Thursday, September 09, 2004

 

Bush records forged?

I read the Powerline story earlier today, alleging that the recently released documents concerning President Bush's service in the Texas National Guard may be forgeries.

While I found the Powerline story fascinating from a technical standpoint-- it relies on discussion of typefaces and font spacing in use in 1970's era typewriters-- I'm not a conspiracy nut, and anything alleged over on Freeper automatically has a high bar to cross.

Well, Drudge decided this story was important enough to link. The Fedora was right when I was wrong yesterday, so it's likely he knows something I don't. Yet, he links only to the Powerline story, which isn't exactly scientific evidence.

It's interesting, it's worth looking into, but it's not something I'm going to rest a case on. The White House accepted these documents as real, or at least they didn't immediately question their authenticity, but that may just be Scott McClellan playing nice with the media.

I *do* find it odd that documents related to OERs (Officer Evaluation Reports, the old name for today's Officer Performance Reviews) were not in Bush's official record, but ended up in some Lieutenant Colonel's box of files. Performance reviews are pretty important in any job, but especially so in the military. If you have it in for Dubya, I'd understand why you could assume that his official record was expunged of these documents in some shadowy trick.

However, without further evidence, I find it just as likely that these files were never in the record to begin with, because they only existed in the LC's files. This explanation, while still involving performance records undoubtedly embarrassing to Bush, at least excuses Bush and his friends from any charges of a "cover up;" you can't cover up what you don't know about, and if these were never in the official record-- even if they were supposed to be-- then there's no "there" there.

But if there's anything to the forgery story, then you've got something far uglier than even I want to contemplate. The author of these documents, Lt. Col. Killian, is dead-- he can't vouch for their authenticity. I doubt that, barring the actual verifiable production of Lt. Col. Killian's office typewriter can we ever prove that he didn't have the best typewriter in the 1970's National Guard (some writers on Power Line argue that there *were* models of typewriter in 1973 that did use proportionally-space fonts-- again, more info is needed).

Anyways, I really don't care about all this. Again, I feel I've made my position clear, and that what either man did in Vietnam is irrelevant because, honestly, neither did anything of consequence in Vietnam. One didn't go, one went and appears to have left as quickly as the system permitted. To some people, that's a huge gulf in experience; to me, it matters little to presidential leadership in the war we are in today, in 2004.

Now, if Bush is proven to have doctored his records to hide bad news, that will-- and should-- hurt. Especially if he's done so recently. I won't excuse any President's crimes, as long as the statute of limitations is in effect. But having worked in government bureaucracy for as long as I have, I have never for a moment doubted that there are all manner of "suspiciously convenient" explanations that also share the added virtue of being absolutely true.

Good lord, I've got a grad degree in National Security Studies, and for three years after I started working for Uncle Sam my official record showed that I had a grad degree in Security and Loss Prevention Services, thus proving that "DAVE LIED!" I've had a number of jobs in my life, but watching ladies' dressing rooms to see if they stole lingerie was never one of them (That was more of a hobby).

Government bureaucracies make errors all the time-- simply see "Motor Vehicles, Department of." In my experience, military bureaucracies are even worse than the DMV. And the record-keeping prowess of a backwater Vietnam-era National Guard unit is not even in the same solar system as the National Archives, nor would I ever expect it to be.
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UPDATE: Go visit Ace. And Allahpundit. And for the love of God, if you go nowhere else, go visit INDC.

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