Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Lying with impunity

I know it's well past time to move on regarding George Bush's National Guard records, thanks to CBS' contamination of the story in the public's mind.

But it is well worth noting that Team Bush now is so confident that the public has been officially bamboozled they will openly and publicly lie on the record about Bush's service.

In fact, the White House officially uttered a naked falsehood today in response to continuing questions about those National Guard records:
The answers also addressed why Bush skipped a required physical in the summer of 1972, prompting the termination of his pilot status. "The president was transferring to Alabama to perform equivalent duty in a non-flying capacity, making a flight physical unnecessary," the White House said.

This is simply and transparently false. It is not merely misleading; it falsifies just what Bush's obligations were. It also falsifies the facts of the sequence of events.

Bush was in fact suspended for failure to take a physical on Aug. 1, 1972. This fact has never been in dispute. What no one has discussed, of course, is the very fact of a suspension is a serious black mark on any military pilot's record.

Bush did not even apply to transfer to the unit for which he was approved until Sept. 5. It specifically applies for only a three-month transfer to non-flying status.

Bush's transfer to Alabama was approved Sept. 15. Again, it was only for the three-month period requested, and specifically notes: "Lieutenant Bush will not be able to satisfy his flight requirements with our group."

You see, Bush was expected to return to flying duty in Texas once the Alabama duty was complete, because that was what he had signed up for. Even if Bush was transferring temporarily to non-flying status, he was required to maintain his flight status at all times. This is standard military-pilot regulation. Skipping a physical is not an option.

As Paul Lukasiak has pointed out:
The first explanation given by the Bush campaign back in 2000 was that he didn't get the physical because he was in Alabama and his family physician was in Texas. When it was pointed out that only Air Force flight surgeons could administer a flight physical, the Bush campaign came up with a new excuse -- Bush didn't take the physical because there were no planes for him to fly in Alabama.

This, of course, is pure balderdash, because maintaining one's flight status was a requirement of Bush's Air Force Specialty Code (AFSC), which is Air Force jargon for "his job." Even if Bush couldn't do his job temporarily for some reason, he was still required to maintain his flight status. Bush had only two choices, either accomplish the physical, or ask for a new job that did not require flight status.

The White House's contention that the Alabama transfer "made a physical unnecessary" is simply and nakedly false.

The only scenario under which the physical would have been unnecessary were if Bush had applied for a waiver of his commitment and transfer of duties. In fact, Bush did not apply for such a discharge or transfer of duties until Sept. 5, 1973 -- more than a full year after his suspension. At no time in that year did he ever seek to reinstate his flight status. Nor, evidently, did he ever show back up at Ellington Air Force Base in Texas.

It is worth noting that Bush had in fact applied for temporary transfer to an Alabama unit for which he was not eligible (and had been informed of this ineligibility by his superiors) on May 26, 1972. Headquarters officially disallowed the request on July 31. Dan Bartlett, Bush's spokesman, has argued that he was in contact with his superiors the whole time and was proceeding on their approval. But it is simply not conceivable that any officer would have recommended Bush skip his physical, particularly not under the circumstances of a temporary transfer. So it is almost certainly not a coincidence that a day after the HQ denial, Bush was suspended.

Now, we've also heard a great deal about claims that Bush, before he stopped flying in April 1972, logged heavy hours of pilot service. This is ulimately, however, irrelevant. What is relevant is this:

When Bush signed up with the Texas Air National Guard, he signed a commitment to fly jets for a total of 72 months.

He flew, in fact, for a total of 40 months, including his training.

In other words, Bush fulfilled only a little more than half of his sworn commitment.

That should speak for itself.

UPDATE: Remember how every right-wing blogger on the planet was certain that those CBS documents were produced on a word processor? Turns out that, according to at least one respected forensicist, they were made by a typewriter after all. Hmm. [Thanks to the Ox and Mary Schumacher at Table Talk.]

No comments: