More AWOL Coverage

From Holden:

The Boston Globe says Bush failed to meet his military commitments throughout his truncated tour in the National Guard:

On July 30, 1973, shortly before he moved from Houston to Cambridge, Bush signed a document that declared, “It is my responsibility to locate and be assigned to another Reserve forces unit or mobilization augmentation position. If I fail to do so, I am subject to involuntary order to active duty for up to 24 months. …” Under Guard regulations, Bush had 60 days to locate a new unit.

But Bush never signed up with a Boston-area unit. In 1999, Bush spokesman Dan Bartlett told The Washington Post that Bush finished his six-year commitment at a Boston area Air Force Reserve unit after he left Houston. Not so, Bartlett now concedes. “I must have misspoke,” Bartlett, who is now the White House communications director, said in a recent interview.


The re-examination of Bush’s records by the Globe, along with interviews with military specialists who have reviewed regulations from that era, show Bush’s attendance at required training drills was so irregular his superiors could have disciplined him or ordered him to active duty in 1972, 1973 or 1974.

But they did neither. In fact, Bush’s unit certified in late 1973 that his service had been “satisfactory” — just four months after Bush’s commanding officer wrote that Bush had not been seen at his unit for the previous 12 months.

Even retired Lt. Col. Albert Lloyd Jr., a former Texas Air National Guard personnel chief who vouched for Bush at the White House’s request in February, agreed that Bush walked away from his obligation to join a Reserve unit in the Boston area when he moved to Cambridge in September 1973.

By not joining a unit in Massachusetts, Lloyd said last month, 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.

Lawrence J. Korb, an assistant secretary of defense for manpower and reserve affairs in the Reagan administration, said after studying many of the documents that it is clear to him that Bush ”gamed the system.” And he agreed with Lloyd that Bush was not alone in doing so. ”If I cheat on my income tax and don’t get caught, I’m still cheating on my income tax,” Korb said.

After his own review, Korb said Bush could have been ordered to active duty for missing more than 10 percent of his required drills in any given year. Bush, according to the records, fell shy of that obligation in two successive fiscal years.

This issue should have been fully examined prior to the 2000 election. Hell, it should have been examined prior to Poppy’s 1988 campaign. As a pro-war Congressman during the Vietnam era he should have been why he arranged for his namesake son to enter the Guard and why that son failed to show. And somehow I don’t think the “everybody was doing it” defense is good enough for a War Preznit.

Perhaps the tipping point will come tonight.