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George W. Bush military service controversy

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

George Walker Bush
1st Lt. George W. Bush in uniform
Service/branchUnited States Air Force (Air National Guard)
Years of service1968–1974
US-O2 insignia.svg
First Lieutenant
Unit147th Reconnaissance Wing
187th Fighter Wing

Controversy over George W. Bush's military service in the Air National Guard was an issue that first gained widespread public attention during the 2004 presidential campaign. The controversy centered on Texas Air National Guard, why he lost his flight status, and whether he fulfilled the requirements of his military service contract.

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  • ✪ Terrorism, War, and Bush 43: Crash Course US History #46


Hi, I’m John Green, this is CrashCourse U.S. history and today we’ve done it! WE’VE FINALLY REACHED THE 21st CENTURY! Today, we boldly go where no history course has gone before, because your teacher ran out of time and never made it to the present. Also, if you’re preparing for the AP test it’s unlikely that today’s video will be helpful to you because, you know, they never get to this stuff. Mr. Green, Mr. Green? Awesome, free period. Yeah, Me From the Past, there’s no such thing as a free period. There’s only time, and how you choose to use it. Also, Me From the Past, we’re in your future, hold on I’ve got to take this stuff off it’s hard to take me seriously with that. We’re in the future for you which means that you are learning important things about the you who does not yet exist. You know about Lady GaGa, Kanye and Kim, Bieber, well you’re not going to find out about any of those things because this is a history class, but it’s still going to be interesting. INTRO So the presidency of George W. Bush may not end up on your AP exam, but it’s very important when it comes to understanding the United States that we live in today The controversy starts with the 2000 Election. Democratic presidential candidate Al “I invented the Internet” Gore was sitting Vice President, and he asked Bill Clinton not to campaign much because a lot of voters kind of hated Bill Clinton. The republican candidate was George W. Bush, governor of Texas and unlike his father a reasonably authentic Texan. You know, as people from Connecticut go. Bush was a former oil guy and baseball team owner and he was running as a Compassionate Conservative, which meant he was organizing a coalition of religious people and fiscal conservatives. And that turned out to be a very effective coalition and George W Bush got a lot of votes. He did not however get as many votes as Al Gore. But as you’ll no doubt remember from earlier in Crash Course US History, in the United States presidential elections are not decided by popular vote. They are decided by the Electoral College. So the election was incredibly close. It solidified the Red-Blue divide that has become a trope for politicians since. And in the end Gore won the popular vote by about 500,000 votes. However, Al Gore did not have the necessary electoral votes to become president. Unless he won Florida. Did he win Florida? I don’t even want to go there… In Florida the vote was ridiculously close, but George W Bush had a gigantic advantage which is that his brother, Jeb Bush, was the governor of Florida. So when it came time to certify the election Jeb was like, “Yeah. My brother won. No big deal.” But then the Gore campaign sued to have a recount by hand which is allowed under Florida law. But then Bush’s lawyers asked the Supreme Court to intervene and they did. Their decision in Bush v. Gore remains rather controversial. They ruled that the recount should be stopped, interfering with a state law and also a state’s electoral process, which is a weird decision for strict constructionists to make. However, one of the strong points of the United States these past couple centuries has been that sometimes we have the opportunity to go to war over whether this person or that person should be president and we chose not to. So regardless of whether you think the recount should have gone on, or George W Bush should have been elected, he was, and he set to work implementing his campaign promises, including working on a missile defence system that was very similar to Star Wars. And that was Ronald Reagan’s Star Wars, not George Lucas’ Star Wars. Man if we could get a federally funded new Star Wars trilogy that doesn’t suck that would be awesome. Anyway, in the first 100 days of his presidency Bush also barred federal funding for stem cell research, and he supported oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. And speaking of environmental policy, the Bush administration announced that it would not abide by the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on carbon emissions and that didn’t go over well with environmentalists in the U.S. or in all of these green parts of not-America because they were like, “You guys made all the carbon.” To which we said, “This is America.” Libertage Bush also attempted education reform with the No Child Left Behind Act, which mandated that states implement “rigorous” standards and testing regimes to prove that those standards were being met. The No Child Left Behind Act is especially controversial with teachers who are great friends of Crash Course US History so we will say nothing more. Most importantly, George W Bush pushed through the largest tax cut in American history in 2001. Claiming that putting more money in Americans’ pockets would stimulate growth in an economy that had stumbled after the bursting of the dot-com bubble in 2000. Oh, it’s time for the Mystery Document? The rules here are simple. I guess the author of the Mystery Document, I either get it right, or I get shocked with the shock pen. Alright, what have we got here today. I’ve got a feeling it’s going to be a sad one. “It was a beautiful fall day, with a crisp, blue sky. I was coming in to work late that day; I guess