Thursday, September 09, 2004

TXANGuish and TXANGst 

Well, now.

CBS has posted four documents from the personal files of Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, the officer who grounded George W. Bush for "faillure to perform to USAF/TXANG standards and failure to meet annual physical examination." The documents include not only Killian's direct order that Bush take the physical (to which Bush responded that he "may not have the time"), but a memo indicating that Killian had been instructed by higher-ups to sugarcoat Bush's performance evaluation.

The transcript of tonight's 60 Minutes segment featuring the Ben Barnes interview is here. White House Communication Director Dan Bartlett's spin is here.

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

Soon afterward, large gaps began appearing in Bush's paper trail. Lukasiak concludes that only last-minute intervention, likely from Bush's local Houston draft board, saved him from active duty, as well as finally securing his honorable discharge, removing his "Inactive Status." Ironically, that means strings were pulled to get Bush out of the Guard in 1973, just as they were pulled to get him enrolled in 1968.
Nicholas Kristof interviews TXANG pilot Bob Mintz and links to a detailed analysis of Bush's pay records by retired Army Col. Gerald Lechliter, whose finding reproduce Lukasiak's: "Bush received unauthorized or fraudulent payments that breached National Guard rules, according to the documents that the White House itself released."

The Washington Post edges ever closer to realizing just how badly it's been chumped:
"It's clear that DOD [the Department of Defense] did not undertake as comprehensive a search as had been directed by the president," said White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan, just days after assuring The Post that Bush's full personnel file had already been released. "We have again asked that they ensure that any and all documents [relating to Bush's military service] are identified and released."

The Bush administration has issued government-wide instructions centralizing the release of information relating to the president's service with the Texas Air National Guard between 1968 and 1973. Officers responsible for implementing the Freedom of Information Act for the National Guard and the Pentagon declined to respond to queries from The Post last week on the completeness of the president's records, referring a reporter instead to Krenke and the White House press office.
Americablog has two (count 'em, two) spectacular finds: number one, a retroactively-edited AP story that in its original form plainly suggested the White House has been withholding documents in defiance of the FOIA --
Yeah, you better not have a comment until you talk to your lawyers because it looks like you just got caught in a conspiracy to withhold documents that you were legally bound to have already released under the Associated Press' earlier FOIA request.

The White House claimed they had released ALL the documents, now tonight, conveniently after 60 Minutes shows the NEW documents on TV, the White House somehow releases the very documents it said it never had? Where did the documents come from, and why didn't the White House release them BEFORE 60 Minutes exposed their existence? And finally, what else is the White House hiding?
-- and number two, so to speak, the brick RNC chair Ed Gillespie shat when he realized the jig was finally up.

On the whole, not a bad night.

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