Harriet Miers was the fixer for Bush's National Guard Records Purge
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Editor, The Konformist
Harriet Miers was the fixer for Bush's National Guard Records Purge
Posted on Monday, October 03, 2005
Aides to Texas Governor George W. Bush visited the Air National
Guard archives at Camp Mabry in 1997 and possibly altered Bush's
military service records to conceal Bush's grounding from flight in
1972 and subsequent missed duty, according to a former senior
official of the Texas National Guard.
Bill Burkett, a Lt. Colonel who was the State Plans Officer of the
Texas National Guard at the time, said Bush operative Dan Bartlett
headed a high-level operation to "scrub" Bush's Air National Guard
record, to make sure it was in synch with the biography that the
campaign was preparing.
The book, "A Charge to Keep," was authored by Bush and his principal
spokeswoman, Karen Hughes. Hughes was recently exposed during the
DUI sidebar involving reporter Wayne Slater as the person who
strictly controls what Bush is allowed to say.
At the time, Bartlett was Governor Bush's liaison to the Texas
National Guard. Bartlett is now the campaign spokesman who has
provided misleading information to the press on several occasions
about Bush's military service.
In "A Charge to Keep," Bush briefly mentioned his National Guard
service. After completing flight training in June 1970, Bush
wrote, "I continued flying with my unit for the next several years."
In fact, according to reports by the Boston Globe, Democrats.com and
TomPaine.com, Bush stopped flying only 22 months later in April
1972. He was subsequently grounded from flight on August 1, 1972
because he "failed to accomplish his annual physical."
There is no mention of the grounding in Bush's biography, which
falsely implies that Bush continued flying until he left the
When questioned by the press, Bush spokesman Dan Bartlett has
offered several different reasons for this grounding. Initially
Bartlett said that Bush could not get to Houston for his physical,
but this was proved wrong when it was shown that Bush could have
visited flight surgeons stationed in Alabama. Bartlett then said the
F-102 fighter that Bush was trained to fly was removed from service,
but this was proved wrong when it was shown that the F-102 remained
in service in Bush's unit for two more years.
Democrats.com has speculated that Bush skipped his annual physical
in 1972 because the Pentagon that year imposed random drug testing
for the first time, and Bush feared he would fail the exam. Bush has
admitted drinking heavily at the time, and has refused to deny using
cocaine before 1974. Similar allegations have been reported in the
Times of London and the New York Post.
Democrats.com has stressed the significance of Bush's grounding.
Bush's pilot training cost the government nearly $1 million, and
this was a huge investment that the Pentagon would not lightly
abandon with two years remaining of a pilot's obligation. Moreover,
pilots were badly needed at the time because of the war in Vietnam.
According to Democrats.com, Bush's grounding would normally have
been reviewed by a Flight Inquiry Board of three senior officers,
but there is no record that such a board was convened in Bush's
case. Democrats.com has called for Bush to reveal his full military
records, to put these and other charges to rest.
Moreover, Democrats.com and TomPaine.com have revealed that Bush did
not report for duty for at least a year after he stopped flying, and
possibly two years. Bush's official record shows no duty after April
1972, and his superior officers in both Alabama and Texas say they
never saw him after that.
An official report issued on April 30, 1973 says "Lt. Bush has not
been observed at this unit during the period of this report," from
May 1 1972 to April 30, 1973. Rewards for proof that Bush reported
for duty have been offered in Alabama and Texas and on the Internet,
but no one has claimed the rewards.
During the campaign, Bush has attempted to fend off charges that he
did not report for duty. When charges were raised about the time he
spent in Alabama in the fall of 1972, Bush insisted that he reported
for duty. "I can't remember what I did. I just - I fulfilled my
obligation," he said. Bush has specifically disputed the
recollection of ret. Brig. Gen. William Turnipseed, who says he
is "dead-certain" that Bush did not report for duty in Alabama. ''I
read the comments from the guy who said he doesn't remember me being
there, but I remember being there," Bush said.
