Monday, January 17, 2005

Fulfilling All Obligations, part 1

Bush in the National Guard: A primer.
Here is a good summary of the controversy, and the administration's shifting justifications. Here are details and an ongoing discussion for the curious.


Blogger Management said...

Sept. 20, 2004 | Under order from U.S. District Court Judge Harold Baer Jr. to find and make public any of President Bush's military records that had not already been released, the Pentagon late on Friday released yet another batch of documents. None of the new paperwork addresses the lingering questions surrounding Bush's service in the Texas Air National Guard during the height of the Vietnam War, how Bush's own records indicate he missed mandatory duty for months at a time, or how he managed to go unsupervised for nearly two years. The federal court order stems from an ongoing lawsuit filed by the Associated Press in June to obtain all of Bush's relevant records. In February, when White House aides told reporters they had made public "absolutely everything" about Bush's military service, the AP noticed several obvious gaps and went to court to obtain additional documents.

The lawsuit had already resulted in the disclosure of previously unreleased flight logs that indicated that Bush, a fully trained pilot since 1970, often flew two-seater training jets in March 1972, shortly before he piloted a plane for the last time. This despite his promise, when he entered the Guard's training program, to serve as a full pilot until 1974.

What is also already known is that in the spring of 1972, with 770 days left of required duty, Bush unilaterally decided that he was done fulfilling his military obligation. Also in the spring of 1972, Bush refused to take a physical and quickly cleared out of his Guard base in Houston, heading off to work on the Senate campaign of Winton "Red" Blount in Alabama. Referring to that period, one of Bush's Guard flying buddies remarked to USA Today in 2002, "It was an irrational time in his life."

It may have been an irrational time for him, but Bush managed to focus intently on not serving in the Guard in any significant capacity again. His public records paint a portrait of a Guardsman who, with the cooperation of his Texas Air National Guard superiors, simply flouted regulation after regulation (more than 30 by Salon's count) indifferent to his signed obligation to serve.

The details can get a bit obscure, but the basic timeline of Bush's service between 1972 and 1974 is easy to follow: In spring 1972 Bush attempted to permanently transfer to a non-flying Alabama Guard unit. During the second half of 1972 he missed many of his required weekend training drills. At the end of the year he returned to Houston. Bush then had to make up the absences he had stacked up while in Alabama through "substitute service" training in 1972 and 1973. In July 1973, Bush asked to be released by the Texas Air National Guard so he could attend Harvard Business School. In September, the Guard let him go, and the Air Force officially dismissed Bush in November 1974.

Yet looking at the already available public records, they raise as many questions as they answer about Bush and his surrogates' accounts of his service -- because from his Alabama transfer to his missed physical to his substitute service to his "inactive status" to his honorable discharge, it was as if Air Force and Guard regulations simply did not apply to Lt. Bush. He seemed to become a ghostlike figure, doing -- or not doing -- whatever he pleased, unsupervised and unrated by his commanders. One serious question is whether some of Bush's superiors may have played an active role in hiding Bush's shoddy record -- pressured perhaps by powerful politicians -- by crediting him with crucial makeup training days that appear dubious in nature.

None of the discrepancies detailed below between Bush's accounts and what his records show are based on the disputed memos reportedly written by Lt. Col. Jerry Killian that were aired by CBS News two weeks ago. CBS executives now concede they have concerns about the memos' authenticity, but stress that the contents accurately reflect the turmoil Bush and his chronic absenteeism created for the Texas Air National Guard, as reported by others who worked with Killian. In an interview with New Hampshire's Manchester Union Leader on Saturday, Bush would not say the documents were forgeries. He added, "There are a lot of questions about the documents and they need to be answered." But the authenticity of the memos, which contain very few facts about Bush's actual service, is a sideshow in the effort to determine the truth about Bush's military service. (Independent researchers such as Paul Lukasiak, retired Army Col. Gerald Lechliter and Marty Heldt have contributed to this ongoing effort to uncover the facts.)

Consider the following anomalies:

(Note that statements below that certain documents do not exist, or that Bush failed to obtain proper authorization, are based on the White House's repeated insistence that all relevant Bush military documents have been made public. Some of these documents, of course, may yet turn up.)

# Bush flew for the last time on April 16, 1972. Upon entering the Guard, Bush agreed to fly for 60 months. After his training was complete, he owed 53 months of flying.

