(Reuters) - President Bush fell short of meeting
his military obligations during the Vietnam War
and was not disciplined despite irregular attendance
at required training drills, The Boston Globe
said on Wednesday.
a probe of the president's service in the Texas
Air National Guard, the newspaper said Bush appeared
to have broken his contract with the U.S. government
by not joining an Air Force Reserve unit when
he moved to Massachusetts from Texas in mid-1973.
military records of Bush and of his Democratic
opponent John Kerry (news - web sites), who was
decorated for service in Vietnam, have featured
prominently in the campaign for the presidential
election on Nov. 2.
have made Bush's leadership of what he calls a
global war on terrorism central to his campaign.
February, the White House released hundreds of
pages of Bush's military records that showed he
was absent for long periods of his final two years
of National Guard duty but said nonetheless he
met service requirements.
the Globe focused on documents Bush signed in
1968 and 1973 in which he pledged to meet training
commitments or face a punitive call-up to active
Globe said in July 1973, before Bush left Houston
to attend Harvard Business School, he signed a
document saying: "It is my responsibility to locate
and be assigned to another Reserve forces unit
or mobilization augmentation position. If I fail
to do so, I am subject to involuntary order to
active duty for up to 24 months... "
spokesman Dan Bartlett told the Washington Post
in 1999 that the future president had served at
a Boston-area Air Force Reserve unit after leaving
Houston. But Bush never joined a Boston-area unit,
the Globe said.
must have misspoke," Bartlett, now White House
communications director, was quoted as telling
the Globe in a recent interview.
House spokeswoman Claire Buchan, responding to
the Globe report on Wednesday, said, "The president
was honored to serve his country. He met his obligations,
and was honorably discharged."
Globe also looked at a 1968 pledge by Bush in
which he committed to "satisfactory participation"
in Guard training.
the newspaper said he performed no service over
a six-month period in 1972 and nearly a three-month
stretch in 1973 -- erratic attendance that could
have prompted his superiors to discipline him
or order him to active duty in 1972, 1973 or 1974.
Bush's unit certified in late 1973 that his service
had been "satisfactory," the Globe said.
National Guard and reserves, rarely called up
during the Vietnam War, came to be regarded as
"draft havens for relatively affluent young white
men," the Air National Guard says in a history
on its Internet site.
Texas Lt. Gov. Ben Barnes, a Democrat, is scheduled
to appear on CBS' "60 Minutes" on Wednesday night
to discuss how he helped Bush get into the Guard
in 1968, the network said.
a videotaped speech recently posted on the Internet,
Barnes told an Austin, Texas political rally:
"I got a young man named George W. Bush into the
National Guard when I was lieutenant governor
of Texas and I'm not necessarily proud of that
... I thought that's what people should do when
you're in office: You help rich people."
Pentagon on Tuesday released 17 pages of what
it called newly found records that showed Bush
flew 336 hours in a fighter jet, most recently
in April 1972, and ranked 22nd out of 53 pilots
when he finished flight training at Moody Air
Force Base in Georgia in 1969.
pages did not resolve the dispute over whether
Bush completed the service as required.
National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe said
the details about Bush's service undermined his
credibility."These new documents show that the
president did not serve honorably," McAuliffe
said, accusing Bush of either lying about his
record or suffering "some kind of severe memory
pro-Kerry group, Texans for Truth, plans to run
television commercials this week questioning Bush's
Guard attendance. A group backing Bush, Swift
Boat Veterans for Truth, has said in its own commercials
that Kerry lied about his Vietnam war record.
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