The dog ate it

Where’s the outrage? It borders on criminal conspiracy.

Military records that could help establish President Bush’s whereabouts during his disputed service in the Texas Air National Guard more than 30 years ago have been inadvertently destroyed, according to the Pentagon.

It said the payroll records of “numerous service members,” including former First Lt. Bush, had been ruined in 1996 and 1997 by the Defense Finance and Accounting Service during a project to salvage deteriorating microfilm. No back-up paper copies could be found, it added in notices dated June 25.

The destroyed records cover three months of a period in 1972 and 1973 when Mr. Bush’s claims of service in Alabama are in question….

The loss was announced by the Defense Department’s Office of Freedom of Information and Security Review in letters to The New York Times and other news organizations that for nearly half a year have sought Mr. Bush’s complete service file under the open-records law.

There was no mention of the loss, for example, when White House officials released hundreds of pages of the President’s military records last February in an effort to stem Democratic accusations that he was “AWOL” for a time during his commitment to fly at home in the Air National Guard during the Vietnam War.

How come we let him get away with this? Can anyone read this and conclude Bush doesn’t have something to hide?

The Discussion: 22 Comments

ruined in 1996 and 1997

It’s Clinton’s fault.

July 9, 2004 @ 10:31 am | Comment

Indeed. As one of my favorite bumper stickers reads…
“Blame Clinton. Its easier than thinking.”

July 9, 2004 @ 2:16 pm | Comment

…a project to salvage deteriorating microfilm…

According to commentators on Daily Kos, microfilm does not deteriorate, which, oddly enough, is why it is widely used as an archival medium.

Or, to be more precise, there are various types of microfilm, and the type used for archiving is thought to last for five hundred years.

July 9, 2004 @ 3:20 pm | Comment

I’m afraid we all know the truth here, and we have no choice but to face the fact that our president’s a deserting, lying scoundrel protected by powers that none of us can overcome, no matter how much we blog or protest. Incriminating evidence can simply disappear; it’s such a blatant lie all we can do is laugh. What else can we do? Aside from vote the bastards out of office….

July 9, 2004 @ 3:27 pm | Comment

Now if I could only file my taxes requesting full repayment with a little note stating that all supporting documentation was destroyed mysteriously during work to try and salvage damaged microfiche.

July 9, 2004 @ 9:12 pm | Comment

Or just maybe this was just another example of the military’s handling of records? In my own case, my files were destroyed in a fire in 1976 in St. Louis. What of the backup copies? They were in the same warehouse. It was more efficient to store all the records in one place. Apparently, no one considered the possibility of fire or other natural disaster occurring.

I am constantly amazed at those who repeatedly denigrate Bush’s intelligience and then credit him with something as brilliant as destroying his pay records years before he decided to run for President. An absolutely brilliant moron??? Wow who’d have thunk it?

The Bush haters are as bad as the Clinton haters (are they the same people with a new target?) I swear if either man personally discovered a cure for cancer, the haters would complain about all the specialists that would be out of work.

July 10, 2004 @ 8:10 am | Comment

Jim, you may be right, but I seriously doubt it. The microfilm vanished in a most suspicious manner, and there’s not a shred of paper about it. Based on circumstantial evidence, I have to find Bush guilty, if only because it fits a distinct pattern — he has manipulated data and suppressed information in the past, more than any past president. Sadly, this seems consistent, just one more example of how Bush can never be held to accountability.

About this being an example of Bush being “smart”: the smart part was performed as always by Bush underlings, just the way the smart part of winning Florida was done by Jim Baker and others. Bush, as usual, stood on the sidelines (maybe he was reading My Pet Goat). Bush doesn’t have a smart bone in his body — cunning, vicious, at times smooth and charming, but I’ve never seen anything resembling smart.

July 10, 2004 @ 1:02 pm | Comment

I am amused by Jim’s assertion that Bush couldn’t have destroyed the records in 1996-97 because back then Clinton was the president. Obviously he didn’t notice the implication here that the whole thing, dates and all, is a lie. This failure to notice details (and indeed, the whole point of an argument) is typical of Bush-supporter.

Saddam and Al Queda = best buddies, right, Jim?

