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AWOL Bush Headlines

AWOL Bush Stories, pre-2004

Bush Didn't Earn Enough Points In 1972 To Meet Minimum Standard, Pilot Says

"...BOTH [PILOTS WHO WERE IN ALABMA'S 187TH IN 1972] KNEW JOHN BILL CALHOUN, the Atlanta businessman who was flight safety officer for the 187th in 1972 and who subsequently retired as a lieutenant colonel. Calhoun created something of a sensation late last week when he came forward at the apparent prompting of the administration to claim that he did in fact remember Lt. Bush, that the young officer has met with him during drill weekends, largely spending his time reading safety manuals in the 187ths safety office.

Even in media venues sympathetic to the president, doubt was cast almost immediately on aspects of Calhouns statement  particularly his claim that Lt. Bush was at the 187th during spring and early summer of 1972, periods when the White House itself does not claim the young lieutenant had yet arrived at Dannelly.

Mintz and Bishop are both skeptical, as well.

'I'm not saying it wasnt possible, but I cant imagine Bill not introducing him around,' Mintz said. 'Unless he [Bush] was an introvert back then, which I dont think he was, hed have spent some time out in the mainstream, in the dining hall or wherever. Hed have spent some time with us. Unless he was trying to avoid publicity. But he wasnt well known at all then. It all seems a bit unusual.'

Bishop was even more explicit. 'Im glad he [Calhoun] remembered being with Lt. Bush and Lt. Bushs eating sandwiches and looking at manuals. It seems a little strange that one man saw an individual, and all the rest of them did not. Because it was such a small organization. Usually, we all had lunch together.'

'Maybe were all getting old and senile,' Bishop said with obvious sarcasm. 'I dont want to second-guess Mr. Calhouns memory and I would hate to impugn the integrity of a fellow officer, but I know the rest of us didnt see Lt. Bush. As Bishop (corroborated by Mintz) described the physical environment, the safety office where the meetings between Major Calhoun and Lt. Bush allegedly took place was on the second floor of the units hangar, a relatively small structure itself... It was a very close-quarters situation ' It would have been 'virtually impossible,' said Bishop, for an officer to go in and out of the safety office for eight hours a month several months in a row and be unseen by anybody except then Major Calhoun.

As Bishop noted, 'Fighter pilots, and thats what we were, have situational awareness. They know everything about their environment  whether its an enemy plane creeping up or a stranger in their hangar.'

In any case, said Bishop, 'If what he [Calhoun] says is true, there would be documentation of the fact in point summaries and pay documents.'

AND THATS ANOTHER MYSTERY.

Yet another veteran of the 187th is Wayne Rambo of Montgomery, who as a lieutenant served as the units chief administrative until April of 1972. That was a few months prior to Bushs alleged service, which Rambo, who continued to drill with the 187th, also cannot remember.

Rambo was, however, able to shed some light on the Guard practice, then and now, of assigning annual service points to members, based on their record of attendance and participation. The bare minimum number is 50, and reservists meeting standard are said to have had a good year, Rambo said. Less than that amount to an unsatisfactory year  one calling for penalties assessed against the reservist retirement fund and, more immediately, for disciplinary or other corrective action. Such deficits can be written off only on the basis of a commanders call, Rambo said  and only then because of certifiable illness or some other clearly plausible reason.

'The 50-point minimum has always been taken very seriously, especially for pilots,' says Rambo. 'The reason is that it takes a lot of taxpayer money to train a pilot, and you dont want to see it wasted.'

For whatever reason, the elusive Lt. George W. Bush was awarded 41 actual points for his service in both Texas and Alabama during 1972  though he apparently was given 15 gratuitous points -- presumably by his original Texas command -- enough to bring him up from substandard. That would have been a decided violation of the norm, according to Rambo, who stresses that the awarding of gratuitous points was clearly meant only as a reward to reservists for meeting their bottom line.

'You had to get to 50 to get the gratuitous points, which applied toward your retirement benefits, the former chief administrative officer recalls. If you were 49, you stayed at 49; if you were 50, you got up to 65.'

Bishop raises yet another issue about Bushs ANG tenure  the cancellation after 1972 of the final year of his six-year obligation  ostensibly to pursue a post-graduate business degree at Yale.

That didnt sit well with the veteran pilot. When you accept a flying slot with the Air National Guard, youre obligated for six years, Bishop said. 'Even if you grant him credit for that missing year in Alabama which none of us remember, he still failed to serve his full commitment. Even graduate school, for which he was supposedly released, is attended during the week usually. It wouldnt have conflicted with drill weekends, whether he was in Connecticut or Massachusetts or wherever. There would have been no need for an early release.'

Bishop paused. 'Maybe they do things differently in Texas. I dont want to malign the commander-inc-chief, but this is an issue of duty, honor country. You must have integrity.'" --Jackson Baker, The Memphis Flyer, 02.16.04


Records Show Bush-Backing Alabama Guardsman Tells Questionable Story

Josh Marshall writes, "Yesterday, though, there was a new development when one of the president's fellow Guardsmen, John B. Calhoun, came forward to say that he clearly remembered him showing up for his required drills in Alabama through the summer and fall of 1972. 'We didn't have the planes that he could fly,' Calhoun told the Associated Press. 'But he studied his manuals, he read flying safety regulations, accident reports -- things pilots do quite often when they are not getting ready to fly or if they don't have other duties.' Interestingly, though, as the Houston Chronicle notes this morning, the documents released Friday night show 'Bush's transfer to the Alabama squadron wasn't approved until September 1972, months after Bush's presence as recalled by Calhoun.' Oops." And according to CBS/AP: "Calhoun's account appears to be at odds with records released by the White House. They show that President Bush logged no Guard duty -- anywhere -- from April 17th until October 28th."


Does Bush Document Dump Make Him The "War President?

No pay stubs, no relevant medical records, no sign-in sheets, no AWOL defense, but it does contain a disciplinary letter of grounding and a report by his commanders that he was absent 300 days in a row.(here) --Politex, 02.14.04


Bush's Relevant Pay Records For AWOL Period. If the military does not have them and Bush is saying he served during that period, he can authorize release of his IRS records or supply the nation with his own copies. This is a common method of resolving such issues. (The ARF record of retirement points is not a payroll record. ARF is a "paper" unit in Colorada where Bush's records were sent after he was grounded for not taking his medical, which included a drug test; it consists of file cabinets in offices.) --Politex, 02.14.04


Friday the 13th's Bush Document Dump Did Not Include Pay Records, Relevant Medical Records, Sign-In Sheets, And Defense Of Six Months AWOL, But Did Include Disciplinary Grounding Letter and Report Of 300 Day Absence (here)


Killer Hit Officer, AWOL, In Brig, Got Honorable Discharge

"I did report," Bush has said. "Otherwise, I wouldn't have been honorably discharged."

"John Allen Muhammad, convicted last November for his participation in the D.C. sniper shootings, served in the Louisiana National Guard from 1978-1985, where he faced two summary courts-martial. In 1983, he was charged with striking an officer, stealing a tape measure, and going AWOL. Sentenced to seven days in the brig, he received an honorable discharge in 1985." --The New Republic, 02.12.04


DAYS WITHOUT BUSH MILITARY PAY RECORDS: 9
Neither of the two new White House documents are Alabama pay records. Why were they reported as such?


It's Bush's Character, Stupid!

"According to records released by the White House, he apparently skipped service in 1972 from April 16 to Oct. 28. In 2000, William Turnipseed, a retired brigadier general, told the Boston Globe, "Had he reported in I would have had some recall and I do not." Still, Bush received credit for his attendance. He then returned to Texas where two of his superior officers said they couldn't give him annual evaluations because he hadn't shown up.

