January 24, 2004

George W. Bush, A.W.O.L

As the truth dawns on the electorate, the commplicity
and capitulation of the "US mainstream news media"
becomes increasingly obvious, and would see almost
pitiful if it were not so very dangerous...

Michael Moore: Poor Peter Jennings. What was he doing
on Fox? All that seems left of his Canadianess is the
way he pronounced my name ("Michael Moooore"). The
question he posed to Clark was typical of a lazy media
looking for a way to distract the viewers from the
real issues: the war, the economy, and the failures of
the Bush administration. But if they want to really
get into the issue of Bush and his "service record,"
then I say, bring it on!

Break the Stranglehold of the US Mainstream News
Media, Show Up for Democracy: Defeat Bush (again!)


Friday, January 23rd 2004
George W. Bush, A.W.O.L

In last night's Democratic Presidential debate in New
Hampshire, broadcast on the Fox News (Nuisance?)
Channel and ABC's Nightline, Peter Jennings went after
Wesley Clark -- and me -- because I said I want to see
Clark debate Bush... "The General vs. The Deserter."

Jennings, referring to me as "the controversial
filmmaker," asked if Clark wanted to distance himself
from me and my "reckless" remark. Clark would not back
down, stating how "delighted" he was with my support,
and that I was entitled to say what I wanted to say --
AND that I was not the only one who had made these
charges against Bush.

The pundits immediately went berserk after the debate.
As well they should. Because they know that they --
and much of the mainstream media -- ignored this Bush
AWOL story when it was first revealed by an
investigation in the Boston Globe (in 2000). The Globe
said it appeared George W. Bush skipped out in the
middle of his Texas Air National Guard service -- and
no charges were ever brought against him. It was a
damning story, and Bush has never provided any
documents or evidence to refute the Globe's charges.

George W. Bush was missing for at least a 12 month
period. That is an undisputed fact. If you or I did
that, we would serve time.

Senator Daniel Inouye, Democrat of Hawaii and a World
War II veteran, joined with Vietnam vets Sen. Max
Cleland and Sen. Bob Kerrey to challenge Bush on the
gaps in his military record. "The question is, where
were you, Governor Bush? What would you do as
commander-in-chief if someone in the National Guard
did the same thing? At the least, I would have been
court-martialed. At the least, I would have been
placed in prison," Inouye said.

The Washington Post, the New Republic, and others also
presented the evidence that Bush had fled from duty.

The most comprehensive piece I've seen was on Tom
Paine.com with all the relevant links and documents.

There are far more important issues to deal with in
this election year. Poor Peter Jennings. What was he
doing on Fox? All that seems left of his Canadianess
is the way he pronounced my name ("Michael Moooore").
The question he posed to Clark was typical of a lazy
media looking for a way to distract the viewers from
the real issues: the war, the economy, and the
failures of the Bush administration. But if they want
to really get into the issue of Bush and his "service
record," then I say, bring it on! The facts are all
there, including the empty flyboy suit.


Michael Moore

PS: This is the second time I've been thrown into a
New Hampshire presidential debate. Four years ago,
Republican Alan Keyes was asked why he jumped into
Michael Moore's mosh pit to the music of Rage Against
the Machine. Now THAT was an issue of substance!

PPS: You can read the exchange between Jennings and
Clark here.

Boston Globe: Bush Let Guard Down
Washington Post: Bush Let Guard Down
The New Republic: Notebook
Washington Post: "The General Vs. The Deserter"
TRANSCRIPT: Peter Jennings asks Wesley Clark about my
charge that George W. Bush is a deserter


By Walter V. Robinson, Boston Globe Staff, 5/23/2000

AUSTIN, Texas - After George W. Bush became governor
in 1995, the Houston Air National Guard unit he had
served with during the Vietnam War years honored him
for his work, noting that he flew an F-102
fighter-interceptor until his discharge in October

And Bush himself, in his 1999 autobiography, ''A
Charge to Keep,'' recounts the thrills of his pilot
training, which he completed in June 1970. ''I
continued flying with my unit for the next several
years,'' the governor wrote.

But both accounts are contradicted by copies of Bush's
military records, 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.

Bush, who declined to be interviewed on the issue,
said through a spokesman that he has ''some
recollection'' of attending drills that year, but
maybe not consistently.

>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

After the election, Bush returned to Houston. But
seven months later, in May 1973, his two superior
officers at Ellington Air Force Base could not perform
his annual evaluation covering the year from May 1,
1972 to April 30, 1973 because, they wrote, ''Lt. Bush
has not been observed at this unit during the period
of this report.''

Bush, they mistakenly concluded, had been training
with the Alabama unit for the previous 12 months. Both
men have since died. But Ellington's top personnel
officer at the time, retired Colonel Rufus G. Martin,
said he had believed that First Lieutenant Bush
completed his final year of service in Alabama.

A Bush spokesman, Dan Bartlett, said after talking
with the governor that Bush recalls 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.''

