Skip to comments.Documents Suggest Special Treatment for Bush in Guard [Buckhead post 47]
Posted on 09/08/2004 8:10:56 PM PDT by Pikamax
September 9, 2004 Documents Suggest Special Treatment for Bush in Guard By KATHARINE Q. SEELYE and RALPH BLUMENTHAL
ASHINGTON, Sept. 8 - President Bush's Vietnam-era service in the National Guard came under renewed scrutiny on Wednesday as newfound documents emerged from his squadron commander's file that suggested favorable treatment.
At the same time, a once powerful Texas Democrat came forward to say that he had "abused my position of power" by helping Mr. Bush and others join the Guard.
Democrats also worked to stoke the issue with a new advertisement by a Texas group that featured a former lieutenant colonel, Bob Mintz, who said he never saw Mr. Bush in the period he transferred from the Texas Air National Guard to the Alabama Air National Guard.
The documents, obtained by the "60 Minutes" program at CBS News from the personal files of the late Lt. Col. Jerry B. Killian, Mr. Bush's squadron commander in Texas, suggest that Lieutenant Bush did not meet his performance standards and received favorable treatment.
One document, a "memo to file" dated May 1972 , refers to a conversation between Colonel Killian and Lieutenant Bush when they "discussed options of how Bush can get out of coming to drill from now through November," because the lieutenant "may not have time."
The memo said the commander had worked to come up with options, "but I think he's also talking to someone upstairs."
Colonel Killian wrote in another report, dated Aug. 1, 1972, that he ordered Lieutenant Bush "suspended from flight status" because he failed to perform to standards of the Air Force and Texas Air National Guard and "failure to meet annual physical examination (flight) as ordered."
Colonel Killian also wrote in a memo that his superiors were forcing him to give Lieutenant Bush a favorable review, but that he refused.
"I'm having trouble running interference and doing my job," he wrote.
CBS, which reported on the memos on "The CBS Evening News" and "60 Minutes," declined to say how it obtained the documents.
Dan Bartlett, the White House communications director, said in an interview with CBS, the full transcript of which the White House released on Wednesday night, that Mr. Bush had fulfilled his service and received an honorable discharge. Mr. Bartlett did not dispute the authenticity of the memos but said, "When you are talking about a memo to somebody's self - this is a memo to his own file - people are trying to read the mind of somebody who is no longer with us."
He called the release of the files politically motivated.
"Every time President Bush gets near another election, all the innuendo and rumors about President Bush's service in the National Guard come to the forefront," he said.
Separately, former Lt. Gov. Ben Barnes of Texas voiced regret for what he said was helping the privileged escape service in Vietnam.
"I'm not particularly proud of what I did," said Mr. Barnes, who in the 1960's was speaker of the Texas House at 26 and lieutenant governor at 30. "While I understand why parents wanted to shield their sons from danger, I abused my position of power by helping only those who knew me or had access to me."
Mr. Barnes, 66, an adviser to Senator John Kerry's campaign and an influential lobbyist with offices in Austin and Washington, said in a interview with The New York Times that he had intervened to get Mr. Bush, as well as other well-connected young men, into the Guard in 1968. He made similar comments on "60 Minutes" on Wednesday.
Mr. Barnes maintained, as he has since 1999, that he had contacted his friend who headed the Texas Air National Guard, Brig. Gen. James Rose, not at the behest of anyone in the Bush family, but rather a Houston businessman, Sidney A. Adger, a friend of the Bushes who has died.
"Yes, I called Rose to get George Bush into the Guard, I've said that," Mr. Barnes said in his office last week in Austin. "I called Rose for other sons of prominent families, and I'm not proud of it now."
Anticipating his remarks, Republicans worked to discredit Mr. Barnes as a partisan Democrat and large contributor to Mr. Kerry. The events created a new round of scrutiny for Mr. Bush, after a month in which Mr. Kerry's Vietnam service dominated the campaign because of veterans with longstanding anger at how Mr. Kerry, who was a decorated veteran, came home and turned against the war. With advertisements, through a book and on talk shows, the group, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, leveled largely unsubstantiated accusations about Mr. Kerry's record and his antiwar statements.
Democrats were unabashed about turning the spotlight on Mr. Bush. Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic chairman, said in a conference call with reporters the party would keep Mr. Bush's Guard record before the public.
