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Bush’s War Stories Simply Don’t Fly
NY Observer ^ | January 31, 2004 | Joe Conason

Posted on 01/31/2004 7:07:00 AM PST by billorites

George W. Bush lied about his military service record. The lie can be found in his own 1999 campaign autobiography (as written by Karen Hughes), where he dramatically describes his experience as a pilot in the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War.

On page 34 of A Charge to Keep, Mr. Bush claims that, after learning to fly the F-102 fighter jet, he was turned down for Vietnam duty because "had not logged enough flight hours" to qualify for a combat assignment. Before going on to recall the "challenging moments" that involved close formation drills at night during poor weather, he adds: "I continued flying with my unit for the next several years."

In light of what journalists and other researchers have learned since the publication of Mr. Bush’s book, his account is unmistakably fraudulent.

The issue is again relevant because Michael Moore, the author and filmmaker who supports Wesley Clark’s Presidential campaign, recently impugned the President as a "deserter." During the final Democratic Presidential debate in New Hampshire, moderator Peter Jennings called Mr. Moore’s statement "a reckless charge not supported by the facts," and demanded that General Clark repudiate his celebrity backer.

As the ABC newsman may (or, more likely, may not) know, the facts about the President’s National Guard stint are complex, disputed and, in many respects, unflattering. To call him a "deserter" was wrong and inflammatory, even if Mr. Moore was joking, as he now insists. Although Mr. Bush may well have been absent without leave, he was never prosecuted for that offense, let alone desertion, and he eventually received an honorable discharge. But to suggest that the Bush record is beyond criticism, as Mr. Jennings did, is both misleading and biased. That bias reflects an enduring double standard on this topic that has protected Mr. Bush ever since he first declared his Presidential candidacy.

The facts, established by Boston Globe reporter Walter Robinson in 2000, explode the lyrical flights of fancy penned by Ms. Hughes.

George W. Bush graduated from Yale in June 1968. After his father’s influential friends contacted Texas Air National Guard officials, they awarded young George a safe berth in Houston’s famed "champagne unit," where sons of the Texas elite avoided Vietnam. His very special treatment included instant admission to flight training and an extraordinary commission as a second lieutenant. According to his former superiors, Mr. Bush performed admirably as a pilot while patrolling the coastal waters of the United States.

But in May 1972, only 22 months after he completed pilot training, he stopped flying. In August 1972, he failed to show up for his annual physical examination and was automatically grounded. According to The Times of London, a conservative newspaper owned by Rupert Murdoch, Mr. Bush’s campaign spokesman said he knew that he would be suspended if he missed that physical.

He never flew a military aircraft again (or not until his flight-suit photo op last spring, when he briefly took the controls of an S-3B Viking jet before landing on the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln). Instead, he left his Guard unit in Houston and went to Alabama to work in a Republican Senate campaign. He claims to have continued to serve in an Alabama Guard unit, but there is no evidence to support that assertion, and much contradictory evidence. The commanding officer of the Alabama Guard Unit told the Boston Globe that Mr. Bush never showed up for duty there. Nor is there any evidence that he sought duty in Vietnam.

In fact, there is considerable evidence that Mr. Bush skipped all duty for a full year, until April 1973. At that point, his two superior officers in Houston noted in writing in an official document: "Lt. Bush has not been observed at this unit during the period of this report." They erroneously believed that he had been completing his duty in Alabama. Yet he somehow received an honorable discharge eight months before he completed his six-year commitment so that he could begin attending Harvard Business School.

As the Globe noted, the "champagne unit" and others like it back then displayed "a tendency to excuse shirking by those with political connections."

So Mr. Bush’s claim that he "continued flying with my unit for the next several years" is an unabashed falsehood. Yet the spotty coverage of his military record in the mainstream press—aside from the Globe investigation and similar efforts in the Dallas Morning News and the Los Angeles Times—elided that lie. Compare his soft treatment with the media scourging of Bill Clinton, who was held accountable during the 1992 campaign for every word he uttered about his draft record.

