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February 12, 2004

AN INTERVIEW WITH BILL BURKETT....As promised earlier, here's the interview with former Lt. Colonel Bill Burkett regarding his charges that George Bush's National Guard files in Texas were "cleansed" back in 1997. This is not the entire enchilada, but it includes most of the interview directly relevant to the charges.

I'm posting this for two reasons. First, since Burkett's story has already been picked up by the mainstream media I think it's valuable to hear an extended interview with him that allows you to decide for yourself if his charges are credible — especially since there are some less than flattering moments that may hurt as well as help his story. As with any verbatim transcript, it can be a little hard to follow in places, but it's worth plowing through the whole thing if you're really interested in all this.

Second, although I said I was skeptical about Burkett yesterday, several things have convinced me that his story is at least believable enough that it deserves wider exposure:

  • I talked to him on the phone for nearly two hours on Wednesday and his story hung together pretty well. In particular, his story of how he overheard the conversation in General James' office and then saw some of Bush's files in a trashcan makes more sense when you hear the details. It's fairly melodramatic, but it does make sense.

    In addition, although I haven't yet transcribed this part of the interview, he explained his "clarification" in 2000 that, as he puts it, seemed to "over-retract": basically, he got scared by the attention and backed down. He now admits it was a mistake.

    And finally, in the interview he provided the names of several fellow guardsmen who can corroborate his story. Although details are lacking this early, various of these people have already been contacted by reporters and have backed up Burkett's story so far.

  • The first (partial) corroboration is from George Conn. According to the New York Times, he declined specific comment on the charges but said via email, "I know LTC Bill Burkett and served with him several years ago in the Texas Army National Guard. I believe him to be honest and forthright. He 'calls things like he sees them.'"

  • Also from the Times is this: "A retired officer, Lt. Col. Dennis Adams, said Mr. Burkett told him of the incidents shortly after they happened. 'We talked about them several different times,' said Mr. Adams, who spent 15 years in the Texas Guard and 12 years on active duty in the Army."

  • A third person, Harvey Gough, was interviewed last year by Sander Hicks. Although the conversation was not specifically about Burkett's charges, Hough did confirm that he believed Bush's records had been scrubbed: "He says that Dan Bartlett and Danny James came to him at Camp Mabry in 1993, right after Bush was inaugurated as Governor, and deleted portions of Bush's TANG file. I asked Gough what he believed was scrubbed? 'I think quite a bit. I think all his time in Alabama.'"

  • Finally, USA Today has a corroborating quote from an anonymous source: "A second former Texas Guard official, who spoke only on condition of anonymity, was told by a participant that commanders and Bush advisers were particularly worried about mentions in the records of arrests of Bush before he joined the National Guard in 1968, the second official said."

  • In addition, Jim Moore, a longtime Texas reporter (and, granted, hardly a fan of Bush), has talked with Burkett extensively for a soon to be published book titled Bush's War For Reelection: Iraq, the White House, and the People. Moore emailed me that he finds Burkett "immensely credible."

Put all this together and I think that Burkett's story is one worth hearing about from the horse's mouth. Here it is.

First, a bit of background about Burkett's service in the Guard.

I was a traditional guardsman, Vietnam era guardsman, lieutenant colonel, midlevel to senior level in rank and time. I was serving as the Mobilization Plans Officer for the Texas National Guard at the state headquarters, Camp Mabry, Austin, Texas, Building 8. Within that capacity as a traditional guardsman my primary objective was to assist units in planning and for mobilization and conducting mobilization of units either to training or to active duty mission situations.

How long were you with the Guard?

I was medically retired in 1999 after 28 years.


Burkett worked as a private management consultant, but after business dropped off in 1996 he accepted a full-time job with the Texas National Guard.

When did you go on active duty?

Spring of '96, I believe the actual order dates began in May of '96....That was all approved and I was granted unimpeded access to the Adjutant General's office. I only bring this up to you because this establishes accessibility.

You probably have not been at headquarters building at Camp Mabry?

No.

It's a large structure, two stories, runs north to south with a long hallway, primarily north to south. The Adjutant General's office is in roughly the center of the building, second floor, northwest corner. My office was again second floor.

Within his office, which is the command suite, there are a group of eight or ten offices. There's two entrances to it, which is a horseshoe type thing, and off of that goes into his secretary's office, which is his outer office, roughly eight by ten foot at most in size, with a receptionist type desk and his secretary, Henrietta Valderes. I customarily would go through her and with all due courtesies would see the general.

In some cases when the door was open or slightly ajar I would lightly knock and do the courtesies and I'd ask a quick question and be on my way. I tried not to bother him, but I still tried to maintain constant and continuous contact. We worked very well together for a long time.


Following is the account of how Burkett overheard the conversation about "cleansing" George Bush's National Guard files.

The occurrences here occurred in the early months, the spring months of 1997....I had meant to simply go in and, best I recall....I went in to ask a quick question, it was just a passing question, or maybe pass along some information, I don't remember specifically. I went into General [Daniel] James' outer office, Henrietta Valderes was not there, but the door was slightly ajar, I'd say roughly eight inches, and the reason I say eight inches is only because I wear a size seven and a half hat and I just basically stuck my head inside.

I heard voices, I figured somebody was on the blue couch or in the two wingback chairs that face his desk, and that's not seen unless you slightly stick your head inside the door. I stuck my head inside the door, saw that no one was there, and I was embarrassed. I stepped back and I waited for a second and I overheard this conversation.

And it was a short conversation that I overheard, I only heard a line or two of it, and I stepped out into the hallway because I was uncomfortable at this point.

And what was the conversation?

Well, that's where you really need to get Jim [Moore] because we have made sure that the words, I'm not going to get messed up on that deal. We've tried to make sure that the words were exact. I wish that you could get at least that part of the book faxed to you or something, I think that's very important that the words are exactly right.

I'd sure like to have as much I could here to make sure it's accurate....

I'm taking a look at one of his, and I'm going to have to, I've got a little draft of it, I'm trying to find the location as we speak, and maybe I can come back to that in a moment. Kevin, I'm going to try to help you all I can, and I'm going to trust that you'll at least treat me fairly.

At the end of our conversation Burkett said he would call me back with the correct quote later, but I was being injected with cortisone when he called. We played phone tag for the rest of the day but never got back in touch. However, today's USA Today story fills in the gap:

[Burkett] says he was just outside James' open office door when his boss discussed the records on a speakerphone with Joe Allbaugh, who was then Gov. Bush's chief of staff. In Burkett's account, Allbaugh told James that Bush's press secretary, Karen Hughes, was preparing a biography and needed information on Bush's military service.

In an interview, Burkett said he recalled Allbaugh's words: "We certainly don't want anything that is embarrassing in there."


So what happened next?

I was embarrassed, I know that was an emotion and a reaction, a driver. I was ashamed, my mother and dad didn't raise me that way to eavesdrop on people's conversations. I was troubled.

I don't guess I really realized the extent of being troubled except that that evening at dinner Chief Warrant Officer [George] Conn and I – I lived in Abilene and he lived in Dallas or Cedar Hill – we both went down during the workweek and stayed in officer's quarters there, so as he called it we were geographical bachelors. So at night, a couple or three days a week, I'd say an average of three days a week, we would have dinner together. And we didn't just casually comment on things, but I brought it up to him, I looked to him, he was also a preacher's kid, and we both had that haunting of sorts, of living right, of doing right, and preparing for the next life, so we talked about it that evening. I brought it up to him, so I must have been troubled.

I told him the next morning, I was again in the command suite, I was in the doorwell of the Quality Coordinator's office, and there was a gathering of people about to go into a meeting in the conference room of the command group. That gathering included General James, General [Wayne] Marty, Colonel Goodwin, and maybe one or two others. And I was standing there and we were talking slightly and an individual walked into that horseshoe hallway. The coffee machine is just in the hallway, is what it is, and anytime there's a group there at the coffeepot they block traffic. And general officers, as people will tell you, block traffic anyway.

Two individuals walked in. I didn't know either one of them personally, but I do know that General James addressed one and said, General [John] Scribner, the folks from downtown are going to come out, Karen Hughes and [Dan] Bartlett are going to come out and they're, and I'm paraphrasing here, are going to come out and they're going to write a book about the governor for use in the reelection campaign or whatever else is going to follow on, and they need you to open access to your files and retained records. And there was a quick addition to that by General Marty, "and make sure there's nothing in there that'll embarrass the governor."

Now these are just matter-of-fact statements, I won't qualify intent necessarily at this point. I'll come back and say some things about intent later if you'll remind me. General Scribner, who is what we call a political general of sorts, he is a Texas state Guard general, not a federal general, and he had the job of running the museum, and still has that job. Scribner just replied, basically in the affirmative, OK or something along that line, and he and the individual who was with him, who I did not know and have not identified, but believe he was the retained records person, left, immediately left. They just, like all of us were prone to do when two or three generals are standing around, the best thing you can do is leave the area. So they left.

I mentioned this again to George in passing at dinner and told him again, renewed that I was troubled about it. I don't know in what detail we talked about it, but I know we talked.


Following is the account of finding Bush's records in a trashcan, ready to be tossed away.

This went approximately ten days or a little bit later and Mr. Conn — you'll read all of this, you really, really need this book — Mr. Conn came to my desk, he and I, when I was moved to Plans Officer he became the Mobilization Plans Officer, his desk and mine were in cubicles across from each other.

Everybody knew me to be pretty much a workaholic, I'd say the minimum hours that I was at that desk was 12 and more likely 14 to 16 per day, and George sometimes would mother me a little bit, he'd come by and force me to take a break or something like that, so he came by at that occasion and he said, Colonel, get your hat, which implied to me that he wanted to take a break or we were going to go do something, and I probably laced back with him. I do have, even though I'm a preacher's kid, I do have a bad habit with my language, and I probably laced a little profanity back at him, just in banter, and he again repeated that term, get your hat, and I knew he was pretty serious. I knew George was a man of pretty few words, so I got my hat and we took a walk.

This is the second floor of the command building, building 8, long building, primarily laid out north to south. Typically what you do is go to the center of the building and there are a series of elevators and hallways there and you go to the first floor and then you go out and go where you want to go. In fact, very very seldom unless you had a need to go to the north side of that building, which was a low traffic area, would you go to the north side on the second floor. We went on the north side of the second floor to the north edge of the building, down a stairwell, out the north door, across a parking lot — and I know you think I'm getting into extreme detail, but I want you to know that obviously this was a path and there was intention to it. I asked him when we got outside, I said, where are we going, George? And he said, Colonel, just walk with me.

This is the day after you overheard the conversation?

No this is about ten days.

OK, ten days after.

And I left out something. George Conn is a smoker. George Conn knew everything that was happening on Camp Mabry, he picked up every rumor, he knew where everybody was, what they were doing, George knew it all. When I asked him where we were going, I believe I asked him three times in our little walk, and once I remember he said, "Trust me." There may have been a little retort at some point, but basically it was a "trust me" response, whether it was one time or three or two or whatever.

We go behind the building, headed toward the academy building, which goes behind a dormitory structure, and then we go over to the museum and we walk into the doors of the museum. The museum is an old armory, World War II-Korean War era vintage armory, which is a large structure. You walk into these doors and there's a concrete floor there with a larger open space than a high school gymnasium.

To the left of that are several offices built in Korean War style with basically little or no top to them, they're basically walled units, and offices are 8 by 12 to 10 by 12, in that size. And at approximately 30 or so feet from that on this concrete floor, or as we call it, the drill hall floor area, was a folding table, just a commercial grade folding table, and what I recognized as a — and you may know what I'm talking about. Do you know what a 15-gallon trashcan looks like?

Yeah, sure.

A metal gunbarrel style that we used for years and years in the military, that's what it was, and it was setting at the end of the table. George obviously knew General Scribner extremely well, and he says hello to him and there's little pleasantries and we walk up there, and as soon as we get there he introduces me to General Scribner, who I did not know. I said hello and very little if anything more. General Scribner was very polite, very punctual, very nice, and George carried on a conversation with him, basically asked him, OK, what are you doing, how's it coming? And obviously they had had previous conversations that he was working on files.

At that point I remember General Scribner saying that people downtown were coming out and they were going to do a book, and Bartlett and Hughes were coming out, and he'd been told to get all the files together and go through them and kind of clean them up a bit. And George said, well, what are you finding? And he says, well, he says he's been through it, and I'm paraphrasing all of this, he says, obviously lots of people have been through it, you know, there's just not as much here as I'd expected, mostly old press releases and that sort of stuff.

I'm standing there on one foot and another, very uncomfortable with this situation, I knew I'd been guided here and I knew why at that point. I was standing right next to the trash can. I mention that only for one reason, and that is my own alibi to my own conscience. I believe if I'd been one step away from the trash can I would not have done what I did, I would have been forced to make an obvious decision.

Instead I looked down into the trashcan. Underneath most of the trash — the trash level was within two inches of the top — I saw that the trash on the bottom was basically packing cartons, I do remember that there were a couple of elastic type straps and that sort of thing, and on top there was a little bit of paper. And on top of that pile of paper, approximately five-eighths of an inch thick, and Jim wanted me to estimate the number of pages and I said probably between 20 and 40 pages of documents that were clearly originals and photocopies. And it wasn't any big deal, I looked at it, it was a glance situation, and it made no sense to me at all except at the top of that top page was Bush, George W., 1LT.

And I look back at it now and I know I was troubled that those documents were in the trashcan. I did ruffle through the top six to eight pages.

And what were they?

Those documents were performance, what I term performance documents, which would include retirement points, [unintelligible] type documents, which would be a record of drill performance or nonperformance, and there was at least one pay document copy within the top six to eight pages of that stack that was in the trash….

Now, George Conn had brought you here deliberately....

I believe so. And that's the reason I traced the path, I don't think there's any doubt about it.

And was there any further conversation with General Scribner?

We were there talking just for a second, and as the conversation went on George and General Scribner moved back to the corner office, so I'm left alone. They talked, the maximum time that we were in the museum, from the time I shook the man's hand until we left, the time of the conversation and everything else could not have been less than five minutes or more than eight minutes.

What did George Conn tell General Scribner about why he'd brought you there?

He didn't.

He just showed up and....

We were just there, we just happened there. Just walking by and visiting. Now, General Scribner did not act, and I still do not believe to this day, that he felt like he was doing anything wrong. Now I'm going a little offline here about intent....

Even though he was throwing away documents from a file?

Well, I'll carry through with that. I do not believe General James at the time felt he was doing any more than taking care of the boss. I do not believe that General Marty or anyone else at the Texas National Guard saw it as anything other — you have to understand the culture. If you understand that, in so many cases, especially when there is someone that is somewhat political in nature, and I think it proves itself throughout this whole case even down to a congressman's son in a unit, that when they want to promote somebody, they will oftentimes take full-time personnel and they'll go back and they'll make sure that that personnel file looks better than anyone else's when it goes forward for consideration before promotion boards.

