Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Jennings Started It As CONTRAPOSITIVE predicted ("Sneaky Pete?"), Peter Jennings' debate question on the Bush/AWOL issue has given the press license to start sniffing around the President's national guard record all over again.

The Washginton Post moves the ball forward a bit in today's editions:

Bush first requested and received permission in May 1972 to be transferred to the Alabama National Guard so he could work on a U.S. Senate campaign. After he was in Alabama, he received notice from the Guard personnel center that he was "ineligible" for the Air Reserve Squadron he requested.

In August 1972, Bush was suspended from flying because he failed to complete an annual medical exam. A month later, Bush requested to be assigned to a different unit in Alabama and was approved. Although he was required to attend periodic drills in Alabama, there is no official record in his file that he did.

The new information here seems to be that Bush did request an assignment in Alabama. But what he did in terms of his guard service between May and August--and for the next eight months--remains unclear:
Bush returned to Houston after the election, and again his service is vague in the records. His officers at Ellington Air Force Base wrote in May 1973 that Bush could not be given his annual evaluation, because he "has not been observed" in Houston between April 1972 and the following May. Ultimately, another officer states in a subsequent document that a report for that one-year period was unavailable for "administrative reasons."

Unavailable for administrative reasons...Hmm...

Good thing we have a whole election season to get to the bottom of this.

CONTRAPOSITIVE is edited by Dan Aibel. Dan's a playwright. He lives in New York City.