"The Story Was True"

Dan Rather's lawsuit against CBS has reignited debate on the question of President Bush's Texas Air National Guard service. The allegedly fake documents (I think they were faked) overshadowed what I believe was an overwhelming case that Bush obviously was derelict in his duty. Eric Boehlert revisited the issue:

The simple, yet apparently elusive, truth is that CBS' report on Bush and the National Guard could have (and should have) been broadcast without the controversial memos. And if it had been, the results would have been exactly the same. Meaning, the documents were irrelevant because they provided texture (the supposed frustration of Bush's commander), not new facts about Bush's service. Yet journalists pretend the memos are the National Guard story and that without them, questions about Bush's military dodge disappear. Why do they think that? Based on the coverage last week, it's clear that journalists who mocked Rather still don't have the slightest clue what the established facts of the Guard story are.


Boehlert has ten key facts that demonstrate Bush' dereliction of duty:

Here are the 10 discrepancies that would have gotten any other Air National Guard member severely reprimanded, and certainly would have, later in life, derailed any presidential aspirations:

1. Upon entering the Guard, Bush agreed that flying was his "lifetime pursuit" and that he would fly for the military for at least 60 months. After his training was complete, he owed 53 more months of flying.

Bush flew for only 22 of those 53 months.

2. In May 1972, Bush left the Houston Guard base for Alabama. According to Air Force regulations, Bush was supposed to obtain prior authorization before leaving Texas to join a new Guard unit in Alabama.

Bush failed to get the authorization.

3. On his transfer request to Alabama Bush was asked to list his "permanent address."

He wrote down a post office box number for the campaign where he was working on a temporary basis.

4. According to Air Force regulations, "[a] member whose attendance record is poor must be closely monitored. When the unexcused absences reach one less than the maximum permitted [sic] he must be counseled and a record made of the counseling. If the member is unavailable he must be advised by personal letter."

There is no record that Bush ever received such counseling, despite the fact that he missed drills for months on end.

5. Bush's unit was obligated to report to the Personnel Center at Randolph Air Force Base whenever a monthly review of records showed unsatisfactory participation for an officer.

Bush's unit never reported his absenteeism to Randolph Air Force Base.

6. In July 1972, Bush failed to take a mandatory Guard physical exam, which is a serious offense for a Guard pilot. The move should have prompted the formation of a Flying Evaluation Board to investigate the circumstances surrounding Bush's failure.

No such Flying Evaluation Board was convened.

7. On Sept. 29, 1972, Bush was formally grounded for failing to take a flight physical. The letter, written by the chief of the National Guard Bureau, ordered Bush to acknowledge in writing that he had received word of his grounding.

No such written acknowledgment exists.

8. Each time Bush missed a monthly training session he was supposed to schedule a make-up session, or file substitute service requests. Bush's numerous substitute service requests should have formed a lengthy paper trail with the name of the officer who authorized the training in advance, the signature of the officer who supervised the training and Bush's own signature.

No such documents exist.

9. During his last year with the Texas Air National Guard, Bush missed a majority of his mandatory monthly training sessions and supposedly made them up with substitute service. Guard regulations allowed substitute service only in circumstances that were "beyond the control" of the Guard member.

Neither Bush nor the Texas Air National Guard ever explained what the uncontrollable circumstances were that forced him to miss so many of his assigned drills during his last year.

10. On June 29, 1973, the Air Reserve Personnel Center in Denver instructed Bush's commanders to get additional information from his Alabama unit, where he had supposedly trained, in order to better evaluate Bush's duty.

Bush's commanders ignored the request.

Pretty compelling case.

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    Of course, it's true (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Bob In Pacifica on Wed Sep 26, 2007 at 09:43:21 AM EST
    But if you admit it's true, then George Bush and what he stands for are lies.

    That's way too much to admit. If Dubya dodged his commitment to the National Guard then the question becomes "why". Because he was a privileged twerp and could get away with it? Because he was deep into his cocaine explorations? Or was it because of some of the lesser theories, because he had become frightened of flying or that his sexual explorations had caused trouble for him in the unit? Or a combination of these?

