Saturday, July 10, 2004

LIBRARIAN'S NIGHTMARE By now, you've no doubt heard the story about the "inadvertent" destruction of President Bush's National Guard records. But there's been little discussion of what, specifically, is supposed to have happened to the microfilm on which the records were stored.

This Reuters piece offers as thorough a summary as any:

The destroyed files kept in Denver on deteriorating 2,000-foot rolls of microfilm covered three months of a period in 1972 and 1973 when Bush's claims of service with the guard in Alabama are in question.

"It (the film) just crumbled. We were attempting to improve the preservation," Hubbard told Reuters. He said he did not know why the destruction had not been previously announced.

According to Robert Nawrocki, Director of the Record and Imaging Services Division of the Library of Virginia, "When stored properly, microfilm can last almost 500 years."

This particular reel of microfilm came up about 475 years short.

So what exactly went wrong?

Is it unreasonable to hope that the major news organizations--the ones with the big, fat rolodexes--might take a stab at getting us a more complete explanation?

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