Air National Guard Commanding Officer Alleges Bush Military Records Cleansing
SUBJ: Military Records of George W. Bush - Clarification Bill L. Burkett LTC (ret)
Within the morning press reports in the London Sunday Times and other publications, I am stated to have alleged that the staff of George W. Bush doctored [the key term] the military files of George W. Bush in whatever attempt to cover his military record.
Let me answer questions about my responses within a chronological pattern:
Was this politically motivated and coordinated with the Gore Campaign?
No. Not whatsoever. In no way did any member of the Gore Campaign or any election official, Republican or Democrat know my comments. My observations were responses to questions of how the file was developed; disseminated under the Freedom of information Act (FOIA) and what was missing within the files which would resolve the question of satisfactory participation. These were my personal responses to the asked questions that were not sanctioned by anyone, nor shared with anyone. They were made on the basis of my 28 year career, my working experience within the senior staff at the Texas National Guard headquarters and my knowledge of the operational procedures of the US military including the subject of personnel files of retired or discharged soldiers and airmen.
Why, do you believe, you were contacted?
Question 3 will background how this occurred which should be self-explanatory. The context of the DUI story indicated the mishandling or failure to fully disclose a past criminal record of Governor Bush. I believe that the military record and the irregularities that point to a possible extended period of nonperformance and early release may have also indicated a pattern of lack of full disclosure by the Governor and his campaign. This issue of military records had been highly visible on at least two previous occasions within the campaign, however, Senator Kerrey as an honored and decorated SEAL most recently focused on this issue within the last ten days I would guess that within the eleventh hour and following the revelation of the DUI story, the media and voters were waiting for the next shoe to drop. This issue may have been viewed as the next shoe.
In June of 1998 and with the full and personal knowledge of Dan Bartlett and the Governor, I reported problems of force structure, readiness operational efficiency personnel and procedures within the Texas National Guard. At that time, and periodically thereafter, I have been in contact with various [audio, video and print]news writers and publishers. In 1998, I provided sufficient detailed information including documentation of severe irregularities within the Governors own chain of command in an effort to correct those deficiencies which I believe undermined the Texas National Guard and in some cases broke the law.
How did your reference in this story develop?
I contacted a website that outlined the Governor's personal military career irregularities and suggested that there were two official documents that would resolve the issue of satisfactory and honorable service. Suddenly on Friday afternoon, my telephone became barraged with media calls and messages including those who had known of my previous whistleblowing but had failed report it. I explained my background and personal observations to each of them in minute detail, often repeating the entire process for clarity. I was extremely careful not to point an accusing finger, but rather shape a question which could resolve this allegation of integrity that had clouded the Bush campaign since June of 1999 - the issue of his personal military service.
Did you allege that the governor's staff doctored the records?
No, instead I stated that the way this had been handled by the Bush staff including knowledgeable military officials at the Texas national guard, that it left the implication that the Bush staff had first incompetently provided an incomplete military file for the Governor which was consistent with his autobiography. I further observed that they probably did not anticipate that the file would be scrutinized to the level that it was. Whenever someone determined holes is service big enough to drive a Mack truck through additional information [all of which was unofficial and some in pencil notations] were then submitted to the press to answer questions. I further observed this "Trust me, I'm the Governor" approach had worked throughout Texas for George W. Bush within his tenure and the media had give the Governor a free pass without the same scrutiny as the Vice President until the eleventh hour revelation of the DUI. But this still left the basic question - Why didn't Governor Bush simply release his military pay files and retirement points accounting records, which are the only OFFICIAL records that will show that he satisfactorily and honorably completed his service commitment?
Were there other issues that you discussed?
Yes. In each call, I, in essence scolded media representatives for not doing their homework and reviewing this information before the eleventh hour. When asked if I would go on record, I said, yes, I have nothing to hide even though I knew that the mention of my name with the Bush campaign would immediately strike a personal response because of my whistleblowing in 1998.
Again, was this a Democratic ploy as stated by Karen Hughes of the Bush staff?
No. Absolutely not.
