Bush Military Records Missing, News Outlets Told

By: E&P Staff

News organizations hoping to obtain key military records relating to President Bush’s disputed stint in the Texas Air National Guard more than 30 years ago were dealt a blow on Thursday when the Pentagon disclosed that they had been accidentally destroyed.

The destroyed records covered a three-month period in 1972 and 1973. News came in letters sent by the Defense Department’s Office of Freedom of Information and Security Review to The New York Times (Click for QuikCap) and other news outlets seeking Bush’s complete service file under the open-records law.

The Pentagon said the payroll records of “numerous service members” had been wrecked in 1996 and 1997 by the Defense Finance and Accounting Service in an effort to salvage deteriorating microfilm. No back-up paper copies could be found.

The Times said the “disclosure appeared to catch some experts, both pro-Bush and con, by surprise. Even the retired lieutenant colonel who studied Mr. Bush’s records for the White House, Albert C. Lloyd of Austin, said it came as news to him. There was no mention of the loss, for example, when White House officials released hundreds of pages of the president’s military records last February in an effort to stem Democratic accusations that he was ‘AWOL’ for a time during his commitment to fly at home in the Air National Guard during the Vietnam War.”

On June 22, The Associated Press filed suit in federal court in New York against the Pentagon and the Air Force to gain access to all the president’s military records.

The Times in its report this morning quoted James Moore, author of a recent book, “Bush’s War for Re-election” as finding it “curious that the microfiche could resolve what days Mr. Bush worked and what days he was paid, and suddenly that is gone.”

Moore said the president could still authorize release of other records that would shed light on his military record.

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