I didn’t have first period class. It was only the second or third day of school. When I emerged from the subway, Union Square was strangely quiet, which only added to the beauty of the day. People were standing still, which is weird in New York under any circumstances, and looking down University Place towards lower Manhattan. Before I even looked I asked a passerby what had happened. She, or he, I really don’t remember, said that a plane had crashed into the Trade Center. Then I looked and saw the smoke coming billo wing out of the South Tower. I thought it was an accident, but I knew that this was not going to be an easy day. Well it’s obviously someone who was in New York City on September 11, 2001, but that only narrows it down to like 10 million people. However, I happen to know that it is Crash Course historian and my high school history teacher Raoul Meyer who wrote that account. This is the saddest I have ever been not to be shocked. So whether George Bush’s domestic policy would have worked is up for debate, but the events of September 11, 2001 ensured that foreign policy would dominate any discussion of the opening decade of the 21st century. That morning terrorists affiliated with al Qaeda hijacked 4 airliners. Two planes were flown into Manhattan’s World Trade Center, a third was crashed into the Pentagon in Washington and a fourth, also headed for Washington DC crashed in Pennsylvania when passengers overpowered the hijackers. Almost 3,000 people died including almost 400 policemen and firefighters. As Americans rushed to help in the search for survivors and to rebuild a devastated city, a shared sense of trauma and a desire to show resolve really did bring the country together. President Bush’s popularity soared in the wake of the attacks. In a speech on September 20, the president told Americans watching on television that the terrorists had targeted America “Because we love freedom […]. And they hate freedom.” This is another critical moment in American history where the definition of freedom is being reimagined. And we were reminded in the wake of September 11th that one of the central things that government does to keep us free is to keep us safe. But at the same time ensuring our safety sometimes means impinging upon our freedoms. And the question of how to keep America safe while also preserving our civil liberties is one of the central questions of the 21st century. At any rate, in the September 20th speech, the president announced a new guiding principle in foreign policy that became known as the Bush Doctrine. America would go to war with terrorism making no distinction between the terrorists and nations that harbored them. Bush laid out the terms for the world that night: “Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists.” But that dichotomy of course would prove to be a bit of an oversimplification. So on October 7, the United States launched its first airstrikes on Afghanistan, which at the time was ruled by a group of Islamic fundamentalists called the Taliban who were protecting Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda’s leader. This was followed by American ground troops supporting the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance in chasing out the Taliban and setting up a new Afghan government that was friendly to the United States. This new government did undo many of the worst Taliban policies, for instance allowing women and girls to go to school, and even to serve in the parliament. More women than girls in the parliament naturally. But by 2007 the Taliban was beginning to make a comeback and although fewer than 100 Americans died in the initial phase of the war, a sizeable force remained and in the ensuing 12 years the number of Americans killed would continue to rise. And then, by January 2002, Bush had expanded the scope of the Global War on Terror by proclaiming that Iran, Iraq and North Korea were an “axis of evil” that harbored terrorists, even though none of those nations had direct ties to the September 11 attacks. The ultimate goal of Bush Doctrine was to make the world safe for freedom and also to spread it and freedom was defined as consisting of political democracy, free expression, religious toleration, free trade and free markets. These freedoms, Bush said, were, “right and true for every person, in every society”. And there’s no question that the Saddam Hussein led Iraq of 2003 was not, by any of those definitions, free. But the 2003 invasion of Iraq by the United States was predicated on two ideas. First, that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction - chemical and biological weapons that they were refusing to give up. And second, that there was, or at least may have been, a link between Saddam Hussein's Iraq and the Al Qaeda attacks of 9-11. So in March 2003 the United States, Britain, and a coalition of other countries, invaded Iraq. Within a month Baghdad was captured, Saddam Hussein was ousted, Iraq created a new government that was more democratic than Saddam’s dictatorship, and then descended into sectarian chaos. After Baghdad fell, President Bush declared the end of major combat operations in Iraq, but troops soon found themselves trying to manage an increasingly organized insurgency that featured attacks and bombings. And by 2006 American intelligence analysts concluded that Iraq had become a haven for Islamist terrorists, which it hadn’t been, before the invasion. In fact, Saddam Hussein’s socialist government, while it occasionally called upon religion to unify people against an enemy, was pretty secular. Although fewer than 200 Americans had died in the initial assaults, by the end of 2006, more than 3,000 American soldiers had been killed and another 20,000 wounded. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis had died in the conflict and the costs of the war which were promised to be no more than $60 billion had ballooned to $200 billion dollars. So that, and we try really hard here at Crash Course to be objective was a bit of a disaster. But let’s now go back to the domestic side of things and jump back in time to the passage of the USA PATRIOT act. Which believe it or not is an acronym for the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism act of 2001. Oh, Congress you don’t pass many laws these days but when you do… mmhm…. there’s some winners. The PATRIOT act gave the government unprecedented law enforcement powers to combat domestic terrorism including the ability to wiretap and spy on Americans. At least 5000 people connected to the Middle East were called in for questioning and more than 1200 were arrested, many held for months without any charge. The administration also set up a camp for accused terrorists in Guantanamo Bay, in Cuba, but not the fun kind of camp, the prison kind, it housed more than 700 suspects. The president also authorized the National Security Agency to listen in to telephone conversations without first obtaining a warrant, the so-called warrantless wiretapping. In 2013 Americans learned that NSA surveillance has of course gone much farther than this with surveillance programs like PRISM which sounds like it’s out of an Orwell novel - I mean both like the name and the actual thing it refers to. Meredith would like us to point out that Prism is also the name of a Katy Perry album proving that we here at Crash Course are young and hip and with it. Who is Katy Perry? Oh right, she has that song in Madagascar 3. Sorry, I have little kids. The Supreme Court eventually limited the executive branch’s power and ruled that enemy combatants do have some procedural rights. Congress also banned the use of torture in a 2005 defense appropriations bill sponsored by Republican John McCain who himself had been a victim of torture in Vietnam. But the Defense Department did condone the continued use of so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” like waterboarding. Which most countries do consider torture. But George W Bush won re-election in 2004, defeating the surprisingly weak John Kerry, who was characterized as a “waffler” on a number of issues including the Iraq war. Kerry’s history as a Vietnam protester and also terrible windsurfer probably didn’t help him much. Bush’s victory is still a bit surprising to historians admittedly at that moment the Iraq war seemed to be going pretty well. But during Bush’s first term, the economy, which is usually what really drives voters, wasn’t that great at all. A recession began during 2001 and the September 11 attacks made it much worse. And while the GDP did begin to grow again relatively quickly, employment didn’t recover, hence all the description of it as a “jobless recovery.” 90% of the jobs lost in the 2001-2002 recession were in manufacturing, continuing a trend that we had been seeing for 30 years. The number of steelworkers dropped from 520,000 in 1970 to 120,000 in 2004. And in his first term George W Bush actually became the first president since Herbert Hoover to oversee a net loss of jobs. Now I want to be clear that that’s not necessarily his fault as I have said many times before - economics are complicated. And presidents do not decide whether economies grow. But at any rate George W Bush was re-elected and went on to have an extremely controversial second term. Let’s go to the thoughtbubble. In 2005 several events undermined the public’s confidence in the Bush administration. First, Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff was indicted for perjury and then House Majority Leader Tom “The Hammer” DeLay was indicted for violating campaign finance laws. Then in August 2005, Hurricane Katrina slammed into the gulf coast near New Orleans submerging much of the city, killing nearly 1500 people, and leaving thousands stranded without basic services. Disaster preparation and response was poor on the state, local, and federal levels, but the slow response of the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency was particularly noticeable as thousands of mostly African American New Orleans residents suffered without food or water. Damage to the city was estimated at around $80 billion dollars. And the Katrina disaster exposed the persistent poverty and racial divisions in the city. While the Katrina response probably contributed to the reversal of fortune for Congressional Republicans in the 2006 mid-terms, it was more likely the spike in gasoline prices that resulted from the shutting down of refining capacity in the gulf and increased demand for oil from rapidly growing China. Voters gave Democrats majorities in both houses, and Nancy Pelosi of California became the first woman Speaker of the House in American history. And then, in 2007, the country fell back into recession as a massive housing bubble began to deflate, followed by the near collapse of the American banking system in 2008. Thought Bubble, thank you once again for the tremendous downer. So, the Bush years are still in the recent past, and it’s impossible to tell just what their historical significance is without some distance. But the attacks on September 11 had far ranging effects on American foreign policy but also on the entire world. Under the leadership of George W Bush the United States began a global fight against terrorism and for freedom. But as always, what we mean by the words is evolving and there’s no question that in trying to ensure a certain kind of freedom we have undermined other kinds of freedom. We’ll get to the even messier and murkier world of the 2008 financial collapse next week. Until then, thanks for watching. Crash Course is made with the help of all these nice people and it exists because of your support through - a voluntary subscription service that allows you to subscribe monthly to Crash Course for the price of your choosing. There are great perks over at Subbable, but the biggest perk of all is knowing that you helped make Crash Course possible so please check it out, thank you for watching, thanks for supporting Crash Course, and as we say in my hometown, “Don’t forget to be awesome.”



