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September 26, 2004

Note To Big Media on Bush AWOL: The Truth Is Out There

Another National Guard veteran who served with George Bush has stepped forward to vouch for the President, leading me once again to ask: why are the lamestream media unable (or perhaps unwilling?) to find these people? Could it be bias?

Day after day the media repeat the same two or three lame accusations, supported by the same two or three tired, old accusers. But voters only get one side of the story: the side the Kerry campaign wants you to hear. What ever happened to balanced reporting? Exculpatory evidence? There's plenty. Let's look at the accusations -- and the evidence you haven't seen:

1. Bush was a slacker who used his Daddy's influence to get into the Guard and avoid combat. He had no flying ability and shirked his duty:

Retired Colonel Ed Morrisey ought to know about Lt. George Bush: he swore the young National Guardsman in and observed his service firsthand (via Power Line):

"George W. went to pilot training, seated well, being selected to be a fighter pilot, which is at the top of the line in the Air Force selection process. Came back to train in the F-102 at Ellington. He stood alert like anyone else," says Colonel Morrisey.
According to Morrisey, then-Lieutenant Bush more than fulfilled his guard requirements.
Morrisey says in the six years the President served he never failed to meet participation point requirements.
"Bush averaged 176 per year. In no year did he have less that 50," says Morrisey. "He was rated by his commander, Col. Maurice Udell in the top 5 of his pilots."
One of the criticisms leveled at the President is that he sought guard service to keep him from serving in Vietnam.
Morrisey says, "not so."
"The Air Force, in their ultimate wisdom, assembled a group of 102's and took them to Southeast Asia. Bush volunteered to go. But he needed to have 500 [flight] hours, but he only had just over 300 hours so he wasn't eligible to go,” Morrisey recalls.
Despite that, Lieutenant Bush stayed busy.
"He flew in active air defense missions, training missions. Day, night, regardless of inclement weather," Morrisey says.
Colonel Morrisey assured us that to the best of his knowledge Lieutenant Bush was treated like any other officer in the Texas Air National Guard.

Perhaps the media declined to interview Morrisey because he's just another bitter, partisan hack. Like Bill Burkett, for instance...it's so refreshing to see the same standard applied even-handedly, isn't it?

Morrisey says he considers himself to be more of a Libertarian than Republican or Democrat. Nonetheless, Morrisey says he is voting for George Bush come election day.

And then there's Bush's roommate, Major Dean A. Roome. Hardly a household word like Burkett (now discredited) or Turnipseed (an Alzheimer's sufferer misquoted by the Boston Globe), mainstays of the Bush AWOL story. Surely it didn't take the investigative talents of Woodward and Bernstein to unearth Major Roome's story:

"He was one of my favorite people to ride formation with, because he was smooth. He was a very competent pilot," Roome said. "You sort of bet your life on each other in some of those formation missions, and to me it was always a pleasure to fly with George. He was good."
Bush logged more than 625 hours in the cockpit and ranked in the top 10 percent of his squadron, according to his performance evaluations.
"They're saying we're all a bunch of privileged draft dodgers, and that we got in there to get out of Vietnam," Roome said. "But that's not the case. In our unit, we had an average of two people overseas in the Vietnam theater continuously from 1968 to 1970." He says he and other Guard pilots did combat support missions as part of a program codenamed "Palace Alert Southeast Asia."
He recalls Bush and another lieutenant volunteering for the program. "When I left for it, I told him he ought to look into it, and George was interested in it, because he and (ret. Lt. Col. Fred) Bradley went and saw the colonel and inquired about it," Roome said. But they were too late. The program was winding down and not accepting any more volunteers, and Bush didn't have enough flight time to qualify anyway. By July 1970, the overseas F-102 program had been canceled altogether, Roome says.

