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June 7, 2005
Did Kerry Turn Over Full File To The Boston Globe?

The Boston Globe claims this morning that John Kerry has finally made his entire service record publicly available, at least to them. Michael Kranish, who wrote unquestioning articles about Kerry's service in Viet Name before and during the presidential campaign, proclaims that the release vindicates Kerry -- but even Kranish can't add up why Kerry kept the file secret:

Senator John F. Kerry, ending at least two years of refusal, has waived privacy restrictions and authorized the release of his full military and medical 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."

Kranish then goes on to describe several commendations and memos of praise. Interestingly, though, Kranish remains silent on several points of controversy that the secrecy of the files helped stoke. Namely, Kranish doesn't mention anything about Kerry's discharge, and why it took him until 1978 to get it, while he quit serving in 1972. He doesn't mention any assignment or attachment to an intelligence unit that would corroborate his later explanations of Christmas In Cambodia or gun-running to the Khmer Rouge. Kranish also doesn't reveal anything about the timeline of events or command assignments that would answer whether he tried to steal part of Tedd Peck's service record in order to provide cover for David Alston to lie about their time together during the political campaign.

It did, however, contain Kerry's academic record from his four years in college. Despite the claims of his supporters, who seemed eager to paint Kerry as a towering intellect while castigating Bush as a moron, the two earned almost identical grades while at Yale:

During last year's presidential campaign, John F. Kerry was the candidate often portrayed as intellectual and complex, while George W. Bush was the populist who mangled his sentences.

But newly released records show that Bush and Kerry had a virtually identical grade average at Yale University four decades ago.

In 1999, The New Yorker published a transcript indicating that Bush had received a cumulative score of 77 for his first three years at Yale and a roughly similar average under a non-numerical rating system during his senior year.

Kerry, who graduated two years before Bush, got a cumulative 76 for his four years, according to a transcript that Kerry sent to the Navy when he was applying for officer training school. He received four D's in his freshman year out of 10 courses, but improved his average in later years.

In fact, the two men have so much in common, it's almost uncanny. Their grade points are almost identical, and both struggled through their freshman years before buckling down and working for their education. Both entered military service after graduating, and both went back afterwards for a higher degree (Bush - Harvard, MBA; Kerry - BC, law degree). Both appeared to be somewhat adrift when they did so.

The key difference, of course, is that Bush never pretended to be a great student at college, just as he never pretended to be a war hero. Nothing that Kranish reports relates to those issues. This release by Kerry still doesn't answer key questions about what he's claimed about his service and the conflicts in his narrative first exposed by the Swiftvets. Let Kerry make the entire record public, so we can all see the answers to these questions.

Michelle Malkin has a great roundup of links to this story.

UPDATE: Er, yes, a law degree is a higher degree. Mea stupida culpa. I've changed the post accordingly. Hat tip: Ted V.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at June 7, 2005 6:46 AM

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