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Rumsfeld Is Losing It


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"Saddam Hussein, if he's alive, is spending a whale of a lot of time trying to not get caught. And we've not seen him on a video since 2001."

 

--Donald Rumsfeld, in a September 10 speech.

 

Meanwhile, those "liberal" reporters over at U.S. News and World Report are committing professional suicide in print by running stories like this one:

 

The service question

 

A review of President Bush's Guard years raises issues about the time he served

 

By Kit R. Roane

 

Last February, White House spokesman Scott McClellan held aloft sections of President Bush's military record, declaring to the waiting press that the files "clearly document the president fulfilling his duties in the National Guard." Case closed, he said.

 

But last week the controversy reared up once again, as several news outlets, including U.S. News, disclosed new information casting doubt on White House claims.

 

A review of the regulations governing Bush's Guard service during the Vietnam War shows that the White House used an inappropriate--and less stringent--Air Force standard in determining that he had fulfilled his duty. Because Bush signed a six-year "military service obligation," he was required to attend at least 44 inactive-duty training drills each fiscal year beginning July 1. But Bush's own records show that he fell short of that requirement, attending only 36 drills in the 1972-73 period, and only 12 in the 1973-74 period. The White House has said that Bush's service should be calculated using 12-month periods beginning on his induction date in May 1968. Using this time frame, however, Bush still fails the Air Force obligation standard.

 

Moreover, White House officials say, Bush should be judged on whether he attended enough drills to count toward retirement. They say he accumulated sufficient points under this grading system. Yet, even using their method, which some military experts say is incorrect, U.S. News 's analysis shows that Bush once again fell short. His military records reveal that he failed to attend enough active-duty training and weekend drills to gain the 50 points necessary to count his final year toward retirement.

 

The U.S. News analysis also showed that during the final two years of his obligation, Bush did not comply with Air Force regulations that impose a time limit on making up missed drills. What's more, he apparently never made up five months of drills he missed in 1972, contrary to assertions by the administration. White House officials did not respond to the analysis last week but emphasized that Bush had "served honorably."

 

Some experts say they remain mystified as to how Bush obtained an honorable discharge. Lawrence Korb, a former top Defense Department official in the Reagan administration, says the military records clearly show that Bush "had not fulfilled his obligation" and "should have been called to active duty."

 

Bush signed his commitment to the Texas Air National Guard on May 27, 1968, shortly after becoming eligible for the draft. In his "statement of understanding," he acknowledged that "satisfactory participation" included attending "48 scheduled inactive-duty training periods" each year. He also acknowledged that he could be ordered to active duty if he failed to meet these requirements.

 

Slump. Bush's records show that he did his duty for much of the first four years of his commitment. But as the Vietnam War wound down, his performance slumped, and his attendance at required drills fell off markedly. He did no drills for one five-month period in 1972. He also missed his flight physical. By May 2, 1973, his superiors said they could not evaluate his performance because he "has not been observed."

 

Albert C. Lloyd Jr., a retired Air Force colonel who originally certified the White House position that Bush had completed his military obligation, stood by his analysis. After a reporter cited pertinent Air Force regulations from the period, he complained that if the entire unit were judged by such standards, "90 percent of the people in the Guard would not have made satisfactory participation."

 

Some other experts disagree. "There is no 'sometimes we have compliance and sometimes we don't,' " says Scott Silliman, a retired Air Force colonel and Duke University law professor. "That is a nonsensical statement and an insult to the Guard to suggest it."

 

The regulations must be followed, adds James Currie, a retired colonel and author of an official history of the Army Reserve. "Clearly, if you were the average poor boy who got drafted and sent into the active force," he says, "they weren't going to let you out before you had completed your obligation."

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