The accounts of Morrisey and Roome are corroborated by a third officer, Colonel William Campenelli:

A pilot program using ANG volunteer pilots in F-102s (called Palace Alert) was scrapped quickly after the airplane proved to be unsuitable to the war effort. Ironically, Lt. Bush did inquire about this program but was advised by an ANG supervisor (Maj. Maurice Udell, retired) that he did not have the desired experience (500 hours) at the time and that the program was winding down and not accepting more volunteers.
"Lieutenant Bush is an outstanding young pilot and officer and is a credit to his unit," Lt. Col. Bobby Hodges wrote on May 27, 1971. "This officer is rated in the upper 10 percent of his contemporaries." Another, written by Maj. William Harris on May 26, 1972, was just as glowing: "Lieutenant Bush is an exceptional fighter interceptor pilot and officer."

But Bush was obviously just a snotty rich kid - of course his officer buds would stick up for him. I'll bet he was a real jerk around enlisted men... always throwing his weight around. Former Staff Sergeant Dan Liles:

...wonders why previous Bush campaigns didn't trumpet his exemplary flying record. "I was surprised when he ran for president that his flying record didn't come out," he said, "because it was pretty good." Liles, who also doubts "any rules were bent" for Bush, says the young Ivy League officer never acted like he was better than anyone else in the squadron. "He was one of the few officers out there who would let you walk along beside him. Most officers, you'd have to walk five feet behind them out on the flight line," Liles said. "But Bush wasn't like that. He was probably the nicest guy out there."

2. Bush went AWOL during the last year of his Guard service:

Several bloggers have analyzed his drill records here, here, and here and have found nothing remarkable. The media, astonishingly ignorant about even active duty military matters, are really lost at sea when it comes to understanding Reserve drill requirements. But surely investigative journalists could scare up a Reservist or two with admin experience to help them interpret these records?

And then there are the eyewitnesses who remember seeing Lt. Bush:

Captain Ed reports that Air Force Sgt. James Copeland, saw George W. Bush report for drill at Dannelly Air National Guard Base in Montgomery, AL during the period CBS and Democrats claim he was AWOL:

Copeland, who lives in Hartselle, retired from the Air Force on Jan. 31, 1980. He was the disbursement accounting supervisor, a full-time position, for Dannelly Air National Guard Base in Montgomery from Oct. 28, 1971, to Oct. 27, 1975. His office was less than 100 yards from the hangar where Bush performed drills.
Rumors say Bush went AWOL while assisting Winton "Red" Blount in an unsuccessful campaign for U.S. Senate focus on 1972 and 1973.

Moreover, Copeland disputes the DNC's smear that Bush levereged his privileged background:

"Maybe the Bush family was well known in Texas, but we didn't know who he was here. He was just another guy in a flight jacket," Copeland said Sunday.

Copeland's account is important, because it corroborates the account of another eyewitness, Lt. Col. John Calhoun:

Copeland, 65, remembers meeting Bush on two occasions. He does not remember the precise dates. On one occasion, Copeland said, Bush and Lt. Col. John "Bill" Calhoun came to Copeland's office with a question about Bush's pay. Copeland is not sure, but he believes the question had to do with where to mail Bush's checks.
Copeland stressed that Calhoun's account of Bush's service in Montgomery would be accurate because Calhoun was in a position to work with Bush during every drill. Calhoun told The Associated Press last week that he saw Bush every drill time, which was one weekend each month.
Not only was Calhoun in a position to know of Bush's service, Copeland said, but Calhoun "was an ethical and honest officer."

Via Bill Hobbs

Calhoun came forward back in February to say he remembered seeing Bush report for drill:

"The truth is George Bush came to Alabama. He asked for weekend drills with us. He was assigned to me," said Calhoun, who was in Florida on Friday for this weekend's Daytona 500 festivities.
"He showed up. He sat in my office. He signed in," Calhoun said. "He was very determined to be there. He was in uniform and he did what he was supposed to do." Calhoun recalled he thought the young lieutenant was "fairly low key" though Bush told him he had been "working day and night" on Blount's Senate campaign. Calhoun asked Bush if he had political ambition. "He said, 'I don't know. Maybe.' "
Calhoun said he sometimes grabbed a sandwich with Bush in the snack bar. Other times, the young pilot would sit on a couch and read flight magazines and training manuals.