The events unfolded a day after the Pentagon, prompted by a lawsuit filed by The Associated Press, released a series of records on Mr. Bush's service, even though the White House had said this year that it had released all the records.
Mr. Bartlett said that the documents "demonstrate that he served his country, he logged hundreds and hundreds of hours as a fighter pilot in the Texas Air National Guard."
Mr. Bartlett rejected the suggestion based on Colonel Killian's files that Mr. Bush did not meet the performance standards. He said Mr. Bush did not have a physical examination because he was not going to be flying planes anymore, because his unit no longer flew the planes that Mr. Bush was trained on.
"Every step of the way, President Bush was meeting his requirements, granted permission to meet his requirements," Mr. Bartlett said.
A new commercial, produced by a group of Democrats, Texans for Truth, is to begin on Monday in five swing states that have lost high numbers of soldiers in Iraq. It features a former lieutenant colonel in the Alabama Guard, Bob Mintz, who lives in Tennessee. He told a columnist for The New York Times, Nicholas D. Kristof, for a column published on Wednesday, that he was actively looking for Lieutenant Bush at the Alabama base in the 1970's, because he had heard that Lieutenant Bush was a fellow bachelor who might like to party with him and other pilots. In the spot, Mr. Mintz said neither he nor his friends ever saw Mr. Bush.
"It would be impossible to be unseen in a unit of that size," he says.
The unit had 20 to 30 pilots.
In a conference call with reporters on Wednesday, Mr. Mintz was pressed about his recollections and whether he might have missed seeing Mr. Bush, possibly because Mr. Bush was no longer flying at that point and was working in an office position. Mr. Mintz said repeatedly he never saw Lieutenant Bush.
Asked for friends' names who could vouch that they never saw Lieutenant Bush, Mr. Mintz declined, saying he did not have their permission to make their names public.
Glenn Smith, the main figure in Texans for Truth, said he wanted to make the spot because he was angry over the Swift Boat veterans.
Steve Schmidt of the Bush campaign said that Texans for Truth was linked to the Kerry campaign in potential violation of campaign finance laws, saying the group was "made possible by contributions" from Moveon.org, another advocacy group that opposes Mr. Bush.
Mr. Smith said that Moveon.org had financed another group that he had founded, Drivedemocracy.org, but that neither had given money to the Texans, though he said that Moveon.org had put a link on its Web site to the Texans and sent e-mail messages to its members in Texas urging them to donate to the Texans.
Mr. Smith said the Texans raised more than $300,000 in 24 hours, with one contribution for $100,000 and most of the rest in $25 donations.
Adding to the picture of Mr. Bush's service, The Boston Globe reported on Wednesday that he fell short of meeting his military requirements and was not disciplined despite irregular attendance at required drills.
The paper said Mr. Bush signed documents in July 1973, before he left Houston for the Harvard Business School, promising to meet his training commitments or be punished by being called up to active duty.
Mr. Bartlett said on Wednesday that Mr. Bush was given permission to attend Harvard. He said that if there were any requirements Mr. Bush was not meeting, "the National Guard at the federal level, the state level and the local level, they all knew where he was."
Katharine Q. Seelye reported from Washingtonfor this article, and Ralph Blumenthal from Houston. Raymond Bonner contributed reporting from Houston
More like "media suggests..."
The ability of so many losers to do nothing but dwell in the past simply amazes me.
And if they found bin Laden, they ask him what he thinks about Bush's attendance at Guard drills!
Is this the best they got?
I'd like to suggest (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) there is an embedded reporter from Pravda working @ the NYTimes.
Amazing how the can so cavalierly spew, after the record has been examined and found OK. Scummy.
President Bush is going to be so easily re-elected..if this is all they have..
There are the documents; now you see if you think they say what the NYT says they say.
Whoops......scroll down on the left!
OK, I guess this is relevant, to retarded types.
So it would seem.
Given that the Lt Gov that claims to have been "coerced" into helping Bush into the Guard wasn't even in office when Bush entered the Guard... it would seem to deflate the story.
Read later bump (#11)
The hypocrisy is maddening!
WHO IS BEN BARNES?
