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February 15, 2004

ADVENTURES IN FORENSIC JOURNALISM....Former Lt. Colonel Bill Burkett says that members of George Bush's staff, along with senior officers at Texas National Guard Headquarters, purged Bush's National Guard files of potentially embarrassing material back in 1997. Is his story true?

First, let's review his claims:

  • He accidentally overheard a telephone conversation in 1997 between Joe Allbaugh, Bush's chief of staff, and General Daniel James, Adjutant General of the Texas National Guard. Allbaugh told James that Karen Hughes was preparing a biography and needed information on Bush's military service, and then added, "We certainly don't want anything that is embarrassing in there."

  • The next day he heard a similar hallway conversation. General James told General John Scribner that Bush's people were coming out, and General Wayne Marty added, "and make sure there's nothing in there that'll embarrass the governor."

  • Ten days later, Burkett's friend and fellow guardsman, George Conn, led him to the base museum, which was run by General Scribner. Once there, Burkett saw a trashcan sitting on a table, and when he looked in he saw 20 to 40 pages of documents with George Bush's name on them.

  • At the time all this happened he mentioned his concerns to three fellow guardsmen: George Conn, Harvey Gough, and Dennis Adams.

Unlike the basic National Guard story, which has been fuelled largely by odd discrepencies in the documentary evidence, there is no documentary evidence regarding Burkett's story. We just have his word for it, and needless to say, all the people he has accused of cleaning up Bush's records vigorously deny it.

To judge the truth of Burkett's story, then, all we can do is ask certain questions: Is Burkett's story internally consistent? Has it stayed consistent over time? Do other people corroborate it? Does Burkett have a track record of telling the truth? Does he have any axes to grind?

The short answer is that I think Burkett is probably telling the truth. The long answer is — well, long.

So apologies in advance for the extreme length of this post — it's going to be a long slog, but if you're really interested in this story you should read through the whole thing. At the end I've appended the full text of several interviews I've done so that you can see for yourself exactly what people said in their own words.

Is Bill Burkett's story internally consistent?

Burkett's full story is here, and as far as I can tell it's internally consistent. No part of his story seems to be directly contradicted by any other part.

Has his story stayed consistent over time?

Mostly yes, although the story here is mixed. Here's the timeline:

  • In 1997 Burkett told three people about the overheard conversation and about finding the documents in the trashcan. All three of them have corroborated this. (Although this part of the story is a bit complicated and will get more detail below.)

  • In 1998 he wrote a letter to Texas State Senator Gonzalo Barrientos outlining the same story. Dave Moniz of USA Today confirmed to me that he has seen a copy of the letter.

  • In November 2000 Burkett repeated the story to Linda Starr of Online Journal.

  • In 2002 he repeated his story again in a teleconference with the DOD's Inspector General's Office (although no transcript of this interview is available).

  • In 2003 he told the same story to Greg Palast.

  • And this year, of course, he has repeated it again on multiple occasions.

However, there's also this:

I'll talk more about the "retaliation" stuff below, but the bottom line is that it's pretty clear that Burkett has been under considerable stress from time to time and has both backed down or become overheated occasionally depending on his mood. This is obviously unhelpful to his credibility, but only at the fringes since the core outline of his story has stayed the same. Overall, I think the evidence shows that he has been telling pretty much the same story for seven years now.

Do other people corroborate Burkett's story? Other evidence?

Generally yes:

  • Harvey Gough told me on Friday that Burkett told him in 1997 "that folks from downtown had been over to Mabry, they came over — and the word I used is "cleansed" the files, the word he uses is, you know, they cleaned 'em up — he said they threw some of them in the trash, the ones they didn't like. Says they were trying to cover up something for later...."

  • Dennis Adams confirmed to both the New York Times and the Houston Chronicle that Burkett told him about the files in 1997. In addition, he told the Chronicle, "I have no doubt he is telling the truth."

  • George Conn is a more complicated case. He confirms that Burkett expressed general concerns about Bush's files to him, and also confirms that he visited the base museum with Burkett, but told the Boston Globe last week that he doesn't remember ever seeing anyone discard files. I talked to Conn on Friday and he said the same thing: Burkett didn't specifically tell him about overheard phone conversations or the documents in trashcans.

    But Conn's story doesn't hold up. In 2002 he told Dave Moniz of USA Today that Burkett had told him about overhearing the conversation in General James' office. Moniz confirmed this to me on Saturday morning.

    What's more, Conn has a distinct memory of visiting the base museum with Burkett, but when I asked him the purpose of the visit he said, "it wasn't an anything visit." It's hardly plausible, however, that he would have such a specific memory of a "nothing" meeting seven years later. He'd only remember it if something noteworthy happened there.

    So why is Conn declining to back up Burkett even though he thinks Burkett is "honest and forthright"? Harvey Gough told me that he spoke to Conn in Germany last week and that Conn was afraid of causing trouble: "He's running scared, because he doesn't want to lose his job over there."

    In other words, despite Scott McClellan's assertion on Friday that the Boston Globe story demolished Burkett's credibility, it didn't. In fact, the evidence very strongly suggests that Burkett did indeed discuss his story with Conn in 1997 but that Conn simply doesn't want to be involved any longer.

Bottom line: all three of Burkett's sources have confirmed his story.

In addition, there's a bit of outside corroboration too: Moniz's story quotes an anonymous source as saying that he "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." In other words, Burkett is not the only person who has expressed concern about how Bush's files were handled.

Finally, there's the fact that Bush's file really does seem to be pretty thin. There just isn't a lot there, especially after May 1972. Even Albert Lloyd, who was hired by the Bush campaign to validate his National Guard records four years ago, now thinks they're probably incomplete:


Albert C. Lloyd, a retired personnel officer in the Texas Air National Guard -- who helped the White House review Bush's file both in 2000 and recently -- said "original documentation" would have been filed when Bush performed his duties stating exactly where they were performed and what he did. "The document goes to the payroll office and shows he performed at X place for X hours on X dates," Lloyd said from his home in Austin.

This is exactly the kind of thing that Burkett thinks was purged from Bush's files.

Does Burkett have a track record of telling the truth?

In 1997 Burkett discovered that there were "ghost soldiers" in the Texas Guard, soldiers who were still carried on the rolls even though they never showed up for drill and weren't being paid. He tried unsuccessfully to blow the whistle on this and stop the practice.

In late 2001, Dave Moniz and Jim Drinkard of USA Today finished a lengthy investigation into the problem of ghost soldiers nationwide and published a 3-part story about it. Moniz told me that everything Burkett had told him had checked out and that several other people with no axe to grind find Burkett to be believable as well.

In addition to Moniz, Jim Moore, a longtime Texas reporter who has interviewed Burkett extensively for a forthcoming book, emailed me that he found Burkett "immensely credible."

Does Burkett have an axe to grind?

This is the weakest link in Burkett's story: he has a huge axe to grind, and so do the people who have corroborated his story.

Here's what seems to have happened. Burkett uncovered the "ghost soldiers" problem in 1997 and tried unsuccessfully to get anyone to take it seriously. Then, in January 1998, after a trip to Panama for the Army, he collapsed in the Abilene airport and became seriously ill. For several months he was denied medical attention by the military and he blames this on retaliation from Bush aides who thought he was a troublemaker for pushing the ghost soldiers investigation.

All three people who have corroborated Burkett's story are also people who got involved in trying to get him medical care, and all three were eventually either court martialed or otherwise removed from the Guard — possibly because of their parts in this. So they potentially have axes to grind as well.

And it gets worse. Burkett's illness seemed life threatening at the time and he was apparently panicked by it. In an effort to get the medical attention he wanted, he says he called Bush's office and talked to Dan Bartlett. During that conversation he came very close to threatening extortion over Bush's file cleansing unless he got the medical help he needed. Burkett says now, "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."

According to Burkett, Conn was part of this as well. He was removed from the Guard in 1998 after officials discovered he had sent an email to Burkett advising him that in order to get medical help he might have to "play the card at the governor's office." In other words, threaten to go public with the file cleansing charges.

Needless to say, this provides plenty of evidence that Burkett might simply be a disgruntled guy who didn't get some medical attention he thought he deserved and blamed it on retaliation from Bush. And it doesn't help that he's virtually admitted to extorting Dan Bartlett over this.

Conclusion

In summary, Burkett's story is consistent; it has mostly stayed consistent over time; it's been corroborated by his witnesses; it's been corroborated by outside sources; his previous story about "ghost soldiers" has been found to be true; and he's apparently considered pretty reliable by several people not associated with him.

On the other hand, he also has a big axe to grind. But whistleblowers often do, and while it's important to keep motives in mind it's more important to consider the actual evidence at hand. In this case, it supports his story.

Bottom line: I provisionally think the evidence supports Burkett. He's telling the truth.

Postscript

At the same time, it's not clear to me that this story is going anywhere. Even if it's true, Burkett is the only person making the charge. The others are merely corroborating that he told them about it back in 1997. They didn't see it themselves.

Unless other actual eyewitnesses come forward to confirm Burkett's account, it's just his word against everyone else.

Note on sources

This has been incredibly longwinded. Sorry about that. But I thought it was worthwhile to spell out in detail precisely what the evidence for and against Burkett is so that readers who are interested can judge for themselves what to believe.

As an aside, I'd also like to point out that it's an example of the kind of forensic journalism practiced routinely by mainstream reporters. I see a little more mockery of journalists than I'd like in the blogosphere, and I think a lot of it is because too many people don't realize how much reporting and how much judgment are behind the small snippets of writing that end up on newsprint or on the air. All I did was make a few phone calls for this post, and far from "breaking new ground," this is life as usual for reporters — except that they have to boil down everything I've written here to a few sentences and there's no way for readers to know what those sentences are based on.

But that's one of the nice things about blogs: if I feel like spending a lot of time on a single topic I can do it, and if I feel like posting all the detailed background information I can do that too. I hope you found it an interesting exercise.

Transcripts of the relevant sections of my interviews with Burkett, Gough, and Conn are below.

Interview with Bill Burkett, 11 February 2004

I got a phone call from Harvey Gough this morning, it's the first time I've talked to Harvey Gough in a series of eight to ten months.

The purpose of Harvey's call was to tell me that he had just gotten a phone call from George Conn – and I want you to understand this, and I will not point an accusing finger, but I will tell you lots of strange things have happened here in the past ten to eleven days.

[Digression about computer problems, death threats....]

Harvey Gough called me this morning and told me that George Conn had called him this morning and told him he was scared to death, he had everybody falling off the walls trying to reach him, and that he wasn't going to talk to anybody. Now, he is in Germany, he has a contract military position with the DOD, and he feels that it's in jeopardy. The only way that I have to reach him is an email address and I really don't feel comfortable in sharing it, but if you do talk to Harvey Gough I would suggest that you ask him if he knows how to reach George Conn.


Interview with Harvey Gough, 13 February 2004

Bill told me sometime in '97, I can't tell you exactly when, I couldn't tell anybody exactly when, that folks from downtown had been over to Mabry, they came over — and the word I used is "cleansed" the files, the word he uses is, you know, they cleaned 'em up — he said they threw some of them in the trash, the ones they didn't like. Says they were trying to cover up something for later, and that's about what he had to say.

So he told you specifically that he had seen them throw files in the trash?

Yes, I mean, at that time he said that he saw them destroying the files, not throw 'em in the trash.

[Digression about rumors from other sources that Allbaugh, James, and Scribner had cleaned up Bush's files.]

What did George Conn tell you?

George says, "I ain't sayin nothing. I ain't talking. It's Bill's problem, let Bill solve his own problem, but I'm not talkin to anybody, and since then Conn's gotten on my case for giving out his cell phone number.

Why did Conn say he wouldn't talk?

Well, because he doesn't want to get involved. He's running scared, because he doesn't want to lose his job over there.


Interview with George Conn, 13 February 2004

What parts of [Jim Moore's] book are right and what parts are wrong?

That was the comment about the Boston Globe, I believe, it was relating to the book, not any conversation particularly with Burkett.

[Some digressions, followed by a question about whether he took Burkett to the base museum back in 1997.]

Took him is a bad word. He and I left the building, Building 8, and walked over to Building 6, which is not too far, maybe less than a hundred yards, and it's directly across the road. The Texas Military History Museum...we went over for him to initially meet General Scribner. I'd known him for a number of years. Colonel Burkett did not know him.

Now why did you go there? Was it your idea? Bill's idea?

No, no, we had talked about it sometime before that to get some – Colonel Burkett was working on some visions, he did a Visions book, he was working for the Adjutant General, General James, and I was just assisting him and meeting Scribner because he had been around the National Guard for a number of years and Burkett was a relatively new insider to the Guard because his military service had been in New Mexico. So he did not know a lot of the older people that I knew, so it was just an introduction visit, or if Burkett needed anything he could know and say, hey, he would know who General Scribner was and he would be able to get the information if he needed any for his research, organizational type research.

So it was a, it wasn't an anything visit.

OK, now Bill says he had talked to you previous to this about his concerns that things were going on with the files. Is that true? Did he talk to you about that?

He, um, mentioned a concern over dinner. We had dinner frequently, we were both geographical bachelors down at Camp Mabry, down in Austin. I'm from the Dallas area and he was from Abilene, so we stayed there, he stayed in one building and I was in another building. We had dinner quite frequently, several nights a week. And it just in passing it kind of came up, and we talked about a lot of the hypothetical stuff relating maybe, uh, the conversation was very varied as to things that we talked about, and it came up that he just sort of in passing, you know, a "what if" type thing. Nothing, other than that.

You mean, what if, what if what....?

Was it possible for Governor Bush's records to be purged, would they be tampering with them, how could they be accessed, did I, you know, that type stuff.

Asking what? If you'd ever heard about this, or if you knew it could be done, or what?

No, not that I – and I had not heard about it and I may have shared that with him, I don't know. I don't recall the – this was a very minor conversation at the time.

And did he mention anything about why he was asking?

No he did not. I did not, I was not aware until I heard in the, that something in this book that he had stood outside the Adjutant General's door, had overheard a conversation that was on the speakerphone between the Adjutant General and supposedly someone downtown in the governor's office. He never shared that with me.

So even after this visit to the museum and so forth he never mentioned that?

No, not before or after, I never recall him telling me that.

The conversations you talked about where he mentioned it in passing — after that did he ever talk about it again?

I don't recall.

I talked to Bill for a couple of hours on Wednesday and to me he's just a voice on the phone. You've known him, what do you think about him? He's making these charges, they're obviously very, very serious, what do you think of his character? Do you think he's telling the truth? Should I believe him?

I'm going to let you be the judge of that, and I'm not even going there. I'm sure in the course of the discussion with Colonel Burkett he talked about his health problem…

Oh yeah, sure, sure....

OK. That may, it by no means makes him unbalanced or anything else, and I would never say anything derogatory about him. We had a very good relationship, we talked, our cubicles were very near one another, in fact across an aisle, and we went through, you know, some stuff together, the military end of it. And I would, you'll have to make up your mind if he's telling you the truth or what his, what he wants to gain by this. I don't know. I am not, I have never in my entire life seen an Air National Guard record, piece of paper, file, or anything else with the name of Bush on it. Any of the Bushes, I don't even care which one it is, any of them. I never saw that.

You said you never talked to Jim Moore about his book, but have you talked to Harvey, to Bill, to anybody recently about this?

I have not talked to Burkett, uh, maybe I, uh, email, I sent him a Christmas card, my wife and I did. I haven't talked to him in a couple of years I'd imagine.

So after that initial conversation all the way back in '97 in passing....

I don't think I've had a conversation, well, I transferred from the Texas Army National Guard to the United States Army Reserve in '98, I believe it was, I've slipped since then. I doubt if I've talked to Burkett since then. I don't recall it.

OK.

It's been several years.

Posted by Kevin Drum at February 15, 2004 10:36 PM | TrackBack


Comments

Really interesting reading. Thanks for doing the work and making it all so clear.

Posted by: laura at February 15, 2004 10:45 PM | PERMALINK

Amazing work, I hope somebody follows up, since there is a lot of redundancy in military work there might be some of those purged documents floating around.

Posted by: CalDem at February 15, 2004 10:45 PM | PERMALINK

You did an outstanding job, Kevin. I'm not sure how much longer this Nat'l Guard story will remain in the forefront of the newsv cycle, but now that it hit the mainstream media, it's one more kernel of doubt about Dubya that's embedded in voters' minds.

What's an amazing but sad commentary on the present state of American media is that the mainstream journalism (sans the Boston Globe) seemed to go out of its way to ignore this story four years ago ...

Posted by: Donald from hawaii at February 15, 2004 10:50 PM | PERMALINK

Conservatives always talk about reducing bureaucratic red tape and paperwork. Bush was just a little bit more aggressive than most of them in getting rid of it. I don't see a problem.

Posted by: zizka / John Emerson at February 15, 2004 10:51 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, but what of the strawberries? Seriously Kevin, this is going to backfire on ya. Best to back away and find something more worthwhile to talk about.

Fr'instance, here's "Teresa Heinz Kerry: Bag Lady for the Radical Left". I distilled the article down and list the mentioned recipients of Tides' money here.

Here's a shocking satistic: Sixty percent of non-English speaking children who begin attending California schools after kindergarten never become fluent in English.

And, there's this unfortunate message from the Kerry web site: "Women interns are our future!"

Posted by: Lonewacko at February 15, 2004 10:51 PM | PERMALINK

Helluva a good post. Your work here should shame the majors (Times, Post, etc.).

The "axe to grind" issue has been a major concern to me re Burkett. That said, he sure came across pretty credibly on Hardball the other night.

Posted by: Macswain at February 15, 2004 10:53 PM | PERMALINK

"lonewacko.com"
hahahahha.. .that describes about 5 million single middle-aged, conservative men out there:)

Posted by: marky at February 15, 2004 10:54 PM | PERMALINK

lambert, from corrente.blogspot.com, posted earlier tonight that he was expecting the "other shoe" to drop in the Burkett story soon.
Any idea what he meant, kevin?

Posted by: marky at February 15, 2004 10:55 PM | PERMALINK

Great job Kevin. Thank you for your thoughtful concientious efforts.

Posted by: Phoenix6 at February 15, 2004 10:56 PM | PERMALINK

Also, did you make any headway towards determining the 1972 meaning and use of regulation 36-05?
On the face of it, this regulation does not look like it's about routine downgrading of status to non-active reserve.

Posted by: marky at February 15, 2004 10:56 PM | PERMALINK

Nice Job, Kevin. And please, feel free to keep at it, although I don't know how much more there is here. It would seem the press is already moving on, at least to a degree. The Friday Night Document Dump appears to have convinced some that there just isn't anything more to be found.

Of course, in general it's a good idea to take whatever LoneWhacko says as the opposite of good advice (to say nothing of common sense and logic), so it's probably not quite dead yet.

Posted by: Jonathan at February 15, 2004 10:58 PM | PERMALINK

Lookout Kevin. A high pressure front seems to have settled on your site, accompanied by heavy troll and viscious outbreaks of smarm. Conditions can be expected to continue unabated until November at the earliest.

Whatever happened to "sunny" California?

Posted by: bobbyp at February 15, 2004 11:00 PM | PERMALINK

Major Kudos to Kevin for his reporting on this. It's head and shoulders above anything comparable I've read in the mainstream media. No doubt this is, as Kevin suggests, largely because of the inevitable filtering process that goes on between the accumulation of the data and the writing of the story.

I've been interviewed about a dozen times, and have read dozens more interviews in stories where I was close to the facts and people involved (mostly on technology issues). Most of the time, what shows up in print is but a pale shadow of the depth with which the issues are discussed in the interview. My worst experience was a piece in USA Today several years ago about the security of encryption in Web browsers, in which the only bit that made it from our roughly two-hour long discussion of the ways encryption export regulations made it difficult to develop high-quality, secure software was a recitation of which CD's I had bought using an encrypted Web transaction (I was, I believe, one of the very e-commerce consumers). One of the best interviews I've seen is the Feb 12 intervew of Bram Cohen by Seth Schiesel, which appeared in the NYT.

It's funny I've picked these two papers as examples, because over the years I think USA Today has gotten much better, while the NYT has gotten much more uneven in their quality - the good stuff is still good, but they print a lot of shit these days too.

But, in sum, I think Kevin's model -- referring to original source documents, publishing (nearly) complete transcripts of interviews, and so on -- holds up much, much better than what the newspapers and TV shows practice as journalism. I smell a strong whiff of denial about this from the mainstream media outlets. I think the likes of Judith Miller richly deserve the contempt expressed in the blogosphere. I also think it would be mere griping if it weren't for the positive example provided by Kevin, talkingpoints, Groklaw, juancole, and the many other blog venues that actually practice the shoe-leather journalism the big boys pay lip service to but rarely attain.

Posted by: Raph Levien at February 15, 2004 11:04 PM | PERMALINK

Raph,
My take is that there is just a huge variation in among journalists, in terms of integrity, thoroughness and intelligence, even at the major papers. Take Dana Milbank and compare him to Judith Miller. Miller admits that she doesn't even check the stories the W.H. feeds here, while Milbank is doing first-rate investigative journalism. I don't know why shit reporters like Miller are stars, but at least there are some high class people too.

Posted by: marky at February 15, 2004 11:07 PM | PERMALINK

I think your work on this is very good
but having said this I would encourage
you to look into the "yellow cake - Plame
connection". Logic suggests that the
origional Italian/Niger story and the
outing came from the same source, the
VP, aided by Rove and "others".
And, oh yeah, the 9/11 commission still has
more to say, and the fsc will, in the end,
speak directly to the public, with some effect.

Alfanso

Posted by: alfanso lucree at February 15, 2004 11:13 PM | PERMALINK

Kev: There is no longer a 'fair handed' approach in dealing with the GOP. You either follow their Party line, or you are The Enemy.

Posted by: Sovereign Eye at February 15, 2004 11:49 PM | PERMALINK

I think I may have found the avenue to the discharge number 36-05. Apparently this is what was called a "Spin Number" which was attached to otherwise honorable discharges. My source is the chapter on Deserters in "Chance and Circumstance" by Lawrence Baskir and William Strauss, (Vintage, 1977) -- this is actually the report of Gerald Ford's Clemency Board, chaired by Father Theodore Hesburgh.

Spin Numbers were a very interesting issue post Vietnam era -- the Services did not tell vets what they meant, but they did distribute the code book to thousands of employers, and throughout the Vet Administration. This raised a huge protest when it was discovered (VA Counselors were amoung the first to tell vets something about the codes) so the first reaction of the Pentagon (1974) was to classify the codebook. But then the National Students Association got hold of a copy, and published it, leading to a nationwide movement to abolish the spin numbers. Eventually the "bad paper" was exchanged, but there was no official "recall" or notice to vets, so the Clemency Board estimated about 200,000 vets had honorable discharges with bad spin nunbers, and who did not know it. Moreover the numbers are all over the records that went to the VA and toward pensions and other benefits. One huge problem with these was they were totally imprecise, they in no way reflected the kind of diagnostic quality appropriate to the judgments being made (and recorded for life.)

Anyhow, they do have a few examples from the 36 catagory in the Clemency Board Report. In total there were 446 different spin codes (Seperation Program Numbers = spin), with over 200 of these being derogatory. Since in the Vietnam era 93% of vets received Honorable Discharges, the codes simply obscured the fact that 200 less than "really" honorable types of discharge existed.

In the 36 catagory one finds: "Maladjustment, Situation Acute" -- "Passive Agressive reaction" -- "Primary Childhood Behavior reaction" -- and "Cyclothymic Personality" (Means periods of elation and depression). It also includes several codes for Immaturity-with- symptoms such as Sleepwalking and Bed-wetting. Homosexual behavior had codes beginning with 51, and 41 is for obesity, with a number of levels. The 38's are for dischargees who "participate in activities or belong to associations which tend to show the individual is not reliable or trustworthy." (I suspect that's the spin for those who were into the anti-war movement.)

So -- I would imagine that somewhere on the net one can find "spin numbers" -- and take this question forward. Everything I've noted here is from President Ford's commission report -- and they also recommended abolishing the spin.

Posted by: Sara at February 15, 2004 11:52 PM | PERMALINK

What about the stories that Bush transported plants in a TNG jet/plane from Florida to TX for a tropical plant company he worked for. Is there anything to these? It would seem that if he really did do that and got caught, there would be hell to pay.

The TN story may subside for a while. Afterall, there are other pressing stories, such as:

"Ten months after the fall of Saddam Hussein?s despotic regime, the situation is getting ever worse. According to aid agency USAID there were more attacks during January than any month since September. These included 642 organised assaults involving mortars, hand-grenades and small-arms, 522 ?random? incidents from drive-by shootings to rock-throwing, and 11 attacks on coalition aircraft. Little wonder that, as we report today, there is a growing demand for British machine-guns and other weaponry from security firms in Iraq."

http://news.scotsman.com/opinion.cfm?id=182422004

Still, even if the AWOL story goes into a quiet phase, it will be back. The puzzle has not been solved. And there are now dozens of people working on it. More is going to come out. The truth may even come out. By no means is this story done and finished. It could claim a lot more ground before Nov.

Posted by: obe at February 16, 2004 12:01 AM | PERMALINK

Has anybody tried looking up arrest records for 1972 or 1973(probably purged) or looked up someone who might have been with Dubya when he might have committed some transgression for which he might have been arrested, or looked up law enforcement officers who might have arrested or had been in the same proximity of Dubya when he might have committed some transgression, or looked up some magistrate who might have ordered some kind of community service as punishment for some transgression that might have occurred, or looked up some jail, probation or prison
official (or clerk) that might have encountered Dubya when he might have been serving community service as punishment for some transgression that might have occurred?

These days, elections can turn on the smallest thing, or finding, or action, so that anything and everything can be decisive; where would we be today if Florida did no have the Butterfly Ballot? All it takes is that one crucial piece of evidence. Somebody needs to pound some pavement.

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

Melicious! Kick ass, Kevin!

Posted by: Yap at February 16, 2004 12:26 AM | PERMALINK

David, the other person to look for is
James R. Bath, who was/is a friend of W.'s and was suspended from the TANG at the same time as Bush.

