Just Above Sunset
July 11, 2004 - Yes, they're not even pretending to be serious anymore.

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Two weeks ago here, and in Just Above Sunset, Rick, the News Guy in Atlanta, and I kicked around ideas concerning the Associated Press’ recent suit seeking access to all records of Bush's military service during the Vietnam War.


You see, the AP sued the Pentagon - as The Air National Guard of the United States, a federal entity, has control of the microfilm in question, which the AP said should be disclosed in its entirety under the Freedom of Information Act, or so the lawsuit says. ( See June 27, 2004: The news media wakes up and starts doing its job? for the whole thing. )

Last week on the daily web log and in Just Above Sunset, Rick, the News Guy in Atlanta, and I also kicked around ideas around about how the government now claims they cannot make copies of computer files for the public because it’s just too tricky.  Might lose the data forever.  Yep.  Sure.  (See Your government at work... hoping there are some things you won't notice for that exchange.)

Now this – from the New York Times, Friday, June 9th….

Pentagon Says Bush Records of Service Were Destroyed
Ralph Blumenthal, The New York Times, July 9, 2004


HOUSTON, July 8 - 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 disclosure appeared to catch some experts, both pro-Bush and con, by surprise. Even the retired lieutenant colonel who studied Mr. Bush's records for the White House, Albert C. Lloyd of Austin, said it came as news to him.

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.


Interesting.  They just found out?  No one knew?

The Times quotes from the Pentagon letter -"The Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) has advised of the inadvertent destruction of microfilm containing certain National Guard payroll records. In 1996 and 1997, DFAS engaged with limited success in a project to salvage deteriorating microfilm. During this process the microfilm payroll records of numerous service members were damaged, including from the first quarter of 1969 (Jan. 1 to March 31) and the third quarter of 1972 (July 1 to Sept. 30). President Bush's payroll records for these two quarters were among the records destroyed. Searches for backup paper copies of the missing records were unsuccessful."


But the best part of the letter seems to be where the Pentagon says they will answer no questions at all about this – because you’ll only get answers to any questions you might have if you file another Freedom of Information application.

Go away.  Don’t ask.  Just go away.

And these guys just remembered NOW that seven or eight years ago they’d lost this bunch of stuff?

The Times does mention that there was no mention at all of this “loss” when White House officials released hundreds of pages of the President's military records last February – and that was when the White House was in the middle of that big nasty scrum to deal with all those accusations that Bush was AWOL for a time during his commitment to fly the dangerous skies over Texas, Arkansas and Alabama in the Air National Guard as an alternative to flying over in Vietnam. He didn't even want to scoot around over Little Rock or Birmingham?

The Times called Dan Bartlett, the White House communications director about this "loss" of the microfilm that might have settled the matter, twice. Bartlett didn’t return the calls.

Hey, why would he? What's to say?

Yes, these guys not even pretending to be serious anymore. They were trying to salvage the microfilm and something went wrong – Rosemary Wood was working on it that day?



And Rick points out the Times does mention that there was no mention at all of this "loss" when White House officials released hundreds of pages of the President's military records last February.


Smells to me like this fact, in itself, could be reason to officially suspect a cover-up, something a special prosecutor might be able to ferret out.


Some smart and brave congresspersons should start pushing for one right now.


The president’s party controls both houses of congress.  Not likely.


But yes, they used to investigate such things – missing taping recordings and such.


Not this time.


And accidents do happen.  To these particular files and no others, at this particular time?  Perhaps George Bush is just one lucky guy.


Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
The inclusion of any text from others is quotation
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