A Deep-Pocketed Kerry Partisan Who Can't Keep His Stories Straight
Barnes Under Oath
Under Oath, Barnes Testified He Had No Contact With Bush Family Concerning National Guard. "Ben Barnes, then the speaker of the Texas House, said in 1999 that Sidney Adger, a Houston businessman and longtime friend of the Bush family whose son also won a slot in the 147th, had asked him to help get Mr. Bush into the Guard. Mr. Barnes, who acknowledged a role only after he was questioned under oath, also said that he had spoken to the head of the Texas Air National Guard on Mr. Bush's behalf, but had no contact with anyone in the Bush family. And there is no direct evidence that Mr. Bush's family pulled strings to get him into the 147th. Mr. Bush is firmly on record denying it, as is the commander of the unit, and there is no paper trail showing any influence by the Bush family." (David Barstow, "In Haze Of Guard Records, A Bit Of Clarity," The New York Times, 2/15/04)
Barnes Said Reports He Helped Bush At His Father's Urging Were "False." "Former Lt. Gov. Ben Barnes denied a magazine report Thursday that he helped George W. Bush get a place in the Texas Air National Guard at the urging of Bush's father. Bush, the Republican presidential front-runner, has repeatedly denied that he received preferential treatment in being accepted into the Guard during the Vietnam War. 'I never spoke to Congressman Bush about his son,' Barnes said Thursday. 'The story is false.'" (Renae Merle, "Barnes Denies Report That He Helped Bush Into The National Guard," The Associated Press, 7/15/99)
In Fall Of 1999, Barnes Said Bush Family Never Asked To Get President Bush Into National Guard. "Mr. Bush has consistently said he never requested special treatment, though Ben Barnes, who was speaker of the Texas House in 1968, said in 1999 that he had been asked by a Houston businessman -- not by the Bush family -- to recommend Mr. Bush for a pilot's slot, and that he had done so." (David M. Halbfinger, "Three Decades Later, Vietnam Remains A Hot Issue," The New York Times, 8/29/04)
But Now, Barnes' Story "Subject To Change"
Today, Barnes Claims He Is "Ashamed" He Got President Bush Into Texas Air National Guard. "Former Texas House Speaker Ben Barnes said he is 'more ashamed at myself than I've ever been' because he helped President Bush and the sons of other wealthy families get into the Texas National Guard so they could avoid serving in Vietnam. 'I got a young man named George W. Bush into the National Guard ... and I'm not necessarily proud of that, but I did it,' Barnes, a Democrat, said in a video clip recorded May 27 before a group of John Kerry supporters in Austin. Barnes, who was House speaker when Bush entered the Guard, later became lieutenant governor." (Bobby Ross Jr., "Former Lawmaker Says He Got Bush Into The Texas Guard," The Associated Press, 8/28/04)
Yet, According To February 2004 New York Times Article, Barnes' Story "Was Subject To Change And There Were No Documents To Support His Claims." "Local reporters could coax one former Democratic state official into admitting, off the record, that he had interceded on Mr. Bush's behalf at the request of either a prominent Dallas businessman or George H. W. Bush, who was then a member of Congress. But the official's story -- the source was later revealed to be former Lt. Gov. Ben Barnes -- was subject to change and there were no documents to support his claims." (Mimi Swartz, "In Search Of The President's Missing Years," The New York Times, 2/27/04)
Barnes Is Kerry Fundraiser And Advisor
Ben Barnes Is Kerry Campaign Vice-Chair, Raising Over $100,000 For Campaign. (Kerry For President Website, www.johnkerry.com/fec/, Accessed 9/4/04)
Barnes Considers John Kerry Close Personal Friend. "Barnes, a government consultant with offices in Austin, Chicago and Washington, said: 'I'm just an enthusiastic participant' who considers as personal friends Corzine, Daschle and Kerry, whom he got to know during summer vacations in Nantucket." (W. Gardner Selby, "Texas' Last 'Old Lion' Still On Prowl For Funds," San Antonio Express-Texas, 7/30/04)
"Texans For Kerry" Website Links To Barnes Video. (Texans For Kerry Website, www.texansforkerry.com/texansforkerry/, Accessed 9/7/04)
