September 09, 2004

AP reports "Memos Show Bush Suspended From Flying," Dan Rather interviews Ben Barnes

There are reporst that several local CBS affiliates balked at broadcasting
the CBS 60 Minutes expose on the _resident's Air
National Guard service record, either by pre-empting
it or re-scheduling it for the middle of the night
(literally)...There are reports that the White House is pressuring NBC to
cancel interviews with Kitty Kelly, author of a book
telling of the _resident's cocaine use at Camp David
during his father's Presidency...There are reports that FBI investigators are
complaining about interference from the White House
and the Attorney General's office in regard to the
possible indictments of "officials" in the espionage
case involving the Israelis, some Bush abomination
neo-cons, Ahmad Chalabi, etc...They are trying to
staunch a lot of bleeding, but there is a lot of
bleeding to staunch...

Pete Yost, Associated Press: Newly unearthed memos state George W. Bush was suspended from flying for the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam war because he failed to meet Guard standards and failed to take his annual flight physical as required.
The suspension came as Bush was trying to arrange a
transfer to non-flying status with a unit in Alabama
so he could work on a political campaign there.
A memo written a year later referred to one military
official "pushing to sugar coat" Bush's evaluation.
"On this date I ordered that 1st Lt. Bush be
suspended from flight status due to failure to perform
to USAF/TexANG standards and failure to meet annual
physical examination ... as ordered," says an Aug. 1,
1972 memo by Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, who is now dead.

Dan Rather, CBS News, interviews former Texas Lt. Gov.
Ben Barnes: Oh, I would describe it as preferential
treatment. There were hundreds of names on the list of
people wanting to get in the Air National Guard or the
Army National Guard. I think that would have been a
preference to anybody that didn't wanna go to Vietnam
that didn't wanna leave. We had a lot of young men
that left and went to Canada in the '60s and fled this
country.
But those that could get in the Reserves or those who
could get in the National Guard meant that they could
serve and get their military training. And chances are
they would not have to go to Vietnam. The Vietnam era
was different from the era now in that Air Natio-- all
National Guards and Reserve units-- have been called
into military fighting now.

Cleanse the White House of the Chicken Hawk Coup and
Its War-Profiteering Cronies, Show Up for Democracy in
2004: Defeat Bush (again!)


http://www.truthout.org/docs_04/091004Y.shtml

Memos Show Bush Suspended From Flying
By Pete Yost
The Associated Press

Thursday 09 September 2004

WASHINGTON - Newly unearthed memos state George W.
Bush was suspended from flying for the Texas Air
National Guard during the Vietnam war because he
failed to meet Guard standards and failed to take his
annual flight physical as required.

The suspension came as Bush was trying to arrange a
transfer to non-flying status with a unit in Alabama
so he could work on a political campaign there.

A memo written a year later referred to one military
official "pushing to sugar coat" Bush's evaluation.

"On this date I ordered that 1st Lt. Bush be
suspended from flight status due to failure to perform
to USAF/TexANG standards and failure to meet annual
physical examination ... as ordered," says an Aug. 1,
1972 memo by Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, who is now dead.

The same memo notes that Bush was trying to transfer
to non-flying status out of state and recommends that
the Texas unit fill his flying slot "with a more
seasoned pilot from the list of qualified Vietnam
pilots that have rotated."

The Vietnam-era documents add details to the
bare-bones explanation of Bush's aides over the years
that he was suspended simply because he decided to
skip his flight physical.

The White House said in February that it had
released all records of Bush's service, but one of
Killian's memos stated it was "for record" and another
directing Bush to take the physical exam stated that
it was "for 1st Lt. George W. Bush."

"I can't explain why that wouldn't be in his record,
but they were found in Jerry Killian's personal
records," White House communications director Dan
Bartlett told CBS's "60 Minutes II," which first
obtained the memos.

Bartlett said Bush's superiors granted permission to
train in Alabama in a non-flying status and that "many
of the documents you have here affirm just that."

A memo dated May 19, 1972, five days after Bush was
supposed to have completed his physical, summarizes a
telephone discussion with Bush about how he "can get
out of coming to drill from now through November." It
says Bush was "told he could do ET for three months or
transfer." ET referred to equivalent training, a
procedure for meeting training requirements without
attending regularly scheduled drills.

The same memo says "we talked abut him getting his
flight physical situation fixed" and quotes Bush as
saying he would "do that in Alabama if he stays in a
flight status." It also says, I advised him of our
investment in him and his commitment."

Democratic Party chairman Terry McAuliffe said,
"George W. Bush's cover story on his National Guard
service is rapidly unraveling. ... George W. Bush
needs to answer why he regularly mislead the American
people about his time in the Guard and who applied
political pressure on his behalf to have his
performance reviews 'sugarcoated'"

Bartlett told CBS, "As it says in your own
documents, President Bush (news - web sites) talked to
the commanders about the fact that he'd be
transferring to a unit ... in Alabama that didn't fly
that plane," the F-102, the type Bush was trained in.