What the Jennings episode validates is not Mr. Bush’s strange military career, but the Bush method of press management. Treat journalists like vassals, with nicknames, cheek-pinching and—whenever they forget their place momentarily—sneering disdain. It works brilliantly.

You may reach Joe Conason via email at: jconason@observer.com.


TOPICS: Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: bush43; bushmilitaryrecord; bushversuskerry; bushvkerry; deserter; electionpresident; joeconason; kerry; kerrysservicerecord; nationalguard
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1 posted on 01/31/2004 7:07:00 AM PST by billorites
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To: billorites

2 posted on 01/31/2004 7:09:12 AM PST by ChadGore (Bush 2004 HE'S EARNED IT)
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To: billorites
Conason..........Con man .......
3 posted on 01/31/2004 7:10:51 AM PST by litehaus
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To: billorites
Joe Conason, enough said.
4 posted on 01/31/2004 7:11:11 AM PST by mware
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To: ChadGore
Girly Man Joe Conason
5 posted on 01/31/2004 7:11:50 AM PST by UB355
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Comment #6 Removed by Moderator

To: billorites
Joe tells more lies than Bill Clinton and that is really hard to do. Juet yesterday Clinton said that the reason we did not find any WMD's in Iraq is because he destroyed them with his bombing in 98.
7 posted on 01/31/2004 7:15:09 AM PST by Piquaboy
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To: UB355
Of course, the "brilliant" Al Gore and his academic record are never commented on.
8 posted on 01/31/2004 7:15:10 AM PST by stylin_geek (Koffi: 0, G.W. Bush: (I lost count))
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To: billorites
"What the Jennings episode validates is not Mr. Bush’s strange military career, but the Bush method of press management. Treat journalists like vassals, with nicknames, cheek-pinching and—whenever they forget their place momentarily—sneering disdain. It works brilliantly."

Geez. Poor Conason. Completely bonkers at this point. I've heard that the screed masters in the media are just livid because President Bush treats them, well, like the scribblers they are and not Olympian gods.

The calumny about his military career has been hashed, rehashed and hash rehashed to death. This seems to be Kool-aid Joey's harump to self-soothe. I would suggest self-gratification instead. At least we wouldn't be subjected to his rants in print.

9 posted on 01/31/2004 7:15:37 AM PST by OpusatFR (Hillary's health care means culling the herd to keep down costs.)
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To: billorites
George W. Bush graduated from Yale in June 1968. After his father’s influential friends contacted Texas Air National Guard officials, they
awarded young George a safe berth in Houston’s famed "champagne unit," where sons of the Texas elite avoided Vietnam.
10 posted on 01/31/2004 7:16:10 AM PST by joesnuffy (Moderate Islam Is For Dilettantes)
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To: billorites
Kind of amazing how all of a sudden the very people who most loathe the military and everythig it represents are now so concerned about who served when and for how long and where and who is the most decorated vet and who is a bigger American Military War Hero With Cluster than George W.
11 posted on 01/31/2004 7:17:16 AM PST by RogueIsland
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To: RogueIsland
Where were these people in '92 and '96 when the draft dodger/aider and comforter to the enemy was running?

I'm not overwhelmed by Bush's military record, but it beats the previous "President"'s and GWB's 4 years as Commander in Chief cannot be disregarded.

12 posted on 01/31/2004 7:22:01 AM PST by Mr. Buzzcut
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To: billorites
Is there a credible, impartial, source for the entire story on the President's service record? We have all read these stories many times but, to date, I haven't seen anything satisfactory that clears up a troublesome record. Dismissing Conason because he's a common RAT and inveterate liar isn't enough and this will be a crucial point if ketchup boy gets tapped to run. I fully expect that pompous F'ing ass to show up someplace wearing tiger-stripe fatigues and a boonie hat. If Bush stays on the high-ground and won't engage him on the military service record, it simply looks worse.
13 posted on 01/31/2004 7:23:12 AM PST by WorkingClassFilth (DEFUND PBS & NPR - THE AMERICAN PRAVDA)
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To: billorites
According to Amazon.com, the quote "I continued flying with my unit for the next several years" appears ONLY in Conason's book, but does NOT appear in the book he claims to quote.