Barnes Is Considered "A Definite In" In Kerry Administration. "[Barnes has] known Kerry since the 1980s. 'I don't know who's going to be in and who's going to be out' of a possible Kerry administration, Barnes said. 'But John Kerry has been sympathetic to Texas in the past. ... I would expect him to listen to our problems if he's in the White House.' Barnes is a definite in, though he says he'll keep working as a lobbyist based in Austin." (Jay Root, "Texas Democrats Are Waiting In The Wings," Fort Worth Star Telegram, 7/31/04)
Barnes Owns Home Near Kerry's In Nantucket. "Now a lobbyist and consultant, Barnes has a house near Kerry's in Nantucket, Mass., and committed to Kerry's White House bid nearly three years ago on the grounds of the Nantucket Golf Club." (Jay Root, "Texas Democrats Are Waiting In The Wings," Fort Worth Star Telegram, 7/31/04)
Barnes Is Kerry "Super-Bundler" Fundraiser. "Eleven [Kerry super-bundlers] are from Texas, including Dallas plaintiff's lawyer Fred Baron and lobbyist Ben Barnes, a Lyndon Johnson protégé who served as lieutenant governor and is one of the national Democrat Party's most prodigious fund-raisers. 'If someone had told me last quarter that John Kerry would have raised as much money as he's been able to, I'd have said it couldn't happen. But I'm seeing it happen,' said Mr. Barnes, whose lobby clients have included American Airlines and the chemical giant Huntsman Corp." (Wayne Slater, "Vested Interests In Kerry Lawyers, Lobbyists Top Donors List," Dallas Morning News, 7/26/04)
Opening Night Of Democratic Convention In Boston, "Kerry Adviser And Veteran Political Fund-Raiser"Barnes Hosted Party For Convention-Goers. "On the opening night of the Democratic National Convention, more than 250 well-dressed people strayed from the convention, enjoying bubbly drinks and appetizers such as tablespoon-sized shrimp salads at a party hosted by former Texas Lt. Gov. Ben Barnes. Barnes, a Kerry adviser and veteran political fund-raiser, said he scheduled his event to remind potential donors about the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, which seeks to help Democrats recapture a majority in the U.S. Senate, where the GOP has a two-vote majority." (W. Gardner Selby, "Texas' Last 'Old Lion' Still On Prowl For Funds," San Antonio Express-Texas, 7/30/04)
In October 2003, Barnes Hosted Fundraiser For John Kerry. "Democratic presidential contender John Kerry, counting on the Texas-Massachusetts connection that played better in the 1960s than it did in the 1980s, made three fund-raising stops in Texas on Wednesday as he campaigned toward primary season. Kerry, a senator from Massachusetts, spoke to about 60 supporters at the Four Seasons Hotel here between stops in Dallas and Houston .In introducing Kerry here, former Lt. Gov. Ben Barnes likened him to Kennedy. 'He possesses the talent, the courage, the experience and the depth that will make him, as Jack Kennedy was in 1961, a president that has the determination to lead this country,' Barnes said." (Ken Herman, "Kerry Plays Up Texas' Link To His Home State," Austin American-Statesman, 10/2/03)
Barnes Is A Partisan Democrat
Daschle Called Barnes "The Fifty-First Democratic Senator." "Yet here he is in the rarefied atmosphere of big power and big-time politics -- one of the chief financial and strategic architects of the Democratic resurgence to parity (and subsequently control) in the Senate. Majority leader Tom Daschle has called him 'the fifty-first Democratic senator.'" (Paul Burka, "So What If He Never Got To Be Governor Or President?" Texas Monthly, 9/01)
Barnes Attended Clinton Coffee Intended To Raise $500,000. "Newly released White House documents show that President Clinton's political operatives expected to raise $500,000 from a White House coffee for wealthy Texans in the summer, calling into question Clinton's assertion that 'no price tag was placed' on White House events. In a July 14 memo to White House officials, campaign Chairman Peter Knight suggested adding the Texas coffee klatch to Clinton's schedule as part of an effort to raise $7.8 million in the state. Knight predicted that the event would generate $500,000 in political contributions. About 20 Texans, including former Gov. Dolph Briscoe, Land Commissioner Garry Mauro and former Lt. Gov. Ben Barnes, attended the Aug. 23 get-together with the president." (Ron Hutcheson, "Clinton's Fund-Raising Assertion Questioned," Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 2/27/97)
In 1996, Barnes Endorsed Clinton/Gore '96. (Lisa R. Davis, "CEOs And Business Leaders Endorse President Clinton," Press Release, 10/8/96)
Ben Barnes Has Donated At Least $380,750 To Democratic Candidates And Campaign Bodies Including:
ü John Kerry For President Inc.