Noting that Bush, by that point, was no longer flying,
Bartlett added, ''It's possible his presence and role
became secondary.''

Last night, Mindy Tucker, another Bush campaign aide,
asserted that the governor ''fulfilled all of his
requirements in the Guard.'' If he missed any drills,
she said, he made them up later on.

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.

If Bush's interest in Guard duty waned, as spokesman
Bartlett hinted, the records and former Guard
officials suggest that Bush's unit was lackadaisical
in holding him to his commitment. Many states, Texas
among them, had a record during the Vietnam War of
providing a haven in the Guard for the sons of the
well-connected, and a tendency to excuse shirking by
those with political connections.

Those who trained and flew with Bush, until he gave up
flying in April 1972, said he was among the best
pilots in the 111th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron. In
the 22-month period between the end of his flight
training and his move to Alabama, Bush logged numerous
hours of duty, well above the minimum requirements for
so-called ''weekend warriors.''

Indeed, in the first four years of his six-year
commitment, Bush spent the equivalent of 21 months on
active duty, including 18 months in flight school. His
Democratic opponent, Vice President Al Gore, who
enlisted in the Army for two years and spent five
months in Vietnam, logged only about a month more
active service, since he won an early release from

Still, the puzzling gap in Bush's military service is
likely to heighten speculation about the conspicuous
underachievement that marked the period between his
1968 graduation from Yale University and his 1973
entry into Harvard Business School. It is speculation
that Bush has helped to fuel: For example, he refused
for months last year to say whether he had ever used
illegal drugs. Subsequently, however, Bush amended his
stance, saying that he had not done so since 1974.

The period in 1972 and 1973 when Bush sidestepped his
military obligation coincides with a well-publicized
incident during the 1972 Christmas holidays: Bush had
a confrontation with his father after he took his
younger brother, Marvin, out drinking and returned to
the family's Washington home after knocking over some
garbage cans on the ride home.

In his autobiography, Bush says that his decision to
go to business school the following September was ''a
turning point for me.''

Assessing Bush's military service three decades later
is no easy task: Some of his superiors are no longer
alive. Others declined to comment, or, understandably,
cannot recall details about Bush's comings and goings.
And as Bush has risen in public life over the last
several years, Texas military officials have put many
of his records off-limits and heavily redacted many
other pages, ostensibly because of privacy rules.

But 160 pages of his records, assembled by the Globe
from a variety of sources and supplemented by
interviews with former Guard officials, paint a
picture of an Air Guardsman who enjoyed favored
treatment on several occasions.

The ease of Bush's entry into the Air Guard was widely
reported last year. At a time when such billets were
coveted and his father was a Houston congressman, Bush
vaulted to the top of a waiting list of 500. Bush and
his father have denied that he received any
preferential treatment. But last year, Ben Barnes, who
was speaker of the Texas House in 1968, said in a
sworn deposition in a civil lawsuit that he called
Guard officials seeking a Guard slot for Bush after a
friend of Bush's father asked him to do so.

Before he went to basic training, Bush was approved
for an automatic commission as a second lieutenant and
assignment to flight school despite a score of just 25
percent on a pilot aptitude test. Such commissions
were not uncommon, although most often they went to
prospective pilots who had college ROTC courses or
prior Air Force experience. Bush had neither.

In interviews last week, Guard officials from that era
said Bush leapfrogged over other applicants because
few applicants were willing to commit to the 18 months
of flight training or the inherent dangers of flying.

As a pilot, the future governor appeared to do well.
After eight weeks of basic training in the summer of
1968 - and a two-month break to work on a Senate race
in Florida - Bush attended 55 weeks of flight school
at Moody Air Force Base in Georgia, from November 1968
to November 1969, followed by five months of full-time
training on the F-102 back at Ellington.

Retired Colonel Maurice H. Udell, Bush's instructor in
the F-102, said he was impressed with Bush's talent
and his attitude. ''He had his boots shined, his
uniform pressed, his hair cut and he said, `Yes, sir'
and `No, sir,''' the instructor recalled.

Said Udell, ''I would rank him in the top 5 percent of
pilots I knew. And in the thinking department, he was
in the top 1 percent. He was very capable and tough as
a boot.''

But 22 months after finishing his training, and with
two years left on his six-year commitment, Bush gave
up flying - for good, it would turn out. He sought
permission to do ''equivalent training'' at a Guard
unit in Alabama, where he planned to work for several
months on the Republican Senate campaign of Winton
Blount, a friend of Bush's father. The proposed move
took Bush off flight status, since no Alabama Guard
unit had the F-102 he was trained to fly.

At that point, starting in May 1972, First Lieutenant
Bush began to disappear from the Guard's radar screen.

When the Globe first raised questions about this
period earlier this month, Bartlett, Bush's spokesman,
referred a reporter to Albert Lloyd Jr., a retired
colonel who was the Texas Air Guard's personnel
director from 1969 to 1995.