This is just another attempt by the Left to try to goad Bush into responding to these charges. Only if Bush were to comment, would the issue gain momentum. It will die on the vine, just like it did four years ago.

14 posted on 01/31/2004 7:23:16 AM PST by Pukin Dog (Sans Reproache)
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Comment #15 Removed by Moderator

To: FirstPrinciple
Are the charges true, or false? I have no information on this matter. Why go after the messenger when you should be refuting him?

If they were false they would be disputed. All I've seen are attacks on Joe, Bill, and Al so far.

16 posted on 01/31/2004 7:25:57 AM PST by steve50 ("There is Tranquility in Ignorance, but Servitude is its Partner.")
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To: billorites
Old news, we all know that the elites do not send their sons to fight and die in our wars. That job is left to the peasants.
17 posted on 01/31/2004 7:26:01 AM PST by jpsb (Nominated 1994 "Worst writer on the net")
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To: joesnuffy
George W. Bush graduated from Yale in June 1968. After his father’s influential friends contacted Texas Air National Guard officials, they awarded young George a safe berth in Houston’s famed "champagne unit," where sons of the Texas elite avoided Vietnam.

George H. W. Bush was a newly elected Republican congressman from Houston--a city in a state that was run entirely by Democrats. GHWB had no "influential friends."

The liberals always slant these stories to sound like GHWB was POTUS.

GWB did not protest the VN war a la Clinton and Kerry.

18 posted on 01/31/2004 7:27:49 AM PST by lonestar (Don't mess with Texas)
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To: ilosetoo
Do you have links or a direct copy of the NYT story cited in your post? A NYT story, far from bias and factual distortion, would still be the right tool to use in castrating any argument or assertions from the Left.
19 posted on 01/31/2004 7:30:57 AM PST by WorkingClassFilth (DEFUND PBS & NPR - THE AMERICAN PRAVDA)
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To: billorites
His very special treatment included instant admission to flight training and an extraordinary commission as a second lieutenant.

What's unusual about that ... he was a college graduate (Yale), he passed the required physical and qualified for flight training. His father in WWII (for a period of time) was the youngest aviator in the Navy ... a ensign (2nd Lt.) at age 19.

20 posted on 01/31/2004 7:32:40 AM PST by BluH2o
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To: billorites
Bush avoided active duty, but he did so honorably, unlike some we could name. Moreover, as a member of the National Guard he did take at least some risk of being called into active service, since once you get involved in the military nobody can predict for certain what will happen next. (Only in hindsight can you be sure of staying safely out of it.)

Bush seems to have been a manly young man and a capable pilot.
21 posted on 01/31/2004 7:34:14 AM PST by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
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To: WorkingClassFilth; steve50
This is a not a story, nobody wanted to gp to Vietnam, including me. The pwerful used the national guard others used medical and college deferments to avoid their duty. It was a very common practice. Bush's path to avoiding the war was more honorable then alot of elites. Look at Al Gore, he served but with an escort to keep him ut of harms way!

I wasn't so lucky or so well connected so I joined the Marine Corp, like my older brother before me. I Figured if was going to Vietnam may as well go the the best!

22 posted on 01/31/2004 7:35:46 AM PST by jpsb (Nominated 1994 "Worst writer on the net")
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To: joesnuffy
Flying the F-102 was anything but safe. It was considered one of the most dangerous planes to fly.
23 posted on 01/31/2004 7:36:23 AM PST by AHerald
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To: ilosetoo
Your post bears repeating:

Did President Bush "desert" the military, as radical filmmaker Michael Moore insists he did?

Presidential candidate Gen. Wesley Clark suggested during New Hampshire's presidential debate Thursday night that the facts of whether Bush ran out on his National Guard unit in 1972 and 1973 are in dispute.

But in the months before the 2000 presidential election, the New York Times pretty much demolished this Democratic Party urban legend, a myth that first surfaced in its sister paper, the Boston Globe.