Using only last names, one of the newly disclosed
documents points to sharp disagreement among Bush's
superiors in Texas over how to evaluate his
performance for the period from mid-1972 through
mid-1973.

"Staudt has obviously pressured Hodges more about
Bush," Killian wrote on Aug. 18, 1973. "I'm having
trouble running interference and doing my job Harris
gave me a message today from Grp regarding Bush's OETR
and Staudt is pushing to sugar coat it. Bush wasn't
here during rating period and I don't have any
comments from 187th in Alabama. I will not rate." Grp
refers to a military unit and OETR stands for officer
efficiency training report.

The memo concludes: "Harris took the call from Grp
today. I'll backdate but won't rate. Harris agrees."

At the time, Walter B. Staudt was commander of the
Texas National Guard; Lt. Col. Bobby Hodges was one of
Bush's superiors in Texas who two years earlier had
rated Bush an outstanding young pilot; and Lt. Col.
William D. Harris Jr. was another superior of Bush's.

Records released this year when Bush's military
service re-emerged as a campaign issue contain no
evidence that he showed up for duty at all for five
months in mid-1972 and document only a few occasions
later that year.

Asked about Killian's statement in a memo about the
military's investment in Bush, Bartlett told CBS: "For
anybody to try to interpret or presume they know what
somebody who is now dead was thinking in any of these
memos, I think is very difficult to do."


http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/09/08/60II/main642060.shtml


Transcript: Barnes On Bush
Sept. 8, 2004


Read a complete transcript of Dan Rather's interview
with Former Texas House Speaker and Lt. Gov. Ben
Barnes, the man who says he helped get President
George W. Bush into the National Guard.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
DAN RATHER:
First of all, thank you for doing this.

BEN BARNES:
Glad to be here. Yeah.

DAN RATHER:
Let's get a little background. You were speaker of the
Texas House at age 28.

BEN BARNES:
I think it was 26, Dan.

DAN RATHER:
Twenty six. I stand corrected. What was that like?

BEN BARNES:
Well, first of all it was a long time ago. But it was
fascinating, and it was a very interesting time in
which to be in Texas politics and America politics.
The negative was Vietnam. The positive was the fact
that we were doing so many things.

John Connolly was governor. Lyndon Johnson was
president. A lot of exciting things were happening.
The space center was coming to Texas. Higher education
appropriations were doubling and tripling each the
legislature met. Texas was moving, and to play a small
role was very exciting for a-- particularly for a
young man.

DAN RATHER:
Well, set the scene for me. At the time, what was
about to develop in Texas politics? What was in the
presses -- developing?

BEN BARNES:
Well, Texas was a one party state. John Tower had
gotten elected to the United States Senate in a
special election when Lyndon Johnson became vice
president. And then there was only one Republican
congressman I believe -- Congressman George Bush from
the River Oaks area of Houston.

And so that we did not have two parties. It was the
beginning of the two-party system in Texas, but Lyndon
Johnson was going to be wrestling with Vietnam. And it
was gonna divide the country and it was gonna cause a
lot of problems in Texas. It was going to be a
political revolution as opposed to evolutions that
normally take place in states.

DAN RATHER:
Well, view for me who the major players were.

BEN BARNES:
Well, obviously, President Johnson, Sen. Ralph
Yarborough.

DAN RATHER:
Democrat?

BEN BARNES:
A Democrat. John Connolly-- a Democrat governor.
Preston Smith, the Democratic lieutenant governor. All
of our state office holders were Democrats. And there
was only one Republican in the state Senate when I
presided over the Senate as lieutenant governor, and I
think maybe two or three Republicans were in the house
when I was speaker.

DAN RATHER:
And George Bush, now we know called George Bush I, was
a Republican congressman?

BEN BARNES:
Yes, he was.

DAN RATHER:
And where did you fit in?

BEN BARNES:
Well, I'm not too sure, that I was just very glad to
be at the party, as young as I was. And having been
elected and having the opportunity to serve at the
time. And then to be elected lieutenant governor,
there's only been three people that have taken the
trip from one side of the capitol to the other and
that was a great honor. But I don't know exactly where
I fit in. I fit in as a person who was very, very
interested and excited about the great things that I
think we were doing for Texas.

DAN RATHER:
Well, would you argue if I said this was sort of the
pecking order in the Democratic party's power
structure? Of course, President Johnson was president.
John Connolly, governor. Then Preston Smith, current
governor Preston Smith as lieutenant governor. That
would be probably the pecking order. And as speaker of
the house, you fit in somewhere below that?

BEN BARNES:
Yes, that's correct.

DAN RATHER:
All right. Now, you became lieutenant governor when?

BEN BARNES:
In 1969. I was elected in 1968.

DAN RATHER:
And the lieutenant governor has more power than most
lieutenant governors in Texas. For example, he
controls the agenda in the State Senate?

