Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Missing TXANG Records Miraculously Reappear 

Hey, who came up with that kooky filing system they use over at the Pentagon? Thanks to another of those crazy oversights that keep happening entirely by accident, two dozen documents that were not in the president's service records yesterday turn out to be there today. As the AP presents it, the information in the new batch is mostly neutral or mildly flattering, with the exception of the revelations that the President "had a large lapse of duty between April and October" and "missed a key readiness drill":
President Bush was ranked in the middle of his Air National Guard class and flew more than 336 hours in a fighter jet before letting his pilot status lapse and missing a key readiness drill, according to his flight records belatedly uncovered Tuesday under the Freedom of Information Act.

The Pentagon and Bush's campaign have claimed for months that all records detailing his fighter pilot career have been made public, but defense officials said they found two dozen new records detailing his training and flight logs after The Associated Press filed a lawsuit and crafted new requests under the public records law . . . .

"Out of an abundance of caution," the government "searched a file that had been preserved in spite of this policy" and found the Bush records, the letter said. "The Department of Defense regrets this oversight during the previous search efforts."

The records show his last flight came on April 1972, which is consistent with his pay records that show Bush had a large lapse of duty between April and October of that year, a time he says he went to Alabama to work on an unsuccessful Republican Senate campaign. Bush skipped a required medical exam that cost his pilot's status in August 1972.

A six-month historical record of his 147th Fighter Interceptor Group, also turned over to the AP on Tuesday, shows some of the training Bush missed with his colleagues during that time.

Significantly, it showed the unit joined a "24-hour active alert mission to safeguard against surprise attack" in the southern United State beginning on Oct. 6, 1972, a time when Bush did not report for duty, according to his pay records.

Bush's lone service in October came at another air base an Alabama, where he sought temporary permission to train away from his assigned squadron.

As part of the mission, the 147th kept two F-102a jets - the same Bush flew before he lost his flight status for skipping a required medical exam - on ready alert to be launched within five minutes warning.
Okay, so he was a little bit not there, but he scored a 98 in "aviation physiology" and a perfect 100 in "flying without navigational instruments." We cannot help but read this latest document dump as a controlled release -- a transparent attempt at strategic inoculation against worse news to come. Which is to say that Mr. Bush's handlers must be soiling themselves in anticipation of what they'll see tomorrow night on 60 Minutes.

UPDATE (9/8): Sorry to bother you with the day-old news. It was still fresh and inviting yesterday afternoon when Blogger crashed.

UPDATE II (9/8): Via Cursor, a Boston Globe report concluding that Bush did not fulfill his service obligations, and faced no disciplinary measures because his superiors looked the other way.

UPDATE III (9/8): The Globe makes no mention of the Raw Story website, which ran more or less the same story last month. (And leave us not forget the pioneering work of Mr. Paul Lukasiak.)

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