web counter Media Lies: CBS News investigates Bush

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

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CBS News investigates Bush

I applaud CBS News for investigating President Bush's National Guard service. I look forward to their investigation into John Kerry's Navy service as well. ;-)

It seems CBS' researchers have turned up some previously unknown personal memos from Col. Jerry Killian, Mr. Bush's squadron commander in Texas. These memos make it appear that there may have been some pressure applied to allow Bush to participate in a political campaign in Alabama while avoiding required Guard duty as well as his annual physical. (I can't say that I'd be surprised if that were true, and Bush wouldn't be the first, or only one, to have received special favors while in the service. Ahem...)

CBS also interviewed Ben Barnes, a former Lt. Governor of the state of Texas, and a wealthy Kerry supporter and contributor. It seems Barnes has now had an attack of conscience about all the young men he helped get in the Guard to avoid duty in Vietnam. Apparently walking by the Wall stirred something deep in him.

I'm not sure why Barnes is having this attack of conscience now though. Barnes told Dan Rather that this was "the first time" he had ever been interviewed about this issue and that he "just wanted to tell the truth." An interesting statement given his many previous interviews.......or perhaps these were all off the record - Dallas Morning News - 1999, WaPo - 1999, Wapo - 1999, WaPo -2000.

According to a story in WaPo (and you know that has to be true!)
"Mr. Barnes was contacted by Sid Adger and asked to recommend George W. Bush for a pilot position with the Air National Guard. Barnes called Gen. (James) Rose (Texas Air Guard commander) and did so," the statement said.

"Neither Congressman Bush nor any other member of the Bush family asked Barnes' help. Barnes has no knowledge that Governor Bush or President Bush knew of Barnes' recommendation," the statement said.
So what exactly did Barnes have to do with Bush getting in the Guard?

We may never know, because the man Barnes claims approached him about it, Sidney Adger, is dead and so is the man Barnes claims he called, Gen. Rose. However, there is a contradictory record that calls into question Barnes' statements. Oddly enough, it is one of Barnes' own aides at the time, who recalls them helping get people in the Guard, but not Bush. Speaking under oath in court
Kralj, an Austin lobbyist, testified that Barnes and one of his assistants, sometimes passed on to him names of people wanting to get into the Guard;

Kralj was a member of the Texas Air National Guard and an assistant to the late Gen. James Rose, head of the Texas Air National Guard. Kralj testified that he turned the names over to the general but did not know whether they were accepted.

Kralj also said that he couldn't recall any of the names but that Bush's was not among them.

"I guess the bottom line here we want is that I did not help George Bush Sr. or George Bush Jr. get in the National Guard," he said during questioning by Levine.

Pressed further, Kralj said, "I didn't do it because I think that it would have been something that I would have remembered. He was a United States congressman. It would have been his son. I think I would have recalled something of that."
Strange that CBS News seemed unaware of Mr. Kralj. I'm pretty sure their research department is bigger than mine. :-)

That agrees with what his commanding officer, Brig. Gen. Staudt, who says
"The commander who interviewed and accepted him into the Guard has said that anyone who alleges there was special treatment is, quote, `a damned liar.' "

Walter B. "Buck" Staudt, a retired brigadier general who was Bush's commanding officer in the Guard, repeatedly denied any influence was involved.

"Neither his daddy nor anybody else got him into the Guard," he told the Los Angeles Times.
Of course, the story that his daddy got him in the Guard isn't going to die simply because the facts refute it. In fact today, Greg Palast reports, again, that Bush paid off Barnes to keep him from revealing that Bush Sr. got his son in the Guard. Never mind that Barnes, under oath in Texas court, states the contrary.

You can find what appears to be a fairly objective treatment of the facts of his service here. The one thing they seem to have missed was the details of Lt. Col. Turnipseed's statements regarding his service in Alabama.

The Dallas Morning News also investigated this issue and reported
Research by The News has shown there were two or three pilot vacancies in the 147th when Mr. Bush applied - before losing his student deferment from the draft.

Although thousands of people were waiting for Guard slots around the country, Gen. Staudt said that Mr. Bush got in because he was willing to undertake the yearlong training and time-consuming duty as a pilot.
All in all, it appears that Bush got in to the Guard on his own merits, with no help from anyone. After serving for four years in Texas and greatly exceeding the required hours, he moved to Alabama, perhaps with some influence from someone (his dad? the man he campaigned for?) and was honorably discharged after five years and some four months in the Guard.

Now that we settled that, what about John Kerry's records?

UPDATE: I probably should have included Col. Campenni's comments regarding Bush's Guard service. The Colonel was interviewed on a local radio station (KLIF) this evening, and had much to say about the Boston Globe "expose" that was published today. What it boils down to is that they don't know how to count. Guard service years span the time from your enlistment to 12 months from then (in Bush's case, May to May), not the calendar year the Globe used. It would help if reporters would get at least one clue about the military before writing about us. Campeeni also addressed the issue of whether or not Bush would have had to report for duty in Massachusetts (No) and whether he was actually in Alabama (yes - per Sgt. Copeland, Joe Holcombe and John "Bill" Calhoun.