- Hundreds of pages of documents that the White
House said comprise President Bush's entire military
record offer no new answers to the election-year
questions that have swirled around his Vietnam-era
service. Democrats who have led the criticism
greeted Friday's release of documents with skepticism.
revelation of material from the Bush White House
has raised more questions than it has answered,"
said Democratic National Committee spokeswoman
Debra DeShong. "It remains to be seen if these
newest documents will provide any answers."
White House distributed the two-inch stack of
papers, and allowed reporters a brief look through
another several dozen pages of medical records
that were not allowed out of a briefing room,
in yet another effort to quiet a political storm
that has showed no sign of abating.
was in the Texas Air National Guard from 1968
to 1973, much of the time as a pilot, but never
went to Vietnam or flew in combat.
military record has been an issue in his campaigns
as far back as 1994. It was revived this year
by Democrats who see an opportunity to puncture
Bush's popularity on national security issues
and whose front-runner to challenge the president
for re-election is decorated Vietnam War veteran
criticism, which Kerry himself has stayed relatively
clear of while not quieting others in his party,
centers around the year between roughly May 1972
and May 1973 for which there are few records.
had asked to be able to transfer temporarily from
the Texas Guard to an Alabama base during that
time so he could work on the Senate campaign of
a family friend. Reports differ on how long he
was actually in Alabama, but it's generally believed
that he returned to his Texas unit after the November
questioning whether Bush ever showed up for duty
in Alabama have called on him to publicize his
entire file to put the matter to rest. Though
the president promised to do so in an interview
last Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press," the White
House appeared reluctant until the mass document
release late Friday.
understanding is that this is the entire file,"
presidential press secretary Scott McClellan said.
"The record documents that the accusations by
some are false."
pages in the pile of military records were duplicates,
as they came from different repositories.
show Bush getting a glowing recommendation for
promotion to 1st lieutenant -- which he received
on Nov. 7, 1970 -- and exemplary performance evaluations
from his commanders at Ellington Air Force Base
Bush is an outstanding young pilot and officer
and is a credit to this unit," Lt. Col. Bobby
Hodges wrote on May 27, 1971. "This officer is
rated in the upper 10 percent of his contemporaries."
documents also show no sign that Bush received
special treatment either to get into the Guard
when there were long waiting lists at the height
of the Vietnam War or to be discharged from it
nearly eight months before his six-year service
obligation was completed in order to attend Harvard
Business School; that he was subject to any disciplinary
action while in the military; or that damaging
details were hidden in his medical record.
were questions some Democrats had said needed
to be answered.
the records provided no evidence Bush served in
requested the transfer on Sept. 5, 1972. It was
granted on Sept. 11 and he was told to report
for duty to the 187th TAC Recon Group at Dannelly
Air National Guard Base in Montgomery, Ala.
of the few other mentions of Alabama in the documents
was in an Ellington performance evaluation, covering
the period from May 1, 1972 to April 30, 1973,
that could not rate Bush because he was absent
from the base.
civilian occupation made it necessary for him
to move to Montgomery, Ala.," wrote Lt. Col. William
D. Harris Jr. "He cleared this base on 15 May
1972 and has been performing equivalent training
in a non-flying status with the 187 Tac Recon
Gp. Dannelly ANG Base, Alabama."
Col. Jerry Killian, the Texas Air National Guard
commander at the time, wrote at the bottom that
he concurred "with the comments of the reporting
there was no documentation from the Alabama side.
Several members of the Alabama unit that Bush
was assigned to have told The Associated Press
that they couldn't recall ever seeing him, while
one retired Alabama Guard officer said he remembers
Bush showing up for duty.
this week, the White House for the first time
released payroll records it said proved Bush served
records, which were not included in the documents
released Friday, showed Bush was paid for 25 days
of service during the one-year period in question
-- most of them in 1973. He was not paid for any
service during a more than five-month period in
1972, from April 17 to Oct. 27.
was paid for two days in late October of that
year, four days in mid-November and no days in
December. They do not say what Bush did to receive
pay or where he did it.
what aides said was further proof, the White House
also has distributed a copy of a dental exam Bush
received at the Alabama base on Jan. 6, 1973.
documents released Friday also showed that Bush
lost his status as a Guard pilot because of his
failure to have the required annual medical exam.
White House communications director Dan Bartlett
said Bush went on non-flying status because of
his move to Alabama and thus had "no need or reason"
to take the physical.
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