So why did he receive an honorable discharge, a fact the president will repeat every day, from now until November?

Grant Lattin, a retired Marine Corps lieutenant colonel who once served as judge advocate and is now a Washington military law attorney, explained to Salon.com's Eric Boehlert, "Somebody could have missed a year's worth of Guard drills and still end up with an honorable discharge." That's because, says Lattin, "the National Guard is extremely political. ... If George Bush junior is in your unit, you're going to bend over backward not to offend that family. It all comes down to who you know."

When Bush ran for president he asked us to judge him by the content of his character, not by whom he knew. He presented himself as a moral alternative to Washington politicians. He wouldn't lie, he said. He stood for truth, religion and family values. When he persuaded the public to support the war in Iraq, he asked us to trust his moral clarity.

Yet now he faces an erosion of trust by a public that feels it may have been deceived -- about his military record, about the need for a pre-emptive war in Iraq and about the man himself." --San Francisco Chronicle, 02.13.04


Bush's 187th Squardon Pilots Says Bush a No Show In Alabama

MEMPHIS  Two members of the Air National Guard unit that President George W. Bush allegedly served with as a young Guard flyer in 1972 had been told to expect him and were on the lookout for him. He never showed, however; of that both Bob Mintz and Paul Bishop are certain.

The question of Bushs presence in 1972 at Dannelly Air National Guard base in Montgomery, Alabama  or the lack of it  has become an issue in the 2004 presidential campaign.

Recalls Memphian Mintz, now 63: I remember that I heard someone was coming to drill with us from Texas. And it was implied that it was somebody with political influence. I was a young bachelor then. I was looking for somebody to prowl around with. But, says Mintz, that somebody -- better known to the world now as the president of the United States -- never showed up at Dannelly in 1972. Nor in 1973, nor at any time that Mintz, a FedEx pilot now and an Eastern Airlines pilot then, when he was a reserve first lieutenant at Dannelly, can remember.

And I was looking for him, repeated Mintz, who said that he assumed that Bush changed his mind and went somewhere else to do his substitute drill. It was not somewhere else, however, but the 187th Air National Guard Tactical squadron at Dannelly to which the young Texas flyer had requested transfer from his regular Texas unit  the reason being Bushs wish to work in Alabama on the ultimately unsuccessful U.S. Senate campaign of family friend Winton "Red" Blount.

It is the 187th, Mintzs unit, which was cited, during the 2000 presidential campaign, as the place where Bush completed his military obligation. And it is the 187th that the White House continues to contend that Bush belonged to  as recently as this week, when presidential spokesman Scott McClellan released payroll records and, later, evidence suggesting that Bushs dental records might be on file at Dannelly.

Theres no way we wouldnt have noticed a strange rooster in the henhouse, especially since we were looking for him, insists Mintz, who has pored over documents relating to the matter now making their way around the Internet. One of these is a piece of correspondence addressed to the 187ths commanding officer, then Lt. Col. William Turnipseed, concerning Bushs redeployment.

Mitz remembers a good deal of base scuttlebutt at the time about the letter, which clearly identifies Bush as the transferring party. It couldnt be anybody else. No one ever did that again, as far as I know. In any case, he is certain that nobody else in that time frame, 1972-73, requested such a transfer into Dannelly....

Though some accounts reckon the total personnel component of the 187th as consisting of several hundred, the actual flying squadron  that to which Bush was reassigned  number only 25 to 30 pilots, Mintz said. Theres no doubt. I would have heard of him, seen him, whatever. Even if Bush, who was trained on a slightly different aircraft than the F4 Phantom jets flown by the squadron, opted not to fly with the unit, he would have had to encounter the rest of the flying personnel at some point, in non-flying formations or drills. And if he did any flying at all, on whatever kind of craft, that would have involved a great number of supportive personnel. It takes a lot of people to get a plane into the air. But nobody I can think of remembers him.

I talked to one of my buddies the other day and asked if he could remember Bush at drill at any time, and he said, Naw, ol George wasnt there. And he wasnt at the Pit, either. The Pit was The Snake Pit, a nearby bistro where the squadrons pilots would gather for frequent after-hours revelry. And the buddy was Bishop, then a lieutenant at Dannelly and now a pilot for Kalitta, a charter airline that in recent months has been flying war materiel into the Iraq Theater of Operations.

I never saw hide nor hair of Mr. Bush, confirms Bishop, who now lives in Goldsboro, N.C., is a veteran of Gulf War I and, as a Kalitta pilot, has himself flown frequent supply missions into Iraq and to military facilities at Kuwait. --The Memphis Flyer, 02.13.04

Two Former Texas Guard Officials Say Bush Arrests, Etc. Caused File "Cleansing" Discussions

"As Texas Gov. George W. Bush prepared to run for president in the late 1990s, top-ranking Texas National Guard officers and Bush advisers discussed ways to limit the release of potentially embarrassing details from Bush's military records, a former senior officer of the Texas Guard said Wednesday.

A second former Texas Guard official, who spoke only on condition of anonymity, was told by a participant that commanders and Bush advisers were particularly worried about mentions in the records of arrests of Bush before he joined the National Guard in 1968, the second official said.

Bill Burkett, then a top adviser to the state Guard commander, said he overheard conversations in which superiors discussed "cleansing" the file of damaging information....

Two forms in Bush's publicly released military files  his enlistment application and a background check  contain blacked-out entries in response to questions about arrests or convictions. Bush acknowledged in biographies published in 1999 that he was arrested twice before he enlisted in the Air National Guard: once for stealing a wreath and another time for rowdiness at a Yale-Princeton football game.

The nature of what was blacked out in Bush's records is important because certain legal problems, such as drug or alcohol violations, could have been a basis for denying an applicant entry into the Guard or pilot training. Admission to the Guard and to pilot school was highly competitive at that time, the height of the Vietnam War.

The National Guard cited privacy as the reason for blacking out answers. The full, unmarked records have never been released. Bartlett did not respond Wednesday to a request to release the records with nothing blacked out, which Bush could do as the subject of the records.

Burkett says that the state Guard commander, Maj. Gen. Daniel James III, discussed "cleansing" Bush's military files of embarrassing or incriminating documents in the summer of 1997. At the time, Burkett was a lieutenant colonel and a chief adviser to James. He says he was just outside James' open office door when his boss discussed the records on a speakerphone with Joe Allbaugh, who was then Gov. Bush's chief of staff.

In Burkett's account, Allbaugh told James that Bush's press secretary, Karen Hughes, was preparing a biography and needed information on Bush's military service.

In an interview, Burkett said he recalled Allbaugh's words: "We certainly don't want anything that is embarrassing in there." Burkett said he immediately told two other officers about the conversation and noted it in a daily journal he kept. The two officers, George Conn and Dennis Adams, confirmed to USA TODAY in 2002 that Burkett told them of the conversation within days.

Soon afterward, there was a series of meetings of top commanders at Texas Guard headquarters at Camp Mabry. Bush's records were carried between the base archives and the headquarters building, according to Burkett and the second Guard official, who was there.

The meetings were confirmed in a 2002 interview by USA TODAY with William Leon, who was the state Guard's freedom-of-information officer in the 1990s. He was involved in discussions about what to release....

Allbaugh, James and the White House denied Burkett's story. As president, Bush has since elevated James to be director of the Air National Guard for the entire country."