BEN BARNES:
Yes. And the speaker and the lieutenant governor
really control the purse strings of Texas. Our office
of governor is a relatively weak office. Our
constitution was written at the conclusion of the
Civil War. And a Democratic legislature wrote a new
constitution and wrote the governor of Texas-- the
office of the governor of Texas into a relatively weak
position.

DAN RATHER:
We had the draft. What was called Universal Military
Training at that time. How did that fit into the
picture and the tumultuous events surrounding the
Vietnam War?

BEN BARNES:
I was a supporter of President Johnson's position on
the Vietnam War and I traveled through the United
States passing resolutions at various organizations
that I was a member of and supporting his position on
Vietnam. As did almost all of the elected officials in
Texas.

It was a very turbulent time, Dan. It-- young people
were taking to the streets. President Johnson spoke on
an event on the University of Texas campus. And there
were some 2,000-3,000 students and other people in the
streets. And interrupted the president's speech. And
it was really-- almost unsafe for President and Mrs.
Johnson to return to their car that night and for us
all to depart that building. It's hard for people that
weren't alive at that time to understand the animosity
and the outright-- despising, even as far as hate,
that existed in people that were opposed to war.

DAN RATHER:
And the attitude toward the draft by this time had
become what?

BEN BARNES:
Well, it had become-- it had become very, very
difficult for moms and dads who had young men that
were draft age to accept-- particularly later in the
Vietnam conflict. To accept the fact that their son or
dau-- or their son-- was gonna have to go to Vietnam.
And that was not something that anybody wanted for
their children to do. Certainly not anybody that I
(UNINTEL).

DAN RATHER:
You almost corrected yourself. You said son or
daughter and then you said sons because daughters are
not eligible for the draft?

BEN BARNES:
They were not in that. And it's changed in the last 30
years with women playing such an important role in our
military. But not in the '60s.

DAN RATHER:
I want to ask you to go back and tell me the story.
Tell me the whole story. Tell me the truth, the whole
truth about what happened with George W. Bush and the
draft and the National Guard. Start at the beginning.
Take me right through it.

BEN BARNES:
Well, first of all I want to say that I'm not here to
bring any harm to George Bush's reputation or his
career. I was contacted by people from the very
beginning of his political career when he ran for
governor, and then when he ran for president and now
he's running for re-election. I've had hundreds of
phone calls of people wanting to know the story.

And I've been quoted and misquoted. And the reason I'm
here today, I really want to tell the story. And I
want to tell it one time and get it behind us. And
again it's-- this is not about George Bush's political
career.

This is about what the truth is. About the time in
which I served and the role I played. Sid Adger (PH),
a friend of the Bush family, came to see me and asked
me if I would recommend George W. Bush for the Air
National Guard. And I did.

And I talked to a Gen. Rose, who was the commander of
the Air National Guard. I don't know whether my
recommendation was the absolute reason he got in the
Guard. He was a Congressman's son. He graduated from
Yale. He was a person that would have been eligible.

But there was a long list of people waiting to be, or
hoping to be a candidate for the Air National Guard,
and for the Army National Guard. That was one route
that young men had to go to-- or that was available to
a very special few to-- be able to avoid being drafted
and being able to avoid going to Vietnam. Although
some National Guard people later went to Vietnam.

DAN RATHER:
Sid Adger. Who is he?

BEN BARNES:
Sid Adger is a-- was an oil man.

DAN RATHER:
Sid Adger.

BEN BARNES:
He's deceased now, Dan. He was a friend of the Bush
family and a success oil man in Texas that was a
friend of Bush family and a friend of mine.

DAN RATHER:
Was he a contributor to your political campaign?

BEN BARNES:
I don't know. I would be surprised if he was not a
contributor. I've tried to make everybody a
contributor to my political campaigns in Texas that
had any money. But I suspect he probably gave a small
contribution. I don't remember that. That's nearly
40-some odd years ago now.

DAN RATHER:
What-- people such as Mr. Adger frequently gave money
to political campaigns on both sides?

BEN BARNES:
Oh, that's true in Texas. And-- and-- but you also
gotta remember that there was a Democratic side that
had about 200 elected officials and a Republican side
that had two elected officials. So it was very easy to
people to get to Democrats as well as Republicans. I
think later, it may be that maybe Sid Adger might have
been a card-carrying Republican. But I don't remember
what his party affiliation was.

DAN RATHER:
When he came to see you, how did he get access to you?
Did he call you? Write you a letter?

BEN BARNES:
Oh, he just called. I was a young, ambitious office
holder. I don't think I probably turned down very
many-- very few people. Or I-- everybody got to see me
that wanted to see me. I tried to make that possible.

DAN RATHER:
So he came here to see you. Do you remember what he
said?

BEN BARNES:
Well, it's been a long time ago, but he said
basically, would I help young George Bush get in the
Air National Guard?

DAN RATHER:
And you said to him that you would. You could do that?


BEN BARNES:
I said that I'd be happy to call Gen. Rose, who was
the commander there at National Guard.

DAN RATHER:
Help people understand what's the relationship between
-- you were then-speaker of the House?
BEN BARNES:
Yes.