Karen Hughes has again skirted the real issue and question. Dan Bartlett and the Governor have also refused to answer the basic question and furnish the OFFICIAL files that will resolve this issue. I am in no way linked to the Democratic Party. I am simply an energized citizen and retired soldier who would like to have the issues of each possible commander-in-chief resolved prior to the election, in order that we can escape holding another American Presidency hostage to actions and allegations by the opposing party in Congress. We have suffered from this partisanship for the past eight years. George W. Bush says that he is the only candidate who can bridge this impasse. This is his opportunity to start that process. This is what I believe other Americans share with me - a sincere belief that they have the right and capacity to make educated decisions; but that candidates have the responsibility for full and complete disclosure.
If you would like to speak with me personally - on the record - I can be reached at (915) 673-0429 in Abilene, Texas.
Please call in order to verify my signature.
Bill L. Burkett LTC (Ret)
Where's George? News Release: Help George W. Bush find 1972, 1973
NOVEMBER 2 2000 - George Bush has lost a year of his youth and needs your help to find it. Between May 1972 and October 1974 George W. Bush seems to have lost: 1) A year of his service in the Air National Guard (ANG), 2) His eligibility to fly F-102 jet fighters( see footnote 1) (See official document. Full URLs in footnotes), 3) The directions to his military doctor's office right before his mandatory annual flight physical, and 4) The means to travel to his Denver Air Force Reserve (AFR) Obligated Reserve Unit punishment detail (see footnote 2) to which he apparently never reported, although he supposedly "served" his final 15-month enlistment there.
Lots of people didn't see George Bush during this year, including retired General William Turpinseed (see document 3) to whom young 1st Lt. Bush was ordered to report, and the Commanders of the Texas Air National Guard Unit (see document 4) in which he was supposedly serving. You can imagine how disturbing this must be to our potential Commander-in-Chief to have so thoroughly lost a year of his own military service (see document 5) when he wants American voters to give him the right to ask young Americans to stick to the terms of their military enlistments.
Now two different Vietnam Veterans groups are offering a total of $2000 in rewards if you can help find Governor Bush's missing year of National Guard service. (see footnote 6) So far no one has claimed the reward.
It's frustrating: At least when you're looking for Waldo, you know he'll be somewhere in the picture. George Bush doesn't seem to have been anywhere and again we must ask:
Where's George? Is this a "Stealth Military" program? Did he fly below the radar?
Of course, this could be all wrong. Although there's no conclusive proof that Bush served between May 1972 and May 1973, there's a simple way for him to complete his job interview with the American people-a job interview for the most important job in the world-the Presidency of the United States. So right now, before it's too late, while the candidates are still applying for the job, citizens (his potential employers) request more information.
Veterans groups, emailers all around the US, and columnists for the Arizona Daily Star, (see footnote 7) the New York Observer (see footnote 8) and the Boston Globe are all asking is this simple question:
"Will you, former 1st Lt. George W. Bush, and potential US President George W. Bush, please release your private military records so we can all rest assured that you are deserving of our votes on November 7th and of our trust for the next four years? "
There are very good precedents for Governor Bush providing this important information to American voters.
Precedents: Governor Bush's private military records can only be released with his permission, but they contain the most essential information about how he served-the records of commendations, comments by superiors about the quality of service and the records of any disciplinary actions or boards of inquiry. Bush's public military records, which have been released under a FOIA request,9 show the conflicting information that caused the request to Governor Bush to release his private military records.
1) On September 29, 1972 Air National Guard orders "suspending 1st Lt. George W. Bush from flying status are confirmed.... Reason for Suspension: Failure to accomplish annual medical exam." (See footnote 10)
2) Bush's initial temporary transfer to Alabama was denied because "An obligated Reservist can be assigned to a specific Ready Reserve position only. (See footnote 11) Therefore, he is ineligible for assignment to an Air Reserve Squadron". Nonetheless, Bush reapplied, was accepted by the commander of the mail unit in Alabama, and moved to Alabama to work on a Senate campaign.
