Wednesday, October 13, 2004

John Kerry, Man of Mystery

The New York Sun has a fascinating article offering a rational on why John Kerry will not sign the Standard Form 180 and allow the full release of all his military records:

An official Navy document on Senator Kerry's campaign Web site listed as Mr. Kerry's "Honorable Discharge from the Reserves" opens a door on a well kept secret about his military service.

The document is a form cover letter in the name of the Carter administration's secretary of the Navy, W. Graham Claytor. It describes Mr. Kerry's discharge as being subsequent to the review of "a board of officers." This in it self is unusual. There is nothing about an ordinary honorable discharge action in the Navy that requires a review by a board of officers.

According to the secretary of the Navy's document, the "authority of reference" this board was using in considering Mr. Kerry's record was "Title 10, U.S. Code Section 1162 and 1163. "This section refers to the grounds for involuntary separation from the service. What was being reviewed, then, was Mr. Kerry's involuntary separation from the service. And it couldn't have been an honorable discharge, or there would have been no point in any review at all. The review was likely held to improve Mr. Kerry's status of discharge from a less than honorable discharge to an honorable discharge.

[…]

The "board of officers" review reported in the Claytor document is even more extraordinary because it came about "by direction of the President." No normal honorable discharge requires the direction of the president. The president at that time was James Carter. This adds another twist to the story of Mr. Kerry's hidden military records.

Mr. Carter's first act as president was a general amnesty for draft dodgers and other war protesters. Less than an hour after his inauguration on January 21, 1977, while still in the Capitol building, Mr. Carter signed Executive Order 4483 empowering it. By the time it became a directive from the Defense Department in March 1977 it had been expanded to include other offenders who may have had general, bad conduct, dishonorable discharges, and any other discharge or sentence with negative effect on military records. In those cases the directive outlined a procedure for appeal on a case by case basis before a board of officers. A satisfactory appeal would result in an improvement of discharge status or an honorable discharge.

Mr. Kerry has repeatedly refused to sign Standard Form 180, which would allow the release of all his military records. And some of his various spokesmen have claimed that all his records are already posted on his Web site. But the Washington Post already noted that the Naval Personnel Office admitted that they were still withholding about 100 pages of files.

If Mr. Kerry was the victim of a Nixon "enemies list" hit, one might have expected him to wear it like a badge of honor, like many others such as his friend Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers, CBS's Daniel Schorr, or the actor Paul Newman, who had made Mr. Colson's original list of 20 "enemies."

There are a number of categories of discharges besides honorable. There are general discharges, medical discharges, bad conduct discharges, as well as other than honorable and dishonorable discharges. There is one odd coincidence that gives some weight to the possibility that Mr. Kerry was dishonorably discharged. Mr. Kerry has claimed that he lost his medal certificates and that is why he asked that they be reissued. But when a dishonorable discharge is issued, all pay benefits, and allowances, and all medals and honors are revoked as well. And five months after Mr. Kerry joined the U.S. Senate in 1985, on one single day, June 4, all of Mr. Kerry's medals were reissued.
I would presume that very few of us are the same people we started out being 30+ years ago. I would also assume that most of us are rather apathic to who John Kerry was all those years ago except that the issue is not who John Kerry was 30+ years ago - but if he is still the same person today.

(Tipped off by Instapundit)

1 comment:

No Illusions said...

Kerry has had an entire career to acknowledge his past mistakes, as Bush has. I agree that the reason he hasn't is partly because he's still the same antiwar pacifist he became, probably while in Vietnam.

His case is worse, because he's always run as an opportunist. In his years in Massachusetts and in the Senate, he's only had to cater to a majority-liberal constituency. He can't handle a 50/50 electorate.