But he flew for only 22 of those 53 months.

# Upon being accepted for pilot training, Bush promised to serve with his parent (Texas) Guard unit for five years once he completed his pilot training.

But Bush served as a pilot with his parent unit for just two years.

# In May 1972 Bush left the Houston Guard base for Alabama. According to Air Force regulations, Bush was supposed to obtain prior authorization before leaving Texas to join a new Guard unit in Alabama.

But Bush failed to get the authorization.

# In requesting a permanent transfer to a nonflying unit in Alabama in 1972, Bush was supposed to sign an acknowledgment that he received relocation counseling.

But no such document exists.

# He was supposed to receive a certification of satisfactory participation from his unit.

But Bush did not.

# He was supposed to sign and give a letter of resignation to his Texas unit commander.

But Bush did not.

# He was supposed to receive discharge orders from the Texas Air National Guard adjutant general.

But Bush did not.

# He was supposed to receive new assignment orders for the Air Force Reserves.

But Bush did not.

# On his transfer request Bush was asked to list his "permanent address."

But he wrote down a post office box number for the campaign he was working for on a temporary basis.

# On his transfer request Bush was asked to list his Air Force specialty code.

But Bush, an F-102 pilot, erroneously wrote the code for an F-89 or F-94 pilot. Both planes had been retired from service at the time. Bush, an officer, made this mistake more than once on the same form.

# On May 26, 1972, Lt. Col. Reese Bricken, commander of the 9921st Air Reserve Squadron at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama, informed Bush that a transfer to his nonflying unit would be unsuitable for a fully trained pilot such as he was, and that Bush would not be able to fulfill any of his remaining two years of flight obligation.

But Bush pressed on with his transfer request nonetheless.

# Bush's transfer request to the 9921st was eventually denied by the Air Reserve Personnel Center in Denver, which meant he was still obligated to attend training sessions one weekend a month with his Texas unit in Houston.

But Bush failed to attend weekend drills in May, June, July, August and September. He also failed to request permission to make up those days at the time.

# According to Air Force regulations, "[a] member whose attendance record is poor must be closely monitored. When the unexcused absences reach one less than the maximum permitted [sic] he must be counseled and a record made of the counseling. If the member is unavailable he must be advised by personal letter."

But there is no record that Bush ever received such counseling, despite the fact that he missed drills for months on end.

# Bush's unit was obligated to report in writing to the Personnel Center at Randolph Air Force Base whenever a monthly review of records showed unsatisfactory participation for an officer.

But his unit never reported Bush's absenteeism to Randolph Air Force Base.

# In July 1972 Bush failed to take a mandatory Guard physical exam, which is a serious offense for a Guard pilot. The move should have prompted the formation of a Flying Evaluation Board to investigation the circumstances surrounding Bush's failure.

But no such FEB was convened.

# Once Bush was grounded for failing to take a physical, his commanders could have filed a report on why the suspension should be lifted.

But Bush's commanders made no such request.

# On Sept. 15, 1972, Bush was ordered to report to Lt. Col. William Turnipseed, the deputy commander of the 187th Tactical Reconnaissance Group in Montgomery, Ala., to participate in training on the weekends of Oct. 7-8 and Nov. 4-5, 1972.

But there's no evidence Bush ever showed up on those dates. In 2000, Turnipseed told the Boston Globe that Bush did not report for duty. (A self-professed Bush supporter, Turnipseed has since backed off from his categorical claim.)

# However, according to the White House-released pay records, which are unsigned, Bush was credited for serving in Montgomery on Oct. 28-29 and Nov. 11-14, 1972. Those makeup dates should have produced a paper trail, including Bush's formal request as well as authorization and supervision documents.

But no such documents exist, and the dates he was credited for do not match the dates when the Montgomery unit assembled for drills.

# When Guardsmen miss monthly drills, or "unit training assemblies" (UTAs), they are allowed to make them up through substitute service and earn crucial points toward their service record. Drills are worth one point on a weekday and two points on each weekend day. For Bush's substitute service on Nov. 13-14, 1972, he was awarded four points, two for each day.

But Nov. 13 and 14 were both weekdays. He should have been awarded two points.

# Bush earned six points for service on Jan. 4-6, 1973 -- a Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

But he should have earned four points, one each for Thursday and Friday, two for Saturday.