Posted by: marky at February 16, 2004 12:27 AM | PERMALINK

It would be interesting to see if Bath's discharge papers also had a 36-05 on them:)

Posted by: marky at February 16, 2004 12:29 AM | PERMALINK

The difficulty for me is coming up with a scenario why they wouldn't release everything. The worst supposition out there seems to be that this is a drug thing, that doesn't seem likely to me, if it was drugs he could have spun that very easy: "I was young, confused, scared, but jesus saved me" or something as inane, he could certainly keep it from hurting him with his base by playing the jesus card, and if played with the right manful hurt over his own failings it would play to the general public as well.

Unless he was caught with his face down in a large supply of colombian nose powder, a supply of stolen national guard guns, money from various bank jobs in his pocket, and a dead hamster embalmed in semen from three different men stuck in his rectum, I can't really conceive of anything that would hurt him as badly as staying silent on this does.

Posted by: bryan at February 16, 2004 12:42 AM | PERMALINK

At the same time, it's not clear to me that this story is going anywhere.

I know Kevin is referring to the Burkett aspect of the Bush/AWOL story, but it might well be true about the larger story as well, the trajectoryof which seems to have flattened out (barring any corrections in the data).

Billmon and Kos said as much, but I was optimistic that it still had legs. (Of course, I also thought that it didn't have legs back when Peter Jennings re-opened the issue last month, so my track record isn't great.)

Posted by: Ed Fitzgerald (unfutz) at February 16, 2004 12:49 AM | PERMALINK

At minimum, we all realize now that George W. Bush is a fortunate son and never put his life where his mouth is.

We know John Kerry did.

Ultimately, the election is about a lot more, and now that this perception of Bush has been carried, we really need to make sure to keep hammering home on the stuff that Bush can't deny.

Like his record as president. The guy is not a winner...that's about as simple as I can put it.

Posted by: jimm at February 16, 2004 12:56 AM | PERMALINK

And I don't mean other people winning things for you.

I mean succeeding and prospering on your own.

Posted by: jimm at February 16, 2004 12:56 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

I too appreciate your efforts. Based on everything you have provided, as well as some conversations with several relatives of mine who are currently serving or retired, the AWOL charge is, in my mind, unfounded, or at least unproven.

When we move onto the charge of "cleansing" files? We will just have to disagree. Burkett wrote a letter/article I read last week in which he compared Bush to both Hitler and Napoleon. In my mind, anyone who compares any American President to either of those two men doesn't deserve to be taken seriously on anything.

Despite your good (or at least strenuous) efforts, I think the verdict on both issues currently stands at not guilty.

As always, I look forward to any additonal data you can provide. Thanks for the work.

Posted by: spc67 at February 16, 2004 01:26 AM | PERMALINK

Burkett article

I should have provided the link in the above.

Posted by: spc67 at February 16, 2004 01:29 AM | PERMALINK

Damn, I just double checked and you had provided the Vets for Peace diatribe by Burkett in the first place. Sheesh, sorry.

Posted by: spc67 at February 16, 2004 01:31 AM | PERMALINK

bryan >"...I can't really conceive of anything that would hurt him as badly as staying silent on this does."

as I`ve posted before I would NOT be surprised if the "powers that be" are/will try to paint G.W. Bush as a undercover agent for intelligence during the times in question

a "wild party man" public image to enable him to gather information on drug trafficing done by parties other than those "allowed" by the intelligence community

sounds "crazy", I know, if you`ve never been around these character types

much goes on in "the shadows" that is NOT according to the accepted "myths"

"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." - George Orwell

Posted by: daCascadian at February 16, 2004 01:31 AM | PERMALINK

This is an excellent post on the Burkett story that confirms my impressions. I have known about this story for months and found Burkett and Harvey Gough credible without doing Kevin's additional research.

If we believe this story then it follows they were scrubbing something from the records. I suggested last October 5th that Bush supporters' scrubbing of the records had left large gaps and holes that may only give the appearance of Bush being AWOL.

The gaps and holes exist, evidence that the 'cleansing records' story is true.

What could they have been covering up? So far, there are two embarrassing accusations that I believe remain - contradictory evidence that he actually showed up in Alabama and evidence of a disciplinary hearing but with no records.

All of the pages of records do not show him being at an Alabama Guard facility except for a dental appointment in 1973.

Some pages released show him earning inactive duty points for attendance in late October and November of 72. Some do not. If my theory is true that records were scrubbed that could be the case, they were destroyed in one location but not another. He probably did attend those days, avoiding being officially Red Zone AWOL by two weeks, but it is not clear in what location.

The evidence of a disciplinary hearing is mounting. At least two documents now show that Bush's tour of duty was extended by six months. There is a record of Bush and his commander both signing a document that breach of obligations can result in more time being added to length of service. Now it is suspected that the code for him being assigned to the Obligated Reserve Service (subject to immediate active duty call-up if needed) may be a punishment code.

Evidence both of a scrubbing and a disciplinary hearing are the direct disobedience of four written orders: to report back to Ellington after his first transfer was denied, to take his annual physical, and to report to the approved Alabama location on two sets of dates - neither attended. As Guard generals have pointed out, the failure to take the flight physical alone should result in a hearing that is not in the records.

The logical conclusion is that Bush was punished and his followers thought this was embarrassing and cleaned his records. No records where his attendance after April 1972 took place now remain. No records of the punishment and hearings remain except for his time in service and the evidence that a hearing should have taken place.

It is embarrassing for me that no reporter is really covering this story. Just by looking at the documents available and being able to subtract dates questions should be raised. However, all media reporters had already been proven math challenged by not reporting that the person who added up Bush's points for the last year of service had 19 points for "Active" duty, 16 points for "Inactive" duty, and 15 "gratuitous" points for service totaling to 56.

The correct number is 50. Minimum to meet service obligation is 50.

In 2002 Bush's Texas roommate reported to USA Today that Bush's first three years were outstanding, his final two were "troubled." There is nothing wrong with this. However, the evidence that aides of Bush deleted military records, a federal crime, is growing.

#1 on Google for liberal news

Posted by: Easter Lemming Liberal News Digest at February 16, 2004 01:51 AM | PERMALINK

Why Bush didn't take a flight physical in 1972 is a good question. An excellent one, in fact.

What Bush knew about the Plame leak-- and when-- is a better question. A much better one.

Posted by: Sovereign Eye at February 16, 2004 02:06 AM | PERMALINK

" And it doesn't help that he's virtually admitted to extorting Dan Bartlett over this."

Well, wouldn't it have to be true for extortion to work?

Posted by: Rob at February 16, 2004 02:18 AM | PERMALINK

Great work, Mr. Drum, and great writing, and your post wasn't any sort of a "long slog."

Meanwhile where is the Bush damage control team, especially the guy for whom everything is about John Kerry and no one else? So far nothing to be seen of them. I guess it's still too early. Do they have regular hours for reporting to work?

Posted by: Sofarsogoo at February 16, 2004 02:48 AM | PERMALINK

Superior journalism. Articulate and concise.

The truth is probably in the middle. It's the truth in the story that's the nugget. Youthful indiscretions are forgivable but you have to know what they are to forgive. It takes tremendous energy to sustain a lie and that's what's going on here. Yes, it will go away but it's just one more crack in the facade. More will appear. Give it time.

Posted by: Coward in a Brave New World at February 16, 2004 03:06 AM | PERMALINK

But...but...25 year old paper records? Unlikely. The records would likely have been shipped off to Denver, reduced to microfiche and the paper thrown away.

Posted by: John Lederer at February 16, 2004 03:44 AM | PERMALINK

According to Burkett, he found some of Bush's "cleansed" documents in a trash can...

Haven't the national guard records-destroyers ever heard of a shredder? And if Burkett found the files in a trash can, why didn't he pull them out and keep them?

Posted by: Sean at February 16, 2004 04:15 AM | PERMALINK

According to Burkett, he found some of Bush's "cleansed" documents in a trash can...

Haven't the national guard records-destroyers ever heard of a shredder? And if Burkett found the files in a trash can, why didn't he pull them out and keep them?

Thirty years ago shredders were not $50 items that sat beside your desk. He did not pull them out for two reasons (1) he apparently was uncomfortable even looking at them (2) the people who were discarding them would have noticed.

Posted by: ____league at February 16, 2004 04:37 AM | PERMALINK

Repost with italics done right.

According to Burkett, he found some of Bush's "cleansed" documents in a trash can...

Haven't the national guard records-destroyers ever heard of a shredder? And if Burkett found the files in a trash can, why didn't he pull them out and keep them?

Thirty years ago shredders were not $50 items that sat beside your desk. He did not pull them out for two reasons (1) he apparently was uncomfortable even looking at them (2) the people who were discarding them would have noticed.

Posted by: ____league at February 16, 2004 04:53 AM | PERMALINK

Thank you Kevin, for doing your best to keep some focus on a part of our history that passed you by (you were a tad young) -- Vietnam.

And, you've corroborated my sense that you’re a frustrated, would-be journalist. As I read your bio, you flunked out of Caltech (as a would-be mathematician), took a DEGREE in Journalism for a state school, then worked in marketing for several years before you were canned – and now you’re out of work (how else would you have the time to blog?).

Your immediate problem is that you’re chasing non-stories. As you admit in your current piece, the only thing you’re investigating is how long this guy Burkett has had a hard-on for Bush – and whether it got soft now and then. The “story” has nothing to do with our President.

So, here’s a suggestion, put your energies into a real story: What REALLY happened to John Kerry in Vietnam? How and why did he turn from an upper class patriot to a lying communist?

Kerry volunteered for the Navy (ok, he made a pitch for another year’s deferment and his draft board turned him down, and he thought he’d look REALLY cute in those dress whites – but he did volunteer).

But Kerry went CRAZY in Vietnam! Was it drugs? What made him beach his boat, leap over the transom, and chase down a wounded VC – unarmed and crawling away – and then GUN HIM DOWN, MURDERING HIM!

Did Kerry suffer a breakdown? And when did Kerry figure out that he could get a quick ticket out of Nam if he was wounded THREE times? Don’t you think those THREE scratches warrant the attention of a crack investigative journalist, LIKE YOURSELF? Kerry ended his combat tour after FOUR MONTHS. Don’t you think this ought to be looked into. Don’t you think the presumptive Democrat Nominee should have his name cleared?

And what happened to John Kerry when he came back stateside? How did he turn into Hanoi John? He accused himself and ALL US soldiers of being WAR CRIMINALS. In his own case, he was certainly telling the truth. But why accuse EVERYONE else? (TIP: Check out his “Winter Soldiers” piece). And why did he interfere in the search for MIA’s? Was he a paid communist agent – or was he just nuts?

And think how much fun you could have debunking his commendations. There was rampant medal inflation in Nam – especially in the Navy. True, it wasn’t as bad as grade inflation in CA schools (how did you manage to flunk out of Caltech, anyway?)

So, go for it Kevin-boy! Here’s your chance to join the ranks of real investigative journalists.

OBTW, if you accidentally delete this post, I’ll be happy to paste it back for you.

Posted by: Norman Rogers at February 16, 2004 04:55 AM | PERMALINK

Another way to try and verify Burkett's story (if he were willing) would be to examine Burkett's medical file and see if there is evidence of his medical care being questioned. This would entail opening up his medical records to journalists, (perhaps one specific journalist) which is not the easiest thing to do, but, as many have noted, it's not the original mistake that brings down the house of cards, it's the coverup.

And as always DFTT...

Posted by: liberal japonicus at February 16, 2004 05:08 AM | PERMALINK

I love how people like norman there automatically assume that if you think bush is a corrupt idiot, you're somehow automatically a Kerry supporter.

Growing up, some of us had more than a black and a white crayon in our crayola boxes, knucklehead.

Posted by: Greg at February 16, 2004 05:10 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe I can do it right the third time. Am going to have to go back to drinking coffee.

According to Burkett, he found some of Bush's "cleansed" documents in a trash can...

Haven't the national guard records-destroyers ever heard of a shredder? And if Burkett found the files in a trash can, why didn't he pull them out and keep them?

Thirty years ago shredders were not $50 items that sat beside your desk. He did not pull them out for two reasons (1) he apparently was uncomfortable even looking at them (2) the people who were discarding them would have noticed.

Posted by: ____league at February 16, 2004 05:10 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin: good work.
You really will have to start deleting the long screeds from the wingnuts. They are taking advantage of an old fallacy from Usenet: allowing everyone to write things as long and abusive as possible is not free speech. What the freepers have done on some of these threads is the equivalent of going into a room and shouting down a speaker. They're not interested in free speech...they want to stop someone elses' exercise in free speech. Folks like Stormin' Normin are free to run their own blogs if they really want to grind their axes.

I would also suggest regularly zapping any Bush/AWOL content that leaks into unrelated threads. The "Kerry is an evil commie" stuff can be retained because it's unintentionally funny, of course.

cheers,

Marc

Posted by: Marc at February 16, 2004 05:17 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe tags on each paragraph will do it?

Maybe I can do it right the third time. Am going to have to go back to drinking coffee.

According to Burkett, he found some of Bush's "cleansed" documents in a trash can...

Haven't the national guard records-destroyers ever heard of a shredder? And if Burkett found the files in a trash can, why didn't he pull them out and keep them?

Thirty years ago shredders were not $50 items that sat beside your desk. He did not pull them out for two reasons (1) he apparently was uncomfortable even looking at them (2) the people who were discarding them would have noticed.

Posted by: ____league at February 16, 2004 05:18 AM | PERMALINK

Yes!!!

Posted by: ____league at February 16, 2004 05:19 AM | PERMALINK

Interesting stuff.
It all seems to hinge, though, on Burkett seeing some files with Bush's name in a trash can.
First of all, that can never be proven, for if they did exist then, they certainly don't now.
Secondly, it seems unlikely to me that if one is going about commiting a felony (destroying records), one would do it in such a ham-handed way to just leave them in in a trash can face up.
And even if they so did, what are the odds that a visitor would be able to read what is written on those files? Quite long, I'd think.
The only thing that Kevin's research proves to me without a shadow of a doubt is that Burkett is out to get Bush. The proof he offers, however, is less convincing, unless, like Kevin, you are already convinced of Bush's guilt, since, according to Kevin, Bush is ipso facto guilty of everything bad.

Posted by: fw at February 16, 2004 05:22 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, keep up the good work, and ignore those trolls--you're stepping on their tails, of course they're going to squeek.

Burkett's story certainly explains the gaps in the documents. The fact that he has told a consistent story is also important (and would be admissible in court as a prior consistent statement to refute a charge of recent fabrication).

To me, however, the most telling point is why would have Burkett made up this story in the first place? He didn't know GWB was going to be selected president. He sounds like a classic whistleblower, perhaps a little unstable emotionally, but basically a guy who doesn't like to see people cheating the system and is not afraid to complain about it.

My sense is his story is accurate, but I expect more evidence will emerge on this subject.

Posted by: Bassfish at February 16, 2004 05:26 AM | PERMALINK

Regardless of the merits of one specific story or another, the BIG story here is one of Junior shrugging off his responsibilities and using his Poppy's connections. The FACTS of this are not in dispute.

Thank you for bringing this to light. If the press had done their job in 2000, rather than laughing at W's jokes, W would probably be a retired Texas Gov.

Posted by: def rimjob at February 16, 2004 05:29 AM | PERMALINK

Dear Marc,

Actually, I was being intentionally funny. And, the reason I don't write a blog is because I'm still a working stiff. It turns out it's far more effective to post pungent commentary on widely read boards than to put the same effort into trying to build your own audience.

This board is widely read -- by all sides of our political spectrum. So by forcing the airing of some sense of fair play (Gee, why aren't we scrutinizing Kerry's record since the Dims are so hot to look at Bush's Vietnam-era service records) -- we get real pressure in the mainstream press to shine some light on Kerry.

So thank you for keeping up your silliness.

Posted by: Norman Rogers at February 16, 2004 05:30 AM | PERMALINK

Nice job, Kevin. I disagree with you on one point -- I think this story does have legs. Watergate started out like this.

The problem they have over at the White House is that there's something they're hiding, and it's obvious for everyone to see. Some enterprising young cub reporter of the Jimmy Olsen variety will crack this thing wide open.

Even I can see that the place to look for information on this isn't in Alabama, it's HOUSTON.

Posted by: Tony Shifflett at February 16, 2004 05:34 AM | PERMALINK

Very nice work Kevin, but don't feel sorry for the reporters, they're paid to do that job, and though a few earn it the vast majority have been loafing the last few years.

Regarding the story running its course:

It does seem that further digging to discover why Bush was grounded may stop, but unless the WH records dump answers more questions than it raises, (which at this point appears doubtful), the story is about to harden into received wisdom.

And, the received wisdom is going to be repeated all year long and beyond. At the end of every article about the election will be the summary paragraph recounting Bush's shaky military record.

Republicans took their bad hand and overplayed it.
They're not even good for themselves any longer.

Posted by: dennisS at February 16, 2004 05:37 AM | PERMALINK

Secondly, it seems unlikely to me that if one is going about commiting a felony (destroying records), one would do it in such a ham-handed way to just leave them in in a trash can face up.

yehhh, but Burkett's story claims that there was a table with an ongoing project (big file) in a not so public place. Conn was supposedly talking with a General(?) who had previously announced that Bartlett or Karen Hughes was coming to base to look through Junior's file for the book. I'm not sure if Burkett was implying that the General was working on the file or if, indeed, Bartlett/Hughes was at the desk, but just out to lunch.

The fact that he told this in '97, right after it happened, makes his credibility pretty strong. And the fact that all the witnesses have cooberated the story from the beginning(until Conn changed his tune 3 days ago, but he is on military contract in Germany. hmmmm.) make me tend to believe that there is more than a grain of truth.

Posted by: def rimjob at February 16, 2004 05:38 AM | PERMALINK

keep it the good work!

Posted by: rachelrachel at February 16, 2004 05:41 AM | PERMALINK

ITS A MIRACLE!

Anyone defending Bush is obviously lying and anyone Bashing him is a paragon of virtue.

Here is some advice for you all:

If you've been skipping your medication, please by all means, start taking it again.

If you've been taking your meds, call the Doc and tell him something ain't right.

Posted by: Goofball finder at February 16, 2004 06:05 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, many thanks for all your wonderfully hard work.

Posted by: Peg at February 16, 2004 06:14 AM | PERMALINK

Great work on this story, Kevin.

I too noticed the addition discrepancy on the 56 retirement point total and wondered about that, although at 50 points W still met the minimum yearly requirement.

Don't know quite what to make of Burkett's story - thanks for the diging and slogging, it gives a fuller picture. It ocurs though, that there may be a less sinister explanation for "making sure there's nothing embarassing in them," that doesn't automatically indicate intent to alter, but possibly a heads-up on what to gloss over. Not quite sure how to account for the claimed stuff in the trashcan in that case, though.

Was there an indication somewhere in the records that the Alabama duty would be a "non-pay" slot? Thought I saw that somewhere. Was it the first, disapproved transfer or the second, approved one?

I've seen claims that the form 526 Points Earned docs from '72 and '73 were from a "disciplinary" outfit in Colorado (ARF), not TANG - anything to that? The 36-05 stuff becomes inteesting here.

He frontloaded his attendance in '72. Does this cover the next 6 months' nonattendance (17 Apr - 27 Oct). or did it fulfill his '71- '72 obligation?

If he left Texas before he applied for the first transfer, which was later disapproved, and no indication that he showed up there anyway, and there are no records showing that he reported to Col. Turnipseed in Alabama despite two orders to do so, and no record of duty performed in the period 16 Apr - 27 Oct '72, that would seem to be, on its face, AWOL. It would certainly be in the regular Air Force. Would this assumed AWOL become a desertion after 30 days? Are there different criteria in the Guard? Would making up the (apparently unauthorized) missed dates after the fact eliminate the problem?

The stonewalling; spinning; contradictory evidence and opinions (these by individuals with presumed firsthand knowledge); glib answers (I/he got an honorable discharge); and attempts to portray critics as disparaging Guard service make it damnably hard to dismiss this as nothing but partisan politics.

Lots of questions, not so many answere yet. Any points of illumination would be greatly appreciated.

Posted by: rabinius at February 16, 2004 06:15 AM | PERMALINK

Anyone defending Bush is obviously lying and anyone Bashing him is a paragon of virtue.

Paragon of Virtue? Probably not. Unfortunately our President and his administration have a problem with the truth and it ain't just about the TANG. It ain't about personal stuff like wife-cheatin'. Nope, it's about BIG stuff. It's only slightly disheartening that his TANG service is what is getting the attention rather than the Office of Special Plans.

Regardless of the merits of this case, you now have a very small taste of what the Dems went through with Clinton. Hell, if this were GOP smear operation Bush would have been supposedly flying Coke in his plane from Alabama and there would be two or three state troopers who had been secretly paid by a Scaife Magazine backing up the story.

Posted by: def rimjob at February 16, 2004 06:17 AM | PERMALINK

SPC67: When we move onto the charge of "cleansing" files? We will just have to disagree. Burkett wrote a letter/article I read last week in which he compared Bush to both Hitler and Napoleon. In my mind, anyone who compares any American President to either of those two men doesn't deserve to be taken seriously on anything.

I only see a reference to Napolean, but not Hitler. Am I missing something here?

Posted by: Mike at February 16, 2004 06:17 AM | PERMALINK

To the extent you wonder whether people prefer the short version or the way you did it here, I vote for the latter

The above "change the subject" shots from the plants probably ought to confirm the preference for following up thoughtful work with a posting to match.

Nicely done.

Posted by: hueyplong at February 16, 2004 06:22 AM | PERMALINK

Classic troll behavior: ad hominem attacks, trying to change the subject, deluded claims of objectivity ... anything but rational discussion of the topic at hand. I think the DSM should be revised to include diagnostic criteria for right-wing weblog dysphoria disorder.

Posted by: Bassfish at February 16, 2004 06:22 AM | PERMALINK

OK. Fair post,where reasonable people can find there reasons for agreement or disagreement. I think that's all anyone can ask.

The problem is, there is not enough here to sustain an accusation or an investigation. Guy 1 makes an accusation. He can't prove a dang thing, and his story of "overheard" and "I saw it in the trash can" has the feel of a thriller plot. And the fact this story comes into full view after the Democrats have decided to make AWOL an issue, and have that trail end with records and couple of people apparently confirming guard service, um, looks a little partisan. To get anywhere with this, you will need something more. Like an eyewitness without an axe to grind. Like the fellow quoted in the Boston Globe changing his story again, after admitting his initial change was the result of pressure from the white house. Otherwise, you have nothing that takes the story forward.

I guess I'm with Lanny Davis on this. What Bush did 30 years ago isn't all that important, particularly when he has a current record. There's a lot to talk about on Bush of more current vintage. Like where did the budget surplus go? Where did the WMDs go? Did you shoot straight with the American people on significant matters of war and peace?

I am an inveterate reader of mysteries, so I find all this scandal speculation fascinating, and the desire to get at this story interesting. But, ultimately, what's provable is trivial or dismissable in terms of the times and Bush's midlife conversion to a less dissolute life. There are a lot of good reasons to be rid of Bush. Don't concentrate too much on the sins of the distant past. Every single one of us has regrets, or ought to. How many of us fess up to them?

As a matter of fair disclosure, I am an undecided voter. Kerry has not convinced me he understands how to deal with terrorism, which is not a solved problem,and he is too much of a fair trader for my taste. I have always been conflicted on Iraq. And am furious about the budget/tax irresponsibility of this admin. I wouldn't want you guys to think I am a freeper in disguise.

Posted by: appalled moderate at February 16, 2004 06:27 AM | PERMALINK

Is "PTI 961" on his discharge standard thing?

Is this the infamous SPN code that they stopped using on HDs?

There isn't an SPN that is 961 that we know about, and the DOD doesn't release definitions of what they used to mean anymore...so, that might be a dry well.

The SPN DOES go higher than 961 though, and the ones in the 900 series have to do with desertion, erroneously reported desertions, etc.

Be interesting to find out what the NG's version of the SPN codes looked like.

Anybody know?

Posted by: Monkey at February 16, 2004 06:30 AM | PERMALINK

To the fellow who's comparing this to Watergate:

The only similarity is that the events in question happened in the same year.

Posted by: appalled moderate at February 16, 2004 06:31 AM | PERMALINK

Excellent post.

What bothers me, even though this isn't hard evidence of anything, is why a hail-fellow-well-met type like Bush has never come up with a few names of guys he knew while allegedly serving with the Alabama Air National Guard, people reporters could have called, and why nobody (except a couple of guys whose claims seem dubious to me) recalls his presence. That fact alone is enough to set off my alarm bells.

Posted by: PS at February 16, 2004 06:35 AM | PERMALINK

If a Mickey Mouse land deal in Arkansas was grist for a Special Prosecutor, surely this is? Could such a felonious act be undertaken without the consent of Bush himself?

Posted by: Bob H at February 16, 2004 06:39 AM | PERMALINK

I have gotten a day pass to the Houston Chronicle archives for the purposes of researching Mr. James R. Bath.

I have posted the first two stories here:

http://sugarinthegourd.com/bath/bath01.html
http://sugarinthegourd.com/bath/bath02.html

If anyone else has something they would like me to search the Chron archives for, send me an email.

Posted by: 71077345 at February 16, 2004 06:40 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin,
You should be finished with this Guard story soon and then you can launch into an even more investigation of affairs in the 1970s. And I mean real affairs.

I want you to find out how it was that Nurse Diana was TWICE raped and impregnated by her best friend Nurse Jesse's husband, Dr. Phil Brewer but then it was Nurse Amanda who killed Dr. Phil Brewer. The story just doesn't hold up. There are too many unexplained questions. And then they brushed the murder under the rug after putting Nurse Amanda in the slammer and all they wanted to talk about was Luke and Laura. They even got Elizabeth Taylor in on the cover-up.

It won't wash. Maybe a few hundred people are upset about Bush and the Guard but I guarantee you there are millions of people who still care about Nurse Amanda being framed. Dr. Steve Harvey was key and thats going to be a problem for you because he died but his widow is still alive and you should start with her.

Posted by: Karen at February 16, 2004 06:49 AM | PERMALINK

Excellent work. Sure beats the snippets that other blogger's offer (no names mentioned at this instance). Bush's service problem dates to 1972 - Watergate. Remember the months and years of WH statements that there was nothing to report? Is this the same?

Posted by: Dinosaur at February 16, 2004 06:50 AM | PERMALINK

Good work.