George W. Bush joined the 147th Fighter-Interceptor Group of the Texas Air National Guard on May 27, 1968, during the Vietnam War. He committed to serve until May 26, 1974, with two years on active duty while training to fly and four years on part-time duty.[1] In his 1968 Statement of Intent (undated), he wrote, "I have applied for pilot training to make flying a lifetime pursuit, and I believe I can best accomplish this to my satisfaction by serving as a member of the Air National Guard as long as possible."

Bush was quoted as saying elsewhere "I was not prepared to shoot my eardrum out with a shotgun to get a deferment. Nor was I willing to go to Canada ..."[2] In his autobiography Bush states that he was willing to serve his country but preferred to do so as a combat pilot rather than "An infantryman wading across a paddy-field"[3]

Following his six weeks of basic training, Bush began 54 weeks of flight training at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia.[4] In December 1969, Bush began twenty-one weeks of fighter-interceptor training on the F-102 in Houston at the 147th's Combat Crew Training School, soloing in March 1970 and graduating in June 1970. When he graduated, he had fulfilled his two-year active-duty commitment.[1]

In November 1970, Lt. Col. Jerry B. Killian, commander of the 111th Fighter Squadron, recommended that Bush be promoted to first lieutenant, calling him "a dynamic outstanding young officer" who stood out as "a top-notch fighter interceptor pilot." He said that "Lt. Bush's skills far exceed his contemporaries," and that "he is a natural leader whom his contemporaries look to for leadership. Lt. Bush is also a good follower with outstanding disciplinary traits and an impeccable military bearing." Bush was promoted.[5]

Air National Guard members could volunteer for active duty service with the Air Force in a program called Palace Alert. The program deployed F-102 pilots to Europe and Southeast Asia, including Vietnam and Thailand. Six Air National Guard squadrons were deployed to the conflicts in Korea and Vietnam during 1968.[6][7] According to three pilots from Bush's squadron, Bush inquired about this program but was advised by the base commander that he did not have the necessary flying experience (500 hours) at the time and that the F-102 would soon be retired, all aircraft of the type withdrawn from Vietnam by the end of 1968.[1][8]

Bush's four-year part-time obligation to serve required him to maintain his immediate readiness to be recalled to active duty in the event of a national emergency. Bush performed part-time Guard duty as an F-102 pilot through April 1972, logging a total of 336 flight hours.[9]

Before April 1972, Bush had fulfilled more than the required hours of service, but with more than two years remaining before his discharge. He volunteered his services on several projects, including a political campaign. After April 1972, Bush may have failed to meet the attendance requirements established for members of the Air National Guard. In mid-1972, he failed to meet the Air Force requirement for an annual physical examination for pilots and lost his authorization to be a pilot.[10] According to Bush's pay records, he did not attend any drills between mid-April and the end of October 1972. He drilled in Alabama in October and November 1972, and again in January 1973; what duties he performed are unknown. Bush returned to his home unit in Houston and was paid for his service in April 1973 through July 1973; again, what duties he performed are not documented in any way.

On October 1, 1973, Bush was honorably discharged from the Texas Air National Guard and transferred to the Air Force Reserve's inactive reserves in Denver, Colorado.[11] He was discharged from the Air Force Reserve on November 21, 1974, ending his military service.