DAN RATHER:
What's the relationship between the speaker of the
House and the general of the National Guard?

BEN BARNES:
Well, I don't know that there's an automatic
relationship there. But Gen. Rose happened to be a
personal friend of mine also is what-- as well as a
political friend. But the National Guard is really a
branch of the state government.

While they receive federal appropriations, they still
rely on the state legislature for various and sundry
legislations. So any speaker or lieutenant governor or
governor is gonna have some influence with the
national guard. And the governor of Texas appointments
the general, who is the commander of the of the
National Guard?

DAN RATHER:
It's been a long time ago, but do you remember whether
you called him or wrote him?

BEN BARNES:
No, I really don't. Whether I called him or wrote him.
More than likely I called him, but I don't think I
wrote him. The Air National Guard was in Austin, where
the state capital was. And more than likely I picked
up the phone, called Gen. Rose.

DAN RATHER:
And roughly, what would you have said to him?

BEN BARNES:
Dan, I got a lot of young men from prominent families
in Texas in the National Guard. Not that I'm
necessarily proud of that. As I reflect back,
particularly after I walked through the Vietnam
Memorial recently in Washington and saw the thousands
of names of the young men who lost their lives there
-- it's a fact that I'm not really proud of.

But I was a young, ambitious politician -- doing what
I thought that was acceptable, that was important to
make friends. And I recommended a lot of people for
the National Guard during the Vietnam era -- as
speaker of the house and as lieutenant governor.

DAN RATHER:
And you recommended George W. Bush?

BEN BARNES:
Yes, I did.

DAN RATHER:
Had you ever met him?

BEN BARNES:
No, I had not.

DAN RATHER:
Met his father?

BEN BARNES:
I met his father. I knew his father. And his father
was a fine congressman who worked very closely with
those of us in Texas who were trying to get things
done.
DAN RATHER:
And you said you did this for others. Had you done it
for others before you asked for some-- like we
normally call preferential treatment?

BEN BARNES:
I'm--

DAN RATHER:
--for President Bush?

BEN BARNES:
I'm sure that I had done it previously. I don't
remember the exact order. But I know I had done it for
others, I'm certain, but-- at that time.

DAN RATHER:
Well, I used the phrase "preferential treatment."
Perhaps I shouldn't have. Would you describe it as
that? A request for preferential treatment? Or how
would you describe it?

BEN BARNES:
Oh, I would describe it as preferential treatment.
There were hundreds of names on the list of people
wanting to get in the Air National Guard or the Army
National Guard. I think that would have been a
preference to anybody that didn't wanna go to Vietnam
that didn't wanna leave. We had a lot of young men
that left and went to Canada in the '60s and fled this
country.

But those that could get in the Reserves or those who
could get in the National Guard meant that they could
serve and get their military training. And chances are
they would not have to go to Vietnam. The Vietnam era
was different from the era now in that Air Natio-- all
National Guards and Reserve units-- have been called
into military fighting now.

DAN RATHER:
And what year was this, Ben?

BEN BARNES:
1968.

DAN RATHER:
By 1968, casualties in Vietnam were running high.

BEN BARNES:
Yeah.

DAN RATHER:
Did you or did you not think at that time, "I'm a
little uncomfortable with this." Or did you have long
talks with your conscience? A lot of our best young
men were going into that green jungle hell and dying
or being maimed for life.

Did you say to yourself, "I'm a little uncomfortable
with doing this?" Or were you at that stage of your
life and your political career where you just said,
"Look, this is the way business is done." Help me
understand that?

BEN BARNES:
It would be very easy for me to sit here and tell you,
Dan, that I had-- I wrestled with this and lost a lot
of sleep at night. But I wouldn't be telling you the
truth. I-- very-- not eagerly, but I was readily
willing to call and get those young men into the
National Guard that were friends of mine and
supporters of mine.

And I did it. Reflecting back, I'm very sorry about
it. But, you know, it happened. And it was because of
my ambition, my youth, my lack of understanding. But
it happened. And it's not, as I said, it's not
something I'm necessarily proud of.

DAN RATHER:
You've thought about it a lot since then?

BEN BARNES:
I've thought about it an awful lot. And you walk
through the Vietnam memorial, particularly at night as
I did-- a few months again. And-- I tell, you'll think
about it a long time.

DAN RATHER:
How do you feel about it now?

BEN BARNES:
Well, I don't think that I had any right to have the
power that I had to be able to choose who was gonna go
to Vietnam and who was not gonna go to Vietnam. That's
a power. In some instances when I looked at those
names, of-- maybe of-- of determining life or death.
And that's not a power that I wanna have.

DAN RATHER:
Too strong or not to say that you're ashamed of it
now?

BEN BARNES:
Oh, I think that would be a-- somewhat of an
appropriate thing. I'm very, very sorry.

DAN RATHER:
Okay. Did George Bush Sr. call you to thank you or
write you to thank you?