# Weekday training was the exception in the Guard. For example, from May 1968 to May 1972, when Bush was in good standing, he was not credited with attending a single weekday UTA.

But after 1972, when Bush's absenteeism accelerated, nearly half of his credited UTAs were for weekdays.

# To maintain unit cohesiveness, the parameters for substitute service are tightly controlled; drills must be made up within 15 days immediately before, or 30 days immediately after, the originally scheduled drill, according to Guard regulations at the time.

But more than half of the substitute service credits Bush received fell outside that clear time frame. In one case, he made up a drill nine weeks in advance.

# On Sept. 29, 1972, Bush was formally grounded for failing to take a flight physical. The letter, written by Maj. Gen. Francis Greenlief, chief of the National Guard Bureau, ordered Bush to acknowledge in writing that he had received word of his grounding.

But no such written acknowledgment exists. In 2000, Bush spokesman Dan Bartlett told the Boston Globe that Bush couldn't remember if he'd ever been grounded.

# Bartlett also told the Boston Globe that Bush didn't undergo a physical while in Alabama because his family doctor was in Houston.

But only Air Force flight surgeons can give flight physicals to pilots.

# Guard members are required to take a physical exam every 12 months.

But Bush's last Guard physical was in May 1971. Bush was formally discharged from the service in November 1974, which means he went without a required physical for 42 months.

# Bush's unsatisfactory participation in the fall of 1972 should have prompted the Texas Air National Guard to write to his local draft board and inform the board that Bush had become eligible for the draft. Guard units across the country contacted draft boards every Sept. 15 to update them on the status of local Guard members. Bush's absenteeism should have prompted what's known as a DD Form 44, "Record of Military Status of Registrant."

But there is no record of any such document having been sent to Bush's draft board in Houston.

# Records released by the White House note that Bush received a military dental exam in Alabama on Jan. 6, 1973.

But Bush's request to serve in Alabama covered only September, October and November 1972. Why he would still be serving in Alabama months after that remains unclear.

# Each of Bush's numerous substitute service requests should have formed a lengthy paper trail consisting of AF Form 40a's, with the name of the officer who authorized the training in advance, the signature of the officer who supervised the training and Bush's own signature.

But no such documents exist.

# During his last year with the Texas Air National Guard, Bush missed nearly two-thirds of his mandatory UTAs and made up some of them with substitute service. Guard regulations allowed substitute service only in circumstances that are "beyond the control" of the Guard member.

But neither Bush nor the Texas Air National Guard has ever explained what the uncontrollable circumstances were that forced him to miss the majority of his assigned drills in his last year.

# Bush supposedly returned to his Houston unit in April 1973 and served two days.

But at the end of April, when Bush's Texas commanders had to rate him for their annual report, they wrote that they could not do so: "Lt. Bush has not been observed at this unit during the period of this report."

# On June 29, 1973, the Air Reserve Personnel Center in Denver instructed Bush's commanders to get additional information from his Alabama unit, where he had supposedly been training, in order to better evaluate Bush's duty. The ARPC gave Texas a deadline of Aug. 6 to get the information.

But Bush's commanders ignored the request.

# Bush was credited for attending four days of UTAs with his Texas unit July 16-19, 1973. That was good for eight crucial points.

But that's not possible. Guard units hold only two UTAs each month -- one on a Saturday and one on a Sunday. Although Bush may well have made up four days, they should not all have been counted as UTAs, since they occur just twice a month. The other days are known as "Appropriate Duty," or APDY.

# On July 30, 1973, Bush, preparing to attend Harvard Business School, signed a statement acknowledging it was his responsibility to find another unit in which to serve out the remaining nine months of his commitment.

But Bush never contacted another unit in Massachusetts in which to fulfill his obligation.

Despite the laundry list of Guard discrepancies, Bush, when asked about his service this weekend, insisted, "I did everything [my superiors] asked me to do."

11:39 PM  
Blogger Management said...

Sept. 9, 2004 | On Feb. 13, as controversy swirled around President Bush's service in the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War, the White House released more than 400 pages of documents on the press corps, proving, it claimed, that Bush had served honorably and fulfilled his commitment. The sudden rush of records, often redundant, jumbled and out of chronological order, generally left reporters baffled. From Bush's point of view, the document dump was a political success, as the controversy cooled and the paper trail ran dry.