Acceptance into the Air National Guard

During the 1968–1974 period, Presidents Johnson and Nixon decided against calling up National Guard units for service in Vietnam. However, military documents show during the Vietnam War, almost 23,000 Army and Air Guardsmen were called up for a year of active duty; some 8,700 were deployed to Vietnam.[12]

In 1999, Ben Barnes, former Democratic Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives and Lieutenant Governor of Texas, gave testimony in a deposition for a lawsuit related to the Texas lottery; and following the deposition, his lawyer issued a statement to the press. According to the statement, Barnes had called the head of the Texas Air National Guard, Brigadier General James Rose, to recommend Bush for a pilot spot at the request of Bush family friend Sidney Adger. The statement also said, "Neither Congressman Bush nor any other member of the Bush family asked Barnes' help. Barnes has no knowledge that Governor Bush or President Bush knew of Barnes' recommendation."[13] While working as an active fundraiser for John Kerry, Bush's opponent during the 2004 U.S. Presidential campaign,[14] Barnes repeated that he used his political influence to preferentially refer people to the National Guard, including Bush.[15]

Both George W. Bush and his father have stated that they did not ask Adger to intercede and were unaware of any action he may have taken. Walter Staudt, the colonel in command of Bush's squadron, has stated that he accepted Bush's application without receiving any outside pressure to do so.[16]

In applying for pilot training, Bush took a standardized test on which he had a low score, in the 25th percentile. Also, Bush had two arrests for college pranks and four traffic offenses before applying for pilot training. In 2004, former and current military pilots said it was uncommon for an applicant to be accepted into pilot's school with such a record, though there was no specific score that disqualified a candidate.[17]

Flight performance and flight status in 1972 and 1973

Final flights

Flight logs released in September 2004 in response to a lawsuit (see below) showed that Bush, who had been flying in the F-102A Delta Dagger, a single-seater interceptor, for most of his career, flew nine times in T-33 trainers in February and March 1972 – nearly twice as many times as he had flown in T-33s in the prior 18 months.[18][19] The logs also show that on March 12 and April 10 of 1972, Bush took two passes to land his F-102 fighter.[20] Although White House officials could not explain the changes in the flight logs in these final flights, Air Force experts said there could be any of a number of reasons for the change in Bush's flight pattern. Retired Major General Paul A. Weaver, a former head of the Air National Guard, said Bush could have just been practicing landing skills. "It doesn't mean anything to have multiple approaches," Weaver said.[18]

The final two entries of Bush's official flight logs show him being assigned to work as an instructional pilot in late May 1972 at a Texas Air National Guard base. The entries were entered even though he had left for Alabama in mid-May (see below) and his pay records show nonpayment for any work on the two dates of the instructional pilot assignment. Coding on the logs showed these assignments were subsequently deleted from the official record.[18]

Flight physical

By regulation, all Air Force pilots were required to take and pass an annual physical in order to remain in flight status, in the three months prior to a pilot's birthday (in Bush's case, July 6). Bush did not take this mandatory physical examination in mid-1972. As a result of his failure to take his physical, his flight status was suspended by his commander on August 1, 1972,[21] confirmed by Col Bobby Hodges on September 5, 1972, and confirmed again by a National Guard Bureau order on September 29, 1972, which meant he no longer was authorized to fly as a pilot.[22][23][24]

Air National Guard regulations require that "the local commander who has authority to convene a Flying Evaluation Board will direct an investigation as to why the individual failed to accomplish the medical examination." But there are no records of an investigation or of any requests to complete one.[25]

Although flight surgeons did the previous two physicals that Bush had taken, Bush said in 2000 that he wanted to wait to take the examination until his private doctor could do it. But regulations required the physical to be performed by an Air Force doctor.[26] Air Force flight surgeons were assigned to Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama, located across town from Maxwell AFB at the Dannelly Field Air National Guard Base at Dannelly Field airport, where Bush was paid for drilling in October and November 1972 and in January 1973, his only drilling dates between April 1972 and April 1973.

According to his released military records, after April 1972 Bush never flew again as an Air National Guard pilot.

Drill attendance in 1972 and 1973

During 2004, Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe and others accused Bush of being absent without leave (AWOL) from the Air National Guard in 1972–73.[27] White House communications director Dan Bartlett and others, who called the charge election-year propaganda, noted that Bush was honorably discharged[11] and that no AWOL charge had ever been made against Bush by the National Guard.

Released military records show that Bush's documented service record through mid-April 1972 (Bush drilled on the 15th and 16th of that month) was without gaps; the period in question is from May 1972 forward.