--USA Today, 02.12.04


Burkett Says He Saw Bush Military Records Being Trashed

"Mr. Burkett further said that about 10 days later he and another officer walked into the Camp Mabry military museum and saw the head of the museum, Gen. John Scribner, going through Mr. Bush's personnel records. Mr. Burkett said he saw a trash basket with discarded papers bearing Mr. Bush's name. Mr. Burkett said the papers appeared to be "retirement point certificates, pay documents, that sort of thing."...

The other Guard officer who Mr. Burkett says was with him the day he saw General Scribner going though the records, George Conn, declined in an e-mail message to comment on Mr. Burkett's statements. But Mr. Conn, a former chief warrant officer for the Texas Guard and now a civilian on duty with American forces in Europe, said: "I know LTC Bill Burkett and served with him several years ago in the Texas Army National Guard. I believe him to be honest and forthright. He `calls things like he sees them.' "

A retired officer, Lt. Col. Dennis Adams, said Mr. Burkett told him of the incidents shortly after they happened. "We talked about them several different times," said Mr. Adams, who spent 15 years in the Texas Guard and 12 years on active duty in the Army. He now works for the Texas Department of Public Safety as a security officer guarding the state Capitol. --New York Times, 02.12.04


Why Bush Dental Records Prove Little

The new drip-feed document from the White House last night is Bush Dental record created on January 6, 1973 at an air force base in Dannelly, Alabama. (http://news.findlaw.com/wp/docs/gwbush/gwb10673dent.html)

This new dental record doesn't account for the six month AWOL gap in the Bush military White House records presented on Monday, from April 16, 1972 through October 27, 1972. Neither does the dental record prove Bush was paid for service in the Alabama guards on Jan. 6,1973. (Previously released White House documents do not support that he did.) What we do know for a fact is Bush went to Alabama to work in a political campaign which ended in November of 1972 (and those political operatives, unlike members in the Alabama military, remember him well), and by January of 1973 he had no reason to be serving in any Alabama guard unit and was supposed to have reported back to his home base in Houston months prior to that date but, according to his commanding officers, did not.

Further, if Bush could go to an Alabama military base and have his teeth examined, why could't he have taken his physical, including a drug test, rather than allowing himself to be disciplined and grounded from flying for not taking the required exam in Alabama in August? We do know that in early 1973 Bush was working full-time for PULL a minority children's program in Houston, having returned to Houston after the November election in Alabama.

Last Sunday on Russert, Bush promised to release all of his militrary records to the media, including those records that demand his personal release, but he has clearly broken his promise, choosing, instead, to drip-feed documents that mislead, contradict, and confuse. if Bush were serious about cleaning up his military record, he would have his spokespeople provide a timeline of Bush's meanderings, military and otherwise, provide all of the promised documents, and answer the relevant questions reporters are asking, rather than stonewalling the process. As in so many other cases during the nation's unfortunate Bush experience, Bush's present unhelpful behavior is creating a scandal of major proportions where, according to him, one doesn't exist. --Politex, 02.12.04


The White House "Pay Records" Are Not Pay Records

Two days after George Bush promised Tim Russert and the entire world that he would release "everything" about his military records, the White House surprised reporters with two sets of new documents, along with a cover memo by Col. Albert C. Lloyd Jr. (ret.), a Bush supporter and expert on National Guard documents.

(The second set of documents were illegible, which only fueled the frustration of the reporters. The White House promised to post more legible versions on their Web site, but as of the midnight the only place they could be found was on "unofficial" White House site at FoxNews.com.)

The first set of documents included the documents first published by Democrats.com on 2-10-2000 - notably the "untorn document."...

[document image]

Bush's supporters love this document, because it includes two entries that roughly correspond to Bush's time in Alabama during the fall campaign of 1972: Oct. 28-29 and Nov. 11-14.

Of course, these dates do not correspond to the dates he was specifically ordered to report to Col. Turnipseed - Oct. 7-8 and Nov. 4-5. But Bush's supporters don't worry about such details.

But what exactly is this "untorn" document?

The White House is trying to label it as a pay document. But it is not. There isn't a dollar amount anywhere on it. It is clearly labeled "ARF Statement of Points Earned." ARF (Air Reserve Forces) does not pay Guardsmen - that is the job of the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS). ARF simply tracks their points towards retirement. The "untorn" document is a retirement document, not a pay document.

Apparently, Bush received retirement points during this service year, the 5th of his 6 years. But did he earn them by actually reporting for duty and performing a useful service to defend his country? Or did Bush go AWOL and receive the credits as a gift from a friendly superior officer who wanted to make sure he got an Honorable Discharge - as Democrats.com has argued? That's what every White House reporter wanted to know.

The Smoking Microfiche

If the ARF document above is not a pay record - and it is not - then it cannot answer this simple question. So by a process of elimination, there is only one other record provided by the White House that could be called a "pay" record for the fall of 1972.

This document is below. It has no name, but it appears to be a printed copy of a microfiche. The only description appears below the microfiche in ink, labeled as "1972 - 4th Q."

The top half is difficult to discern, but it could be a pay document of some kind. For example, the upper right corner says "DAILY PAY" and below that 2763, which could be $27.63. But without knowing the name and number of this form, the abbreviated codes it contains, and the agency that produced it, we cannot say for sure.

But McClellan insisted he was releasing "pay" records, so this is the only document provided by the White House that could possibly show whether Bush was "paid" for the 4th quarter of 1972 (September-December), when Bush was allegedly in Alabama.

And though the document is difficult to read, one thing is clear beyond a shadow of a doubt: Bush was not "paid" for any dates in the 4th Quarter of 1972.

[image]

The crucial section is the bottom, where the dates are clearly arrayed. Here is a schematic diagram, leaving out dates without entries to save space. The headings for the columns after day 31 are unclear, so we gave it our best guess.

[chart image]

Here are some assumptions we must make to interpret the data:

1. The "normal" entries occur between days 1-30. 2. Day 31 appears to be a "dual use" column. In months with 31 days, there could be a numeric entry if points were earned on that date. In the months with fewer than 31 days (Feb, Apr, Jun, Sep, Nov), "99" appears to be inserted as a placeholder.

Using these assumptions, we can draw the following conclusions.

1. Bush's last date of "pay" was April 16, 1972. (The only entries after that date are on April 31, Jun 31, Sep 31, and Nov 31. Since those are all 30-day months, and the entries all say 99, we can conclude that these are "placeholder" numbers on the form, not "pay" dates for duty served.) This corresponds with his known service record.

2. Bush was not "paid" on the dates claimed by the White House in the 4th Quarter: October 28-29 or November 11-14.

The bottom line is clear: Bush was never paid for service during his time in Alabama

Verdict: AWOL and Deserter."

Dems.Com

New White House Documents Indicate Bush AWOL For 6 Months In 1972: WP

White House claims newly-released documents prove Bush actively served paid days between May 27, 1972, and May 26, 1973, but do not account for 6 month gap in 1972, nor identifies the nature of the work on the days served, according to the Washington Post. Retired Lt. Col. previously used by Bush campaign claims records prove Bush contention.

"The records indicate that between May 1972 and May 1973, Bush served 14 days -- two days in October, four days in November, six days in January and two days in April. The White House offered no indication of why there was a gap in Bush's service from April to October, 1972.

"White House press secretary Scott McClellan said the records "show that he was paid for his service, and you get paid for the days on which you serve....It showed that he fulfilled his duties," McClellan said. "There are some that have made outrageous accusations, and I think you need to ask those individuals if they want to continue to stand by those outrageous accusations in the face of documentation that clearly demonstrates the president fulfilled his duties."

