Kerry Releases Military Records

While any mention of Kerry's military records causes my digestive system to brace for volcanic activity, it is worth mentioning that Kerry has now, more than six months after the end of the campaign, has waived privacy restrictions and authorized the release of his full military records: The records, which the Navy Personnel Command provided to the Globe, are mostly a duplication of what Kerry released during his 2004 campaign for president, including numerous commendations from commanding officers who later criticized Kerry's Vietnam service.

The lack of any substantive new material about Kerry's military career in the documents raises the question of why Kerry refused for so long to waive privacy restrictions. An earlier release of the full record might have helped his campaign because it contains a number of reports lauding his service. Indeed, one of the first actions of the group that came to be known as Swift Boat Veterans for Truth was to call on Kerry to sign a privacy waiver and release all of his military and medical records.

But Kerry refused, even though it turned out that the records included commendations from some of the same veterans who were criticizing him.

On May 20, Kerry signed a document called Standard Form 180, authorizing the Navy to send an ''undeleted" copy of his ''complete military service record and medical record" to the Globe. Asked why he delayed signing the form for so long, Kerry said in a written response: ''The call for me to sign a 180 form came from the same partisan operatives who were lying about my record on a daily basis on the Web and in the right-wing media. Even though the media was discrediting them, they continued to lie. I felt strongly that we shouldn't kowtow to them and their attempts to drag their lies out."

I can understand Kerry's desire to not let lying, Nixon lackeys like O'Neill drive the debate, especially in an era when a full-fledged Republican Noise Machine is able to offer such thugs a national microphone. I can also understand his personal desire to privacy and his sense of duty to other military veterans who might seek public office. Had Kerry released his records under pressure, he would have sent a precedent that in future elections would have been unbreakable. However, I also wonder if releasing these records earlier, long before August, might have stopped the Swift Boat Liars before they began. Having following the polls every day during the campaign, I am pretty darn certain that without the Swift Boat controversy, Kerry would have emerged victorious in November.

Then again, considering the death grip the Republican Noise Machine has over the media, I am not certain if releasing these records would have made any difference whatsoever in the Republican effort to slander a great American. I also wonder what Kerry's decision to release his records has to do with his plans for 2008. I have added a poll on the subject to the main page.

Tags: General 2008 (all tags)



Kerry's people didn't get it
It's amazing.

How intractable do you have to be to not release records that in no way damaged you?

I realize the Kerry spent a month of pursing a "do not legitimize them" policy toward the Swifties.

But, clearly they didn't realize that Fox News and the GOP blogosphere were all the legitimacy this crap needed.

It was 2004, not 1964.  The media just ain't the same.  And legitimacy itself is not longer as legitimate.

by jcjcjc 2005-06-07 08:49AM | 0 recs
Bush's records are at

Its entitled

"THE AWOL PROJECT An Examination of the Bush Military Files"

I was struck by the fact that his Vietnam-era military service was part time.. and just how part time that was.. just a few days a month... and once he seems to have dissapeared for almost a year...

by ultraworld 2005-06-07 11:09AM | 0 recs
He could have turned "kowtow" into a win

I can sympathize with Kerry not wanting to "kowtow" to the Swiftliars, but he missed an opportunity to turn an apprent "kowtow" into an advantage.

Imagine if this had happened:

Kerry announces a press conference on his military record. At the conference, he holds up a document.

"This is my signed Standard Form 180 authorizing the Pentagon to release any and all records of my service in the U.S. Navy.

"You won't learn anything from these records that I haven't already told you. I enlisted in the Navy when the U.S. was at war. I served in a combat zone. I was awarded a silver star, a bronze star, and three purple hearts for my actions in combat. I recieved an honorable discharge.

"The piles of paperwork in my service file are of no importance to the challenges facing our country over the next four years. If some of you in the media are convinced that access to 30-year-old service records is of vital importance, I'm willing to accomodate you. When you have Goearge Bush's signed Standard Form 180, I'll hand mine over to you. If the records are realy important to you, I'm sure you can get them in the next 48 hours. After that, I'm going to move on to the topics that concern Americans today and in the future. Blah, blah, blah."

Don't bother nitpicking the language--I have no campaign experience. The point is to redefine the request away from being a demand that Kerry stop trying to hide something. The request is redefined as a demand that the media stop trying to have things both ways--either the full records are really important, in which case the media should strongly demand them from all candidates, or the records are a side show, in which case the media should move on.

by Ottnott 2005-06-07 04:15PM | 0 recs
Pistols at dawn
That's what I always felt Kerry's response to the Swifties should have been.

Frankly, America hasn't had a good political honor killing in 200 years.

by jcjcjc 2005-06-07 10:56PM | 0 recs
Reading this today
left me speechless. Just how dumb were Kerry and his consultants?

Not only was there nothing to hide in the documents, there was actually stuff they could have used against the Swiftie Liars. The day after (heck, the next hour) the first Swiftie ad went out they should have had another showing how many of them had written commendations back in the 60s.

This, to me, is yet another reason why Kerry lost his chance and is dead for 2008. This boreders on incompetency.