In retrospect, it's doubtful that even White House aides understood all the information embedded in the records, specifically the payroll documents. It's also unlikely they realized how damaging the information could be when read in the proper context. Seven months later, the document dump is coming back to haunt the White House, thanks to researcher Paul Lukasiak, who has spent that time closely examining the paperwork, and more important, analyzing U.S. statutory law, Department of Defense regulations, and Air Force policies and procedures of the 1960s and 1970s. As a result, Lukasiak arrived at the overwhelming conclusion that not only did Bush walk away from his final two years of military obligation, coming dangerously close to desertion, but he attempted to cover up his absenteeism through swindle and fraud.

Lukasiak's findings, detailed on his Web site the AWOL Project, have since been bolstered and augmented by independent research by the Boston Globe and the Associated Press. On Wednesday, CBS News reported what may be among the most damaging details yet: that Bush's squadron commander, the late Col. Jerry Killian, complained he was being pressured by higher-ups to give Bush a favorable evaluation after he suspended him from flying for failure to take his annual physical exam. Titled "CYA," Killian's memo concluded, "I'm having trouble running interference and doing my job."

But for the last several months, Lukasiak has practically had the AWOL story to himself, as the mainstream media mostly seemed silenced by the big February document release, the daunting task of decoding military personnel records, and the repeated refrain from the Bush White House that the president was honorably discharged. Among the three most compelling conclusions reached by Lukasiak in his new, meticulous research, are:

# Bush's request to transfer to an Alabama Guard unit in 1972, in order to work on the Senate campaign of a family friend, Lukasiak found, was not designed to be temporary, but rather was Bush's attempt to sever ties completely with the Texas Air National Guard and find a new, permanent unit in Alabama for which he was ineligible, where he wouldn't have to do any training during his final two years. His superiors in Texas essentially covered for Bush's getaway. However, the Air Reserve Personnel Center (ARPC) in Denver, Colo., which had final say, uncovered the attempted scam, put an end to it, and admonished Bush's superiors for endorsing Bush's bogus request. (The CBS News report shows that the locals were chafing at interference from "higher-ups" presumably connected to the powerful Bush family.) In the interim, Bush simply ignored his weekend duties for nearly six straight months, not bothering to show up at military units in either Alabama or Texas.

# The White House has conceded that Bush missed some required weekend training drills, but insists Bush promptly made up those drills and earned enough annual credits for an honorable discharge. In fact, according to Lukasiak's research, based on the procedures in place at the time requiring that makeup dates be completed within 15 days before or 30 days after the date of the drill missed, between half and two-thirds of the points credited to Bush for substitute training were fraudulent. Some of the points credited to Bush were "earned" nine weeks beyond the date of the missed drill. According to Air Force policy, Bush could not have received permission for substitute training that far outside the accepted parameters. The evidence is also overwhelming that Bush failed to get authorization for substitute training in advance, suggesting the points were awarded by the Texas Air National Guard retroactively and without any supporting paperwork. The fraudulent points are key, because without them Bush would have fallen far short of meeting his annual obligation, which meant he should have been transferred to active duty for 24 months and made eligible for service in Vietnam.

# On Oct. 1, 1973, Bush received an honorable discharge from the Texas Air National Guard in order to move to Boston and attend Harvard Business School, where he was still obligated to find a unit in Massachusetts to fulfill his remaining nine months of duty, or face being placed on active duty. Once again, Bush made no such effort. But the Air Force in Denver, acting retroactively, in effect overturned Bush's honorable discharge and placed him on "Inactive Status" effective Sept. 15, 1973. When Bush left Texas, his personnel file was sent to Denver for review. The ARPC quickly realized Bush had failed to take a required physical exam, his Texas superior could not account for his whereabouts covering nearly a 12-month period, and because of absenteeism Bush had failed to "satisfactorily participate" as a member of the Texas Air National Guard. Bush's "Inactive Status" meant his relationship with the Air Force (and the Guard) was severed and he was therefore eligible for the draft.

Soon afterward, large gaps began appearing in Bush's paper trail. Lukasiak concludes that only last-minute intervention, likely from Bush's local Houston draft board, saved him from active duty, as well as finally securing his honorable discharge, removing his "Inactive Status." Ironically, that means strings were pulled to get Bush out of the Guard in 1973, just as they were pulled to get him enrolled in 1968.

