NATIONAL GUARD ROUNDUP….Here’s a roundup of the latest on the National Guard stuff. I gotta tell you, it’s starting to get hard to keep track of everything ? which may be either a good sign or a bad one. Here we go:
Walter Robinson of the Boston Globe, who originally broke this story in 2000, writes today that the White House plans to release records showing Bush’s attendance at drills in 1972 and 1973. He’s apparently talking about the ARF service records I posted about last night, so there’s nothing really new here.
The Washington Post has reported that the Department of Defense has requested Bush payroll records from “a DOD archive in Colorado.”
Only payroll records? And why is DOD involved in this?
The main archive for military records is in St. Louis, and last night KMOV in St. Louis reported that Bush’s records have been removed:
For more than three decades those records have been locked away at the Federal Military Records Center in Overland. The center director tells News 4 that the records were removed from a vault at that facility just a few days ago and sent to the National Guard headquarters at the Pentagon in Washington.
….Those files may contain rosters and sign in sheets indicating his service. President Bush told NBC he would authorize the release of some documents to show he did serve in Alabama.
I don’t know what to make of this. Removed? Or is it simply that copies were made and sent to the Pentagon? Is this related to the request for payroll records?
Josh Marshall has the transcript of the press corps grilling Scott McClellan about this today. It’s not really possible to adequately summarize it, but basically McClellan says that payroll records are coming soon, he doesn’t know anything more, and all will be revealed later today. So stay tuned.
This is all pretty confusing and we’ll just have to wait and see how it pans out. In the meantime, I have a few comments.
First, payroll records alone are simply not enough. If Bush wants to put this controversy to rest, he needs to commit to opening up his complete record. So far he appears to hedging mightily on this.
Second, many of these documents have been available for years. It’s just that no one ever thought to look for them. Bob Fertik of Democrats.com (not associated with the Democratic Party) got copies of the ARF attendance records back in 2000 via a FOIA request, something that any reporter could have done as well. Bob has a long post about all this here.
Finally, the reason this is all controversial is because the existing record is both fragmentary and contradictory, a toxic combination that inevitably leads to lots of speculation as well as some outright conspiracy theorizing. A little Googling will show you what I mean.
My advice: don’t go there. A bit of speculation is OK, but stay away from the wilder stuff. At the same time, there’s also no reason to blindly accept whatever White House spin Dan Bartlett places on these documents.
There are at least two good reasons to be skeptical about Bush’s story: (1) some of it simply doesn’t add up and (2) he has refused to release his entire military record. Considering the trouble it’s causing, why would he do that unless there were something awfully embarrassing in there?
Bottom line: if Bush’s story is really true, he can put a stop to all this speculation instantly by simply ordering all the relevant archives to release his entire record, warts and all. Why won’t he?