--Wash. Post, 02.10.04

"I joined the National Guard, did my six months of active duty (basic training, etc.) and then returned to my home unit, where I eventually dropped from sight. In the end, just like President Bush, I got an honorable discharge. But unlike President Bush, I have just told the truth about my service. He hasn't....

there are no records to show that Bush reported for duty during the summer and fall of 1972. Nonetheless, Bush insists he was where he was supposed to be -- "Otherwise I wouldn't have been honorably discharged," Bush told Tim Russert. Please, sir, don't make me laugh....

I was supposed to attend weekly drills and summer camp, but I found them inconvenient. I "moved" to California and then "moved" back to New York, establishing a confusing paper trail that led, really, nowhere. For two years or so, I played a perfectly legal form of hooky. To show you what a mess the Guard was at the time, I even got paid for all the meetings I missed....

When Bush attempts to drape the flag of today's Guard over the one he was in so long ago, when he warns his critics to remember that "there are a lot of really fine people who have served in the National Guard and who are serving in the National Guard today in Iraq," then he is doing now what he was doing then: hiding behind the ones who were really doing the fighting. It's about time he grew up." --Richard Cohen, Washington Post, 02.10.04

"The records released today -- some of them smudged and hard to read -- showed that Mr. Bush was not paid for National Guard service from December 1972 to February or March 1973, a time in which Mr. Bush lost his active-flight status.

"Where was he in December of '72, February and March of '73?" a questioner persisted. "Why didn't he fulfill the medical requirement to remain on active flight duty status in 1972?"

Schedules varied in National Guard and Reserve units in that era. A typical schedule called for two evening meetings of four hours each, plus one all-day meeting, often on a Sunday, each month. In addition, a unit attended a two-week summer camp at an active military post. A unit member who missed more than a few meetings in a year faced the prospect of being called to active duty." --New York Times, 02.10.04

Here are two documents McClellan may have been describing today, including a discussion of them by "Calpundit." --Politex, 02.10.04

QUESTION: The records that you handed out today and other records that exist indicate that the president did not perform any Guard duty during the months of December 1972, February or March of 1973. I'm wondering if you could tell us where he was during that period. And also how is it that he managed to not make the medical requirements to remain on active flight duty status?

MCCLELLAN: The records that you're pointing to, these records are the payroll records. They're the point summaries. These records verify that he met the requirements necessary to fulfill his duties. These records, these payroll records reflect...

QUESTION: That wasn't my question. Where was he in December of '72...

MCCLELLAN: These records...

QUESTION: ... February and March of '73? Why did he not fulfill the medical requirements to remain on active flight duty status?

MCCLELLAN: These records I'm holding here clearly document the president fulfilling his duties in the National Guard. The president was proud of his service. The president...

QUESTION: I asked a simple question. How about a simple answer?

MCCLELLAN: John, if you'll let me address the question, I'm coming to your answer.

QUESTION: Well, if you would address it, maybe you could.

MCCLELLAN: I'm sorry, John, this is an important issue that some chose to raise in the context of an election year. And the facts are important for people to know. If you don't want to know the facts, that's fine. But I want to share the facts with you.

QUESTION: I'll ask one more time: Where was he in December of '72, February and March of '73. Why didn't he fulfill the medical requirements to remain on active flight duty status in 1972? [The question was never answered. --Politex.] transcript

"Under questioning from increasingly vexed reporters, it becomes clear the White House's pay stubs and other papers aren't terribly convincing proof of anything -- except that these lame scraps of evidence demonstrate a three-month gap -- a period in which now apparently even the White House tacitly admits Guardsman Bush was absent without leave, off working on a Senator's campaign in another state. (Remember, even 31 days of AWOL meets the army's internal administrative standard for " desertion "). The White House also does not dispute that Guardsmen Bush lost his flying status -- status he earned at American expense -- by failing to submit to an army medical examination. And it offers no explanation for why a hard-partying mediocrity like George W. Bush circa 1972 might have been afraid to show up for that." --The Nation, 02.10.04


How Russert Gave Bush A Pass On The AWOL Question

WHAT BUSH ANSWERED:

In Russert's Sunday interview with Bush, the elephant in the drawing room was acknowledged: What about charges that Bush was AWOL while serving in the Texas Guard?

"The political season's here," Bush responded, "I put in my time proudly." Then Bush went on to defend the Guard against those who think serving is a cop out from regular military service, a topic that Russert did not bring up.

"If the story were simply about how Bush used his family connections to land a slot in the Texas Air National Guard (and all indications are he did just that ), it wouldn't matter much. But the real story is not how Bush got into the Guard. It's how he got out." --Salon, 02.05.04

RUSSERT: The Boston Globe and the Associated Press have gone through some of their records and said there's no evidence that you reported to duty in Alabama during the summer and fall of 1972.

BUSH: Yeah, they're just wrong. There may be no evidence, but I did report; otherwise, I wouldn't have been honorably discharged. (transcript)

"ARF is a "paper unit" based in Denver that requires no drills and no attendance. For active guard members it is disciplinary because ARF members can theoretically be called up for active duty in the regular military, although this obviously never happened to George Bush.

To make a long story short, Bush apparently blew off drills beginning in May 1972, failed to show up for his physical, and was then grounded and transferred to ARF as a disciplinary measure....Bush's official records from Texas show no actual duty after May 1972, as his Form 712 Master Personnel Record from the Texas Air National Guard clearly indicates:...

Bush's record shows three years of service, followed by a fourth year in which he accumulated only a dismal 22 days of active service, followed by no service at all in his fifth and sixth years. This is because ARF duty isn't counted as official duty by the Texas guard.

So Bush may indeed have "fulfilled his obligation," as he says, but only because he had essentially been relieved of any further obligation after his transfer to ARF. It's pretty clear that no one in the Texas Air National Guard had much interest in pursuing anything more serious in the way of disciplinary action." --Calpundit, 02.08.04)

"Experts say that citation does not wipe away the questions. "An honorable discharge does not indicate a flawless record," says Grant Lattin, a military law attorney in Washington and a retired Marine Corps lieutenant colonel who served as a judge advocate, or JAG officer. "Somebody could have missed a year's worth of Guard drills and still end up with an honorable discharge." That's because of the extraordinary leeway local commanders within the Guard are given over these types of issues. Lattin notes that the Guard "is obviously very political, even more so than other military institutions, and is subject to political influence."...

Lattin is more blunt. "The National Guard is extremely political in the sense of who you know," he says. "And it's true to this very day. One person is handled very strictly and the next person is not. If George Bush Jr. is in your unit, you're going to bend over backward not to offend that family. It all comes down to who you know."

--Salon, 02.05.04

("A detailed Globe examination of the records in 2000 unearthed official reports by Bush's Guard commanders that they had not seen him for a year. There was also no evidence that Bush had done part of his Guard service in Alabama, as he has claimed. Bush's Guard appointment, made possible by family connections, was cut short when Bush was allowed to leave his Houston Guard unit eight months early to attend Harvard Business School....In August 1972, Bush was suspended from flight status for failing to take his annual flight physical....In May 1973, Bush's two superior officers in Houston wrote that they could not perform his annual evaluation, because he had "not been observed at this unit" during the preceding 12 months....The two officers, one of them a friend of Bush and both now dead, wrote that they Bush received an honorable discharge in 1973. --Boston Globe, 02.05.04)

WHAT RUSSERT DIDN'T ASK:

1. Mr. President, would you briefly tell us where relevant commanding officers and their superiors are today?

("Major General Daniel James was head of the Texas National Guard at the time of the alleged scrubbing of George W. Bush's National Guard records. He was appointed by George W. Bush to be commander of the nation's Air National Guard -- and was confirmed by the Senate last week." --Buzzflash, 05.28.02)

