Friday, July 09, 2004

COVER UP! - Pentagon says Bush National Guard records inadvertently destroyed

Yahoo! News - Pentagon says Bush National Guard records inadvertently destroyed: report: "Pentagon says Bush National Guard records inadvertently destroyed: report

Fri Jul 9, 9:39 AM ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Records that could help establish President George W. Bush 's whereabouts when he served in the Texas Air National Guard in 1972 were inadvertently destroyed, reports say.

As reported to the New York Times, the Pentagon said the payroll records stored in Denver, Colorado, of numerous guard members were destroyed in 1996 and 1997 "in a project to salvage deteriorating microfilm," adding that no back-up paper copies have been found.

The payroll records would have clarified whether Bush, who served in the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War, performed his duties in Alabama, as he claims, after he moved there in May 1972 to work on a political campaign for a year.

No other Guard member at the time remembers seeing him in Alabama, and Democrats accuse him of skirting his duties in national defense at a time when thousands of drafted Americans were serving in Viet Nam.

Bush's military records were called into question when he ran for president in 2000, and more intensly after he declared war on terrorism in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

The disclosure of the record destruction caught several experts investigating the matter off guard, said the daily, which says that no mention was made of the fact when White House officials in February released hundreds of pages of military records of Bush.

Those records include pay stubs for six days in October and November 1972, without saying where they were issued, and a dental examination at a Montgomery, Alabama, air base on January 6, 1973.

The New York Times and other news organizations had sought Bush's records from the Defense Department's Office of Freedom of Information and Security Review, whose chief C.Y. Talbott wrote back informing of the mishap.

"The Defense Finance and Accounting Service has advised of the inadvertent destruction of microfilm containing certain National Guard payroll records," Talbott wrote.

"In 1996 and 1997, DFAS engaged with limited success in a project to salvage deteriorating microfilm. During this process the microfilm payroll records of numerous service members were damaged, including from the first quarter of 1969 (January 1 to March 31) and the third quarter of 1972 (July 1 to September 30).

"President Bush's payroll records for these two quarters were among the records destroyed. Searches for backup paper copies of the missing records were unsuccessful," Talbott added.
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