Monday, June 14, 2010

BREAKING: Pentagon confirms Kirk violated policy

In a statement released today in response to Nitpicker queries, Pentagon spokesperson Air Force Major April Cunningham* confirmed that Rep. Mark Kirk had taken part in partisan political activities while on active duty.

From the statement:
In December 2008, Commander Kirk, while on active duty, participated in video discussions in the media about the unfolding situation involving then-Governor Blagojevich of Illinois. Members of the Armed Forces on active duty may not participate in television discussions as an advocate for or against a partisan political party, candidate, or cause.

In July 2009, while on active duty in the Washington area, either Commander Kirk or a staff member posted a "twitter" to his Senate campaign web site that indicated he was on duty at the National Military Command Center. At the time, Commander Kirk was a candidate for the Senate. Candidates for political office may not participate in any campaign activities while on active duty. They may not update or revise their websites, and they must inform their campaign staff of the applicable restrictions.

Department of Defense Directive 1344.10, Political Activities by Members of the Armed Forces, addresses these matters.
The statement explains the "partisan political activities" referred to in the December 18, 2009 DoD memo published here last week.

More important is that the statement basically points out Kirk has continued to lie about these events.
Commander Kirk was counseled about each of his violations after they occurred and signed a statement acknowledging the limitations on his ability to participate in campaign activities while on active duty. He was required to complete this acknowledgement before being allowed to begin active duty in December 2009. (Italics mine.)
So, while Kirk has been saying publicly the memo was "off the mark," the Pentagon says he was counseled about the violations and, therefore, Kirk knows his statement that he has "never violated Defense Department policies" is, in fact, a lie.

Update: This post has been edited for clarity.

Update: The Tribune's John Chase has also picked up the story.
he Pentagon today offered details to support its assertion that Republican Senate candidate Mark Kirk twice violated military policy by participating in political activities while on active duty -- once in 2008 and once in 2009.

Kirk--a congressman and Navy reserve commander--broke the rules when he gave TV interviews in December 2008 about the corruption arrest of then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich, the Defense Department said. Kirk violated policy again in July 2009 when he or a staff member posted a tweet on his Senate campaign Twitter account that indicated he was on duty at the National Military Command Center, the department said.

The explanation came a week after questions were first raised about a December waiver from the military that Kirk needed to serve in Afghanistan. The Pentagon referred to the policy violations in that waiver, adding fodder to the controversy over Kirk's embellishment of his military record. The five-term North Shore congressman is engaged in tough Senate race with Democrat Alexi Giannoulias, the state treasurer.

The Pentagon approved the waiver and allowed Kirk to go to Afghanistan but expressed “concerns arising from his partisan political activities during his last two tours of active duty.”

Kirk’s campaign denied he violated any Defense Department policies and called the memorandum written by Deputy Under Secretary of Defense Gail H. McGinn “simply off the mark.”
I'm starting to get offended by the way these guys refuse to say where these "questions were raised," but I guess I'd be embarrassed too if I were a reporter for a major daily getting punked by little old me.

Update: As Rich Miller points out, Mark Kirk's response is "nonsensical." I think the key here is that Kirk spent a month saying his previous falsehoods were misstatements, misrememberings and clerical errors. Yet just last week he told Rich he had “never violated Defense Department policies.” Now we know he was lying when he released that statement, which shines a new light on his previous statements.

* Major Cunningham's rank has been adjusted. I initially listed her as a lieutenant colonel and she's been accepted for promotion, but hasn't pinned on the new rank yet. Congratulations, Lt. Col.!


Blogger Carl Nyberg said...

Hey, Nitpicker, the game warden is asking if you have a tag for the Silver Spoon Republican you just bagged.

6:58 PM  
Blogger Carl Nyberg said...

For all you traditional media outlets: ask Kirk to produce the documentation of the counseling he received.

6:59 PM  
Anonymous Eman said...

Nitpicker scoops the big guys again. Gotta luv it :)

7:32 PM  
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12:24 AM  
Blogger Schuyler =^oo^= said...

See? Proof positive you were blowing this whole thing completely out of proportion...

No, wait...scratch that.

Having applied for, and been interviewed for, several jobs this last year, I find myself wondering about the sanity of this kind of thing. It's a minor comparison, but all job candidates (like me) want to make themselves look like the Next Great Thing and puff up like a big peacock in search of a mate. I could, possibly, tell prospective employers that I am a PHD when, in fact, I didn't complete college, and hope to get away with it.

Nitpicker, this simply begs the question: what the hell was he thinking? I have long suspected that politicians, for lack of anything more dysfunctional in their lives, actually enjoy committing public political suicide, if only to see if they survive it. It's like they're skydiving and seeking the thrill. Just sayin.'

Great update - now let's see where the rabbit hole goes.

5:30 AM  
Blogger Nitpicker said...

Actually, I think what happened with Kirk is he started out telling little lies years ago and realized quickly that no one was calling him on them because the press didn't have the military knowledge to do so. So he grew bolder and just kept piling lie upon lie. Then, when I challenged him in 2005 over the Iraqi Freedom lie and he got away with simply changing it and saying nothing, he thought he was scot free.

I think at some point, lying became his default setting, as evidenced by this case. These violations are not huge and, if I were his PR guy, I would have told him to come clean and say, "Come on, I gave an interview and sent a tweet. I got my knuckles smacked and that was it. I'm sorry." Instead, he chose to lie about something easily provable, which lends credence to my claims the rest of his "misremembered" past was also made up of lies.

Once the press had the "hook" of Blumenthal on which to hang his story, it all came tumbling out.

7:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"lying became his default setting."

That's good.

8:53 AM  
Anonymous USAF CMSgt (Ret.) said...

It's great to see such outstanding reporting from a fellow DINFOS alumni. I was a regular reader of Nitpicker in it's early stage, but somehow lost track during its dormant period. Even AP is crediting you now. It's the new era of journalism, and we need experienced pros like you to blaze the trail of online investigative reporting.

10:45 AM  
Blogger Nitpicker said...

I'm honored, Chief.

11:00 AM  
Blogger Andy Martin said...

Where is there a link to the actual DOD document?

3:32 PM  
Blogger Nitpicker said...

The original DoD document that began this is posted here, but the statement was released to me through email and includes answers to other questions for issues about which I have not yet posted.

However, while I have your attention, Mr. Martin, I feel it important to point out I vehemently oppose your attempts to smear Congressman Kirk based on innuendo and rumors about his personal life. I do believe his military career is an important issue, primarily because he makes it such a large part of his campaign, but I reject your attempts to use hatred as a tool against a political opponent. It demeans the grand idea upon which our nation is based, it demeans our political discourse and, most of all, sir, it demeans you.

4:39 PM  
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