Sunday, President Bush pledged in the Oval Office
to release any and all documents related to whether
he fulfilled his Vietnam-era National Guard duty.
And yesterday, the White House claimed the documents
it released fulfilled that Oval Office pledge.
However, just hours after that declaration, White
House communications director Dan Bartlett "confirmed
that Bush's complete personnel file is being forwarded
to Washington from an archive in Denver" but only
"for review" by the White House - not necessarily
release to the public.
experts said records like those being "reviewed"
by the White House could definitively prove where
Bush was, unlike those documents released yesterday
which do not. But records such as those being
"reviewed" by the White House "cannot be released
without Bush's authorization," a process that
would simply require the president to sign release
forms (see a sample form). To date "Bush has not
consented, despite his claim that he made public
all his records in 2000." Without that authorization,
the government has denied Freedom of Information
Act requests seeking relevant documents.
White House claimed the documents it released
yesterday show "President Bush fulfilling his
duties in the National Guard" during Vietnam.
However, the documents released actually showed
that Bush "did not receive military pay from May
to September of 1972" - a five month gap in service
where Bush also "refused to take his annual physical
and was grounded as a pilot." White House spokesman
Scott McClellan refused to say whether Bush actually
showed up for service, only saying that Bush was
paid. In all, the records "do not show the exact
nature or whereabouts of Bush's service during
a year spanning 1972 and 1973, Bush claims to
have served in the Alabama National Guard and
in Houston, but the White House cannot produce
a single human being to validate that claim. While
Bush says there is "no evidence" to prove whether
he did or did not show up for service, that is
not true - those who would have overseen his service
specifically report that he was absent. In Alabama,
the commander of the unit Bush would have been
in said today, "He never did come to my squad.
He was never at my unit." Additionally, in a signed
report, commanding officers in Houston said Bush
"has not been observed."
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