Lloyd, who a year ago helped the Bush campaign make
sense of the governor's military records, said Bush's
aides were concerned about the gap in his records back

On May 24, 1972, after he moved to Alabama, Bush made
a formal request to do his equivalent training at the
9921st Air Reserve Squadron at Maxwell Air Force Base
in Alabama. Two days later, that unit's commander,
Lieutenant Colonel Reese H. Bricken, agreed to have
Bush join his unit temporarily.

In Houston, Bush's superiors approved. But a higher
headquarters disapproved, noting that Bricken's unit
did not have regular drills.

''We met just one weeknight a month. We were only a
postal unit. We had no airplanes. We had no pilots. We
had no nothing,'' Bricken said in an interview.

Last week, Lloyd said he is mystified why Bush's
superiors at the time approved duty at such a unit.

Inexplicably, months went by with no resolution to
Bush's status - and no Guard duty. Bush's evident
disconnection from his Guard duties was underscored in
August, when he was removed from flight status for
failing to take his annual flight physical.

Finally, on Sept. 5, 1972, Bush requested permission
to do duty for September, October, and November at the
187th Tactical Recon Group in Montgomery. Permission
was granted, and Bush was directed to report to
Turnipseed, the unit's commander.

In interviews last week, Turnipseed and his
administrative officer at the time, Kenneth K. Lott,
said they had no memory of Bush ever reporting.

''Had he reported in, I would have had some recall,
and I do not,'' Turnipseed said. ''I had been in
Texas, done my flight training there. If we had had a
first lieutenant from Texas, I would have

Lloyd, the retired Texas Air Guard official, said he
does not know whether Bush performed duty in Alabama.
''If he did, his drill attendance should have been
certified and sent to Ellington, and there would have
been a record. We cannot find the records to show he
fulfilled the requirements in Alabama,'' he said.

Indeed, Bush's discharge papers list his service and
duty station for each of his first four years in the
Air Guard. But there is no record of training listed
after May 1972, and no mention of any service in
Alabama. On that discharge form, Lloyd said, ''there
should have been an entry for the period between May
1972 and May 1973.''

Said Lloyd, ''It appeared he had a bad year. He might
have lost interest, since he knew he was getting

In an effort last year to solve the puzzle, Lloyd said
he scoured Guard records, where he found two ''special
orders'' commanding Bush to appear for active duty on
nine days in May 1973. That is the same month that
Lieutenant Colonel William D. Harris Jr. and
Lieutenant Colonel Jerry B. Killian effectively
declared Bush missing from duty.

In Bush's annual efficiency report, dated May 2, 1973,
the two supervising pilots did not rate Bush for the
prior year, writing, ''Lt. Bush has not been observed
at this unit during the period of report. A civilian
occupation made it necessary for him to move to
Montgomery, Alabama. He cleared this base on 15 May
1972 and has been performing equivalent training in a
non-flying status with the 187 Tac Recon Gp, Dannelly
ANG Base, Alabama.''

Asked about that declaration, campaign spokesman
Bartlett said Bush told him that since he was no
longer flying, he was doing ''odds and ends'' under
different supervisors whose names he could not recall.

But retired colonel Martin, the unit's former
administrative officer, said he too thought Bush had
been in Alabama for that entire year. Harris and
Killian, he said, would have known if Bush returned to
duty at Ellington. And Bush, in his autobiography,
identifies the late colonel Killian as a friend,
making it even more likely that Killian knew where
Bush was.

Lieutenant Bush, to be sure, had gone off flying
status when he went to Alabama. But had he returned to
his unit in November 1972, there would have been no
barrier to him flying again, except passing a flight
physical. Although the F-102 was being phased out, his
unit's records show that Guard pilots logged thousands
of hours in the F-102 in 1973.

During his search, Lloyd said, the only other
paperwork he discovered was a single torn page bearing
Bush's social security number and numbers awarding
some points for Guard duty. But the partial page is
undated. If it represents the year in question, it
leaves unexplained why Bush's two superior officers
would have declared him absent for the full year.

There is no doubt that Bush was in Houston in late
1972 and early 1973. During that period, according to
Bush's autobiography, he held a civilian job working
for an inner-city, antipoverty program in the city.

Lloyd, who has studied the records extensively, said
he is an admirer of the governor and believes ''the
governor honestly served his country and fulfilled his

But Lloyd said it is possible that since Bush had his
sights set on discharge and the unit was beginning to
replace the F-102s, Bush's superiors told him he was
not ''in the flow chart. Maybe George Bush took that
as a signal and said, `Hell, I'm not going to bother
going to drills.'

''Well, then it comes rating time, and someone says,
`Oh...he hasn't fulfilled his obligation.' I'll bet
someone called him up and said, `George, you're in a
pickle. Get your ass down here and perform some duty.'
And he did,'' Lloyd said.

That would explain, Lloyd said, the records showing
Bush cramming so many drills into May, June, and July
1973. During those three months, Bush spent 36 days on

Bush's last day in uniform before he moved to
Cambridge was July 30, 1973. His official release from
active duty was dated Oct. 1, 1973, eight months
before his six-year commitment was scheduled to end.