A third eyewitness also places the young Bush in the area. Emily Wills Curtis remembers seeing him, too - several times:

"He called to tell me he was coming back to finish up his National Guard duty," said Mrs. Curtis, who now lives in New Orleans. "I can say categorically he was there, and that's why he came back."

She said that he rented an apartment for a two-week stay and that she met him for dinner several times.

"I didn't see him go to work. I didn't see him come home from work," she said. "He told me that was why he was in Montgomery. There is no other reason why he would come back to Montgomery."

Kevin Drum has a sighting too:

Joe LeFevers, a member of the 187th in 1972, said he remembers seeing Bush in unit offices and being told that Bush was in Montgomery to work on Blount's campaign.
"I was going in the orderly room over there one day, and they said, 'This is Lt. Bush,'" LeFevers said Tuesday. "They pointed him out to me ... the reason I remember it is because I associate him with Red Blount."


Is anyone else starting to see a pattern here? In each case, several witnesses have come forth independently, giving the same story and corroborating the same version of events. Personally I question the timing.

Fortunately, the media are not as gullible as the pajamahadeen: that's why they're the pros. They continue to report the misquotation of William Turnipseed, a man with Alzheimer's disease, who says he wasn't even on the base, and therefore could not be sure whether or not George Bush attended drill, as "proof" he was AWOL. And they continue to run the word of a Democratic partisan with a history of mental problems, a man who once swore under oath he did not use improper influence to help Bush get into the Guard, a man who has been implicated in the handling of forged documents, as a credible source. That's why we need to keep news coverage out of the hands of the hoi-polloi, folks.

3. Bush disobeyed orders to report for drill and to take a flight physical:

But in an interview, Turnipseed states that Robinson's reporting of their conversation was either distorted or based upon his misunderstanding of how the military functioned at the time of Bush's service. For Bush to be "AWOL" or "away without leave," he would have had to have been assigned to a unit and under its command.
Turnipseed states Bush was never ordered to report to the Alabama Air National Guard. He points out that Bush never transferred from the Texas Air National Guard to the Alabama Air National Guard. He remained in the Texas Guard during his stay in Alabama. This was confirmed by the Texas Guard. And Turnipseed added that Bush was never under his command or any other officer in the Alabama Guard.
Turnipseed added that Bush was informed of the drill schedule of the Alabama Guard as a courtesy so he could get credit for drills while in Alabama for his service record in the Texas Guard. There was no compulsory attendance.This was also confirmed by the Texas Guard.

Lt. Col. Campenelli addresses the charge that Bush defied an "order" to take a flight physical:

Another frequent charge is that, as a member of the Texas ANG, Lt. Bush twice ignored or disobeyed lawful orders, first by refusing to report for a required physical in the year when drug testing first became part of the exam, and second by failing to report for duty at the disciplinary unit in Colorado to which he had been ordered. Well, here are the facts:
First, there is no instance of Lt. Bush disobeying lawful orders in reporting for a physical, as none would be given. Pilots are scheduled for their annual flight physicals in their birth month during that month's weekend drill assembly — the only time the clinic is open. In the Reserves, it is not uncommon to miss this deadline by a month or so for a variety of reasons: The clinic is closed that month for special training; the individual is out of town on civilian business; etc.
If so, the pilot is grounded temporarily until he completes the physical. Also, the formal drug testing program was not instituted by the Air Force until the 1980s and is done randomly by lot, not as a special part of a flight physical, when one easily could abstain from drug use because of its date certain. Blood work is done, but to ensure a healthy pilot, not confront a drug user.
Second, there was no such thing as a "disciplinary unit in Colorado" to which Lt. Bush had been ordered. The Air Reserve Personnel Center in Denver is a repository of the paperwork for those no longer assigned to a specific unit, such as retirees and transferees. Mine is there now, so I guess I'm "being disciplined." These "disciplinary units" just don't exist. Any discipline, if required, is handled within the local squadron, group or wing, administratively or judicially. Had there been such an infraction or court-martial action, there would be a record and a reflection in Lt. Bush's performance review and personnel folder. None exists, as was confirmed in The Washington Post in 2000.

