. JohnLM

    Ah ok, I see he's a Republican.

    June 4, 2010 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  5. Jack

    This annoys me. Politicians are always apologizing "with qualifications." In this case Kirk apoligizes for using "civilian-speak." What the hell is that? Get a grib. You lied. Admit it an move on. Stop trying to spin the lie. I would for once like to see a politician say they lied. I'd forgive them in a heartbeat. I'm so annoyed at hearing the phrases: "sort of" "kind of" "taken out of context" "misspoke" "mischaracterized" (how many more ways can we say it). Is there anyone taking responsibility for anything anymore?

    June 4, 2010 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  6. Anonymous

    This is a plain case of stolen valor, and should be treated as the federal offense it is.

    June 4, 2010 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  7. Fair is Fair

    As much as I'd LOVE to see a Republican take Obama's old senate seat, I cannot forgive you, Kirk.

    But I'm sure the libs who forgave Blumenthal because "it was no big deal" will forgive you... right, libtards?

    June 4, 2010 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  8. B Parker

    No one mistakes when they've been fired upon... No one forgets which wars they served...

    This type of nonsense makes us look just as stupid as the Libs who lie about service. Clean it up, Repubs.

    June 4, 2010 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  9. Mike in SA

    Check that. Any misrepresentation of facing combat when one did not is a slap in the face to those that did. It shows a severe lack of character as it is a signal that this person's ego is far more important to him/her than the sacrifices that combat veterans have made.

    June 4, 2010 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  10. Jon

    This is not trying to talk civilian or a misrepresentation. These are
    bladface LIES. Let's stop this BS of trying to make nice when someone lies and call it what it is. These people should focus on improving their character and intregrity instead of trying to dick dance around the issue.

    June 4, 2010 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  11. FrankG

    As an Illinois resident (who also happens to reside within Kirk's district) be assured the candidates are two "empty suits". The real loser at the conclusion of the election: the residents of Illinois.

    June 4, 2010 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  12. Jim in Bisbee

    I find it odd that as an intelligence officer he would not be able to properly identify a medal attached to his jacket. Either he lacks ability or honesty.

    June 4, 2010 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  13. G Singer

    This is just like an actors resume, truth in parenthesis

    Performed lead in Hamlet (in parents basement)
    Starred with Robert DeNiro in Scorcese film (an extra one day on set of 'Casino')
    Studied with the famed Stella Adler (rehearsed lines at her gravesite)

    June 4, 2010 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  14. Jamie from Riverside

    He's a LIAR!
    where's all the republican outrage that we enjoyed when poor Bloomenthal did a similar 'mis-speak' a few weeks ago. I believe those guys were lining up screeching, wailing and foaming at the mouth for him to go to jail...where are those loudmouths (Orrin Hatch for instance) now?

    June 4, 2010 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  15. Jack

    Apologize accept, I may not agree with your political agenda nor the way the RNC political operations, but if you have the guts to stand up admit an error in judgement and/or take full responsibilty for your staffs error, you;at the very least have my respect.

    June 4, 2010 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  16. mad155155

    CNN, please explain to me why it is important to include Republican in the header? I do not remember Democrat being in header for Blumenthal only the word politician. No wonder you have to employ people like Spitzer for a news show.

    June 4, 2010 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  17. Lar

    Notice that in his apology, he says, "You should speak with utter precision...", "You should stand...". He doesn't even have the courage to say, "I should speak with utter precision", "I should stand..."

    June 4, 2010 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  18. Judy

    Politicians like this are among the reasons why I am no longer a Republican leaning Independent. I registered as a Democrat last year. Not that I have ever voted a straight ticket but I just can't agree with the Republicans on 95% of their stances.

    June 4, 2010 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  19. Montana Dude

    American politics continue to sink to new lows. What I admire is the way politicians, from both sides, have successfuly morphed the word "lying" into the less serious "mis-stating".
    Can you imagine that as ordinary citizens we used the word
    mis-stated when explaining to the IRS, TSA, FBI, NSA, etc.?

    Thank God we don't get all the government we pay for.

    June 4, 2010 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  20. Rick McDaniel

    Seems that politicians love to claim more military credentials than they actually have.

    Liars don't belong in Congress.

    June 4, 2010 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  21. Mike S., New Orleans

    Why should he apologize? He's behaving like a perfect Republican.

    June 4, 2010 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  22. Timus, Powder Springs, GA

    Wow. How do you know when a politician is lying? When their lips are moving!!

    June 4, 2010 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  23. Chris - Denver

    Big deal. Democrats do it too.

    June 4, 2010 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  24. Qnswmn

    Is that all the members of the Republicans Party can do, lie, deny and oppose anything that is in general, good for the American people?

    I cannot tolerate their ungodly misuse and abuse of the English language. They use code words like “misspoke”, "civilian-speak”, etc. when all they are doing is simply telling big fat bold faced LIES!

    Sick politicians of both parties, how can you not know that in this day and age it is so very simple to check the varsity of your every pronouncement? SMH!

    June 4, 2010 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  25. mark from dover

    This guy is a legend in his own mind. BTW-he's also Spiderman!

    June 4, 2010 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
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