Transfer request

On May 24, 1972, Bush submitted a form requesting a transfer to the 9921st Air Reserve Squadron in Montgomery, Alabama, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Reese R. Bricken. According to the request form, Bush was already in Alabama at work on the Senate campaign of Winton M. Blount, who was a friend of his father. Jimmy Allison, a longtime family friend, helped Bush get the campaign work.[28]

On May 26, Bricken approved Bush's application for transfer. Bricken wrote: "You already understand that this is a Training Category G, Pay Group None, Reserve Section MM proposition." As an obligated Reservist, Bush was in Training Category "fA", which required a minimum of 48 periods of inactive duty training, and 15 days of active duty training, and was required to remain in that Training Category. Training Category "G" offered no training at all. According to Air Force regulations (AFM 35-3, paragraph 14-6), being in "Training Category A" meant that "If a member...will be unable to further train with his unit because of an impending change of residence,...he is required to sign a statement that he has been counseled." That counseling included notifying Bush of his obligation to find a new unit with which he could fulfill his training obligations.[29]

On July 31, the Air Reserve Personnel Center (ARPC) rejected Bush's transfer request, saying that he could not be reassigned to an Air Reserve Squadron because of his obligated service.[30] Bricken, asked about the matter in 2000, said that Bush made no effort to participate as a Guardsman with the 9921st.[31]

Equivalent duty in Alabama

Bush remained obligated to train with his Texas unit or to perform substitute training elsewhere each month.[32] On September 5, 1972, he requested permission to "perform equivalent duty" at the 187th Tactical Reconnaissance Group in Alabama "for the months of September, October, and November." He did not receive approval to do so, though his commanding officer recommended he be granted permission. He would have reported to Lieutenant Colonel William Turnipseed, the base commander, for drills on October 7 and 8, and November 4 and 5 (the September drill dates of the unit had already passed). Bush's grandfather, former U.S. Senator Prescott Bush, died of cancer on October 8, and Bush served as a pallbearer at the funeral in Greenwich, Connecticut. Turnipseed has said that he could not recall whether Bush reported on those occasions.[33]

In 2004, John "Bill" Calhoun, a former Alabama Air National Guard officer who had served at the Dannelly Field Air National Guard Base said he had seen Bush report for duty "at least six times." He stated this happened in the spring and summer of 1972, a period Bush had not even applied for, and that Bush had spent time in his office. [34] However, the payment and retirement records the White House handed out three days prior to Calhoun's claims show that Bush received no pay or attendance credits during that May to October period.[35]

The U.S. Senate campaign in Alabama, on which Bush worked, ended on November 7, 1972, when Blount lost overwhelmingly.[36] Released military records show that Bush was paid for service for the days of October 28–29 and November 11–14, 1973, and for January 4–6 and 8–10, 1973, and that he received a dental examination at Dannelly on January 6.[37][38] All of those dates are outside of the period that was claimed for Bush's service in Alabama.

A 2006 column in the Birmingham News (Alabama) reported about people who remembered Bush when he was in Alabama, working for the Blount campaign: "None have specific recollections about Bush and the National Guard. Some heard he was serving but never saw for themselves." Opinions of him during his time working on the campaign ranged from good (amiable, well-liked, and fond of sports) to bad (bragging about drinking and allegations he trashed a cottage where he was living).[39] Winton Blount's son Tom said "He was an attractive person, kind of a 'frat boy.' I didn't like him."[40]

In 1972 and 1973, Bush dated Mavanee Bear, another member of Blount's campaign staff. Bear said in 2009 that "I know [Bush] served" while in Alabama because he had to reschedule meetings regularly, but also said, "I didn't see him in uniform." When later back in Texas, she said she frequently saw him in uniform, stating "I think he was mostly just flying in circles over Houston."[41]

In a document dated May 2, 1973, Bush's immediate superiors gave him his annual performance review for the period from May 1, 1972, to April 30, 1973. The review stated that "Lt. Bush has not been observed at this unit during the period of the report." [42] Lt. Col. William D. Harris Jr. and Lt. Col. Jerry B. Killian also wrote, "A civilian occupation made it necessary for him to move to Montgomery, Ala. He cleared this base on May 15, 1972, and has been performing equivalent training in a non-flying status with the 187 Tac Recon Gp. Dannelly ANG Base, Alabama."