"For a full year, there is no record that Bush showed up for the periodic drills required of part-time guardsmen," the Globe insisted in May 2000, in a report Mr. Moore currently cites on his web site to rebut ABC newsman Peter Jennings' debate challenge to Clark that the story is "unsupported by the facts."

"I don't know whether [Moore's desertion charge] is supported by the facts or not," Clark replied "I've never looked at it."

The Times did, however, look at it, and found that Bush had indeed served during the part of the time the Globe had him AWOL - and later made up whatever time he missed after requesting permission for the postponement.

In July 2000 the Times noted that Bush's chief accuser in the Globe report, retired Gen. William Turnipseed, had begun to back way from his story that Bush never appeared for service during the time in question.

"In a recent interview," said the Times, "[Turnipseed] took a tiny step back, saying, 'I don't think he did, but I wouldn't stake my life on it." In fact, military records obtained by the Times showed that Turnipseed was wrong and that the Globe had flubbed the story.

"A review by The Times showed that after a seven-month gap, he appeared for duty in late November 1972 at least through July 1973," the paper noted on Nov. 3, 2000.

The Times explained:

"On Sept. 5, 1972, Mr. Bush asked his Texas Air National Guard superiors for assignment to the 187th Tactical Recon Group in Montgomery [Alabama] 'for the months of September, October and November,'" so Bush could manage the Senate campaign of Republican Winton Blount.

"Capt. Kenneth K. Lott, chief of the personnel branch of the 187th Tactical Recon Group, told the Texas commanders that training in September had already occurred but that more training was scheduled for Oct. 7 and 8 and Nov. 4 and 5."

After the Bush AWOL story had percolated for months, Col. Turnipseed finally remembered another glitch in his story: the fact that National Guard regulations allowed Guard members to miss duty as long as it was made up within the same quarter.

And, in fact - according to the Times - that's what Bush did.

"A document in Mr. Bush's military records," the paper said, "showed credit for four days of duty ending Nov. 29 and for eight days ending Dec. 14, 1972, and, after he moved back to Houston, on dates in January, April and May."

The paper found corroboration for the document, noting, "The May dates correlated with orders sent to Mr. Bush at his Houston apartment on April 23, 1973, in which Sgt. Billy B. Lamar told Mr. Bush to report for active duty on May 1-3 and May 8-10."

Yet another document obtained by the Times blew the Bush AWOL story out of the water.

It showed that Mr. Bush served at various times from May 29, 1973, through July 30, 1973 - "a period of time questioned by The Globe," the Times sheepishly admitted.

24 posted on 01/31/2004 7:44:05 AM PST by DouglasKC
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To: ChadGore
Looking at the blue lettering in front of the air inlet, does it say "spittin' kittens".

Could it be part of early Viking kittens history??
25 posted on 01/31/2004 7:46:07 AM PST by sd-joe
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To: lonestar
I agree...
Vote Republican because they arent as bad as the other guys...
what other choice is there?
26 posted on 01/31/2004 7:46:38 AM PST by joesnuffy (Moderate Islam Is For Dilettantes)
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To: AHerald; joesnuffy
Flying the F-102 was anything but safe. It was considered one of the most dangerous planes to fly.

Which of course begs the question, joe, if Bush was a coward and wanted to aviod service in Vietnam, why didn't he use his contacts and get a SAFE job stateside, like pushing papers or, maybe, journalist?

27 posted on 01/31/2004 7:47:43 AM PST by TomB
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To: jpsb
I realize the things you say, but my concern is for the ability, at the grassroot level, to provide explanation and evidence of an honorable record. Make no mistake, if ketchup boy makes the cut, whatever boring recitations of his service record we suffer through now will only become worse. The entire hope of the RAT's is to field somebody that doesn't have the military-hating, draft-dodging, treasonous, socialist, traitor credentials of most RAT's written all over him. Mr. F'ing is the great white hope since he, at the least, has a service record. His other qualities can be manufactured at will by the sympathetic press.
28 posted on 01/31/2004 7:48:08 AM PST by WorkingClassFilth (DEFUND PBS & NPR - THE AMERICAN PRAVDA)
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To: RogueIsland
"Kind of amazing how all of a sudden the very people who most loathe the military and everythig it represents are now so concerned about who served when and for how long and where and who is the most decorated vet and who is a bigger American Military War Hero..."

You are abslutely right. This has been driving me nuts for a while now. The thing that makes me crazy is that, back in the day, they would have applauded anyone who avoided military service, now the left accuses them of cowardice, and they are NEVER challenged on this.

I'd like someone, anyone, to ask haughty, french-looking, John F'ing Kerry, of which he is more proud, his brave service in Viet Nam, or his craven anti-war activities afterward. He is really a guy who tries to have EVERYTHING BOTH WAYS. I can't imagine the roller-coaster ride he'd take the country on, if elected.
29 posted on 01/31/2004 7:49:25 AM PST by jocon307 ( The dems don't get it, the American people do.)
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To: AHerald
Being a fighter pilot -- for that matter, simply taking off in a single-engine jet fighter of the Century series, such as an F-102, or any of the military's other marvelous bricks with fins on them -- presented a man, on a perfectly sunny day, with more ways to get himself killed than his wife and children could imagine in their wildest fears.

-- Tom Wolfe, The Right Stuff.


30 posted on 01/31/2004 7:49:39 AM PST by dighton
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To: Pukin Dog
This overlooks the REALITY that George W. Bush is now, right now, as we speek, already prooven himself to be the greatest military leader of my lifetime.

From Kabul to Baghdad, he's defeated 2 of our declared enemies in the course of 18 months with an amazingly low casualty rate. From a military point of view, Bush doesn't have a single credible critic.

31 posted on 01/31/2004 7:51:50 AM PST by ChadGore (Bush 2004 HE'S EARNED IT)
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To: Cicero
My understanding is that many Air National Guard Units were called to service in Vietnam and that Bush had no way of knowing whether his would. I do not remember the source but it was a list of ANG units deployed to combat.
32 posted on 01/31/2004 7:52:08 AM PST by rmgatto (lux et veritas (not heat))
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To: dighton
Thanks for the post. Great quote.
33 posted on 01/31/2004 7:53:30 AM PST by AHerald
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To: joesnuffy
So what is the topic of discussion at DU today????
34 posted on 01/31/2004 7:55:37 AM PST by mware
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To: ilosetoo; All
ilosetoo,

Thank you for dealing with the facts. I'm so sick of the endless bashing and name calling here, when a simple recitation of facts settles permanantly, and shame whomever is lying.

The only thing lacking, however, is creditation for the article. Could you please post that? Then it could be used in further arguments.
35 posted on 01/31/2004 7:56:41 AM PST by Paul_B
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To: ChadGore
Also, who had the record of going around in "free fire zones" and killing anything that moved? Wasn't Bush.
36 posted on 01/31/2004 7:57:11 AM PST by smith288 (If terrorist hate George W. Bush, then he has my vote!)
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To: WorkingClassFilth
We have all read these stories many times but, to date, I haven't seen anything satisfactory that clears up a troublesome record

Try the NYT who investigated the story when the Boston Globe ran with the story. The Boston Globe issues a retraction after the NYT investigation.

37 posted on 01/31/2004 7:57:46 AM PST by mware
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To: dighton
Wonderful quote.

That puts the lie better than anything else to the "Bush is a coward" meme.

The same people who think that Bush had enough intelligence to exploit his "connections" to get out of the danger of going to Vietnam, only to climb into the cockpit of one of the most dangerous fighters in history are the same people think he was smart and devious enough to fool the entire world into believeing Iraq had WMD just so he could invade, only to forget to PLANT some to justify his war.

I think the proper term is "congitive dissonance".

38 posted on 01/31/2004 7:58:32 AM PST by TomB
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To: billorites
Conason called a Clinton buttboy by FReeper on Gloria Allred show -- CLICK.
39 posted on 01/31/2004 7:59:49 AM PST by doug from upland (Don't wait until it is too late to stop Hillary -- do something today!)
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To: mware
That's the story ilosetoo cites in his posts - just fishing for a link.
40 posted on 01/31/2004 8:01:12 AM PST by WorkingClassFilth (DEFUND PBS & NPR - THE AMERICAN PRAVDA)
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To: WorkingClassFilth
evidence of an honorable record

His honorable discharge is evidence of an honorable record.