[At this point there was a long digression about routine cleaning up of personnel files for officers up for promotion.]

So I'm telling you that from their intent I do not believe that Major General Daniel James, and I'm not trying to alibi him, I am trying to bend over backwards to be fair, I do not believe General Wayne Marty, Colonel Goodwin, General Scribner, or anybody else thought they were doing anything but taking care of the boss.

OK, what next?

All the way from the museum back I was terribly bothered and I obviously wanted to talk. I slowed down our walk and at one point I stopped our walk and I told George, I said, "God bless, George, what in the hell is going on and who in the hell is in charge?" I was upset, and he obviously, in looking back at it, I don't think he wanted to slow down or be seen, but at that point I wasn't really all that cautious of being seen.


In addition to George Conn, Burkett says he talked about this to four other people: Harvey Gough, Dennis Adams, and two unnamed friends.

So we talked about this again at a time approximately three weeks later. Mr. Harvey Gough, a Chief Warrant Officer, a traditional guardsman who had been the special projects officer under four or five governors and I don't know how many adjutant generals, he was the conduit for trying to gain missions for the Texas National Guard and improve the way we were doing business, and I had developed his role of being out there with the four stars like General Wes Clark and others. He was out there trying to do good things for the Guard and I was doing the strategic plan. We developed this working relationship along with everybody else that was on the same team, we were trying to improve the Guard.

Harvey Gough is very political, extremely political. He runs Goff's, [a restaurant] in Dallas, Texas, which is the old haunt of Governor Bill Clements. Many of the early actions to plan the Bush campaign in 1994 for governor were done right there at Goff's Restaurant. Jim Francis, who's the head of the Bush pioneer program, is Harvey's best friend, as background. I mean, Dan Bartlett got his job by seeing Harvey to get access to Jim Francis, that sort of thing. Highly political, all of this sort of thing. Harvey's a guardsman, I was registered as a Democrat but totally nonpolitical, had made sure that it stayed out of my consulting practice because the first thing you do when you get that into a consulting practice is you cut your own throat.

Anyway, I talked to Harvey about three weeks after the incident at the museum, only because I was very concerned that a very dangerous action had taken place that probably politically endangered Governor Bush, who I considered my ultimate boss. And I didn't know how to get that message through because I really didn't know who I could trust. And I thought the guys at the Guard out there were just, I mean, they were just good 'ol boys and didn't know better. They were just taking care of the boss.

If that was true this had to go direct, you know, get a handle on this darn thing, get it corrected. I did not know, for example, that in 1994 at the debates, didn't know this until November of last year, that in the '94 debates Wayne Slater of the Dallas Morning News, and I believe Jim Moore at that time was either ABC, CBS, or CNN, or something, they asked the question about Bush's military record in the fifth and sixth year in the '94 debates. I didn't know that. I was naive to all this stuff. I was just the wrong guy, wrong place, wrong time. So I mentioned to Harvey, and my objective was pure, you know, somebody get this worked out before it gets worse.

I had mentioned it to Conn, I kept it to myself, kept it under button, there were a couple of people that I did mention it to about the same time I did Harvey, who have told me plain and simple their job is in jeopardy and don't mention them to anyone, and I won't.

I did mention to a fellow that I had worked with, a fellow by the name of Lieutenant Colonel Dennis Adams, and told him also. I told him I was troubled about it. I trusted Dennis to serve maybe a little bit as an ethical advisor, maybe a little bit as a friend. He knew the system since he was a full timer for so many years, he knew the system far better than I. So I asked his counsel and advice on the situation too. So I had told about five or six people within the first three weeks of this occurring.

In all honesty I didn't know what to do. I did not know what to do. It was a moral dilemma for me, it was an ethical dilemma, it was a military uniform dilemma because I had breached the oath and creed of an officer in the United States Army. I was in that dilemma and I didn't know what to do. That's as straight as I can be. I swallowed it and I didn't do anything.


Nine months later, in January 1998, Burkett became ill during a trip to Panama for the Army and collapsed at the Abilene airport when he returned home. He spent the next five months trying to get medical care from the military and believes he was denied this care as a result of retaliation against him for earlier trying to raise the issue of "ghost soldiers" in the National Guard, a story that was eventually reported nationally in USA Today by Dave Moniz and Jim Drinkard. He eventually filed a suit against the officers involved but lost the case.

In the process of trying to gain access to medical care, Mr. Conn, who is probably as good a personnel expert as there was at the time, even though he was not assigned in personnel. I relied on his expertise, he'd been in the field for so many years and he'd been on active duty for so many years, and I asked for his advice and counsel.

They downloaded his hard drive off his computer and....found an email that he had sent to me. They brought him in to the Chief of Staff's office where the senior JAG officer was, who read George Conn his rights. They offered him an attorney and began a court martial proceeding against him and showed him the email that he had sent to me. The only thing he was told as far as the reason for the court martial was that he had made derogatory remarks about the governor. What George had actually done in that email was tell me that this might require political leverage to include, and one of the issues was the governor's own military files.

So this email said exactly what?

This email indicated to me that, well, first it indicated that they had no legal or regulation right to keep me from medical care, that they were obviously blocking that and in order to just get access to medical care I might have to play the card at the governor's office. This is paraphrased, play the card at the governor's office, which might require some political leverage. And included within that information was including the governor's own military files.


Burkett says Conn was fired from the Guard the same day, presumably for advising him to threaten the governor's office with information about the missing files. Next up is Harvey Gough.

At the same time, Chief Harvey Gough, who had helped Colonel Goodwin get his job as Chief of Staff, and had helped Bartlett and all of these other people, was trying to run interference and trying to get me access to medical care. He confronted the Chief of Staff, Colonel Goodwin, and the way it's been told to me by Mr. Gough is that he and Colonel Goodwin had — Mr. Gough is a real in-your-face kind of guy, he can sure get rank on you in a hurry — that Colonel Goodwin had befriended him and asked for help, and Gough is the political guy, had asked for help to become Chief of Staff for the Texas National Guard, the state Chief of Staff, which he had done. There was a degree of familiarity, they cussed at each other quite normally and in fact Gough changed his clothes in the chief's office every time he came down to Austin. There was a familiarity there, but when Gough confronted Goodwin about my health situation Goodwin got angry, retorted back to him, and Gough called him a name, or referred to him in some manner with profanity, for which he was then submitted for court martial.

Now I want to bring up the background to that for this reason. About ten days or so later, this was not just an inner fight, it did seem it had gotten out of hand, so I called Dan Bartlett in Austin. And he did take my call that time, and I talked to Dan, and I was pleading for common sense on the case of Harvey especially, and on the case of all of this. I was just basically pleading that the whole thing had gotten out of hand, that it was all out of control, and that somebody needed to, well, I said somebody needed to pull their head out of their ass and get control of this deal. And Harvey Gough had served valuably, even though he was very political and we all knew him to be very political, Harvey Gough had done tremendous things for many governors, and for many adjutants general, and he was still being very well [unintelligible] and was bringing great profit to the organization, and he needed to stop this bull.

And Dan didn't respond a lot except he baited me on a couple of questions, and I told him, this is out of control. And he indicated, well, who would you put in charge out there? And he basically I think was asking me who should be the Adjutant General, I don't know, which I don't want to get into that, but there was some side loops in the conversation.

I know Dan was wary of the conversation at the time, but I did tell him, and I look back at this and I know he should have taken it different, I told him, I said Dan, Harvey's political, this whole situation has gotten political, and you know, there's a downside to this. There's some risks, including this personnel readiness issue, the readiness reports, even the governor's own files.

And he should have retorted back to me, "Are you threatening me?" But he did not. I was probably out of line in a way and yet I will tell you now that I was begging for what I at that point considered life saving help. I could not walk at that time. I was poured into a chair. We finished our call, nothing happened, they court martialed Gough, they kicked him out of the Guard....That was the first time that I personally know that the knowledge that the records issue was an issue was passed to Bartlett, Allbaugh, or somebody else.


The "ghost soldiers" story finally broke in late 2001 in USA Today at the time that General James had been nominated to be national head of the Air National Guard. At about this time, Burkett was able to tell his entire story to the DOD Inspector General's Office.

Within that time frame there were several people who submitted letters of concern to the Senate Armed Services Committee, both to the majority staff and minority staff and to individual senators. I was aware of those because I was sent many copies by a lot of people, but I sent one that included the assertions about what I had seen on the governor's record.

I got a telephone call here and they had to have an immediate response. They wanted to do an interview and I wanted my attorney present and they didn't want my attorney present, and we did a basic dance and finally put something together there and responded. And they had five, six, or seven attorneys in the room and my attorney was not allowed to be there, and we did it by teleconference, which, it was not a real fair setting but it didn't make any difference, it went off what I considered fairly. I don't know if anything else was done fairly, I would doubt it, but they took my testimony and I detailed this issue of the governor's military records and what I had seen....

And this is what date now?

January, I think it's going to be either the fifth, sixth, or seventh of 2002. That's the date that that interview took place.

Let me go back and make sure I understand this. This is a teleconference among who and for what purpose?

I submitted a letter of concern to the Senate Armed Services Committee about the appointment of Daniel James as director of the Air National Guard. That prompted the DOD Inspector General's Office to conduct this interview. All of my concerns were brought up in this teleconference.

And during this teleconference one of the things that you mentioned was the George Bush records?

Yes. The entire story. I detailed the entire story. And they asked for corroboration and I gave them names, Gough, I gave them Adams, I gave them Conn, and as requested by those other two individuals I left them out.

Posted by Kevin Drum at February 12, 2004 05:36 AM | TrackBack


Comments

It's those "mentions of arrests" that catch the eye.

Excellent work, Kevin. You're making blog history these days.

Posted by: Slothrop at February 12, 2004 05:38 AM | PERMALINK

Very, very interesting to see the different headline treatments different newspapers give to the very same AP story on Burkett's allegations.

Posted by: 71077345 at February 12, 2004 05:41 AM | PERMALINK

Meanwhile, the Boston Globe zeroes in on the mysteriously "missed" physical exam:

Brigadier General David L. McGinnis, a former top aide to the assistant secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs, said in an interview that Bush's failure to remain on flying status amounts to a violation of the signed pledge by Bush that he would fly for at least five years after he completed flight school in November 1969.

"Failure to take your flight physical is like a failure to show up for duty. It is an obligation you can't blow off," McGinnis said.

Posted by: penalcolony at February 12, 2004 05:49 AM | PERMALINK

Isn't it puzzling that no one from Bush's Guard unit(s) has surfaced to say, "George Bush, yeah, I remember him!" Not a one.

Posted by: Diana at February 12, 2004 05:52 AM | PERMALINK

Guess it depends on how stoned you were at the time

Posted by: SW at February 12, 2004 05:57 AM | PERMALINK

http://www.washtimes.com/op-ed/20040210-082910-8424r.htm

End of topic

Posted by: David at February 12, 2004 05:57 AM | PERMALINK

Sure, let the Reverend Moon tell you the truth! What an asshole!

Posted by: SW at February 12, 2004 05:57 AM | PERMALINK

Like it or not, George W Bush is our Commander in Chief. These stories from the early 1970s are extremely distracting and in fact harmful to our national security. Just today we learn that the South Koreans have cloned human embryos in a clear afront to the President and his Council on Bioethics. Passing legislation in the US Congress will not stop the threat of cloning to our national belief system. The President could well have to take unilateral military action to stop this research in South Korea. Dentals records, arrests in 1968, physicals, HBS applications, old girlfriends. Just bees in the bonnet of our national apiarist.

Posted by: Wren at February 12, 2004 06:05 AM | PERMALINK

Wren, you sound a lot like a chatbot I once wrote.

Posted by: Sparrow at February 12, 2004 06:13 AM | PERMALINK

David, are you sure that's the end of the story?

Posted by: Chris at February 12, 2004 06:15 AM | PERMALINK

I wonder what Wren thinks "our national belief system" is exactly. Perhaps she likes the Taliban model of Afghanistan where our government tells us what to believe. And wouldn't you think she would be just a little bit more concerned about nuclear weapons in the hands of North Korea than about some scientists experimenting with cloning in South Korea?

Posted by: Shelley at February 12, 2004 06:15 AM | PERMALINK

Geoge W Bush may be your commander in chief. He is NOT mine. Period.

Posted by: SW at February 12, 2004 06:16 AM | PERMALINK

President codpiece protects us from the attack of the killer clones! What a fucking joke.

Posted by: SW at February 12, 2004 06:17 AM | PERMALINK

"...threat of cloning to our national belief system"

Wren is a joke, right? It's irony. Has to be.

Posted by: Olmy at February 12, 2004 06:21 AM | PERMALINK


End of topic

You wish.

Posted by: Californian at February 12, 2004 06:24 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

In a link I followed from Corrente, I saw a short mention in a rather long article about Bush being stationed in Colorado
"Later, Bush was transferred on paper to a Guard unit in Colorado prior to his early release to attend Harvard Business School."

George W. Bush's Lost Year in 1972 Alabama
By Glynn Wilson
Feb 11, 2004, 09:59

http://www.axisoflogic.com/artman/publish/article_5089.shtml

I have NEVER seen any mention of being in Colorado ANYWHERE else except on your site, where you raised the possibility of the "ARF" being a disciplinary unit in Colorado

Perhaps you can follow up on this. Where did Glynn get this statement?

Posted by: Tim at February 12, 2004 06:27 AM | PERMALINK

When I read a post like Wren's, I feel as if I'm in good episode of the Twlight Zone. You know, the one's where you come away feeling kind of creepy and disturbed.

Posted by: imperiousrex at February 12, 2004 06:29 AM | PERMALINK

"...threat of cloning to our national belief system"

"Wren is a joke, right? It's irony. Has to be."

That's what I'm thinking. But if not, Wow!

Posted by: Mothra at February 12, 2004 06:29 AM | PERMALINK

Re: the letter from Mr. Campenni to the Wash Times - lots of folks are all over this apparent crock of stuff.

Atrios has 2 posts (here and here) with links to blogs debunking this:

Posted by: NTodd at February 12, 2004 06:37 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

While I really don't care all that much about this issue or for that matter what Kerry did 30 years ago I commend you for talking to the source personally - not too many bloggers would have bothered to take that elementary step - most just run off at the mouth with some preconceived notion. Good work.

Posted by: mark safranski at February 12, 2004 06:38 AM | PERMALINK

The ones who are most upset about this topic, are the right wing fanatics. I don't believe that the average American is upset at the coverage and that they do want to know what really went down. Especially since this President campaigned on a "morally upright" and "trustworthy" platform to differentiate himself from the Clinton administration.