The AWOL Project's conclusions are bound to give Dan Bartlett concern. The White House director of communications has served as Bush's point person over the last five years regarding inquiries about National Guard service. Dating back to the 2000 campaign and right up to this day, Bartlett has routinely changed his stories regarding Bush's service depending on what information was available to the public. As more and more documents trickle out and it becomes increasingly obvious Bush received wildly favorable treatment during his Guard days while doing his best to skirt his duties, Bartlett is left trying to stake out explanations that haven't already been discredited. And those options are shrinking.

Bartlett's latest flip-flop surrounds Bush's failure to locate a new Guard unit and fulfill his duty while attending Harvard Business School. In 1999, Bartlett said Bush had reported for duty at a Massachusetts Guard unit as required. This week Bartlett conceded to the Boston Globe he must have "misspoke," because it's clear Bush made no effort whatsoever to serve out his term while living in Boston. That answer is reminiscent of Bartlett's response during the 2000 campaign when asked about Bush's failure to take a required military physical in 1972: "As he was not flying, there was no reason for him to take a flight physical exam." But that response is directly contradicted by the Air Force Specialty Code, which required a physical regardless of flight status.

On Wednesday, Bartlett told CBS News, in response to Jerry Killian's memos, "It's impossible to read the mind of a dead man." He then reverted to his usual refrain: "The official files tell the facts," Bartlett said. "And the facts are President Bush served. He served honorably. And that's why he was honorably discharged."

The shifting explanations and obfuscations coming from the White House are one reason why the Guard story remains dangerous for Bush. The controversy, after all, is not merely about how he received a million dollars' worth of free pilot training and then stiffed the government when it came time to pay it back in service. It's also about how, for the last decade, Bush and his advisors have done everything possible to distort, if not erase, the truth about Bush's service record in order to advance his political career.

The detailed research from Lukasiak, a Philadelphia caterer, deals strictly with the contents of Bush's military service documents, particularly those after April 1972, when Bush decided -- on his own -- to stop flying. But what's fascinating is that when recent news reports from Salon, the Associated Press, CBS and the Boston Globe are layered on top of the AWOL Project research, they fit together almost seamlessly, revealing a vivid portrait of Bush as a young man who evaded his military service.

# Last week Salon reported that in late 1972 George H.W. Bush phoned a longtime Bush family confidant in Alabama, Jimmy Allison, to ask if there was room on the local campaign he was managing for Bush's troublesome son George, or "Georgie" as he was called. "The impression I had was that Georgie was raising a lot of hell in Houston, getting in trouble and embarrassing the family, and they just really wanted to get him out of Houston and under Jimmy's wing," Linda Allison, his widow, told Salon. "After about a month I asked Jimmy what was Georgie's job, because I couldn't figure it out. I never saw him do anything," said Allison. Asked if she'd ever seen Bush in a uniform, Allison said: "Good lord, no. I had no idea that the National Guard was involved in his life in any way."

# This week a new advocacy group calling itself Texans for Truth announced that it will air a television commercial featuring a former Alabama National Guard pilot who insists he never saw Bush in 1972 at the small Guard unit at Dannelly Air National Guard base in Montgomery, where the president claims he served. The pilot, Bob Mintz, has told a consistent tale. In February, he told the Memphis Flyer newspaper: "There's no way we wouldn't have noticed a strange rooster in the henhouse, especially since we were looking for him." Mintz was referring to the news on the base that somebody from Texas with political influence was coming to train with the unit. "I was looking for him," Mintz said.

# On Wednesday night, on CBS's "60 Minutes," in an interview with Dan Rather, former Texas Lt. Gov. Ben Barnes went public for the first time about how he pulled strings to get the young Bush a coveted slot, at the height of the Vietnam War, in the Texas Air National Guard. "I've thought about it an awful lot and you walk through the Vietnam memorial, particularly at night like I did a few months ago and, I tell you, ... reflecting back, I'm very sorry about it, but you know, it happened and it was because of my ambition, my youth and my lack of understanding. But it happened and it's not ... something I'm necessarily proud of."