At kos those few that are defending Kerry say his right to privacy was at stake. I'm sorry,  that's just BS. There is no right to privacy in a campaign, much less a presidential one. If you can't fight or don't know how then don't run for President.

I'm sadder by the day that Dean didn't win.

by GT 2005-06-07 08:59AM | 0 recs
It's Possible
It's possible that the people at the top of the campaign just didn't understand what was going on, and were not aware of the narrative that was being heard outside of the beltway.  So important stuff didn't "filter up."  I think the lack of response to the Swift Boat smear might be because of this.

I think it's possible that they did not think it was important to pay attention to Limbaugh and the other RW media, and might not have even been aware of how much influence Limbaugh and that wingnut crowd has over much of the country.  They might have felt that only Russert and Friedman and Time and the rest of the Washington "conventional wisdom" crowd mattered.

I know that people in the campaign were trying to get the people at the very top to pay attention...  Maybe this explains the disconnect we all saw.

by davej 2005-06-07 09:09AM | 0 recs
Russert and Friedman?
Why do you draw a distinction between Russert and Friedman and Limbaugh? That is a difference without a distinction.

Have Russert or Friedman even suggested that Bush and his whole administration are the most corrupt administration in American history? Has anyone in the M$M pursued genuine Bush scandals with the same intensity that they pursued bogus Clinton scandals?

The M$M is our enemy just as much as Limbaugh and Hannity. Why does anyone try to pretend differently?

by Gary Boatwright 2005-06-07 11:08AM | 0 recs
AOL still harping
I note that the AOL splash page this morning had an article and link discussing Kerry's and Bush's grades at Yale...

Of all things, why NOW?  

Backlash against Kerry's comments on the Downing Street Memo?

Surprised it was about Kerry's grades at school and NOT about his military records!

by RayneToday 2005-06-07 09:32AM | 0 recs
Re: AOL still harping
What did Kerry say about the Downing Street Memo?
by Gary Boatwright 2005-06-07 11:09AM | 0 recs
I remember a big part...
of the Swift Shitheads' argument was that Kerry was keeping his records a secret.

Putting them out there would have shut that line of argument down.

On the whole, I'm thinking he should have released this during the campaign.

The Swift Shit's was a BIG reason he lost. Not because they lied, but because he didn't fight them hard enough.

America loves a fighter.

by cscs 2005-06-07 09:49AM | 0 recs
Kerry is bought and sold
At this point,the only logical conclusion to be taken is that EVERYTHING that could have helped Kerry in his bid to become President was suppressed by himself.

Why would anybody think Kerry was in the race other than to make sure Dubya got back in the White House with the least resistance?
John Kerry is a RICH PERSON fighting for himself and OTHER RICH PEOPLE.

As far as I'm concerned, his spineless campaign, his retreat from the fight for an accurate vote count, and his reemergence as the opportunistic senator he always was is just more reason to ignore him now.

Remember, HE could have pushed both the Iran-Contra nad BCCI investigations - why did he back off?

by Rico 2005-06-07 09:58AM | 0 recs
Re: Kerry is bought and sold
Not to mention the fact that Kerry cannot be trusted. He reneged on his pledge to challenge the Ohio vote and now he has reneged on his promise to raise the Downing Street Memo.

Maybe he's going to raise the Downing Street Memo today. Does anybody want to hold their breath?

by Gary Boatwright 2005-06-07 11:03AM | 0 recs
He "raised" the DSM just by speaking of it to the reporter in the first place. (If he was "bought", why the HELL would those words come out of his mouth in the first place?? - oh wait, I'm using logic. Sorry.)

Do you think for a minute that Kennedy - his partner and pal - jumped in front of him by releasing a statement without prior coordination?

Maybe, just maybe, Kerry's coordinating with other dems, and they've decided together that the time isn't right yet.

Also, on Tuesday his office sent a statement to the Boston Phoenix, reiterating his promise to speak out on DSM - which ALSO made it into the paper - which I'd say we ought to be happy that he's getting it mentioned in a newspaper, wouldn't you?

by MH in PA 2005-06-10 08:28PM | 0 recs
Kerry's records irrelvant
Bushco planned to steal votes in Ohio, PA., and Florida no matter what Kerry did.

Keery didn't lose, Bush stole the 2004 election.

If you think bush won you have to believe that people in Ohio in Democratic districts with 80 - 90 % Democratic registration voted instead for Bush at 80% rates, after standing in the rain for 10 hours.

by leschwartz 2005-06-07 10:01AM | 0 recs
Kerry's a human being, troops...
...and and as such he is likely to occasionally  fuck up.

But this...

Why would anybody think Kerry was in the race other than to make sure Dubya got back in the White House with the least resistance

...has to be the dumbest thing I've heard in months.

by Davis X Machina 2005-06-07 11:07AM | 0 recs
Why did Kerry conceed?
Why should we expect him not to quit if he gets the nomination again? I can't even believe he's still pretending he has a snowball's chance in hell of getting the nomination again.
by Gary Boatwright 2005-06-07 11:10AM | 0 recs
Re: Kerry's a human being, troops...