Officially, the period between May 1972 and May 1973
remains unaccounted for. In November 1973, responding
to a request from the headquarters of the Air National
Guard for Bush's annual evaluation for that year,
Martin, the Ellington administrative officer, wrote,
''Report for this period not available for
administrative reasons.''

This story ran on page 01A of the Boston Globe on
5/23/2000. C 2000 Globe Newspaper Company.

The Boston Globe

November 3, 2000



WASHINGTON - Democratic military veterans in the US
Senate lashed out yesterday at Governor George W. Bush
of Texas for failing to explain his apparent extended
absence during his tenure in the Texas Air National

"The question is, where were you, Governor Bush?" said
Senator Daniel Inouye, Democrat of Hawaii and a World
War II veteran. "What would you do as
commander-in-chief if someone in the National Guard
did the same thing?" Inouye asked during a telephone
address to supporters of Vice President Al Gore in
Nashville yesterday.

Inouye joined several colleagues, Senators Bob Kerrey,
Democrat of Nebraska, and Max Cleland, Democrat of
Georgia, in raising harsh questions about Bush's role
during the Vietnam War.

The remarks were in response to a Globe article this
week showing that Bush stopped flying after 22 months
within his unit of the Texas Air National Guard.
Further, the article reported, Bush failed to show up
for required Guard drills during a six-month stay in
Alabama, and he was lax even after returning to

"At the least, I would have been court-martialed. At
the least, I would have been placed in prison," Inouye
said. Bush "made a commitment to the Texas Air
National Guard, and God bless him for doing so," said
Kerrey. But "if you're going to make a commitment to
join the Guard, especially at that time, you've got to
keep that commitment," Kerrey added.

Bush has refused to be interviewed by the Globe on the
topic of his military service. His spokesman, Dan
Bartlett, yesterday called the questions about the
governor a "scurrilous charge" of a "desperate" Gore

The Washington Post

November 3, 2000, Friday, Final Edition

2 Democrats: Bush Let Guard Down; Gore Surrogates
Revive Issue of Apparent Laxity in Candidate's
Military Service

George Lardner Jr.; Howard Kurtz , Washington Post
Staff Writers

Two high-profile surrogates for Vice President Gore,
in an 11th-hour attempt to exploit a dormant issue,
yesterday castigated George W. Bush over allegations
that he did not fulfill some of his National Guard
duties in the 1970s.

Democratic Sens. Bob Kerrey (Neb.) and Daniel Inouye
(Hawaii), both Medal of Honor winners, were drafted to
attack Bush on a 27-year-old controversy that the Gore
campaign has avoided mentioning until now. They spoke
by phone to a veterans rally in Nashville led by Sen.
Max Cleland (D-Ga.), a decorated Vietnam veteran.
Reporters were invited to listen by conference call.

Bush says he fulfilled all his obligations as a pilot
in the Air National Guard, but he has had difficulty
rebutting charges that he played hooky for a year.

"Where were you, Governor Bush?" Inouye asked. "What
about your commitment? What would you do as commander
in chief if someone in the Guard or service did the
same thing?"

Kerrey questioned how Bush immediately got into the
Guard "even though there were 500 people ahead of him"
at a time when "350 Americans were dying every single
week in Vietnam." Kerrey has been drawing a sharp
contrast with Gore, who served in Vietnam.

Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer called the attacks "the
final throes of a campaign that has now lost any
semblance of decency. The governor, of course, was
honorably discharged, and these are inventions and
fabrications. All the questions have been answered."

But Gore spokesman Mark Fabiani said the senators
"seem to have raised some very important questions . .
. that deserve an answer."

Bush signed up with the Texas National Guard for six
years in May 1968, which allowed him to avoid the
Vietnam draft. He became an F-102 pilot in 1970 but
made his last flight in April 1972 before moving to
Alabama to work on a GOP Senate campaign. The dispute
centers on what he did in the Guard between that point
and September 1973, when he entered Harvard Business

Bush campaign officials say their evidence shows that
he did his duty in 1972-73, when he worked for six
months on the Senate race in Alabama and then returned
to his home base outside Houston. But other documents
in his Guard record contradict that claim, and critics
who have examined that record contend that he also
skimped on his obligations in 1973-74. It is safe to
say that Bush did very light duty in his last two
years in the Guard and that his superiors made it easy
for him.

The personnel officer in charge of Bush's 147th
Fighter Group, now-retired Col. Rufus G. Martin, says
he tried to give Bush a light load, telling him to
apply to the 9921st Air Reserve Squadron in
Montgomery, Ala.

Martin said in an interview that he knew Bush wasn't
eligible for the 9921st, an unpaid, general training
squadron that met once a week to hear lectures on
first aid and the like. "However," he said, "I thought
it was worth a try. . . . It was the least
participation of any type of unit." But Air Force
Reserve officials rejected the assignment, saying Bush
had two more years of military obligations and was
ineligible for a reserve squadron that had nothing to
do with flying airplanes. Bush spokesman Dan Bartlett
said Bush didn't know that when he applied.