("Bill Burkett, a former lieutenant colonel in the Guard, said, 'As the State Plans Officer for the Texas National Guard, I was on full-time duty at Camp Mabry when [Bush aide] Dan Bartlett was cleansing the George W Bush file prior to G.W.'s presidential announcement. For most soldiers at Camp Mabry, this was a generally known event. The archives were closely scrutinized to make sure that the Bush autobiography plans and the record did not directly contradict each other. In essence it was the script of the autobiography which Dan Bartlett and his small team used to scrub a file to be released. This effort was further involved by General Daniel James and Chief of Staff William W. Goodwin at Camp Mabry.'" --Online Journal, 09.04.00)

"1973, Bush's two superior officers in Houston wrote that they could not perform his annual evaluation, because he had "not been observed at this unit" during the preceding 12 months. The two officers, one of them a friend of Bush and both now dead, wrote that they believed Bush had been fulfilling his commitment at the Alabama unit. Two other officers, in interviews, offered a similar account of Bush's absence, saying they had assumed Bush completed his service in Alabama" --Boston Globe, 02.05.04)

2. Mr. President, did you get any special treatment when you joined the Texas Guard. Say, a special swearing-in ceremony that was admittedly reserved for sons of VIP's?

("Former US president George Bush, then a US Congressman from Houston, pins bars on his son George W. Bush representing his entry as 2nd Lieutenant into the Texas Air National Guard in 1968. (AFP Photo)" --Boston Globe, 05.23.00)

3. Mr. President, military records say you were AWOL when you returned to Houston from Alabama after the political campaign you were involved in was over. Why didn't the relevant military authorities have records of your attendance when you reurned to Houston?

("In May 1973, Bush's two superior officers in Houston wrote that they could not perform his annual evaluation, because he had "not been observed at this unit" during the preceding 12 months. The two officers, one of them a friend of Bush and both now dead, wrote that they believed Bush had been fulfilling his commitment at the Alabama unit. ....From May to November 1972, Bush was in Alabama working in a US Senate campaign, and was required to attend drills at an Air National Guard unit in Montgomery. But there is no evidence in his record that he did so. And William Turnipseed, the retired general who commanded the Alabama unit back then, said in an interview last week that Bush never appeared for duty there." --Boston Globe, 05.23.00)

4. Mr. President, when you returned to Houston you never took a medical test, as required by the government Guard. Part of the medical test was a drug test. Why didn't you take the required medical test?

("In August 1972, Bush was suspended from flight status for failing to take his annual flight physical. Boston Globe, 02.05.04. During the 2000 presidential campaign Bush told reporters that he hadn't taken drugs from the age of 27 to 2000. He refused to answer any questions about taking drugs prior to the age of 27, a position he has held to this day. Bush was born on July 6, 1946, making him 26 years old when he was suspended for not taking the required flight physical, which included a drug test. --Politex)

5. Mr. President, is it true that, as a result of not taking the required medical test, the military grounded you from flying, and you never flew again as a Guardman?

("In August 1972, Bush was suspended from flight status for failing to take his annual flight physical." --Boston globe, 02.05.04 "In his final 18 months of military service in 1972 and 1973, Bush did not fly at all. And for much of that time, Bush was all but unaccounted for: For a full year, there is no record that he showed up for the periodic drills required of part-time guardsmen." --Boston Globe, 05.23.00)

6. Mr. President, after you were grounded because you failed to take the medical test, how much time was left in the Guard and how many meetings did you attend?

("Bush's official record of service, which is supposed to contain an account of his duty attendance for each year of service, shows no such attendance after May 1972. In unit records, however, there are documents showing that Bush was ordered to a flurry of drills -- over 36 days -- in the late spring and summer of 1973. He was discharged Oct. 1, 1973, eight months before his six-year commitment ended. --Boston Glove, 02.05.04)

"Bush was finally recorded as having crammed in 36 active-duty credits during May, June and July 1973, thereby meeting his minimal requirement. But as the Boston Globe pointed out, nobody connected with the Texas unit recalls seeing Bush during his cram sessions, leading to suspicions that Bush was given credits for active duty he did not perform." --Salon, 02.05.04

7. Mr. President, is it true that after Houston, you were transferred to a "paper" Reserve unit in Colorado, and this unit did not require attendance?

"Through [White House communications director Dan] Bartlett Bush insisted in 2000 that he had indeed attended military drills while he was in Alabama during 1972 and in 1973 after returning to his Houston base. At the time, Bartlett said Bush did not recall what duties he performed during that period. Albert Lloyd Jr., a retired colonel who was the personnel officer for the Texas Air National Guard at the time [and was later hired in 1999 by the Bush campaign to look over Bush's military record (see next entry)], said in an interview [in 2000] that the records suggested to him that Bush "had a bad year. He might have lost interest, since he knew he was getting out." Lloyd said he believed that after Bush's long attendance drought, the drills that were crammed into the months before Bush's early release gave him enough "points" to satisfy the minimal requirements to earn his discharge. At the time, Lloyd speculated that after the evaluation of Bush could not be done, his superiors told him, `George, you're in a pickle. Get your ass down here and perform some duty.' And he did....May to July 1973 : Logs 36 days of duty after special orders are issued for him to report for duty. [Is this BG statement based on the famous "torn document"? If not, what? See next entry. --Politex] July 30, 1973 : Last day in uniform, according to his records. Oct. 1, 1973 : Formally discharged from the Texas National Guard — eight months before his six-year term expires and a month after starting at Harvard Business School." --Boston Globe, 02.05.04)

("Back in 1999 the nascent Bush campaign, which was apparently already worried about his service record, hired Albert Lloyd Jr., a former Texas Air National Guard personnel director, to help make sense of Bush's file. Lloyd "scoured" the archives and found the document above, which he says contains Bush's Social Security number beneath the redaction. It has since been inserted into Bush's file....The torn document wasn't originally part of Bush's service file and is basically laughable as a piece of evidence since it contains no names or dates.

--Calpundit, 02.04.04)

("This is neither a Texas Air National Guard document nor an Alabama document. What is it? The answer, as you can see from the top line, is that it is an ARF document, as is this record from 1973-74. So what is ARF? I asked Bob Rogers, a retired Air National Guard pilot who's been following this for some time, and what follows is his interpretation of what happened. ARF stands for Army Reserve Force, and among other things it's where members of the guard are sent for disciplinary reasons. As we all know, Bush failed to show up for his annual physical in July 1972, he was suspended in August, and the suspension was recorded on September 29. He was apparently transferred to ARF at that time and began accumulating ARF points in October. ("ARF is a "paper unit" based in Denver that requires no drills and no attendance. For active guard members it is disciplinary because ARF members can theoretically be called up for active duty in the regular military, although this obviously never happened to George Bush." --Calpundit, 02.08.04)

8. Mr. President, are all Guardsmen who are reported absent from required duties given an opportunity to make up time lost, even those who are absent for over a year? Isn't it true that the rule in the Guard is to change the status of such Guardsmen to active duty in the regular military?