Except the free pass to the Media. Journalists have to investigate and research then distill the info for an article on deadline? Well, big whoop, you make that sound like rocket science.

Journalism 101 - Who? Bush. What? Uncertain performance in National Guard. Where? Texas and Alabama? When? 1972-73. Why? Well, that's one for Bush.


Second story - the 'cleansing of the records.'

Who? Burkett. What? Alleges Bush's records were cleansed. When? 1997. Where? Alabama. Why? Obvious but fairly easy to state possible reasons, big one, running for President.

So what do journalists do? Detail the 5 questions. Who is Burkett? Background, history, axes, etc. What? Substance of allegation and evidence to support it. Where? Alabama - where records supposedly existed. Did they? If yes, what records?

What it comes down to is sourcing of the statements that go to print - either through the persons or document. You go with what you have - or not - depending on whether you think you have enough to go to print.

Compare with the Kerry Intern story -

Who? Kerry and Intern. [Source on this? - None to date.] What? Affair. [Source on this? None.] Where? No idea [no source.] when? No idea. [no source] Why? For the oldest reasons [but still no proof.]

Simple rules. The Media should follow them.

Posted by: Armando at February 16, 2004 06:50 AM | PERMALINK

Needless to say, this provides plenty of evidence that Burkett might simply be a disgruntled guy who didn't get some medical attention he thought he deserved and blamed it on retaliation from Bush. And it doesn't help that he's virtually admitted to extorting Dan Bartlett over this.

The fact that he may have tried to use his knowledge doesn't mean that it isn't true. And let's be honest, these guys (bushco) are well know for their ruthlessness. It's totally conceivable that they would retaliate against Burkett.

Anyway, good work Kev.


Posted by: four legs good at February 16, 2004 06:52 AM | PERMALINK

One last thought on Bush-AWOL - to my knowledge, Bush has never expressly described his activities in the Alabama ANG (if that is the right name)? Is it fair to ask him the question? I think so because there is documentary evidence (or lack thereof) establishing his activities and there is little credile testimony that he performed his durties - Calhoun shot himself by getting the dates wrong. His was the only direct testimony vouching for Bush. Should Bush vouch for Bush?

Posted by: Armando at February 16, 2004 06:56 AM | PERMALINK

In the Sunday Izvestia, David Barstow's article on p. 27 quotes a "retired brigadier General in the National Guard, David McGinnis, who seems to have some knowledge about what ought to be in the file. Perhaps McGinnis could be asked to comment on the available evidence.

Where this story is going is, at a minimum, to feed the growing sense that Bush is not a credible person-that in this case, he is hiding something.

Posted by: Bob H at February 16, 2004 06:57 AM | PERMALINK

Thank you for posting this. I have 2 comments.

1. Although I believe Mr. Burkett's claims, you forgot to indicate that his claims about overhearing phone conversations have been denied by the alleged conversants. Although these denials are likely lies, they should nevertheless be noted in any reasonable summary of the events.

2. All of your reporting is very helpful but to some extent we are all losing sight of the forest for the trees here. Jimmy Breslin hit it on the head in his recent column. Breslin speaks very clearly about the hypocrisy of Bush having supported the war in Vietnam but having taken steps to avoid serving (by his own public admission: "I was not prepared to shoot my eardrum out with a shotgun in order to get a deferment. Nor was I willing to go to Canada. So I chose to better myself by learning how to fly airplanes.")

A really compelling follow-up might include answers to the following:

1. How many people were on the Texas ANG waiting list who got passed over in favor of George Bush?
2. How many of these actually went to Vietnam? (Probably few to none.)
3. Did any from 2. actually die in Vietnam? (I doubt it.)

If the info. for 1. was available then the info. for 2. and 3. would probably be easy to find in the public records.

Breslin's column suggests a strong campaign tack that dovetailes very nicely with John Edwards' theme of two americas. One america for the unconnected guys who have to wait their turn on the waiting list and the other for people who can jump to the front of the line.

Anyway, thanks for all the digging.

Posted by: Robert at February 16, 2004 07:00 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin,
I just remembered Dr. Steve Harvey's widow's first name: Audrey. Nurse Audrey Harvey. She still works in General Hospital; she's a charge nurse. She made some extra money doing a DEPENDS commercial, too.

Posted by: Karen at February 16, 2004 07:02 AM | PERMALINK

Appalled moderate says, "The problem is, there is not enough here to sustain an accusation or an investigation. "

There's enough for voters to decide who is fit command the armed forces.

There's enough because four things are very clear:
(1) Bush did not wait for orders before leaving Texas.
(2) Bush skipped a physical he was legally-mandated to take.
(3) Bush-- just over a week ago-- was dishonest in saying that they had released all the records in 2000 and that they would release all of them again.
(4) This pattern of arrogance and deception is a thread common to many of his recent actions, most notably in the dealings with Iraq.

Were these not enough, the possibility-- even the hint-- that he might have engaged in a crime by ordering his files cleansed should be enough to give any voter serious pause.

Posted by: js at February 16, 2004 07:03 AM | PERMALINK

Nice work Kevin...One can't gauge the validity of claims and denials without background.
There is a story (and maybe a movie) in why Bush fled to Alabama to leave his flying duty. The fact is that his last days of flying in Houston in April, 1972, coincided with major pilot losses in Vietnam and rumors of activation of Guard and Reserve units. The fact that he left without approval and stayed even when transfer was disapproved is relevant. The fact that he tried to ease into an AL Postal Reserve unit with a reputation for soft duty and almost no chance for activation is very enlightening. The fact that he stayed in Al after the election (that was his cover) ended, is just another brick in the wall. Of course he refused to take a flight physical, how else to get "grounded"?
The situation GWB created was a blatant evasion of his duty obligation and would have created stacks of paperwork as it was pursued.
That paperwork is now part of the missing files.

Posted by: Joe B at February 16, 2004 07:08 AM | PERMALINK

What a journalistic masterpiece.

Someone with an axe grind is telling stories about Bush.

Via Kevin's investigative journalism, we now know that he has been tellng those stories for a long time.

Brilliant.

So in conclusion. Bush was AWOL even though he received an honorable discharge.

We know Burkett is telling the truth, despite his questionable motives, because he has told his story to other people. One of those people does not completely back his story about telling them stories. This person is most likely lying. Another person who backs his story about telling stories was court martialed.

Posted by: BigMacAttack at February 16, 2004 07:10 AM | PERMALINK

Here's the URL for looking up the meaning of SPN or "spin" codes:

http://www.landscaper.net/discharg.htm#List%20of%20Spin%20Codes

Posted by: Sandwichman at February 16, 2004 07:11 AM | PERMALINK

I too appreciate your efforts. Based on everything you have provided, as well as some conversations with several relatives of mine who are currently serving or retired, the AWOL charge is, in my mind, unfounded, or at least unproven.

spc67, i have a lot of respect for the way you've listened to the evidence kevin has been providing over the last week or two. even though i think you are mistaken on the conclusions you have drawn from it, it's heartening to know there are still a few serious conservatives out there.

Posted by: danelectro at February 16, 2004 07:13 AM | PERMALINK

washingtonpost.com
Guard, Reserves Have History of Spotty Record-Keeping
Gaps Such as Those in Bush Documents Are Common; Most Files Contain Omissions, Official Says

By Bradley Graham
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 15, 2004; Page A10


The controversy over President Bush's time in the Air National Guard has exposed one not-so-secret aspect of the Guard's record-keeping: It has been full of gaps and inaccuracies for years.

Contrary to the military's general image of orderliness and discipline, the process of documenting the service of Guard members and reservists has long suffered from disorder and incompleteness, according to people both inside and outside the Pentagon familiar with the records system.

"In the 1960s, '70s and '80s, we had a horrendous problem keeping National Guard and reserve records," said Van Hipp, who served as a deputy assistant secretary for reserve forces in the administration of President George H.W. Bush. "And that's why you have hundreds of Guard and reserve members each year who go to their congressmen for help compiling their records for retirement purposes."

Records for the Air National Guard are maintained at the Air Reserve Personnel Center, a giant three-story facility in Denver. But they are compiled first by personnel officers at Guard units in individual states -- which is where problems usually arise, military officials say.

"It's like anything else; you're dealing with human beings, so mistakes are going to be made," said Lt. Col. Gus Schalkham, the center's spokesman. "Sometimes things don't get put in there by the military personnel system."

Another official who works at the Denver center estimated that 90 percent of the personnel files arrive missing one or more elements.

Schalkham blamed Guard members who, he said, should do more to ensure their files are complete before they are forwarded to the Denver center.

"Some may get out of the service thinking they're just done, and they may never take an interest in looking at their records, especially if they're young," he added. "Then, all of a sudden, something comes up when they might need their records, but they don't even have them anymore because they threw them away."

Further, the accuracy of some of the submitted information has come into question because of commanders' efforts over the years to exaggerate membership figures. In these cases, Guard members who have stopped going to monthly drills have nonetheless remained on unit rosters to ensure no reduction in federal funding for the units.

An investigation in 2001 by USA Today found that the percentage of such "ghost soldiers" ran as high as 20 percent in some units. A subsequent report by the congressional General Accounting Office confirmed that Guard officers had inflated troop levels in some instances and filed false reports, which then became the basis for funding requests to Congress.

"Record-keeping in the Guard has always been spotty," said a senior congressional staff member familiar with the issue. "Low participation, or non-participation, has been chronic.

"My understanding is that the rule of thumb for many years was that a member could miss as many as nine drills before being dropped," he added. "That meant that, with two drills being held a month, someone could go four months without attending before anything might happen to him."

In the late 1960s and early 1970s when Bush served, the Air National Guard was struggling to overcome problems of undermanning, poor training and outdated equipment that had plagued it during the Korean War, according to the Guard's chief historian, Joe Gross. With about 90,000 members, the Guard was about 11 percent the size of the active force, which numbered 791,000 in 1970.

"Guard units were coming along, but at that time only a few had wartime manning levels and all the equipment they really needed," Gross said.

The Pentagon had launched a program to enhance the Guard. Units in New York, New Mexico, Colorado and Iowa were called up in 1968 and sent to Vietnam, where they performed well, Gross said. But the main mission of the Guard remained defending the skies of the United States against penetration by Soviet aircraft.

© 2004 The Washington Post Company

Posted by: anon at February 16, 2004 07:17 AM | PERMALINK

js:

The average voter is going to see variations of one of two things:

* he led the country courageously after 9/11 to challenge terrorists no matter where they live, and make the world safe for democracy; or

* he lied to his country to promote some ill-advised adventure in Iraq and got hundreds of our boys killed.

Point (4) might have some validity, but not a ton. In any event, until you move the Burkett tale past he said she said, he's a liar, she's a liar, you get little salience on it. Harping on it will just annoy the public at large. As for spinnning and obfusticating the president's pitiful 1972 guard service -- ultimately, he was 26 and did what a lot of kids did back then. I can't imagine he's proud of it. Again, harping on it will annoy the masses of baby boomers who did the same thing, maybe not to Kerry's benefit.

Where the rubber meets the road on this administration's credibility is whether it exaggerated it's intelligence on Iraq. I look forward to the Congressional hearings.

Posted by: appalled moderate at February 16, 2004 07:17 AM | PERMALINK

One angle to this story that people haven't really been talking about is how justified Burkett's "axe to grind" might be. The Bushes seem to have a long history of screwing people who "betray" them. This has the nice benefit of making any insider critics look like disappointed or thwarted quacks. Is there any investigative reporting that could set up this trend? (hint, hint)

Posted by: Next step? at February 16, 2004 07:21 AM | PERMALINK

Three witnesses... that is pretty good.

But remember, Joseph Smith had eleven witnesses, and that didn't prevent his story from being, shall we say, controversial?

Posted by: Reregnu at February 16, 2004 07:27 AM | PERMALINK

The most interesting part of this post is the Conn angle.

If this is true, then Conn is being leaned on heavily:

So why is Conn declining to back up Burkett even though he thinks Burkett is "honest and forthright"? Harvey Gough told me that he spoke to Conn in Germany last week and that Conn was afraid of causing trouble: "He's running scared, because he doesn't want to lose his job over there."

That in itself is a story worth intense pursuit.

Think about it--there are parts to this story that emit the stench of gansterism. Vindictiveness goes a long way towards implying guilt.

Posted by: -pea- at February 16, 2004 07:28 AM | PERMALINK

You're the man.

Posted by: Yesh at February 16, 2004 07:29 AM | PERMALINK

Some pages released show him earning inactive duty points for attendance in late October and November of 72. Some do not. If my theory is true that records were scrubbed that could be the case, they were destroyed in one location but not another. He probably did attend those days, avoiding being officially Red Zone AWOL by two weeks, but it is not clear in what location.

the nature of the 72-73 records themselves support the notion that there was "scrubbing" involved. The single most relevant document is "USAF Personnel Record Card" for the 72-73 period. (Page five of http://www.usatoday.com/news/bushdocs/11-2_2004_Personnel_File.pdf )

Prior to the 72-73 year, hand-written, contemporaneous records had been kept for each day/period of service on this specific form. (see http://www.usatoday.com/news/bushdocs/5-Performance_Points.pdf . Also note that the 72-73 record is NOT included in this file for some reason)

But the 72-73 document contains no record of service for individual days. Just two entries, both dated May 26th. The first entry is for 9 "active" and 16 "inactive" days of service, yielding 41 points. (This is the ONLY time when both "active" and "inactive" service days appear on the same line in the records.) The other entry is for Bush's 15 gratuitous points.

The document is "certified correct" by a Maj. Rufus G. Martin of TANG--the same person who certified the three previous years. One assumes that Martin would have required Bush to provide evidence of service, but that evidence does not exist as part of Bush's TANG files. (It might not have been necessary to pass this proof onto Colorado, but those documents SHOULD be in Bush's TANG file.)

The evidence of "scrubbing" lies in the fact that the TANG files contain no evidence of service in 72-73, despite those files being "certified correct". Bush's last day of service for that period, according to the retirement points and payroll records, was May 24th, which would not leave sufficient time for payroll or retirement record totals to be generated and sent to TANG.

Posted by: p. lukasiak at February 16, 2004 07:30 AM | PERMALINK

Re: the discrepancy between the points Lloyd said Bush had in 73-74 (56) and the total points that Lloyd reported in individual categories (50)....

the problem actually goes far deeper than that. The RECORD (AF Form 526 for 73-74) that Lloyd claims to have examined gives Bush a total of only 40 points, NOT 50 points.

http://www.failureisimpossible.com/essays/bush_military_records.htm

The fact is that Bush received only FIVE gratuitous points for that year, because he was placed on "Inactive" status after serving ONE THIRD of his final year.

Even by Lloyd's very lax standards of "satisfactory completion of his military obligation", Bush failed to "fulfill his duty" as the White House has been claiming.

Posted by: p. lukasiak at February 16, 2004 07:38 AM | PERMALINK

I think bloggers are indeed confused about journalism. I think a lot of investigative journalism is awesome; it's the political reporting that's typically problematic. I think that deadline pressure in the heat of the campaign is mostly to blame here.

One thing that would lead to more confidence in the media is greater transparency about sources and methods. Perhaps it would be difficult to have footnotes on print versions of newspapers or on the nightly news, but there should be no such limitation on the web.

Wouldn't it be great to hear Dan Rather say "And you can see for yourself how we reached these conclusions on cbs.com." I hope that's where things are going.

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

Surely the SCLP Reply to Martin Heldt's recent request for records of changes to Bush's files should be evidence of scrubbing?

Let's see if you read this the same way I do:
1. Albert Lloyd has said he (or someone) added the torn document to Bush's file. The SCLP letter says there is no record of any change to the file since 1974. Isn't that prima facie evidence of scrubbing?

2. Even if the extrinsic evidence of Lloyd's statement about the untorn document is in some way irrelevant to changes made to the file, doesn't the text of the SCLP Reply letter on its own suggest that something is amiss here? It responds to a request for records of changes to the file by saying that no such records exist in the file. Immediately following it says that "[n]ormally" such changes are made at the request of the veteran. Is that boilerplate? Possibly. But it's an odd construction. Leading with the word "normally" suggests to me a signal to the reader that in Bush's case, perhaps changes were made outside the normal channels. The letter goes on to say that when the veteran (or his representative) makes such a request, the request must be made on certain forms to comply with federal law, which forms are then entered into the file. Then it says that in Bush's case, there is no documentation of any such change "through use of the forms described above or by informal means" (emphasis added). Again, a suggestion that Bush's records may have been altered informally. The letter does not state whether, in the abnormal case that records are changed informally, whether any documentation of the change is required, or even whether abnormal changes are legal. Is the process by which abnormal changes are made secret? Is it possible that the only informal changes that may be made are made at the behest of a government agency? An intelligence agency? At the end of this paragraph there is a break (a dramatic pause?), then a new paragraph with a single sentence stating that tampering with records is a federal crime. The sentence begins "It should be noted that..." Well, who asked about tampering? Heldt requested information about documentation of changes to the file; the SLCP indepedently brings up the issue of tampering. Again, perhaps this is boilerplate, but it seems to me that this is a quite pregnant letter. If no such documentation exists, wouldn't the appropriately responsive letter state merely that it does not exist and nothing more? Maybe this isn't good enough for a newspaper source, but to me it screams "follow the money."

Posted by: gab at February 16, 2004 07:43 AM | PERMALINK

Nice job, Kevin. It would be interesting to look at what documents that might exist within the files of other Texas Air National Guard members from the same time period. For example, what payroll records have been kept for other members that are missing from W's file?

Posted by: tmartinsmith at February 16, 2004 07:44 AM | PERMALINK

re: the "torn document" for 1972-73.

This is the AF 526 form. What is notable about this particular form is that only HALF the form is available for 72-73. The "non-creditable service period" page is not included. Nor, it should be noted, do the "cumulative totals" that SHOULD be at the bottom of the form actually on that form itself.

page 16 of http://www.usatoday.com/news/bushdocs/5-Performance_Points.pdf

compare to pages 13 and 14, which is the same form for the year 73-74

Posted by: paul lukasiak at February 16, 2004 07:54 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

good job. But Burkett also compares Bush to Napoleon, and that's absurd.

Another question: it's been noted that the originals of Bush's files were transferred to Colorado before the files in Texas were asserted to have been "cleansed". Is this confirmed? What's in the Colorado records that wasn't in the Texas records?

Posted by: MatthewRMarler at February 16, 2004 08:02 AM | PERMALINK

Let’s have another hypothesis.
Looking at the way this episode is being handled by the Bush propaganda people, it is as if they are an incompetent bunch and the past has proven that they certainly are not.
So what if Alabama is not the interesting topic but the smokescreen.
It’s hard to believe that a person like Bush would give up his status has fighter pilot willingly.
What if Bush did not “forget to ”, “was unable to ”, “knew he would not be able to fly and therefore there was no need to”, “waited for the right doctor to” take his physical.

What if he took his physical and … failed.

What would happen next, would certainly be more in keeping with what a spoiled and arrogant youngster would do:
“if I cannot fly, what am I doing here, some desk job ? No way ! I am George Walker Bush the, ace fighter pilot. Screw them, I’ am gone”.
He then leaves for, maybe, Alabama. Why Alabama ? Who knows ? Who cares ?

That leaves his father with a cleanup operation to get the record straight:
get rid of the physical, give an explanation why there is no physical, find a reason why Alabama is the right place to be and transfer him officially, and months after the fact, to some unit in Alabama.

Then, on the topic of cleansed records, what should not be found in Alabama: mention of a Texas physical that was never taken.
What if the propaganda people where caught unprepared because Alabama was never to be an issue because the paper trail had been taken care of and that it became a problem because the papers that should have proven his presence where destroyed together with any mention of the physical ?

Is this hypothesis plausible ?

Posted by: MFray at February 16, 2004 08:07 AM | PERMALINK

Easter lemming you are barking up the wrong tree on this one :

"The evidence of a disciplinary hearing is mounting. At least two documents now show that Bush's tour of duty was extended by six months."

Go back and read the document dump more thoroughly, his enlistment papers I believe. GWB was enlisted in May of 68 as an airman he resigned that enlistment and re-enlisted as a commissioned officer in Sep of 68, there's your six months.

Regards.

Posted by: ecstatic at February 16, 2004 08:08 AM | PERMALINK

Unfortunately, as much as it seems plausible, this story may not go very much farther. Already Conn is backing off. We all know how this works.

I would like to see the issue of the medical exam pursued more aggressively. There are quotes from ANG officers saying if Bush didn't take the exam that should have been questioned. He signed a commitment to fly for 5 yrs. and may have flaunted an AF regulation by not taking the exam-violating Article 92 of the UCMJ. After all, there was a lot of money spent to train him. $$ resonate with voters.

Also, I believe he was required to respond in writing when grounded. DID HE? Para 2-10, AFM35-13, Authority: para 2-29m, AFM35. Can anyone help with these. Is this the Air Force Manual and how can one find these regs?

Posted by: JG at February 16, 2004 08:08 AM | PERMALINK

Kerry: intern's TV confession
From David Gardner in Washington

femail.co.uk - 16th February 2004

A woman who claims she had an affair with presidential hopeful John Kerry has taped a kiss-and-tell interview with a U.S. TV network, it was revealed last night.

The news is the latest blow to hit John Kerry, the 60-year-old senator who is expected to be George Bush's Democrat challenger for the White House in November.

Former Washington intern Alex Polier, a 24-year-old journalist, is said to have recorded the potentially explosive interview over Christmas.

The network is reportedly sitting on the tape while it carries out its own probe into her claims.

Polier, who works for the Associated Press news agency, is now in Kenya on holiday, allegedly at the behest of married father-of-two Kerry, until the storm blows over.

But an American TV executive said: "She wants to tell her story.

"She is claiming this is a two-year affair. The problem is that no one is believing her."

Posted by: kevin drum should get on the case.... at February 16, 2004 08:14 AM | PERMALINK

"What the freepers have done on some of these threads is the equivalent of going into a room and shouting down a speaker."

I'm definitely no fan of the trolls, but I would disagree with that. In a room, in person, is very different situation; you cannot tune out a screaming idiot, but you CAN scroll past an obvious troll.
Most of the "noise" on a blog comes from the locals "shouting down" a troll that they wouldn't "hear" at all, if they didn't want to.
OK, all together now...DFTT!

Posted by: Goober at February 16, 2004 08:16 AM | PERMALINK

Now maybe I missed it in your analysis Kevin, but when were Bush's Guard Records sent to Colorado.

If the records were sent before the Burkett alledged scenario (which I believe they were) and Bush has provided records both from Texas and Colorado, any material discrepancies between the two sets of records would be your "smoking gun".

A simple straight forward analysis as compare to your continued humping of Burkett.

Posted by: Timmy the Wonder Dog at February 16, 2004 08:16 AM | PERMALINK

Seems the real story may be here:

[Helen] Thomas had gotten a tip that Bush might have been absent from duty in Alabama because he was performing court-ordered community service in Texas in 1972. She asked McClellan if that was accurate.

According to reporters in the press room, McClellan got red-faced and became so angry, it looked to some as if he were ready to pounce. He characterized the question as coming from “gutter politics.”

http://washingtonian.com/inwashington/buzz/mcclellan0204.html

Must have got that community service gig for littering, loitering, or something like that is my guess. Repeat after me, it was not cocaine, the no-show physical, move to AL, was not about cocaine.

Posted by: chris/tx at February 16, 2004 08:19 AM | PERMALINK

wow

I just read Burkett's diatribe where he wrote of Bush, Napoleon, and "Adolf" -- the 3 small men. He predicted 120,000 deaths in the Iraqi war.

And you find him credible? Well, I daresay that most professional journalists have come across guys like him lots of times. And he claims to have had a central nervous system infection, has terrible headaches and he had to learn to walk all over again -- but his memories are perfectly clear and accurate?

This is not evidence.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler at February 16, 2004 08:19 AM | PERMALINK

Appalled Moderate said:

"The problem is, there is not enough here to sustain an accusation or an investigation."

Compare and contrast. Remember what kicked off the Whitewater investigation? The unsubstantiated allegation by a convicted felon (later learned to be in the pay of a crazed billionaire on a get-Clinton vendetta) that 20 years ago, then-Governor Clinton 'pressured' him to approve a loan to Susan McDougal.

That was enough to set the Republican dogs howling that an investigation was necessary to get to the bottom of this incredibly disturbing story.

Yes, at the moment this is a he said - he said story, but so was Whitewater at the beginning, and it was considered worth throwing over 40 million dollars at over a period of 8 years, for allegations that were substantially less serious than these.

Currently we have an allegation on the table that operatives acting on behalf of the Governor of Texas destroyed official government records and were later rewarded with high level federal government positions. That doesn't merit investigation? I think it does.

And I find it a lot more plausible that Allbaugh and James would deny the story if it were true, than that Burkett would make it up if it were false.

What I would really like to know is - would they REPEAT those denials under oath in the knowledge that their 1970s clerical staffs were also under subpeona?

Posted by: jlh at February 16, 2004 08:23 AM | PERMALINK

Excellent work, please continue.

One thing that I am curious about: to me Bush's whole Alabama adventure smacks of romance, if only because he stayed there after the election. I noticed in Jean Sullivan's story that Bush lived in her house for awhile and only occasionally had a beer or two, etc., yeah right. I just think there's a romance in Alabama somewhere that is a string dying to be pulled on.

Posted by: Lew Beach at February 16, 2004 08:25 AM | PERMALINK

Unless he was caught with his face down in a large supply of colombian nose powder, a supply of stolen national guard guns, money from various bank jobs in his pocket, and a dead hamster embalmed in semen from three different men stuck in his rectum, I can't really conceive of anything that would hurt him as badly as staying silent on this does.

ROTFLMAO

Posted by: Matthew Saroff at February 16, 2004 08:25 AM | PERMALINK

"Haven't the national guard records-destroyers ever heard of a shredder? And if Burkett found the files in a trash can, why didn't he pull them out and keep them?"

Just a technical note: many government offices that work with large numbers of documents use cans or bags to collect waste documents for destruction. It used to be (and may still be) cheaper to have one large shredder serving many offices than small shredders at each desk. With a centralized shredder it is more efficient to carry a can with 20 documents to the shredder than to make 20 trips in the course of the day.