Bush had been notified that he needed to take his
annual flying physical by his 26th birthday in July
1972, but the move to Alabama made that unnecessary.
He had been trained to fly F-102 fighter-interceptors,
and none of the units in Alabama had those planes. He
could have taken the physical to preserve his pilot's
status but chose not to do so. "Because he wasn't
flying," Bartlett said.

On Aug. 1, 1972, Bush's commander in Houston, Col.
Bobby W. Hodges, ordered him grounded for "failure to
accomplish annual medical examination." Some critics
say this should have triggered a formal board of
inquiry, but Hodges said in an interview that this was
unnecessary because Bush accepted the penalty and knew
"he couldn't fly again until he takes a physical."

"It happens all the time," Hodges said of the
grounding. "That is normal when a Guardsman is out of
state or out of the country."

In September, Bush was assigned to another Alabama
unit, the 187th Tactical Reconnaissance Group. Since
"Lieutenant Bush will not be able to satisfy his
flight requirements with our group," the unit told him
to report for "equivalent training"--such as
debriefing pilots--on the weekends of Oct. 7-8 and
Nov. 4-5, 1972.

There is no evidence in his record that he showed up
on either weekend. Friends on the Alabama campaign say
he told them of having to do Guard duty, but the
retired general who commanded the 187th, William
Turnipseed, and his personnel chief, Kenneth K. Lott,
say they do not remember Bush ever reporting.

The Bush campaign points to a torn piece of paper in
his Guard records, a statement of points Bush
apparently earned in 1972-73, although most of the
dates and Bush's name except for the "W" have been
torn off.

According to the torn Air Reserve Forces sheet, Bush
continued to compile service credits after returning
to Houston, winding up his fifth year with 56 points,
six above the minimum needed for retention. However,
Bush's annual effectiveness report, signed by two
superiors, says "Lt. Bush has not been observed at
this unit during the period of the report," May 1,
1972, to April 30, 1973.

Hodges also said he did not see Bush at the Texas base
again after Bush left for Montgomery. "If I had been
there on the day[s] he came out, I would have seen
him," Hodges said.

Dallas Morning News


By Wayne Slater
Monday, June 26, 2000; Page A06

AUSTIN –– After a thorough search of military records,
George W. Bush's presidential campaign has failed to
find any documents proving he reported for duty during
an eight-month stint in Alabama with the Texas Air
National Guard.

But a spokesman expressed confidence Saturday that
inquiries will turn up former Guard members who can
corroborate Bush's having been there.

"He specifically recalls pulling duty in Alabama,"
spokesman Dan Bartlett said of Bush. "He did his

Bartlett said the Republican governor showed up
"several" times while in Alabama, where he transferred
from his Houston Guard unit in 1972 to work for the
unsuccessful Senate campaign of Republican Winton
Blount, a friend of Bush's father.

According to Bartlett, the governor could not recall
specifically how many times he reported for duty
during his months in Alabama.

After leaving Alabama in December 1972, Bush returned
to Ellington Air Force Base near Houston, where he
made up missed time in order to complete his
obligation, said Bartlett.

Bush was a pilot in the Texas Air National Guard from
May 1968 to October 1973, primarily flying F-102

The focus on Bush's service in the Guard--and the
transfer to work on the Alabama political
campaign--has raised questions over whether he
received preferential treatment at a time when many
young men were seeking to avoid the Vietnam War.

Both Bush and his father, who was then a U.S.
representative from Houston, have denied that the
younger Bush received special treatment.

Bartlett said Saturday that he reviewed a 200-page
packet of documents last week from the National
Guard's records repository in Denver. He said they
largely duplicated documents the campaign already had
obtained from Texas National Guard headquarters.

"What it shows is that Governor Bush met his annual
requirements in order to fulfill his military
obligation but doesn't show the portion of the
training that took place in Alabama," he said.

While Bush was in Alabama, "most of his work was
paperwork related," said Bartlett.

Campaigning Friday in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Bush was asked
about his 1972 service in that state.

"I was there on a temporary assignment and fulfilled
my weekends at one period of time," he said. "I made
up some missed weekends."

"I can't remember what I did, but I wasn't flying
because they didn't have the same airplanes. I
fulfilled my obligations."

In May, retired Gen. William Turnipseed, the former
commander of the Alabama Guard unit, said Bush did not
report to him, although the young airman was required
to do so. His orders, dated Sept. 15, 1972, said:
"Lieutenant Bush should report to Lt. Col. William
Turnipseed, DCO, to perform equivalent training."

"To my knowledge, he never showed up," Turnipseed said
last month.