Return to Houston

Back in Houston, in late 1972 or early 1973, Bush did unpaid volunteer work for a number of months with an inner-city poverty program, Project P.U.L.L. (Professional United Leadership League), the brainchild of John White, a former professional football player and civic leader.[43]

Bush was paid for drilling on April 7–8, 1973. That service presumably occurred at his home base, Ellington Air Force Base, in Houston, in contradiction to the information in his performance review. For May 1973, Bush was paid for service on fifteen days: 1–3, 8–11, 19–20, 22–24, and 29-31. For June, he was paid for five days; for July (his last month of drilling) for 19 days. However, there is nothing in the released military documents that shows that he actually reported for duty on those days, or exactly where, or what duties he performed.[26] As of the end of July 1973, Bush had been in the Air National Guard for a little over five years.

Six-year service obligation

On May 27, 1968, Bush signed a six-year obligation. That required him to complete "48 scheduled inactive-duty training periods" each fiscal year (typically consisting of four four-hour periods during one weekend each month), plus a minimum of 15 days of Annual Active Duty Training. For Bush, as a pilot, this was typically split into periods of duty of a few days each during the year.

The Boston Globe reported in September 2004 that "Bush fell well short of meeting his military obligation." They cite examples of Bush failing to meet Air National Guard commitments in 1972 and 1973.[44] Bush's military records show that he was credited for attending Air National Guard drills during 1972 and 1973, but the time frame of these drills (see above) still left questions.[45]

On July 30, 1973, his last day of paid service in the Texas Air National Guard, Bush signed a statement that "I have been counseled this date regarding my plans to leave my present Reserve of [sic] assignment due to moving from this area. I understand that: a. If I disassociate from my current Ready Reserve Assignment, it is my responsibility to locate and be assigned to another Reserve Forces unit or mobilization augmentation position. If I fail to do so, I am subject to involuntary order to active duty for up to 24 months under the provisions of AFM 35-3, chapter 14."[44]

On September 5, 1973, Bush requested discharge from Texas Air National Guard service, to be effective on October 1. He wrote, "I am moving to Boston, Massachusetts to attend Harvard Business School as a full-time student."[46] Jerry Killian recommended approval of the discharge the following day. Bush had completed five years, four months, and five days toward his six-year service obligation.

On October 1, 1973, Bush was honorably discharged from the Texas Air National Guard and transferred to the Air Force Reserve's inactive reserves in Denver, Colorado. On November 21, 1974, he was discharged from the Air Force Reserve, ending his military service.

In September 2004, Lawrence Korb, an Assistant Secretary of Defense under President Ronald Reagan, after reviewing the payroll records for Bush's last two years of service, concluded that they indicated that Bush did not fulfill his obligations and could have been ordered to active duty as a result.[47]

Release of military records

During the 2000 presidential campaign, various military records of Bush were made public by the Bush campaign.

On February 13, 2004, during Bush's re-election campaign, more than 700 additional pages of documents on Bush's service were released, including those from the National Personnel Records Center, under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act.[48] This release was claimed by some to contradict the statement that Bush made on February 8, 2004 to Meet the Press interviewer Tim Russert, that "We did [authorize the release of everything] in 2000, by the way." In response, Bush contended that he was referring only to documents already in his possession, as opposed to the newly released documents from military sources.

On June 22, 2004, The Associated Press sued the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Air Force, seeking access to all of Bush's records during his military service.[49]

On July 8, 2004, the Pentagon reported that the microfilmed payroll records of Bush and numerous other service members had been inadvertently ruined in 1996 and 1997 by the Defense Finance and Accounting Service during a project to salvage deteriorating microfilm. The records lost included those covering July through September 1972, when Bush's claims of service in Alabama were in question, and the Pentagon reported that no paper backups were found.[26][49]

On July 23, 2004, the Pentagon reported that the records it had previously reported destroyed had been found. A Pentagon official said the earlier statement that the records were destroyed was an "inadvertent oversight." The Pentagon released computerized payroll records covering Bush's 1972 service. Like the records released earlier by the White House, the newly released documents did not indicate that Bush performed any drills, in Alabama or elsewhere, during May through September 1972.[50]

On September 7, 2004, the White House released the flight logs recording the flights done by Bush as a pilot. A Pentagon spokeswoman said the logs were found at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, which is the central repository for veterans' records. She said the logs were found among a batch of records sent to St. Louis from Norton Air Force Base in 1993, which were originally thought to contain records of active-duty officers rather than of National Guardsmen such as Bush.[51]

On September 24, 2004, under court order resulting from an earlier FOIA lawsuit filed by the Associated Press, the Pentagon released more documents.[52]

On September 29, 2004, the White House released a November 1974 document, saying it had been in Bush's personnel file and that the Pentagon had found it.