July 10, 2004 @ 2:01 pm | Comment

Richard, underestimating Bush is a good way to see him re-elected. He has many issues to be called to account on, but the AWOL thing is a side issue. If one considers it relevant, than Kerry’s actions from the same time period come into play. Do you really want to see photos of Kerry shaking hands with the N Viet Namese Min of Def at a time when that country was killing GI’s – especially when Kery was still in the reserves? Theres more than enough vitriol on both sides to turn this into the mother of all pissing contests. Meanwhile, the little issues of foreign policy, current economic conditions and the future course of this country get pushed to the back burner.
I would concede that this theory is possible – but I have little faith in the numerous conspiracy theories floating around. And I have never fallen for the lack of evidence is proof the conspiracy exists logic. It too quickly gets into Illuminati, Grassy Knoll, Tri-Lateral Commission, etc etc Sometimes the truth is simply that people sometimes do very clumsy and stupid things.
I would also be careful of seizing on this issue just from the standpoint of having it blow up in one’s face – at the worst possible time. I recall during the 2000 campaign that there was a book detailing Ws’ use and dealing of cocaine. It listed times and places and was touted as being the absolute end of W. The hoopla went on for several weeks until it built to a peak – and then it turned out to be total BS. The publisher not only cancelled publication, but also apologized. I have always had my suspicions that this was a clever tactic by Bush to kill speculatuion about his past drug use. Of course, it was widely proclaimed it was a smear tactic by the Dems.
So…getting back OT. The evidence – either way – is not convincing. It could also be argued that some Bush-haters in the Pentagon did this to make him look bad. Or any other scenario one wishes to concoct. Meanwhile we sit here chasing squirrels out of the garden while the house is being robbed.

July 11, 2004 @ 11:36 am | Comment

Agree with your initial premise that underestimating Bush could help him get re-elected. Same with Cheney. By setting the bar so low by claiming in advance that they will get slaughtered in the debates, we pave the way for them being acclaimed if they come out even barely alive.

If you look at the Bush family history, you will see that the manipulation and disappearance of key documentation is a tactic they’ve used for three generations. That’s a matter of fact. So I don’t believe this was anything aside from blatant trickery on the pat of the Bush contingent. And just about everyone sees it as that, even you, I suspect.

The only reason the AWOL thing got so much attention is that Bush went after Kerry and his medals and other aspects of his experience in Vietnam. Bush made himself fair game on this one, having drawn first blood. And I don’t think it’ll blow up in the Dems’ face, because I truly do believe he was AWOL. (At worst, it would blow up in the media’s face, as I don’t think Kerry or Edwards have ever made the AWOL accusation.)

About missing documents and other Bush dirty tricks, I’ll try to put up a separate post on this soon. I just finished a book by a real authority, not an Al Franken or Michael Moore-type propagandist, that goes into these trick with calm and intelligence. And evidence. Bush is a scary, dangerous man. Perhaps well intentioned and sincere, but dangerous nonetheless. It will take more than his proving he wasn’t AWOL to restore his credibility after Iraq and his other miserable failures.

July 11, 2004 @ 12:11 pm | Comment

I am deeply suspicious of the “convenience” of these documemnts. But that may be due to an even deeper cynicism towards all politicians. I was just as suspicious of Hilalry’s records missing for 2 years. But absent anything more than circumnstance and suspicion – gave her the benefit of the doubt. I was also very reluctant to call the First Lady a liar or perjurer. Call me old fashioned.
Kerry did refer to Bush being AWOL. I do not recall who was doing the interview, but he was being hammered on his anti-war activities and he made a comment to the effect that he at lease served in Viet Nam instead of going AWOL. Even with this, I believe he could rightly claim that he was merely going by media reports. Although only God knows why people trust mainstream media any more.
Do you really believe Bush is any more or less underhanded than any other politician? A truly sad question, but valid – ???? I am also interested in that book. Will be anxiously awaiting your post on it.
Choosing between Bush, Kerry and Nader is not exactly the political highlight of our history. I wish Clinton (either Bill or Hilary) was in this. At least they coyuld make things interesting and fire people up – both for and against.

July 11, 2004 @ 4:17 pm | Comment

I was suspicious about Hillary’s documents as well — but hey, she came up with them!

Yes, I believe Bush is more underhanded than your average politician. Far more. Incredibly more. I am in amazement that you don’t see that, but I don’t think I will sway you, so let’s forego the debate, okay? It won’t get us anywhere.

I do want to suggest, since you say you are open-minded and I believe you, that you buy a copy of Kevin Phillips’ American Dynasty. He was a Republican and a strategist for Richard Nixon, and is more of a historian than a political muckracker. He is highly respected by many Republicans and Democrats. I’m planning to post about this book soon, except it’s so astounding, so replete with examples of the family’s penchant toward secrecy, covert operations, missing documents and lies that I’m afraid posting about it will be exhausting. So please, read it, then come back and we can debate. I finished it last night, and I am in a mild state if shock. I knew next to nothing about the Bush dynasty before, and the answers are all right here in this book.