ü Kerry Committee
ü Kerry-Edwards 2004 Inc. General Election Legal And Accounting Compliance Fund
ü A Lot Of People Supporting Tom Daschle Inc.
ü Bob Graham For President Inc.
ü Cantwell 2006
ü Citizens For Biden
ü Citizens For Sarbanes
ü Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee
ü Democratic National Committee
ü Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee
ü Evan Bayh Committee
ü Friends Of Byron Dorgan
ü Friends Of Dick Durbin Committee
ü Friends Of Max Cleland For The US Senate Inc.
ü Friends Of Schumer
ü Friends Of Harry Reid
ü Friends Of Hillary
ü Friends Of Patrick J Kennedy Inc.
ü Friends Of Senator Carl Levin
ü Gephardt For President Inc.
ü Gore 2000 Inc.
ü Hillary Rodham Clinton For US Senate Committee Inc.
ü Joe Lieberman For President Inc.
ü Kennedy For Senate 2006
ü Leahy For U.S. Senator Committee
ü People For Patty Murray US Senate Campaign
ü Stabenow For US Senate
ü Tony Knowles For US Senate (Political Money Line Website, www.tray.com, Accessed 9/8/04)
Barnes' Ethical Mishaps
Sharpstown Bank Scandal In 1971 Ended Barnes' Political Career. "The Sharpstown Scandal: This scandal involved quick-profit stock sales for lawmakers and state officials in 1971-72. Houston financier Frank Sharp arranged the stock loans from his Sharpstown State Bank, purportedly to grease the passage of two banking bills. Two dozen former and sitting officials were accused, and others suffered by association. House Speaker Gus Mutscher and another legislator were convicted of conspiring to accept a bribe. Gov. Preston Smith lost the governorship after his profit was disclosed. Half the Texas House was voted out of office or didn't seek re-election. And Lt. Gov. Ben Barnes, a rising political star, was caught in the housecleaning when he tried to win the governor's seat. LBJ had even predicted that Barnes would make it to the White House." (Carolyn Barta, "Texas Has Left A Lasting Mark In The World Of Politics," The Dallas Morning News, 3/4/99)
In 1998, Barnes Was Accused Of Funneling $500,000 To Former Sales Manager Of Corporation Running Texas Lottery. "The former national sales manager for Gtech Holdings Corp., which operates the Texas lottery, was sentenced to 63 months in federal prison Thursday for stealing from the company. His sentencing two years after his conviction was delayed by a controversy over information released by prosecutors linking him and former Texas Lt. Gov. Ben Barnes to a similar kickback scheme. In a sentencing memo in the Smith case, New Jersey prosecutors alleged that Mr. Barnes, then Gtech's chief Texas lobbyist, funneled $500,000 to Mr. Smith. The memo containing the allegations was posted on the Internet. Mr. Barnes denied that he had done anything wrong, and Judge Politan ordered prosecutors to apologize. In August, they acknowledged that they had disclosed secret information. Mr. Barnes said at the time that the money he gave Mr. Smith was for work not connected to the lottery. Mr. Barnes has never been charged with wrongdoing in connection with the allegation. Gtech bought out Mr. Barnes' contract for $23 million after Texas lottery commissioners questioned Gtech business practices." (George Kuempel, "Ex-Official For Gtech Sentenced," The Dallas Morning News, 10/9/98)Investment Partnership With John Connally Went Bust In 1988 After Connally And Barnes Racked Up $200 Million In Debt. "He joined with his protégé Ben Barnes, the former lieutenant governor of Texas, to embark on the business of building offices and condominiums and shopping malls, borrowing millions of dollars on the strength of his famous name, arguably the most famous in the state. At the time, Connally's real estate and energy investments appeared to be solid. Oil was selling for $33 a barrel and seemed destined to go higher. Texas was on a roll and John Connally was riding the crest of an economic surge that was making millionaires overnight. But Connally's timing was off. The decline of Texas and the rest of the energy belt began in 1982, just about the time he and Barnes began their spending and borrowing spree in earnest, taking the big chances. Files for Bankruptcy. Five years later, after a fruitless struggle for economic survival, Connally admitted that betting big had been a mistake. On July 31 of last year, he filed for bankruptcy. At the time, he and Barnes owed creditors more than $200 million." (J. Michael Kennedy, "Symbol Of Troubled Texas," Los Angeles Times, 1/22/88)