Thursday, September 09, 2004

Bush's Service Record Made-Up

BOSTON GLOBE - In August 1973, President Bush's superior officer in the Texas Air National Guard wrote a memorandum complaining that the commanding general wanted him to "sugar coat" an annual officer evaluation for First Lieutenant Bush, even though Bush had not been at the base for the year in question, according to new documents obtained and broadcast last night by CBS News.

The commander, the late Lieutenant Colonel Jerry B. Killian, wrote that he turned aside the suggestion from Brigadier General Walter B. Staudt, Bush's political mentor in the Guard. But he and another officer agreed to "backdate" a report -- evidently the evaluation -- in which they did not rate him at all. There is such a report in Bush's file, dated May 2, 1973.

"I'll backdate but won't rate," Killian apparently wrote in what is labeled a "memo to file." Initials that appear to be Killian's are on the memo, but not his name or unit letterhead.

The August 1973 document, dated as Bush was preparing to leave Texas to attend the Harvard Business School, represents the first apparent evidence of an attempt to embellish Bush's service record as his time in the Guard neared its end.

The four pages of documents also contain an August 1972 order from Killian, suspending Bush from flying status for "failure to perform" up to US Air Force and Texas Air National Guard standards and failing to take his annual flight physical. The suspension came three months after Killian had ordered Bush to take his physical, on May 14, 1972.

The documents also contain what appears to be Killian's memo of a meeting he had with Bush in May 1972, at which they discussed the option of Bush skipping his military drills for the following six months while he worked on a US Senate campaign in Alabama. During that meeting, Killian wrote that he reminded Bush "of our investment in him and his commitment."

CBS, on its Evening News and in an in-depth report on "60 Minutes," said it obtained the documents from Killian's "personal files." Anchorman Dan Rather reported that the White House did not dispute the authenticity of the documents and said the network had used document authorities to verify their authenticity.

The disclosures by CBS follow a report in yesterday's Globe that Bush signed documents in 1968 and in 1973 promising to fulfill specific training requirements or face a punitive order to active duty. The records examined by the Globe, and verified by several former military officers, show that Bush did not meet his commitments. Nor was he penalized.

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