BEN BARNES:
I've been asked that question many times and I don't
think that he called me. And newspaper reporters have
gone through my-- the archives and looked for letters.
I-- it'd be impossible for me to remember if I'd
gotten a letter.

Or it could-- if-- at that time that George-- that
President Bush appeared on the scene, that was 32
years at that time. Now, it's almost been 42 years. To
remember would have been difficult. But I think
everyone has ascertained that there's-- no such letter
exists. And I don't remember him calling me or running
into me and saying thank you.

DAN RATHER:
Anytime since that time? It's been a long time and
you've crossed paths any number of times since then?

BEN BARNES:
Well, we've kind of crossed paths. He's never said
thank you for that. I mean we've had very warm
conversations. But, you know, a lot of time-- a lot of
time has passed. It's not-- sometimes people don't
think if it-- 20 or 30 years has gone by that they
even remember that they need to say thank you.

DAN RATHER:
OK. What was your relationship with the Bush family at
that time you made this request for the National Guard
to make a place for George W. Bush? Did you know the
family well? Did you know the father well?

BEN BARNES:
I knew the father. I didn't know him well. He was a
congressman. If people are historians or remember
history that far back in Texas, that were people that
were speculating that in 1970, George Bush was gonna
run for the Senate.

And there were people speculating that I was gonna run
for the Senate in 1970. I didn't run and Lloyd Bentsen
did run. And he defeated Sen. Yarborough in the
primary. And then he ran and defeated President Bush
in the-- President Bush I, as you correctly said.

President Bush I in the general election. So there was
a possibility at that time that I was making that
decision that he and-- that his father and I might
have been even running against one another for the
Senate. But I don't know that that was a part of my
thought process when I agreed to do the recommendation
for Sid Adger.

DAN RATHER:
You say it's been a long time ago. It's inside Texas
politics. But what an irony, you were up and coming,
fair to say a rising star in the Democratic party,
with a -- not only a Democratic president, but a
fellow Texas president. Talk of you possibility
running for a Senate seat in 1970.

George Bush won. Was a Republican congressman, a
rarity in Texas, fair to say, at that time,who was
thinking of running in 1970. And at that time, you
used your influence to help get his son his place in
the National Guard, it was being pretty well
speculated you might be running against George Bush
the first in 1970?

BEN BARNES:
Well, that was probably a correct assumption. If I had
to run, I don't think Sen. Bentsen would have run. And
that-- and so-- politics might have-- the history
might have been a little different.

But remember that in Texas we really still had just
one party. And the fact that I helped a Republican,
that's that was not out of the ordinary because
everybody that was in office -- was very interested in
having all of the people of Texas to vote for them.
Particularly the business community. Particularly the
people that were prone to be Republican . So, that
was-- that was not anything unusual.

DAN RATHER:
Well, fair or unfair to say that George Bush I had
some power himself. He was a Republican congressman
and seen as a rising star of his party. Representing a
very wealthy district in the largest county in the
state in terms of population.

BEN BARNES:
That's correct. He was well known and well liked.

DAN RATHER:
Let me get back to the facts of the matter. By calling
the head of the Texas National Guard and recommending
George W. Bush for one of his coveted places, did it
or not give him an advantage over somebody else who
was applying for one of those spots?

BEN BARNES:
Well, I would say that being the son of a congressman,
and from Texas, and having a recommendation by my
state official, certainly that would give a person-- a
leg you.

DAN RATHER:
When you made that call, was there any doubt in your
mind that he probably would get the spot?

BEN BARNES:
I don't really remember, but I would think that I was
not surprised when I learned that he'd gotten in the
Air National Guard. And I don't remember when I
learned and at what time it-- and what stage of the
process that I even learned-- that he may have been in
the Guard before I ever was told that he'd gotten the
position.

DAN RATHER:
By the way, I asked you whether his father ever
thanked you or not. You said you have no recollection
of him ever doing that. Don't think he did. Did George
W. Bush himself, even as an aside or perhaps with some
humor, say to you, "We appreciate what you did?"

BEN BARNES:
Well, he dropped me a note saying that he
appreciated-- my memory being-- that is his father,
that we'd never talked about it. He had no idea--
probably as a 22-year-old or 21-year-old graduate of
Yale what was happening-- as far as his application
was concerned. And he said that he was pleased that I
was able to remember for a mutual friend of ours-- how
the process had worked.

DAN RATHER:
When was that? I mean the last five years, 10 years?

(OVERTALK)

BEN BARNES:
Oh, that was in 19-- it was-- after he'd gotten
elected governor.

DAN RATHER:
Well, in at least one and I think several of the
authorized biographies of President Bush, it's been
said that his deal was he-- and I quote from the book,
"Just happened to get one of these spots." Did anybody
just happen to get one of these spots in the Air
National Guard?

BEN BARNES:
I can't answer that with any real certainty, Dan. I
would be somewhat surprised if a lot of people got in
the Guard, particularly during the late '60s when
Vietnam was at the really height of its intensity.
It-- 'cause there were such long lists of people and
so many people wanted to get into the Guard.