CBS also reported on four documents from the personal files of Col. Jerry Killian, Bush's squadron commander. One memo ordered Bush to take "an annual physical examination" -- an order he refused. CBS reports: "On August 1, 1972, Col. Killian grounded Lt. Bush for failure to perform to U.S. Air Force/Texas Air National Guard standards and for failure to take his annual physical as ordered. A year after Lt. Bush's suspension from flying, Killian was asked to write another assessment. Killian's memo, titled 'CYA,' reads he is being pressured by higher-ups to give the young pilot a favorable yearly evaluation; to, in effect, sugarcoat his review. He refuses, saying, 'I'm having trouble running interference and doing my job.'"

# This week, the A.P. reported that a thorough analysis of Bush's military documents indicates obvious gaps in his service along with equally gratuitous gaps in his paperwork. Specifically missing are: "A report from the Texas Air National Guard to Bush's local draft board certifying that Bush remained in good standing." "Records of a required investigation into why Bush lost flight status." "A written acknowledgment from Bush that he had received the orders grounding him." "Reports of formal counseling sessions Bush was required to have after missing more than three training sessions." "A signed statement from Bush acknowledging he could be called to active duty if he did not promptly transfer to another guard unit after leaving Texas."

# In February of this year, Salon interviewed Bill Burkett, a retired lieutenant colonel in the Texas National Guard, who claims he observed aides to Bush going through his military file in 1997 to remove any embarrassing information, tossing documents in the trash, allegedly the types of documents that might help answer many of the unanswered questions surrounding Bush's Guard service. "Activities occurred in order to, in my opinion, inappropriately build a false image of the governor's military service," Burkett told Salon. Burkett first went public with his accusations in 1998 and has told the same story consistently for six years.

# Also last February, Salon reported that Bush's mysterious decision in the spring of 1972 to stop flying and subsequently refuse to take a physical exam came at the same time the Air Force announced its Medical Service Drug Abuse Testing Program, which meant random drug testing for pilots, including Guardsmen.

Meanwhile, the White House has not been able to produce anything or anybody with any credibility to contradict the growing body of evidence that suggests Bush deliberately walked away from his duties and that Bush and his handlers continue to lie about his military service. Retired Lt. Col. John Calhoun was the one witness who was brought forward this year to back up Bush's story that he actually showed up in Alabama. He recalled seeing Bush at training sessions between "eight to ten times from May to October 1972." Yet not even Bush's own payroll records suggest he did drills in Alabama at the time Calhoun allegedly spotted him. (Amazingly, ABC News on Wednesday used Calhoun as a credible witness to bolster Bush's account, despite the fact that the dates Calhoun cites don't even match up with Bush's.)

There's also no paper trail to support Bush's claim that he completed any service after 1972. As Lukasiak notes, each substitute training Bush completed, and there were many, should have generated authorized AF Form 40a's: "All told, Bush performed 'substitute training' on at least 20 days. Thus there should be, at the very least, 20 AF Form 40a's with the name of the officer who authorized the training in advance, the name and signature of the officer who supervised the training, and Bush's own signature." But not one such form exists.

A similar absence of information surrounds Bush's dubious explanation of his attempted transfer to Alabama. The move should have generated a small mountain of paperwork. Under normal circumstances, 10 steps are required to transfer:

1) The Guardsman announces that he will need to relocate.

2) His personnel officer explains the relocation policies and procedures to him.

3) The Guardsman signs an acknowledgment that he has received the relocation counseling.

4) The personnel officer gives the Guardsman a certification of satisfactory participation, which he will need to get approval for a transfer.

5) The Guardsman locates an appropriate Ready Reserve position with a new unit, and submits a "Transfer Request Form" (Form 1288) and a new "Ready Reserve Service Agreement (Form 1644), along with the certification of satisfactory participation, to the "receiving unit."

6) The receiving unit "indorses" the request on the back of the Form 1288, and provides the Guardsman with certification that an appropriate position is available in that unit.

7) The Guardsman gives Form 1288, Form 1644, the certification of an appropriate position, and a letter of resignation to his current unit commander.

8) The unit commander indorses the request, and forwards it to the state adjutant general.

9) The adjutant general approves the request, and discharges the Guardsman from the Air National Guard to the Air Force Reserves.

10) The Air Force Reserves assigns the former Guardsman to his new unit.

In Bush's case, according to Lukasiak's research, "There is no statement of counseling, no certification of satisfactory performance, no certification of a suitable vacancy, no letter of resignation, no discharge papers, no discharge orders, and no reassignment orders."

