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May 24, 2005
Kerry Signed The 180?

Joan Vennochi reports in her Boston Globe column today that John Kerry has signed the SF-180 form that will release his entire military record. However, as even the liberal Vennochi acknowledges, with Kerry that means less than one might think (via Michelle Malkin):

During an interview yesterday with Globe editorial writers and columnists, the former Democratic presidential nominee was asked if had signed Form SF 180, authorizing the Department of Defense to grant access to all his military records.

''I have signed it," Kerry said. Then, he added that his staff was ''still going through it" and ''very, very shortly, you will have a chance to see it."

The devil is usually in the details. With Kerry, it's also in the dodges and digressions. After the interview, Kerry's communications director, David Wade, was asked to clarify when Kerry signed SF 180 and when public access would be granted. Kerry drifted over to join the conversation, immediately raising the confusion level. He did not answer the question of when he signed the form or when the entire record will be made public.

Several e-mails later, Wade conveyed the following information: On Friday, May 20, Kerry obtained a copy of Form 180 and signed it. ''The next step is to send it to the Navy, which will happen in the next few days. The Navy will then send out the records," e-mailed Wade.

Now, as Michelle notes, that request will take a few weeks for the Navy to process and provide a response. It may be the end of summer before any records are produced ... and it could be a cold day in Hell before all or any of it gets released to the media. In fact, Kerry could argue that signing it was all he agreed to do. When, he could say, did I commit to sending it to the Navy? You FOOLS! Mwa-HAHAHAHA!

All kidding aside, Kerry only agreed to sign off on the SF-180. He didn't agree to release every document that results from that request. The SF-180 will only release the information to Kerry, who can then cull the material for anything embarrassing before making it public. Vennochi herself appears to think that this may wind up being Kerry's stance after he sees the files:

Kerry insists ''The truth in its entirety will come out . . . the truth will come out."

Signing Form 180 is the first step. Releasing his entire military record to the public is the second.

It doesn't get any plainer than that.

We'll see. Somehow, with Kerry's track record, I suspect he'll find a rhetorical loophole he's left to allow him off the hook once the file arrives from the Navy.

UPDATE: Michelle Malkin, in reference to my scenario above, recalls that the SF-180 makes all records public, which doesn't sound correct to me. CQ commenter Lew Clark elaborates:

The form authorizes the release of military records to a specific individual or entity. That individual/entity is designated in Part III of the form. Aditionally, in Part II of the form, the veteran designates whether an edited or unedited record is released. In Part II they can designate whether discharge information is released or not. That would be very important in the Kerry case based on questions about the nature of his discharge.

This first came up relative to President Bush based on a Freedom of Information Request (I forget who filed the request, News Organization, ACLU, ?). But, when Bush signed his SF 180 he authorized release of all his records to the organization that made the FOIA request.

I get no indication that Kerry has processed an SF 180 releasing all his military records, unedited to Judicial Watch. It appears, in fact, he has only authorized the release to himself. He/ his staff will then go through the records and re-release what they damn well please.

That was my understanding, based on hazy memories of the debate from last year. If anyone can substantiate or refute that, please e-mail me or comment on this post.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at May 24, 2005 7:02 AM

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