"For failing to attend required monthly drill sessions and refusing to take a physical, 1st Lt. Bush just as easily could have been moved to active duty, given a less-than-honorable discharge, or had his flying rights permanently revoked, says Eugene Fidell, a leading Washington expert on military law. "For a fully trained pilot, he was assigned to a nothing job [in Alabama], and the available records indicate he never performed that job." In the Guard today, as a general rule, "if someone doesn't show up for drill duty, doesn't show up, and doesn't show up, they'll be separated from their unit and given an other-than-honorable discharge" most likely noting "unsatisfactory participation," says D.C. military lawyer David Sheldon, who served in the Navy and represented officers before the Court of Military Appeals" --Salon, 02.05.04

("Copies of Bush's military records, [have been] obtained by the Globe. In his final 18 months of military service in 1972 and 1973, Bush did not fly at all. And for much of that time, Bush was all but unaccounted for: For a full year, there is no record that he showed up for the periodic drills required of part-time guardsmen." --Boston Globe, 05.23.00)

("So Bush may indeed have "fulfilled his obligation," as he says, but only because he had essentially been relieved of any further obligation after his transfer to ARF. [See #7 above.]... It's pretty clear that no one in the Texas Air National Guard had much interest in pursuing anything more serious in the way of disciplinary action." --Calpundit, 02.08.04)

9. Mr. President, is it usual in the Guard for the military to allow Guardsmen to take leaves of absence to engage in political campaigns and long-time absentees to cut their military obligations short in order to continue their education?

("Oct. 1, 1973 : Formally discharged from the Texas National Guard — eight months before his six-year term expires and a month after starting at Harvard Business School." --Boston Globe, 02.05.04)

"One of the obvious questions raised by Bush's missing year is why he was never brought up on any disciplinary charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) and why he was given an honorable discharge. (It's unlikely Bush could have run for president if he'd been tainted with anything less than an honorable discharge from the military.)...

Says retired JAG officer Lattin, cases of guardsmen who fail to attend drill sessions are rarely dealt with under the military's criminal code, but rather administratively, which is less burdensome. Administrative options include transferring the solider to active duty, or separating him from his unit while beginning dismissal procedures that would likely -- although not always -- result in a less than, or other than, honorable discharge. Also in Bush's case, he could have been permanently stripped of his flight privileges.

So why was no administrative action taken against Bush during his missing year or more? "It could have been mere inefficiency, or a reluctance to create controversy with the son of an important federal official," says Fidell, the military law expert. "Observers of the Guard at that time have said it did seem to be an entity in which connections might be helpful."

Lattin is more blunt. "The National Guard is extremely political in the sense of who you know," he says. "And it's true to this very day. One person is handled very strictly and the next person is not. If George Bush Jr. is in your unit, you're going to bend over backward not to offend that family. It all comes down to who you know."

Lattin stresses that the Bush episode, and the Guard's failure to take any administrative actions against him, have to be viewed in context of the early '70s. With the Vietnam War beginning to wind down and the U.S. military battling endemic low morale, the Pentagon showed little interest in chasing after absent-without-leave guardsmen. "It was too hard and there were too many of them," says Lattin. "There was a 'who cares' attitude. Commanders didn't want to deal with them. And they knew they'd stir up a hornet's nest, especially if one of the [missing guardsmen] was named George Bush. --Salon, 02.05.04

WHAT RUSSERT FINALLY ASKED:

RUSSERT: When allegations were made about John McCain or Wesley Clark on their military records, they opened up their entire files. Would you agree to do that?

BUSH: Yeah. Listen, these files, I mean, people have been looking for these files for a long period of time, trust me....And absolutely. I mean.

RUSSERT: But would you allow pay stubs, tax records, anything to show that you were serving during that period?

BUSH: Yeah. If we still have them, but you know, the records are kept in Colorado, as I understand, and they scoured the records. (transcript)

("The Defense Department has requested that President Bush's payroll records from his service in the National Guard be sent to Washington from a DOD archive in Colorado, to ascertain whether they can be released to news organizations and public interest groups that have formally requested them in recent days, according to DOD officials....

According to military experts familiar with National Guard records, there are two documents that could indicate whether Bush reported for drills during that year. One is an annual summary of his points, the quantitative measure of his service. The summary includes each date he reported for a drill and how many points he received toward his annual requirement.

His official personnel record, obtained by The Post in 2000, does not include a summary of service for the time in Alabama. There is a sheet, where the name has been torn off, that includes dates for that period, but there is no way to confirm it refers to Bush because his Social Security number has been redacted. Also, no one who served in Bush's Alabama unit at that time has come forward, despite years of publicity on the subject. The brigadier general Bush was to report to in Alabama has said he has no recollection of Bush's doing so.

The other documents that should still be available are Bush's payroll records, which would show what drills Bush was compensated for during that period. Officials said yesterday that the DOD in Washington would review the master copy of Bush's payroll records, which have been stored on microfiche for 30 years at the Defense Finance and Accounting Service in Denver.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan yesterday told reporters that everything was made available during the 2000 campaign. "I think that one of the things you can look at that will help address these questions is the annual retirement point summaries . . . They show that the president fulfilled his duties, and that is why he was honorably discharged," he said."

"McClellan said that in 2000, the Bush campaign was informed by the Texas National Guard that "they did not have them...." --Washington Post, 02.10.04)

[Does McCellan mean Bush's "Arf Statement Of Points Earned" or Bush's "Air Reserve Forces Retirement Credit Summary"? "ARF is a "paper unit" based in Denver that requires no drills and no attendance. For active guard members it is disciplinary because ARF members can theoretically be called up for active duty in the regular military, although this obviously never happened to George Bush....ARF duty isn't counted as official duty by the Texas guard," notes Calpundit in our last excerpt below. The other document does not indicate any service by Bush after May 26, 1972. Both documents may be seen here. --Politex, 02.10.04]

("There is an indication that someone higher up was trying to find out why G W was missing for so long. Shortly before he was given his honorable discharge a request from National Guard headquarters was placed for Bush's annual evaluation for that year. The national headquarters was told by the administrative officer at Bush's base, ''Report for this period not available for administrative reasons.'' --Online Journal, 06.02.00)

RUSSERT: Would you authorize the release of everything to settle this?

BUSH: Yes, absolutely. We did so in 2000, by the way. (transcript)

"On Meet the Press yesterday, President Bush claimed he has already released all records of his whereabouts during the Vietnam War. 1However, this does not appear to be the case. Bush is being scrutinized for his failure to provide evidence of his service during a year when he should have been in the National Guard. Yesterday, Bush specifically claimed that "we did [release all the records] in 2000" to prove his case. But as the Washington Post reported, "no such information has been released." 2

Bush reiterated claims that he reported for duty, but "records have never been produced to document that Bush was there." 3Furthermore, during the 2000 election, Bush's campaign spokesman "acknowledged that he knows of no witnesses who can attest to Bush's attendance" between late 1972 and September 1973. 4

When questions were asked in 2000 about the issue, "Bush refused to be interviewed on the topic." 5That same year, Senators Bob Kerrey (D-NE) and Daniel Inouye (D-HI) - both distinguished war heroes - "called on Bush to release his full military record to resolve doubts" about his record, but they were rebuffed. 6

Almost three years later, those same calls continue to go unheeded. As reported by the Washington Post, Bush last week "did not release new information to clear up questions about a one-year gap in the public record of Bush's service in the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War." 7Today the Post reports that payroll records and Bush's annual "point summary" from the time should definitively prove whether Bush did show up for duty, but "neither has been released so far" by Bush. 8Additionally, a 2000 FOIA request for Bush's military records withheld certain documents." ( http://users.cis.net/coldfeet/cover2.gif ;http://www.tompaine.com/feature.cfm/ID/3671 )

While Bush falsely claimed to have released all records and now says he will cooperate with inquiries, he has simultaneously dispatched aides to attack those demanding answers. Bush campaign chairman Marc Racicot said "To suggest...that the military should 'answer questions' about President Bush's honorable discharge is an outrage." 9

Sources:
1. Meet The Press , 02/08/2004.
2. "Bush Was Surprised at Lack of Iraqi Arms ", The Washington Post , 02/08/2004.
3. Bush's Spotty Military Record Becomes Campaign Issue ,Capitol Hill Blue , 01/18/2004. 4. 10/31/2000.
5. Boston Globe , 2/3/2000.
6. NY Times , 11/3/2000.
7. Bush's military record under fire ,Washington Post , 02/04/2004.
8. "Bush Was Surprised at Lack of Iraqi Arms ", The Washington Post , 02/08/2004.
9. White House defends Bush's Vietnam-era record ,Reuters , 02/04/2004.

