note: In the words of Dana Cavey's Church Lady
payroll records that could more fully document
President Bush's whereabouts during his service
in the Texas Air National Guard were inadvertently
destroyed, according to the Pentagon.
a letter responding to a freedom of information
request by The Associated Press, the Defense Department
said that microfilm containing the pertinent National
Guard payroll records was damaged and could not
be salvaged. The damaged material included payroll
records for the first quarter of 1969 and the
third quarter of 1972.
Bush's payroll records for those two quarters
were among the records destroyed," wrote C.Y.
Talbott, of the Pentagon's Freedom of Information
and Security Review section. "Searches for back-up
paper copies of the missing records were unsuccessful."
spokeswoman Claire Buchan said Friday there was
nothing new in the letter. "When we put out records
in February, we indicated that third-quarter of
1972 records were lost," when the microfilm was
destroyed, she said.
did not perform Guard duties during the third
quarter of 1972 but "fulfilled his obligation
to the National Guard in full," Buchan said. "The
documents we released months ago make that clear."
February, the White House released some payroll
and medical records from Bush's Vietnam-era service
to counter Democrats' suggestions that he shirked
his duty in the Texas Air National Guard.
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. Sen. John Kerry
of Massachusetts, the Democratic presidential
candidate, is a decorated Vietnam veteran, and
some Democrats have questioned whether Bush showed
up for temporary Guard duty in Alabama while working
on a political campaign during a one-year period
from May 1972 to May 1973.
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
1972 election. The White House says Bush went
back to Alabama again after that.
Pentagon letter was sent in response to an April
lawsuit filed by the AP under the federal Freedom
of Information Act. That law requires government
agencies to make public information not specifically
exempted for disclosure.
letter said that in 1996 and 1997, the Pentagon
"engaged with limited success in a project to
salvage deteriorating microfilm." During the process,
"the microfilm payroll records of numerous service
members were damaged," the letter said.
process resulted in "the inadvertent destruction
of microfilm containing certain National Guard
payroll records," including Bush's, the letter
to calm the political unrest, the White House
on Feb. 13 released Bush's Vietnam-era military
records to counter suggestions he shirked his
duty. But there was no new evidence given at that
time to show that he was in Alabama during the
period when Democrats questioned whether he performed
his service obligation.
The records showed that Bush, a pilot, was suspended
from flying status beginning Aug. 1, 1972, because
of his failure to have an annual medical examination.
His last flight exam was on May 15, 1971. There
were no new documents, during that February release,
to shed any light on Bush's service in Alabama.
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