    Who knows, but whatever the reason, it would be deadly to the Republican Lie. It would have shined a light on every Republican chickenhawk in Congress, made their stands on drugs ludicrous, their pronouncements on war and patriotism hollow, their moral positions bankrupt.

    The story was an atomic bomb for Republicans in 2004. There was no way to allow it to exist without destroying all the dark matter in America's political universe.

    The Republican Party is nothing more than fascism wearing a cloak of lies, and no one since Hitler has personified the Big Lie as much as George Bush. That's why the likes of the Washington Post have to pretend that it was only about the memo, not the truth.

    Obviously unfit (none / 0) (#12)
    by Demi Moaned on Wed Sep 26, 2007 at 07:49:07 PM EST
    Add in the admitted history of alcoholism and Bush by formerly prevailing standards was obviously unfit for the office of President.

    Yet the press glossed over all this. Even the opposition campaign took little notice.


    Well.. (1.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Strick on Wed Sep 26, 2007 at 10:02:26 AM EST
    If Dubya dodged his commitment to the National Guard then the question becomes "why".

    The answer to that's pretty easy.  By the time this all started in 1972, we were in full withdrawal from Vietnam.  As a result we simply had too much military, particularly pilots, and there was absolutely no need for a member of the National Guard pilot trained on an antiquated fighter jet.  They probably were glad to not have him under foot.

    I remember the time pretty clearly even if no one else does.  The country had given up on the war.  The draft ended.  Moral in the military hit an all time low.  I'm hardly surprised that the National Guard records are in such disarray (especially in Alabama).  

    The simplest explanation is often the best.  Bush didn't finish his National Guard service because no one gave a damn whether he did or not.  Which might explain why a certain National Guard general can neither remember whether he ever saw Bush or why he didn't discipline him if he didn't.  I'd be surprised if Bush were the only no one went looking for.

    You made some good points (1.00 / 1) (#14)
    by jimakaPPJ on Thu Sep 27, 2007 at 09:25:27 AM EST
    I have long guessed that Bush decided to not make flying in the NG a career about the same time the F102 was starting to be replaced. At that point the military wanted a commitment to extend for training. i.e. They don't train a pilot in a new aircraft and have him leave. At the same time the pilots who have committed to extend and be trained, receive preferential treatment on flight time... No dear hearts, a pilot doesn't just walk out to his favorite F102, stick in his key and blast off.. JP was probably short due to budget cuts, etc., etc... Reduced flight time leads to reduced skill levels.. if you aren't going to stick around, you should just stop. You'll have a better shot at living longer and the pilots who are staying have more resources. Pure win-win.

    And no one would have cared because they had more human resources than they needed, or wanted.

    Much is made of the flight physical. In reality it is more like a "qualification." In addition to the actual physical there would have been quals in small arms, water landings and egress where they flip you upside down underwater with full flight gear and see if you remember how to get out without drowning.... parachute water landings with full gear on.... going off a 30' tower with full flight gear on to remind you to not get out of the parachute harness too soon...proving you can get out of your flight gear, including a simulated failed life jacket and staying above water for an hour..etc. etc..

    If you aren't going to keep flying, why take it?
    Besides. If you change your mind you can always take it. It isn't like you're cast into the outer darkness...

    So, he didn't serve in Vietnam. When he signed up F102 interceptor squadrons were serving and he had no way knowing his future fate... There was not a surplus of people signing up for FLIGHT training, there was a surplus of people wanting to be ground  support, and he made it all the way through. No where near as dangerous as Kerry's experience, but if you think being a combat pilot is safe, check your insurance rates..The F102 was a tricky beast to fly and had a very high accident rate.

    And since you folks brought the subject up, yes it is true. Both Bush and Kerry served more than Clinton.

    Those who hate Bush will always hate Bush, and believe the memos to be true despite what the experts said.

    As for Rather, I feel sorry for him. Instead of letting the bad being forgotten he has decided to try and grasp the brass ring one more time.

    You have to know when to fold'em.


    so you're asserting that many (none / 0) (#6)
    by cpinva on Wed Sep 26, 2007 at 11:44:33 AM EST
    people in the military, at this time period, went AWOL, and the military just didn't care? sorry, i just can't buy into that. war or no war, masses of people just taking off would cause something of a stir in the upper echelons.

    this would be especially true for an officer, who's held to a much higher standard of behavior than an nco or enlisted. yeah, i don't see that happening, then or now.


