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2004-02-11

Critics Say Newly Released Military Pay Records Don’t Prove Bush Fulfilled Guard Duty

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The White House released summaries of President Bush’s Texas Air National Guard service records and pay documents but questions remain over whether it proves Bush served his full term in the National Guard.

The White House released summaries of President Bush’s Texas Air National Guard service records and pay documents amid growing controversy over an alleged one-year gap in his military service between May 1972 and May 1973.

Bush joined the National Guard in 1968, and spent most of his service time based near Houston. But in May 1972 he requested and received a temporary assignment with the Alabama National Guard. Bush says he recalls showing up for drills in Alabama, but critics are demanding proof.

The documents released yesterday include payroll sheets never before made public. Summaries prepared by the Defense Financing Accounting Service indicate that Bush was paid for two days in October and four days in November and none in December 1972. He was not paid for February or March 1973.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan repeatedly held up the 13-page packet his office had released, and declared "I think these documents show that he fulfilled his duties."

But White House officials were careful to stop short of claiming that the records proved definitively that Bush had shown up for all the Guard duties he was expected to.

The newly released records do not indicate what duty Bush performed or where he was. Military experts — including one cited by the White House — said such records should exist. This according to the Washington Post.

Also according to the records, Bush was performing service or unit drills at a time when his commanding officers in Houston said they could not evaluate him because "he has not been observed" at the base.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe, who helped reignite the story earlier this month when he charged Bush had gone "AWOL" said, "The handful of documents released today by the White House creates more questions than answers."

McClellan came under fire from reporters for nearly the entire duration of yesterday’s White House press briefing. Let’s take a listen.


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