Baldilocks finds Campenelli's view of events is supported by her own Reserve experience:

In my reserve incarnation, I was an Aeromedical Services Technician (non-flying), whose primary peacetime purpose was to perform the paraprofessional portion of the physical exam to flying personnel. That entails, hearing exams, vision exams, vitals, blood work, immunizations, other stuff, and, most pertinent to this subject, scheduling the exams.
So I know the colonel’s part about the physicals to be true. We had pilots (and other flight crew) miss physicals all the time, due to a whole range of reasons (like not being on flying status for whatever reason, as was the case with Lt. Bush). The only thing that will happen to them is that they will be grounded, as Col. Campenni says. Not a big deal for a pilot with no aircraft to fly in.
Also, I remember when the random drug test was instituted. At the onset of the new drug-testing policy, they tested everyone in the Air Force. That was the only time in which the test wasn’t random. The implementation of the new policy occurred nine months after I joined the active duty Air Force, in 1981.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again:

You got nothing. And the mainstream media should be ashamed for its unprofessional and unethical failure to investigate this matter honestly and fairly. Its one-sided coverage of this story amounts to little more than a mindless parroting of Terry McAuliffe's latest talking points.

Media lackwits like Tina Brown have been condescending and needlessly insulting to bloggers... oh, excuse me...Web charlatans:

You'd think "Buckhead," who first spotted the flaws in the documents, is the cyberworld's Woodward and Bernstein. Now the conventional wisdom is that the media will be kept honest and decent by an army of incorruptible amateur gumshoes. In fact, cyberspace is populated by a coalition of political obsessives and pundits on speed who get it wrong as much as they get it right. It's just that they type so much they are bound to nail a story from time to time.

(In other words, we're more fun than a barrel of monkeys banging on typewriters. Thanks for the warm fuzzy, Tina.)

Seems to this web charletan that if a ragtag group of amateurs armed with modems and laptops can find the news in smalltown newspapers and radio stations, it's not too much to expect that professional journalists, with the vast resources of corporate media behind them, might be expected do us one better. The truth is out there

99% of the game is showing up, guys.

- Cassandra

September 26, 2004 at 10:09 AM | Permalink

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Comments

This dog won't hunt, but the MSM is so bitter at the President that their credibility is destroyed.I DO wish that the Media would focus even 1 tenth of the effort expended thus far into investigating ANOTHER Lt.'s Reserve committment----Lt.jg Kerry.Why was his record pack sealed? Why was he not given an Honorable Discharge until 2001? His Reserve committment ended in 1972. Was his first discharge "other than honorable"?Did Slick Willie upgrade JFK2's discharge in the pardon frenzy of January 2001?

I know it's too late to set the junior Senator from Mass. straight, but I'll try anyway.You pissed off the wrong people when you defamed us Vets, and now your attempt to curry votes at the DNC and beyond was your undoing. We will never forget what you said, we'll never forget what you did.

Greg

Posted by: Greg at Sep 26, 2004 11:05:25 AM

Let me be the *first* to ask:
Is Pile On AWOL this weekend at 'Jet Noise'?

Seriously, reading the Sunday paper in my fair city, brought a few humorous notes of irony to my attention. When nationally syndicated columnist David Broder thought to write about media integrity, aka Dan Rather, of course he had to lead off the article with a paragraph questioning the factual nature of the 'Swift Boat Vets'. Really? Are they working for a major network? What about Kitty Kelley, or Michael Moore? What about the factual nature of their work? Oh, they aren't MSM, are they?
Another nationally syndicated column on a different subject in a different part of the paper also managed to work in a swipe at the 'Swift Boat Vets'. Imagine. What a coincindence.