DAN RATHER:
You haven't talked about this in a very long time.
Why?

BEN BARNES:
Well, I really don't believe in the politics of
gotcha. I really don't appreciate what's happening
today in the American politics. I really didn't think
that what happened that long ago had a lot to do with
a man's ambition to be governor or even later to be
president.

I-- that's-- that's not my nature to get involved and
wanna be political. And that's not why I'm here today.
I really think that politics have gone the wrong
direction rather than right direction in this country.
And that's another thing that I'm not very proud of.
I'm not real proud of our political system today.

DAN RATHER:
I wanna follow up on that. But first, did anybody ever
ask you, let me put it directly, to keep your mouth
shut?

BEN BARNES:
Oh, well, I've been encouraged to be quiet-- by--
starting with-- be quiet about a lot of things. My
wife encourages me to be quiet a lot about a lot of
things. But no, there's obviously a lot of people that
don't want this issue discussed. And some people that
do want it discussed.

But I'm not-- I-- again, I wanna repeat, I'm not here
because of people's telling me that I should talk
about it or that people are telling me that I
shouldn't talk about it. I'm here because I feel that
I needed to set the record straight.

DAN RATHER:
And you thought you needed to set the record straight
because?

BEN BARNES:
Because I think it was wrong what I did. And it was
wrong what happened. But it's been talked about and
been speculated on by so many different people in
several, different ways. And I really wanted the
American people to know exactly what the facts were.

DAN RATHER:
You said because it was wrong. What was wrong with it?


BEN BARNES:
Well, I think the system was wrong. That a young
28-year-old or 29-year-old speaker of the House could
pick up the phone and call a general, and say, "I want
so-and-so in the National Guard." And some of the time
it happened.

DAN RATHER:
When I asked if anybody that-- ask you or indicated to
you to keep your mouth shut, going back through the
'70s, '80s, and '90s, anybody say to you, "Why don't
you just forget that?" Or did anybody say to you, "You
better not say anything about that?

BEN BARNES:
Well, I don't really wanna talk about what people said
or what they didn't say. You-- in politics-- in this
partisan days, everybody wants to have an opinion and
everybody -- you can get advice in the barbershop on
whether you oughta talk about something or not. So
I've had a lot of advice. But I'm following my own
conscience today.

DAN RATHER:
You said, I'm gonna come back to what you said was the
current atmosphere in American politics. How would you
describe that atmosphere?

BEN BARNES:
I think the country is probably more divided today
then it's been since the Civil War. I certainly was
not alive, although some people probably think I was
alive at the conclusion of the Civil War. So I wasn't
there firsthand.

But I believe that this country is very severely
divided. Families are divided. Friends are divided.
Communities are divided. Churches, schools. It's not
healthy.

I have a letter in my possession from my grandfather
who wrote to my uncle who was on Iwo Jima. And in the
first paragraph, he talks about the crops are in the
ground. We've had ground rain. He's trying to write a
kind of letter to cheer my uncle up. But he says in
the next paragraph that, "I'm very concerned about the
fact that the religious right in this country--" and
he talked about a person that was on the radio that
was talking about the religion and politics had to
mix. And that we should get involved because God was
telling us to do this. And God was telling us to do
that.

And I'm like-- my grandfather in 1943 speculated that
he was very concerned because he thought it was very
important in this country to keep the separation
between church and state. And I believe that very
strongly also.

DAN RATHER:
Did or did not-- what's become known as the "swift
boat negative campaign ad attacks" on Sen. Kerry
influence your decision to come forward in any way?

BEN BARNES:
No, I've-- matter of fact the speech that I made--
about four or five months again when I talked about
the seein'-- being-- visitin' the Vietnam memorial and
talking about the fact that I've, that I was not proud
of what I've done. That was five-- four or five months
before the swift boats. So that's not what caused me
to come forward.

DAN RATHER:
This-- an excerpt from that talk is what's been on the
Internet here--

BEN BARNES:
Yes (UNINTEL).

DAN RATHER:
--for a little while.

BEN BARNES:
Yes.

DAN RATHER:
I wanna come back to some of the characters involved
in (UNINTEL) profile. Gen. Rose. Did Gen. Rose have
the make-or-break decision on who went in the Air
National Guard?

BEN BARNES:
Yes, he was commanding general.

DAN RATHER:
That's the person you called to--

BEN BARNES:
Yes.

DAN RATHER:
--put in a word for George W. Bush. What kind of
person was Gen. Rose? Was he political? Apolitical?
Was he connected? If so, how?

BEN BARNES:
Well, I would describe him as a very able, military
commander. And I'm not in the position to be very
judgmental about a (UNINTEL) is good. But he seemed to
be very serious about his duties and take it very
seriously.

He was a very personal fella. He, the Rose family. He
and his two sons and wife were all wonderful people.
And Gen. Rose is deceased now. But I had very high
regard for him.

DAN RATHER:
Was he a Democrat or Republican?

BEN BARNES:
Oh, he was a general.