3) According to a Boston Globe Story on May 23, 2000. "In his final 18 months of military service in 1972 and 1973, Bush did not fly at all. And for much of that time, Bush was all but unaccounted for:12 For a full year, there is no record that he showed up for the periodic drills required of part-time guardsmen....From May to November 1972, Bush was in Alabama working in a US Senate campaign, and was required to attend drills at an Air National Guard unit in Montgomery. But there is no evidence in his record that he did so. And William Turnipseed, the retired general who commanded the Alabama unit back then, said in an interview last week that Bush never appeared for duty there."
4) Also, the tattered piece of attendance record which lists no months years or even Bush's name of service which the Bush campaign presented as evidence of attending Air National Guard training is from the Air Force Reserve punishment unit and not the Air National Guard.13 Note the ARF (Air Reserve Force) listing at the top, rather than the ANG designator, which would indicate it, was from the Air National Guard.
5) In the Fall 1973, as an automatic disciplinary action, Bush was reassigned to the Obligated Reserve Section in Denver, because he disobeyed orders to show up for a mandatory flight physical and therefore was unable to fulfill the last two years of his six-year obligation as an Air National Guard jet fighter pilot.
More source information and interviews: For a remarkable show or news story, interview former Air National Guard pilot Robert A. Rogers and researcher Marty Heldt as they lead you through the 160 pages of documents uncovered in their Freedom of Information inquiries into bush's official military records. Find out why they think it is imperative that Bush gives permission for the release of his personal military records before the election. Both Rogers and Heldt say their research shows such huge holes in his National Guard record Bush MUST release his personal military records before the election, because our job interview with the potential Commander-in-Chief won't be complete until he does.
Go to http://www.cis.net/~coldfeet/document.htm to view Bush military documents released under the Freedom of Information Act which show the conflicting information that produced requests to release his private military records. Voluntary release of personal military records for the period of his enlistment from 1968 through 1974 will provide information to assess the following events:
1. A September 29, 1972 Air National Guard confirming orders "suspending 1st Lt. George W. Bush from flying status are confirmed....Reason for Suspension: Failure to accomplish annual medical exam."
2. Bush's initial temporary transfer to Alabama was denied because "An obligated Reservist can be assigned to a specific Ready Reserve position only. Therefore, he is ineligible for assignment to an Air Reserve Squadron". Nonetheless, Bush reapplied, was accepted by the commander of the mail unit in Alabama, and moved to Alabama to work on a Senate campaign. http://www.cis.net/~coldfeet/doc5.gif
3. According to a Boston Globe Story on May 23, 2000. "In his final 18 months of military service in 1972 and 1973, Bush did not fly at all. And for much of that time, Bush was all but unaccounted for: For a full year, there is no record that he showed up for the periodic drills required of part-time guardsmen. "Bush, who declined to be interviewed on the issue, said through a spokesman that he has ''some recollection'' of attending drills that year, but maybe not consistently. "From May to November 1972, Bush was in Alabama working in a US Senate campaign, and was required to attend drills at an Air National Guard unit in Montgomery. But there is no evidence in his record that he did so. And William Turnipseed, the retired general who commanded the Alabama unit back then, said in an interview last week that Bush never appeared for duty there."
4. In Fall 1973, as an automatic disciplinary action, Bush was reassigned to the Obligated Reserve Section in Denver, because he disobeyed orders to show up for a mandatory flight physical and therefore was unable to fulfill the last two years of his six-year obligation as an Air National Guard jet fighter pilot.
View Documents Documents photocopies: First: Document about George W. Bush, redacted for "administrative reasons"
Second: Document: Agreement signed by George W. Bush to accept military flying assignments after training (reneged on after disobeying orders)
Third: Document: Order to suspend George Bush from flying for failing to obey an order
Fourth: Document: Evidence that George W. Bush was allowed to substitute civilian duties for flying duties (Viet Nam era) following his refusal to take physical and drug test
Fifth: Document: Statement specifying disciplinary measures, singed by George W. Bush
Sixth: Document: Assignment of George W. Bush to disciplinary unit in Denver
Footnotes 1 Bush was suspended by military order. Official document
2 Enlistment papers specifying punishments for not fulfilling Air National Guard obligations
3 Boston Globe Article Oct 31 2000
4 His two Texas Commanders statements: they never saw him during the 5/72-5/73 period. He was assigned, perhaps through political influence, to a civilian unit (during the war) after disobeying an order.