Bartlett said Bush recalls seeing then-Col.
Turnipseed. The campaign aide suggested that because
Bush was not a pilot, his commander might not remember

The New Republic
NOVEMBER 13, 2000 page 10
N 0 T E B 0 0 K

MILITARY READINESS CONT'D: It's no longer news that
George W Bush, to avoid being sent to Vietnam,
enlisted in the Texas Air National Guard in 1968. Nor
is it news that Bush, contrary to assertions in his
1999 campaign autobiography A Charge to

Keep, appears not to have honored his commitment to
the Guard after moving to Alabama for a period,
apparently failing to report for duty there for a full
year, between May 1972 and May 1973. (No one who was
in the Alabama National Guard at the time recalls
encountering Bush; the only person who vouches for him
is a former girlfriend, who merely says Bush spoke of
doing Guard service in Alabama.) What is news, though,
is that the Bush campaign continues to lie about
Bush's National Guard service.

"George W Bush served as a pilot in the Texas Air
National Guard from 1968 until 1973;" reads a snippet
from the biography posted on the campaign's website.
This is demonstrably false on two counts. For one,
although Bush began his Guard service in July 1968, he
spent his first two years in basic training and flight
school and did not begin serving as a pilot with the
111th Fighter- Interceptor Squadron at Houston's
Ellington Field until June 1970. Secondly, as has been
reported in The Boston Globe and in these pages, after
Bush moved from Texas to Alabama in May 1972, he never
flew again. Nor could he, because he skipped his
annual medical exam in 1972 and was suspended from

What had been assumed is that Bush, upon returning to
Texas from Alabama in May 1973, made up for his missed
service by performing nonflying duty At least, that's
what Bush campaign spokesman Dan Bartlett told
reporters in June. But now it seems unlikely that Bush
did even that much. According to a report in the
October 31 Boston Globe, "a Bush campaign spokesman
acknowledged last week that he knows of no witnesses
who can attest to Bush's attendance at drills after he
returned to Houston in late 1972 and before his early
release from the Guard in September 1973?" That means
Bush probably skipped the final 17 months of his
National Guard commitment, a period almost as long as
the 22 months he served as an actual pilot. But, then
again, in the early '70s W. hadn't yet ushered in "the
responsibility era."

RECORD: George W.'s Missing Year
By Marty Heldt

Marty Heldt is a farmer. He told us, "I spent 17 years
as a brakeman [for the railroad] before moving back to
the farm. That job had some long layovers that gave me
a lot of time to read and to educate myself." He lives
in Clinton, Iowa.

Nearly two hundred manila-wrapped pages of George
Walker Bush's service records came to me like some
sort of giant banana stuffed into my mailbox.

I had been seeking more information about his military
record to find out what he did during what I think of
as his "missing year," when he failed to show up for
duty as a member of the Air National Guard, as the
Boston Globe first reported.

The initial page I examined is a chronological listing
of Bush's service record. This document charts active
duty days served from the time of his enlistment. His
first year, a period of extensive training, young Bush
is credited with serving 226 days. In his second year
in the Guard, Bush is shown to have logged a total of
313 days. After Bush got his wings in June 1970 until
May 1971, he is credited with a total of 46 days of
active duty. From May 1971 to May 1972, he logged 22
days of active duty.

Then something happened. From May 1, 1972 until April
30, 1973 -- a period of twelve months -- there are no
days shown, though Bush should have logged at least
thirty-six days service (a weekend per month in
addition to two weeks at camp).

I found out that for the first four months of this
time period, when Bush was working on the U.S. Senate
campaign of Winton Blount in Alabama, that he did not
have orders to be at any unit anywhere.

On May 24, 1972, Bush had applied for a transfer from
the Texas Air National Guard to Montgomery, Alabama.
On his transfer request Bush noted that he was seeking
a "no pay" position with the 9921st Air Reserve
Squadron. The commanding officer of the Montgomery
unit, Lieutenant Colonel Reese R. Bricken, promptly
accepted Bush's request to do temporary duty under his

But Bush never received orders for the 9921st in
Alabama. Such decisions were under the jurisdiction of
the Air Reserve Personnel Center in Denver, Colorado,
and the Center disallowed the transfer. The Director
of Personnel Resources at the Denver headquarters
noted in his rejection that Bush had a "Military
Service Obligation until 26 May 1974." As an
"obligated reservist," Bush was ineligible to serve
his time in what amounted to a paper unit with few
responsibilities. As the unit's leader, Lieutenant
Colonel Bricken recently explained to the Boston
Globe, ''We met just one weeknight a month. We were
only a postal unit. We had no airplanes. We had no
pilots. We had no nothing.''

The headquarters document rejecting Bush's requested
Alabama transfer was dated May 31, 1972. This transfer
refusal left Bush still obligated to attend drills
with his regular unit, the 111th Fighter Interceptor
Squadron stationed at Ellington Air Force Base near
Houston. However, Bush had already left Texas two
weeks earlier and was now working on Winton Blount's
campaign staff in Alabama.

In his annual evaluation report, Bush's two
supervising officers, Lieutenant Colonel William D.
Harris Jr. and Lieutenant Colonel Jerry B. Killian,
made it clear that Bush had "not been observed at" his
Texas unit "during the period of report" -- the twelve
month period from May 1972 through the end of April

In the comments section of this evaluation report
Lieutenant Colonel Harris notes that Bush had "cleared
this base on 15 May 1972, and has been performing
equivalent training in a non flying role with the
187th Tac Recon Gp at Dannelly ANG Base, Alabama" (the
Air National Guard Tactical Reconnaissance Group at
Dannelly Air Force Base near Montgomery, Alabama).