On October 5, 2004, more than a week after a court-imposed deadline to turn over all records of Bush's military service, the Texas Air National Guard produced two previously unreleased documents (four pages of records) that included Bush's orders for his last day of active duty in 1973.[53]

On October 14, 2004, two weeks after Texas National Guard officials signed an oath swearing they had turned over all records, the Texas National Guard released 31 additional pages of documents found by two retired Army lawyers who went through Guard files under an agreement between the Texas National Guard and The Associated Press, which sued to gain access to the files. A Guard spokesman defended the continuing discoveries, saying Guard officials did not find all of Bush's records because they were disorganized and in poor shape. "These boxes are full of dirt and rat [excrement] and dead bugs. They have never [sic] been sitting in an uncontrolled climate," said Lt. Col. John Stanford. "It's a tough task to go through archives that were not set up in a way that you could easily go through them."[38]

Memos allegedly from Jerry Killian

The "Killian documents" were initially claimed by CBS to have come from the "personal files" of the late Lt. Col. Jerry B. Killian, Bush's squadron commander during Bush's Air National Guard service.[54] They describe preferential treatment during Bush's service, including pressure on Killian to "sugar coat" an annual officer rating report for the then 1st Lt. Bush. CBS aired the story on September 8, 2004, amid more releases of Bush's official records by the Department of Defense, including one just the day before as the result of a FOIA lawsuit by the Associated Press.[55]

The Killian documents are widely considered to be fake. Starting with a Free Republic web posting by Harry MacDougald, a conservative Republican lawyer posting under the blogger name, "Buckhead." MacDougald and multiple fellow bloggers claimed that the formatting shown in the documents used proportional fonts that did not come into common use until the mid-to-late 1990s and alleged that the documents were therefore likely forgeries. [56][57] While the widely publicized rationale of "Buckhead" was technically inaccurate, both related and unrelated serious challenges to the authenticity of the documents nonetheless exist. For instance, it is unlikely that the typewriters available to Killian's secretary could have produced such a document, and the documents contained U.S. Army, rather than U.S. Air Force, jargon.[58][59][60][61][62]

The forgery allegations subsequently came to the attention of the mainstream media, especially after experts also questioned the documents' authenticity and lack of a chain of custody.[63][64][65] The original documents have never been submitted for authentication. The man who delivered the copies, Lt. Col. Bill Burkett, a former officer in the Texas Army National Guard and outspoken Bush critic, claimed that he burned the originals. Burkett admitted lying to CBS and USA Today about where he had obtained the papers and eventually expressed doubts of his own about their authenticity.[66]

CBS and Dan Rather initially defended the documents and the report,[67] but on September 20, 2004 – less than two months before Election Day, CBS News stated that it had been "misled" and that it could not authenticate the documents and should not have used them.[68] A later 60 Minutes broadcast an interview with Marian Carr Knox, secretary to Killian at the time, who stated that she "didn't type these memos", although she stated she had typed memos of similar content.[69] CBS then formed an independent panel headed by former U.S. Attorney General Dick Thornburgh and retired Associated Press president Louis D. Boccardi to investigate the story and the handling of the Killian memos.[70] The final report of the panel, while not addressing the authenticity of the documents, faulted many of the decisions made in developing the story, and producer Mary Mapes along with three others were forced to resign from CBS News.[71]

Prior to the panel report being completed, Rather announced the date of his retirement,[72] left 60 Minutes Wednesday, stepped down as anchor on March 9, 2006, and then left CBS altogether on June 20, 2006.[73] The CBS news show that had aired the memos, 60 Minutes Wednesday, was canceled on May 18, 2005, allegedly due to poor ratings and not because of the memos broadcast.[74]

In September 2007, Rather sued CBS and its former parent company, Viacom, for US$70 million, claiming that he had been made a "scapegoat" over the memos story.[75] His legal fight with CBS ended in January 2010 when the New York State Supreme Court declined to hear his motion to reinstate his lawsuit.[76]


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External links

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