--Daily Mislead, 02.09.04

"If Bush wanted to resolve the questions about his National Guard service, he could do so very easily. If he simply agreed to release the contents of his military personnel records jacket, the Guard could make public all his discharge papers, including pay records and total retirement points, which experts say would shed the best light on where Bush was, or was not, during the time in question between 1972 and 1973. (Many of Bush's documents are available through Freedom of Information requests, but certain items deemed personal or private cannot be released without Bush's permission [and, obviously, these were not released in 2000, or they wouldn't be requested today. --Politex)

Releasing military records has become a time-honored tradition of presidential campaigns. During the 1992 presidential election, Bush's father, George H.W. Bush, called on his Democratic opponent, Bill Clinton, to make public all personal documents relating his draft status during the Vietnam War, including any correspondences with "Clinton's draft board, the Selective Service System, the Reserve Officer Training Corps, the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Marines, the Coast Guard, the United States departments of State and Justice, any U.S. foreign embassy or consulate." That, according to a Bush-Quayle Oct. 15, 1992, press release. Calls to the White House seeking comment on if and when the president's full military records will be released were not returned." --Salon, 02.05.04

"Recent questions have surfaced not only about Bush's military service, but his official records. "I think some documents were taken out" of his military file, the Boston Globe's Robinson tells Salon. "And there's at least one document that appears to have been inserted into his record in early 2000." That document -- the aforementioned torn page that did not have Bush's full name on it -- plays a central role in the story.

'His records have clearly been cleaned up," says author James Moore, whose upcoming book, "Bush's War for Re-election," will examine the issue of Bush's military service in great detail. Moore says as far back as 1994, when Bush first ran for governor of Texas, his political aides "began contacting commanders and roommates and people who would spin and cover up his Guard record. And when my book comes out, people will be on the record testifying to that fact: witnesses who helped clean up Bush's military file.'" --Salon, 02.05.04

("Bill Burkett, a former lieutenant colonel in the Guard, said, 'As the State Plans Officer for the Texas National Guard, I was on full-time duty at Camp Mabry when [Bush aide] Dan Bartlett was cleansing the George W Bush file prior to G.W.'s presidential announcement. For most soldiers at Camp Mabry, this was a generally known event. The archives were closely scrutinized to make sure that the Bush autobiography plans and the record did not directly contradict each other. In essence it was the script of the autobiography which Dan Bartlett and his small team used to scrub a file to be released. This effort was further involved by General Daniel James and Chief of Staff William W. Goodwin at Camp Mabry.' Burkett stated, 'I knew one person who worked within the records scrub who commented to me, while at the smoke area, that the Bush files really showed some problems with his 'blue-blood service record.''" --Online Journal, 09.04.00)

("Texas National Guard Lt. Colonel (retired) Bill Burkett, in providing clarifications to published reports, says he was not pointing fingers but raising the question of whether Gov. George W. Bush, his aides, and other Guard officers were merely incompetent in their handling of Bush's military records and trying to get Bush to order the release of the pertinent records: his payroll and retirement records, which would settle the question of whether he fulfilled his military obligation." --Online Journal, 09.05.00)

(Back in 1999 the nascent Bush campaign, which was apparently already worried about his service record, hired Albert Lloyd Jr., a former Texas Air National Guard personnel director, to help make sense of Bush's file. Lloyd "scoured" the archives and found [a] document..., which he says contains Bush's Social Security number beneath the redaction. It has since been inserted int This document supposedly records Bush's attendance record in Texas from May 1972 to May 1973. However, the astute observer will note several things about this document:

It is strategically torn along its left edge.

There is no name on the document, only a single letter: W. Does it say "1LT BUSH GEORGE" just before the initial? Maybe, but the page has been torn so there's no way to tell.

The Social Security number is blacked out.

The tear eliminates the year and month of all the dates. (The date at the bottom right is just a note added by a reporter.)

In other words, there's really no evidence that this document refers to George W. Bush or even that it refers to the period 1972-73. But it's even worse than that: it turns out that this document wasn't even part of Bush's original service file....

So that's the story. The torn document wasn't originally part of Bush's service file and is basically laughable as a piece of evidence since it contains no names or dates.

--Calpundit, 02.04.04)

("[The document noted above is] real. Here's the untorn version, as delivered to Bob Fertik in response to a FOIA request in late 2000:

It's now clear that the document is genuine, but what exactly does it tell us? In particular:

The first listed date is October 29, not November 29 as we had theorized before. But George Bush was still in Alabama in October. What exactly was he getting attendance credit for?

This is neither a Texas Air National Guard document nor an Alabama document. What is it?

The answer, as you can see from the top line, is that it is an ARF document, as is this record from 1973-74. So what is ARF? I asked Bob Rogers, a retired Air National Guard pilot who's been following this for some time, and what follows is his interpretation of what happened.

ARF stands for Army Reserve Force, and among other things it's where members of the guard are sent for disciplinary reasons. As we all know, Bush failed to show up for his annual physical in July 1972, he was suspended in August, and the suspension was recorded on September 29. He was apparently transferred to ARF at that time and began accumulating ARF points in October.

ARF is a "paper unit" based in Denver that requires no drills and no attendance. For active guard members it is disciplinary because ARF members can theoretically be called up for active duty in the regular military, although this obviously never happened to George Bush.

To make a long story short, Bush apparently blew off drills beginning in May 1972, failed to show up for his physical, and was then grounded and transferred to ARF as a disciplinary measure. He didn't return to his original Texas Guard unit and cram in 36 days of active duty in 1973 — as Time magazine and others continue to assert based on a mistaken interpretation of Bush's 1973-74 ARF record — but rather accumulated only ARF points during that period. In fact, it's unclear even what the points on the ARF record are for, but what is clear is that Bush's official records from Texas show no actual duty after May 1972, as his Form 712 Master Personnel Record from the Texas Air National Guard clearly indicates:

Bush's record shows three years of service, followed by a fourth year in which he accumulated only a dismal 22 days of active service, followed by no service at all in his fifth and sixth years. This is because ARF duty isn't counted as official duty by the Texas guard.

So Bush may indeed have "fulfilled his obligation," as he says, but only because he had essentially been relieved of any further obligation after his transfer to ARF. It's pretty clear that no one in the Texas Air National Guard had much interest in pursuing anything more serious in the way of disciplinary action.