DAN RATHER:
Politically connected? Did he know the Bushs? Did he
know the Johnsons? Connollys?

BEN BARNES:
Well, he knew he had to know Gov. Connolly because
Gov. Connolly was in office and he was there at St.
General. I'm sure he knew-- President Johnson, being
from Texas. I don't know whether he knew Congressman
Bush or not. I've never discussed it with him.

DAN RATHER:
Did you know the man Gen. Stout, who was in the direct
line of command?

BEN BARNES:
Yes. I met Gen. Stout.

DAN RATHER:
Who was he and what was he like?

BEN BARNES:
Well, he was an assistant. I guess he-- maybe he had
the title of-- of assistant-- Air (UNINTEL) General.
And he was-- the assistant to Gen. Rose. I didn't ever
have a lot of contact with Gen. Stout. So I had no
personal relationship with him.

DAN RATHER:
I've been told that he was well connected in the
Houston community and with the Bushs. Do you know that
to be a fact?

BEN BARNES:
No, I don't have any knowledge of that.

DAN RATHER:
Let me come back to what would have been the
consequences if you had not put in a word for George
W. Bush?

BEN BARNES:
Well, I don't think there would have been any
consequences. Sid Adger might not have been happy with
me. But I didn't -- I never thought-- never even
thought about what the consequences would have been if
I hadn't made a recommendation.

DAN RATHER:
Did he have any power to punish you in any way other
than to say, "Well, Ben Barnes is not a good fellow
because he didn't do what I told him to do?"

BEN BARNES:
Oh, I-- probably not. But, you know, as a young office
holder and an ambitious young man, you never really
thought about the consequences if you didn't do
something. You were all looking for something else to
do to make some more people happy. And that would have
been what was going through my mind.

DAN RATHER:
Some people are going to ask, "Well, was this
something unique to Texas? This kind of political
influence in getting these National Guard slots?" Do
you have any recollection? Do you have any information
or knowledge of whether this happened in other states?
Or was it something that just happened in Texas?

BEN BARNES:
Dan, I have no first hand knowledge. But I knew other
speakers and other presidents of the Senate and I
have, just from very vague memory-- some discussions
that I had with them that they were working with their
National Guards. Getting people in during the Vietnam
conflict. So I'm sure that it was not something that's
unique just to Texas.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Transcript Part II: Ben Barnes
Sept. 8, 2004


Read Part II of Dan Rather's interview with Former
Texas House Speaker and Lt. Gov. Ben Barnes, the man
who says he helped get President George W. Bush into
the National Guard.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
DAN RATHER:
Did you get a number of people, deferments of this
sort, if we can call it that, or into the Guard? Or
was this a rare case?

BEN BARNES:
There were several, Dan. There were a number. Not a
lot. But there were several young men that I got into
the Guard -- I helped get into the Guard.

DAN RATHER:
And is there a profile for all those people that you
helped get in a Guard? A general profile?

BEN BARNES:
Probably. Maybe with with one or two exceptions. But
probably a general profile. They were somebody that
was-- that was known, or known to me, or friends, or
political supporters.

DAN RATHER:
Well, here's the point. Was this or was this not
something pretty special? Or were you kind of running
your own, "Get out of the service" operation, as house
speaker?

BEN BARNES:
Oh, no. It was something that was very special. I
mean, and again, it's something that I'm not very
proud of. That's one of the reasons I'm here.

DAN RATHER:
Uh-huh (AFFIRM). And I want to move on. So, it was --
these were special cases. It wasn't something you did
by the dozens of hundreds?

BEN BARNES:
No.

DAN RATHER:
You're a Democrat. Lifelong Democrat. You're a
supporter of John Kerry. Fair to say that you're in
Sen. Kerry's inner circle?

BEN BARNES:
I don't know that I'm in his inner circle. I know I'm
a supporter of Sen. Kerry. And I've supported him from
the very first.

DAN RATHER:
You know that there are people who seeing this are
going to say, "Well, Ben Barnes came forward now
because he wants to help Sen. Kerry's campaign." How
do you answer that?

BEN BARNES:
Well, I've been helping Sen. Kerry's campaign from the
first day announced. And when I started being quoted
on the Internet, and being quoted other places, some
as I said, correctly, or-- and other times,
incorrectly, I just thought it was time for me to once
and for all, there was just too much speculation.
There are too many people that are putting words in my
mouth.

Too many things that were being said that were wrong.
I decided that I wanted to set the record set. And I
wanted to let the American people know exactly what
happened.

DAN RATHER:
I know that you must have said to yourself before you
came here for this interview, "Boy, there's one thing.
If I don't get across anything else, there's one thing
more than any other I want to get across in this 60
Minutes interview." And if you were saying that to
yourself, I want to give you an opportunity now to
make sure that you've said what you came to say, how
you intended to say it.

BEN BARNES:
I came to say, what I've attempted to say exactly what
the facts were in 1968, and what I did, and what I did
not do. I did not come here to play havoc with Gov.
Bush, with President Bush's presidential campaign. I
did not come here to do anything personal against
President Bush.