Posted by: S wapiti at February 16, 2004 08:28 AM | PERMALINK

is there any remaining significance to the fact that certain evidence of W's NG duty is found in ARF records - which has been described as a "paper unit".

no one is referring to this anymore.

but if W was transferred to a "paper unit" how could anyone have seen him in AL, why would he have allegedly gone back to Houston, what was the reason for being transferred to a "paper unit", how does one acquire service points while serving in a "paper unit", etc etc.

the ARF issue is an important part of the contradictory evidence - unless it's been resolved, and I missed it. anyone?

Posted by: Wendy at February 16, 2004 08:29 AM | PERMALINK

Backing up s wapiti - I was in the Navy in the late seventies and NO offices then had office shredders. They had burn bags, which is probably what Burkett was talking about when he said he saw the papers in the 'trash'. At the end of the day, the burn bags would be collected and taken to the large shredder in the basement. As for why Burkett didn't take the documents out of the trash - DUH! Because the guy who put them in the trash was standing right there!

Posted by: jlh at February 16, 2004 08:34 AM | PERMALINK

I continue to follow this story because it continues to raise so many questions.

I talked with a WWII vet last night and asked him about his military experience. (We both had the same response, mine from Vietnam.) We could remember in great detail the barracks, the office we worked in, the layout of the base, the names and background information of hundreds of people we served with, some only for a few days, and the bars we frequented in various states and countries both home and abroad.

In one article, one of Bushes commanders remembers him as a man with a good sense of humor and a great memory. So, what happened to the memory? And what happened to the memories of at least dozens of other people that could come forward and say, "I served with the president in Alabama."

What happened to the records? I suspect they got cleaned too much. I doubt anyone will find the "missing pages" but removing too much was as big a mistake as leaving too much.

What happened here is that not only did a rich and priveleged boy use his daddy to get into the guard ahead of hundreds of others, use his daddy to get him his promotion to officer without the proper procedures, and use his connections to cover for him about whatever was in the records that is no longer there, but George W. Bush keeps treating the American people like idiots thinking his position will make it all go away.(Hasn't it always done so inthe past??)

Powell said one of the issues with the Vietnam war was exactly this, that the rich and powerful found ways out of not serving while the poor served and died. This created a wedge between the wealthy and regular Americans. This is just one of the many ways Bush continues to demonstrate that he does not have a clue what the American people want or need.

By the way, Norman, two comments.

We will take a look at John Kerry when he is the President, when he has put the economy is in the toilet, when he has sent 500 people to die in Iraq, when he has alienated most of our alies, when he has undermined the UN, when he has lost more jobs than almost any president in history, when he has lied about and distorted intellegence, etc, etc, etc. (I know it is improper to use "etc more than once, but it does rightly express that Bushes list goes on and on and on and on.)

To quote Rush Limbaugh, "If you did it, then you are guilty."

As to the personal attack on Kevin, I loved the post. It shows how much this journalism is effective and how scared the bushies are that sooner or later, some of this is going to sprout legs and stick. Kevin, thank you for your continued efforts. God bless.

Jon

Posted by: jon at February 16, 2004 08:38 AM | PERMALINK

jlh:

And, as we all know, Whitewater was a total and utter crock, and a waste of taxpayers money. Are you asserting that this is not the case? Revenge is not a particularly good justification for policy.

The challenges the nation faces are not trivial. Barring something beyond he said, she said, the cahrges made here are unverifiable speculation -- and, in the great scheme of things, are trivial.

Posted by: appalled moderate at February 16, 2004 08:39 AM | PERMALINK

but if W was transferred to a "paper unit" how could anyone have seen him in AL, why would he have allegedly gone back to Houston, what was the reason for being transferred to a "paper unit", how does one acquire service points while serving in a "paper unit", etc etc.

Shrub was transferred to the "paper unit" ("inactive status") effective September 15, 1973, according to the 73-74 AF 526 form. This is after he accumulated all of the "points" he got for service.

And one does not accumulate points once ones status is changed to "inactive". You don't even get all your yearly "gratuitous" points if your status is changed to inactive---you only get a portion of those points, based upon days of service within the "service year."

Posted by: paul lukasiak at February 16, 2004 08:40 AM | PERMALINK

If you look at the NGB-22, the "36-05" is clearly a reference to ANGR 36-05, the regulation governing ANG administrative separations and discharges. Not an SPN code. The SPN codes I am seeing in the available online lists do not contain dashes.

Posted by: xfrosch at February 16, 2004 08:41 AM | PERMALINK

xfrosch,

On the line where his HD is mentioned (which was blacked out in 2000, btw) and also on Special Order 158, it references ANGR 36-05, which is the relevant reg they discharged him under.

It has to do with things like:

*being unfit for duty
*drunkenness
*disease

and also not having "status" which could be explained by his having missed a physical?

BUT, there is also on that same line, the following "PTI 961", which is Personnel Transaction Identifier #961, which is either:

*A form of some kind
*A code of some kind
*Just random crap someone typed on an officers discharge.

I don't think it's random crap. I think it's a code of some kind.

Now, finding out what that code means is tricky. If it's a SPN code (or the NG equivalent of), good luck, since the DOD is very silent about those once they realized that millions of vets might want to know what their SPN means, and could generate a crippling amount of paperwork and lawsuits if they let people go back and revise them.

There IS a form you can file to revise yours, but you have to file it. It generates forms, as usual, which would presumably be in ones records.

If 961 is a form that is to be filed with his discharge (which is what PTI sounds like to me), where is it?

Also, the fact that this line is blacked out in his 2000 release, but not blacked out in the 2004 release is also interesting.

Posted by: Monkey at February 16, 2004 08:52 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

Atta boy! I myself have come to the same conclusions posted above, and your follow-up analysis and reading resemble my own.

Some observations: First, the James Moore book, which covers the Burkett story among others things, is already up on Amazon for release in a matter of weeks. I predict it will give further credence to your reporting here.

Second, I saw Burkett on Chris Matthews's "Hardball" last week. He was careful with his words. He was appropriately grave. I was impressed.

Third, I read Burkett's "Vets for Peace" article, posted above, in which he does in fact attempt, among other things, to draw some lame historical parallels to Napoleon and "Adolph." I've been editing for about 27 years now--university press books, national security, foreign affairs, military history. Mr. Bukett is a recognizable military type, for whom whistle blowing does not come naturally. A brush with death, however, and firsthand experience with injustice and vindictiveness have altered him. And altered his view of the world.

He has an important story to tell but he possesses no native skill as a writer and no training as a historian or journalist. He submitted an emotion-laden draft, which Vets for Peace published without any editing. Too bad. But these shortcomings are NOT the same thing as lying. This is why the James Moore book is so important, as Moore from all reports CAN write.

We have not heard the end of Bill Burkett.

Posted by: PaxR55 at February 16, 2004 08:59 AM | PERMALINK

The problem with your "forensic journalism" is the question. It's not if Burkett's story is consistent but if it is true. Since you are making an assumption it is true without collaborating, first-hand evidence, you cannot call this forensic journalism but blatant advocacy. Unfortunately, as we saw with President Bill Clinton, consistency of story does not automatically equal the truth. Just because someone tells the same story to a variety of people does not make it true.

You are taking a person with a clear axe to grind (that has amazing ability to "accidently overhear" conversations at the right times) and making their story the basis for a very serious charge not only against President Gerorge Bush but a member of the military and a staffer. The major holes in this grasp for credibility is that Allbaugh strongly disputes even knowing Burkett and that Burkett has been shopping this story after he failed to use it successfully to extort government officials. Also if you are sneaky, mean, evil Republican operative, would you leave a trashcan on a table top loaded with 30 or 40 documents clearly showing George W. Bush's name? Heck, no! On page 135 of the Sneaky, Mean, Evil Republican Operative Handbook (Regent Press) it clearly states that all incriminating documents that might be observed by failed extortionists with axes to grind must be shredded and disposed of in a black trash bag not left on a table top in a trashcan for any casual passer-by to observe. This table top trashcan story doesn't even pass the giggle test. Why would someone need to put a trashcan on a table top to put documents in?

By publishing this article, you are now publicly accusing Joe Allbaugh and Lt. General Daniel James of committing a serious felony based on the "consistency" of a flimsy story told by one man with an axe to grind. Neither of these men, you interviewed in the process. Yet, you will be believe an extortionist over both of these men. Keep it up! Bush couldn't ask for better political oppenents.

Posted by: soy bomb at February 16, 2004 09:05 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

Soy Bomb is trying the old "reverse psychology" on you. When he says "Keep it up!" he is actually desparately hoping you will stop.

Keep up the good work -- seriously!

Posted by: 71077345 at February 16, 2004 09:12 AM | PERMALINK

ion, which state are you living in? The recession started in March 2000, before the election. Since the election, the stock market, generally viewed as a lagging indicator on the economy, is almost back to the level before the 2000 election.
The household income survey shows a large INCREASE in employment. Many of those in the self employed catagory. The tax cuts are giving many more people refunds this year over last. The EIC is reaching more people than ever.

The country experienced an attack not on our soil not seen in 60 years. You didn't expect us to respond? You apparently think the invasion of Iraq was incorrect? Ask the millions of Kurds and Shiites who were freed and the thousands who have avoided being killed by Saddams Ba'athist party since last March. There is a multitude of evidence of Saddam's contacts and support of various terrorist groups. In case you hadn't heard, they hate us.

Undermine the U.N.? When was the last time the U.N. did something that substantially promoted peace? Bosnia, Rwanda? E. Timor? N. Korea? They punted every time. Do you desire the same as Kerry, that we get permission from the U.N. before we send forces around the world? That we get permission from France and Russia?
They were the ones who told Saddam that they would stop the U.S. from taking military action.

Over 60% of the people think we were correct in our actions in Iraq. It is a war isn't it? Or do you subscribe to Sen. Kerry's idea that this is a law enforcement and intelligence affair?

Posted by: Meatss at February 16, 2004 09:12 AM | PERMALINK

"GWB was enlisted in May of 68 as an airman he resigned that enlistment and re-enlisted as a commissioned officer in Sep of 68, there's your six months."

In the first place, Enlisted Personnel are never alloweed to "resign"...Bush's discharge as an enlisted man would have been back-dated to the day before he was commissioned...

In any event, the change would have had no effect on his "getting out" (discharge) date...Everyone was obligated for six years...

Six years from May of '68 would have been May of '74...

The extra six months indicates that Bush was transferred to the ARF in November of '72...

(Two years in the ARF being the minimum "punishment" for failure to perform his duty)

Posted by: D.R. Marvel at February 16, 2004 09:15 AM | PERMALINK

The country experienced an attack not on our soil not seen in 60 years. You didn't expect us to respond?

Sick of hearing this about Iraq.

Repeat after me: THERE WERE NO IRAQIS INVOLVED IN 9/11.

How many times do you people need to hear this?

They were all Saudis. Now, unless you have EVIDENCE to back up your conflation (big word, go look it up), please, stop lumping Iraq and 9/11 together.

Afghanistan: 9/11
Iraq: WMD

That was the justification for Iraq. WMD.

Not 9/11.

Even Bush has admitted that there were no ties between the two. Eventually. After it was dragged out of him.

Posted by: Monkey at February 16, 2004 09:17 AM | PERMALINK

Here's just a theory as to why Bush was grounded - maybe he pulled some stunt in the air with James Bath while they were flying - although Bath's name is redacted on Bush's suspension from flying paperwork in the whitehouse dump, it does appear on the document in the coldfeet archive.

We know Bush and Bath were friends and later business associates. It's odd that they both "failed to take a physical exam" at the same time. I think Bath had been in the ANG since '61 so why would he all of the sudden flake out and miss this exam?

Whatever happened to Bush could have involved Bath. And the AF would have taken a stunt in the air very seriously and something they would not have put up with. Bowing to political pressure they papered over it and just washed their hands of Bush.

Here's the url for the coldfeet archieve

http://users.cis.net/coldfeet/document.htm

Posted by: ritikatootie at February 16, 2004 09:18 AM | PERMALINK

Concur with Next Step. It would be interesting to take the names of the players in this story and see where they are today as it relates to their positive/negative involvement with bushies. As in, Bath-very wealthy today (due to lots of saudi connections provided by bushies immediately following incident in Texas NG and at a very young age), LLoyd-head of US NG now, Hatfield-dead, Burkett-discredited etc... This is precisely why the story is not about 30 years ago but right now.

OT, why did Karen Hughes leave at what should have been the apex of her career? (and she was VERY much a career women and appeared to be very loyal to GWB). The "I want to spend more time with my family and I want to go back to Texas" is completely understandable, but working for GWB would mean lots of time in Texas. Did Rove/Cheney think she had too much influence on GWB, too much sane influence?

Posted by: Mary Ellen Moore at February 16, 2004 09:19 AM | PERMALINK

You rock, Kevin.

If nothing else, this scandal has exposed Bush for the cowardly weaselly little shit he is. I didn't know anything about the physical when the whole thing started, and getting grounded was/is enough for me. The man is an insult to the uniform.

The alleged scrubbing, I don't know. Seems an he said/she said to me.

Trolls: if your Bush could fuck stripper Tammy in 97 you certainly should be able to put up with Kerry's alledged affairs, if any. Get a life.

Posted by: Lupin at February 16, 2004 09:19 AM | PERMALINK

not sure that there's anything here, but here's an opinion from the Texas Attorney General regarding the legality of involuntarily discharging an oficer for blowing off training.

It says some interesting things about Texas ANGR 36-05.

I think that in order to dig much deeper in this hole, we're going to have to find someone in Texas who can get his/her hands on the regulation itself.

Posted by: xf at February 16, 2004 09:24 AM | PERMALINK

Actually, I am using double, secret reverse psychology. To the aluminum haberdashery crowd, it appears to be reverse psychology. This is a winning issue for Bush. Every time Bush's political opponents have tried to smear him as a deserter or AWOL, he won the election.

Posted by: soy bomb at February 16, 2004 09:26 AM | PERMALINK

as I`ve posted before I would NOT be surprised if the "powers that be" are/will try to paint G.W. Bush as a undercover agent for intelligence during the times in question

Actually, I pointed this out as another possible nutcase conspiracy theory some time ago.

Posted by: Charlie (Colorado) at February 16, 2004 09:26 AM | PERMALINK

71077345 - If you ever need access again to Houston Chronicle archives, email me and will you give you my free subscriber login.

Posted by: chris/tx at February 16, 2004 09:27 AM | PERMALINK

It would be interesting to see if Bath's discharge papers also had a 36-05 on them:)

Marky, you moron, Bush's discharge papers are in that packet. You can see them at USA Today's site.

Posted by: Charlie (Colorado) at February 16, 2004 09:28 AM | PERMALINK

Cool. You're taking the word of a guy who has been contradicted (sorry, Kevin, but "yeah I talked to him and he didnt' say any such thing at the time" is not corroboration, it's contradiction) by his so-called "witnesses" about the destruction of records which were never stored where he said he saw them, and which had been on microfiche in Denver for years when he claimed he saw paper copies being destroyed in Austin.

You sure the explanation isn't space alien mind control?

Posted by: Charlie (Colorado) at February 16, 2004 09:35 AM | PERMALINK

Mike,

If you are still around here's the line from Burkett's piece in which he compares Bush and Hitler(in addition to Napoleon).


We must examine the ruthless and dictatorial rise of yet another of the three small men—one whose name is not spoken out of fear of reprisal, but his name was Adolf.

Posted by: spc67 at February 16, 2004 09:37 AM | PERMALINK

Well, I don't know nothin' about nothin', really, but I seem to recally having heard that in terms of witnesses testifying in a jury trial situation, a story which stays *perfectly* consistent over time is probably coached, and a lie. Human memory is a destructive process, and so that which is remembered is likely to change in some degree over time.

Posted by: Ulrika O'Brien at February 16, 2004 09:39 AM | PERMALINK

Appalled moderate:

"And, as we all know, Whitewater was a total and utter crock, and a waste of taxpayers money. Are you asserting that this is not the case? Revenge is not a particularly good justification for policy. "

You're darn right I'm asserting that is not the case here!

Can you genuinely not see the difference?

First - what if David Hale's story had turned out to be true? So what? What do you do with it? Was Hale rewarded with some high level position by the Clinton administration? Were Susan or Jim McDougal?

With this story, on the other hand, both Allbaugh and James were given high level Bush administration positions, and while Allbaugh has gone on to a lucrative lobbying career, James is still there, in overall command of the Air National Guard. If it turns out to be true that he destroyed government documents to prevent 'embarrassment' to a political figure and was subsequently rewarded for that action, there ARE steps to take with that knownledge.

No, I don't think that's 'trivial' at all, not while James remains where he is with these charges unanswered.

Soybomb:

"The major holes in this grasp for credibility is that Allbaugh strongly disputes even knowing Burkett"

Uh-huh. Allbaugh also 'strongly disputed' strongarming Texas state regulator Eliza May to get her to back off her investigation of a big contributing Bush crony. Interesting that the state of Texas settled out of court for a rather hefty sum to make her wrongful termination lawsuit go away before Bush could be put under oath.

Posted by: jlh at February 16, 2004 09:44 AM | PERMALINK

I can fully understand Burkett sitting on the cleansing of Bush's files and having no intention to reveal that it happened until he found himself in a life threatening situation and only having recourse to use what he knew in an extortive way. He had nothing to lose at that point, while before, at the time when the cleansing occurred, he had everything to loose. He would have had to name names of associates and the political machine would have crushed him. His whole world would come tumbling down around him. It was too big for him at the time to even contemplate exposing. When he had nothing to lose he became dangerous. Men with nothing to lose are the most dangerous, and desparate measures for desparate times, sums it up.

Posted by: Carswell at February 16, 2004 09:45 AM | PERMALINK


If there are arrests out there, other than the tickets and college-prank incident, wouldn't they have come to light by now? Especially if W was sentenced to community service? I imagine that whoever was running PUSH in Houston in 1972/1973 would know why they guy showed up on their doorstep...

Posted by: bling at February 16, 2004 09:51 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

Excellent reporting. I suggest you pursue the James Bath linkage a little deeper.

The Houston Chronicle reports referring to James Bath, linked by SHELLOIL above, are quite thought-provoking.

The federal review stems in part from court documents obtained through litigation by Bill White, a former real estate business associate of Bath.

The very same Bill White, if I'm not mistaken, who is now the newly elected Mayor of Houston.

White contends the documents indicate that the Saudis were using Bath and their huge financial resources to influence U.S. policy.

Such representation by Bath would require that he be registered as a foreign agent with the U.S. Department of Justice. In general, people required by law to be registered are those who represent a foreign entity seeking to influence governmental action or policy.

An Annapolis graduate and former Navy fighter pilot, White, 46, claims that Bath and the judicial system, under the veil of national security, have blackballed him professionally and financially because he has refused to keep quiet about what he regards as a conspiracy to secretly funnel Saudi dollars to the United States.

White became entangled in a series of lawsuits and countersuits with Bath, who for some six years has prevailed in the courts. White says the legal action has financially devasted him and Venturcorp Inc., the real estate development company in which he and Bath were partners.

The story goes on to link Bath to a little group called BCCI, and to identify him as the Houston business representative for Binladen and Brothers Construction of Saudi Arabia.

Yes that bin Laden.

Googling 'BCCI' is not recommended for the faint of heart, but as this exercise shows, you pick one little scab on the Bush family history, and some really icky-colored pus starts oozing out.

(Try not to get it all over your keyboard.)

Posted by: melior at February 16, 2004 10:02 AM | PERMALINK

Bling - The people at *PULL* in 72' are not talking, or have denied it. The community service was supposedly done under the youthful offenders sentencing, which means it is expunged from your record after meeting the guidelines of your sentence. My read is Poppy buried this one so deep that it would take a policeman or someone connected with the police department to come forward for any of this to ever see the light of day.

Posted by: chris/tx at February 16, 2004 10:03 AM | PERMALINK

"Bottom line: all three of Burkett's sources have confirmed his story."

Bullshit. That line should properly read:

Bottom line: all three of Burkett's sources have confirmed THAT HE TOLD THEM HIS STORY.

Big fucking difference.

Posted by: joey at February 16, 2004 10:05 AM | PERMALINK

One of the AP pieces last week quoted a Republican woman as saying that Bush was sick in bed for two weeks, while in Bama in 72, and it had nothing to do with alcohol.

What the hell was that about? How many 26 year olds in apparently good health are sick in bed for two weeks? Hopefully those who are still on this story are trying to flesh out this issue.

The same woman also claimed that Bush later told her that he only drank alcohol in 1972. Riiiiiiiiiiiiight....

More importantly ... I find it more than a bit peculiar that just when everyone and their dog in the media/blogosphere started talking to people in Alabama about GW and 72, the White House all of a sudden releases the "rest" of the file. Tip of the hat to the White House on that one -- good job of throwing a bone to the slobbering dogs so the Bush operatives can go back to Bama, when nobody's looking, and put the candy into a different candy jar.

Posted by: Rush Bush at February 16, 2004 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

melior - BCCI, boy have you stumbled over a web that reaches who knows where. When I was working in the Middle East in the late 80's, people in the know just shook their heads about this one. It went to the highest levels in the Saudi govt, and the stuff they were financing almost makes AQ look like boy scouts.

Posted by: chris/tx at February 16, 2004 10:09 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin -

Nice work, and though this is so far down the comment list that few will notice, let me take issue with one small part of your entry:

"What's more, Conn has a distinct memory of visiting the base museum with Burkett, but when I asked him the purpose of the visit he said, "it wasn't an anything visit." It's hardly plausible, however, that he would have such a specific memory of a "nothing" meeting seven years later. He'd only remember it if something noteworthy happened there.

I see this kind of reasoning quite a bit and it drives me crazy. I have memories of all sorts of random things, and I forget some significant ones. Let me suggest a few reasons someone might remember a "nothing" meeting.

1. The event was a break in the daily or weekly routine at the time.
2. It was associated with someone he had a particular fondness for (or was repulsed by).
3. It was associated with another date, like a holiday, birthday, or anniversary, providing a linking memory.
4. The memory of the meeting was prompted by thinking about a chain of events relating to a particular person, time, or place. Conn could be describing what was a "nothing" meeting at the time, but when placed in the context of a string of events, the meeting became significant, or at least memorable.
5. Perhaps Conn has a remarkable memory for events. Some people apparently do have this talent.

For more about memory, try this link: http://www.memory-key.com/EverydayMemory/autobiographical_memory.htm

In short, the brain is a funny thing and its rules are complex. A simple statement like "People only remember things that have a particular significance that I, the observer, can know and describe" is probably wrong, and I would be cautious about basing conclusions on this kind of reaoning.

That said, this is hardly a linchpin of your general argument, and I find the rest of what you wrote quite fair and compelling. You just hit on one of my pet peeves, you know?

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

In yet another curious coincidence, the primary author of the final report on BCCI by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was none other than...
...Sen. John Kerry.

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

You forgot double dissimilarity as one of your tests.

Posted by: derek g at February 16, 2004 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

To all those chasing this extra six months tacked onto his enlistment as a punishment crap.

You are wasting valuable effort and you are playing into the hands of the GWB apologists by repeating this clearly disprovable nonsense.

Get on the real case.

Hammer home how he got in the guard in the 1st place

Hammer home his Fratboy attitude to service post '71

Hammer home discrepancies between the records released and statements of his surrogates, supporters and "witnesses

Hammer home the contrast between his service and service in the guard today

His image is everything and that image must be changed in the mind of the voting public (at least the swingvote) to have any hope of wining this election in november and it won't be if you continue on this path.

Having got that of my chest here is the link for those to lazy to look it up themselves :

http://www.usatoday.com/news/bushdocs/1-Enlistment_Packet.pdf

Page 4

Posted by: ecstatic at February 16, 2004 10:30 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin:

What an outstanding post and an outstanding job you have been doing. I'm especially impressed by how your post demonstrates the value of the blogs. You're becoming my favorite blogger.

Posted by: tings at February 16, 2004 10:32 AM | PERMALINK

I had not seen this document:
http://www.usatoday.com/news/bushdocs/5-Performance_Points.pdf

Page 13 does indicate that for the year ending 73-09-15 he did only recieve 5 gratuitous points for being active in the Guard. This contradicts the very first document the White House released which showed he only fulfilled his obligations by getting 15 gratuitous points for 1973.

Thank p. lukasiak for pointing this out.

Posted by: Easter Lemming Liberal News Digest at February 16, 2004 10:33 AM | PERMALINK

Regarding the National Guard's record keeping, as noted elsewhere, that's notoriously spotty even today, as is the entire NG pay system. There are National Guardsmen in Iraq right now who *still* aren't getting their Active Duty pay, whose families, already hurting because of the pay cut from their spouses' civilian job, end up losing their homes and cars and being homeless because of the Pentagon's incompetence. (Source: Col. David Hackworth, http://www.sftt.org ).

In other words, while it's worth following up on this story, I personally don't see anything particularly spotty about Bush's records -- at least, not until early 1972, where he skips his flight medical and "disappears" for 6 months. That *HAD* to have generated some paper, disciplinary hearings, etc... none of which are in the document dump, from what I'm reading in the WaPost and NY Times. But those records would be maintained at the archives in Colorado too, so if there's any "scrubbing" involved, it's occuring *NOW*, not in 1997.

Posted by: BadTux at February 16, 2004 10:39 AM | PERMALINK

Nice to know some of you recognized James Bath's name in regards to BCCI. Now, guess who chaired the Senate committee investigating BCCI in the early 90's? You guessed it, John Kerry

Posted by: ritikatootie at February 16, 2004 10:40 AM | PERMALINK

Oh, one other thing: Until 1991, the NG was notorious as the place to party. It was never seriously considered to call them up for duty for anything other than handling the aftermath of a natural disaster. Then Bush I called them up for duty in Saudi Arabia.... and all [BLEEP!] broke loose as folks in the NG realized that hey, we could actually get KILLED! The slackers left in droves after that. The NG since then has been far more professional, though the ghost soldiers problem still remains, as does the problem of the poor leadership of the NG (since governors, not the military, appoints NG officers, generally for political reasons).

Posted by: BadTux at February 16, 2004 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

LOL---i see that Charlie is in his usual (off) form.
I made a comment about Bath's discharge papers and Charlie said "you moron, you can see BUSH's discharge papers online"
Ho ho ho.
It's a wonder the guy can tie his shoes...

