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. Anni

    What a low-life piece of garbage. Self-aggrandize much?

    Sen. Orrin Hatch has introduced a proposal making it a crime for individuals to embellish or lie about their military record with a possible penalty of up to six months in prison. How about a minimum of six months in prison for each occurrence? Or maybe even 6 years for each occurrence? How about adding in being stripped of all military benefits?

    Congratulations for being the scum bag who made it necessary to actually make this behavior illegal, Rep. Kirk. Your family must be so very proud.

    June 4, 2010 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  2. Djinn

    Does he only lie in "civilian-speak??"

    June 4, 2010 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  3. Obama reads his propaganda and lies, debt gets out of hand, and only the Socialist and Union members seem to be smiling.

    I think he went to the Democrat Illinois school of dishonesty, or was it the Blumenthal Connecticut school of dishonesty?

    I will take any Republican Conservative over a Socialist Machine that is destroying the American Dream every day they have power.

    Time to put the power back in the people's hands. Time to take America back from the politicians and let our private sector economy roar again, let our liberty and freedom reign again in this once great country again.

    June 4, 2010 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  4. Toni G - Phoeniz, AZ

    He is right – he is sorry

    June 4, 2010 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  5. Sun52shine

    You're not sorry for making the statements; you sorry you were caught and called on the carpet for it.

    June 4, 2010 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  6. welches, oregon

    Us 'civilians' understood you lied when you said you were award the Navy Intelligence Officer of the Year Award.

    Us 'civilians' also understood your Party is tying to do a double standard regarding your infraction.

    And what is disgraceful is you trying to make a political play out of LYING about your military record.

    Your rival was absolutely correct to point out your military service lies – you're only sorry you got caught. What a dunce.

    GOP – Party of Hypocrites

    June 4, 2010 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  7. TangledThorns

    Someone who mischaracterized their honorable military record or a failed mob banker? Choices.

    June 4, 2010 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  8. marty43

    Remember: Mission Accompished ! A typical Republican trait !

    June 4, 2010 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  9. Lets send Rush and Sarah the bill.

    Typical lying republican,all hat and no cattle.

    June 4, 2010 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  10. samuel

    this guy will not win remember our former first lady landing in bosnia under ginfire... ha ha ha these politicians will do anything to win an election then they will collect a good pay check with health insurance and then turn around and yell against 'big' government and the deficits idiots they wanna fool the people that the gov,t itself is bad.

    June 4, 2010 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  11. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    This guy has been living a life of lives. Kirk doesn't need a Senate job, he needs a professional therapist.

    June 4, 2010 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  12. JasonK

    I am pretty sure the wall street Jur-nail is now oblivious to this news. I think rather that military records the Republicans should be asked for their pro corporate stance

    June 4, 2010 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  13. emma

    "Civilian speak"? It is a lie in any language. His defense of his statement is as sickening as his falsehood!

    June 4, 2010 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  14. Ivan

    You have been touting your military record for years.
    Saying that it was staffers that wrote your bio. If you read what they wrote then why did you not catch the falsehoode? And if you did not read your own bio, I wonder what else your staffers write and you attach your name to, that goes unread by you.
    You obviously do not even listen to your own campaign ads where you have touted these "mistakes". Those ads where you say "I approve this ad".

    June 4, 2010 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  15. Cleve

    Whatever, will his lies stop or continue? I vote that they will continue. What a LOSER!!

    June 4, 2010 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  16. HeyHey

    Sure it was. I remember the good old days when politicians would fall on their swords at the hint of impropriety. Nowadays, they just lie and lie to get out of any jam. It doesn't matter how preposterous the lie is, they tell it anyway because they believe everyone else is too stupid to figure out the truth, or they don't really care what you think at all. btw when did we decide to substitute the word 'lie' for 'mischaracterize'? Pathetic. And, somehow, he says it's a 'disgrace' when he's caught in the lie by his opponent.

    June 4, 2010 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  17. dave

    This guy is a liar. I heard him on a local radio interview, and he wouldnt answer any questions... he blamed all these alegations coming forward on high priced goons looking into his record.... when asked if he did the same thing, he wouldnt answer the question.... 3 times jim leach of wmay asked him this and all 3 times he dodged the question. This guy is a liar and doesnt deserve high office.

    June 4, 2010 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  18. Republicans is smart in the head area

    This actually may be an advantage for him. His experience in mischaracterizing his military record will give him a leg up on other potential Republican candidates when it comes to mischaracterizing President Obama's policies.

    June 4, 2010 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  19. Jay

    Poor Kirk, I wonder if his good friend Orrin Hatch will lock him away for this ;) On a serious note, this is pretty low, even for a politician. To those vets out there who serv

    June 4, 2010 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  20. Jay

    ..oops, ..to those vets out there who have served, thank you.

    June 4, 2010 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  21. Connor

    Okay, I am here in Illinois, and I can tell the difference between a lie and 'civilian speak'. Apparently he thinks we are not smart enough to tell when we are being conned. Shame on you, Mr. Kirk. Obviously you learned nothing while in the military. They teach soldiers about Honor !!!

    June 4, 2010 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  22. dick delson

    another right wing idiot. what is wrong with these people?

    June 4, 2010 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  23. Kenneth

    As a Desert Storm veteran I am appalled that the efforts of those who served are diminished by the actions and statements of this "political" figure. What is he so ashamed of in his military career that he has to create an alter identity? Our representatives ... ALL OF THEM ... should be critically scrutinized. If they will lie about affairs, military service, kick backs, lobbying, residency, and any other issue that can better their position or status then how can they possibly have the countries "best interest" at heart? Term limits and in depth evaluation of qualifications to hold a public office is essential to turning this political MESS around. Plus the eradication of the good ol boy network.

    June 4, 2010 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  24. pam

    How stupid do these fools think we are. There is no way that you could be "unsure" if you were being shot at.Lair Lair psnts on fiar!

    June 4, 2010 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  25. Danny Cali

    Mark Kirk, just stay with the party of "NO" is better than you say YES to other things.

    June 4, 2010 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
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