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Mark Kirk's Foreign Policy Flaps: Exaggeration Goes Beyond Military Service Record

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After more than a week of being grilled about his embellished military record, Illinois Senate candidate Mark Kirk is now being questioned about some of his foreign policy statements.

On Sunday, Chicago Sun-Times reporter Abdon Pallasch wrote that Kirk's "casualness . . . with details" problem carries over into the foreign policy realm:

When he last ran for re-election to his congressional seat, he got into trouble for saying China was drilling for oil off the coast of Cuba, which was not true, he acknowledged Thursday in a meeting with the Sun-Times editorial board.

Speaking to the City Club of Chicago last year just after President Obama authorized the shooting of Somali pirates who kidnapped American Capt. Richard Phillips, Kirk got a whole lot wrong talking about pirates attacking ships off Africa.

"We began to see some backbone, not from the U.S. but from France," Kirk said. "France was always good for a quick $2 million ransom until the election of President Sarkozy. When his first ship was seized, he authorized the standard ransom payment -- with a transmitter in the box. As that went into the pirate compound, he then authorized French Special Forces to roll in. And they killed everybody. . . . It kind of shocked us in the Pentagon. But it sent a clear message and I don't think the French have had many problems since."

It turns out, most of Kirk's story about France was completely false.

"It wasn't the first ship attacked after Sarkozy took office; and the French Special Forces didn't kill everybody," Pallasch writes. "In fact they didn't kill anybody, Sarkozy has said."

The (false) City Club statements join a growing list of overstatements about Kirk's military career. First, there was the Intelligence Officer of the Year award, which he claimed repeatedly throughout his career. He also claimed to have served in Operation Iraqi Freedom, to have "commanded the war room" at the Pentagon, to be a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and to have come under fire while flying over Iraq. All of these statements have been shown to be exaggerated--or completely false.

The faux France story is not the only foreign policy farce that the Chicago Sun-Times dug up:

Last year, Kirk told WLS-AM (890) that America should drill offshore for oil so we don't have to import oil from Iran: "We have a fundamental choice. . . . We can either buy 80 billion barrels of oil from the Iranians or from ourselves. And we should buy it from ourselves," he said.

The problem is, the U.S doesn't get oil from Iran. The U.S. government has adopted sanctions for any company that would try.

Since his editorial board apology tour last week, Kirk has been unavailable to the press. As the false statements seem to grow by the day, Republicans have rushed to Kirk's defense.

"There are a lot of other very important issues in the Illinois senate race and we do expect Mark Kirk to be the next United States senator from Illinois in the seat formally held by Barack Obama," Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) told Fox News Sunday.

Cornyn referenced the errors in Kirk's military record, not his foreign policy flaps.

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A Candidate Tripped Up by Truth on the Campaign Trail

More Mark Kirk mistakes: on Iran oil, pirates