Can we confirm all this? Only if Bush is genuinely willing to release his entire service record, including the disciplinary action that presumably led to his transfer to ARF." --Calpundit, 02.08.04)

--Jerry Politex, Bush Watch (www.bushwatch.com), 02.08.04


AWOL Bush News And Opinion, 2004

Bush And Drugs In Alabama: The Lost Year, wilson
Newly Released Military Pay Records Don't Prove Bush Fulfilled Guard Duty, dn
Bush's "Pay" Records Don't Say Much, Salon
New Bush Guard Records Raise New Questions, Boehlert
Bush Still Refuses To Release Military Documents, MoveOn
Bush Breaks Promise As White House Refuses To Release All Military Records, Mike Allen and Lois Romano
Burkett Connects Bush Aide Allbaugh To Trashed Records On Guard Base, Mike Allen and Lois Romano
Jan.1973 Dental Record Puts Bush on Alabama Base, WH Says , Mike Allen and Lois Romano
Copy Of Dental Record , FindLaw
Can Bush Be Taken Seriously About His Excuses For Avoiding Vietnam?, wp ed
What did you do in the war, Dubya?, goldenberg+burkeman
'The President Recalls Serving', Bivens
Bush trying to deflect charges on military duty, knox/afp
Secrecy: Documents AWOL, Sirota+Harvey+Legum
New White House Documents Indicate Bush AWOL Six Months, politex
Bush Releases Military Records, Fails to Quell Controversy, Serrano
Flap over Bush military record: why it's back, Feldman

Rumsfeld Orders Bush Military Records To Washington Out Of Denver Archive , wp
Bush Claims Of Released Military Records Are False, MoveOn
FOIA Process for Bush Guard Records Could Take Months, Serranno
Guardsman Bush Is Not Alone, But I'm Telling The Truth And He's Lying, cohen
'War President' Bush Acting Just Like Loser Father , dionne
Did Bush Drop out of the National Guard to Avoid Drug Testing?, Boehlert
Why Is There a One-Year Gap in Bush's National Guard Duty?, dn
Thoughts on Bush and the National Guard, Carter
Bush's Service Record: The Torn Document, Drum
Bush's Guard service: What the record shows, Robinson
Bush's Missing Year, Boehlert
Democrats take shots at Bush's army career, cornwell
Dems reload Bush AWOL charge, Sweet
Bush accused of going 'AWOL', reuters
White House strikes at critics of Bush's s failure to keep his National Guard commitment, Hunt, AP
Kerry calls on Bush to settle questions on military record, Healy
GOP Angry Over Dems Raising Bush AWOL Issue, La Ganga & Anderson
Democrats attack Bush's war record , goldenberg
Bush's Military Service Record Criticized, Healy
Kerry Vs. Bush War Record, newsweek/msnbc
Bush's war record does matter, clift


AWOL Bush Stories, pre-2004


President Top Gun: Affirmatively Missing in Action

New Palast Weblog Begins With A Bang: "Former Texas Lt. Governor Ben Barnes appears to have made lucrative use of his knowledge of our President’s slithering out of the draft as a lever to obtain a multi-billion dollar contract for a client." (more)


Bush to Appear Before Veterans As He Faces Questions About His Own Military Readiness.

Bush continued to attack the Clinton-Gore administration's military readiness before a veterans' group yesterday, proudly wearing the campaign hat of the Texas National Guard. As Governor of Texas he is the head of the Texas National Guard, but being Governor does not allow him to misrepresent the present administration's record. Several weeks ago Bush said 2 of the Army's 10 active divisions were not ready for combat. However, he did not furnish the real reason for that circumstance. According to Steven Lee Myers in Monday's issue of the NYT, the two divisions in question, "the 10th Mountain and the 1st Mechanized Infantry, were briefly classified as unready for war last fall, not because they suffered from budget cuts and low morale, as Mr. Bush suggested, but rather because large parts of the divisions were keeping peace in Bosnia and Kosovo."

Meanwhile, Bush has intimate knowledge about an Army division that really isn't in readiness, the 49th Armored Division of the Texas National Guard, which, as Governor of Texas, he commands. Myers reports that the 49th "has the lowest ranking for wartime readiness that the Pentagon gives, according to military officials. It has been that way for the last three years." Today, Bush plans to appear before veterans groups in Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, falsely accusing Gore of a "dereliction" of duty that, he, not Gore, is guilty of. And to add insult to injury, recently released documents of Bush's own military career in the Texas Air National Guard appear to suggest that Bush never did finish his required active duty, even though his campaign claims he must have or he wouldn't have been given an honorable discharge.

A government document describing Bush's service record, obtained by Martin Heldt under the Freedom of Information Act, the "MILITARY BIOGRAPHY OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH" from the Headquarters Air Reserve Personnel center in Denver, Colorado, indicates that Bush finished his active duty and his military servie by serving in Denver, Colorado, between 2 Oct. '73 and 21 Nov. '74. Bush attended Harvard Business School full-time between the Fall of '73 and the Spring of '75, and nothing has ever been said or written about Bush taking trips to Denver during this period. Heldt concludes that, based on the relevant documents, "it would appear that the way Bush fulfilled his duty was not by attending the obligated number of drills, but by having his name added to the roster of a paper unit at the ARPC (ORS) Denver Colorado for an extra six months."

JUNIOR AWOL ON DRUGS?

"THE Republican frontrunner for the White House, George W Bush, was suspended from flying as a young pilot for failing to take a medical examination that included a drug test.

"Documents obtained by The Sunday Times [UK] reveal that in August 1972, as a 26-year-old subaltern in the Air National Guard, Bush was grounded for failing to "accomplish" an annual medical that would have indicated whether he was taking drugs....While he has consistently admitted to a "misspent youth", Bush has evaded questions about cocaine or other drug use, implying only that he has not taken illegal substances since 1974, the year after he left the Air National Guard....

"Bush was not required to face drug tests when he first entered the reserve unit as a Yale graduate in 1968. It was only at the end of 1971 that the US Air Force, facing a backlash against drug-fuelled escapades in Vietnam, introduced a screening policy. In April 1972 the Pentagon implemented a drug-abuse testing programme that required officers on "extended active duty", including reservists such as Bush, to undergo at least one random drug test every year. The annual medical exam that year included a routine analysis of urine, a close examination of the nasal cavities and specific questions about drugs....

"Bush was said to have been unable to take the medical because he was in Alabama while his doctor was in Houston. [Last week] his campaign official, however, said Bush was aware that he would be suspended for missing his medical as soon as he left Houston because the air force was unable to process his new status before the August deadline for the test. "It was just a question of following the bureaucratic procedure of the time," he said. "He knew the suspension would have to take place."

"William Turnipseed, a retired general who commanded the Alabama unit at the time, said Bush never appeared for duty. Two commanders at Ellington air force base in Houston said in his record they were unable to perform his annual evaluation covering the year from May 1, 1972 to April 30, 1973. "Lt Bush has not been observed at this unit during the period of this report," they wrote.

"...Chris Lapetina, a former marine and Democratic political consultant, said controversy about the medical exam could hurt Bush's chances among several voting blocks, including pensioners and veterans. Many servicemen would be upset if they thought a possible future president had avoided an obligatory military examination that included a drug test, he said. "When someone doesn't take a physical in the military there's got to be very good reason," Lapetina said. "It looks like he made a decision not to take it because the alternative was unpalatable." " --Sunday Times (UK), 6/17/00 (story)

NO RECORD OF BUSH AT GUARD DRILLS FROM 1972-1973.

"During his fifth year as a guardsman, Bush's records show no sign he appeared for duty.

May 24, 1972: Bush, who has moved to Alabama to work on a US Senate race, gets permission to serve with a reserve unit in Alabama. But headquarters decided Bush must serve with a more active unit.
Sept. 5, 1972: Bush is granted permission to do his Guard duty at the 187th Tactical Recon Group in Montgomery. But Bush's record shows no evidence he did the duty, and the unit commander says he never showed up.
November 1972 to April 30, 1973: Bush returns to Houston, but apparently not to his Air Force unit.
May 2, 1973: The two lieutenant colonels in charge of Bush's unit in Houston cannot rate him for the prior 12 months, saying he has not been at the unit in that period.

Under Air National Guard rules at the time, guardsmen who missed duty could be reported to their Selective Service Board and inducted into the Army as draftees." --Boston Globe, 5/23/00


2004: for more up to date info, go...HERE


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