There are also indications that Bush -- unwilling to fly, take a physical or report for duty -- was trying to mislead Guard officials with his transfer application. When asked for his permanent address, Bush listed the P.O. box for the Alabama campaign headquarters he worked for temporarily. When asked to note his Air Force Specialty Code, Bush wrote down 1125B, the designation for F-89 or F-94 pilots. At the time of his transfer request, both of these planes had been retired from service in all components of the Air Force, including the Guard and Reserves. Bush's accurate code was 1125D, designating an F-102 pilot. At the time, F-102 planes were still very much in use. It was an error Bush made more than once on the application. Lukasiak writes: "The odds of Bush being able to scam his way into a non-training unit [in Alabama] would be enhanced if his specific skill set was one which was no longer useful to the Air Force."

In May 1972, Bush was informed that the unit in Alabama he requested was clearly unsuitable for a pilot of his stature, yet he pressed on, and his Texas superiors endorsed the transfer request and submitted it. But the Denver headquarters caught the scam and rejected it. The Texas chief of military personnel sent a curt warning to Bush's unit about the clearly bogus request: "Attention is invited to basic communication."

Lukasiak's work has created a storm in the blogosphere. (He's also a Salon Table Talk member, and an active thread is devoted to research on Bush's National Guard service.) He makes no secret of his conviction that Bush used his family connections to evade the draft. The AWOL Project concludes: "Bush simply blew off his last two years of required service, and was able to get away with it because he came from a politically influential family. There is no other explanation for Bush's records. None."

Of course none of that stopped Bush from hyping his military service as he launched his political career. In 1978, during an unsuccessful run for Congress in west Texas, Bush produced campaign literature that claimed he had served "in the US Air Force and the Texas Air National Guard." In 1999, when asked by an AP reporter why Bush had claimed to have served specifically with the U.S. Air Force when he'd only been in the National Guard, Bush spokeswoman Karen Hughes insisted the claim was accurate because when Bush attended flight school for the Air National Guard he was considered to be on active duty for the Air Force. That was plainly false, as the AP noted, citing Air Force policy, which stated Guardsmen are never considered to be members of the Air Force active duty.

Just four years after escaping his military obligations, Bush was already trying to rewrite his military record for political gain. Bush said he strongly supported the Vietnam War, obscuring how he spent several years, after securing a safe spot in the National Guard, evading his military obligation. Now President Bush orders Guardsmen and Reservists to shoulder an unprecedented load -- physically, financially and emotionally -- in the war in Iraq. As new information at last begins to emerge about what he really did, Bush and his aides are still at work covering up the record. His ultimate war is with the truth about his past.

11:44 PM  
Blogger Management said...

Chronology on Bush Nat'l Guard Service

Associated Press

WASHINGTON - A look at some of the shifting explanations President Bush and his spokesmen have given for events in Bush's Texas Air National Guard service:


Why did Bush skip a required yearly medical examination in 1972?


July 1999: Campaign spokeswoman Karen Hughes tells reporters Bush missed his physical because he was working on a political campaign in Alabama and had no access to the "special" doctors who perform the examinations.

July 2000: Campaign spokesman Dan Bartlett tells the Boston Globe that Bush doesn't remember being grounded.

October 2000: Bartlett tells the Boston Globe he can state unequivocally that Bush was never grounded.

November 2000: Bartlett tells reporters Bush had no reason to take the exam because he was transferring to Alabama and his Texas unit was phasing out use of the F-102A fighter. Bartlett says Bush chose not to take the exam.

Feb. 12: White House spokesman Scott McClellan tells reporters: "He moved to Alabama for a civilian job and he was on non-flying status while in Alabama. There was no need for a flight exam."

Sept. 9: Bartlett, now White House communications director, tells CBS: "The records have been clear for years that President Bush did not take a physical because he did not need to take a physical because, obviously, the choice was that he was going to be performing in a different capacity."

Sept. 29: White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan, in response to an Associated Press question about why Bush did not retake his medical exam after returning to Texas in 1973: "When he returned to Texas, the F-102 (the plane he was trained to fly) was being phased out and pilot slots were limited. Since the president was then planning to go to the Harvard business school, it would not have made sense to allocate one of the F-102 slots or to spend the financial resources to train him to fly a new plane."


National Guard doctors perform medical examinations. Bush could have gotten an exam either at his base in Texas or at any of several Alabama Air National Guard installations in and around Montgomery.

