Military Records

When there was a mini-flareup last week of Kerry’s military record, I speculated that “Kerry just might have a litttle Brer Rabbit in him, and the Republicans were kind enough to toss him right into the briar patch.” We’ll see if the issue gets anymore traction this time around in the mainstream press, but a Salon story today reminds us that much remains unknown about Bush’s National Guard service, and the lack thereof:

Taking away a pilot’s wings was not a minor decision. During the course of investigating this matter over the past decade, I was told by numerous Guard sources that pilots simply did not skip their physicals for any reason. Bush may have thought this was a good strategy for getting out of his obligation to the Guard. However, there had to be an investigation into his grounding. Normally, a formal board of inquiry would have been convened to examine the pilot’s failure to keep his physical status current. At a minimum, a commanding officer would have been expected to write a narrative report on why one of his pilots had been taken off the flight duty roster. Either that report, or the findings of the board of inquiry, would then be sent to the Air Reserve Personnel Center in Denver and to the Texas Guard headquarters in Austin. A pilot simply did not walk away from all of that training with two years remaining on his tour of duty without a formal explanation as to what happened and why. This narrative report is the document the public has never seen and the Bush White House is unlikely to ever release. Disciplinary action taken against Bush ought to be a part of his personnel record. No such files have ever been disclosed.

When the Bush campaign began pressuring Sen. John Kerry to release his complete military file, Bartlett spoke as though Bush were occupying the moral high ground on the issue. “The president made a pledge before the American people, and he made his complete file available to the media and the public,” Bartlett told the Boston Globe. “They were able to review all of his medical records.” Bartlett, who acted as liaison between Gov. Bush’s administration and the Texas Guard, has insisted all of the president’s service points documents, performance sheets, and any existing records have been made public. This is, of course, patently not true. There is nothing that offers a report of disciplinary action against the young pilot, nor has anyone seen pay stubs or a total retirement-points sheet.

While visiting Salon, put on your tinfoil hat and check out this story as well.