MISSING NATIONAL GUARD RECORDS….Several weeks ago the Associated Press filed a Freedom of Information request demanding access to the original microfilm of President Bush’s National Guard records. Yesterday, AP’s Matt Kelley turned up the heat by filing a story that explains exactly why the FOIA request was filed:
Documents that should have been written to explain gaps in President Bush’s Texas Air National Guard service are missing from the military records released about his service in 1972 and 1973, according to regulations and outside experts.
….Records of Bush’s service have significant gaps, starting in 1972. Bush has said he left Texas that year to work on the unsuccessful Senate campaign in Alabama of family friend Winton Blount.
This has been a major part of the National Guard story practically since the beginning. There are a large number of documents that should be in Bush’s files that aren’t, and Lt. Colonel Bill Burkett, who worked at the Austin headquarters of the Texas Air National Guard in the 1990s, has charged that Bush’s files were “cleansed” by TANG officers after Bush was elected governor in 1994.
This is a fairly long and convoluted story, but if you want to catch up on the whole thing you can read my lengthy interview with Burkett here and a lengthy analysis of Burkett’s credibility here (including interviews with a couple of other participants in this story).
Bottom line: Burkett’s story is largely credible (though obviously not proven); the number of missing documents from Bush’s file is suspicious; and it’s possible that even if some documents were purged from Bush’s paper file in Austin they might still be recorded on the microfilm records made in the 70s and 80s. AP’s request is a legitimate one, and hopefully the microfilm records will be made available to them before the election. After all, Bush is proud of his service in the Guard, right?