During an interview yesterday with Boston Globe editorial writers and columnists, John Kerry said he signed Form SF 180. The form will be sent to the U.S. Navy within the next few days.
Globe columnist Joan Vennochi writes:
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. Kerry first said he would sign Form 180 when pressed by Tim Russert during a Jan. 30 appearance on ”Meet the Press.”
Last summer, “Unfit for Command” author John O’Neill said if Kerry signed SF-180, reporters or anyone else could obtain all of Kerry’s military records from DoD. “If he executes Standard Form 180, he would no longer be the gatekeeper, the gatekeeper would be the U.S. military,” he told the Washington Times.
– A copy of a blank SF-180 form is here (.pdf file)
– Though Kerry’s spokesman said the form will be sent to the Navy, National Archives seems to suggest it should be sent to the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis.
– How long will it take to process Kerry’s request? We may be waiting a few months:
Response times for records requested from the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) vary greatly depending on the nature of the request. For example, the NPRC Military Records Facility currently has a backlog of 180,000 requests and receives approximately 5,000 requests per day. Routine requests for separation documents currently require only 2-4 weeks for servicing. However, requests that involve reconstruction efforts due to the 1973 fire [ed. note: see here] or older records which require extensive search efforts may take much longer. The average turnaround time on all requests is currently running at approximately 12 weeks.
-The Swift Boat Vets first called on Kerry to sign the SF-180 form on May 4, 2004: “[W]e the undersigned formally request that you authorize the Department of the Navy to independently release your military records (through your execution of Standard Form 180), complete and unaltered, including your military medical records.”
– On August 18, 2004, the Washington Times reported that the Kerry campaign said it had released all of Kerry’s war records to the public:
“Senator Kerry’s entire military service record is posted on JohnKerry.com. His entire record,” said Michael Meehan, adviser for communications to the campaign, at a press conference called to defend Mr. Kerry against recent charges that the former Navy lieutenant didn’t deserve some of his war decorations – three Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star and a Silver Star.
– Deroy Murdock was one of the first columnists to call on Kerry to sign the SF-180 form.
– PoliPundit kept the pressure up this spring with the SF-180 clock.
Update: Ed Morrissey says that even after signing the SF 180 form, Kerry need not release his military records to the public:
[I]t 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.
This contradicts what John O’Neill said last summer. As I noted above, O’Neill said that once the SF-180 is signed and executed, anyone can obtain all of Kerry’s records directly from DoD. Either O’Neill was right or Morrissey is right, but not both. I’m sure the blogosphere will quickly figure it out.
Update II: Mark Coffey suggests a new Kerry clock.
Update III: N.Z. Bear asks a good question.