How Mark Kirk can can prove he's not lying
Much has been made of Commander (CDR) Mark Kirk military service in the last couple of weeks. The latest alleges the Rep. Kirk campaigned while serving in Afghanistan, an allegation that I can say categorically is untrue during his time in Afghanistan between December 15, 2008 and January 2, 2009.Kirk responded that the commenter was "setting the record straight."
However, it appears that the dates in question were not the time when Kirk was accused of conducting "partisan political activities." Apparently, the time in question was just prior to Kirk's depoloyment, while he was in pre-deployment training status. Kirk claims this was "reserve duty," while the DoD says something different.
Either way, Kirk knows full well that the time the commenter writes about is not the time in question. In other words, it's yet another form of lie from Kirk, who's pretending the question has been answered in his favor.
But, as to the original question, do we have to simply put up with a he said/she said argument in which Kirk claims he wasn't on active duty and the DoD says he was? No. You see, Adam Weinstein had it right when he wrote that many Americans have no understanding of the inner workings of the military. They don't know the processes or the steps military members have to go through in order to serve, and, most importantly, they don't know the forms that document those processes and steps.
Unfortunately for Mark Kirk, I do.
So, if Mark Kirk wants to prove he didn't conduct those interviews while on active duty, there's a simple step he can take. Kirk must release his Annual Retirement Point Record (ARPR).
You may have heard that, as a Congressman, Kirk cannot perform his reserve duties for pay, but instead performs them for "retirement points." The ARPR (or the Retirement Point History Statement on the Army side) is a document that tracks those points down to the single day and it is one of those things Reservists pore over like Bible scholars at the Lost Sea Scrolls. That's because, at the end of a career, the numbers on the document get pushed through an algorithm and out comes the amount of monthly retirement pay the Reservist will receive. There's a handy calculator here, in fact, where Reservists can figure their retirement payments.*
The ARPR doesn't just show points, though, it shows very specific dates when different types of duty began and ended. Kirk's would show exactly when he began active duty and when it ended. It would either put to rest some** of the concerns about his "partisan political activities" or confirm them.
And here's the best part. It's super easy for Kirk to do this. If he wants to prove he didn't violate regs in December 2008, he can simply log onto his electronic record right now and, within minutes, create an ARPR.
Kirk has taken advantage of the fact that most Americans don't get the way the Navy works, which is why he released a few of his fitreps from 10 years ago. They're simply red herrings. So I put it to Kirk. He can clear some of this up by releasing his ARPR. It's as simple as that.
I do want to add that, in the end, what has made this portion of the Kirk story so stupid is that the infractions themselves were so small. Yes, they were violations and, frankly, I have to take the DoD's side in believing they did occur, but it's simply shocking to me that Kirk lied about them. As a PR guy--no. As a military public affairs guy, I would have suggested he say this:
You know what? I screwed up and talked to reporters when I shouldn't have and I tweeted on active duty and I got my knuckles rapped over it by the same guys who love my work as an intel officer. I was wrong and, hell, I'm proud to be a part of an organization that takes even small errors like this seriously. A dedication to a code is one of the things that drew me to the Navy.Instead Kirk, who has told so many lies about his service, chose to tell one more, sending out a statement that said he "never violated Defense Department policies." As I said in comments elsewhere, it seems that lying has become Mark Kirk's default setting for speaking about his military career. Now he's been caught in an obvious one about something easily provable, which lends credence to my claims the rest of his "misremembered" past was also made up of lies.
So put your cards on the table, Commander Kirk. Release your ARPR.
* For example, my document shows I had 3038 points toward retirement when I got out (I intended to get back in and actually retire, but that's a different story). Assuming those points, my last rank, 20 years of service and a 2010 retirement, I'd make about $1500 a month starting in 2031.
** I say "some" because this still seems to violate considering the letter was released while Kirk was on active duty. Nor would it clear up the issue of his tweets.