    History (none / 0) (#10)
    by womanwarrior on Wed Sep 26, 2007 at 05:23:49 PM EST
        I am not so sure you are right on this.  I remember my college classmates getting drafted in late 1971.  I don't believe the draft ended until 1973, and that's what articles on the Web say.
        I also remember a massive bombing in late 1972 when we lost a lot of pilots.  There were still a lot of American troops in Vietnam in 1972, although the Paris peace talks were stopping and starting.  The last Americans weren't out until 1975.  
        In any event, George W. Bush did not fulfill his contract with the military, and he also escaped being called on it.  I still consider it shameful that he sent young Americans to die in Iraq, based on lies, when he and those around him never put themselves in danger in Vietnam, but purposely avoided it, and then claim to be more qualified to run a war than people who did their duty.  

    Actually North Vietnam had walked (none / 0) (#17)
    by jimakaPPJ on Fri Sep 28, 2007 at 09:54:21 AM EST
    away from the table and the attacks brought them back. That was Nixon's aim..

    I also remember a massive bombing in late 1972 when we lost a lot of pilots.

    Was it worth it? In that we should have destroyed Hanoi and ended the war, no. It wasn't.


    Big Tent help me out. (1.00 / 2) (#7)
    by Fritz on Wed Sep 26, 2007 at 03:35:25 PM EST
    Please explain to me why this matters?  This story was never going to have any traction because it is irrelevant.  Why as a voter am I supposed to care what an early 20's George Bush did?   So what if he was a lazy rich kid in 1972?  Paperwork processing is not a smoking gun and he never ran on his Guard service.   Now, had he been ordered to combat and he weaseled out, then he would have never been the Republican nominee.  He served his country, that's more than Bill Clinton did.

    compelling case? (1.00 / 0) (#13)
    by diogenes on Wed Sep 26, 2007 at 09:34:36 PM EST
    If it's such a compelling case, then why didn't he file the lawsuit immediately (i.e. during the campaign), the way Imus did.

    Which makes the decision of Mapes (none / 0) (#1)
    by Geekesque on Wed Sep 26, 2007 at 09:23:15 AM EST
    et al all the more aggravating.  They had the goods and self-destructed.

    It's clear (none / 0) (#2)
    by Edger on Wed Sep 26, 2007 at 09:35:32 AM EST
    that journalists who mocked Rather were being lazy, or were more interested in reporting what they perceived to be the "right" stories to tell, and still don't have the slightest clue of the damage they do when they don't do their jobs.

    charles lane, (none / 0) (#4)
    by cpinva on Wed Sep 26, 2007 at 09:54:43 AM EST
    a member of the wp's editorial staff, made just such an assertion in an editorial in yesterday's post. he claimed, absent any supporting factual evidence, that all the documents provided by mr. rather were fakes/forgeries.

    i have sent an email to mr. lane, and a letter to the editor of the post, requesting that mr. lane be required to provide actual, objective, third-party evidence to support his claim. i don't expect a response from mr. lane, nor do i anticipate my letter to be published by the post.

    to date, there has been no conclusive evidence provided that any or all of the documents were fakes/forgeries, only right-wing hack allegations.

    were they fakes/forgeries? beats me, i never saw the "originals", and no actual, unbiased expert has come forward with incontrovertible evidence either way.

    should mr. rather have used them, as part of his report? why not? they merely provided graphic support for a story that everyone already knew was true. it's not like bush actually did his duty, and was being defamed, unlike john kerry and al gore.

    Proof (none / 0) (#9)
    by Beldar on Wed Sep 26, 2007 at 04:41:37 PM EST
    The documents can be exactly duplicated using the default settings for Microsoft Word and any laser printer.

    The documents cannot be reproduced on any typewriter in existence.


    Said it before, say it again (none / 0) (#8)
    by glanton on Wed Sep 26, 2007 at 04:28:19 PM EST
    One cannot blame W. or anyone else for getting out of risking their lives in vain, a la Vietnam.  Then and now the ones deserving of the trashing are the politicians who made the war.  

