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The Unanswered Case
Against George Polk

Why are journalists turning a blind eye to fraud?

12:00 AM, Apr 13, 2007 • By RICHARD B. FRANK
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MY ARTICLE concerning George Polk was posted online on February 17, 2007 for the edition of THE WEEKLY STANDARD dated February 26. It contained links to a set of original documents setting out my case. The article further incorporated questions to American journalism. Subsequently, a shorter version of the piece appeared in the Manchester Guardian in Great Britain, a publication that stands at near the opposite end of the political spectrum from THE WEEKLY STANDARD. The fact that such diverse publications both found the substance of my article convincing should put to rest any reasoned doubt that the case I have assembled is ill founded.

To the best of my knowledge to date, there has been no actual attempt by an American journalist to challenge publicly the substance of my case or the factual evidence I have presented. Nor has there appeared any adequate response to my questions. The only responses of which I am currently aware have emanated from George Polk's surviving brother, William.

The intemperate tone of William Polk's remarks may be understandable as evidence of filial regard, but should serve as a cautionary warning about the soundness of his arguments. The most obvious point about his comments is that he can not even begin to mount a defense of George Polk without summoning--unwittingly I presume--spectacularly gross evidence of George Polk's frauds. William Polk points out that his brother was decorated "in a ceremony photographed by the Navy." I have seen the photography of that very ceremony. What they show unmistakably is that George Polk is wearing on his uniform the "wings" insignia of a naval aviator.

Photographs of George Polk wearing the "wings" insignia of a naval pilot constitute the most readily understandable portal through which to understand the real George Polk. As Polk's service records make clear, he had a private pilot's license pre-war, but he never received navy flight training and was never qualified by the navy as a naval aviator entitled to wear the coveted "wings" insignia. Not only do the service records demonstrate this, but George Polk in formal correspondence to the Judge Advocate General of the Navy just 15 days before this photographed ceremony expressly acknowledged he knew he was not a naval aviator.

Even if you lack any knowledge of naval matters, you will grasp that it takes a carefully premeditated act of gross fraud to pin on that pilot insignia and cooperate in having photographs published of yourself wearing it. It can not be some inadvertent accident or spontaneous light embellishment or embroidery upon truth; it can only be an act of deceit. You will note that William Polk provides no challenge to the fact that George was not a naval aviator and thus concedes the hoax by his brother evidenced by the very photographs he would have readers regard as evidence proving the character of this brother.

William Polk argues that the duties George Polk performed were honorable and admirable. As anyone who reads my account of the campaign will see, I agree. Indeed, I provided a handsome tribute to what George Polk and his detachment really did on Guadalcanal: the ground servicing of combat aircraft. But what William Polk does not engage is my real case: Instead of telling his family, friends and professional colleagues what he actually did (or even embellish upon it) George Polk chose to invent from whole cloth a totally fictitious version of his service that exceeded by orders of magnitude what he actually did in both hazard and honor.

Besides his silence on the photographic evidence of fraud, William Polk likewise mounts no credible defense to the fact that George Polk stowed in his personal papers at least two forged documents to support a fictitious tale of hyper heroism. Once again, you do not have to grasp all the arcane details of naval service to comprehend this. In his oral history statement given to the Navy in February 1944, George Polk denied that he flew while he was on the island of Guadalcanal. This is consistent with the very comprehensive contemporary service department records. It would be literally impossible for the acts depicted in these two documents to have occurred unless George Polk flew aircraft from an airfield on Guadalcanal. So the contemporary words out of the mouth of George Polk when he was confronting people in a position to know or check the veracity of his stories confirm the forgeries even before we get to the myriad indicators of forgery set out in my original article, backed by documentary evidence.