Posted by: Marky at February 16, 2004 10:52 AM | PERMALINK


The people at *PULL* in 72' are not talking, or have denied it. The community service was supposedly done under the youthful offenders sentencing, which means it is expunged from your record after meeting the guidelines of your sentence.

Ah. Thanks Chirs/tx.

Posted by: bling at February 16, 2004 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

I'm another one to whom Burkett gave his account of the 1997 Camp Mabry document purge.


It must be added that there was a second sweep of the Bush records in 1999.

This is verified by Albert Lloyd, who admits to finding three documents during that sweep, two of which are now included in the national archives.


Posted by: Martin Heldt at February 16, 2004 11:23 AM | PERMALINK

Some comments. Going back for a second pass, it's developed into a screed. Apologies, although I'd rather read a screed than roll a troll anyday.

marky (11:07pm): I absolutely agree about the variation between individual journalists. In fact, from my experience all along, I'd say that most journalists are hard-working, care about the facts, and care about their craft. I don't want to point the finger at individual journalists.

Rather, I want to point the finger at the editorial process and the present-day culture of journalism, the one that routinely posts Judith Miller's crap to page A1 of the NYT, the one that honors her with a Pulitzer, and of course the one that saturation-bombs us with Janet Jackson's tit while tucking a great many important stories where the majority of Americans won't see them. It is rotten, it stinks, and work like Kevin's is the breath of fresh air that exposes it.

That said, so far the legal case that Bush did not fulfill his duty is weak. The reason it's weak, of course, is that the documentation is sparse, confusing, and arguably incomplete. If this were a court case, I'd have to move for dismissal.

But it's not a court case. Because of the amazing fact that this country is a democracy, this November we get to decide who we want as president. We get to use whichever criterion we like. We can carefully review the policies and actions of the candidates. We can vote for the cutest one, or the one with the least pretentious haircut. We can blindly follow some leader who tells us what to think and who to vote for.

Or, as probably most of us will do, we will bask ourselves in the rich tapestry of narrative about the candidates. Who and what do they stand for? How credible is their word? When pople have had dealings with the candidate, how did that turn out? Why? When? Where?

Of the many threads within this tapestry, some will be believable, some will be uncontested fact, some will have good documentation, and others will be mere tales told to further someone's agenda. We'll sort it out, because as political animals that's what we do. We'll make mistakes, and sometimes be gulled by people who are far better at manipulating the Approved Script than we are at sorting it out, but overall I think we'll do an okay job.

To the Bush supporters here, that means your man is in deep fucking trouble. Many, many compelling threads of narrative paint him as a boy of privilege, learning to fly fighter jets for fun but not being ready to give back to his country by maintaining readiness. Someone who's happy to crow about real and perceived accomplishments, but shifty and vague when confronted with shortcomings. Someone who rewards unquestioning loyalty with the same perks of privilege he became accustomed to as a boy, but metes out payback to those who hold to a higher standard than personal loyalty to George W Bush with no compunctions about how nasty the payback looks or is. Withholding medical care from people serving honorably in the military service, just because the man says something which might be politically damaging? That's low. Burkett may well be a raving lunatic, and it's still low.

These narratives are, of course, the tip of the iceberg. Most people do not have the stomach to sort through Harken, BCCI, the economics of the tax cuts, the extent to which Bush has placed pressure on the EPA to distort the science behind global warming and other serious environmental issues, the internal details of how intelligence fliters through the "community" and informs the decision-making process, etc. etc. etc. But they can and do understand that the man lies, makes promises he has absolutely no intention to keep, and does his best to shirk any form of debate or critical inquiry into his policies and actions.

I have no idea to what extent the mainstream press will fall in line with Karl Rove's wish that none of this narrative comes to the attention of voters this fall. Fortunately, we're not dependent on them.

So, Bush supporters, do your best with the reverse psychology. Call as much attention as possible to the lunatic ravings of Burkett in his March 23, 2003 Veteran's For Peace speech. Let the readers balance the pessimistic, but largely accurate predictions about the war against the fact that Burkett unquestionably has a personal axe to grind against Bush, Cheney, and their cronies. Then let them read Burkett's eloquent words about _why_ he's got that personal axe to grind in the first place. Let them pick up one more thread in the tapestry of narratives that, while (so far) falling short of a solid legal case for impeaching our president, show your man to be, yes, small, and certain to be judged harshly by the history.

In other words, bring it on.

Posted by: Raph Levien at February 16, 2004 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

Great post, Ralph. Logic, insight, great writing.

And Martin, thanks for your remarks, too.

I agree. The candidate with the best narrative will win this November. Thanks to Kevin and a few other journalists, Americans are FINALLY on to Bush's essential phoniness!

Posted by: PaxR55 at February 16, 2004 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

Many, many compelling threads of narrative paint him as a boy of privilege, learning to fly fighter jets for fun but not being ready to give back to his country by maintaining readiness.

Right on, Ralph.

Regardless of whether he was AWOL or records were scrubbed, the above is still completely true.

Posted by: Bakelite Lung at February 16, 2004 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

One thing which would help the narrative is to have a story that illustrates how out of touch Bush is with the economic concerns of ordinary Americans. To my mind, he's even less attuned to the plight of the middle and lower classes than his father, but I'm not sure that the public has the same perception. Is there something like a
"Shrub in supermarket" moment for this election?

Posted by: marky at February 16, 2004 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

paul lukasiak -
maybe I am being thick - but I think the ARF issue may be an important part of the story, that is being overlooked. as Kevin notes in a post last week, ARF is a "paper unit" and W appears to have actually somehow been transferred there, beginning Oct '72 - the "torn document" (now untorn, and provided on this site at http://www.calpundit.com/archives/003220.html) reflects that points accrued during the 72-73 period, are ARF points. So when people talk about only 6 months being missing - they mean May - Sept. 72, and assume service resumes thereafter. but that "service" thereafter is actually service at a "paper unit" - ?!?! AFTER that 6 months, he was accruing points at a "paper unit" - i.e., it seems he was doing zero, zip, nada to accumulate those points.

or have I missed the explanation for the fact that the saving grace 72-73 service is described on an ARF (paper unit) doc?

Posted by: Wendy at February 16, 2004 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

I say, send that boy to Harvard. To the psychology department, where they use fMRI to study the detection of truth and lying, as follows:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=12853369&dopt=Abstract

Neural correlates of different types of deception: an fMRI investigation.
Ganis G, Kosslyn SM, Stose S, Thompson WL, Yurgelun-Todd DA.
Department of Psychology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA.

Posted by: Anna at February 16, 2004 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

Wendy, Right.

See http://www.usatoday.com/news/bushdocs/1-Enlistment_Packet.pdf

on p. 16 of the 33 pages of ANG documents linked above, Bush signed a pro forma "understanding" about the terms of his NG service. See in particular clause j in this memo of understanding, where there is a clear threat (and clearer explanation of) an ARF posting in the event of unsatisfactory service.

Bush appears to have pulled an ARF posting. So this points to unsatisfactory service. The question is: WHAT HAPPENED?

Can someone else explain the wording there for us?

Posted by: PaxR55 at February 16, 2004 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

Pax,
let me give you the winger view:
This was all normal, pro forma, happens all the time kind of stuff. There were literally millions of people in the service who were honorably discharged just like Bush. You guys are barking up the wrong tree, so I'm going to fetch some ----Wait, over there! An intern!!! FEMALE! IN the same state as KERRY!!!!

Well, I have been life-long Democrat, but now i'm going to vote for Bush, and all because of Kevin Drum.

Posted by: marky at February 16, 2004 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

Obviously, Burkett's statements can't ever be proven unless everyone involved comes clean. Just as obviously, that's never gonna happen.

However, Burkett's statements do serve to make sense out of the whole thing. The burning question is: "What is Bush hiding?"

I think what he's hiding is a cover-up of what is, in all likelihood, just some youthful indescretion (booze, insolense, a refusal to take the physical because of what it might reveal). But, as is so often the case with lies, it has now spun out control, and he can't back down from it.

Whether it goes anywhere from here or not, I think it's taken the bloom of the lilly. The press corps knows he's lying about something, and won't take everything at face value anymore (I hope).

Good.

Posted by: Brautigan at February 16, 2004 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks, Marky. Humor always appreciated.


But can anyone explain that j clause in the understanding that Lt. Bush signed in 1968? And then answer the obvious question. If ARF was a disciplinary deal, how and why did Bush pull an ARF?

http://www.usatoday.com/news/bushdocs/1-Enlistment_Packet.pdf

See p. 16, if memory serves.

Posted by: PaxR55 at February 16, 2004 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

I want to thank you all for all of your silly attempts to help the Dimocrats slip Hanoi John's sordid past by the American people. You morons took the bait and ran with it -- pursuing silly rumors and decades old documents.

Now, you've made it legitimate to question Kerry's war record (not just his lame attempts at treason on his return stateside).

Her are some hyperlinks to what the mainstream press has to say about your boy:


A Choice of Scandals, Running on Character by Mark Steyn

Kerry should be wary of dredging up past by Mark Steyn

It's the context, stupid by Suzanne Fields

A few questions for John Kerry by George Will

Playing the Vietnam card by Kathleen Parker

Kerry vs. Vietnam vets

Words of war and the war of words by Mark Alexander

OBTW, why does Kevin Drum look a dozen years older than GWB (and myself) -- while he's actually a dozen years YOUNGER. The man is 46 and looks 70! Was it a drug problem that forced him out of Caltech?

Have fun!

Posted by: Norman Rogers at February 16, 2004 01:01 PM | PERMALINK

Hmmmm. A grouch. And just when I was asking a pretty good question.

Any ideas from the rational bloggers out there? Anyone?

Posted by: PaxR55 at February 16, 2004 01:12 PM | PERMALINK

Norman, do your parents know you've disabled NetNanny again?

Posted by: def rimjob at February 16, 2004 01:23 PM | PERMALINK

This entire AWOL kerfuffle causes me to emit a Whitmanesque barbaric...yawn.

Posted by: x at February 16, 2004 01:28 PM | PERMALINK

Hmm, Bush and Bath and a couple local hotties caught red handed at 5 AM snorting coke in the mess hall kitchen???

Posted by: Yap at February 16, 2004 01:28 PM | PERMALINK

I apologize if any or all of this has previously been mentioned in previous comments. I just haven't had the time to read them all.

What did the records in Colorado consist of? Were they complete duplicates of everything that was in the TANG file? Are they kept on paper, on microfilm, scanned? If they are kept on paper, were copies or the originals forwarded to the White House?

What is the name of the person who complied the documents that were sent from Colorado to the White House? Was there a cover letter identifying all of the documents enclosed?

Who in the White House had access to the file after it was received from Colorado?

What records are kept in St. Louis? Are they the same as the Colorado and/or TANG records?

Has anyone suggested that Burkett and pertinent alleged participants take polygraph exams?

Posted by: Art J at February 16, 2004 01:41 PM | PERMALINK

Burkett claims that Texas Air National Guard records that were scrubbed were at Camp Mabry and the Texas Air National Guard claims they never stored personnel records there. If the records were "scrubbed" there as Burkett says, that means there is a massive conspiracy on the part of the Texas Air National Guard to hide not only George Bush's records but of every Guardsman that served in the Texas Air National Guard. This means not only is Bush is in a conspiracy involving James and Allbaugh but every person that has served in the Texas Air National Guard that is keeping mum about their service records being secretly moved out of the museum at Camp Mabry.

Of course, this doesn't even pass the "giggle test". Camp Mabry is not an air base but an army base for an armored division. That is why it is home to the 49th Armored Division and not the home of the 147th Fighter Wing.

Posted by: soy bomb at February 16, 2004 02:01 PM | PERMALINK

It seems that all one can be reasonably sure of is that Bush used his privileged background to get into the NG, and perhaps, while in it, to not work as hard or as often as some would have liked him to.

This is pretty thin gruel, folks, on which to pin your electoral hopes.
People know that GWB is the son of privilege; after all, he is the son of a president, and nobody would be surprised if he had a wealthy and privileged upbringing.
Except for a few fanatics, nobody is going to base their electoral decision on what Bush was doing 30 years ago or if he skated through the first fifty years of his life.
They will vote on whether a) he is the better candidate to fight the war on terrorism, and b) he is the better candidate to give voters economic security.
He is on pretty strong ground on the first point, despite what Kerry & Co. are slinging at the moment. The fact that he has fought and won two wars, and no further terrorist attack has happened since 2001 are points in his favor that are going to be hard for Kerry to overcome.
As for the second point...who knows? The economy looks pretty good right now, but the job picture is grimmer than one would think given the economic growth. If jobs catch up to the economy, Bush is in without a problem. If the economy stumbles to reflect the fact that job growth is subdued, he is in trouble on that point.

My point, circuitous though it may be, is that all the excitement on this board about the fact that GWB was a spoiled rich kid in the early 1970s will not lose him a single vote in November. Nor will it gain him one. Nobody is going to go into the voting booth in November and pull the lever based on the answer to the question: "who had a more priviliged youth?"

So keep things in persepctive. Good forensic journalism is all well and good, but don't think that you've found the magic potion that will put a Democrat in the White House.

Posted by: fw at February 16, 2004 02:02 PM | PERMALINK

All good questions, Art. I think St. Louis is the final repository for military records. I wanted military records of a cousin. He served and died during WWII (won a Silver Star). They came from the military archives at St. Louis.

Am not sure anyone (forgive if wrong) has explained WHAT the Colo. repository is--perhaps Vietnam-era records on their way to St. Louis? But this would be only a guess.

Reporting from St. Louis TV station said the St. Louis Bush records were sent to DoD about 2 weeks ago.

Back to the j clause on p. 16 of

http://www.usatoday.com/news/bushdocs/1-Enlistment_Packet.pdf

Could it be that reasons for the ARF posting (and reasons for the file-scouring reported by Burkett) are explained in St. Louis records?

Posted by: PaxR55 at February 16, 2004 02:05 PM | PERMALINK

Another thing, does anyone here know any Viet Nam vets personally, or are related? Anyone lost an uncle in Vietnam before you ever met him?

Has Georgie ever been to the memorial?

Something to remember in all this...

Posted by: Yap at February 16, 2004 02:11 PM | PERMALINK

Soy bomb,

My reading of the different accounts, which I tend to believe, leads me to think that a file scrubbing of Bush's files took place at Mabry for wholly logical reasons. Karen Hughes was writing a bio. She wanted primary sources (among them Bush's military records) toward this end. The directive therefore went out (to wit: get the records to Austin sans embarrassing detail). The files went to Mabry for cleanup by handful of Bush loyalists. Burkett and others heard of the events. And now you and the rest of us here are reading and blogging about it.

Stuff like that happens all the time, though not on quite this scale nor with such import. If true, I think it's considered a crime.

Posted by: PaxR55 at February 16, 2004 02:13 PM | PERMALINK

"all the excitement on this board about the fact that GWB was a spoiled rich kid in the early 1970s will not lose him a single vote in November. Nor will it gain him one"

FW, I agree it's important to keep things in perspective, and that there are more important questions to ask than whether Bush was AWOL.

However, I don't agree with your statement above. For whatever reason, a number of voters have been looking at Bush through the smoke and ash of 9/11. Bush managed to convince a number of voters that he is honest, trustworthy and dependable. He certainly wasn't elected because of his intellect, oratorical skills or foreign policy experience!

Anything that gives voters a glimpse of the real Bush is helpful. Neither the hard right nor the hard left will be swayed one way or another. But for most voters in the middle without ideologically-fixed views, shining the cold light of reality on Bush can make a difference.

Posted by: Bassfish at February 16, 2004 02:37 PM | PERMALINK

I have to disagree with FW as well.
There are several ways in which this could be a big story.
First of all, if drug use is proved, it will be a major black eye
Second, "scrubbing" of military records sounds like it could be a federal crime, depending on the specifics.
There is also the possibility that W. was disciplined simply for being an outrageous jackass and possibly unqualified. Obviously the fact of an honorable discharge signifies little by itself.
Maybe what the W.H. is hiding is that Bush was a lousy guardsmen, and the scrubbed records note that explicitly.
I think the last possibility would be very damaging from a political standpoint, since he runs so much on character and truthfulness.

Posted by: Marky at February 16, 2004 03:10 PM | PERMALINK

let me add that were this the 2000 campaign, and Bush not already President, everyone would agree that his NG record was fair game. Only because the media outrageously left this story alone are we dealing with it now as if it were the first time.

Posted by: Marky at February 16, 2004 03:12 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, Orcinus has a new post on why the AWOL story matters, also mentioning the possibility that federal laws have been broken.
http://dneiwert.blogspot.com/

Posted by: marky at February 16, 2004 03:18 PM | PERMALINK

Marky --
I don't know; I assume that youthful drug use by GWB is pretty well assumed by all now.
He's never denied it and has always deflected it in ways that in effect said, "nudge, nudge, wink, wink, I did that stuff then, but not now".
Proving that he used drugs then will not win or lose him votes now, especially after the DUI accusation just before the 2000 election.
Do you think that there are voters out there that support Bush on the war and on the economy, but will decide not to vote for him because he was a lousy guardsman thirty years ago? Not likely.
By the same token, anyone who is against him on the war and on the economy is unlikely to vote for GWB because the charges remain unproven.
My point is that it is pretty irrelevant to the election coming up.
I maintain that it will be decided on who resonates better with the voters on the war on terror (i.e. better to play offense or to play defense), and on the issue of taxes (lower taxes for all vs. lower taxes for some).
I won't hazard a guess as to how that will play out, but I'm pretty sure that TANG issues will not play the slightest role in deciding the election.
As I said above, it doesn't mean that Kevin shouldn't spend time looking into it, but he should do so without the illusion that he is going to make a difference come November.

Posted by: fw at February 16, 2004 03:51 PM | PERMALINK

"let me add that were this the 2000 campaign, and Bush not already President, everyone would agree that his NG record was fair game. Only because the media outrageously left this story alone are we dealing with it now as if it were the first time.
Posted by Marky "

Mainly thanks to Micheal Moore calling Bush a deserter at that Clark rally.

Props Mike!

Posted by: Yap at February 16, 2004 03:53 PM | PERMALINK

Just one note.
FW, the DUI information hurt Bush measurably in the polls. It's head in the sand thinking to believe that proof of cocaine use would not be a BIG issue.

Posted by: marky at February 16, 2004 03:54 PM | PERMALINK

So the media had all weekend to examine the records released on Friday. Did anyone see any page one stories on this today? Not in Central California. Did GEB abuse alcohol and drugs years ago? He has admitted to that. He has also been on the wagon and become religious in the past years. That strikes home to a lot of people too. Many will look at him now versus 30 years ago and agree he turned his life around. I don't think this will have a big impact on the election.

Today it turns out the Kerry campaign is mad at McAwful for starting this story too soon in the election season. They wanted to use it later. And it also brings up Kerry's activities post Vietnam for further scrutiny. Unlike GWB, some people will say Kerry is still adhereing to his political philosophies that he put forth back in '71 and '72. Still wanting to give the U.N. sayso over U.S. military affairs. That will paly real well to flyover country.

No matter what you may think of Bush's service in the Guard, flying a jet fighter on scrambles at any time day or night will test your nerve, not knowing whether it's a drill or the real thing of Soviet bombers heading for the U.S. Some have critized the Guard in the 60's and 70's as a way to avoid Vietnam and party. GWB served longer than most infantry Guardsmen due to his choice of flying jets. Is that anyway to avoid the danger of going to war? Strapping on thousands of pounds of metal and combustables? Not knowing if something was going to breaks at 35,000 feet, leaving you to augar in? That has to take some guts.

I never said that Iraq was involved in 9/11. I said due to the attacks on 9/11, the days of reacting passively to the terrorist threats were over. First it was Afghanistan and the ousting of the Taliban that gave support to al qeada, along with going after al qeada. Then it was Iraq due to it's general support of terrorism and it's supposed development of WMD's that could be used by those terrorist org. Also Iraq's lack of cooperation in respect to the 17 U.N. resolutions was a cause for great concern. The crimes against humanity and the threats to humanity had to be addressed. They still need to be addressed with other nations that support terrorism. The question is which man would be the better choice to lead this battle. I say GWB. Most of you would disagree.
GWB is looking out for the U.S first and giving other nations secondary consideration. I believe Kerry would reverse that philosphy.

Posted by: Meatss at February 16, 2004 03:56 PM | PERMALINK

you think W. is actually religious?
Ever see him in church on Sunday? Not often, right? Bush Sr. and Clinton both went to church more than W.
W. is a sham christian, sham warrior, true coward.

Posted by: marky at February 16, 2004 04:01 PM | PERMALINK

"Today it turns out the Kerry campaign is mad at McAwful for starting this story too soon in the election season. They wanted to use it later. Posted by Meatss"

First, Source?

Second, are you kidding? The meme's been plowed, and planted, and more successfully than Kerry's sexpot intern.

Posted by: Yap at February 16, 2004 04:10 PM | PERMALINK

"Also Iraq's lack of cooperation in respect to the 17 U.N. resolutions was a cause for great concern. The crimes against humanity and the threats to humanity had to be addressed. Posted by Meatss"

You really want to go down that Israeli road, Tex?

Posted by: Yap at February 16, 2004 04:18 PM | PERMALINK

More to the point, Yap, Meatss is internally inconsistent. He chides Kerry for being pro-UN, but then he uses the UN resolutions as a reason for the war. Of course, since these were U.N. resolutions it was NOT up to the US to make a unilateral decision on enforcing them.
Not to mention as well, that the only substantive legal ground for invasion had to do with Saddam's non-compliance with WMD resolutions. IN fact, he appears to have been in compliance, since Iraq had no WMD at all!

But, back to AWOL. Let me remind you that doctoring military records is a federal crime.

Posted by: marky at February 16, 2004 04:27 PM | PERMALINK

Well stated, marky, the intellectual slushies these guys try to pass off as debate set me off sometimes.

Posted by: Yap at February 16, 2004 04:31 PM | PERMALINK

I've been following the Bush NG issue closely and here are a few things I find troubling about how things are shaking out:

1. If the point of getting the records is to examine bushco's veracity vis-a-vis his service, why is the press not demanding that the records be released directly to them? It is too easy for a few incriminating documents to fall behind the desk. Bush needs to sign a waiver that will allow all his records to be released - otherwise the whole exercise is ill-founded.

2. Many have questioned the relevance of what happened thirty years ago. This isn't about thirty years ago -- this is about the President and his aides lying and covering-up now and during the 2000 election.

3. Why is the press so focused on Alabama? The president, and his pay records, claim he returned to Texas and performed service there. To my knowledge no one has confirmed his story. If people who knew him, can't vouch for him then we know the pay records are bogus.

4. Is anyone on the web collating all the information about bush's service in a coherent, systematic way? Kevin has had some great posts but a lot other information has been developed in the comments here and on other sites. Without a central FAQ and timeline, there is tremendous duplication of effort and a lot of errant posting.

Also to clarify the ARF issue that Kevin originally raised and others have revisited in this thread, do not confuse the Air Reserve Forces (ARF) and the Air Force Reserves (AFR).

The ARF encompasses both the Air National Guard and the Air Force Reserves. When bush left the TANG in October of 1973 he entered the Air Force Reserves. The reason his point summaries say ARF is because TANG is a part of ARF and I suspect the retirement system is run by ARF. If you look at the points records from 68-69 you'll notice that they are also labelled Air Reserve Forces. I don't know if the change in the format of the points records in 72-73 was due to technology or Bush gaming the sytem. But by checking other guard records it should be easy to answer this question.

One upshot of all of this is I think Kevin's hypothesis that bush may have been transfered to a disciplinary unit in 1972 is likely off the mark. That said, Kevin is doing an incredible service by pursuing this story so thoughtfully.


Posted by: ftm at February 16, 2004 05:58 PM | PERMALINK

FW: If your point is that Bush's image doesn't matter, that only substance matters, I assume you don't work on Madison Avenue. As a psychological matter, perception is reality. If you associate smoking cigarettes with a happy, healthy lifestyle, you will tend to smoke. So Bush's image matters a great deal, especially given that he has so little substance to offer.

And finally, if Bush and his advisors thought it didn't matter, they would release all the records and answer Helen Thomas' questions.

Posted by: Bassfish at February 16, 2004 06:04 PM | PERMALINK

Fossil Footprints Prove Bush Served in Alabama

(2004-02-13) -- Archaeologists working on a dig near Dannelly Air National Guard Base have uncovered a fossilized set of footprints which reportedly support President George W. Bush's contention that he served his Guard duty in Alabama more than three decades ago.

Radiocarbon dating and analysis of the geological stratum in which the fossils were found establish that the prints were made during the Vietnam era.

"The angle and depth of the boot impressions match the gait and known weight of the young Mr. Bush at that time," said an unnamed archaeologist. "It was quite exciting at the dig site -- like finding the proverbial missing link."

Together with previously discovered dental records and ancient documents, this latest evidence helps complete a picture that confirms what the President has said all along.

Forensic specialists will now comb the sedimentary layers where the footprints were unearthed hoping to recover bits of fossilized hair, saliva or sloughed-off skin cells to subject to DNA analysis which would finally prove his Guard service conclusively.

Posted by: z at February 16, 2004 06:15 PM | PERMALINK

FOSSILS PROVE BUSH WAS PILTDOWN MAN! ROVE IMPLICATED IN FRAUD!

The issue isn't archaeology or forensics, guys, while I appreciate the effort. It's character and integrity. And your man in the WH has no personal fossils traceable to REALLY honorable military service. Right now, men are dying in Iraq. And Bush felt the thrill of speed in jet aircraft, earned at taxpayer expense. He NEVER felt the fear of combat.

Posted by: PaxR55 at February 16, 2004 06:29 PM | PERMALINK

Speaking of redundant effort: I teach in a university, and I have several military and ex-military students. I asked one of them about the
SPN (spin) codes, and he was very familiar with the concept. He said he knows someone who could probably tell what any particular spin number means.

Posted by: marky at February 16, 2004 08:04 PM | PERMALINK

FTM!

Exactly. So what is it about clause j in W's records (see p. 16 in below) that suggests a disciplinary action?

http://www.usatoday.com/news/bushdocs/1-Enlistment_Packet.pdf

I have posted well and truly. Another poster, or blogger, or whatever we're called, linked this thread, challenged us to read it. I did. I noticed clause j in the "Understanding" memo that Lt. Bush signed in 1968. I think it sheds light on the ARF matter referenced by "ftm" above.