    How did people avoid combat?  In W.'s case it was family connections.  Good on him, I say.  Do what ye gotta do.

    What makes him a steaming oiece of feces is that he and his family denigrated the anti-war movement even as he himself through his good fortune escaped.  What makes him even worse is that he started an equally stoopid war himself.  All of which points to a simple formula:  

    ***W's own life not worth the adventuresome paranoid imaginings that has long characterized United States Foreign Policy.  Like Cheney, he had "other priorities" at the time.

    ****Lives of others?  Now that's a different story.  Entirely appropriate to sacrifice those.

    And what of those think-tank greenbloods who made this war?

    Flowers at the soldiers' feet, any day now.

    Oh yea.  And they predict good things from invading Iran.

    The manner in which Rather handled this story (none / 0) (#11)
    by kovie on Wed Sep 26, 2007 at 07:12:38 PM EST
    is not unlike the manner in which many of the better Dems--i.e. those who genuinely want to end the war and have been leading the effort to do so--have been trying to end the war, i.e. ineptly, clumsily and lazily. This is why I've been contending that it's not ALL gutlessness, because it's also cluelessness on the part of better Dems (as well as cynicism on the part of worse Dems).

    Sorry to get off-topic, but until we get this right--i.e. not just going after BushCo and the GOP, but doing it smartly and doing the necessary legwork first--we're not going to beat them. It's like the famous Sun Tzu saying about how a war is won before it is even fought. We really need to start crossing those t's and dotting those i's before we go after them (as well as, of course, getting those gutless and/or cynically opportunistic Dems in line).

    The Repubs might be scum but politically stupid and disorganized they're not. Until we can match them on that, we will keep on losing. And we ARE losing.

    Consider... (none / 0) (#15)
    by Michael Gass on Thu Sep 27, 2007 at 10:28:18 AM EST
    James Moore provided a bit of insight for us.

    The other reporter as intensely interested in Bush and his Guard time as I have been was Mary Mapes, Dan Rather's producer. For a number of years, Mary had been trying to get former Texas Lt. Governor Ben Barnes to talk about how he helped Bush get his coveted pilot's spot in the Guard. Barnes demurred until Bush's reelection campaign and by then his confession sounded like political expediency. Mary understood, however, as did Bill Burkett and any other investigator looking at Bush and the Guard that anything Barnes might say was going to be considered largely political without supporting documentation. Mary called me and asked me what I thought of Burkett as a source and I told her I thought he was credible and I was inclined to believe what he told me but I wanted documentation.

         Eventually, Burkett told me what sounded like a fanciful story of an unnamed man delivering an envelope to him while he was at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. This envelope supposedly included incriminating documents related to the president's Guard record. Whether these are the same documents he provided Mary Mapes, I cannot say. I do know that Burkett and several of his confidantes were as determined as I was to get at the truth about the president's service in the Texas Air National Guard. I don't know whether they were willing to go so far as to create false documents that they were confident existed at one time but no longer did, but I doubt that. Nonetheless, Burkett provided Mary Mapes with incriminating memos that were supposedly written by the president's commander during his days in the Guard.

    So, they were all looking into the story (Mapes, Rather, Moore, etc) and suddenly, here comes this guy from the shadows with "documents"????  

    So, the same right-wing bloggers who started "RatherGate" were the same people who decried the documents as false????

    But, as to why Rather was attacked?  That is easy!

    Laura Bush was hit on the swift boat ads by both ABC's Peter Jennings and CBS's Dan Rather during a round of interviews on the last night of the Republican convention. Rather threatened the resurrection of Bush's service record: "Now that friends and supporters of the President have raised the issue of John Kerry's combat record in Vietnam, do you or do you not think it's fair now for the Kerry people to come back and dig anew into your husband's military service record?"

    Dan Rather specifically challenged LAURA!  THEN, we got RatherGate.  Do we see where any of this might have been an orchestrated "hit" on Dan Rather?

    Oh yeah... and of course it was true... that was why the smear was used so hard and so fast.

    Nope (1.00 / 1) (#16)
    by jimakaPPJ on Fri Sep 28, 2007 at 09:41:17 AM EST
    The problem for that story is that the surplus of applications for TANG was for ground support positions, not pilot training.

    There is a difference.