41 posted on 01/31/2004 8:01:18 AM PST by TomB
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To: TomB
Which of course begs the question, joe, if Bush was a coward and wanted to aviod service in Vietnam, why didn't he use his contacts and get a SAFE job stateside, like pushing papers or, maybe, journalist

...or get a Fulbright Scholarship and go to Oxford, where he never got at degree. To top it off he could have protested the Vietnam War, in Moscow while the USSR was giving arms to North Vietnam.

42 posted on 01/31/2004 8:01:23 AM PST by mware
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To: billorites
None of this changes the fact that President Bush is 100 times the man that you will ever be Joe.
43 posted on 01/31/2004 8:01:45 AM PST by ItisaReligionofPeace (I'm from the government and I'm here to help.)
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To: WorkingClassFilth; All
The Real Military Record of George W. Bush: Not Heroic, but Not AWOL, Either
 
Bush 'Desertion' Charge Debunked

Was Bush "AWOL"?

44 posted on 01/31/2004 8:03:49 AM PST by backhoe (Just an old Keyboard Cowboy, ridin' the TrackBall into the Sunset...)
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To: WorkingClassFilth
I think Bush is toast. Kerry I think, won the Medal of Honor, a service record doesn't get any better then that. The fact that he opposed the war is not a big deal since very few supported LBJ's war that LBJ [spit] refused to fight to win. Even since Truman, we've stopped fighting wars to win them. Look at Iraq today, we should have 300,000 troops on the groud and they should be blowing away any and all resistance. War is not nice, war is about killing your enemy. Once the enemy is dead then you can be nice.

Anyway Bush is going to get ripped to pieces from the left over the budget deficet, jobs, trade and the Iraq war. He is going to get ripped to pieces from the right over new entitlements, pork barrel spending, CFR, pariot Act, NEA and amnesty. His militray record is the least of his worries.

45 posted on 01/31/2004 8:04:15 AM PST by jpsb (Nominated 1994 "Worst writer on the net")
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To: WorkingClassFilth
The Real Military Record of George W. Bush: Not Heroic, but Not AWOL, Either
 
Does this mean that Governor Bush was only what he claimed...an Air National Guard pilot who flew one of the hotest and demanding fighters of his era?
 
That says it all june 6, 1972 George Walker Bush suspended from flying for failing to take a physical-
 
http://www.freerepublic.com/forum/a39ea05224b3e.htm Read the full thread

46 posted on 01/31/2004 8:05:13 AM PST by Wolverine (A Concerned Citizen)
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To: joesnuffy
I agree...

Vote Republican because they arent as bad as the other guys... what other choice is there?

This article is "hogwash!"

I lived there at the time. The Texas National Guard stationed at Ellington was not/is not your typical NG. They guard the Gulf and the petrochemical plants along the Houston Ship channel.

47 posted on 01/31/2004 8:05:40 AM PST by lonestar (Don't mess with Texas)
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To: nutmeg
read later
48 posted on 01/31/2004 8:06:51 AM PST by nutmeg (Bush/Cheney 2004)
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To: jpsb
Kerry didn't just protest the war- he slandered his peers. Kerry was a hero and he threw that all away, and deserves none of the respect ordinarily accorded to veterans.

Maybe you forgot the Winter Soldier investigation fraud, but there are enough of us who haven't who will make sure that it all comes back to the forefront. Kerry's military history won't be a positive for him- it will end up being a negative from which he won't recover.

49 posted on 01/31/2004 8:06:54 AM PST by William McKinley
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To: jpsb
I think Bush is toast.

No, it's your crediblity that is toast.

Kerry I think, won the Medal of Honor, a service record doesn't get any better then that.

He won a bronze and silver star. Not even close to a Medal of Honor.

Really, if you can't get that simple fact right, how are we supposed to take anything you say seriously?

50 posted on 01/31/2004 8:08:15 AM PST by TomB
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