This was incorrect. Bush didn't apply for duty at
Dannelly Air Force Base until September 1972. From May
until September he was in limbo, his temporary orders
having been rejected. And when his orders to appear at
Dannelly came through he still didn't appear. Although
his instructions clearly directed Bush to report to
Lieutenant Colonel William Turnipseed on the dates of
"7-8 October 0730-1600, and 4-5 November 0730-1600,"
he never did. In interviews conducted with the Boston
Globe earlier this year, both General Turnipseed and
his former administration officer, Lieutenant Colonel
Kenneth Lott, said that Bush never put in an

The lack of regular attendance goes against the basic
concept of a National Guard kept strong by citizen
soldiers who maintain their skills through regular
training. Bush campaign aides claim, according to a
report in the New York Times, that Bush in fact served
a single day -- November 29,1972 -- with the Alabama
unit. If this is so it means that for a period of six
weeks Lieutenant George W. Bush ignored direct
instructions from headquarters to report for duty. But
it looks even worse for Lieutenant Bush if the memory
of Turnipseed and Lott are correct and Bush never
reported at all.

After the election was over (candidate Blount lost),
Bush was to have returned to Texas and the 111th at
Ellington Air Force Base. Bush did return to Houston,
where he worked for an inner-city youth organization,
Project P.U.L.L. But, as I mentioned already, his
annual evaluation report states that he had not been
observed at his unit during the twelve months ending
May 1973. This means that there were another five
months, after he left Alabama, during which Bush did
not fulfill any of his obligations as a Guardsman.

In fact, during the final four months of this period,
December 1972 through May 29, 1973, neither Bush nor
his aides have ever tried to claim attendance at any
guard activities. So, incredibly, for a period of one
year beginning May 1, 1972, there is just one day,
November 29th, on which Bush claims to have performed
duty for the Air National Guard. There are no dates of
service for 1973 mentioned in Bush's "Chronological
Service Listing."

Bush's long absence from the records comes to an end
one week after he failed to comply with an order to
attend "Annual Active Duty Training" starting at the
end of May 1973. He then began serving irregularly
with his unit. Nothing indicates in the records that
he ever made up the time he missed.

Early in September 1973, Bush submitted a request
seeking to be discharged from the Texas Air National
Guard and to be transferred to the Air Reserve
Personnel Center. This transfer to the inactive
reserves would effectively end any requirements to
attend monthly drills. The request -- despite Bush's
record -- was approved. That fall Bush enrolled in
Harvard Business School.

Both Bush and his aides have made numerous statements
to the effect that Bush fulfilled all of his guard
obligations. They point to Bush's honorable discharge
as proof of this. But the records indicate that George
W Bush missed a year of service. This lack of regular
attendance goes against the basic concept of a
National Guard kept strong by citizen soldiers who
maintain their skills and preparedness through regular

And we know that Bush understood that regular
attendance was essential to the proficiency of the
National Guard. In the Winter 1998 issue of the
National Guard Review Bush is quoted as saying "I can
remember walking up to my F-102 fighter and seeing the
mechanics there. I was on the same team as them, and I
relied on them to make sure that I wasn't jumping out
of an airplane. There was a sense of shared
responsibility in that case. The responsibility to get
the airplane down. The responsibility to show up and
do your job."

Bush has found military readiness to be a handy
campaign issue.

Bush's unsatisfactory attendance could have resulted
in being ordered to active duty for a period up to two
years -- including a tour in Vietnam. Lieutenant Bush
would have been aware of this as he had signed a
statement which listed the penalties for poor
attendance and unsatisfactory participation. Bush
could also have faced a general court martial. But
this was unlikely as it would have also meant dragging
in the two officers who had signed off on his annual

Going after officers in this way would have been
outside the norm. Most often an officer would be
subject to career damaging letters of reprimand and
poor Officers Effectiveness Ratings. These types of
punishment would often result in the resignation of
the officer. In Bush's case, as someone who still had
a commitment for time not served, he could have been
brought back and made to do drills. But this would
have been a further embarrassment to the service as it
would have made it semi-public that a Lieutenant
Colonel and squadron commander had let one of his
subordinates go missing for a year.

For the Guard, for the ranking officers involved and
for Lieutenant Bush the easiest and quietest thing to
do was adding time onto his commitment and placing
that time in the inactive reserves.

Among these old documents there is a single clue as to
how Bush finally fulfilled his obligations and made up
for those missed drill days. In my first request for
information I received a small three-page document
containing the "Military Biography Of George Walker
Bush." This was sent from the Headquarters Air Reserve
Personnel Center (ARPC) in Denver Colorado.