Last night at 'Allahpundit' and 'Politburo Diktat' I read of the NY Times article about blog writers and the scandal around Dan Rather (again?).Who was mentioned and quoted? Instapundit? Bill INDC? Powerline? LGF?
No. Daily KOS, Wonkette. Imagine.

Face it. They (the MSM, kids) have an agenda, and Cass, your posting is just more evidence of that. What was that phrase? "The Truth is Out There". Yeah, way out there somewhere.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at Sep 26, 2004 11:15:02 AM

Don, Pile had some family business to attend to this weekend. He should be back eventually.

Posted by: Cassandra at Sep 26, 2004 11:19:34 AM

I guess Greg is onboard.
But Cass, how do we get this information out to the great uninformed in the next 5 weeks? Doesn't any body have pictures of Peter Jennings in drag?

Posted by: spd rdr at Sep 26, 2004 11:21:42 AM

Yeah, I think there there are a few in the drawer in my nightstand...

He looks really hot in that little French maid outfit.

Posted by: Cassandra at Sep 26, 2004 11:36:44 AM

Ohhh... smell the damage.. as you lay down the seer's smackdown on the media :)

They better listen to you this time.... last time they didn't listen right a kingdom went down .....

Posted by: LarryConley at Sep 26, 2004 11:54:54 AM

I dunno Larry - I posted a lot of this stuff back in February and it had....zero effect. But I'll cross-post this time at Mudville and see if anyone notices :)

Probably not. But I'm a quixotic soul with a taste for pain.

Posted by: Cassandra at Sep 26, 2004 12:01:10 PM

Just a funny aside here. I work at Ellington Field, TX., and the TANG folks there are not happy campers that the "Ace in the Hole" group is being portrayed as some kind of Happy-Bottom Flying Club by Danny boy and company.


Greg

Posted by: Greg at Sep 26, 2004 12:38:27 PM

First off "Greg" posts simultaneously with me and makes me second, then Pile On is AWOL all weekend from Jet Noise. I mean really! "Family business" indeed! He needs a laptop with WiFi access, and to get his priorities straight!
I mean! spd rdr can go ground flying in his 911! but he still posted a couple of times today!!!
(OK I'm out of exclamation points).

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at Sep 26, 2004 7:29:23 PM

Don, sorry to disappoint, I try not to let you down very often. I was on an important mission. I can't talk too much about it but I can say it involved a couple of sharp dressed navy men, taps and a flag. Oh, and hours sitting in an airport because some VIP's I was to pick up missed a connecting flight due to weather.

You know what sucks about all the new security at airports? No? Well then let me tell you, if you are not a ticketed passenger you can't get to the bar because they are all inside security. Fortunately I know of a secret train that runs to a Marriot Hotel where there is a bar and tv's with football games on.

That was a close one.

Posted by: Pile On® at Sep 26, 2004 8:16:23 PM

Glad you're back, from wherever. It was getting kind of 'too serious' in here for a while. I can tell from Cass's writing when she starts to get a little mopy, especially when you aren't around to snark it up a little bit.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at Sep 26, 2004 8:28:55 PM

Lemme get this straight: A bunch of blogging monkeys banging randomly on they keyboard will type out the story of the century?

No wonder the left is in trouble. They still believe in evolution and use that as an excuse
for their own ineptitude.

Posted by: La Femme Crickita at Sep 27, 2004 10:44:00 AM

Geez Don, I had 3 days of migraines. Give me a break.

Posted by: Cassandra at Sep 27, 2004 10:55:50 AM

Check out link to Mudville Gazette

http://www.mudvillegazette.com/archives/001423.html

See Posted Comments:

Lt George W. Bush.....The Real Story

Analysis of CBS Documents

Posted by: Dean A. Roome at Oct 7, 2004 11:07:22 PM