NY Times Prints Unverifiable Charges Against Bush

by on September 9th, 2004

The Official Kerry For President Newsletter (registration required) has a “news story” on the front page of its online edition continuing the party’s efforts to flog the long dead horse of President Bush’s National Guard Service. And they do so with the hypocrisy and half-truths you would expect from the official party propaganda organ.

A good deal of the latest round of this story is based on the accounts of a “once powerful Texas Democrat” who confesses to having “abused his power” to help get numerous young men positions in the Texas National Guard – including, he alleges, George W. Bush.

Former Texas Lt, Gov Ben Barnes is now an advisor to the Kerry Campaign, so we know his motives are pure and his claims are the unvarnished truth. According to the NYT/Kerry Newsletter:

Mr. Barnes maintained, as he has since 1999, that he had contacted his friend who headed the Texas Air National Guard, Brig. Gen. James Rose, not at the behest of anyone in the Bush family, but rather a Houston businessman, Sidney A. Adger, a friend of the Bushes who has died.

“Yes, I called Rose to get George Bush into the Guard, I’ve said that,” Mr. Barnes said in his office last week in Austin. “I called Rose for other sons of prominent families, and I’m not proud of it now.”

What were the odds that the request to help Bush get into the Guard would have come from a family friend who was still living? The Times also fails to mention that the other witness to this tale General Rose, is also deceased.

So based on the confession of a once powerful Democrat who admits to abusing his power and is now an advisor to the Kerry Campaign, and his accounts of 30 year old conversations with two men are now dead and can provide neiher verification nor refutation of the claim, the Times concludes that Bush used influence to get his Guard posting.

Did you also know that Richard Nixon told me that he personally hired Oswald to shoot Kennedy? If you’re not sure you should believe me, you should probably take into consideration that I am not, nor have I ever been a powerful Democrat and I am not a Kerry Campaign Advisor.

Party On

The next twist in the story comes in the form of a former lieutenant colonel in the Alabama Guard by the name of Bob Mintz. Bob it seems doesn’t believe that Bush ever showed up for Guard duty during his Alabama assignment because he was looking for him and couldn’t find him. Mintz had heard

that Lieutenant Bush was a fellow bachelor who might like to party with him and other pilots. In the spot, Mr. Mintz said neither he nor his friends ever saw Mr. Bush.

Apparently despite keeping a 24/7 lookout for the young lieutenant, Mintz and his unnamed and silent friends, never saw Bush. How could that be? Is there possibly an explanation other than Bush being AWOL?

In a conference call with reporters on Wednesday, Mr. Mintz was pressed about his recollections and whether he might have missed seeing Mr. Bush, possibly because Mr. Bush was no longer flying at that point and was working in an office position. Mr. Mintz said repeatedly he never saw Lieutenant Bush.

Perhaps Mintz and Co. were too busy partying on the days that Bush reported? Maybe whatever they were partying with has effected their memories of events? When asked, Mintz would not release the names of any of his friends who might be able to corroborate his story.

Contrast the Times unquestioning belief in the claims of one former guardsman that because he never saw Bush that Bush was never there, with their objective evaluation of a group of veterans who signed affidavits stating that there was no enemy gunfire in the episode in which John Kerry won a Silver Star.

With advertisements, through a book and on talk shows, the group, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, leveled largely unsubstantiated accusations about Mr. Kerry’s record and told how his antiwar statements had demoralized veterans.

It’s getting to the point where if it were not for the obvious coordination with the Kerry campaign, the New York Times could probably file papers as a 527.

But it doesn’t stop there. The Times also make mention of a series of memos featured on a 60 Minutes broadcast. The memos, critical of Bush’s performance, are allegedly from the files of Bush’s National Guard Commander Lt. Col. Jerry B. Killian. Mr. Killian is also deceased. The NYT notes that CBS News “declined to say how it obtained the documents.”

The problem with the memos is that they display some fairly advanced typesetting given when they were allegedly created. Powerline has a very thorough accounting of very real possibility that the memos are a forgery. Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs did a little forensic testing with Microsoft Word that produced some very interesting results.

And before I finished this piece I was reminded by Kevin at Wizbang of this USA Today story from February 2004 about a guardsman who does remember Bush reporting in Alabama.

A retired Alabama Air National Guard officer said Friday that he remembers George Bush showing up for duty in Alabama in 1972, reading safety magazines and flight manuals in an office as he performed his weekend obligations.

“I saw him each drill period,” retired Lt. Col. John “Bill” Calhoun said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press from Daytona Beach, Fla., where he is preparing to watch this weekend’s big NASCAR race.

“He was very aggressive about doing his duty there. He never complained about it. … He was very dedicated to what he was doing in the Guard. He showed up on time and he left at the end of the day.”

Calhoun, whose name was supplied to the AP by a Republican close to Bush, is the first member of the 187th Tactical Reconnaissance Group to recall Bush distinctly at the Alabama base in the period of 1972-1973. He was the unit’s flight safety officer.

The 69-year-old president of an Atlanta insulation company said Bush showed up for work at Dannelly Air National Guard Base for drills on at least six occasions. Bush and Calhoun had both been trained as fighter pilots, and Calhoun said the two would swap “war stories” and even eat lunch together on base.

Calhoun is named in 187th unit rosters obtained by the AP as serving under the deputy commander of operations plans. Bush was in Alabama on non-flying status.

“He sat in my office most of the time — he would read,” Calhoun said. “He had your training manuals from your aircraft he was flying. He’d study those some. He’d read safety magazines, which is a common thing for pilots.”

The Times is reporting as news the unverifiable claims of a Kerry campaign advisor, unverifiable and potentially forged documents, and the uncorroborated claims of a guy looking to party – without any mention of a directly contradicting account. Things just haven’t gotten better since the whole jason Blair thing, have they?

Stephen Macklin