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Senate Candidate Who Never Served Caught Recruiting Veterans to Smear Veteran Opponent

Has Giannoulias finally crossed the line?

2:00 PM, Oct 19, 2010 • By DANIEL HALPER
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Just in case you didn’t think the Illinois Senate race could sink any lower, THE WEEKLY STANDARD has learned that Democrat Alexi Giannoulias is planning to launch a final ad campaign featuring a “veteran” to attack Mark Kirk’s service record.

The timing of this is altogether ironic, since Senator John Kerry, the former Democratic presidential nominee, is campaigning with Giannoulias today in Illinois. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, together they will go after “the same people who bankrolled the ‘Swiftboat’ attacks against [Kerry] when he was running for president in 2004.” 

On Friday, however, a known anti-Kirk political activist with ties to the Giannoulias campaign posted a message on his Facebook account searching for “an Iraq War veteran who wants to be in a TV commercial slamming Mark Kirk.”  Take a look: 

Asked whether the veteran would be compensated for the appearance, Carl Nyberg responds: “…if the veteran is traveling from outside the Chicago area, I'm sure the producers would be willing to cover travel expenses.”

Giannoulias in recent weeks has increased his attacks on Kirk, who admitted earlier this year to being careless when describing aspects of his 21-year Navy Reserve service.  Giannoulias’s latest ad says that “Kirk lied about going to war in Iraq.”  Not true.  Kirk’s service during Operation Northern Watch (patrolling Iraqi airspace) is a matter of documented fact.

Kirk’s Officer Fitness Report from his Iraq service calls him “one of the most combat-tested Aviation Intelligence Officers in the Naval Reserve.” The report goes on to say that Kirk “provided aircrew an in-depth understanding of the Iraqi Integrated Air Defense Systems within the Tactical Area of Responsibility (TAOR) for combat operations during Operation Northern Watch (ONW).”

Many will remember that Kirk’s Commanding Officer during Operation Allied Force (Kosovo) and Operation Northern Watch (Iraq) came to Kirk’s defense early on: “Mark Kirk is the finest intelligence officer I have ever served with – hands down. His wealth of knowledge during this conflict put him in a position to take charge of intelligence members from the four deployed squadrons and meld them into a combat intelligence action team.”

And one of Kirk’s former commanding officers told the Associated Press, “If he flew in Kosovo, and he flew in Operation Northern Watch, I would be surprised if he weren't shot at.”

Kirk is endorsed over Giannoulias by the Veterans of Foreign Wars-PAC and the Combat Veterans for Congress.

As Giannoulias will probably find, it’s hard to find veterans to trash another veteran. Kirk’s 2008 opponent, Dan Seals, had to find a 9/11 truther from Peoria to do it.

Neither Carl Nyberg nor the Giannoulias campaign responded to a request for comment.

More importantly, where is the outrage?

Alexi Giannoulias never served.  He has never put his own life on the line for the United States of America.  Mark Kirk has – repeatedly. 

As the Chicago Tribune recently noted, “All of us do, though, know that Kirk has a record of service, military and congressional, that is 100 percent verifiable. As a naval intelligence officer, he has put his life on the line for this nation.”

Will veterans stand for this?  A man who never served recruiting veterans to smear a fellow veteran for political gain?  Will the mainstream media catch on and finally call out Giannoulias for going over the line?  We’ll see.

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