I THINK.

Anyone with insight, please?

Posted by: PaxR55 at February 16, 2004 08:34 PM | PERMALINK

Pax, I'll let Charlie(colorado) handle that eon
.. heh:)

Posted by: marky at February 16, 2004 08:40 PM | PERMALINK
Wendy, Right.

See http://www.usatoday.com/news/bushdocs/1-Enlistment_Packet.pdf

on p. 16 of the 33 pages of ANG documents linked above, Bush signed a pro forma "understanding" about the terms of his NG service. See in particular clause j in this memo of understanding, where there is a clear threat (and clearer explanation of) an ARF posting in the event of unsatisfactory service.

Bush appears to have pulled an ARF posting. So this points to unsatisfactory service. The question is: WHAT HAPPENED?

Can someone else explain the wording there for us?

Pax, the "Colorado paper unit" is the unit that everyone who is inactivated, but still in the reserve, is "assigned to". The address of the unit (which is right down the road from me) is the Air Force Records building.

So to some extent, they're right -- if you were removed for disciplinary reasons, your records would go to Denver. The opposite inference isn't correct, however: if your records were sent to Denver, that doesn't mean you were disciplined.

Once your active reserve obligation is completed -- as Bush's was, he did as many points as he contracted for, even though he was only in for about 5 yr 7 mo total (total time in service would be his EM and commissioned officer time together) -- then you moved to the "Inactive Reserve" until your obligation ran out. In Bush's case, he arranged to be separated at about the same time.

This has actually been explained by half a doxen people in Kevin's comments, but it seems to keep coming back.

Posted by: Charlie (Colorado) at February 16, 2004 08:45 PM | PERMALINK

LOLOL

Posted by: marky at February 16, 2004 08:45 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter Charlie: I don't know if Bush was disciplined. I don't know enough to say.
I guess someone who knows more than me ought to take a look at the records.

Posted by: marky at February 16, 2004 08:51 PM | PERMALINK
REALLY honorable military service.

Pax, with all due respect, fuck you. Bush did 2 years active, and flew one of the hairiest jets in real live aid defense. He fulfilled all his obligations, and was, according to his efficiency reports, a top officer and a top pilot, in spite of his supposed low pilot aptitude. He spent almost six years in service, and got less time off for his "easy out" than Al Gore did, and took a damn sight worse risks.

So think whatever you want to about Bush's politics now, but keep a civil tongue in your head about "really honorable service".

Posted by: Charlie (Colorado) at February 16, 2004 08:53 PM | PERMALINK

Marky, looks like you're right, I misread the other guy's name for "Bush". Apologies.

Posted by: Charlie (Colorado) at February 16, 2004 08:54 PM | PERMALINK

Top ranked pilot? I think we went over that before---his rating was "qualified", which surely isn't the highest. And before you blather about the written evaluations: anyone with half a brain would realize that it would be career suicide to write bad things about a Congressman's son.
For any ignoramus, the glowing verbal reports could be used on the resume; the actual ranking shows that he wasn't a hotshot pilot.
And what's this about the F-102 being one of the "hairest"jets around? They're all smooth, charlie!!
And besides that, the F-102 had a great safety record.

Posted by: marky at February 16, 2004 08:57 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks Charlie.
NOw if you apologize for being wrong on the questio of whether Clinton committed perjury, I'll be nice;)
Go over to the other thread to read more on that, if you didn't already.

Posted by: marky at February 16, 2004 08:58 PM | PERMALINK

So think whatever you want to about Bush's politics now, but keep a civil tongue in your head about "really honorable service".

Fuck you, Charlie.

He went into the Guard to avoid Vietnam. End of Story.

That tells me everything I need to know about his "service", thank you very much.

Here's a few quotes, and you can tell me who's mouth they came out of, ok Chief?

"I'm saying to myself, 'What do I want to do?' I think I don't want to be an infantry guy as a private in Vietnam. What I do decide to want to do is learn to fly."

Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, 1989

"I was not prepared to shoot my eardrum out with a shotgun in order to get a deferment. Nor was I willing to go to Canada. So I chose to better myself by learning how to fly airplanes."


Dallas Morning News, Feb. 25, 1990

"I don't want to play like I was somebody out there marching when I wasn't. It was either Canada or the service. ... Somebody said the Guard was looking for pilots. All I know is, there weren't that many people trying to be pilots."

Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Nov. 29, 1998

Posted by: Monkey at February 16, 2004 08:58 PM | PERMALINK

Monkey, thanks for the quotes.
The last one is surely misleading---everyone know that the ANG was a way out of Vietnam service.

Posted by: marky at February 16, 2004 09:01 PM | PERMALINK

Marky:

I don't know if Bush was disciplined. I don't know enough to say.
You're right.
Pax, Shorter, since Marky doesn't believe me, have a look at the ssignificant stuff at Baldilocks' and SMASH's sites. There are several explanations about "inactive reserve" about.
...
I just googled a bit; didn't find anything real specific, but this thing at least discusses how you can enlist, then do active and inactive reserve, so may offer some insight.

Posted by: Charlie (Colorado) at February 16, 2004 09:03 PM | PERMALINK
The last one is surely misleading---everyone know that the ANG was a way out of Vietnam service.
That's right, marky, don't let any nasty little facts confuse you. Posted by: Charlie (Colorado) at February 16, 2004 09:04 PM | PERMALINK

Charlie apparently doesn't get the "shorter person::" format:) No big deal.
Look , Bush WAS suspended from flying.
That cannot be an ordinary occurence.
Closer examination of the records, noting exactly which regulations are cited, should offer more clues. Of course, if his record for the last two years weren't so strangely sparse, we'd have a much easier time of it.

Posted by: marky at February 16, 2004 09:06 PM | PERMALINK

That's right, marky, don't let any nasty little facts confuse you.

Bush certainly seemed to have thought so, seeing as how that is the REASON he gave for "joining" the Guard.

It is amazing to me that Republicans, who are normally such hardasses on people who can't take responsibility for their actions, are willing to give Bush a pass on just about anything.

They KNOW he's a liar. They KNOW he's an admitted draft avoider (his words, not mine). They know he's got the interests of the wealthy ahead of theirs. But they simply don't care, as long as the alternative is a Democratic President, they will vote for Damien from the Omen movies before they will abandon him.

Question for Republicans: If it became (for the sake of argument) apparent that Bush DID in fact somehow cover up some episode in his past regarding his service, would you continue to support him?

(Watch them hem and haw)

Posted by: Monkey at February 16, 2004 09:12 PM | PERMALINK
Top ranked pilot? I think we went over that before---his rating was "qualified", which surely isn't the highest. And before you blather about the written evaluations: anyone with half a brain would realize that it would be career suicide to write bad things about a Congressman's son.

No, Marky, look at the top of the sheets: he's shown as being in the second-from-top category. "Top 10 percent".

I believe "expert pilot" was something you got after 500 hours flight time; not a bad breaking point, as the accident rate goes down significantly around there.

As to the F-102's safety, check this:


If George W. Bush wanted to pick a safe place to sit out the war he probably could have chosen a better spot than the cockpit of an F-102. Flying supersonic jet aircraft is a dangerous business. Similar planes in the period that Bush flew had a fatal pilot accident rate of about one per 40,000 flight hours. Assuming that Bush flew about a thousand hours over his career, this would mean he had a bit over a 2 percent chance of a fatal accident sometime during his service.
About 3.4 million men served in Vietnam, and about 60,000 were killed -- a fatal casualty rate of just under 2 percent. Thus it is entirely possible that Bush was actually running a bigger risk of death than someone in a non-combat position in Vietnam, such as Gore -- though much less than someone carrying an M-16 in a rice paddy.
If Bush was looking for a way to maximize his chances of survival, he'd have been better off going for a position with less glory but an office slower and closer to earth.

-- Don McGregor

Slate.com

Posted by: Charlie (Colorado) at February 16, 2004 09:13 PM | PERMALINK

"similar jets", charlie?
What a silly dodge.

Posted by: marky at February 16, 2004 09:16 PM | PERMALINK

*senses Charlie doing some more googling, frantically trying to retain his aura of knowledgability about military matters*

Posted by: marky at February 16, 2004 09:24 PM | PERMALINK
Look , Bush WAS suspended from flying. That cannot be an ordinary occurence. Closer examination of the records, noting exactly which regulations are cited, should offer more clues. Of course, if his record for the last two years weren't so strangely sparse, we'd have a much easier time of it.

Marky, the problem is that you simply don't know what you're talking about on most all of this.

Bush clearly didn't go to Alabama without permission; it's in his efficiency report. Bush left flight status when he went to Alabama, and would have had to "re-familiarize" when he got back, on a plane that was being phased out, when he'd done his required days and was about to go to inactive status anyway.

There have been a half-dozen people who've pointed out that in a time when brand new 2LTs were being RIF'ed from active service, and pilots with 100 combat missions were fighting for Air Guard slots so they could stay on the reserve roster, the last thing the Air Gaurd would do is use hard-to-get flight hours on someone in that position. There have been a half-dozen people who have pointed out that this is the way the Guard works; all the evidence you have for your "cannot" is watching JAG on the TV, as far as I can tell -- and not much of that, because Harm is constantly fighting to get a couple of hours now that he's a JAG You've certainly made it clear you've got no time in service yourself. And you discount everyone who has military experience who has gone over the records; I don't think you actually care about the facts.

To answer your other question: you bet: if I found out that Bush had actually done something significant wrong, I wouldn't support him. (And no, I don't care about a DUI while he was drinking, and the whole "speeding ticket" think iss alaugh.)

Given the opposition right now, I might hold my nose and vote for him, but I wouldn't find it worth while to defend him.

The problem is that all we ever get offered are ignorant suppositions -- increasingly, willfully ignorant suppositions from people who don't care to learn anything that might conflict with their preconceptions -- and a bunch of rumors that require these mass conspiracy theories (like how his various supposed felonies, detox visits, F-102 crashes, and so on were covered up) to explain.

Posted by: Charlie (Colorado) at February 16, 2004 09:31 PM | PERMALINK

or have I missed the explanation for the fact that the saving grace 72-73 service is described on an ARF (paper unit) doc?

this is an excellent point. I have been working under the assumption that ARF was not just a "paper unit", but also the place where all the NG records from all states were compiled.

HOWEVER, the fact is that the NATURE of the records change once Shrub goes to Alabama. BEFORE that time, Shrub's cumulative "retirement points" were found on a handwritten "master list" that is part of the files. That list ends the year before Shrub goes to Alabama.

And although there is voluminous documentation for Shrub prior to his going to Alabama, there is almost nothing for the period of time that he supposedly returned to Texas and was serving.

That being said, the documentary evidence contradicts this idea that Shrub was transferred to a paper unit insofar as his "discharge" papers from TANG are dated October 1973, and there is a considerable (albeit incomplete) "paper trail" in the documents concerning Shrub's discharge FROM TANG.

Posted by: paul lukasiak at February 16, 2004 09:32 PM | PERMALINK

Charlie, you're just making things up now.
1) Bush was suspended from flying.

2) Bush was denied permission to transfer to Alabama, only to have it granted MANY months later.

Please get back to ground, charlie. We're afraid you might crash.

Posted by: marky at February 16, 2004 09:37 PM | PERMALINK
"*senses Charlie doing some more googling, frantically trying to retain his aura of knowledgability about military matters*

No, Marky, this is one topic I'm actually an expert on; I did work on it for NASA in the 80's and do reliability studies for lots of things now. Since you never believe me, I was looking for another source.

Actually, that number is a litle higher than I remember, although in the right order of magnitude. The rule of thumb we used was about 1 in 5 of a fatality in 20 years of flying; that would be something more like 50,000 hours per fatality. However, by the 80's, beasts like the F-102 and F-105 were out of service, so I find the numbers believable.

Posted by: Charlie (Colorado) at February 16, 2004 09:37 PM | PERMALINK

More troll problems??

Posted by: smalfish at February 16, 2004 09:44 PM | PERMALINK

Well, i'm still waiting for Charlie to acknowledge his mistake in calling Clinton a perjurer. I'm not holding my breath though

Posted by: marky at February 16, 2004 09:45 PM | PERMALINK

If your wanting to talk about liars try this article.This guy isnt a democrat either.

Posted by: smalfish at February 16, 2004 09:54 PM | PERMALINK

whoops sorry

http://www.lewrockwell.com/reese/reese43.html

Posted by: smalfish at February 16, 2004 09:54 PM | PERMALINK

Dont like that one? try this one insted.

http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig4/reynolds4.html

Posted by: smalfish at February 16, 2004 10:00 PM | PERMALINK

I've been looking for a parallel timeline like this for awhile.

So I give you "How We Spent Vietnam", by George Bush and John Kerry!

http://www.motherjones.com/news/update/2004/02/02_400.html

Choke on it, Charlie.

Posted by: Yap at February 16, 2004 10:08 PM | PERMALINK
Charlie, you're just making things up now.

1) Bush was suspended from flying.

2) Bush was denied permission to transfer to Alabama, only to have it granted MANY months later.

Marky, you're wrong: it's in Bush's records. (Warning, these are links to the PDFs at USA Today.)


"OTHER COMMENTS: ... He has recently accepted the position as campaign manager
as a candidate for the United States Senate." Page 17

On Page 32, you've got the paper noting that they know he's moving and that he has to fulfill his Ready Reserve committments, and that he's already done his committment through September.

Others have noted that he asked from transfer to the -- what, the 111th, I think -- and it was accepted, then turned down by higher authority. At that point he requested transfer to the 187th, was accepted, and got his drills. And that that isn't unusual.

On, and by the way, on the whole nonsense about the transfer to Denver being for "disciplinary reasons": The very same order that transfers him to Denver directs his honorable discharge; that wasn't a disciplinary transfer.Page 25.

It's in the records, and in most of the records, you don't need military background; mere literacy is enough. If you care to examine the documents fairly.

Posted by: Charlie (Colorado) at February 16, 2004 10:09 PM | PERMALINK

Wll thought out Charlie,but it does leave out the points that are being debated;

1)Why did GWB miss his physical?
2)Where are the documents pertaining to his missing months?
3)Why is it he refuses to come out and put this issue to rest?

Posted by: smalfish at February 16, 2004 10:18 PM | PERMALINK

Marky, sorry, technical problems: you assert that Clinton's not a "perjurer" because perjury requires lying under oath about something that's material to the topic of interest. He lied under oath about his sexual behavior in a sexual harrassment lawsuit, and as I understand it, that sexual history was considered germane by law in such a suit. Ergo, by the definition, he appears to me to have committed perjury.

You've argued that he wasn't really guilty of perjury, just lying under oath in such a way as to not be material, but still was found culpable enough in his original behavior and the lying after the fact to necessitate his paying a total of about a million dollars in settlement and penalties, and giving up his law license.

I think in the law they call that "a distinction without a difference." I stand by my statement.

Posted by: Charlie (Colorado) at February 16, 2004 10:19 PM | PERMALINK

"Distinction without a difference" I'll take the "as I understand it" part to be wind blowing out your ass, and again direct you to the other thread, where said ass can get whipped.

Posted by: marky at February 16, 2004 10:22 PM | PERMALINK

About the link: there is no page 32 in the url you sent.

Posted by: marky at February 16, 2004 10:23 PM | PERMALINK

Also notably absent in your defence of W. is any mention of the document suspension from flying.

Posted by: marky at February 16, 2004 10:24 PM | PERMALINK

1)Why did GWB miss his physical?
Because he was in Alabama as agreed to by his CO, in a non-flying job.

2)Where are the documents pertaining to his missing months?
Identify the records you're expecting, preferably by AF form number, and I'll be happy to look. As I read them, he's got continuous attendance records from 27May 68 to discharge; it doesn't appear that much of anything happened to him after sometime in 1972, but that's considered a good thing.


3)Why is it he refuses to come out and put this issue to rest?
What could possibly put the issue to rest in your mind? You've got his records, you've got witnesses, you've got secondary documentation like his dental records. So far, I haven't seen anyone propose anything they'd consider dispositive that hasn't been produced ... and then dismissed as "not enough".

Posted by: Charlie (Colorado) at February 16, 2004 10:35 PM | PERMALINK

About the link: there is no page 32 in the url you sent.

Sorry, my bad, should have been this one.

Posted by: Charlie (Colorado) at February 16, 2004 10:39 PM | PERMALINK

Also notably absent in your defence of W. is any mention of the document suspension from flying.

Due to his leaving a flight slot and not taking a flight physical. Again, we've his this over and over again; there are several other people with Air Guard experience who've explained it. I know you don't believe them and don't care to listen, but at least don't keep bringing it up, because the only answer anyone can give you is the one you've gotten.

Posted by: Charlie (Colorado) at February 16, 2004 10:45 PM | PERMALINK

I would like to see THE MSN himself come out and tell the world that yes he was lax in his attitude toward service and that he's sorry if we got the wrong message.I would like to see HIM explain for himself what his rational for leaving this debate in the public unexplained for so long is.Lastly I would like to see him take and answer a few questions himself from the press on the matter.If he was to do this I would be willing to give him a pass on this.
Mostly I would like to see him adress this issue in front of the t.v. cameras.
I have no problem letting this issue go,but with all the drama surrounding it and all the unanswered questions.It seems we may never get to the bottom of his unexplained time but such is life.
We SHOULD go onto the next issue.
Who authorized the break in of the United Nations security council members to bug the phones and offices.So that they could get inside info as to the strategy of the so called middle six and their opposition to the war and the desire to come to compromise.

http://observer.guardian.co.uk/iraq/story/0,12239,1148622,00.html

Posted by: smalfish at February 16, 2004 10:47 PM | PERMALINK

"Distinction without a difference" I'll take the "as I understand it" part to be wind blowing out your ass, and again direct you to the other thread, where said ass can get whipped.

Yeah, yeah, "higher standard", "save further conflict", "didn't adfmit wrongdoing" yaddah yaddah. Adn Spiro Agnw didn't plead guilty, it was "nolo contendre".

Perjury. If he doesn't like it, he can sue me.

Posted by: Charlie (Colorado) at February 16, 2004 10:48 PM | PERMALINK

Well, your explanation does not square with the opinions of high-ranking retired officers who said that skipping the physical was a very big deal and should have triggered a board of inquiry.

Posted by: marky at February 16, 2004 10:48 PM | PERMALINK

Charlie, the point is, you don't see a difference because you're apparently incapable.
It's a simple matter of accuracy, not to mention consistency.
If you howl when Bush is called AWOL, even though he was ABSENT without LEAVE (permission) for several months from Texas, that is your right.
By the way, since bush was ORDERED to take the physical, refusing that order may already have made him AWOL, technically.
Anyway, you scream bloody murder if that shirker is called AWOL, but you mudsling against Clinton with no attention to getting the details right.

Posted by: marky at February 16, 2004 10:52 PM | PERMALINK
Who authorized the break in of the United Nations security council members to bug the phones and offices.

Something like that, I'd guess it had to be the DDI, maybe even the DCI. You know, George Tenet, Clinton appointee?

Wait ... you mean you thought intelligence services don't normally bug other people's diplomats?

Wow. You guys really are young. Boy, I could tell you stories ...

... but, of course, then I'd have to kill you.

Read some Tom Clancy, he's got good sources.

Posted by: Charlie (Colorado) at February 16, 2004 10:52 PM | PERMALINK

>Well, your explanation does not square with the opinions of high-ranking retired officers who said that skipping the physical was a very big deal and should have triggered a board of inquiry.

But it does square with the onpinion of other high-ranking officers. Tom MacInerney was one, on MSNBC.

Posted by: Charlie (Colorado) at February 16, 2004 10:54 PM | PERMALINK

"The order required Bush to acknowledge the suspension in writing and also said: "The local commander who has authority to convene a Flying Evaluation Board will direct an investigation as to why the individual failed to accomplish the medical examination." After that, the commander had two options -- to convene the Evaluation Board to review Bush's suspension or forward a detailed report on his case up the chain of command."

From a quote citation in
http://dneiwert.blogspot.com/2004_02_08_dneiwert_archive.html#107678999238974555

Posted by: marky at February 16, 2004 10:54 PM | PERMALINK

This doesn't square at ALL with your explanation.
Also, McLellan refused to even let a reporter finish a question about the physical.

Posted by: marky at February 16, 2004 10:56 PM | PERMALINK

Marky, you're having a little problem following what I'm saying: it is my firm opinion that Clinton's actions met the definition of perjury as stated. I've made my argument; you don't have to buy it, but if I were asked to vote in a jury based on what I've seen and read, that's how I'd vote. Your attempts at exculpation don't dissuade me.

But if you're then going to suggest that by missing a flight physical you think Bush was "technically AWOL", then you clearly don't really care about any little technicalities anyway.

Posted by: Charlie (Colorado) at February 16, 2004 10:59 PM | PERMALINK

I hardly doubt that an underling like tenent could authorize that kind of lawlessness.And I suppose you too are in favor of this kind of policy.You would let the president wage nucular holocost too and let the entire northen hemisphere glow in the nice aftermath of peace in a jesus kind of way.with the kind of undying loyalty the president has in the great brainwashed masses this has the potential for reality.

Posted by: smalfish at February 16, 2004 10:59 PM | PERMALINK
"The order required Bush to acknowledge the suspension in writing and also said: "The local commander who has authority to convene a Flying Evaluation Board will direct an investigation as to why the individual failed to accomplish the medical examination." After that, the commander had two options -- to convene the Evaluation Board to review Bush's suspension or forward a detailed report on his case up the chain of command."

Yup, and sure enough those don't appear to be in the record.

Let me quote an order I saw once -- this was in a sargeant's file of fun stuff, so it may be apocryphal, but I saw the paper myself.

"After review, the officer has been counselled by myself, and administrative punishment has been administered in the form of a firm slap on each wrist."

Bush got his points, he got an honorable, and he got top evaluations. You imagine, on the basis of very limited evidence and nearly complete ignorance, that there Must Have Been Something, so since there isn't anything it Must Have Been Covered Up. There is not a single sign of anything of the sort.

Look, if someone were covering up a problem because of political pull, there's be a paper trail an inch deep of orders saying "the exigencies of the service having prevented" and "it is agreed to by the undersigned".

Posted by: Charlie (Colorado) at February 16, 2004 11:09 PM | PERMALINK

marky just proved you wrong, Charlie, pretty weak weasling out on your part.

COCAINE!!!

Posted by: Yap@ at February 16, 2004 11:11 PM | PERMALINK

Smallfish, you dope, what do you think the CIA does?

He's a clue: it spies on people. That's their job. Learn to cope.

Hell, you're probably whining on another thread about how "intelligence failed us" on 9/11 and in Iraq.

Posted by: Charlie (Colorado) at February 16, 2004 11:12 PM | PERMALINK
Also, McLellan refused to even let a reporter finish a question about the physical.

And what, in your fevered imagination, do you imagine that proves?

Posted by: Charlie (Colorado) at February 16, 2004 11:14 PM | PERMALINK

Charlie, you have to excuse Marky. He thinks he's the Man of La Mancha, tilting at windmills. Marky, smalfish, and the rest of the merry band of misfits will keep tilting at this particluar windmill until the cows come home. All they have are speculation, innuendo, foggy conspiracies, and desperate desires to derail the president.

When they start talking about "nuclear holocausts" and "great brainwashed masses", it's time to hide the children and lock the doors. The gates to the asylum have been opened. It's useless trying to debate them.

Posted by: Meatss at February 16, 2004 11:37 PM | PERMALINK

Poor liberals, you got owned by hobbs!

http://billhobbs.com/hobbsonline/003287.html

The AWOL Story is finished, lets move on to John Kerry's affair. His girlfriend is in hiding in Africa and her parents said Kerry was essentially a pervert who was all over their daughter!

=============================

Bush was NOT AWOL. I know you have no common sense left, you are backing a man who is as credible as Saddam Hussein!

First we had General Turnipseed, who claimed Bush was AWOL, then he RECANTED his entire story.

Now we have Lt. Colonel Dan Burkett, a liberal who claims he saw Bush's records doctored but everyone else in the room says they weren't. Last time I checked, a court would believe three people over one person who has a motive to lie. To try to even make this man look credible makes you look like a crackpot. Has liberal common sense gone out the window? Come on, you can do better than this!

Kevin is so blinded by ideology that he has not a shred common sense left. This shows you how some liberals want to believe this story so badly that they will ignore all the warning signs that the people making this story up, have no evidence to back their claims up and no witnesses to corroborate their story. If the tables were turned and it were Kerry being accused of being AWOL, Kevin would be asking the same questions I am, but since he is blinded my liberalism, he has lost any search for the truth in a witch hint for Bush.

To the contrary there are several witnesses who say that Burkett is mistaken or lying. Even The Boston Globe is reporting that one of the alleged key "witnesses" to an alleged "purging" of George W. Bush's Texas Air National Guard records has now denied it happened.

Lets see some tangible evidence that Bush was AWOL, not some General who recants his story or some liberal wacko who says Bush's records were purged but three people in the same room say they weren't.

If you can't come up with a tangible piece of evidence, then please shut up. You are embarassing yourself with your insane rants. This is yet in another series of smear jobs on a decent man who is saving your ass, like it or not.

Posted by: Tim at February 16, 2004 11:42 PM | PERMALINK

Here's a handy link: someone at the Wash Post collected the dates of service in 72-73 and put them into clear PDF document. Looks like 49 days in 1973, and only 36 are required. There are 36 days in '72.

In fact, come to think of it, his anniversary date was end of May; he did all his days of service up to this anniversary (and expected separation date) in 1974 during 1973. So this documents that he had completed his total six years of service, in terms of his service days -- which is what they counted.

(I had pointed this out before, but you don't even have to squint at the microfiche for this one: it's been typed up clean.)

There aren't any gaps in his records. There's just places where the ignorant think there ought to be something more.

Posted by: Charlie (Colorado) at February 17, 2004 12:24 AM | PERMALINK

What's this bullshit that the right wingnut trolls are pushing about Bush "winning" two wars? Last I heard, we were still suffering a dozen attacks a day in Iraq, and control about 5 square miles of Afghanistan (the rest being controlled by various strongman or the Taliban), and our soldiers in both Afghanistan and Iraq are regularly shelled, rocketed, bombed, and otherwise targeted. Sure, we had some military victories. But we won every single battle in Vietnam -- and lost the war. Just as the Soviets won every single battle in Afghanistan -- and lost the war. I don't see Iraqnam turning out any different.

