Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Ode To an SF 180

Thomas Lipscomb in The New York Sun has a possible reason why Sen. John Kerry refuses to sign an SF 180 to release all his military records. In an explosive piece that appears today, the spectre is raised that Sen. Kerry may not have originally received an honorable discharg from the military.

According to Lipscomb:

"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."

Now some dates come into play. The Sec. Claytor signed document that is shown on Sen. Kerry's website is dated Feb. 18, 1978. If this is the date that Kerry was discharged, then he spent 12 years in the service which is six more than he claims.
The fact that the document is from 1978 also brings some other relevant details into the mix.

As per Lipscomb:

"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."

Now, this is all speculation and could have a logical and undamning explanation. However, this is definite grist for the rumor mill. But (nod to Sen. Kerry) until Sen. Kerry signs an SF 180 and lets the public have access to all his military records, speculation of this type will not only continue to grow, it will continue to grow exponentially!

(tilted beret to Michelle)

Update: It has been brought to my attention that there are numerous other discharges from military service other than just honorable and dishonorable. This link gives details on that. However, my main point remains unchanged; without the full disclosure of Sen. Kerry's military records, speculation about his discharge will continue and will continue to his detriment. This whole kerfuffle could be cleared up with the stroke of a pen.