Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Reward For Proof Of Bush Service

In the wake of the controversy surrounding the legitimacy of the memos CBS revealed last week, the fact that there are no records that show that Bush fulfilled his service in The Texas Air National Guard has gotten lost. And in fact, the more documents that are released, the more likely it appears that he did not fulfill the service that he has repeatedly claimed that he did fulfill.

For a good summary, read the US News & World Report analysis:

U.S. News showed that during the final two years of his obligation, Bush did not comply with Air Force regulations that impose a time limit on making up missed drills. What's more, he apparently never made up five months of drills he missed in 1972, contrary to assertions by the administration. White House officials did not respond to the analysis last week but emphasized that Bush had "served honorably."

Some experts say they remain mystified as to how Bush obtained an honorable discharge. Lawrence Korb, a former top Defense Department official in the Reagan administration, says the military records clearly show that Bush "had not fulfilled his obligation" and "should have been called to active duty."

Bush signed his commitment to the Texas Air National Guard on May 27, 1968, shortly after becoming eligible for the draft. In his "statement of understanding," he acknowledged that "satisfactory participation" included attending "48 scheduled inactive-duty training periods" each year. He also acknowledged that he could be ordered to active duty if he failed to meet these requirements.

Bush's records show that he did his duty for much of the first four years of his commitment. But as the Vietnam War wound down, his performance slumped, and his attendance at required drills fell off markedly. He did no drills for one five-month period in 1972. He also missed his flight physical. By May 2, 1973, his superiors said they could not evaluate his performance because he "has not been observed."
Is the media focusing on this information? No, but what makes it tricky is that it's hard to prove a negative. Just because there is a lack of documentation proving Bush served out his obligation, it doesn't prove that he didn't. That's what Texans For Truth has tried to address in their ad in which former Guardsman Robert Mintz tells of having no memory of Bush being in his unit despite Bush's claims that he did "serve honorably" in Alabama's 187th Air National Guard after he was transferred there from Texas.

And now, Texans For Truth has taken the unique step of offering a reward of $50,000 to anyone who can prove that Bush fulfilled his service requirements in the Air National Guard. Texans For Truth founder Glenn Smith announced the reward as Bush was arriving in Las Vegas to address the National Guard Association's convention.

Today would be a fine day for him to finally answer all the questions that have dogged him since he entered public life. Bush's dishonesty about missing from service during Vietnam goes to the heart of his presidency. He was dishonest then just as he is misleading us about why we went to war with Iraq. He dodges responsibility then just as he dodges responsibility for Iraq today.
This is just the sort of PR stunt that could finally cause this issue to hurt Bush. If proof did exist, surely Bush would have trotted it out by now. And the absence of proof could prove damning even though, once again, it doesn't prove the negative, but all we need is to instill the seed of doubt, just as the Swift Boat ads did to Kerry's service.


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