July 11, 2004 @ 4:33 pm | Comment

I will be reading the book you suggested. Sounds very compelling.
I may come to agree with you on Bush. My problem would still be who to vote for. I cannot stand Kerry – never could. Goes back to the whole anti-war thing. He’s a male Jane Fonda. Nader is a parasitic granstander. Doesn’t leave much choice. This is not going to be a pleasant time to vote. Gotta vote tho.

July 11, 2004 @ 9:41 pm | Comment

Please listen: I had serious problems myself with Kerry. Then I really listened to the guy, did some research, got to really understand how his fellow vets feel about him (not those who never served with him but dishonestly claim to be his war comrades), and finally, I saw him with my own eyes. The guy’s a class act, and he’s brilliant. Not perfect, not Clinton or Edwards in terms of charisma. But he’s real. And he has a history of sacrifice and courage, not drunkenness, failure and love of the covert. I appreciate your considering reading the book — it’s not an easy read, but boy, you will never look at Bush the same way again. Take care.

July 11, 2004 @ 9:49 pm | Comment

I personally saw and heard Kerry claim to have witnessed “numerous” (his words) atrocities committed on a “regular and routine basis” (Again his words) He now says he never said he personally saw these things but was relying on what he considered reliable testimony. I know this to be a lie. I come from a military family – many of whom served in Viet Nam. Kerry’s lies have caused a great deal of pain to Nam vets. I was anti-war, but never as radical about it as Kerry. I cannot vote for Kerry. I have refrained from the Kerry bashing because I have too much emotional involvement. This just makes for rants and the fact ignoring screeds all too common in todays’s political scene. One more is totally unneccessary.

To me the most important issue in this election is national security. Right or wrong, we are in a battle. We cannot quit or let up. The only way is to go thru to the end. Bush will do that.

This is getting seriously OT.

July 12, 2004 @ 1:18 pm | Comment

Yes, anyone who has any actual experience dealing with government agencies can read this not believe it is part of a consipracy. I just learned on Friday that the US Securities and Exchange Commission has lost 145 boxes of documents provided to them by one of my clients one month ago in connection with an investigation. No explanation, certainly no apology and they don’t seem to be the least bit surprised.

There is at least one certain in this world about government — they fuck up. Where government is concerned, never attribute to conspiracy what can be explained by simple ineptitude.

July 12, 2004 @ 10:00 pm | Comment

Well gentlement, this may turn out to be exactly what the Pentagon claimed. Check the Biased BBC link at Instapundit. Apparently this was all reported back in Feb – and BBC reports it happened in 96.

Richard, did Hilary really come up with the REAL records. If that had been Bush, everyone would have raised hell about forged documents.

Conrad – have they sent you the letter asking for copies….in ten days?

July 12, 2004 @ 11:33 pm | Comment


Yep, They’re demanding replacements by month end.

July 13, 2004 @ 8:37 pm | Comment

Richard, did Hilary really come up with the REAL records. If that had been Bush, everyone would have raised hell about forged documents.

Come on, Jim — the media was incredibly merciless toward Bill and Hillary. They were under the microscope 24/7. The media would never, ever have the balls to call a document a forgery unless they had plenty of scientific evidence to back up the claim. Do you know of any such case where the media accused any officeholder — Republican or Democrat — of forgery without evidence to prove it? Please, I respect your point of view, but don’t make frivolous statements like that if you can’t back them up. I never heard any responsible journalist assert that Hillary’s documents were forged — and they tried to get her with everything they had.

About proof the Pentagon really destroyed the microfilm — I haven’t seen anything about this yet but will keep an open mind. I’m suspicious as hell, but I am always willing to listen to intelligent arguments backed up by evidence.

July 13, 2004 @ 8:53 pm | Comment

Apparently I failed to make myself clear ( I do that with some regularity) I am not claiming or even suggesting that Hilary’s records were not authentic. I merely point out that had Bush’s records disappeared and re-appeared under similar circumstances the Moore’s of the world would have had a field day with it. There were in fact several people who claimed the records were doctored (Limbaugh, etc) but without any supporting evidence, and easily dismissed as partisan ranting. My question was not meant as an accusation but as an observation and point of thought.

July 15, 2004 @ 7:32 pm | Comment

PS I have American Dynasty on order from the Library. Should be here in a few days.

July 15, 2004 @ 7:34 pm | Comment


About American Dynasty — remember, it’s not an easy read, but it’s mind-blowing. I’m very glad you’re going to read it!

July 15, 2004 @ 7:37 pm | Comment

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