Saturday, July 24, 2004

What Bush's records reveal

The bizarre spin emerging over the recent release of a portion of George W. Bush's military records has to leave anyone who's followed the story closely shaking their head. Just how is it, exactly, that the failure to dispel an iota of the suspicion that Bush was absent without leave for at least three months, and likely more, somehow prove that he was fulfilling his duty? It's probably the first time in recent memory that a complete lack of evidence has been cited as evidence. Newspeak, anyone?

Worst of all, once again, is the role the press is playing as the transmitter of these false memes. But then, that's largely what's happened all along.

Fortunately, a handful of dogged researchers are doing the press' work and combing through the documents that have been released. Among these is my old Table Talk chum Paul Lukasiak, who many of you will recall recently released the first of his reports for The AWOL Project on what's actually contained in Bush's records.

Now he's issued the second, and it's well worth checking out:
FRAUD: The Secrets of Bush's Payroll Records Revealed

Like the first report, it's thorough and detailed. What's significant about this report is that Lukasiak has managed to decode the lines of data at the bottom of Bush's records, data that was at first thought to be incomprehensible but which in fact contains significant information about Bush's conduct in the military.

Here's the summary:
An examination of George W. Bush's payroll records lead to the conclusion that Bush consciously and deliberately defrauded the United States government for pay and "points" to which he was not entitled. The White House probably doesn't even know that the payroll records include the data necessary to prove fraud -- the proof is found in the "incomprehensible" lines of data at the bottom of the payroll records.

Lieutenant Bush was required to attend scheduled monthly training with his Texas Air National Guard unit, or perform "substitute training" instead. However, under Air Force policy, advance authorization was required for "substitute training", and this training could be done no more than 15 days before his unit met for the scheduled mandatory training. The payroll records show that, during his last year as a member of the Texas Air National Guard, fraud was involved in over 40% of the pay Bush received that was credited toward mandatory monthly training. Bush was paid for, and received "point credit" for "substitute training" more than 15 days before the corresponding scheduled training for five separate weekends of mandatory training.

Moreover, without advance authorization, Bush could not be paid or credited with any "training" he claims to have performed in Alabama.

Yet the payroll records are completely inconsistent with Bush having received advance authorization for the "substitute training" supposedly done in Alabama. If training had been authorized, paychecks would have been issued no more than five weeks after the training had been done. Instead, it took an average of seven weeks (and as much as nine weeks) for pay to be processed.

Other documents in the Bush files provide additional evidence that the training that Bush was paid for in Alabama was never properly authorized. And the statements made by officers of the Alabama Air National Guard also confirm that Bush did not get the authorization necessary from Alabama for him to be paid and credited with training.

Finally, the White House has never released any of the paperwork that could show that this training was approved in advance, or that the training was actually accomplished. Additional circumstantial evidence strongly suggests that none of the training done in Alabama was properly authorized. When the evidence is considered as a whole, the obvious conclusion is that this paperwork never existed, and that Bush was paid for training that he never performed.

The last sentence, incidentally, may be a touch strong -- I'd probably call it the "most logical" conclusion or something along those lines. Otherwise, this is another strong contribution to what we know about Bush's records.

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