Bush was required to take his medical exam by his birthday, July 6, 1972, which was more than a month before he won final approval for temporary training with an Alabama unit. Bush's Texas commanders ordered him grounded Sept. 5, 1972, the same day Bush wrote to them asking to train with the 187th Fighter Interceptor Squadron in Montgomery. That unit did not use the F-102A jets Bush was trained to fly.

Bush's home unit, the 111th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, was beginning to shift to F-101 jets in 1973. But the unit continued to fly the F-102A until 1974 and trained F-102A pilots for other Air National Guard units during that time. Records released this month show the 111th added two F-102A pilots from a Vermont National Guard unit to its roster in 1973, the year Bush claimed the unit was eliminating F-102A pilot slots.

Bush has said he decided to go to Harvard in the summer of 1973, months after his return to Texas from Alabama. He formally asked to be released from the Texas guard in July 1973, a request granted that October.


When did Bush train in Alabama, and what did he do?


During the 2000 campaign, Bush spokesmen said he trained with the 187th from May to October 1972.

May 2000: Bartlett said Bush remembered performing some duty in Alabama and "recalls coming back to Houston and doing (Guard) duty, though he does not recall if it was on a consistent basis."

May 23, 2000: At the request of the Bush campaign, retired Lt. Col. Albert Lloyd Jr., the former personnel director of the Texas Air National Guard, tells reporters Bush returned to his Texas unit in November 1972.

June 1, 2000: Campaign spokesman Ari Fleischer, asked if Bush temporarily left his Texas unit, responded: "Of course he did, with the permission of the Guard, which is not unusual."

June 23, 2000: At a campaign appearance in Alabama, Bush says of his service there: "I was there on a temporary assignment and fulfilled my weekends at one period of time... I can't remember what I did, but I wasn't flying because they didn't have the same airplanes."

June 24, 2000: Fleischer tells reporters Bush remembered doing "paper shuffling" in Montgomery.

June 26, 2000: Bartlett tells the Dallas Morning News that Bush showed up several times for training in Alabama but said the president does not remember how many times. Bartlett says Bush returned to his Texas unit in December 1972 and made up for missed drills then. In Alabama, "most of his work was paperwork related," Bartlett says.

October 2000: Bartlett tells The New York Times that Bush was too busy with the campaign in mid-1972 to report to guard duty, but he made up the training later.

Feb. 3, 2004: Bush says on NBC's "Meet the Press": "There may be no evidence, but I did report (for duty in Alabama)."

Feb. 10, 2004: McClellan acknowledges that documents released by the White House do not prove Bush served in Alabama.

Feb. 12, 2004: The White House releases an incomplete dental examination form dated in January 1973 saying it was performed in Montgomery. McClellan says: "This document further demonstrates the president fulfilling his duties and serving while in Alabama."

Sept. 9, 2004: The White House tells CBS Bush "met his drills then when he came back" from Alabama "and that's why he received an honorable discharge."

Sept. 29, 2004: Buchan tells AP that Bush did "administrative duties" in Alabama. "The records demonstrate that he followed the proper procedures and worked through the chain of command to receive approval to perform equivalent duty in Alabama."


Payroll records show Bush did not show up for any guard service between mid-April and late October 1972. At the time he was in Alabama working on the unsuccessful U.S. Senate campaign of a family friend.

Air Force officials rejected Bush's first request to train with an Air Force Reserve unit in Alabama because the unit did not fit Bush's training requirements. In September 1972, Bush asked for and received permission to train for three months with the 187th.

Payroll records show Bush was paid for guard service twice in October 1972 and four times the next month. The pay records do not say where Bush served.

The dental record says Bush got his teeth examined at the 187th base in January 1973, a month in which he was paid for six days of duty. Bush was next paid for two days in April 1973.

A performance evaluation by Bush's Texas commanders in May 1973 said Bush had not appeared at the Texas base for an entire year.

No Alabama Air National Guard records have surfaced showing Bush did any duty there. Former commanders and other members of the 187th in 1972 and 1973 say they don't remember ever seeing Bush there.

One former member of the unit, retired Lt. Col. John Calhoun, has said he remembers Bush showing up for weekend training drills with the 187th during the summer and fall of 1972. Bush's records, however, show he was never paid for any dates in 1972 when the 187th performed its weekend drills.

4:23 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home