Posted by: BadTux at February 17, 2004 02:06 AM | PERMALINK

Here's a handy link: someone at the Wash Post collected the dates of service in 72-73 and put them into clear PDF document. Looks like 49 days in 1973, and only 36 are required. There are 36 days in '72.

In fact, come to think of it, his anniversary date was end of May; he did all his days of service up to this anniversary (and expected separation date) in 1974 during 1973. So this documents that he had completed his total six years of service, in terms of his service days -- which is what they counted.

charlie, now we know that you are full of shit.

Shrub accumulated only 25 days of service in his 72-73 year. But according to Shrub's SIGNED agreement with the military, he owed the Guard at least 39 days of duty---15 active (getting him one point per day) and 24 inactive (getting him two points per day.) See Page 16-17 of http://www.usatoday.com/news/bushdocs/1-Enlistment_Packet.pdf . This document was signed by Shrub on May 27th 1968.

Secondly, the AF 526 document (listing the retirement points for 72-73) is completely inconsistent with the signed and "certified correct" form listing Shrub's points for the year. All 32 of Shrub's "inactive" points on the signed form are "UTA points". UTA are Unit Training Assemblies---the "one weekend a month" duty that most guardsmen attend. The UTA for November 1972 for the 187th was, according to the documents, held on Nov. 4-5. There is no documentation of Shrub showing up on those days. Furthermore, Shrub's supposed dates of service in November were the 11-14. There is NO WAY that the 13th and 14th of November could have been "UTA" days, because they were Monday and Tuesday.

Thirdly, Shrub claimed that he returned to TANG after the election in November 1972. But 19 of the days he supposedly served were in January (6 days), April (2 days), and May (11 days). Yet, according to Shrub's evaluation for the period May 1, 1972 to April 30, 1973, Shrub was NEVER SEEN at Ellington Air force base that entire period.

Fourth, the only people who claim they saw Bush doing service in Alabama are contradicted by Bush's pay records, transfer records, and other witnesses. The claim being made is that Bush showed up for monthly drills all during the summer of 1972 with the 187th. However, these witnesses are contradicted by the "payroll" evidence which shows no service for the months of May-September 1972. They are also contradicted by the "tranfer" records---Shrub did not even APPLY for his temporary transfer to the 167th until September 5th. And the other witnesses specifically contradict the contention that Shrub showed up for the "monthly drills" (UTAs, in fact).

In other words, Shrub DID NOT complete his duty for his 72-73 year according to documents he signed which defined "satisfactory participation", and what records that DO exist for any duty that he pulled are internally inconsistent, and are contradicted by Bush himself, as well as witness who supposedly saw Bush in Alabama.

Posted by: paul lukasiak at February 17, 2004 05:11 AM | PERMALINK

Paul L.

I'm curious about your point #2 above. Where did you find Shrub's signed and certified points record for 72-73?

Posted by: ftm at February 17, 2004 07:21 AM | PERMALINK

great post, Paul.

just to add to what you said: the document stating that Bush had not been observed at Ellington AFB for the past year was signed on May 2, 1973. Bush's records reflect service May 1 - 3, 1973. How could his superiors sign a document ON a day Bush was (or at least claims to have been) physically present, saying we haven't observed him here for the past year?

Posted by: Wendy at February 17, 2004 07:46 AM | PERMALINK

ftm:

page 5 of

http://www.usatoday.com/news/bushdocs/11-2_2004_Personnel_File.pdf

this document is also in the 2000 personnel file somewhere, but does NOT appear with the rest of the "points-related" documents that are found in the "performance points" file

http://www.usatoday.com/news/bushdocs/5-Performance_Points.pdf

The document in question is signed and "certified correct" by Maj. Rufus T. Martin of TANG, who also "certified correct" the previous three years of these records.

Martin was also the guy who signed the "not rated for administrative reasons" 77a form that Guard HQ in Colorado demanded after TANG submitted the not-at-TANG-for-the-last-year evaluation form.

And Martin also signed the "suspension from flying status" document from September 5, 1972.

oh, and I found another VERY interesting document. Its an undated letter from Shrub, asking what he has to do to get out of his service obligation---but its return address is Boston Massachusetts.

In other words, shrub had ALREADY left for Boston when he notified Texas that he wanted out of the Guard....

Posted by: paul lukasiak at February 17, 2004 07:59 AM | PERMALINK

Wendy...which file is that document in...I'm having a hard time finding it.

As to the "how could they" question....well, its glaringly obvious that TANG knew that Shrub was shirking, and let him get away with it.

The SAME officer (Rufus Martin) who "certified correct" his points record also signed the "removal from flight status record". AND he also signed a document on Sept 13th, 1973 stating that Shrub had "satisfactorily participated in his ready reserve assignment while assigned to the 111th Ftr Intcp Sq, Ellington".***

now, how does this guy say that Shrub has "satisfactorily participated" when he KNOWS that Shrub was suspended from flight duty for not showing up for his physical, and knew that Shrub couldn't be rated for an entire year of service because he "had not been observed"?

http://www.usatoday.com/news/bushdocs/10-4_2000_Personnel_File.pdf

page 3 (which has the "satisfactorily participated" statement) ALSO includes a statement signed by shrub, dated July 30th, 1973, which says "I have been counsel=led this date regarding my plans to leave my present Reserve of assignment ??? to moving from this areas. I understand that: If I disassociate myself from my current ready reserve assignment, it is my responsibility to locate and be assigned to another Reserve Forces unit or mobilization augmentation position. If I fail to do so, I am subject to involuntary order to active duty..."

So, it is obvious that Shrub knew he was SUPPOSED TO find another guard position in Boston, but got TANG to let him off the hook with an honorable discharge DESPITE his shirking of his duty....

Posted by: paul lukasiak at February 17, 2004 08:16 AM | PERMALINK

Paul L.

Thanks for the directions.

I agree there does appear to be a contradiction between his form 526 and his certified point record for 72-73. One way to make the case that something is amiss stronger is to look at the earlier years point records and show that uta points were only awarded on weekends. And the case would be even stronger if one could get a hold of the schedule of drill weekends in Alabama and in Texas.

But based on the assumptiopn that you can only get UTA credit on the weekends, the 72-73 ARF records do appear to be gamed.

I wanted to point out one other minor issue to you since you are all over the points issues.
If you look at his 1973-1974 arf points summary
he received 40 total points but only 38 retirement points.

http://www.usatoday.com/news/bushdocs/5-Performance_Points.pdf

On page 13, at bottom.

This may indicate there is a 5% discounting to arrive at retirement points credited from total points. This is an additional issue not discussed in Albert LLoyd's analysis of bush's retirement points.

Posted by: ftm at February 17, 2004 08:53 AM | PERMALINK

Paul, that document is quoted as being an annual performance report, signed by Bush's two superiors on May 2, 1973, stating "Lt. Bush has not been observed at" his home base unit in Houston for the past year (got this particular cite from http://www.commondreams.org/views04/0212-02.htm; also "On May 2, 1973, Bush's squadron leader in the 147th, Lieutenant Colonel William Harris, Jr. wrote: "Lt. Bush has not been observed at this unit" for the past year." from http://209.157.64.200/focus/f-news/1071037/posts). But I can't find a link to the document, and don't recall seeing an image.

Posted by: Wendy at February 17, 2004 09:21 AM | PERMALINK

So, we're agreed that questions remain about the nature of Bush's honorable service.

Charlie in Colorado, you were provoked by my "really honorable" jibe about the president's service. Let me explain, as you claim some knowledge of jet aircraft. And this is the crux of my objection to the W's Vietnam-era service. The man got into a safe stateside billet, during wartime, and learned to fly jet aircraft at taxpayer expense.

From most reports, which I believe, he managed this rare opportunity with entrance scores of 25 percent. To most Americans, this appears unfair. They all know someone like this and he typically doesn't become president. They want a president who earned his opportunities. Or if he didn't exactly earn his rare education then at least they want him to have given back, to have served diligently and well, after getting his big break.

Let's review: Our president scored a safe stateside billet during wartime with the lowest possible entrance scores. But how did he perform after his two years of training? Good question.

Charlie Colorado points out that Bush was rated in the top ten percent of his ANG class, tasked with protecting our nation's Gulf coast. I accept this. I also suspect that the word report with the superlatives was penned by a politically astute superior officer. Nothing new there. Was he a standout on a par with career pilots and aviators. Nope. He learned how to fly jet aircraft. He didn't kill himself in the process in stateside skies. That's all.

Charlie, with all respect, the question still stands: What did Lt. Bush do with his rare opportunity and rare skills during wartime (and what does this say about him thirty years later, as he sends others to combat)? I warn you, this is a character and integrity issue. The answer coming out of the reporting and the documents is that he earned bragging rights about flying high-performance aircraft. And the records suggest that he didn't give back. "What your hand finds to do, do it with all your might" (Eccl. 9:11, if memory serves).

My Dad was a naval aviator (and proud Colorado son of pioneers) with exemplary service in three wars (counting the cold one). When he re-upped for Korea, having been an aviation cadet during WWII, he couldn't BELIEVE the country was PAYING him to fly. Now my Dad was career Navy. Bush at the time was career nothing, in the middle of an unpopular war. And what his hand found to do at the time is really still an open question.

Americans recognize honor and integrity and a work ethic when they see it. It's a form of leadership. It's the kind of giving, the kind of service, that inspires service in succeeding generations.

My Dad had these things, and I love to tell his story of service and the story of my mother's service as a Navy wife. They're heroes. They actually sacrificed for country. Men he flew demonstrated these qualities too, and their wives.

In 2000 the candidate's Vietnam era conduct did not have quite the same force as it does today (it's the war, stupid).

An earlier poster noted that the candidate with the best "narrative" come November would likely win. Right now, the narrative of Bush's military service is a frayed and sorry tapestry of stories, some of them, apparently, half true. Some of them missing altogether.

Your thoughts, Charlie?

Posted by: PaxR55 at February 17, 2004 09:25 AM | PERMALINK

I agree there does appear to be a contradiction between his form 526 and his certified point record for 72-73. One way to make the case that something is amiss stronger is to look at the earlier years point records and show that uta points were only awarded on weekends. And the case would be even stronger if one could get a hold of the schedule of drill weekends in Alabama and in Texas.

actually, I did check his earlier records, and UTA points were ONLY collected once a month, on two consecutive days, on all of the other hand-written records in his files (see the performance points files). Aditionally, we DO know the dates of the UTA weekends in Sept, Oct, and Nov 1972 that the 187th drilled--and that Bush did not show up for them. The letter authorizing Bush to show up at the 187th notes that the September dates (9th and 10th) had passed, but that he should show up for duty on October 7 & 8, and November 4 & 5, for Unit Training Assemblies. (The letter, dated Sept 15th, also notes that Bush would "not be able to satisfy his flight requirements with our group".)

Re: the retirement points discrepancy...

the points summary document found at page 18 of http://www.usatoday.com/news/bushdocs/11-1_2004_Personnel_File.pdf implies that the accounting for retirement points IS different than "total points". And although its obvious that it isn't a direct 5% discounting, I can't figure out what the formula is! :)

Posted by: paul lukasiak at February 17, 2004 09:25 AM | PERMALINK

The source for the story on Kerry' people being mad at Terry McAwful is at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A42677-2004Feb14.html

They apparantly wanted to wait till later in the election season to bring this up. Too bad.

Posted by: Meatss at February 17, 2004 09:49 AM | PERMALINK

And over on Intel Dump, Carter gives us opening grafs from his Sunday op-ed piece in the Chicago Tribune:

http://www.bol.ucla.edu/~pcarter/oped.pdf:

"Leadership by example is a principle that's hammered into every newly minted American military officer. Soldiers want to follow leaders they trust, and the proven way to earn that trust is by force of personal example.

"In practical terms, this means doing morning physical fitness training with your soldiers, carrying the same amount of weight as them, ensuring they eat before you do, and putting their welfare before your own. Above all else, it means never asking your soldiers, sailors, airmen or Marines to do something that you wouldn't do yourself.

President Bush's 30-year-old service record from the Air National Guard is relevant because it shows us something about his willingness to share the same hardships as the soldiers he now commands today from the White House. The issue has never been whether he was guilty of desertion or being AWOL--two slanderous charges leveled without regard for the facts. The real issue has always been the character of his service, and whether it was good enough to set the example for America's 1.4 million citizens in uniform."

Leadership, in short.

Posted by: PaxR55 at February 17, 2004 09:55 AM | PERMALINK

I keep looking at the story and shaking my head...

Burkett 'overhears' people planning to scrub Bush's records--a felony.

Then he is taken--somehow- to the place where it's being done, apparently by going through the file in a place where other projects are going on and throwing the items to be scrubbed into a trashcan that's been put on a tabletop--apparently to receive these files. And here, he just hapens to actually see that they've puged W's files--by placing the files the want lost forever INTO A TRASHCAN.

And this sounds credible? To anyone?

Posted by: jack at February 17, 2004 10:27 AM | PERMALINK
charlie, now we know that you are full of shit.

No, we know we've found another Calpundit reader whose ignorance of the military is only exceeded by his unwillingness to read any source that might contradict is fantasies.

Shrub accumulated only 25 days of service in his 72-73 year. But according to Shrub's SIGNED agreement with the military, he owed the Guard at least 39 days of duty---15 active (getting him one point per day) and 24 inactive (getting him two points per day.) See Page 16-17 of http://www.usatoday.com/news/bushdocs/1-Enlistment_Packet.pdf . This document was signed by Shrub on May 27th 1968.

Well, apparently you can count ... sorta, I got 28. (To be fair, I find counting groups of digits peculiarly difficult, so you might be right.) But you need to check his previous year. In this case, that would mean squinting at the 'fiche, since the WashPost people apparently didn't understand "service years" (anniversary date to anniversary date) vs "Air Force years" (Federal fiscal years, 1 Oct to 30 Sept) vs calendar years (you do know what a calendar is, don't you?)

But looking at just the JAN-APR part of '72, I notice he did 30 days then -- almost a full year's service. Looking at his other dates, he was pretty active in '71, so the odds are real real good that he was way ahead by 1May.

In other words, you're making the assumption that his service days go away on his anniversary date.

Which is ignorant. And wrong.

Secondly, the AF 526 document (listing the retirement points for 72-73) is completely inconsistent with the signed and "certified correct" form listing Shrub's points for the year. All 32 of Shrub's "inactive" points on the signed form are "UTA points". UTA are Unit Training Assemblies---the "one weekend a month" duty that most guardsmen attend. The UTA for November 1972 for the 187th was, according to the documents, held on Nov. 4-5. There is no documentation of Shrub showing up on those days. Furthermore, Shrub's supposed dates of service in November were the 11-14. There is NO WAY that the 13th and 14th of November could have been "UTA" days, because they were Monday and Tuesday.

The Guard, like other parts of the Reserves, account for little things like needing to be available for contact with Regulars for an inspection or something -- or simply haaving a sick kid, or having to work. You're assuming that UTA days can only be done on the normal service weekend.

Which is ignorant. And wrong.

Thirdly, Shrub claimed that he returned to TANG after the election in November 1972. But 19 of the days he supposedly served were in January (6 days), April (2 days), and May (11 days). Yet, according to Shrub's evaluation for the period May 1, 1972 to April 30, 1973, Shrub was NEVER SEEN at Ellington Air force base that entire period.

You misunderstand the term of art "not observed" on an efficiency report. You presume it means "never ever seen", but in fact it means "not seen personally, and in enough direct contact, to responsibly make an efficiency report."

That is, you're ignorant. And wrong.

Fourth, the only people who claim they saw Bush doing service in Alabama are contradicted by Bush's pay records, transfer records, and other witnesses. The claim being made is that Bush showed up for monthly drills all during the summer of 1972 with the 187th. However, these witnesses are contradicted by the "payroll" evidence which shows no service for the months of May-September 1972. They are also contradicted by the "tranfer" records---Shrub did not even APPLY for his temporary transfer to the 167th until September 5th. ....

Not you're making the assumption that the forms that would have been submitted for Bush's drills in Alabama would make it to Texas and be posted to his records in a timely fashion.

I find your confidence in military record keeping touching, and amazingly naive for a generation raised on M*A*S*H.

In fact, here's what would happen: someone in Alabama would fill out an IBM card form (I remember these being "form IBM 150" and a mark-sense card -- you blacked positions on the card with a #2 pencil.) That card would be sent physically by mail to the Pentagon, and processed as a low-priority activity -- which means "eventually, if no one lost them." Then, having been posted in Arlington, the reported service would be conveyed to the home unit as part of their points reports.

Quarterly.

And, since the important records are the ones in the Pentagon, they'd just drop the sheet into his service record. If they remembered. (It kind of looks like that might be the sheet with the torn corner.)

In other words, you're ignorant. And wrong again.

.... And the other witnesses specifically contradict the contention that Shrub showed up for the "monthly drills" (UTAs, in fact).

So, as well as ignorantly believing that UTA days could only be done on regular drill days, you're taking the word of some guys in an 800+ person unit that they didn't see the guy for the six days out of several months he would have been there, over the word of the guys who remember Bush clearly.

And one of those people whose word you're accepting has Alzheimers and admits he's not even sure if he was there then.
That's not just ignorant and wrong, that's stoopid.

In other words, Shrub DID NOT complete his duty for his 72-73 year according to documents he signed which defined "satisfactory participation", and what records that DO exist for any duty that he pulled are internally inconsistent, and are contradicted by Bush himself, as well as witness who supposedly saw Bush in Alabama.

I realize that you would love to maintain that fantasy.

You don't have to beleive me, either: plenty of others who have the right MOS/AFSC have written about this. Baldilocks, for example. SMASH. Greyhawk. Other commenters on this site.

You should especially read the comments on Mudville Gazette (Greyhawk) by LTC Chris Pastel USMC (emphasis mine):


Let me echo some of the earlier comments on this post. I started as a Private at Parris Island and ended up as a light colonel. I served 11 years active duty followed by 17 years reserves. I can tell you from personal experience that the reserves do have the sort of flexibility that the active duty folks never had. The key thing in the reserves is to get a "good year", which is defined as getting 50 retirement points in that anniversary year (based on your pay entry base date). Points are earned for active duty (1 point per day) or inactive duty (1 point per 4 hours with a maximum of 2 points per day). Inactive duty points are awarded for drills, whether paid drills or unpaid drills, for completing correspondence courses, or for other approved projects.


If you can belong to an active reserve unit and get paid for your drills, that's really great. I did a bunch of that, but I also did a bunch of drilling for what the Marines called a Mobilization Training Unit (MTU), formerly called a VTU (Volunteer Training Unit) which drills for points but no pay. In either type of unit, there are scheduled drills. If you miss a scheduled drill, you can make up the drill. Ideally, if you are going to miss a drill, you let the unit know in advance, but most reserve units are really flexible, especially for the officers, and if something comes up at the last minute, you can usually slide by even if you don't let the unit know in advance. It all depends on the unit. Frequently you can perform drills in advance and therefore not have to show up for the scheduled drill.

Some drilling reservists have very flexible "scheduled" drills, i.e., they can drill almost whenever they feel like it as long as the project they are working on gets completed when it is supposed to.

I looked at Bush's drill history, which has been floating around on the Internet for a couple of years, and I fail to see what the fuss is about. he earned 4 points in October 72 and 8 points in November of 72, which carried him through December, since you should average 4 points per month or 48 per year. (That's 4 points per month times 12 months.)

[Digression here. You also earn 15 points per year just for belonging to the active reserves or individual ready reserves. Add the 15 to the 48 and you have 63 points for the year. Guess what? You can only credit 60 inactive duty points per year towards retirement. That means that the average reservist is wasting points that count towards retirement. Couple that with the fact that only 50 points are needed for a good year, and the clear implication is that reservists are expected to miss at least some of their drills. Which is actually the case--I forget what percent attendance individual reservists are supposed to meet, and I forget what percent of total unit attendance units are supposed to meet, but I can guarantee that it is not 100%. End digression.]

Bush then earned 6 points twice in January 73, which equals 12, which is equivalent to 3 months, which carried him through March, so lo and behold, he drilled again in April, earning 4 points. Then in May, he drilled 4 times, earning 3, 3, 4, and 3 points respectively, or 13 points total. That carried him through July 73. Bush got good years for both 1972 and 1973, and left the service with an honorable discharge. That means he did what he was supposed to.


So what I see is an entirely normal drilling record for a reservist who, like so many of us, is holding down two or three careers at a time (counting the military as one of them).

So what is all the fuss about? Darned if I know. Remember, this was a time when new Army officers who had made life-changing decisions to join the Army after college were being discharged right out after finishing up their basic schools and being commissioned as 2/LT's because the Army had too many officers. Vietnam was winding way down--I had my orders to Saigon cancelled 2 months after receiving them (that was in December 1971), but I ended up in Thailand in September 72, working at a Marine Air Base called Nam Phong, aka The Rose Garden, as in we didn't promise you one, but we're sending you there. At that time, there were NO, repeat NO, ground troops permanently stationed in Vietnam, but Marine air, Navy air, and the Air Force were actively supporting the Vietnamese ground campaigns. And the Army must have provided aviation support to the Vietnamese, but they weren't being coordinated by the 7th/9th Air Force. The point being that LT's were a dime a dozen, with more reservists AND active duty types wanting to fly that there were flying billets available for them. If LT Bush, who had already been flying as part of the national air defense mission for 3 years, wanted to step down, that was no big deal because there were hundreds who wanted to take his place.

Again, I found nothing, absolutely nothing, in Bush's records that looked out of the ordinary.

So there are your points. Each on of them is out of ignorance.

But then, ignorance is no excuse.

Posted by: Charlie (Colorado) at February 17, 2004 10:28 AM | PERMALINK

Paul L.

Re:the retirement points issue

Back then you could only get a maximum of 60 retirement points per year for inactive duty (and the 15 gratuitous points were considered inactive)

Here is the reference:

http://arpc.afrc.af.mil/PointsCredit/maxpoints.htm

third paragraph

However this doesn't necessarily explain why bush got only 38 retirement points in 1973 from the TANG. If you prorate the 60 point limit by his 1/3 proration factor (based on his grat points 5/15) you get 20, then add 19 active duty points to get 39. Perhaps a more accurate proration factor would get you to the 38 he is credited with.

While all this is interesting, it's unclear whether a good year of service is based on retirement points or total points. It also should be noted that Bush has produced no records of his time in the air force reserves after October 1973. So we can't ascertain how many points he was credited with for all his 73-74 service.

Posted by: ftm at February 17, 2004 10:39 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah, Pax, let's just consider Phil Carter's Op Ed. "The issue has never been whether he was guilty of desertion or being AWOL--two slanderous charges leveled without regard for the facts." Got that? "Slanderous charges ... without regard to the facts."

(As an aside, in fact the issue has always been whether Bush was guilty of "desertion or being AWOL", since those are the specific charged laid by Micheal Moore and Terry MacAuliffe, but let that pass.)

Let's quote some other paragraphs:

As an initial matter, it should be clear that Bush did volunteer to serve as a fighter pilot when he was under no compulsion to do so. President Bush could have avoided the draft through other means that were far safer than flying the F-102--an aircraft sometimes called the "widowmaker" for its propensity to crash. Despite efforts by some pundits to create one, there is no real analogy between the president's military service and the efforts by former President Bill Clinton to avoid military service, except that both happened within the larger context of the Vietnam War.

....

They conclusively establish that he earned enough points in each year to receive credit for retirement, and this is one indicator that the president performed his duty in a satisfactory manner.

....

In 1973, the president sought and received an early discharge to attend Harvard Business School. .... Everything about this early discharge looks legitimate.

Phil then goes on to suggest that there is something less than admirable in taking an early discharge (from the inactive ready reserve, Phil) in 1973, because people aren't getting early outs in 2004.

This is wildly unfair: 1973 isn't 2004. In 1973, a war had just ended, the total forces were being reduced dramatically, and Regular officers were getting RIF'd and fighting for Guard slots to keep their flight status; in 2004, we're fighting an active war, and the ridiculously small forces we maintained after the Clinton years are hard-pressed.

In any case, if taking an early out is somehow less than honorable, it's a dishonor Bush shares with both Gore and Kerry.

Might as well give it up, kids: even someone who clearly is not well-inclined to Bush agrees the charges are stupid slander.

Posted by: Charlie (Colorado) at February 17, 2004 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

Thanks, Charlie,

You will agree that for better or worse, Americans understand AWOL now as a kind of shorthhand, here and elsewhere, for both a narrow issue (i.e., what Bush's military records show say, or don't say) and the larger issue of the president's character and integrity--his bona fides as commander and chief. By describing himself as a "war president," he himself is making his military bona fides an issue. And then there is the runup to and the conduct of the war itself feeding these character and integrity issues.

Nothing you or I say here can put this genie, this political virus,back in the bottle. You defend the president. I criticize him. You cite his record. So do I. I think we'll have to agree to disagree.

Posted by: PaxR55 at February 17, 2004 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

If you can tell me that you voted for Dole, the war hero, in 1992 over Clinton, the draft dodger, then I will listen respectfully to your arguments about why President Bush's National Guard service is relevant to whether he's fit to be re-relected; if you voted for Clinton, then I will respectfully decline to listen to your arguments, which in that case are just politics.

Posted by: DBL at February 17, 2004 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

I'd like to point out two heroes in our midst on this thread. Paul Lukasiak dogged the Florida vote aftermath, providing netizens with the most in-depth and reliable analyses of the vote when America's journalists would not. And Marty Heldt, of course, is the Iowa farmer who first secured George Bush's military records via FOIA, during the presidential campaign and brought them to the broader audience via salon.com's Table Talk.

Never underestimate the power of your research, people.

Posted by: mrsparker at February 17, 2004 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

You will agree that for better or worse, Americans understand AWOL now as a kind of shorthhand, here and elsewhere, for both a narrow issue (i.e., what Bush's military records show say, or don't say) and the larger issue of the president's character and integrity--his bona fides as commander and chief.

No, I won't. A lie often repeated is still a lie.