Posted by: imperiousrex at February 12, 2004 06:40 AM | PERMALINK

Wren says:
Like it or not, George W Bush is our Commander in Chief. These stories from the early 1970s are extremely distracting and in fact harmful to our national security. Just today we learn that the South Koreans have cloned human embryos in a clear afront to the President and his Council on Bioethics. Passing legislation in the US Congress will not stop the threat of cloning to our national belief system. The President could well have to take unilateral military action to stop this research in South Korea. Dentals records, arrests in 1968, physicals, HBS applications, old girlfriends. Just bees in the bonnet of our national apiarist.

This is a blatantly ignorant statement. The US does not control what scientists in other parts of the world do regarding cloning of embryos.

There are no treaties that have been negotiated between countries regarding the cloning of embryos. It's an internal matter that is up to the Koreans and it is up to their people to determine the legal and ethical remifications of cloning until such a time as countries decide to negotiate restrictions on the practice.

Damn, silly assed wingnuts....

Back to your regularly scheduled programming

Posted by: WyldBill at February 12, 2004 06:43 AM | PERMALINK

How dare the North Koreans violate US law.

Posted by: dequincey at February 12, 2004 06:45 AM | PERMALINK


There are three arrests on the President's record -- the Maine DUI that came out later -- and two college-age drunk & disorderly types, each of which pre-date his guard service. That he might have wanted to avoid calling the TANG's attention to those when he was trying to get in to the guard is hardly surprising.

Posted by: Andrew at February 12, 2004 06:47 AM | PERMALINK

Good god, people - Wren was obviously being sarcastic. Get a sense of humor!

Posted by: drew at February 12, 2004 06:49 AM | PERMALINK

the argument is shifting. on crackpot radio last night, the topic was not if he served, but how the liberals are demeaning the national guard. when you can't win on the facts, distract.

Posted by: paul at February 12, 2004 06:51 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

Keep up the amazing work! This is more information then we are getting anywhere else. No matter which side of this issue readers fall on. It is great to read all the stories and make up our own minds.

I for one believe this is relevant since the President has chosen to run as a "War President". This makes his military service beyond the last 3 years relevant.

It is telling that they do not just release all his military records if there is nothing to hide. After all that is the argument a great many supporters of the President used for the Patriot Act. One only need fear the information if one has something to hide. So what are they afraid of?

This is why this is still an issue in spite of what many may wish.

Posted by: Spinback at February 12, 2004 06:52 AM | PERMALINK

Oh yeah - and Kevin - I'm not one who typically agrees with your stances, but I'm very, very impressed with the work you've put into this issue. I agree that you might be taking blogs to another level with your yeoman like work here. Fantastic stuff.

There's a reason you're the first left-of-center blog I read each day - now if you would just start posting on a more east-coast friendly time schedule... ;)

Posted by: drew at February 12, 2004 06:52 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

I commend you to the heavens for pursuing this so doggedly. The Republican Kool Aid-crewe can't take the bitter taste their own medicine.

Personally, I think there are other more substantive and serious issues (deficit, environment, our role in the world, transparency of government, etc., etc.) that should be dominating the airwaves . . . and this administration is vulnerable on . . . but if we cannot shift the debate to one that is more productive due to the anemic media we are cursed with . . . I am happy to use this to "stake the vampire".

Anyway, the solution is within Bush's control. At the end of the day, just release the darn records and the whole thing will go away. Why are they acting like such morons?

Keep up the good work!

Posted by: tnd at February 12, 2004 06:56 AM | PERMALINK

Bush is a narcissistic bully and it will be a great day when he is politically castrated. This Burkett stuff is a disaster for him. I could almost feel sorry for Bush. Very bad days are ahead for him. Poor Shrub. Poor poor shrub.

Posted by: the third man at February 12, 2004 07:00 AM | PERMALINK

Does anyone sense a another round of "heightened terror alert" announcements in the wind. Especially if this gets any hotter. Pay absolutely no attention to the President behind the curtain.

Posted by: imperiousrex at February 12, 2004 07:01 AM | PERMALINK

I don't know how much relevance this is and since (as Richard Cohen recently noted, lax guard service wasn't exactly unusual) it isn't particularly horrible Bush did it at the time, I question this stuff except to the degree it makes him look bad. It also doesn't shock me (esp. if he was taking drugs) that he is wary about letting the details out. Somewhere down the line, such privacy might help the Democrats, if one did something unsavory in the past as well. And, even there, unless something serious pops up, it might backfire, if the public thinks "oh well, they were so upset, and nothing really was found!"

Still, I strongly respect Calpundit's efforts to research the issue. It doesn't seem like rocket science to do so, but apparently major media markets still either can't get their facts straight or provide a coherent account. This is far from shocking ... look at the Gore "lies" of 2000. It is therefore reassuring an "amateur" like Calpundit takes the time and effort to help us understand this damn thing.

Great job!

Posted by: Joe at February 12, 2004 07:03 AM | PERMALINK

Not to beat a dead horse, but anyone citing that WashTimes letter to the editor really needs to read the Richmond Times Dispatch story cited by Counterspin. That guy contradicts himself about his service.
On another note, what the USA Today story says about the significance of the blacked out arrest record is: "The nature of what was blacked out in Bush's records is important because certain legal problems, such as drug or alcohol violations, could have been a basis for denying an applicant entry into the Guard or pilot training. Admission to the Guard and to pilot school was highly competitive at that time, the height of the Vietnam War."

Posted by: lou at February 12, 2004 07:04 AM | PERMALINK

tnd -- you're assuming that if the whole record gets released it will exonerate Bush. I'm not jumping to that conclusion.

The dental record thing is too funny though. I think the White House is just trying to distract the press from the fact that there's ALREADY enough info in circulation to label Bush AWOL for the period June-August 1972.

Posted by: Erik at February 12, 2004 07:12 AM | PERMALINK

Looks like the nub of the story isn't the attendence but some Yale DUIs that should have disqualified Bush for National Guard service.

To me, it looks like the source has taken some rumors he heard and turned it into a narrative, with him in the starring role, to make the thing more compelling. It "holds together", but more in a Hollywood way than a realistic way

But the Yale business is interesting, and mentioned independently elsewhere. Wonder if there is any way to verify it?


Posted by: appalled moderate at February 12, 2004 07:19 AM | PERMALINK

He didn't take the physical exam because there was not a qualified MD in Alabama. But he came from TX to Ala in January, 73 for a dental exam, becasue there are no DDS's in TX????? Lots of Q's - try to get the correct story Kevin. Keep up the good work, and where do you find the time? I am Bush's apporx. age, and I could tell many stories from 1972 that would back up where I was and what I was doing. Boooring stories, but stories nonetheless. Tell us a story, W!

Posted by: Dinosaur at February 12, 2004 07:19 AM | PERMALINK

Excellent journalistic work, Kevin.

--|PW|--

Posted by: pennywit at February 12, 2004 07:19 AM | PERMALINK

Very good work indeed.

Posted by: Aaron Gillies at February 12, 2004 07:19 AM | PERMALINK

I've got a story for W - Tell us how sad it was for him to sort mail, all those "Dear John" letters going over to Nam, and he really felt their pain, but it gave him the names and addresses of some really hot chicks.

Posted by: Dinosaur at February 12, 2004 07:25 AM | PERMALINK

Wow!

That's all I can say...

Wow!

You better get some kind of mainstream recognition for all this work or there is no justice in this world.

Wow!

Posted by: Gryn at February 12, 2004 07:28 AM | PERMALINK

"Isn't it puzzling that no one from Bush's Guard unit(s) has surfaced to say, "George Bush, yeah, I remember him!" Not a one."

Read this: http://www.washtimes.com/op-ed/20040210-082910-8424r.htm

Here's a quote: "George Bush and I were lieutenants and pilots in the 111th Fighter Interceptor Squadron (FIS), Texas Air National Guard (ANG) from 1970 to 1971"

Posted by: Dom at February 12, 2004 07:29 AM | PERMALINK

Dom, no one from Bush's Alabama unit has come forward to say "I served with him". And no one has come forward from his TANG unit for the period after he supposedly left Alabama and rejoined his TANG unit...

Posted by: Jesurgislac at February 12, 2004 07:31 AM | PERMALINK

I don't know why I bother replying, Dom, but 70-71 are not the years in question. Nobody doubts he served those years. Try harder.

Posted by: apostropher at February 12, 2004 07:33 AM | PERMALINK

Are you going to rename this place "The Grassy Knoll"?

Posted by: Stan at February 12, 2004 07:37 AM | PERMALINK

Erik,

I suppose I have two issues.

First, I don't want to put all my eggs in one basket in the event Bush & Co. have something that effectively defuses the issue (perspective, perspective!).

Second, it is hard to conceive of the Republican political machine that has consistently demonstrated an uncanny ability to take control of the levers of political power and dominate the national debate . . failing so miserably (to steal a phrase).

But on the other hand, it could just be as simple as they have gotten away with it for so long, they never thought they would get caught.

Cheers!

Posted by: tnd at February 12, 2004 07:38 AM | PERMALINK

Obligitory link to Countersping that documents the bogosity that is Campenni

And in spite of all truthslaughtering he still doesn't even attempt to account for Bush post May '72 which is where things got interesting.

You lose, thanx for playing... what card will you play next in your deck of mendacity?

Posted by: Gryn at February 12, 2004 07:38 AM | PERMALINK

Appalled,

Bush himself admits those Yale DUIs. He did when the Maine story broke.

What's interesting is that if the FAA ever gave him a flight plan when he was a civilian pilot, and he didn't reveal them, then he perjured himself.

Interesting to me, at least. Not to people who don't care that the President might not be an honorable man.

Posted by: Monkey at February 12, 2004 07:38 AM | PERMALINK

Bah! my grammer and spelling are teh crap today

Posted by: Gryn at February 12, 2004 07:39 AM | PERMALINK

Great job Kevin. The blogs seem to be taking this story away from the mainstream media and running with it (you, most notably).
I suspect this story, and others, will make it into the study being done about blogs' influence on the major media.
Keep up the great work (how do you find the time?)

Posted by: Hadleyman at February 12, 2004 07:40 AM | PERMALINK

brainless losers...

Posted by: timmac at February 12, 2004 07:43 AM | PERMALINK

"'Isn't it puzzling that no one from Bush's Guard unit(s) has surfaced to say, "George Bush, yeah, I remember him!" Not a one.'"

"Read this: http://www.washtimes.com/op-ed/20040210-082910-8424r.htm"

Jeez, the credibility of this letter you wingnuts keep citing hasn't lasted as long as a downed Delta Dagger pilot in the shark-infested waters of the Gulf!

One problem (of many) is that the writer has said elsewhere that he was in grad school in '70-'71, and stationed in Pittsburg in '72. Links to Counterspin and Oliver Willis on this topic are posted earlier in this thread. Oliver Willis (taking a leaf from Kevin's book) actually interviewed the letter's author--his only response to a question about the time discrepancy was, "nice try."

Posted by: rea at February 12, 2004 07:44 AM | PERMALINK

This story seems plausible. If Bush's reputation were spotless, I might be inclined to disbelieve it. It is a documented fact that Bush was behaving pretty irresponsibly at the time, and the notion of him not taking his National Guard service very seriously is not unbelievable. This was an excellent piece of work. I found myself fascinated by the interview.

Posted by: Roland at February 12, 2004 07:45 AM | PERMALINK

Nothing but Trash politics, just trying to take the focus off real issues and make something out of nothing...

Posted by: Randy at February 12, 2004 07:45 AM | PERMALINK

That were dangerous days. I heard those sharks had frikin' laser-beams on their head man!

Posted by: Gryn at February 12, 2004 07:47 AM | PERMALINK

Those were dangerous days. I heard those sharks had frikin' laser-beams on their head man!

Posted by: Gryn at February 12, 2004 07:47 AM | PERMALINK

What if...

what if it looks like he was AWOL because the political fixers OVERSCRUBBED the records? Wouldn't it be ironic if to remove evidence of arrests etc. they took out so much that it appears he was AWOL which gets the press to look into THAT when the real crime was the scrubbing of embarrassing details, and the illegality and dishonesty of the coverup?

Hee hee. With honor and integrity like this ...

Posted by: Tubino at February 12, 2004 07:47 AM | PERMALINK

"Those were dangerous days. I heard those sharks had frikin' laser-beams on their head man!"

Were they ill-tempered?

Posted by: Mothra at February 12, 2004 07:52 AM | PERMALINK

The ignorance of the routine of the military, and the National Guard in particular here is amazing. Let me make it simple for you. Bush as not rated to fly the aircraft in the Alabama unit. His Texas unit was in the process of replacing their F102s. His obligation was to end too soon for it to make sense to have him trained on the new aircraft. The Vietnam war was over, the AFNG was overstaffed with active duty pilots moving into the ANG ranks and taking flight position

There's nothing here aside from people who haven't the slightest idea what they're looking at when reviewing military documents.

As someone who's actually done the sort of TDY Bush did with the Guard, I'm wouldn't be surprised if no one from the Alabama unit came forward saying they remember someone doing TDY in their unit for an entire six days, better than thirty years ago.

If you're under the impression that ANG units all gather around in the hanger and play volleyball, or some such, you're deeply confused. People arrive and leave at different times. They're engaged in activities in far flung locations. Someone like Bush that couldn't even fly the unit's aircraft, would be shuffled off to some filing area, perhaps not even on a usual drill date, and given some trivial task to perform.


BTW, a final note; the canard that Bush “pulled strings to jump to the front of the line to get a coveted ANG position” is oft repeated by those ignorant of the facts. While there WAS a waiting list to get into various ANG units, the list was for NON-FLYING positions. The non-flying positions didn’t force one to undergo two years of active duty training as the pilot slots did. Thus, they were far more important to those attempting to avoid active duty service, not to mention the danger of flying fighter aircraft.

You've come up with a dry hole here, folks. And the only thing that makes it look otherwise to you is a combination of laughable ignorance of the subject matter and unmitigated Bush-hatred. You’re beginning to sound like the black helicopter Mena airfield crowd.

Posted by: Stan at February 12, 2004 07:54 AM | PERMALINK

Actually, someone *has* come forward to say Bush was present at NG headquarters in Alabama:

"Joe LeFevers, a member of the 187th in 1972, said he remembers seeing Bush in unit offices and being told that Bush was in Montgomery to work on Blount's campaign.

'I was going in the orderly room over there one day, and they said, "This is Lt. Bush,"' LeFevers said yesterday. "They pointed him out to me. ... The reason I remember it is because I associate him with Red Blount.'"

www.nj.com/search/index.ssf?/base/news-0/107648386787090.xml?starledger?ntoeln

So, let's hope that Mr LeFevers steps forward to claim his reward, because I suspect that to do so he will have to make the same statement under oath.

