Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Putting the AWOL baby to bed

Like Frankenstein's monster, the Bush was AWOL cries have been resurrected by the Lefties. Today's cry came with the news that the Pentagon has discovered more of Bush's missing records.

Out of an abundance of caution," the government "searched a file that had been preserved in spite of this policy" and found the Bush records, the letter said. "The Department of Defense (news - web sites) regrets this oversight during the previous search efforts
I can already hear the Lefties screaming about how suspicious this is. What they fail to realize is that the Dept. of Defense is a massive bureaucracy with tons, literally, of old records that are semi-organized at best. The fact that they find bits and pieces of 30 year old records here and there is quite plausible. I have often thought if our ordnance reserves got low we could just bundle up many of these old papers and drop them in a pinch.

The spectacularly neutral and unbiased team from the Boston Globe weighs in:
He didn't meet the commitments, or face the punishment, the records show.
I beg to differ. So does Byron York in his article in the National Review. In this article, he quotes retired Brigadier General William Turnipseed on a variety of points. Here is something that I think is particularly ignored, on both sides of this debate quite frankly.
Turnipseed, the former head of the 187th Tactical Reconnaissance Group of the Alabama Air National Guard, was widely quoted as saying he never saw Bush in Alabama in 1972, and if the future president had been there, he would remember. In fact, Turnipseed says, he doesn't recall whether Bush was there or not; the young flier, then a complete unknown in Alabama, was never part of the 900-man 187th, so Turnipseed wouldn't have had much reason to notice him. But most reporters haven't been interested in Turnipseed's best recollection. "They don't understand the Guard, they don't want to understand the Guard, and they hate Bush," he says. "So when I say, ‘There's a good possibility that Bush showed up,' why would they put that in their articles?"

This is an extremely relevant point. People who have never served in the military don't understand how Guard service works. Its not a day to day job. You just have to meet certain points requirements to fulfill your obligation. If your unit is satisfied that you met your requirements, that is the bottom line. Commanding officers have enormus latitude in the administration of their units, which is another point people don't realize.
The Globe article also says:
Twice during his Guard service -- first when he joined in May 1968, and again before he transferred out of his unit in mid-1973 to attend Harvard Business School -- Bush signed documents pledging to meet training commitments or face a punitive call-up to active duty

Unfortunately these letters are not unique. I can guarantee you that every man in Bush's unit had one of these letters in their records. The point of that letter is twofold. One is to make sure that if the member shirks his commitment and is prosecuted, he cant use the "well I didnt know the ramifications" defense. Secondly it is to make sure the member understands the possible outcomes of missing service. The critics have tried to paint this routine piece of paperwork as some sort of threat to Bush because of unsatisfactory performance. If you read the actual paperwork, it specifically words the consequences that "may" happen. Again, the unit CO has discretion.
The Globe article goes on to say:
Since the Globe first reported Bush's spotty attendance record in May 2000, no one has come forward with any credible recollection of having witnessed Bush performing guard service in Alabama or after he returned to Houston in 1973
No one except for:
...retired Lt. Col. John “Bill” Calhoun, unit's flight safety officer who told the Associated Press in February that he saw Bush “every drill period” ; Joe LeFevers, another member of the 187th, who told The Birmingham News that he remembered seeing Bush on base and remembered Bush because of his political job at the time on a U.S. Senate campaign; Joe Holcombe, who worked with Bush on the Blount campaign and told a local paper that he remembers Bush missing at least one campaign meeting because of his National Guard drills; James Anderson, who was a physician for the Montgomery-based 187th Tactical Reconnaissance Group, who recalls performing a routine examination on Bush at Dannelly Air National Guard base in 1972; and Emily Marks Curtis, who dated Bush while he worked on the 1972 Senate campaign of Winton "Red" Blount, and who told a local paper that Bush had talked of going to Guard duty on the weekends
as pointed out by Jim Geraghty at the National Review.

The Globe wunderkind Globe Spotlight Team would have you believe that Bush committed some egregious violation of the ANG regulations by not signing up with a unit in Boston in the waning months of his commitment. But in their own article they quote retired Colonel Albert C. Lloyd, Jr who said:
Bush ''took a chance that he could be called up for active duty. But the war was winding down, and he probably knew that the Air Force was not enforcing the penalty."
But Lloyd said that singling out Bush for criticism is unfair. ''There were hundreds of guys like him who did the same thing," he said.

Colonel Lloyd also has this to say in York's National review article:
The record clearly shows that First Lieutenant George W. Bush has satisfactory years for both '72-'73 and '73-'74, which proves that he completed his military obligation in a satisfactory manner."
Retired Colonel William Campenni, who flew with Bush in Texas, said:
"In 1972, there was an enormous glut of pilots," says Campenni. "The Vietnam War was winding down, and the Air Force was putting pilots in desk jobs. In '72 or '73, if you were a pilot, active or Guard, and you had an obligation and wanted to get out, no problem. In fact, you were helping them solve their problem.

One more point that must be addressed is that of Bush being grounded for missing a flight physical. Again, the Lefties grossly misrepresent the seriousness of this event. I can almost hear them in whispering in conspiratorial little whispers, "Did you know Bushitler missed a medical exam and got grounded?".

The fact of the matter is that is SOP for any military aviator. If you miss your yearly flight physical, you are automatically not in flight status anymore until you have that exam. You may have to explain to your CO why you missed your exam, especially if it causes you to miss training time, but beyond that, it is minor.

Finally, McQ over at QandO points out:
All that to say that techinically Bush could never have been charged with either AWOL or desertion under the UCMJ since when the alleged occurrances took place, he wasn't serving the federal authority and thus wasn't even subject to the UCMJ.
Before I finish, let me point one more thing out. The team from the Boston Globe werent the only ones weighing in. Predictably, we have a member of NYT's team follow the Globe's lead, except Mr. Kristof feels since he is writing an editorial, journalistic rules of integrity dont apply and he can write
Does this disqualify Mr. Bush from being commander in chief? No. But it should disqualify the Bush campaign from sliming the military service of a rival who still carries shrapnel from Vietnam in his thigh.
I have half a mind to email Mr Kristof and lay down a $100 dollar wager on his ability to find a statement from the Bush Campaign sliming Kerry' military service. The fact is that Bush and his team has studiously avoided smearing his military service. Too bad the Kerry campaign and company don't have the same compunctions about sliming someone's military service.

I thought Kerry and his acolytes wanted to talk about the issues. I find this hard to believe, given the constant reiteration of what is clearly a non-issue.