Internet activists led by Iowa farmer Martin Heldt and retired Air
National Guard pilot Bob Rogers have been campaigning to expose
Bush's failure to report for duty since May 23, 2000, when the
Boston Globe first reported on a "one-year gap" in Bush's military
duty. Heldt created a discussion board at Salon Magazine charging
that Bush was "AWOL", which spurred an explosion of grassroots
Heldt and Rogers filed a Freedom of Information Act request for
Bush's military records, which provided overwhelming evidence of
Bush's missed duty, and served as the basis of the articles in
Democrats.com and TomPaine.com.
On Thursday, Congressional Medal of Honor recipients Bob Kerrey and
Daniel Inouye brought these charges to the attention of the national
media, which has almost entirely ignored the work of Heldt and
Rogers. "The question is where were you, Governor Bush?," said
Inouye. "During my service, if I missed training for two years, at
the least, I would have been court-martialed. I would have been
placed in prison," he said.
To rebut this charge, the Bush campaign has relied on two mysterious
documents. The documents are neither dated nor signed, which makes
their legitimacy entirely questionable. Moreover, the document that
the campaign claims covers the year from May 1972 to May 1973 is
badly torn and can only be linked to Lt. George W. Bush by the
letter "W". Finally, these documents are directly contradicted by
Bush's official record, several signed memoranda, and the testimony
of several witnesses.
Still, both the New York Times and George Magazine have used these
mysterious documents as the basis for dismissing all of the other
documents and witnesses which overwhelmingly show that Bush did not
report for duty.
Thus, the assertion by Bill Burkett that Dan Bartlett and his
operatives may have modified Bush's Air National Guard records takes
on exceptional significance. Bartlett's "scrubbing" operation in
1997 could have inserted these mysterious documents, or removed
significant information from the torn document. In addition,
Bartlett's operation could have removed or altered other revealing
Indeed, there is corroborating evidence that Bush campaign
operatives have devoted considerable effort to "scrubbing" public
records to conceal other evidence of Bush's wrongdoing. For example,
Bush got a new driver's license after he was elected Governor, which
appears to be completely unprecedented. This prevented reporters
from discovering Bush's DUI arrest in Maine in 1976.
This new license may also be concealing a prior DUI or drug arrest
in 1972 or 1973, when Bush went to work with an inner-city community
service group in Houston called Project PULL. There has been
considerable speculation that Bush performed this work as a form of
alternative sentencing for a DUI or drug arrest, but reporters have
been stymied by the fact that Bush's 1995 driver's license contains
no prior information.
Moreover, Newsweek reported on July 9, 2000 that the Bush
campaign "launched a secretive research operation designed to scour
all records relating to his Vietnam-era service" during preparation
for Bush's 1998 re-election campaign. They paid "hard-nosed Dallas
lawyer named Harriet Miers" $19,000 to review the records. According
to Newsweek, one result of her work was to deflect charges that
former Texas House Speaker Ben Barnes helped Bush get into the Texas
Air National Guard despite low qualifications and a long waiting
list. Barnes was later forced to testify under oath that he helped
The same Newsweek article also discusses the absence of evidence
that Bush fulfilled his orders to report for duty in Alabama in the
fall of 1972. According to the article, "Dan Bartlett conceded that
the records 'were either lost or misplaced... we are not sure.'" If
Burkett's charges are true, Bartlett may have had a hand in losing
or misplacing these records.
Burkett stops short of directly accusing Bartlett of "doctoring"
Bush's records. Instead, Burkett faults the Bush campaign and senior
officials of the Texas National Guard for incompetence in failing to
release two key documents that would answer questions about Bush's
absence from duty - but not his grounding from flight.
Burkett boils it down to a simple 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
The simple answer may be that these records would prove the
opposite - that Bush never reported for duty after April 1972, and
was simply "given" the points he needed for discharge by senior
officerswho wanted to preserve his "political viability" then - and
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