You see, two more problems have arisen. In the same article, Reese Bricken, the unit's commander, says Bush never showed. AND-- to make this much more complicated, the dental exam released yesterday says Bush was in Alabama when his biography and NG Guard records say he was in Texas. www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A34505-2004Feb11.html?referrer=emailarticle

And, just to make it even uglier, a second NG official has stepped forward, albeit anonymously, to say that there was concern at the highest levels about Bush's arrests. www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2004-02-11-bush-guard-usat_x.htm

It's not unreasonable to suppose these guys are starting to trip over their own lies.

Posted by: js at February 12, 2004 07:55 AM | PERMALINK

Talk about your fear and loathing. I guess it's gonna be kind of hard to release records that were in a trash can several years ago.

Posted by: 303-747-2153 at February 12, 2004 08:01 AM | PERMALINK

Diana- "Isn't it puzzling that no one from Bush's Guard unit(s) has surfaced to say, "George Bush, yeah, I remember him!" Not a one."

Is anyone looking? Seriously. Is anyone even looking for the TSGT supply guy from a unit in Alabama in 1972 to see if they remember GWB? I know that Mr. Drum called for his readers in AL to check the library for microfiched coverage of the campaign Bush was supposed to be working to see if anything would conflict with his supposed duty dates.
It really is a simple question to ask for you reporters or quasi-reporters out there. You find someone from the unit and ask "Do you remember if a 1LT George Bush drilled with your unit?". If they say "no" don't just jump for joy because you found another person to confirm your belief. Instead you ask "Do you remember who your unit's full-time Personnel Sergeant/ Supply Sergeant/ Maintence Sergeant was?" Then you find THAT person and ask them if they remember Bush. Oh, and here's another suggestion. Stop asking the officers and commanders who are only there on the scheduled weekends. They had far more important things to worry about during their drills.

Posted by: SSG B at February 12, 2004 08:05 AM | PERMALINK

Stan, that doesn't survive the laugh test. Try again. And the Bush-Hatred meme is spent too.

Posted by: jri at February 12, 2004 08:07 AM | PERMALINK

Oh, and Stan: Do you and the Mena crowd get together for reunions?

Posted by: jri at February 12, 2004 08:09 AM | PERMALINK

OK, monkey. Excuse me for forgetting W had 3, not just 1 admitted DUI. (If he had done that today, he'd be in jail.)

I guess I am wondering,then where this scandal goes. We have a guy who has reason for a grudge telling a tale that (i) has him overhearing something and (ii) has him being given a tipoff about the document scrubbing down by a dumpster. I could buy one or the other, but both seems like too much. Personally, I think the possibility the guy heard the rumors and turned them into a story starring him is plausible.

Also, the stuff allegedly concealed involves bad Bush behavior that's now out in the public domain. Again, hmmmmm. If he had discussed something previously unknown, his story would be more plausible.He may be telling the truth, but he has reasons for not telling the truth, and so, it's fairly easy to dismiss the charges.

What I see suggests moving into Bush "bad behavior" stories. And there's a big "so what" component to that. Pre 1985 Bush bad behavior is much the same as pre-1992 Clinton sexual misbehavior: admitted (without any detail) and dismissed. Now you have been pretty clear on why you haven't dismissed them, and I respect your reasoning. I just think those who will determine the election (undecided voters) aren't really going to care about this.

Posted by: appalled moderate at February 12, 2004 08:12 AM | PERMALINK

"Isn't it puzzling that no one from Bush's Guard unit(s) has surfaced to say, "George Bush, yeah, I remember him!" Not a one."

Is anyone looking?

You don't think that the Bushies are looking morning, noon, and night? You don't think that if they'd found ANYONE, that that person wouldn't have long since been trotted before the media?

Posted by: JD at February 12, 2004 08:14 AM | PERMALINK


Let me break this to the wingers as gently as I can:

So long as your boy in the White House plays his "modified limited hang-out" game with the records, he's going to lose on this issue. It doesn't matter what really happened in Alabama -- the evasiveness is what matters.

When the GOP tried to pull the crap it did against Max Cleland, as it will, he can run an ad that says: "John Kerry fought for his country in Viet Nam. He was wounded in battle, winning three Purple Hearts, the Bronze star, and Silver Star. And yet George Bush of all people has the nerve to question his patriotism."

And everyone will know what the "of all people" refers to.

Posted by: Californian at February 12, 2004 08:17 AM | PERMALINK


Eh, "when the GOP tries," not "tried." Sorry.

Posted by: Californian at February 12, 2004 08:19 AM | PERMALINK

Pre 1985 Bush bad behavior is much the same as pre-1992 Clinton sexual misbehavior: admitted (without any detail) and dismissed.

Except that this instance of bad behavior - at the very kindest interpretation, goofing off from his National Guard duties - is something that Bush has not only not admitted to, he's actually lied about. Furthermore, he's bragged about his "military service". And on top of all that, there's this ridiculous, neverending coverup.

Posted by: Jesurgislac at February 12, 2004 08:20 AM | PERMALINK

"Let me make it simple for you. Bush as not rated to fly the aircraft in the Alabama unit."

Good point, Stan. Bush was not rated to fly a desk.

Go back to the original Boston Globe story and the quote from the Alabama unit's leader, Lieutenant Colonel Bricken: "We met just one weeknight a month. We were only a postal unit. We had no airplanes. We had no pilots. We had no nothing."

Posted by: Air Force Brat at February 12, 2004 08:37 AM | PERMALINK

J --

This may seem a stupid question to you, but how has Bush lied on this issue? It seems to me he's been Clintonian ("I got an honorable discharge") rather than actually lying.

Second question: when has Bush bragged on this period of military service? It always seems to me that Bush does not talk of his younger, wilder, worthless days.

These questions aren't rhetorical. I'm really curious, because I missed this.

Posted by: appalled moderate at February 12, 2004 08:37 AM | PERMALINK

Stan —

• The flying/non-flying distinction is the Bush talking point. Any objective backup (i.e., documentation) for that assertion? Was Bush really the only well-off, well-connected frat-boy with nothing better to do for a couple of years? Or if there was a list, even a teeny-weeny one, Bush (with his 25th-percentile rating on the test — the minimum allowable) outscored everybody else? Was TANG trolling for pilots fresh off the short bus?

• What about the multiple, conflicting timelines? To take only the most recent example: the new dental-appointment document (complete with drawings of Dubya's teethies!) places him in Alabama when all previous acounts provided by BushCo had him back in Texas. What's the deal? I know it was thirty years ago, but you think he'd remember whether the 'Bama appointment was before (old story) or after (new story) the holidays. Or somebody in the family would. Wasn't that the Christmas he got tanked up, crashed the car and tried to take a poke at Poppy — all just a few days before he headed east to his teeth cleaned? In my family, that'd count as a pretty memorable holiday. And, IIRC, still no other documentation of attendance in either Alabama or Texas in the rest of 1973.

• For 50 years, every president or presidential candidate who served has released everything in his military record. Why won't Bush?

• It's "hangar," unless the Guard store its planes in the closet. Or is that your policy?

Posted by: nina at February 12, 2004 08:38 AM | PERMALINK

I assume that y'all read Scrappleface
"This election is not about the future, or my legislative record," said Mr. Kerry, "It's about what George W. Bush and I did more than three decades ago.

Posted by: Ron at February 12, 2004 08:39 AM | PERMALINK

CHECK OUT DRUDGE!!!!

Posted by: Matt at February 12, 2004 08:43 AM | PERMALINK

"This may seem a stupid question to you, but how has Bush lied on this issue?

Bush lied in his autobiography about this, which was published before the 2000 election.

I forget the exact quote, but he said he continued to fly planes until he service time was up. It's a blatant lie right there.

Posted by: paradox at February 12, 2004 08:45 AM | PERMALINK
http://www.washtimes.com/op-ed/20040210-082910-8424r.htm

So, someone who says he served with Bush in 1970-71 made a bunch of generic excuses as to why -- had Bush been excused, which there is no evidence that he was, later in his service from some parts of his duty.

What this isn't is proof:

1) That Bush completed any part of his duty in 1972-73 as he claims to have, or where he did so, which is at issue, or
2) That Bush actually was excused from anything, until after failing to complete his physical.

Bush could settle these by releasing his military records -- all of them.

Posted by: cmdicely at February 12, 2004 08:46 AM | PERMALINK

WH panic attack, as reported today by ABC's "The Note":

No gaggle or briefing at the White House today, so if you want to hear someone say the word "gutter," you'll have to look elsewhere.

Posted by: penalcolony at February 12, 2004 08:47 AM | PERMALINK

Matt
Ease up, that is likely to be as ineffective as Bush's ANR stuff.

Posted by: Ron at February 12, 2004 08:47 AM | PERMALINK

now if you would just start posting on a more east-coast friendly time schedule... ;)

Jeez, he posted this at 5:36 in the morning west coast time. What more do you want? And Kevin, when do you sleep?

Posted by: Another Bruce at February 12, 2004 08:51 AM | PERMALINK

What's most important is not whether Bush used to be a drunken irresponsible rich ne'er-do-well who used his father's pull to make sure someone else got shot in Vietnam. That all happened when he was "young", back before he found Jesus and kicked the bottle.

What's most important is the blatant lying, misrepresentation, obfuscation, and destruction of other people's careers that Bush-Rove-Allbaugh-Hughes committed in the '90s to preserve Bush's spurious reputation. This pattern continues to this day - when the President's press secretary again gets on national television and lies for the Man.

This is the guy who promised to bring "honor and integrity", "respect and responsibility" back to the White House. Where the hell is it?

Posted by: Louise at February 12, 2004 08:53 AM | PERMALINK

Ron,

Think about it: the timing of this story is suspect. Bush gets into trouble. Dean says he is staying in. Clark drops out. Drdge is leaked the story by the administration who has their research on Kerry. Kerry gets caught with his pants down. Dean takes off in the polls. With Clark now out, Hillary can get in before super Tuesday. Hillary runs on Dean Phobia and takes California and New York. Hillary names clark as Veep. Open Convention. A beautiful scenario. . .

Posted by: Matt at February 12, 2004 08:55 AM | PERMALINK

Appalled moderate:

This may seem a stupid question to you, but how has Bush lied on this issue? It seems to me he's been Clintonian ("I got an honorable discharge") rather than actually lying.

No, you're not stupid: it's something I only noticed when I'd been over it several times. Bush didn't finish his flight training till June 1970. In Bush's autobiography, A Charge to Keep, Bush claims "I continued flying with my unit for the next several years."

But he didn't. Not according to any definition of "several years". From May 1972 onwards, there's no evidence that Bush ever flew at all. "Less than two" is not "several".

(The official biography - google on unelectable - is more an evasion than an actual lie: "He received a bachelor's degree from Yale University in 1968, then served as an F-102 fighter pilot in the Texas Air National Guard. President Bush received a Master of Business Administration from Harvard Business School in 1975." There are several years missing here, but you'd never know it. (I note that in various places the false dates "1968-1973" of Bush's service in the TANG are given, rather than the real dates, 1970-1972.)

Second question: when has Bush bragged on this period of military service? It always seems to me that Bush does not talk of his younger, wilder, worthless days.

Except for the period of his "military service". He does talk about that, and he does talk it up, rather than simply admitting he was young, wild, worthless, and goofed off his National Guard duties.

Posted by: Jesurgislac at February 12, 2004 08:56 AM | PERMALINK

[At this point there was a long digression about routine cleaning up of personnel files for officers up for promotion.]

Kevin, this might be interesting. Is it background or can you share?

Excellent work, btw...

Posted by: KevStar at February 12, 2004 08:58 AM | PERMALINK

Where are Bush's records?

Since scrubbing federal records is probably a felony even in Texas, that question could well be an independent direction for this investigation to proceed. Someone would have to research what records would have been generated, and where they would now be, for an average ANG member at that time. Find a contemporary, do an FOIA request on them, and see what arrives that is missing for Bush. Alternatively, there must be some retired bureaucrats reading this list who could volunteer what paper would be generated when.

This would have two advantages. It might help us to identify any remaining duplicates before they are sent to the DOD (seriously, having the executive take control of all the documents about the head of its own branch doesn't sound like a foolproof plan to me). Also, it might give a clearer sense of what is missing, and so provide a better crucible to evaluate scrubbing claims.

Unfortunately, this would also be a pretty compulsive thing to do, and perhaps would need news organization backing. Just a thought.

Posted by: MarkC at February 12, 2004 08:59 AM | PERMALINK

What bothers me most about this story is that it's coming out NOW! The media was so wrapped up in Gore's "lies" during the 2000 campaign that even though this was there, it was largely ignored. Except, of course by bloggers like Kevin & Josh Marshall & Bob Somersby - the voices crying out in the wilderness. While it's great that the mainstream media is finally paying attention, it's a bit too late.

Yes, this is not as important as the economy, jobs, etc. but if Rove & Co. are gong to attack other's integrity, fair's fair.

And yes, we will have a "heightened terror" alert soon - British Airways is cancelling flights for this weekend already. What else can we do to distract the American people from this? Hmm...how 'bout a constitutional amendment on marriage? Great idea!

Posted by: MKM15 at February 12, 2004 08:59 AM | PERMALINK

Forget about the Air National Guard Story. It is done with.

Posted by: Matt at February 12, 2004 09:00 AM | PERMALINK

Matt
Hillary runs on Dean Phobia
Thanks for the lift. I'll be grinning the rest of the day.

Posted by: Ron at February 12, 2004 09:00 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, I keep reading things like this:
"Bush's loss of flying status should have spurred probe
By Walter V. Robinson and Francie Latour, Globe Staff, 2/12/2004

The following April, just before his next physical was due, Bush moved temporarily to Alabama to work on a Republican US Senate race, AND WAS GIVEN PERMISSION TO ATTEND GUARD DRILLS AT A MONTGOMERY AIR GUARD BASE (emphasis mine). But he did not appear for his May 1972 physical, and he performed no duty at all until late October 1972, according to Guard records that became public this week."

I thought I remembered reading quite some time ago that although Bush requested a temporary transfer to Alabama, the Guard refused BECAUSE THERE WERE NO PLANES THERE FOR HIM TO FLY. Did I hallucinate that?

Posted by: Dianne C at February 12, 2004 09:02 AM | PERMALINK

I have been reading these posts for days now. I'm fascinated, to say the least.

In 1992 John Kerry criticised Robert Kerrey for raising the issue of Clinton's VietNam non servicein the Democratic primaries. He said that such old issues should not matter in contemporary elections. But that was 1992, and he was defending a Democrat. It's different now.

Like Bush, Edward Kennedy did a lot of drinking and driving in college. It didn't matter to the voting public until the Kopechne tragedy. Kennedy even ran again in 1980. Unless somebody can show that Bush killed an innocentyoung woman in Alabama in 1972-1973 (the place and years in question) this story mostly plays to people already committed against Bush.

I am reminded of the incessant, yet mostly foolish, conspiracy theories surrounding Clinton's governorship in Arkansas -- drug importations, murders of Clinton acquaintances. This was independent of the Whitewater stuff: lots of people went to jail following the Whitewater investigations, and Hillary Clinton's old law firm defuncted because of fraudulent overbilling.

