Tuesday, June 29, 2004

AWOL: The final analysis

My old Table Talk cohort Paul Lukasiak -- whose research skills are top-notch, and whose judgment I've learned to implicitly trust -- has examined all the officially released documents relating to George W. Bush's service records and has just released the following report:
Deserter: The Story of George W. Bush After He Quit the Air National Guard

Paul's piece most carefully examines the records that appear in Bush's records after he was transferred to the Air Personnel Reserve Center once he had failed to maintain his flight status:

An examination of the Bush military files within the context of US Statutory Law, Department of Defense regulations, and Air Force policies and procedures of that era lead to a single conclusion: George W. Bush was considered a deserter by the United States Air Force.

After Bush quit TXANG, he still had nine months of his six-year military commitment left to serve. As a result, Bush became a member of the Air Force Reserves and was transferred to the authority of the Air Reserve Personnel Center (ARPC) in Denver, Colorado. Because this was supposed to be a temporary assignment, ARPC had to review Bush's records to determine where he should ultimately be assigned. That examination would have led to three conclusions: That Bush had "failed to satisfactorily participate" as defined by United States law and Air Force policy, that TXANG could not account for Bush’s actions for an entire year, and that Bush's medical records were not up to date. Regardless of what actions ARPC contemplated when reviewing Bush's records, all options required that Bush be certified as physically fit to serve, or as unfit to serve. ARPC thus had to order Bush to get a physical examination, for which Bush did not show up. ARPC then designated Bush as AWOL and a "non-locatee" (i.e. a deserter) who had failed to satisfactorily participate in TXANG, and certified him for immediate induction through his local draft board. Once the Houston draft board got wind of the situation, strings were pulled; and documents were generated which directly contradict Air Force policy, and which were inconsistent with the rest of the records released by the White House.

Lukasiak also agrees with earlier reports that Bush's records were tampered with:
It is also clear that the Bush records were tampered with to hide this fact. Many documents were thrown out that should have been kept, and there is indisputable evidence that at least one key documents has been altered.

The documentary evidence also strongly suggests that when news of Bush's situation reached Texas, strings were pulled that resulted in Bush being "rehabilitated" in a manner completely inconsistent with Air Force policy.

The paper trail is incomplete, and in some cases ambiguous. But "clerical error" is not sufficient to explain the anomalies, because the level of "coincidence" required for a "clerical error" explanation is well beyond any rational possibility.

Paul has done yeoman's work on this. It appears Michael Moore's shot from the hip may have been on target after all. And it makes clear, irrevocably, that Bush's military record should be a scandal not merely for what it contains (or rather, doesn't) but because of the extent to which it has been tampered with and lied about in the past eight years or so.

[For handy reference, here is a post that contains links to most of my AWOL posts. Here and here are the most recent posts.]

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