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Kerry's non-honorable discharge

Posted: November 1, 2004
1:00 a.m. Eastern

By Earl Lively
? 2004

There is overwhelming evidence that the Navy gave John Kerry either a dishonorable discharge or an undesirable discharge ? which is the equivalent of a dishonorable discharge without the felony conviction ? and that, as a result of such discharge, he was stripped of all of his famous but questionable Navy awards and medals. And the kicker? The evidence is on his website!

Kerry's oh-so-clever handlers evidently depended on the ignorance of the public and the press about military records when they posted his 1978 "Honorable Discharge from the Reserves" on his site as part of a carefully selected partial release of his Navy records (the Navy says it is still withholding about 100 records). However, one diligent researcher, Thomas Lipscomb, saw through the scam and exposed it in a New York Sun story on Oct. 13. Predictably, the major media has shunned the story.

What Mr. Lipscomb noticed (and I overlooked when I first read the document) was the date of the posted discharge, Feb. 16, 1978. This was six years after Kerry's six-year (1966-1972) commitment to the Navy ended. The anti-war detractor of our military did not re-up for another six-year term in 1972, so why the delay of his discharge? The only logical conclusion is that the 1978 honorable discharge was a second discharge given to replace an earlier undesirable discharge under less-than-honorable conditions, as unfit for military service.

I was a colonel assigned as director of Operations of Headquarters, Texas Air National Guard when George W. Bush was a lieutenant in the Air Guard. Since 1999, I have been besieged by the media, from the London Guardian to CBS' "60 Minutes," NBC, the Boston Globe and others, with allegations and questions about Lt. Bush's service in and discharge from the Texas Air National Guard and U.S. Air Force. I recently appeared on "Fox & Friends" twice to shoot down CBS' phony memos about Lt. Bush and allegations about his discharge. In the interest of fairness and equal time, it is time scrutiny of John Kerry's discharge(s) is demanded.

The Navy is stonewalling Freedom Of Information Act requests by Judicial Watch for the rest of Kerry's records ? not surprising, because ever since the Tailhook flap, the Navy has had a politically correct virus. Feminist Rep. Patricia Schroeder, D-Colo., figuratively castrated the Navy's top brass, and the Navy cringed from political correctness. Pressure and morale at the top was so low that the chief of Naval Operations committed suicide. The Navy doesn't want to admit it succumbed to political pressure to restore honors stripped from a discredited turncoat. In hiding the truth, the Navy dishonors even the lowest-ranking sailor who ever swabbed a deck.

Sen. Kerry has said that his medal certificates were reissued because he lost them (and his dog ate his homework, I suppose). Rewards are certified in one's permanent personnel record jacket. If you lose a medal, you can get a replacement medal if your records show the award. The only way awards would have to be reissued is if they were rescinded and deleted from your records. And this narrows the possibilities down to a dishonorable discharge or an undesirable discharge. As Mr. Lipscomb noted:

There is one odd coincidence that gives some weight to the possibility that Mr. Kerry was dishonorably discharged ... when a dishonorable discharge is issued, all pay benefits and allowances, and all medals and honors are revoked as well. And five months after Mr. Kerry joined the U.S. Senate in 1985, on one single day, June 4, all of Mr. Kerry's medals were reissued.

Military sources tell me that an undesirable discharge under other-than-honorable conditions would also result in a loss of benefits and awards. Kerry could have received a dishonorable discharge, but that would have required a court martial and a felony conviction that might be harder to conceal, so the undesirable discharge is more likely.

The experience of my 30-plus years in the Navy, U.S. Air Force, and Air National Guard tells me that the late-issued honorable discharge was obviously a cover-up whitewash. Ditto for the re-issuance of Kerry's medals shortly after he became a member of the "ol' boys club" in the Senate.

One of the top dogs in that club, Sen. John Warner, has amnesia about "any representation" about Kerry receiving a less than honorable discharge, even though he was Nixon's secretary of the Navy when Kerry delivered his diatribe against the Navy and other services in the Senate in April, 1971. In May of 1970, Kerry conferred with the Viet Cong in Paris, and in July of 1971, he demonstrated in Washington to sell their peace proposal ? while he was in the Naval Reserve. This variety of amnesia is common among Republicans asked to stand up and testify to Democrat crimes and injustices.

The Nixon-Ford presidency gave way to Democrat President Jimmy Carter in 1977, which tends to explain the six-year delay in getting the revised discharge. Mr. Lipscomb adds some insight:

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 Jan. 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.

A document on Kerry's website is a form letter from W. Graham Claytor, Carter's secretary of the Navy, which grants his Honorable Discharge.

Secretary Claytor's letter says that this action to award an Honorable Discharge Certificate is taken in accordance with Title 10, U.S. Code, Sections 1162 and 1163, which deal with grounds for involuntary separation of a reserve officer and provide for the action of "a board of officers" to examine an officer's records and review previous actions. Obviously, this was the aforementioned board for appeal resulting from President Carter's executive order. Unless Lt. Kerry had previously received an undesirable discharge, he had nothing to appeal and would not have come before this board.

When he became a senator in 1985, his clout as a senator got his medals back, even though Reagan was president, but the restoration of the medals was one more piece of evidence, as Mr. Lipscomb noted, that Kerry's previous discharge was not honorable.

A man who evidently has been found unfit for military service could become commander in chief of the armed forces. It is time for the facts hidden in his records to be disclosed.

Earl Lively is a former colonel who was assigned as director of Operations of Headquarters, Texas Air National Guard when George W. Bush was a lieutenant in the Air Guard.

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