Thursday, July 08, 2004

Bush AWOL: Microfilm records "inadvertently destroyed."
How conv-e-e-e-n-ient! 

Goodness gracious! If I didn't have so much faith in the integrity of the Bush administration, I'd say there was some sort of cover-up going on. Remember Nixon's secretary, Rosemary Woods, and the famous 18 1/2 minute gap, where she somehow accidentally erased the tapes of her boss was incriminating himself? History does repeat itself, doesn't it?

Military records that could help establish President Bush's whereabouts during his disputed service in the Texas Air National Guard more than 30 years ago have been inadvertently destroyed, according to the Pentagon.
(via, amazingly enough, the Times)

Well, shit happens. But let's look at the detail...

It said the payroll records of "numerous service members," including former First Lt. Bush, had been ruined in 1996 and 1997 by the Defense Finance and Accounting Service during a project to salvage deteriorating microfilm. No back-up paper copies could be found, it added in notices dated June 25.

But this is too much. (1) Why are there no backups? Surely whoever did the microfilm had the duty not to destroy the originals? (2) Do we know that the originals were, in fact, there? Was there no inventory? No chain of custody for the evidence?

The destroyed records cover three months of a period in 1972 and 1973 when Mr. Bush's claims of service in Alabama are in question.

Gee. Funny it's only those three months, isn't it?

The disclosure appeared to catch some experts, both pro-Bush and con, by surprise. Even the retired lieutenant colonel who studied Mr. Bush's records for the White House, Albert C. Lloyd of Austin, said it came as news to him.

Gee. So, with no inventory and no chain of custody, why we are sure the "inadvertant destruction"—love the phrase!—happened in 1997, under the Clinton administration? (You know, given everything else The Clenis™has been accused of, it's funny he wouldn't guard those records as the appple of his eye...)

There was no mention of the loss, for example, when White House officials released hundreds of pages of the President's military records last February in an effort to stem Democratic accusations that he was "AWOL" for a time during his commitment to fly at home in the Air National Guard during the Vietnam War.

Gee. I wonder why not? The WhiteWash House said "all" the records at the time. So how did they know they released "all" the records without cross-checking against the microfilm?

The disclosure that the payroll records had been destroyed came in a letter signed by C. Y. Talbott, chief of the Pentagon's Freedom of Information Office, who forwarded a CD-Rom of hundreds of records that Mr. Bush has previously released, along with images of punch-card records. Sixty pages of Mr. Bush's medical file and some other records were excluded on privacy grounds, Mr. Talbott wrote.

Gee. That's funny, isn't it? We already know about Bush's hemmerhoids and his dental exam. No privacy problems there, eh? So what else is there that we don't know about?

Mr. Talbott's office would not respond to questions, saying that further information could be provided only through another Freedom of Information application.

How very forthcoming.

The bottom line? Bush is still stonewalling.

But Mr. [James Moore, author of a recent book, "Bush's War for Re-election,"] said [Bush] could still authorize the release of other withheld records that would shed light on his service record.

Among the issues still disputed is why, according to released records, Mr. Bush was suspended from flying on Aug. 1, 1972. The reason cited in the records is "failure to accomplish annual medical examination."

So, here, at least, things are very simple, just as they always have been.

Maybe we can't resolve, through payroll records, whether Bush did, in fact, fulfill his legal obligations to serve.

But perhaps we can resolve why he was grounded. And to resolve this, Bush just needs to authorize the release of the sixty pages that have been withheld, so far. Why on earth would Bush let this issue fester? I just can't understand....

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