To me, this looks like partisan mud-slinging. Everybody already knows that Bush was a heavy drinker, and he never denied allegations of cocaine use. But it was 30 years ago, and he's been straight since.

Almost everybody in this discussion who thinks there is a serious story here has criticised Bush on other grounds. As to the war being immoral or illegal, it was voted by Congress, and the main Democrats (Daschle, Gephardt, Kerry, Edwards, Lieberman) voted for it.

Once there is credible (sometimes even incredible) testimony that some documents have been destroyed, no amount of documentation can kill the conspiracy.

As a historical sidelight, there were always rumors that Grant was a drunkard when he was stationed on the West Coast. He never lived them down.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler at February 12, 2004 09:02 AM | PERMALINK

Like it or not, George W Bush is our Commander in Chief.

No, actually. Unless "we" are active members of the military, he is not. The President is Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces. He has no such title with reference to civilians. The Bush administration would love to pretend that martial law has been declared, but it hasn't.

These stories from the early 1970s are extremely distracting and in fact harmful to our national security.

No. What is harmful to our national security is having a Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces who is so deeply damaging to military discipline and respect for authority within the ranks. Having a so-called President who keeps the sailors of the carrier that has just had the longest deployment in history from home for an extra week so he can defile the uniform he's not entitled to wear in the name of grandstanding; having a so-called President who engages in punitive relocations against officers who dare to tell the truth; having a so-called President who demoralizes troops by cutting their pay and kicking their families off base housing while they are away in harms way; these are the things that are deeply damaging to our national security. Claiming otherwise is partisan special pleading and fails to address the facts.

Posted by: Ulrika O'Brien at February 12, 2004 09:02 AM | PERMALINK

Jim Hightower has a wonderful piece up contrasting Kerry and President Bush's military records.

For those of you of the Republican persuasion...quit pretending the cover-up doesn't matter.

And quit pretending that the contrasting service of these two candidates doesn't matter.

We are Republicans remember? We believe people should be rewarded for hard work and commitment to Country.

One of these candidates earned our respect. One did not.

And trying to "push back" on this issue just makes us look silly.

'Nuff said.

Posted by: Republican for Kerry at February 12, 2004 09:02 AM | PERMALINK

This was a great read! The ship, she is a sinkin! Every man for himself! Good work, Kev!

Kerry's ship is sinking too! Doh! Like I said, every man for himself!

Dean 04!

Posted by: Peter at February 12, 2004 09:04 AM | PERMALINK

Amazing work, Kevin! I think this indicates that the real story has moved beyond what W did or did not do in Alabama 30 years ago. It has moved to the present tense and become the story of a coverup of a coverup. The real story is Dan Bartlett and his own gutter politics. That's why they won't produce the records that W promised -- they can't! They already trashed them in the coverup of the '90s. Imagine the scramble that went on when W told Russert he would release the records. "Oh my God, we got rid of those years ago! What now?"

W very well could have been AWOL, but maybe they just inadvertently created the AWOL status by trashing too much of his record, thus disappearing all but the useless dental appointment.

Posted by: Bryrock at February 12, 2004 09:04 AM | PERMALINK

Hello Kerry and the intern!!!
Read my past posts

Posted by: Matt at February 12, 2004 09:05 AM | PERMALINK

to appalled moderate come on.... "not bragged about his service" what about the photo op carrier landing? and claiming to be a "war president".

also is the mainstream media slow or is it me but don't we already know why he didn't show up in Bama or texas for the missing year......because he was in the reserves and not the ANG most likely for disciplinary reasons. Don't the documents released by the White house show the ARF initials? Shouldn't the real question be Why was he in the reserves? now ...not where was he?

Posted by: mike at February 12, 2004 09:06 AM | PERMALINK

Well, I feel stupid. Immediately after posting my question, I get the answer from CJR Campaign Desk:

"Here's the real story. In May of 1972, Bush moved from Texas to Alabama to work as campaign manager for Republican Winton "Red" Blount's senate campaign. He requested a transfer from his unit, the 111th Interceptor Squadron, to a "postal unit" in Alabama that required no active duty. While Bush's commanders in Houston approved the request, it was rejected by Air National Guard officials at the organization's headquarters in Denver, Colorado, and Bush technically remained assigned to the Houston unit that summer. Bush moved to Alabama to work on the campaign anyway, and in September 1972, requested transfer to a different Alabama unit. This time he won approval all the way up the bureaucratic chain, and was given a three-month temporary assignment with the 187th Tactical Recon Group in Montgomery, Alabama.

Posted by: Dianne C at February 12, 2004 09:08 AM | PERMALINK

FORMER EXPO BILL (SPACEMAN) LEE SAYS HE SMOKED POT WITH GEORGE W. BUSH
"Back in 1973, we rolled a couple of doobies [marijuana cigarettes] and smoked them together.  And I can tell you -- he definitely inhaled."

Posted by: benmasel at February 12, 2004 09:09 AM | PERMALINK

A couple of responses to the tinfoil hat wearers;

The oft-mentioned flight aptitude test; it's a go/no-go exam (for those of you still struggling with military jargon, that means pass/fail). I've taken the exam myself and it consists not of academic questions, but of space relation questions. An example would be a picture of a globe/horizon and the question "are you climbing, banking or descending based on the above view".

The fact (I know you like to avoid that concept) remains that there was no waiting list for those willing to become pilots and undergo two years of active duty training time.

"When they tried to do that to Max Cleland"... I know this is a Democrat article of faith (right up there with the belief that barricades by cops with dogs kept black voters away from the polls in Florida, circa 2000) but Max was defeated not on questions about his patriotism, but on questions about his repeated votes against the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security because of big labor’s interest in work place rules. I realize you’ll never admit this, but that’s just one more entry in a long list of fictions Democrats hold near and dear. We could take on the assertion made often about Cleland that he left his limbs on the battlefield, but it would be descending into the tinfoil helmet ground occupied by so many here to point out that Cleland didn’t lose his limbs in combat with the enemy, any more than ANG pilots killed on duty lost their lives during contact with the enemy.

“Bush was not rated to fly a desk.”

Yet another example of someone unable to follow the story and/or understand military jargon. Bush applied to drill with a non-flying unit in Alabama, as the flying unit there had aircraft he wasn’t rated to fly. His request was denied and he was detailed to another unit. This may come as a surprise to some of you, but there’s more than one unit posted there.

The bottom line here is the swap fever infecting you all isn’t transferable to the public at large. Bush has documented his service, he received an honorable discharge, and try to move the goalposts as much as you like, the burden of proof is on those of you claiming there’s a conspiracy afoot. Thus far, you got nada.

Now, when Kerry’s association with the “Winter Soldier Investigation” and those lovable folks at “Vietnam Veterans Against the War” becomes common knowledge, I’m betting JFK will work to shift the subject to his Senate voting record. Until, of course, his non-stop record of military cuts, appeasement and attacks on the very existence of intelligence gathering agencies becomes common knowledge. Then, well, I’m thinking at least a 49 state rout……

Posted by: Stan at February 12, 2004 09:11 AM | PERMALINK

Republican for Kerry
quit pretending the cover-up doesn't matter.
What coverup? All I hear is a lot of people wanting Bush to prove he's innocent. I assume they take this path because they can't prove he's guilty.

And quit pretending that the contrasting service of these two candidates doesn't matter.
It doesn't matter, it was 30 years ago.

We are Republicans remember? We believe people should be rewarded for hard work and commitment to Country.
I agree, what's your point?

One of these candidates earned our respect. One did not.
Based on 30 year old events, neither did. You are aware of Kerry's activities after he came back?

And trying to "push back" on this issue just makes us look silly.
Us? I'll eat my hat if you're Repub.

Posted by: Ron at February 12, 2004 09:13 AM | PERMALINK

Atrios

From Colin Powell's Autobiography

In Secretary of State Colin Powell's autobiography, My American Journey, he says, "I am angry that so many of the sons of the powerful and well-placed managed to wangle slots in the Army Reserve and National Guard units... Of the many tragedies of Vietnam, this raw class discrimination strikes me as the most damaging to the ideal that all Americans are created equal and owe equal allegiance to their country."

Plame, 9/11, "Intelligence" committee, energy panel, TX redistricting % Homeland Security, etc.

Posted by: Al at February 12, 2004 09:19 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, a little late, but great work! That interview was high-quality, for-publication stuff... well done!

Posted by: dave at February 12, 2004 09:20 AM | PERMALINK

Based on 30 year old events, neither did. You are aware of Kerry's activities after he came back?

Oh, not another one who thinks the US is a totalitarian state...

Posted by: Jesurgislac at February 12, 2004 09:25 AM | PERMALINK

Dianne C, there were two airbases. The one Bush applied to AFTER he left Texas without permission was a non-flying base. He was denied permission to drill there. Then he applied for permission to a base with planes. He was granted permission.

Mathew Marler incorrectly states that "In 1992 John Kerry criticised Robert Kerrey for raising the issue of Clinton's VietNam non servicein the Democratic primaries. He said that such old issues should not matter in contemporary elections. But that was 1992, and he was defending a Democrat. It's different now."

I doubt the veracity of the first statement, but the second is outright false. Kerry has refused to make an issue of Bush's nonservice, much to the irritation of his supporters. What remains an issue is Bush's refusal to release his records so that people can know what that nonservice was, as well as the allegation that his records were purged, which would have been a crime.

Matt, if you wanted to persuade everyone that Kevin struck oil with the Burkett interview, you succeeded. This time around, with the country hurting and under a war footing, lies will not suffice.

Posted by: js at February 12, 2004 09:25 AM | PERMALINK

"Trash politics?" You guys need to consult a thesaurus, it's way too obvious you got the latest talking points memo from Karl Rove.

However you say it, it's a joke when one considers what happened to the Clintons in the '90s. Phrases like "hoisted with your own petard", "get a taste of your own medicine" and "you can dish it out but you can't take it" come to mind.

Posted by: Librul at February 12, 2004 09:25 AM | PERMALINK

J:

Thanks for the answers. I think I understand where you are coming from. I'm not sure contradicting what he said in his Campaign Autobio constitues much more than a white lie, but you have a valid point.

Mike:

Read my question, which is specific to Bush bragging on his National Guard service. Everybody with eyes in their head and a tv set is well aware of Top Gun W and Mission Accomplished.

Posted by: appalled moderate at February 12, 2004 09:27 AM | PERMALINK

Well, this topic was a lot of fun for you lefties while it lasted, but the next several days are going to be all about JFK's "intern problem." Matt Drudge strikes again (or was it Chris Lahane?)

Posted by: Dan at February 12, 2004 09:35 AM | PERMALINK

Excellent. Simply Excellent.

Posted by: ghostdog at February 12, 2004 09:37 AM | PERMALINK

Well, this topic was a lot of fun for you lefties while it lasted, but the next several days are going to be all about JFK's "intern problem." Matt Drudge strikes again (or was it Chris Lahane?)

Yeah, awfully convenient for them, eh?

Bush AWOL story requires massive paperwork evidence, corroborated sources, and the man's medical records before the Right will even acknowlege there may be discrepancies, but Drudge simply hints that Kerry had an affair with an unnammed woman, based on an anonymous source, at some time in the past, and of course this is accepted as Gospel Truth.

I see how that works. Gotcha.

Posted by: Monkey at February 12, 2004 09:39 AM | PERMALINK

Bush lying: The most recent lie is his statement on Meet the Press that he would release all his military records. He's not doing it. This lie is particularly egregious mainly because it was a promise made on national TV and many people saw him make it. So when he then *won't* release the records, it makes him look bad, even to those who haven't been following the details.

Posted by: BayMike at February 12, 2004 09:41 AM | PERMALINK

Well the Mission to Mars flopped. Now we're going to fight The Attack of the Clones in Korea? Maybe they should just cut to the quick and invent The Time Machine. Shrubya could go back to the early 70's and fullfill his TANG obligations honorably.

Posted by: JoeW at February 12, 2004 09:44 AM | PERMALINK


Forget about the Air National Guard Story. It is done with.

You wish. Again.

Posted by: Californian at February 12, 2004 09:54 AM | PERMALINK

Ron, I wouldn't make you eat your tin foil hat.

haha

But there are such things as "moderate Republicans" and "gay Republicans" and who knows maybe even "moderately gay Republicans."

haha

Not that my voting issue is proof, but I voted for Clinton the second time and GWBush the first time.

I like being a registered Republican. I like attending the party meetings in town--for the business connections alone. But that doesn't make me a closet Democrat.

My point is we can't win on this issue. So why bother? We need to move on to what we once did best: fiscal conservatism. It is not too late for the party to revisit what made us strong. But lately, I've been hearing more of that message out of Democratic mouths. I am registered Republican because I believe in capitalism and in keeping one's finances in order. If I am simplifying the party's message here...well...so be it.

But someone has got to wake the party up. That is why I spoke up. We are sinking in red ink and we ought to be blaming the Democrats for that fact.

haha

Posted by: Republican for Kerry at February 12, 2004 09:55 AM | PERMALINK

JoeW correction. The Texas Air Nation Guard's official abbreviation is TXANG. TANG is Caps Lock being on when answering the question: "What is the powdered orange drink used by astronauts?"

Posted by: SSG B at February 12, 2004 09:57 AM | PERMALINK

To me, his record became an issue the minute he did his little flight suit, mission accomplished thing, prancing around the aircraft carrier and claiming to fly the plane. and yes, coverup matters as much. if he was straightforward about it, it would be an issue that probably would go away even if it included some bad stuff. after all he has said he made mistakes in his younger days. and everyone else who has been a candidate for president in the last 30-40 years has opened all their military records -- why won't he?

Posted by: lou at February 12, 2004 09:59 AM | PERMALINK


"When they tried to do that to Max Cleland"... I know this is a Democrat article of faith (right up there with the belief that barricades by cops with dogs kept black voters away from the polls in Florida, circa 2000) but Max was defeated not on questions about his patriotism, but ...

Irrelevant, Stan. Whether the attack on Cleland was or was not the proximate cause of his defeat, or even a significant factor in it, can be argued endlessly. What cannot be disputed is that it occured, and it is implausible to argue that those who launched the attack did not believe it would damage him. The GOP will try the same thing against Kerry. And it'll cost them when they do.

Posted by: Californian at February 12, 2004 10:02 AM | PERMALINK

Meanwhile, even The New Republic notes that D.C. sniper John Allen Muhammad received an honorable discharge from the Louisiana National Guard, despite having spent time in the brig after a court martial conviction for going AWOL and striking an officer.

Posted by: penalcolony at February 12, 2004 10:04 AM | PERMALINK

lou- "To me, his record became an issue the minute he did his little flight suit..."