This is not-- I'm not here as a Kerry surrogate. I'm
here as a person who served our state, and who made
decisions. Some right decisions, and some wrong
decisions. But I wanted to let everyone know exactly
what the facts were back in-- in that year of some 40
years ago.

DAN RATHER:
And review for me quickly now -- checklist of what you
consider to be the most important facts about your
involvement with getting George W. Bush into the
National Guard.

BEN BARNES:
Well, Sid Adger, and not the Bush family came to see
me, to ask me to get-- President Bush-- George W. Bush
into the National Guard, which I made the call to Gen.
Rose. And he was accepted. Whether he was accepted
solely because of my call, I do not know. As we have
discussed, he was the son of a very prominent
Congressman from Texas.

And I don't know what happened after he got in the
Guard. I don't know what happened-- from really in his
life, from 1960-- 8 until-- when he surfaced in Texas
as the owner of the -- one of the owners of the Texas
Rangers baseball team, and then came back, and ran for
governor. And that's when our paths crossed again.

DAN RATHER:
Did you get any reports on how he was doing in the
National Guard?

BEN BARNES:
No. I didn't get any reports.

DAN RATHER:
Nobody said whether he's doing a good job, or bad job?
You just never heard anything?

BEN BARNES:
I never heard anything. And I don't think I ever heard
a report on any -- from any of the young people that I
got in the International Guard. But that was a long
time ago.

DAN RATHER:
Uh-huh (AFFIRM). You (UNINTEL PHRASE) in politics, to
say the least. Were you surprised when accusations,
and I underscore the word, "Accusations," that George
W. Bush didn't complete his commitment, his six-year
commitment to service? Were you surprised to hear
those accusations?

BEN BARNES:
No, I was surprised to hear.

DAN RATHER:
Why?

BEN BARNES:
Well, you know, I think that I didn't know him. I knew
his family. And I have tremendous respect for his
father -- for his father's military record, and for
his service -- and the various incendiary positions
he'd served our country. I have-- I had tremendous
respect for the Bush family. And so -- I-- was
surprised to hear that.

DAN RATHER:
Well, George Bush I, if we can call him that,
President George Bush I had an exemplary war record.
Combat zone, hero of World War II. When the request
came to get his son a privileged, a special place,
were you surprised at that?

BEN BARNES:
Dan, to be very honest, I don't think that I really
was familiar with President Bush's -- I's military
record when Sid Adger came to my office. It's not
something I thought about. I respected President Bush
as a congressman, President Bush I as a congressman. I
don't think I-- or my memory does not -- does not even
allow me to remember that-- what his military record
was at that time.

DAN RATHER:
And you may not even have known what his military--

BEN BARNES:
And I-- no, not-- not a well-- well not have read his
biographical on that issue.

DAN RATHER:
Yeah. Is there anything that you wanted to say coming
in here that you haven't said about this?

BEN BARNES:
No. I think we've said-- everything that I've wanted
to get said today.

DAN RATHER:
What question haven't I asked you that I should have
asked?

BEN BARNES:
Well, you could have asked me about how much younger I
was than you. But I don't think you were gonna ask me
that.

DAN RATHER:
Well, let me ask you this. It may not be a question
you think that I should have asked you, but are you
concerned about possible retribution? You're in
business now. You make your living in business. Is
there fearful of retribution in any way, shape or
form?

BEN BARNES:
Oh, I've got a lot of faith in this country. I didn't
come here for political reasons. And I hope that I
don't-- I hope I'll not be punished politically or
economically for my presence here today. That's not
what motivated me. And I hope that's not what
motivates people that disagree with me about the
presidential race.

DAN RATHER:
Well, I want to keep you just a minute longer to come
back to something you said earlier, which was about
you're disappointed in the atmosphere in which the
presidential campaign is being raced. You've been
around politics a long time. You've seen the best of
it.

You've seen the worst of it. You've seen the hard to
tell part of it. But you've been through a lot of
rough stuff, on both sides, Democrat and Republican.
In your experience, has there ever been a time when it
was as rough and nasty to run for public office as it
is today?

BEN BARNES:
I've never seen anything quite like it. It was not
like this in 2000. It's a different atmosphere in
2004. 1968, when I helped the president-- Vice
President Humphrey run for reelection, he was
running-- with the Vietnam around his neck.

We'd had a convention in Chicago where people had
taken to the streets, and tried to keep a convention
from being held. And Mayor Daley had to use tear gas
to dispel people, where people could even get back in
the hotels, and get into the convention center. And I
thought that was a moment that I had lived, that I
would never see again. But while people are not
necessarily in the streets, the personal animosities
that exist, and how personal this campaign is, is
something that I think is very unhealthy for America.

DAN RATHER:
Ben Barnes, I thank you.

BEN BARNES:
Thank you, Dan.


Return to Part I of the transcript.


MMIV, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Posted by richard at September 9, 2004 12:23 PM