Tuesday, October 26, 2004

 

Bush just can't keep the record straight...



The Associated Press - http://ap.tbo.com/ap/breaking/MGBIMNYHS0E.html
Published: Oct 26, 2004

WASHINGTON (AP) - A look at some of the shifting explanations President Bush and his spokesmen have given for events in Bush's Texas Air National Guard service:
THE QUESTION

Why did Bush skip a required yearly medical examination in 1972?

THE EXPLANATIONS

July 1999: Campaign spokeswoman Karen Hughes tells reporters Bush missed his physical because he was working on a political campaign in Alabama and had no access to the "special" doctors who perform the examinations.

July 2000: Campaign spokesman Dan Bartlett tells the Boston Globe that Bush doesn't remember being grounded.

October 2000: Bartlett tells the Boston Globe he can state unequivocally that Bush was never grounded.

November 2000: Bartlett tells reporters Bush had no reason to take the exam because he was transferring to Alabama and his Texas unit was phasing out use of the F-102A fighter. Bartlett says Bush chose not to take the exam.

Feb. 12: White House spokesman Scott McClellan tells reporters: "He moved to Alabama for a civilian job and he was on non-flying status while in Alabama. There was no need for a flight exam."

Sept. 9: Bartlett, now White House communications director, tells CBS: "The records have been clear for years that President Bush did not take a physical because he did not need to take a physical because, obviously, the choice was that he was going to be performing in a different capacity."

Sept. 29: White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan, in response to an Associated Press question about why Bush did not retake his medical exam after returning to Texas in 1973: "When he returned to Texas, the F-102 (the plane he was trained to fly) was being phased out and pilot slots were limited. Since the president was then planning to go to the Harvard business school, it would not have made sense to allocate one of the F-102 slots or to spend the financial resources to train him to fly a new plane."

THE FACTS

National Guard doctors perform medical examinations. Bush could have gotten an exam either at his base in Texas or at any of several Alabama Air National Guard installations in and around Montgomery.

Bush was required to take his medical exam by his birthday, July 6, 1972, which was more than a month before he won final approval for temporary training with an Alabama unit. Bush's Texas commanders ordered him grounded Sept. 5, 1972, the same day Bush wrote to them asking to train with the 187th Fighter Interceptor Squadron in Montgomery. That unit did not use the F-102A jets Bush was trained to fly.

Bush's home unit, the 111th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, was beginning to shift to F-101 jets in 1973. But the unit continued to fly the F-102A until 1974 and trained F-102A pilots for other Air National Guard units during that time. Records released this month show the 111th added two F-102A pilots from a Vermont National Guard unit to its roster in 1973, the year Bush claimed the unit was eliminating F-102A pilot slots.

Bush has said he decided to go to Harvard in the summer of 1973, months after his return to Texas from Alabama. He formally asked to be released from the Texas guard in July 1973, a request granted that October.

THE QUESTION

When did Bush train in Alabama, and what did he do?

THE EXPLANATIONS

During the 2000 campaign, Bush spokesmen said he trained with the 187th from May to October 1972.

May 2000: Bartlett said Bush remembered performing some duty in Alabama and "recalls coming back to Houston and doing (Guard) duty, though he does not recall if it was on a consistent basis."

May 23, 2000: At the request of the Bush campaign, retired Lt. Col. Albert Lloyd Jr., the former personnel director of the Texas Air National Guard, tells reporters Bush returned to his Texas unit in November 1972.

June 1, 2000: Campaign spokesman Ari Fleischer, asked if Bush temporarily left his Texas unit, responded: "Of course he did, with the permission of the Guard, which is not unusual."

June 23, 2000: At a campaign appearance in Alabama, Bush says of his service there: "I was there on a temporary assignment and fulfilled my weekends at one period of time... I can't remember what I did, but I wasn't flying because they didn't have the same airplanes."

June 24, 2000: Fleischer tells reporters Bush remembered doing "paper shuffling" in Montgomery.

June 26, 2000: Bartlett tells the Dallas Morning News that Bush showed up several times for training in Alabama but said the president does not remember how many times. Bartlett says Bush returned to his Texas unit in December 1972 and made up for missed drills then. In Alabama, "most of his work was paperwork related," Bartlett says.

October 2000: Bartlett tells The New York Times that Bush was too busy with the campaign in mid-1972 to report to guard duty, but he made up the training later.

Feb. 3, 2004: Bush says on NBC's "Meet the Press": "There may be no evidence, but I did report (for duty in Alabama)."

Feb. 10, 2004: McClellan acknowledges that documents released by the White House do not prove Bush served in Alabama.

Feb. 12, 2004: The White House releases an incomplete dental examination form dated in January 1973 saying it was performed in Montgomery. McClellan says: "This document further demonstrates the president fulfilling his duties and serving while in Alabama."

Sept. 9, 2004: The White House tells CBS Bush "met his drills then when he came back" from Alabama "and that's why he received an honorable discharge."

Sept. 29, 2004: Buchan tells AP that Bush did "administrative duties" in Alabama. "The records demonstrate that he followed the proper procedures and worked through the chain of command to receive approval to perform equivalent duty in Alabama."

THE FACTS

Payroll records show Bush did not show up for any guard service between mid-April and late October 1972. At the time he was in Alabama working on the unsuccessful U.S. Senate campaign of a family friend.

Air Force officials rejected Bush's first request to train with an Air Force Reserve unit in Alabama because the unit did not fit Bush's training requirements. In September 1972, Bush asked for and received permission to train for three months with the 187th.

Payroll records show Bush was paid for guard service twice in October 1972 and four times the next month. The pay records do not say where Bush served.

The dental record says Bush got his teeth examined at the 187th base in January 1973, a month in which he was paid for six days of duty. Bush was next paid for two days in April 1973.

A performance evaluation by Bush's Texas commanders in May 1973 said Bush had not appeared at the Texas base for an entire year.

No Alabama Air National Guard records have surfaced showing Bush did any duty there. Former commanders and other members of the 187th in 1972 and 1973 say they don't remember ever seeing Bush there.

One former member of the unit, retired Lt. Col. John Calhoun, has said he remembers Bush showing up for weekend training drills with the 187th during the summer and fall of 1972. Bush's records, however, show he was never paid for any dates in 1972 when the 187th performed its weekend drills.
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