Honestly lou? That was the moment it became an issue for you. If Bush's opposition had proof-positve evidence that Bush was coked out of his mind in Montegomery, AL, and they used this against him you'd be defending Bush, if only he hadn't done the "Mission Accomplished" photo-op? You wouldn't consider his attendance record, lack of documentation, possible falsification of records an issue if only he hadn't landed on an aircraft carrier?

lou, I gotta say that's a bunch of bullshit on your part.

Posted by: SSG B at February 12, 2004 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

What I find so interesting is how efficiently the Wurlitzer works in rounding up all the wingnuts.

It's really quite amazing. We were stuck in "Bush Hatred" for a while and now it's "gutter politics"- and pretty much every wingnut out there parrots the same goddamn line.

I mean, it's been that way since 9-11: the white house says something and labels it in a certain way, and that's taken as gospel by the true believers (most of the tax cuts go to working people/ clear skys will clean the air/ they're a danger to the US/ etc.), or conversely the mighty pundit class will align with congress members and float a talking point out there that will stick around for weeks or months (Bush hatred/ Plame is no big deal/ etc.). It's really amazing how quickly these things are born and taken up.

But, lately they've been coming out at a furious pace and abandoned as quickly as they're taken up. Moon base and man on Mars as bold, forward-thinking policy? Iraq is safer than NY? Sanctity of marraige (due to come up again soon).

And now we've got "gutter politics".

And all the asshole (yes, you!) wingnuts fall in line, ordering their world according to whatever the white house says:

Iraq was a humanitarian war.

We're helping AIDS victims in Africa.

THEY want to raise your taxes.

Democrats always spent more money than we have been.

Ya'll just jealous.


It's fucking pathetic. We've become a pretty pathetic fucking country. About 1/3 of us are uncurious, unquestioning, rabid sheep, ordering our universe by whatever comes out of the mouths of people like Bush, DeLay, Scalia, O'Reilly, Wolfoqitz and Cheney. Man, you couldn't have a more uncritical, blindly faithful populace under a dictatorship.

The wingnuts constitute a nation of pants-shitting babies too intellectually feeble to question their own assumptions- assumptions planted in their head via Fox News and Drudge.

There's a lot of suspicious shit surrounding Bush's military record. It may not be terribly important, but since the guy has gone on record with an account that doesn't match the facts, since he's pranced around on an aircraft carrier in a flight suit, since he's committed the nation to a war of choice, since he's signed the death warrents for possibly 10,000 Iraqis and over 500 soldiers, since he's said he's got nothing to hide and has said he'd release everything, but continues not to... it's become a valid issue and one worth investigating.

Sometimes I find it hard to believe just what kind of craven, delusional maniacs we have, not only in power, but walking around and voting as if they've thought about anything in their life critically.

Pull your heads out: Bush is not an honorable man by any measure whatsoever.

The "real" Tim

Posted by: Tim at February 12, 2004 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

If indeed the Burkett story is true, I think Louise's post describes the real crime here. The ..."destruction of other people's careers." Perhaps Bush actually did direct that the call to Novak about Plame be made.

Posted by: m.c. at February 12, 2004 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

Whoa:

D.C. sniper John Allen Muhammad received an honorable discharge from the Louisiana National Guard, despite having spent time in the brig after a court martial conviction for going AWOL and striking an officer.

Goodness gracious. What sort of crime must you commit to get a dishonorable discharge?

Perhaps report that the new State Governor's military records were once cleaned up?

Posted by: Straight-eye for the queer guy at February 12, 2004 10:09 AM | PERMALINK

The story is really more about the cover up then the original story.

Bush was a spoiled, connected rich kid who avoid military service. The same could be said, more or less, about Howard Dean - and I'm a Dean supporter.

It's the subsequent BS that's the problem - it shows how this White House works, today. And it's troubling.

Posted by: Stranahan at February 12, 2004 10:11 AM | PERMALINK

Straight Eye- "Goodness gracious. What sort of crime must you commit to get a dishonorable discharge?"

Go to http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/ucmj.htm to find out what crimes are eligible for an other than honorable discharge. Maybe someone where will learn something.

Trivia time: For the military how many, and what crimes, are punishable by death?

Posted by: SSG B at February 12, 2004 10:12 AM | PERMALINK

"Irrelevant, Stan. Whether the attack on Cleland was or was not the proximate cause of his defeat..."

The "attack" on Cleland's patriotism simply never occurred. THAT'S the article of faith the Democrats hold near and dear, but has zero validity. What Cleland and other Democrats tried to spin as an attack on patriotism, was an attack on his judgment, voting as he did against the Homeland Security Department because of superfluous union rules. The voters decided, based on his voting record, that his judgment was lacking. His current role as Kerry flak on this bogus AWOL issues provides further evidence of his lack of judgment.

BTW, if you think Kerry’s actions upon returning from Vietnam, including his involvement with the “Winter Soldier Investigation”, tossing someone else’s medals of the fence and the VVAW won’t alienate the vast majority of voters you’re dreaming.

It’s 49 states, come November, and the swamp fever is hitting the victims very, very early this year.

Posted by: Stan at February 12, 2004 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

"The real Tim" needs REAL help....

Posted by: Stan at February 12, 2004 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

"..well, I’m thinking at least a 49 state rout……a Republican projection of Bush and November, 2004

What I'm thinking is that Bush's Vietnam cowardice, National Guard lies, his coverups and mock pugnacity will, as the vanguard of the November election, be fetching backdrops to his real crime---unbecoming theatrics.

Can anyone, anyone, who has ever watched and heard this man orate from the oval office not believe that he's a phony at worst, a 10th grade debating student at best? His speeches are rife with sophomoric bluster---"I'm a war president"..."I made the tough decision"..."I faced up to the challenge." Imagine such boasts from FDR after Normandy, Truman after Inchon, Abe after Gettysburg. Has any American president ever failed more to meet the basic political imperatives of dignity?

His ambitiion, he says, is to be another Teddy Roosevelt. Yet consider: in three years he's known to have read three books--all argumentative tracts by Cohen, Goldberg and Coulter---but Teddy, according to Morris's Theordore Rex,>read 400 just in the summer of 1904.

Bush, you say? History will get even with this guy---but good. So I hope to god will the voters.

Posted by: George Apley at February 12, 2004 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

Why doesn't somebody -- i.e., Kevin Drum -- take the next step and try to interview George Conn and General Scribner?

Also -- when will somebody start asking the White House what exactly prompted Lt. Col Bush to go work on the Alabama campaign?

Oh to be a mouse in the house of George Bush Sr. these days.

Posted by: Rush Bush at February 12, 2004 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe Kevin should branch out a little now that this little drilling operation is turning out to be a dry hole and go over to Newsmax and check out the lies the Kerry people and Fonda are putting out about the sweet and wonderful Fonda-Kerry relationship. I know Kevin will never ever say anything bad about the Senator in our lifetimes so here goes.

Fonda: "The American people have had it with the big lie," Fonda complained on CNN, suggesting that the photo showing her and Kerry at the same Sept. 1970 Vietnam War protest at Valley Forge, Pa., was misleading. and "I don't even think we shook hands." Opps. She became the sponsor of his anti-war group and didn't even shake hands?

Kerry: Said that he did not even know Fonda until a few years ago when he met her and one of her husbands, Ted Turner. Opps. What about the picture of them together on the podium? Newsmax has it.

Those were both whoppers.

Some of you don't realize this but most veterans, not the kind that Kerry turned out to be, of the Vietnam war hate Jane Fonda. She is a traitor and should have been prosecuted for being one in their eyes.

"When he stands up with Jane Fonda, someone that is so notorious and hated by veterans, and Tom Hayden, and a couple of others as well and supports their agenda," Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, California Republican, said yesterday, "it diminishes the service some of us almost gave our lives for, and the over 56,000 people that lost their lives —it slaps their families in the face."
Mr. Cunningham was the first pilot to qualify as an ace in the Vietnam War, shooting down five enemy airplanes.
"I think it's his right, but it kind of upsets you," Mr. Cunningham said. "He had honorable service, but it's a shame someone would let politics rule their life, instead of their principles."

Well said.

Posted by: Dennis Slater at February 12, 2004 10:24 AM | PERMALINK

THAT'S the article of faith the Democrats hold near and dear, but has zero validity.

Ann Coulter.

Checkmate.

Posted by: Monkey at February 12, 2004 10:35 AM | PERMALINK

Remarks to the Community in Oshkosh, Wisconsin
October 31, 1992
"The President. Thank you. Thank you, Tommy. Thank you, Governor Thompson.

Audience members. Four more years! Four more years! Four more years! ..................................
.....................................................................
....................................................................
"Let me give you a little example of what I mean. On April 17th he said, ``I'm going to come out with all my draft records.'' Fine. Some people agreed with him on the war; some didn't. But he said he was going to do it; he hasn't done it. Let me remind you about the war. I've already said my position. Frankly, I don't think when your brothers are rotting in a Hanoi jail, or when people that are drafted out of the ghettos are serving and being killed in Vietnam, that you ought to lead demonstrations against your own country in a foreign land. I don't believe that. He differed. But you can't have it both ways, is my point. You can't protect your political viability, and then still try to ask for the trust of the American people. "

No, it would really have been much better if he'd had his father get him into a national guard unit and then not shown up for duty. The Bushes views on what is proper in politics have apparently changed over time. Now that the shoe is on the other foot it's "gutter politics" and "trolling for trash" to demand that GWB release his military record.

Can we spell h-y-p-o-c-r-i-s-y?

Posted by: leit at February 12, 2004 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

OH ME OH MY: KERRY'S GOT A PUSSY PROBLEM!!!
(AND CLARK RATTED HIM OUT TO REPORTERS!!!)

INVESTIGATE THIS, KEVIN, YOU FECKLESS DOLT.


A frantic behind-the-scenes drama is unfolding around Sen. John Kerry and his quest to lockup the Democratic nomination for president, the DRUDGE REPORT can reveal.

Intrigue surrounds a woman who recently fled the country, reportedly at the prodding of Kerry, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned.

A serious investigation of the woman and the nature of her relationship with Sen. John Kerry has been underway at TIME magazine, ABC NEWS, the WASHINGTON POST, THE HILL and the ASSOCIATED PRESS, where the woman in question once worked.

MORE

A close friend of the woman first approached a reporter late last year claiming fantastic stories -- stories that now threaten to turn the race for the presidency on its head!

In an off-the-record conversation with a dozen reporters earlier this week, General Wesley Clark plainly stated: "Kerry will implode over an intern issue." [Three reporters in attendance confirm Clark made the startling comments.]

The Kerry commotion is why Howard Dean has turned increasingly aggressive against Kerry in recent days, and is the key reason why Dean reversed his decision to drop out of the race after Wisconsin, top campaign sources tell the DRUDGE REPORT.

Posted by: KERRY'S GOT A PUSSY PROBLEM at February 12, 2004 10:37 AM | PERMALINK

Dom,

Alabama. Say it with me: Alabama. Just roles right off the tongue.

Where are the guardsmen he drilled with in ALABAMA?

Posted by: Jeff Boatright at February 12, 2004 10:37 AM | PERMALINK

Jesurgislac says
Oh, not another one who thinks the US is a totalitarian state
No, Kerry has my permission to have pounded the US for the Vietnam war. My point is: how excited to you think he is going to be when that starts getting used against him? As for me, I'm not going to get too wound up about Kerry's service (a lot of people did that) nor about Kerry's protests (a lot of people did that) nor about Bush's ANR stuff (a lot of people did that). The common thread here is: they did it 30 years ago.

Republican for Kerry
We need to move on to what we once did best: fiscal conservatism...But lately, I've been hearing more of that message out of Democratic mouths.
and then
We are sinking in red ink and we ought to be blaming the Democrats for that fact.
The only sense I can make out of this is that you believe that in the past the Dems have spent too much, and that in the past the Repubs have been better, but you now think the Dems are the new hope.

The only recent bright spot for fiscal conservatism was the Gingrich House and I don't believe they would have succeeded if the economy hadn't been growing so fast. As for the Dems being the new hope, maybe you ought to take a look at this.

Posted by: Ron at February 12, 2004 10:37 AM | PERMALINK

John Kerry makes an issue of his service in VietNam every day. He previously asserted that it was wrong for Robert Kerrey to make an issue of his service. John Kerry also says that he does not intend to make an issue of Bush's lack of service. It is an inference, not a lie, that John Kerry intends that his own service is a positive contrast to Bush's nonservice.

However, that was before today's news. According to other Democratic candidates, ..., but you already know. First he married $300M; then when his kids were teenagers he annulled his marriage (or tried) in order to marry $700M; now this. Anybody that can forgive this can forgive Bush for 30 year old charges, I bet.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler at February 12, 2004 10:37 AM | PERMALINK

George Apley, your mission is to persuade others to accept your view and vote with you, not to see how much energy you can expend in your hysterical rants about W. Your hyperbola and rage won't make it happen. You and the rest of the Molly Ivins/Michael Moore/rant-at-the-moon converted can’t see how much the public at large regards you as swamp fever victims. Much like the Mena airport conspiracy loons, you’ve yet to realize you offend far more voters than you attract.

Like I said, 49 states come November….

Posted by: Stan at February 12, 2004 10:39 AM | PERMALINK

I know this is off-topic and irrelevant, but this is one of my biggest pet peeves. Dennis - it isn't spelled o-p-p-s. It is o-o-p-s.

Posted by: apostropher at February 12, 2004 10:41 AM | PERMALINK

oh me oh my -- kerry's got a pussy problem -- and clark ratted him out !


**World Exclusive**
**Must Credit the DRUDGE REPORT**

A frantic behind-the-scenes drama is unfolding around Sen. John Kerry and his quest to lockup the Democratic nomination for president, the DRUDGE REPORT can reveal.

Intrigue surrounds a woman who recently fled the country, reportedly at the prodding of Kerry, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned.

A serious investigation of the woman and the nature of her relationship with Sen. John Kerry has been underway at TIME magazine, ABC NEWS, the WASHINGTON POST, THE HILL and the ASSOCIATED PRESS, where the woman in question once worked.

MORE

A close friend of the woman first approached a reporter late last year claiming fantastic stories -- stories that now threaten to turn the race for the presidency on its head!

In an off-the-record conversation with a dozen reporters earlier this week, General Wesley Clark plainly stated: "Kerry will implode over an intern issue." [Three reporters in attendance confirm Clark made the startling comments.]

The Kerry commotion is why Howard Dean has turned increasingly aggressive against Kerry in recent days, and is the key reason why Dean reversed his decision to drop out of the race after Wisconsin, top campaign sources tell the DRUDGE REPORT.

Posted by: who has john kerry been fucking? at February 12, 2004 10:44 AM | PERMALINK

Appalled Moderate......sorry I just thought any body seeing the mission acclomplished stunt would recognize it for what it was....a blatant attempt to show himslef as a brave fighter jockey. Now I call that bragging.