In this official summary of Bush's military service, I
found something that was not mentioned in Bush's
records from the National Guard Bureau in Arlington,
Virginia. When Bush enlisted his commitment ran until
May 26, 1974. This was the separation date shown on
all documents as late as October 1973, when Bush was
transferred to the inactive reserves at Denver,
Colorado. But the date of final separation shown on
the official summary from Denver, is November 21,
1974. The ARPC had tacked an extra six months on to
Bush's commitment.

Bush may have finally "made-up" his missed days. But
he did so not by attending drills -- in fact he never
attended drills again after he enrolled at Harvard.
Instead, he had his name added to the roster of a
paper unit in Denver, Colorado, a paper unit where he
had no responsibility to show up and do a job.

Bush has found military readiness to be a handy
campaign issue. Yet even though more than two decades
have passed since Bush left the Air National Guard,
some military sources still bristle at his service
record -- and what effect it had on readiness. "In
short, for the several hundred thousand dollars we tax
payers spent on getting [Bush] trained as a fighter
jock, he repaid us with sixty-eight days of active
duty. And God only knows if and when he ever flew on
those days," concludes a military source. "I've spent
more time cleaning up latrines than he did flying."

“The General vs. The Deserter”
By David S. Broder
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, January 18, 2004; Page A05

PEMBROKE, N.H., Jan. 17 -- Retired Army Gen. Wesley K.
Clark said Saturday he "has heard" charges that
President Bush was a "deserter" from his duties in the
Vietnam War-era Air National Guard but said, "I am not
going to go into the issues of what George W. Bush did
or didn't do in the past."

The term "deserter" was used by documentary filmmaker
Michael Moore in introducing Clark to an enthusiastic
rally of more than 1,000 people in this Concord suburb
Saturday afternoon.

After noting that Clark had been a champion debater at
West Point, Moore told a laughing crowd, "I know what
you're thinking. I want to see that debate" between
Clark and Bush -- "the general versus the deserter."

In a news conference after the event, Clark was asked
if he had heard those words and if he agreed. "Well,"
he said. "I've heard those charges. I don't know if
they are true or not. He was never prosecuted for it."
But Clark said, "I am delighted with Michael Moore . .
. man of conscience and courage."

Moore told reporters he was referring to published
reports that, as he put it, "Bush left and did not
show up for a year" when he transferred from Houston
in the Texas Air National Guard to temporary duty at a
unit in Alabama.

Clark said the real issue is to hold Bush "accountable
for his performance of duty as commander in chief.
That's what the issue is in this election."

The Boston Globe reported in 2000 that "there is
strong evidence that Bush performed no military
service as required when he moved from Houston to
Alabama to work on a U.S. Senate campaign from May to
November 1972."

Maj. Thomas A. Deall, an Air Force personnel officer,
was quoted as saying that "after looking at Bush's
records, he met minimal drill requirements before his

The Dallas Morning News reported that "after a
thorough search of military records, George W. Bush's
campaign has failed to find any document proving he
reported for duty during an eight-month stint in
Alabama with the Texas Air National Guard." Bush was
quoted as saying he remembers being at drills in

The following is a rush transcript of the exchange
between Peter Jennings (PJ) and Wesley Clark (WC) from
this evening's debate in New Hampshire

PJ: General Clark, a lot of people say they don't know
you well, so this is really a simple question about
knowing a man by his friends. The other day you had a
rally here and one of the men who stood up to endorse
you was the controversial filmmaker Michael Moore. You
said you were delighted with him. At one point Mr.
Moore, said in front of you that President Bush, he
was saying he'd like to see a debate between you the
General and President Bush who he called a deserter.
Now that's a reckless charge not supported by the
facts so I was curious to know why you didn't
contradict him and whether or not you think it would
have been a better example of ethical behavior to have
done so.

WC: Well I think Michael Moore has the right to say
whatever he feels about this. I don't know whether
this is supported by the facts or not. I've never
looked at it. I've seen this charge bandied about a
lot but to me it wasn't material, this election is
going to be about the future, Peter, and what we have
to do is pull this country together, and I'm delighted
to have the support of a man like Michael Moore, of a
great American leader like Senator George McGovern,
and of people from Texas like Charlie Stenholm and
Former Secretary of the Navy, John Dalton. We've got
support from across the breadth of the Democratic
Party, because I believe this party is united in
wanting to change the leadership in Washington. We're
going to run an election campaign that's about the
future. We're going to hold the president accountable
for what he did in office and failed to do, and we're
going to compare who's got the best vision for

PJ: Let me ask you something you mentioned then
because since this question and answer in which you
and Mr. Moore was involved, you've had a chance to
look at the facts. Do you still feel comfortable with
the fact that someone should be standing up in your
president, in your presence and calling the president
of the United States a deserter?

WC: To be honest with you, I did not look at the facts
Peter. That's Michael Moore's opinion; he's entitled
to say that, I've seen, he's not the only person who's
said that. I've not followed up on those facts, and
frankly it's not relevant to me and why I'm in this


Posted by richard at January 24, 2004 09:25 AM