Can you give me ONE EXAMPLE of good political strategy that Kerry emplyed during his campaign?


He was running like a man who wasn't sure he wanted to win, up until he conceded during the final vote count of the state with the most documented voter disenfrancisement abuses on record.

And one lesson everybody should learn from this - we should never let anybody tell us who is "electable" any more.

This just proves for me that if Progressives would have stuck with Kucinich, we would have still probably lost, but we for sure would not have seen these Rich Democrats dare vote for the Bankruptcy bill, or to concede the filibuster rules with their tails between their legs.

by Rico 2005-06-07 01:07PM | 0 recs
Kerrys Military Records
You said the control that the Right Wing Noise Machine has over the MSM would have made it near impossible for Kerry to get the message out about his records, or words to that effect.

There is some truth in that.  George Galloway just showed us how to deal with the machine.  Decide what you believe and don't let them put words in your mouth, while aggressively pushing your own position.  Don't take any shit from them.  You get no points for being nice, just another bootheel in the chops.

by zak822 2005-06-07 01:10PM | 0 recs
Just how unlikable Kerry was.
I spent the weekened with my grandparents and Aunt this weekend.  My grandparents are from Mississippi and Tennessee.  It has been a while since I talked politics with them and so being they are from the south, I expected them to be full blooded Bush supporters.

I was wrong.

As the talk went to current events, I was amazed at the strong passionate dislike they had for the man.  Some of the words said were as strong as most things said on Mydd.  Among my grandparents, there was a longing for a Clinton esque president again.  So as talk progressed to the 2004 election, I heard a shocking statement.


Now this shocked the hell out of me.  My Grandma would vote Nader before voting for Bush (ironic coming from a southern daughter of an episcopalian preacher who still has some of that old south racial insensitivity), however, My aunt, uncle and Grandpa all voted Bush.  I asked why, since they claimed to despise Bush.  I assumed the SS debate had changed their minds.  They said they felt the same way about Bush now as they did then.  However, they didn't like Kerry, didn't think he was a strong leader.  To steal a line from Michael J Fox, they were so desperate for leadership, they would rather drink the sand of bad leadership then go with a guy who showed no leadership ability.  

Now I was surprised by this, but I had heard this sentiment before about Kerry.  What to take away from this, I am not sure.  For one, as most of us know, our concept of electability vs what is actually electable are 2 different things.  And maybe NH and Iowa aren't the best places to pick our candidate, but that has been argued before.  Just thought I would throw that out there for everyone.

by yitbos96bb 2005-06-07 06:41PM | 0 recs
Re: Just how unlikable Kerry was.
No offense, but it's your family's fault that Kerry didn't get their votes. Maybe it's true that people vote based on image, but that doesn't change the fact that it's stupid. If you completely disagreee with a politician on almost every issue, and despise him as a person, why on Earth would you vote for them?

Answer: because you refuse to question the lies and bullshit the media has created for you.

I liked Kerry, but then again, I haven't been inundated by the mainstream media unlike the other 95% of the country.

That said, I don't like anymore. But I have my own reasons for that, and it involves him not being liberal enough (and I'm a reality-based moderate).

Oh well, at least you strayed away from the paranoid "Kerry's In Cahoots With Bush" loonies.

by Covin 2005-06-07 07:00PM | 0 recs
It's a tough call.
I can't see that releasing the records in 2004 would have helped.  It would have just reinvigorated the SBVT thing by provoking another round of SBVT interviews "in response" to Kerry on the Internet.

The Kerry plan didn't work.  It was this: ignore the smear and hope that it loses its traction over time as people become bored with it.  Sadly, by the time that happened, the damage had been done.  

I still get people, even Democrats, on the non-political forums I frequent, claiming that Kerry was some horrible person who spit on returning Vets and did something wrong in Vietnam, although they can't remember what.  The SBVT phenomenon was ENORMOUSLY successful by that cynical measure, something we would be foolhardy to not remember and recognize when it happens again, because, of course, it will.  Something this successful -- the outrageous smear -- will SURELY be used again in the next election cycle, just like the use of planes in WWI guaranteed their use in WWII.

And we need to think (hold your stomach) of how we can do the same to them.  Because if the media just plays along with this shit, the only possible solution is an even more foul counterattack, an even more outrageous smear in retaliation, accompanied by, "Well, they started it first."  

We better be planning for this eventuality.  Rove put planning into the SBVT and laid a lot of foundation before springing it.  SBVT wasn't started in August.  It was started in the early spring, after Kerry had guaranteed his nomination.  But the real assault wasn't sprung until later, when people simply assumed it would have no more teeth.  The sheer imagination of Rove to see that it could be forced into the media consciousness so late in the game has to be appreciated.  We had better be prepared to do the same in 2008.  

And in 2006 congressional elections as well.  The rules of warfare have changed.  We didn't change them, but we better adjust to it anyway.

by Dumbo 2005-06-08 05:05AM | 0 recs


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