So now the republicans are going after Kerry about Sex......what is it about sex and republicans? do they not get enough?

Posted by: Mike at February 12, 2004 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

I think to denounce Bush as being AWOL is premature. It is also a bit harsh to denounce him as a coward for not wanting to go fight in a war ineptly run by General Westmoreland and the DOD. We'll just have to see what evidence comes out about this.

The most likely scenario is that Bush, at the behest of his father, undertook to serve his counrty in some respect during wartime. He couldn't be troubled to do anything but a half ass job. Most likely, he was drunk a significant amount of the time. This type of thing would be consistent with the man he was 30 years ago. Probably it won't make much of a difference during the election, even if the worst is found out to be true.

I hope that plenty of stories do appear about his service in Alabama. I look forward to more reports like the "mano a mano" confrontation with his father after going out on a bender with his 16 year old brother.

Posted by: Roland at February 12, 2004 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

It's quite curious that the true Bush believers here seem to insist that their hero is vindicated; those outside the circle don't seem to see it that way. I suspect if, say, Clinton had selectively released records on a similar issue the Bushies posting here would not be satisfied. The real howler is the way that the same folks will uncritically accept anonymous accusations against Kerry.

Dennis: I guess Kerrys time machine broke down. You know: the one where he knew that Jane Fonda would do something controversial *in the future* when he shared the stage with her at some rally?

If this is the standard of evidence that the Bushies are confortable with, I suggest that they ponder the meaning of the Golden Rule.

Marc

Posted by: Marc at February 12, 2004 10:51 AM | PERMALINK

Tremendous work Kevin.

GWB's advisers should know: "If you tell the truth, you never have to remember what lie you told."

I'd be embarassed that something as trivial as a 30 year old dental appointment would be resurrected as "proof" that I was somewhere at some particular place and time. Better to say nothing at all.

Posted by: Coward in a Brave New World at February 12, 2004 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

I long for the days when all I had to worry about was "Gee I hope my president isn't getting a BJ in the oval office". today I worry about our soldiers being killed daily, a Trillion dollar government debt and My constitutional guarantees to freedom being threatened.

Posted by: Mike at February 12, 2004 11:05 AM | PERMALINK

Y'know, I read all this and wonder..

This all happened 30 years ago. Back then, when this was all new and not dimly remembered or documented history, someone in authority looked at Bush' record and decided that that record merited an honorable discharge.

Now, I'll give you all that there might've been some shenanigans, but they're gonna be hard to prove--in fact, any screw-ups are gonna be anecdotal, at best. Why? Because, while there are records kept of service times and such, there aren't any kept of non-service times--including when someone is AWOL--AND, the Guard has no files(that we know of) saying that it ever considered GW Bush absent without leave.

And, unless they leveled the charge, it never happened.

Posted by: jack at February 12, 2004 11:05 AM | PERMALINK

Ron claimed: No, Kerry has my permission to have pounded the US for the Vietnam war.

Yet another one who thinks the US is a totalitarian state, and that criticizing the government is identical to criticizing the country. Wrong, Ron. Just wrong. The US is not a totalitarian state, much though you would like it to be: anyone has a right to criticize the government, and this is not identical with criticizing the country. Can you manage to get that through your head?


Posted by: Jesurgislac at February 12, 2004 11:07 AM | PERMALINK

Re: "He says that Dan Bartlett and Danny James came to him at Camp Mabry in 1993, right after Bush was inaugurated as Governor..." I know you're just quoting from this article, but Bush wasn't inaugurated until Jan. 17, 1995. Just to clear that up.

Posted by: Alan W at February 12, 2004 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

If he had three DUI's before even joining the National Guard it's a scandal they let him fly airplanes in the first place.

Posted by: alan at February 12, 2004 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

Jesurgislac
Either I didn't get my point across or else you are way too used to arguing with me :-)

I agree. No problem protesting the [insert name] war. No problem with protesting any (or all) branch(s) of government. Protesting does not make one unpatriotic. Did I miss anything?

Oh yes, the US is not a totalitarian state.

Posted by: Ron at February 12, 2004 11:16 AM | PERMALINK

Irrelevant, Stan. Whether the attack on Cleland was or was not the proximate cause of his defeat, or even a significant factor in it, can be argued endlessly. What cannot be disputed is that it occured, and it is implausible to argue that those who launched the attack did not believe it would damage him. The GOP will try the same thing against Kerry. And it'll cost them when they do.

Of course there was an attack on Cleland. Unless a politician is running unopposed, there will always be attacks on him during a campaign. And there's nothing wrong with that.

What did not occur was an attack on Cleland's patriotism. It's a lie, made up by people who figure nobody will check, and repeated by people who didn't check. Go watch the campaign ad-- you can google it; it's over at Josh Marshall's site -- and you'll see. It does not show Osama or Saddam morphing into Cleland, as I've seen people claim. It doesn't show them standing next to Cleland. It calls Cleland a liar, not unpatriotic. Is it misleading? To an extent; find me a campaign ad that isn't. (How can a 30-second spot _not_ be misleading? You can't tell a full story in 30 seconds.) It tells that Cleland voted against the creation of the Dept. of Homeland Security, but doesn't say why. But it doesn't ever question his patriotism.

Posted by: David Nieporent at February 12, 2004 11:37 AM | PERMALINK

I wonder if this issue will actually hurt the Dems. Could, if played wrong. I'm a leftie, and what disturbs me are all the lies (or obvious, deliberate misrepresentations) that we were fed to get this war going. I really wish the media (not Mr. Drum, who's doing good work here) would pay as much attention to the war lies than this.

But I guess the media likes clear-cut gotcha stories, for ease of understanding, reporting, and the appeal to our tabloid readers. Profits, profits, profits.

I think that the media knows it got on its knees for the war (but had to to earn that dollar). The actual professionals might feel a little ashamed. Bush's free rides on trivial technicalities are probably no more.

Whatever it takes.

Posted by: andrew at February 12, 2004 11:37 AM | PERMALINK

Bravo, nina, on all points!

I just now one-click ordered the James Moore book on Amazon. It's scheduled for release on March 8, so count on this story sticking around for a spell.

Posted by: PaxR55 at February 12, 2004 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

In retrospect, Bush should have confessed to EVERYTHING under a grant of limited immunity from a Congressional sub-committee composed of Republicans who could spin it or hide it, and then he could have pardoned himself in advance for any crimes he may commit.

As it is, he's waiting for Drudge to bail him out. Drudge is to journalism as Bush was to the TANG.

Posted by: serial catowner at February 12, 2004 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

Boy, it's fun to read all the wingnuts stump for Boy Shrub. Really, guys, what has he ever done for you?

As for Kerry, I really don't give a shit where his dick has been. I'm not crazy about the guy -- I'm a lefty, he's a DLCer who supported the Patriot Act and invading Iraq -- but really, ALL these guys fuck around. National politicians who cheat on their wives are the norm, not the exception.

Posted by: Diamond LeGrande at February 12, 2004 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

Right-wing operative Drudge is trying to deflect attention from Bush's cocaine record by digging into Kerry's past.

It appears that Kerry had SEXUAL RELATIONS with a British journalist in the 80s, who then dumped Kerry for David Gilmour of Pink Floyd. Since Roger Waters left Pink Floyd this journalist has been helping write lyrics because none of the other members can write for shit. Sorry I don't remember her name (don't really care, since her lyrics are shite), but I DO know my Pink Floyd history!

So that's the spin, Kerry was dumped by a woman who traded up to David Gilmour. And since David Gilmour was friends with Douglas Adams, John Kerry is only three degrees of separation from the great author! The plot thickens!

I've never liked Kerry but now that I know he's got connections to David Gilmour and Douglas Adams, well, how could I not admire Kerry at least a little bit?

Posted by: Subterranean at February 12, 2004 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

Bush (Mr Cuntsman) fucked everything that walked and some that crawled and we're supposed to care about Kerry's hanky panky?

Posted by: Lupin at February 12, 2004 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

National politicians who cheat on their wives are the norm, not the exception.

And, it's not against the law! What a country!

Doctoring your NG records? That's a felony.

Posted by: Monkey at February 12, 2004 12:09 PM | PERMALINK

"Boy, it's fun to read all the wingnuts stump for Boy Shrub. Really, guys, what has he ever done for you?"

Made them feel good. While things got worse.

Sort of like alcohol or drugs.

Posted by: Barry at February 12, 2004 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

Alan W writes: Re: "He says that Dan Bartlett and Danny James came to him at Camp Mabry in 1993, right after Bush was inaugurated as Governor..." I know you're just quoting from this article, but Bush wasn't inaugurated until Jan. 17, 1995. Just to clear that up.

Good catch, though it could be a simple typo on the part of Sander Hicks.

Hicks, incidentally, is the founder of Soft Skull Press, the publishing house that picked up Michael Bellesiles' book after it was dropped in disgrace after proving to be a fraud. So make of that what you will.

Posted by: David Nieporent at February 12, 2004 12:21 PM | PERMALINK

Way to go!

When big fat rich white Texans stop sending other people's boys to die, maybe we'll start seeing the good old USA in a lot fewer wars.

This guy (GWB) has gotten away with everything - drunk driving, cocaine use, draft dodging, deserting, starting illegal wars - it's time the chickens came home to roost. I would like to see him and his friends behind bars.

Posted by: Michele at February 12, 2004 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

Rove: It's some guy with a website called "Calpundit." He often writes about his cats, and posts "cute" photos of them.

Bush: What the hell. Is he from Marin County?

Rove: No sir, he's from Orange County. And he looks like a middle aged crurch-goer. We don't know what to do with the guy. There's no way to stop him and all the big media know about him now.They read his site three and four times a day.

Bush: Shit. Get Karen up here....

Posted by: obe at February 12, 2004 01:02 PM | PERMALINK

Why do freepers hate America?

Posted by: 71077345 at February 12, 2004 01:47 PM | PERMALINK

I'm getting confused.

How many DOCUMENTED arrests of George W. Bush do we know about? I am aware of 3, 2 in the 60s and one in 1978, when he was in his early 30s (the drunk driving one).

Are there others that are DOCUMENTED?

Posted by: 71077345 at February 12, 2004 01:53 PM | PERMALINK

Have you seen this story - http://www.memphisflyer.com/content.asp?ID=2834&onthefly=1 where two flyers in the Alabama guard at the time of Bush's AWOLness remember specifically looking for him and not seeing him show up?

I have no vallue judgement on the accuracy of the story.

Posted by: bigoldgeek at February 12, 2004 02:02 PM | PERMALINK

Michele,

Bush is not fat, and by Texas standards, he's not rich, and by the standards of a friend from Austin, he's not a Texan either. He even gets away with being thought of as a rich Texan, never mind all that other inconsequential stuff.;-)

Kevin,

I think this is what used to be known as journalism. Of course, today "journalism" is about boobs and steriods.
When you run a fundraiser for a remote starter for your car, I'll be sure to donate.

Posted by: PetervE at February 12, 2004 02:03 PM | PERMALINK

Has anybody checked Alabama alcohol and/or drug rehab clinic rosters circa 1972 for a George W. Bush?

Posted by: Exile at February 12, 2004 03:03 PM | PERMALINK

This has gotten so way out of context.The right ALWAYS ALWAYS use the same mantra when trying to rebut the facts they say the same thing over and over and never have any true facts to substatiate their views.I had been a FOX viewer before and during the war but had been sceptical about the facts but because the news reports had been so in favor of the war and the way the Whithouse kept up their words of terror I was leaning in favor of invasion.After a while when wmd hadnt been found I became upset and decided to do a little digging on my own.[which we all should be doing]I found that the media is so very biased and that the very rich an priviledged own all of the news outlets I became outraged that I was being led around by the news organizations that we all rely on to give us our veiwpoints.So I strted by going around to all the web sites I could find that had information on the war and i found that the truth was/is very hard to find.It became obvious who was for the war was also for the current administration.that told me alot abour who to trust for info.I also found that those who are on the left dont always tell the truth.It takes alot of digging to find out whos biased and who has the courage to find the truth.This site looks to be on the side that wants to ind the truth not on either "side" but whats really real.When i saw that carrier scene the first thing that popped in my mind was whos paying for that banner.and of couse that turned out to be a scandal and i needed to make my own descision an what to believe.After many months of digging i find this administration to have LIED about a great many things and that shows by how many investigations are currently in progress in the justice system as we speak.I find it galling that there is so much going on thats being investigated and how much more should be investigated.It makes me wonder how we can reelect anyone with so many question marks above their heads.I have never been politically motivated before I started investigating on my own but this time out i feel compelled to make a difference.I WLL BE INVOLVED!we CANNOT continue this charade of telling us one thing and then doing another under the table.It really confuses me how so many can be led around like I was by the nose and not wake up to whats really going on.For the record I have voted for both democrat and republican mostly republican.But the HATE that spews from the mouthpeices regularly has got to stop!I find that paticular form of politics rather disgusting and i dont see the democrats doing that as much nor as consistently as the republicans.

Posted by: smalfish at February 12, 2004 03:04 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin Drum,

I'm disappointed (but unsurprised) that you didn't mention anywhere that Burkett equates Bush with Hitler. Seems that if you're trying to shed more light on Burkett's credibility and motivation for his accusations, that might be relevant.

Posted by: Shad at February 12, 2004 03:12 PM | PERMALINK

He does so in a political sense. He does not do so in the typical sense that Tom Delay and others have compared Clinton to hitler.

Recall that Gov. Arnis (R) loved Hitler and admired him as a speaker and politician who Arnis hoped to emulate. And Bush supports Arnis. So, maybe Bush should be flattered by the compairson.

Posted by: obe at February 12, 2004 03:30 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin ought to check out all the people who worked in the burger stands near the NG facility to see if any of them saw him. Also if he could get a list of gas station employees I would be glad to go Montgomery to interview them all. Kevin is on to something. If Kevin cannot find one burger stand or gas station employee who remembers seeing him, then he wasn't there. We have got to get to the bottom of this big mystery. A man who does not go to all his National Guard meetings is not fit to be president.

Posted by: Dennis Slater at February 12, 2004 04:00 PM | PERMALINK

damn good job, kevin! keep it up!

Posted by: skippy at February 12, 2004 04:14 PM | PERMALINK

If I'm not mistaken, military records are routinely kept in duplicate. One follows the servicemenber from base to base (except tdy) and the other is kept in a central location (I believe St. Louis, MO.).

If GDubya's records in Texas were illegally purged as per Burkett, unless a similar purge of the permanent file in St. Louis has been or is being carried out (I've read recently that the DoD has requested the St. Louis file be sent to the Pentagon) then the issue of whether the Texas copy was tampered with could be settled with a comparison of the two.

Of course, that would require GDubya keep his words (Yeah. Absolutely) and waive his Privacy Act rights (someone should email a copy of a standard waiver to the entire WH press corps) and then release the St. Louis copy (hopefully unpurged).