5 Boston Globe article Oct 30 2000
6 Vets Want Proof of Bush Service, Birmingham News
7 Bush's Service Record, go to archives for Oct. 24, 2000 in the Arizona Daily Star
8 George W.'s Troubling Flights of Fancy
9 To look at 30 pages of Bush's FOIA records
10 Order suspending Bush from flying.
11 Order refusing Bush's transfer. Bush was not eligible for transfer, tried again, perhaps with political influence, and left for civilian duties before his term was completed.
12 May 2000 Boston Globe article
13 Purported proof of Bush's military service for 1972-73. Document is nearly blank and does not identify who it belongs to. Note that most of the dates and Bush's name (except for the "W") have been torn off.
Other sites with information, some more partisan than others...
Washington Post article, Nov 3, 2000 "The Bush campaign points to a torn piece of paper in his Guard records, a statement of points Bush apparently earned in 1972-73, although most of the dates and Bush's name except for the "W" have been torn off..." The article goes on to say that the torn sheet of paper is shown as evidence by the Bush people that he satisfied his requirements, but that is contradicted by a written report signed by two superiors.
Bob Rogers' Overview on Bush's Non-attendance
Bob Rogers' Latest Summary
Martin Heldt's Home Page on Bush's Missing Years
Martin Heldt's Chronology of The Problem
Background Veterans that have requested proof of Governor Bush's service during the years of 1972 to 1973 include the Alabama Vietnam Veterans and Viet Vets for the Real Truth, and Senators Inouye and Kerrey. In addition the Arizona Daily Star, TomPaine.com and The New York Observer have questioned whether Bush actually served his required time during the last half of 1972 and into late May 1973.
More Background: George W. Bush served five years of his six-year Air National Guard obligation between 1968 and 1973. However, 1972-1973 records were redacted "for administrative reasons" and have not been released. After undergoing two years of expensive jet fighter training at taxpayer expense, in April 1972, during the Viet Nam War, George Bush simply quit flying. He did not show up to take his required annual flight physical, and the penalty he received was automatic suspension of his right to fly and a final 15 months of disciplinary action, for which he was demoted to the Obligated Reserve Section in Denver.
Official interesting points: - In April 1972, random drug testing was implemented in the military. - Bush has previously stated that he had not used drugs "since 1974." - Official verbal answer from Bush campaign: Governor Bush "decided to not fly any longer" so he did not take the required military flight physical. However, as anyone in the military knows, one does not simply "decide" to give up a military assignment.
What difference does it make? Depending on the nature of what's in those records, significant problems could result if certain kinds of information surface, including congressional investigations of misconduct or influence peddling, or problems enforcing disciplinary measures with soldiers who commit infractions that may surface in the records. But maybe there is nothing there. The only way to find out is for Governor Bush to voluntarily authorize the release of his private military records.
What kind of records and procedures can be released? Under ordinary military circumstances, the suspension of a pilot is directed through a military board of inquiry. In Bush's case, if such a body was convened, the records of its findings are not in the public record. However, Governor Bush's private records, which include disciplinary actions and other relevant commentary, would provide clear answers to the persistent questions.
"As the State Plans Officer for the Texas National Guard, I was on full-time duty at Camp Mabry when Dan Bartlett was cleansing the George W Bush file prior to GW's Presidential announcement. For most soldiers at Camp Mabry, this was a generally known event. The archives were closely scrutinized to make sure that the Bush autobiography plans and the record did not directly contradict each other. In essence it was the script of the autobiography which Dan Bartlett and his small team used to scrub a file to be released. This effort was further involved by General Daniel James and Chief of Staff William W. Goodwin at Camp Mabry. -- Bill Burkett - contact: (915-673-0429)