Rep. Mark Kirk's (R-Il.) false claim that he was named the Navy Intelligence Officer of the Year in the late 1990's was made at a committee hearing before the YouTube era began, but the long arm of C-SPAN can reach back and bring it up as if it happened yesterday.
What is striking about Rep. Kirk's assertion in the video is that it appears scripted and thought out, which belies Kirk's recent defense that the false claim on his website -- that was only removed last week after a Washington Post investigation -- regarding the award was little more than an administrative oversight.
At the very beginning of Kirk's testimony, he makes the claim, which he has since confessed is false: "I've been in office just one year. Before that I was a Navy Reserve Intelligence Officer--was the Navy's Intelligence Officer of the Year in 1998," Kirk said in a March 2002 House committee hearing.
In today's politics, such transgressions seem to gain currency only when there is video evidence that can be played and replayed. Indeed, George Allen may be the Republican Senator from Virginia today if he had not been captured on video referring to a young man in the audience at a campaign event as "Makaka."
Kirk has been combative in his defense of his past statement, citing a 1999 "Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal" that he was awarded. The medal, however, is not the highest award that can be bestowed on an intelligence officer and is not given only to one officer.
Kirk, a Republican, is running a tight race against Democrat Alexi Giannoulias for an Illinois Senate seat.
Kirk also cited the fact that his unit was given the United States Navy Vice Admiral Rufus L. Taylor Intelligence Award. In an email to supporters, Kirk claimed that it was his work that led to the unit receiving the award.
From his statement to supporters: "The Giannoulias provided story inaccurately portrays then-LCDR Kirk as just one intelligence officer attached to one Navy squadron. In fact, as the official citation for Mr. Kirk's Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal clearly states: '...while serving as aviation intelligence officer for Electronic Attack Squadron Two Zero Nine from 10 April to 6 June 1999...He took charge of four deployed squadron's intelligence assets and personnel and forged them into an outstanding intelligence shop.' It was this work that won the nomination and selection of the United States Navy Vice Admiral Rufus L. Taylor Intelligence Award."