I'm not holding my breath.

Kudos Kevin!

Posted by: Aaron Adams at February 12, 2004 04:48 PM | PERMALINK

Fantastic reporting, whatever your views on the issue. I for one don't think the issue is going to die a slow death, so the real question is, with Bush's integrity/military credentials under attack, and with Dick Cheney in hot water on both the Plame matter and the Scalia/Energy Task Force/Halliburton front, how long is it going to take for Bush to dump Cheney from the ticket and bring aboard someone with enough medals on his chest to reflect some glory? Didn't McCain just get appointed to the special task force for the super-slow post-election intelligence failure report?

Posted by: Garbo at February 12, 2004 04:54 PM | PERMALINK

In addition to the 3 documented arrests, J. H. Hatfield (author of the controversial biography Fortunate Son) claimed that anonymous sources told him George W. Bush was busted for cocaine possession in 1972. If that's true, it probably explains why Bush staffers were so intent upon sanitizing his Guard files.

Hatfield also claimed that as a result of the cocaine arrest, Bush did several months of community service with Project P.U.L.L. (Apparently George H. W. Bush made a deal with the judge to keep George Jr. out of prison.) So perhaps this explains the six-month gap in Bush's 1972 National Guard attendence record - it might have been created when references to the cocaine arrest and community service were scrubbed out.

A question for people who know National Guard legal procedures: what does the Guard do when a Guardsman is arrested and charged with a felony? Does the Guardsman get suspended or sent to a paper unit like ARF or what?

Posted by: ac at February 12, 2004 05:21 PM | PERMALINK

FWIW, there is a meaninful connection between W's "awol" issue and Clinton's zipper problem. And it's this, the issues are emblematic of the moral flaws with the two politicians.

Clinton's zipper brought him down (at least reputation wise) because it was a perfect demonstration of the broader moral issue with the guy. He was unfaithful to anybody or anything. In 92 he flew home to Ark to preside over the execution of a retarded inmate - yup, i'm tuff on crime - when anybody with a pee for a brain knew he didn't believe that. In 96 he pushed the poor off the welfare bandwagon because, as one smarter than I observed, there was no more dangerous spot to stand in DC in 96 than between Bill Clinton and reelection.

So why is this guard thing so emblematic of Bush. Because it underscores the fact that this empty suit has never earned ANYTHING in his life. His entire resume is a product of privilege. Arbusto and Harken end up with drilling rights off Bahrain because: (a) this small time Midland TX outfit just seemed right for the Persian Gulf? or (b) daddy just got elected vice president? Quick, now, this is an IQ test (but before you pick A remember, the Rangers gave Bush the opportunity to make his first, truly historic, decision by trading Sammy Sosa to Chicago).

The borrowed $500,000 investment for the Tex Rangers comes out the other end as $15 million cash? Another brilliant business decision? Or one more exercise in the purchase of political influence to get a 100 million dollar stadium built.

The guard is the quintessential issue for Bush, the warrior wannabe. All fluff and no substance. It will be his perfect epitath. AWOL-gate.

Posted by: abruzzi at February 12, 2004 05:51 PM | PERMALINK

PetervE —

Bush is not fat, and by Texas standards, he's not rich, and by the standards of a friend from Austin, he's not a Texan either. He even gets away with being thought of as a rich Texan, never mind all that other inconsequential stuff.;-)

That "Texas rich" bullshit applies only in certain areas — Highland Park in Dallas, River Oaks and Tanglewood in Houston — where all kinds of other bullshit (such as running the central air in December, so the ladies can wear their furs to the New Year's Eve Party) is also standard.

Maybe when Poppy first moved to Texas, his personal little nuclear family wasn't "Texas rich" but I guaran-damn-tee you that they were considerably better off than the average Midland resident. By now, both Poppy and son (can we call him "Poopy"?) are definitely rich by the standards of any state in the country, or country in the world, even without figuring in Preston's shrewd investments with the Nazis.

Otherwise, you're 100% correct — Bush isn't fat, and he's not a Texan.

Posted by: nina at February 12, 2004 05:54 PM | PERMALINK

3 charges involving booze, 2 in Texas and 1 in Mass. BUT, let's not forget the Texas charge of possession of cocaine for whih GB had to do community service.......then he had it expunged.
Real nice background for our selected POTUS.
And we should re-elect this disaster?
Hopefully not on my watch,

HeadRanger George in SF

Posted by: headranger george at February 12, 2004 06:23 PM | PERMALINK

This man's story basically boils down to this:

Assuming Burkett is not lying (there is no way to know if he is or not), he overheard a private conversation that included a phrase that could be interpeted several different ways. If the individuals were planning an illegal act they would more than likely not do it on a speaker phone. His testimony is strictly heresay.

Assuming again that Burkett is not lying about the trash, there are several explanations that are not difficult to make that do not involve something illegal. Does it make sense that someone doing something illegal would put incriminating documents in an open trash can? And most people who routinely handle personnel records are usuallly very sensitive about how documents are destroyed or thrown away as it seems very unlikely that he is correct. But again we only have his word on it.

There are some inconsistencies in Burkett's account one being that he stuck his head inside the General's door and didn't see anyone but then he heard voices coming from the office. If he had opened the door and stuck his head instead wouldn't the people have seen him and stopped their conversation to deal with him before continuing. And he said no one was in there yet there were people talking on a speaker phone. Unless this was a huge office most office furniture that includes speaker phones is arranged that anyone who opens a door would certainly be noticed. This part of his story does not make sense to me.

If making a big deal out of President Bush's service record 30 years comes down to believing and relying on this man's shaky hearsay testimony then I think it can be said that people are clearly grasping for straws.

If any of you have to believe Burkett based on what he has said irregardless of his motives because you have to "get" the President, go right ahead. The peals of laughter you hear from the rest of us is more than justified.

Posted by: Dennis Slater at February 12, 2004 07:04 PM | PERMALINK

Remember:

If nobody saw Bush in Alabama, he wasn't there.
If nobody saw Bush do cocaine, then he must have done it.

I hate to keep repeating this, but there's a major double standard at work. The cocaine charge is no different than accusing Clinton of rape. How many people think that was justified?

Posted by: David Nieporent at February 12, 2004 07:49 PM | PERMALINK

I've had a number of conversations with Bill Burkett over the last four years.

His account of what happened at Camp Mabry remains the same today as when I first heard him describe the cleansing four years ago.

Posted by: Martin Heldt at February 12, 2004 09:29 PM | PERMALINK

I'm all for Bush going down, but this guy is as solid as slush. Any good lawyer who had to put him on the stand would be cringing inside.

Posted by: bastinado at February 12, 2004 09:40 PM | PERMALINK

There are very good reasons to believe the Burkett story.

Albert Lloyd, the former Texas Air National official who worked for the Bush campaign before the last election admits to having found two documents that are now in the national archives.

One was the famopus "torn" document.

This document was not available in foia releases prior to 1999 - a fact verified to me by a former dditor of one of the major papers.

Lets look at the evidence:

In an effort last year to solve the puzzle, Lloyd said he scoured Guard records, where he found two ''special orders'' commanding Bush to appear for active duty on nine days in May 1973...

...During his search, Lloyd said, the only other paperwork he discovered was a single torn page bearing Bush's social security number and numbers awarding some points for Guard duty. But the partial page is undated. (this was in the original Boston Globe article.

Both documents now appear in the national archives.

This is very important, because of recent information I uncovered through another FOIA request:

The last action documented in the record was Mr. Bush's discharge from the Air Force Reserve on November 21, 1974. There are no entries in the record subsequent to that date.

Yet we have two entries into the records.


And what does the National Personnel Records Center say about changing the records outside the bounds listed in the letter??

It should be noted that tampering with or changing Federal records is a criminal offense under Title 18, Chapter 101, Section 2071, and is punishable by fine and or imprisonment.


Its the coverup.

Posted by: Martin Heldt at February 12, 2004 10:06 PM | PERMALINK

For more on the manipulation of Bush's records see my other site Alexander's Arrow

Posted by: Martin Heldt at February 12, 2004 10:19 PM | PERMALINK

Martin, thanks for the additional info. My point was not that Burkett is lying--I have no way of knowing that or the contrary--but that his manner of expressing himself makes him sound like a poor witness. (I am a trial lawyer.)

Granted, I can't really tell from a transcript, especially an edited one. But from what is published above, I would guess that Burkett would make a jury wary very quickly with his submerged but unmistakable theme of self-justification. He is anxious about something. I don't know any more about him than is available here, but it seems he's lost a suit against the Guard already. The reasons for that may turn out to be good or bad, so far as his credibility is concerned, but it isn't a great place to start from.

I also get a strong impression of a little guy who has always yearned to run with the big guys. Any impartial person has to ask whether this story is his way of doing that.

I would also be worried about his jumbled thinking pattern. Yes, on direct examination he could be made to sound much better, but any decent trial lawyer would pick up the artificiality of it and start giving him rope to hang himself on cross.

I'm not denying that Bush's records were scrubbed. I don't find it hard to believe that they were. But Burkett would need good, solid, direct corroboration before I would build a case on him. So far, Conn and Hough, have not corroborated. Conn's statement is almost damning with faint praise, and Hough speaks of something that allegedly occurred in 1993, not 1997.

Burkett has a Linda Tripp problem.

Posted by: bastinado at February 12, 2004 10:56 PM | PERMALINK

This guy burkett will be on CNN in the morning.the author here is to be congratulated in getting some info before the "mainstream" press could even think about it.Thanks for the effort

Posted by: smalfish at February 12, 2004 11:15 PM | PERMALINK

Most compelling read I've seen on Alabama AWOL:

http://www.memphisflyer.com/content.asp?ID=5480&ArticleID=2

Posted by: Boyd at February 12, 2004 11:16 PM | PERMALINK

I just saw Burkett on a Hardball rerun. Matthews fired the questions at him pretty fast. Burkett seemed believable to me.

Posted by: ____league at February 13, 2004 02:14 AM | PERMALINK

He's been AWOL most of his presidency. Why would it come as a shock he'd be AWOL while "serving" in the National Guard?

Posted by: Icelion at February 13, 2004 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

A previous poster makes an important point which I believe is being overlooked in this whole discussion.

It is possible to be AWOL or commit other crimes and still be granted an honorable discharge. Mr. Honest-&-Forthright-gonna-restore-integrity-to-the-Presidency is clumsily attempting to evade the question of being AWOL at all, attempting to sidetrack the issue by essentially saying, "I got an honorable discharge, so it doesn't matter if I was AWOL or not."

The qeustion is not whether he was honorably discharged, but whether he was AWOL during his service time. By promising on nationwide television to turn over all his records and not doing so, he's perpetuating the entire issue and casting doubts on his highly-vaunted honesty and personal integrity.

And you're wrong, C-plus Augustus-- it damn well DOES matter. It's the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.

Posted by: ABB Texan at February 13, 2004 06:02 PM | PERMALINK

If Bush was ever AWOL, it would show up on his DD-214, Box # 26a, (NON-PAY PERIODS/TIME LOST).

Posted by: Brian at February 14, 2004 07:24 AM | PERMALINK

So much cyber-ink expended over only the least serious of the Bush crime family's many offences against reason and humanity! Why aren't people talking about the real issues, like Florida, Enron, Bush-Cheney energy policy, Valerie Plame, Diebold, the decay of America under counterproductive economic dogmas, etc. etc.?

Posted by: Carl at February 14, 2004 06:31 PM | PERMALINK

Impeach Bush

Missing information and misinformation is how this administration got to where it is today. The man is a disgrace to the presidency.

Posted by: Reed at February 15, 2004 03:52 PM | PERMALINK

A previous poster asked, "Why not the real issues"?, and my response would be: At this point in the man-hunt, all clues as to the true nature of the villian needs to be exposed to the light of day. In order to slow down the venomous attack on America by the neo-coms, and their hood ornament, GWB, the AWOL issue strikes anger in the hearts of ALL VETERANS, from IWO JIMA to the fields of KENT STATE! Even Dale Earnhardt fans will look at this man in a differant light when all the fungus that is his "true nature" is exposed.

Posted by: JAYBOD at February 16, 2004 07:39 AM | PERMALINK

Go back to the original Boston Globe story and the quote from the Alabama unit's leader, Lieutenant Colonel Bricken: "We met just one weeknight a month. We were only a postal unit. We had no airplanes. We had no pilots. We had no nothing."

Um, that would be the unit that Bush wasn't allowed to transfer to anyway, so he transferred to the 187th instead.

So Bush never showed up at a unit another thread is making a big deal about him not being aloowed to transfer to.

Posted by: Charlie (Colorado) at February 16, 2004 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

If he had three DUI's before even joining the National Guard it's a scandal they let him fly airplanes in the first place.

There's another person who's never met a fighter pilot in his entire life.

Posted by: Charlie (Colorado) at February 16, 2004 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

I'd be embarassed that something as trivial as a 30 year old dental appointment would be resurrected as "proof" that I was somewhere at some particular place and time. Better to say nothing at all.

Okay, fine. Prove to me where you were on February 16 1973. Remember that other people's personal recollections, and written records, don't count.

Posted by: Charlie (Colorado) at February 16, 2004 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

I was a Viet Nam era Navy pilot and a friend of mine was able to obtain all his original flight records just bu writing to the Navy. Does the Air Force have any program like that?

Posted by: Peter at February 16, 2004 03:05 PM | PERMALINK

1. Are the awards still unclaimed?

2. Is the definition of DESERTION being AWOL for more than 30 days?

3. To what was Bush refering when he said "what I learned in Vietnam was ..."? Has he been there? Ever?

Posted by: RealDCC at February 19, 2004 06:05 AM | PERMALINK

Oops, make that REWARDS.

4. Does his signature on a document that states he plans to pursue flying and subsequent abandonment of his license to fly constitute a Article 83—Fraudulent enlistment, appointment, or separation violation?

Posted by: RealDCC at February 19, 2004 06:09 AM | PERMALINK

“What about the picture of them together on the podium? Newsmax has it.
Those were both whoppers.” (Dennis Slater)

Since I couldn’t find the “podium” photo where you said it would be (), does that mean you are a liar Dennis? Not necessarily. (Though you wouldn’t be looking too good in a court of law, I wouldn’t use this “mistake” against you) I didn’t see it (fake photo), nor any mention of a “retraction,” or any effort to correct the possible libel by Newsmax at their site. Nor by you on this thread. While I believe you saw it there, I don’t think Newsmax would back you up by admitting it. Do you?

It’s bad enough when the “enemy” lies to you, but your own people?! Have faith in them and they leave you twisting in the wind?? (Because they can’t admit a mistake) And your “enemy” bails you out-
(I did see said faked photo elsewhere)

We’ve all got to be skeptical. Of all sides!

peace

Behave Or Begone

Posted by: bob at February 21, 2004 08:53 PM | PERMALINK
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