Washington Prowler

Reporting for Duty

Don't count on the Navy for Kerry's records. The full collection is elsewhere. Plus: Hillary mocked. Dean avoided.

By 6.8.05

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MISSION UNACCOMPLISHED
So with the exception of seeing Sen. John Kerry's middling grades at Yale, what was achieved by his signing of the SF-180 document?

If it was about releasing his military record, that wasn't achieved.

If it was about clarifying his reserve activities upon his return from his short stint in Vietnam, that wasn't achieved.

If it was to perhaps further obscure the truth about his service and post-Vietnam activities, mission accomplished.

It is unclear exactly what was released by the Navy late Monday to the Boston Globe. On its face it appears that aside from the Yale transcript and some commendations, little new appeared.

"I don't know what everyone expected," says a former Kerry campaign staffer. "We said this was the complete file months ago. The Senator pointedly requested that the grades not be included in the documents released during the campaign."

And there lies the rub. At no point has Kerry requested a full, nonredacted release of his military record from the National Personnel Record Center, which has custody of Kerry's complete record.

According to Steve Jones, a principal of Lyon Research, and a respected researcher, who specializes in culling data at the National Archives, the Library of Congress, and various military and museum repositories across the country, Kerry's full file could contain a number of other documents not released on Monday, such as documents that verify his status in the Reserves up to 1978.

But redirecting media and the public away from his full file appears to have been Kerry's plan all along, because he submitted his SF-180 to the wrong entity.

"It doesn't make sense that he is going through the Navy," says Jones. "Applying through the Navy gives this scenario the appearance of a personnel shuffle. Kerry said he applied to the Navy and the Boston Globe said they received his record from the Navy and that makes no sense when the relevant records are at the National Personnel Record Center, a part of the National Archives. By going through the Navy Kerry makes it appear that he is using the Navy to screen his file; he added a layer of bureaucracy when all he needed to do was sign an authorization allowing a third party to look at his record at the NPRC."

What is the difference between the Navy and the NPRC?

The Navy, which created the documents to begin with, is legally obligated to protect the privacy of the veteran. If, as many conspiracy theorists have posited, negative material was expunged from Kerry's file, the Navy could most likely only include the final version of a document.

For example, if an individual were to have a received a less than honorable discharge, but then gained a full, honorable discharge some years later, only the honorable discharge order might appear in the Navy file, while both discharges might appear in the individual's file at the NPRC in St. Louis, Mo.

Jones, who has worked extensively at the NPRC and the National Archives, says that were Kerry to sign an SF-180 and authorize a third party full access to his NPRC records, more fodder would likely be found. "There is no way to know what is in his file unless an independent party looks at the file at the NPRC," says Jones.

But there is hope. The NRPC can open the file to the public ten years after a famous individual dies.

As to what could possibly be in the full files, the former Kerry staffer insists it's time that Republicans and anti-Kerryites got a life. "The man lost. He's now had to admit that he was [crappier] student than Bush and yet you keep hounding the man. Nothing will ever satisfy you people. I guess you're all going to go camp out back down in Mena for Hillary's 2008 run. Good luck with that."

TRUTH SQUAD
Even Democrats were laughing about Sen. Hillary Clinton's speech at a fundraiser Monday for her re-election campaign. On Tuesday, staffers for several U.S. Senators, including fellow New Yorker Charles Schumer, Sen. Dick Durbin, and Sen. Barbara Boxer were forwarding to friends a particularly ironic quote from Clinton, with messages that essentially said, "If anyone should know, it's the wife of Bill Clinton":

It's the quote in which Hillary attacked the Bush White House in these words: "I can tell you this: It's very hard to stop people who have no shame about what they're doing.... It is very hard to stop people who have never been acquainted with the truth."

DEMOCRATIC WALLWEED
Judging by where Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean has spent the last few days, he almost certainly attempted to get invited to Sen. Hillary Clinton's and Sen. Harry Reid's fundraising events in Los Angeles. According to DNC sources, Dean intentionally planned a West Coast swing around the dates Clinton and Reid had circled for their events. On Sunday, Dean was in Seattle, a quick shot down the Left Coast to Los Angeles, with plans to fly to San Francisco for events Monday. Before Seattle, Dean spent time with Democratic donors in Montana.

There is an increasing whiff of desperation permeating the finance side of the DNC, what with Dean apparently feeling like the nerd at a fraternity rush party scooted off to a room to hang with the foreign kid and the nosepicker, and big-time DNC fundraisers jumping ship like rats sensing something is amiss. On Monday it was announced that three high-profile fundraising officials were leaving Dean in the lurch: Bridget Siegel, finance director for the New York metropolitan area (including parts of Long Island, Westchester County, and Connecticut), Lori Kreloff, finance director for California, and Nancy Eiring, director of grassroots fundraising.

Eiring is perhaps the least surprising to jump, given Dean's personal interest in grassroots donors, but Eiring was credited with building up a first-class grassroots donor list over the past two years.

Siegel is expected to play a high profile role in both the Andrew Cuomo campaign for state attorney general, as well as some role in a potential run by Hillary Clinton for the presidency. Siegel was embarrassed after organizing a major donor event in Manhattan earlier this year for Dean. But the response rate for the event was less than 30 percent, and the event was moved from the Jacob Javits Center to a more intimate hotel ballroom.

"Siegel did a great job for Dean, and instead, his people complain about what was going on in New York," says a Democratic operative in New York. "None of the problems were her. It's all Dean, all the time."

Kreloff is not believed to have had anything to do with the snubs of Dean in the recent round of fundraisers in California, though again, the events Dean attended in Seattle and San Francisco were far smaller than the DNC had expected when they initially made the plans for them.

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