Posted by: Charlie (Colorado) at February 17, 2004 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

Just saw one post well Charlie completely ignored the question of the physical. *yawn*
As all other INTELLIGENT commentators have noted, the missing physical is quite significant.
No avalanche of bullshit from Charlie will show otherwise.

Posted by: Marky at February 17, 2004 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

Charlie-you seem like a pretty knowledgable guy. Maybe you can explain: HD TR TexANG per ANGR 36-05..... And, "Officer will comply with para 2-10 AFM 35-13. Authority: Para 2-29m, AFM 35-13.

Posted by: lookin' at February 17, 2004 01:00 PM | PERMALINK

So, as well as ignorantly believing that UTA days could only be done on regular drill days, you're taking the word of some guys in an 800+ person unit that they didn't see the guy for the six days out of several months he would have been there, over the word of the guys who remember Bush clearly.

Charlie, your ignorance is shown throughout your post to me, but it is demonstrated especially by your comments above.

"UTA" is ONE FORM of "inactive" duty---the specific form known as "unit training assemblies". UTAs ONLY OCCUR ONCE A MONTH. ON THE WEEKENDS. That you do not understand the distinction between "inactive duty points" and UTA points (which are a subset of 'inactive duty points') demonstrates that you are not to be taken seriously on this issue.

While all this is interesting, it's unclear whether a good year of service is based on retirement points or total points.

FTM, I would suggest that a "good year of service" is not defined by points. It is defined by service.

It is rather ridiculous to assert that one can have a "good year of service" when one does not meet the criteria for "satisfactory participation" for a year. This is because "satisfactory participation" is defined not by points, but by service periods (15 days of active duty, 48 four-hour periods of inactive duty) which yield more that the "50 point minimum".

I suspect (based on the wording of the document signed by Bush defining "satisfactory participation") that the "50 point minimum" defines not unsatisfactory participation. "Unsatisfactory" made you liable for sanctions (i.e. being called up for 45 days of active duty.)

I guess the best way to explain it would be to say that getting only 50 points would be the equivalent of a "D minus" in a class. All it means is that you have not failed---and those that would define 50 points as "a good year" are the equivalent of those who would define a "D minus" as a "good grade".

that being said, a "not unsatisfactory" year was probably defined in terms of total points, rather than retirement points. There would be no reason to make the distinction between "total" and "retirement" points if "total" points did not mean that you could avoid sanctions.

Posted by: paul lukasiak at February 17, 2004 01:30 PM | PERMALINK

Paul, can you clarify what sort of drills Bush would have been attending in 72-74 and what kind of records they should have had?
I believe it was Lloyd Cutler himself who said that the existing records (before last week) should have indicated the type of duty, the place and the time, but they did not.
Do we still have gaps? Is this, as some posters suggest, do to the changed nature of Bush's duty after mid 1972? Some would have us believe that since Bush was in the inactive reserve, the lack of very specific records would be normal.
Can you clarify this point?
Finally, what about the physical?
Was the flight suspension notice purely routine---a reflection of Bush's changed status?

Posted by: marky at February 17, 2004 01:57 PM | PERMALINK

Bottom line: all three of Burkett's sources have confirmed his story.

To be more accurate, all three of Burkett's sources have confirmed that Burkett told them this story. Not quite the same thing.

Posted by: tbrosz at February 17, 2004 02:28 PM | PERMALINK

check out

http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2004/02/17/records/

for Eric Boehlert's take on what the new documents say about W.'s later service (not much).

Posted by: marky at February 17, 2004 02:54 PM | PERMALINK

I want to repeat an earlier question too.
Why are there no people who served with Bush
at ANY TIME during his guard service who will speak to his service? This is more than odd.

Posted by: marky at February 17, 2004 02:55 PM | PERMALINK

DBL,

I don't care HOW you voted, DBL. I listen respectfully to anyone here who takes the time to blog about this or any other political matter of importance this election year. Extra points for wittiness, evident research, and intelligence. Demerits for blowhards.

John Glenn, all-American hero of war and space, tried to run for the presidency in 1984. It was peacetime. His record didn't count for much in the primaries. Reagan ran pretty much as the Gipper and won, as I remember, quite handily. My point is that war changes everything. Bush himself thinks so: "I am a war president."

Fine. Americans get to decide if they like the current "war president" or if they would prefer another. In the meantime, I'm reading Paul's posts with particular interest.

Posted by: PaxR55 at February 17, 2004 04:10 PM | PERMALINK

Paul, can you clarify what sort of drills Bush would have been attending in 72-74 and what kind of records they should have had?

I believe it was Lloyd Cutler himself who said that the existing records (before last week) should have indicated the type of duty, the place and the time, but they did not.

since this is a long post, I want to start by giving a shout-out to Mrs. P!

okay, the person that you are referring to is actually Albert Lloyd, who was (IIRC) TANG's chief personnel officer at one point, and who examined Bush's records for the Bush campaign.

next to understand this, you should open
http://www.usatoday.com/news/bushdocs/5-Performance_Points.pdf

and go to page 2. This is the kind of record that Lloyd was referring to when he said that there should be a record of when Bush served, and what he did.

The word "drills" is a misnomer---a better word is "duty." And there are two types of "duty", active and inactive. And the theoretical distinction between the two is (more or less) that "active" duty means that you are performing military work, while "inactive" duty is generally training---maintaining and/or enhancing ones skill set. In PRACTICAL terms, there really isn't much of a distinction in many cases.

The document that you are looking at divides "duty" into the two major (active and inactive) categories, then breaks down "inactive" duty into four subcategories (Unit Training Assemblies, Appropriate Duty, Equivalent Training, and Training Period.)

These distinctions are what Lloyd was referring to when he said that there should be a record of what Bush was doing. They really don't tell us much about his actual activities so much as give us a general idea of what he was doing. For instance "Unit Training Assembies" were (theoretically) organized training for the "unit" (equivalent to a class), while the other forms of "inactive" duty were more like "independent study".

Do we still have gaps? Is this, as some posters suggest, do to the changed nature of Bush's duty after mid 1972? Some would have us believe that since Bush was in the inactive reserve, the lack of very specific records would be normal. Can you clarify this point.

Bush did not become "inactive" until Sept 15, 1973, and was not "reassigned" to an "inactive" unit until Oct 1st. Once you become "inactive" in this sense, you don't have any obligations other than being available if there is some kind of emergency.

There are huge gaps in Bush's service record that should not be there. There is a six month gap with no service between April 16 and October 28th, 1972 when there is no record of any duty. There is also a three month gap from January 10 to April 7th, 1973, and there is no duty recorded after July 30th, 1973 despite the fact that Bush was not discharged from TANG until Oct. 1, 1973.

Finally, what about the physical? Was the flight suspension notice purely routine---a reflection of Bush's changed status?

It was not routine. His status was changed because he did not take the physical. There was no "change of status" form submitted that would have allowed him to ignore the physical.

When TANG submitted Bush's Officer Effectiveness Report to the Federal National Guard HQ with the comments that Bush was "not observed" at TANG because he was doing "equivalent duty in a non-flying status" in Alabama, NGHQ responded that Bush "should have been reassigned in May 1972 since he is no longer training in his AFSC..."

AFSC stands for "Air Force Specialty Code"...basically, HQ was saying that if Bush had been transferred to a unit where he was in a non-flying position that he SHOULD HAVE BEEN given a new job classification.

The documents themselves make it pretty obvious that TANG was covering for Bush to some extent in the Officer Evaluation Report---the OER SHOULD HAVE noted that Bush had not shown up for his physical, and had been removed from flying status. Under the "Present Duty" heading, it says that Bush was a "Pilot, Flight Inteceptor, Squadron Level. Pilots F102-type aircraft and performs airborne intercepts as required by assigned missions." They knew that he was no longer qualified to perform that mission, and had not been qualified for it for eight months. They also knew that Bush had only been approved for duty in Alabama for three months.

Posted by: paul lukasiak at February 17, 2004 04:16 PM | PERMALINK

I want to repeat an earlier question too.
Why are there no people who served with Bush
at ANY TIME during his guard service who will speak to his service? This is more than odd.

there are lots of people who are more than willing to talk about Bush's service prior to May, 1972. Up until that point, Bush appears to have been an "exemplary" member of TANG.

That is what is so odd about the whole thing....Bush was showing up consistently for his "unit training assemblies" until the beginning of 1972---and putting in lots of extra duty as well. Then his record starts to become a little bit spotty. Then, in mid-April 1972, he stops showing up entirely.

But according to various sources, Bush DID NOT get offered the job with the Blount campaign until mid-May of 1972. If you are looking for evidence of "something happenning", the time to look for it is the period between April 16th and mid-May of 1972, because the lack of ANY record of Bush serving in TANG for that period is unexplainable.


Posted by: paul lukasiak at February 17, 2004 04:32 PM | PERMALINK

Paul,
Thanks for the answers to my questions, and thanks for putting the time into this.

Posted by: marky at February 17, 2004 04:33 PM | PERMALINK
"UTA" is ONE FORM of "inactive" duty---the specific form known as "unit training assemblies". UTAs ONLY OCCUR ONCE A MONTH. ON THE WEEKENDS. That you do not understand the distinction between "inactive duty points" and UTA points (which are a subset of 'inactive duty points') demonstrates that you are not to be taken seriously on this issue.

Paul, the fact is that what I've said is completely in agreement with what a number of other people with good military credentials have said. I've cited others, with links. You pull these things out of your ass. You don't convince thereby.

You also assert that his evaluations are glaringly falsified. If so, I suggest you contact the JAG and Justice and file charges. I'm sure that Chaley Rangel will be happy to help, if you have a leg to stand on.

But you won't -- because you don't.

And no, if you go TDY to another position, they don't give you a new AFSC, especially not if you're in the Air Guard and traveling for temporary reasons.

t is rather ridiculous to assert that one can have a "good year of service" when one does not meet the criteria for "satisfactory participation" for a year. This is because "satisfactory participation" is defined not by points, but by service periods (15 days of active duty, 48 four-hour periods of inactive duty) which yield more that the "50 point minimum".

And your source for this peculiar assertion would be what? What you're saying directly contradicts a number of sources with long military careers who have been cited by name and service, and contradicts the written records.

Posted by: Charlie (Colorado) at February 17, 2004 05:48 PM | PERMALINK
Charlie-you seem like a pretty knowledgable guy. Maybe you can explain: HD TR TexANG per ANGR 36-05..... And, "Officer will comply with para 2-10 AFM 35-13. Authority: Para 2-29m, AFM 35-13.

Thirty-odd years later, I sure don't know how I'd set hand to chapter and verse, but the usual thing would be that the authority for suspending flight status was such and such a paragraph; then specifying how to remedy the deficiency. I'd translate that as "transmit to Texas ANG as specificed in ANG Regulation 36-05" and "Officer will comply with paragraph 2-10 in Air Force Manual 35-13 [that's probably one that says to have his flight status restored, he needs to get a physical and then submit it to some office or another with endorsement of his unit C.O.] as required by paragraph 2-29 in the same manual [which is probably the one that says what the requirements would be.]"

If you really want a good translation, I'd suggest trying Baldilocks -- she had a 900-series AFSC, she should know. Or call the Pentagon, get the DoD Public Information Office. If you don't sound like a psychotic -- and it can't be too stringent a requirements, because they've answered all sorts of weird questions for me -- they should be abe to dig it out.

Then, once they tell you much the same thing I've told you, you'll have to figure out if you believe them.

Posted by: Charlie (Colorado) at February 17, 2004 06:01 PM | PERMALINK

Guys, look: try applying Occam's Razor, and a little bit of common sense. It's not like there's anything here that's classified; I'm sure even a hobbyist could dig up more info on these things. You've had a half-dozen people with direct Air Guard, National Guard, and Air Force experience translate these things for you; the counter-arguments keep coming down to "lack of evidence of wrongdoing is evidence of a coverup."

What's more, you're asserting this on the basis of somethig that has to have been an an incompetent coverup -- because a bunch of kids with no military experience are sussing it out -- which none the less has fooled everyone in the professional press, and even people like Phil Carter, an intelligence officer and apaprently briliant young lawyer who admits there is no evidence of wrongdoing whatsoever, even as he's writing an Op Ed which is hardly favorable to Bush.

It's kind of like the scene in one of the Billy Jack movies where -- in an indigestible expository lump -- the kids in their Arizona reservation public radio station explain how they proved that Nixon had conspired with the Chinese to turn the earth over to the evil Grays (or some such.)

This is not just Art-Bell, tinfoil-lined-hat territory; this is getting into "five different conspiracies, John Kennedy was killed by John Dillinger and FDR" territory.

Posted by: Charlie (Colorado) at February 17, 2004 06:13 PM | PERMALINK

i What's more, you're asserting this on the basis of somethig that has to have been an an incompetent coverup -- because a bunch of kids with no military experience are sussing it out -- which none the less has fooled everyone in the professional press, and even people like Phil Carter, an intelligence officer and apaprently briliant young lawyer who admits there is no evidence of wrongdoing whatsoever, even as he's writing an Op Ed which is hardly favorable to Bush.

there is already PROOF of "wrongdoing"...the fact that Bush's points record for 1972-73 was "certified correct" yet is entirely inconsistent with the "printed" points record.

there is also clear evidence of a pattern of "wrongdoing"---the FAILURE of TANG officials to file the necessary and appropriate papers concerning Bush's change in flight status is one glaring example. (National Guard HQ in Colorado SPECIFICALLY noted that TANG should have changed Bush's AFSC in May 72 if TANG was claiming Bush was "not observed" at TANG, and had authorized that Bush be doing "non-flying" equivalent service in Alabama for an entire year).

Except for Eric Boehlert over at Salon, I have YET to read a single journalist who has shown that they have subjected the records that were released on Friday to anything approaching close scrutiny. For instance, NO ONE has mentioned the undated letter sent by Bush to TANG asking how he could get out of the National Guard, or the signed statement by Bush on July 30th 1973 acknowledging that if he moved from Texas that he was responsible for finding another Guard unit to fulfill his commitment with.

NO ONE has noted that Bush signed an agreement stating that "satisfactory participation" meant 15 days of active duty and 48 periods of inactive duty annually...

and that for his last two years of service, Bush failed to participate in a satisfactory manner in accordance with the agreement he had signed...

Hell, NO ONE in the press has even noted that Albert Lloyd CANNOT EVEN ADD---let alone the fact that the documents he SAYS he examined do not back up what he claims regarding Bush's service.

The title of this thread is "adventures in forensic journalism". Kevin Drum did a great job of forensic journalism with regard to Burkett's claim that some of Bush's documents were thrown in the trash. But so far, no journalist has actually done the kind of "forensic" analysis of the documents released on Friday....

Posted by: paul lukasiak at February 17, 2004 06:33 PM | PERMALINK

I want to try to clarify what the regulations are as far as performance in the NG.

Current ANG enlistment documents define minimum satisfactory participation as 48 uta periods and 15 active duty days annually.

See page 122
http://www.e-publishing.af.mil/pubfiles/ang/36/angi36-2002/angi36-2002.pdf

Satisfactory service is a different concept used for determining retirement status and re-enlistment privileges and requires 50 retirement points annually.

See page 90 of the same document.

So the current regulations delineate two distinct performance concepts -- one is participation and one is service.

For satisfactory participation, the measurement year is the military fiscal year starting Octber 1st. And for satisfactory service the measurement year is the individual's retention/retirement year (Bush's starts May 26).

see: the FAQ at bottom left of

http://arpc.afrc.af.mil/PointsCredit/index.htm


These are the current regulations. But Bush's enlistment documents define satisfactory participation the same as current regs. And Albert LLoyd defines satisfactory service as 50 points per year. So the basic definitions have not changed. I'll assume the measurement year definitions have not changed either.

The upshot of all this is - if we accept the documents at face value, something I don't recommend -- both Bush's service and participation met the minimum thresholds. In fact the reason he didn't record points in Alabama until Oct 72 was because he knew he didn't need any additional points in FY 72 (ending Oct 1, 72). You can also count up his uta points in both FY72 and FY73 and see he just barely scrapes by.

Also note that by FY 74 he was in the reserves and didn't need any NG participation points.

So I hope this clarifies things.

Posted by: ftm at February 17, 2004 08:38 PM | PERMALINK

FTM---thanks for the links!

I would, however like to dispute this statement...

The upshot of all this is - if we accept the documents at face value, something I don't recommend -- both Bush's service and participation met the minimum thresholds.

You have noted that it is the retirement/retention year that requires 50 service points. Bush's retirement year was May 27-May 26. As we have already noted, Bush's 526 form for his last year included only 40 points, because he did not receive his full compliment of "membership points."

according to the faq at

http://arpc.afrc.af.mil/PointsCredit/maxpoints.htm

The 15 membership points, which are annually awarded to members for maintaining active Reserve status , are also considered in the inactive duty points category.

and

http://arpc.afrc.af.mil/PointsCredit/RRyear.htm

A partial year of satisfactory Federal service is credited when you earn the minimum number of required points (including prorated membership points) during a partial R/R year.

Bush did not "maintain active Reserve status" for his last R/R year, which is why he recieved less than 15 points. And because he did not get all 15 points, he did not get the 50 points required for a "satisfactory" R/R year.

I also went over Bush's last two fiscal years of service---amazingly enough, he does get the absolute minimum of 48 "inactive" points in each of his last two years.

But that "paticipation" requirement is not just attendance, but "satisfactory performance of assigned duties at 48 scheduled inactive duty training periods"

to suggest that Bush's "performance" was satisfactory during the last fiscal year when he did not perform the duties central to the AFSC he MAINTAINED (e.g. Pilot) for that entire last FY is something of a stretch.

And although some flexibility in terms of missing UTAs (e.g. scheduled inactive duty training days) is considered appropriate, during his last FY, he missed UTAs in AT LEAST seven months (Oct, Nov, Dec, Feb, March, August, and September). In the previous fiscal year, he missed UTAs in six months (Feb, May, June, July, Aug, Sept.--in March, he was on active duty on one of two UTA days, and was given inactive credit for the other UTA day.)

It is difficult to claim that Bush's performance could be rated as "satisfactory" throughout this two year period when for one twelve month stretch (May 72-April 73) he attened a MAXIMUM possible TWO UTA weekends (Jan, and April).

Bottom line then is that

1) we KNOW that Bush did not have a "satisfactory" R/R year in 73-74

2) the evidence is overwhelming that he did not perform satisfactorily during his last Fiscal Year (Oct 72-Sept 73),

3) the complete lack of documentation with regard to permission to "make up" missed UTAs in the previous fiscal year raises questions about "satisfactory performance"

4) the fact that Bush lost his flying status, in August 72 but MAINTAINED his "pilot" Air Force Specialty Code until he was placed on "Inactive Duty" in September 1973 means that he "performance" in both years has to be questioned. If Bush did not wish to fly anymore, he should have had his AFSC changed--the failure to do so means he was NOT performing the duty he was supposed to be doing.

Posted by: paul lukasiak at February 18, 2004 06:33 AM | PERMALINK

Paul

I'm not going to argue with your second point that in order to define bush fy73 & fy74 performance as satisfactory one needs to really take every liberty with the definition of satisfactory performance. Plus the fact that he just met 48 pt uta requirement in each year is more than a little suspicious. There is also no question that for much of the time he was freelancing and without the required command permission to miss and reschedule uta performance.

Your first point is more difficult. You are arguing that during his time in the reserves he was inactive and could not earn gratutious points. I'm not sure of this -- but I'm going to look into it. I know there are some documents about his reserve status in '74 in the document dump.

One issue is this we know now that the ORS is now an "active status section of the ready reserve" - but I'm not sure that was true in '74. More on this later.

see
Section 3.3
http://arpc.afrc.af.mil/dpaf/Non%20Particp.htm

This issue could be easily cleared up if bush would just release a current summary of his retirement info. - something any soldier can request at any time and something that would be a worthy and likely successful FOIA target.


Posted by: ftm at February 18, 2004 07:43 AM | PERMALINK

There is another avenue of inquiry that needs to be pursued.

How do we know the WH has released all the non-medical information in bush's files?

Here is some evidence they have not:

1. I have not been able to find several documents from Martin Heldt's FOIA request in the document dump. One is the particularly damaging document which shows that bush's Texas supervisor's haven't "observed" him for a year.
see

Document 9
http://users.cis.net/coldfeet/document.htm

Another is the document ordering him to appear for active duty in the summer of 73.

see
Document 17
http://users.cis.net/coldfeet/document.htm

Now I could have overlooked these in the document dump -- I would appreciate if someone could point me too them. (also the performance grades file is now missing at USA today does anyone have a copy ?)

Also his retirement points summary from 72-73 appears blank -- Is it blank? or was the copy machine malfunctioning?

Some copies of bush's personal correspondence with the TANG have no dates, Were the dates lost in copying? or the documents filed without a date of receipt?

This is a fruitful line of inquiry because if examples of missing information can be cataloged, the pressure should grow for Bush to sign a waiver to allow the press access to the documents directly.

Until he signs a waiver, there is no way to determine whether there has been a coverup or not.


Posted by: ftm at February 18, 2004 08:09 AM | PERMALINK

Charlie-thanks for the comments on TANG 36-05 and AFM 35-13. I tried http://www.e-publishing.af.mil but couldn't find AFM 35-13. It may be obsolete, but it didn't show up in that category. I'm not sure that I'll go as far as calling DoD.

You didn't explain the HD. I assume that is Honorable Discharge, is that correct?

I should have referred to the CHRONOLOGICAL SERVICE LISTING document and the complete text on that for 1 Oct 73, which is: HD TR TexANG 36-05, SO ANG-A 158, State of Texas AG Dept, Austin, Tx, and transferred to ARPC (ORS), 3800 York St, Denver, CO 80205 effective 2 October 1973. (DOS TexANG 1 Oct 73).

Since ARPC(ORS)-Denver is where the paperwork is kept does "transferred to ARPC" mean the paperwork is transferred there or the physical person?

Also, if the HD is Honorable Discharge, then does that mean that the HD is "as specified in ANG Regulation 36-05" or the transfer is "as specified..."?

Maybe you could review- http://www.oag.state.tx.us/opinions/op49cornyn/jc-0265.htm, 3.Purpose, 4.Policy, 5.Procedures and comment further. Thanks

Posted by: lookin' at February 18, 2004 08:57 AM | PERMALINK

Paul

Re: Was Bush's reserve status active or inactive?

It appears to have been active until May 1974 when he was transferred to inactive reserve status.

see: Page 20

http://www.usatoday.com/news/bushdocs/10-3_2000_Personnel_File.pdf

So while you can't be sure ORS was an active status designation in 1973, it is today -- so it is likely bush got 10 additional gratuitous points. Technically he was still short two retirement points for inadequate active duty points while in the NG but that is a fairly minor point. You can reference my discussion of this above.

But until they cough up his complete retirement records one can't be sure he got 48 or 50 points in 73-74.


Posted by: ftm at February 18, 2004 10:47 AM | PERMALINK

Re: Was Bush's reserve status active or inactive? It appears to have been active until May 1974 when he was transferred to inactive reserve status.

according to his 1973-74 ARF Retirement Credit Summary (Page 13 of http://www.usatoday.com/news/bushdocs/5-Performance_Points.pdf )

Bush's status was changed to Inactive effective September 15, 1973.

(look in the upper right hand corner.)

That is why the same line that lists his points gives him only three months and 19 days (000319) "satisfactory service in years, months, and days" for the 73-74 Retirement/Retention year.

And THAT is why I have been saying that Bush got ONLY 40 "retention points" and 38 "retirement points".

The interesting thing is that Bush was not discharged from TANG until Oct 1, 1973. And so far, I can find no document that would fully explain why he was made inactive effective 730915.

The closest documentary evidence is that on September 13th Rufus G. Martin certified that bush had "satisfactorily partipated in his ready reserve assignment while assigned to 111th fighter squadron". There is also a document dated September 18th which appears to be "final approval" for Bush's discharge and reassignment.

page 2 of http://www.usatoday.com/news/bushdocs/2-Discharge.pdf

but I've found nothing so far that orders bush to be made inactive effective 9/15/73

Posted by: paul lukasiak at February 18, 2004 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

It appears to have been active until May 1974 when he was transferred to inactive reserve status. see: Page 20 http://www.usatoday.com/news/bushdocs/10-3_2000_Personnel_File.pdf

my guess is that this is the order than extended his time with the inactive reserve for an additional 181 days. Bush was supposed to be discharged on May 26th, 1974, but was not discharged until Nov. 21st, 1974.

Do you have any idea what chapter 10 AFM-35-3 meant back then? That is the "authority" cited...

Posted by: paul lukasiak at February 18, 2004 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

i Now I could have overlooked these in the document dump -- I would appreciate if someone could point me too them. (also the performance grades file is now missing at USA today does anyone have a copy ?)

My guess is that the performance grades file is where the missing Officer Evaluation Report (that's where the 'not obverved' comment comes from) is. It is certainly NOT in any of the "personnel" files, nor are any of the other OER reports in that first bunch of flies listed on the USA Today site.

And Martin's site is down right now, so I can't say anything about an order for active duty. (but I don't remember seeing one...)

as to the 1972-73 ARF points page, it does not appear that a points summary was done. This is not all that surprising, in that the 1973-74 ARF points page does not list cumulative points.

Also his retirement points summary from 72-73 appears blank -- Is it blank? or was the copy machine malfunctioning?

Some copies of bush's personal correspondence with the TANG have no dates, Were the dates lost in copying? or the documents filed without a date of receipt?

Posted by: paul lukasiak at February 18, 2004 01:27 PM | PERMALINK

Sara: The "discharge number" (36-05) you asked about is simply the number of the Air National Guard Regulation (ANGR) governing administrative discharge of ANG officers:

"ANGR 36-05: Administrative Separation/Discharge of Commissioned Officers of the Air National Guard of the USAF".

A "spin-code", SPN, separation program number, would be a three-digit numeric code (no hyphens).

Post-1974, an SPD, separation program designator, would be a three-letter alphabetic code.

I agree that Bush's SPN, whatever it is, would be highly significant information. Hasn't it been released along with the rest of his records? If not, why not?

Lists of SPN/SPD/RE codes (without their meanings): http://members.aol.com/warlibrary/policy.htm

Posted by: Raven at February 19, 2004 06:00 PM | PERMALINK
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