21
Jul
2004

AP SUES TO OBTAIN ACCESS TO BACKUP OF BUSH MILITARY RECORDS PENTAGON SAYS WERE DESTROYED

White House Stonewalls

Although the Pentagon claims that all missing records about President Bush’s service in the National Guard were “inadvertently destroyed,” The Associated Press (AP) is suing the Pentagon and the Air Force, demanding access to copies of the records it says can be found at the Texas State Archives.

In April the wire service made a Freedom of Information Act request of the Pentagon and the White House, noting that copies of the records should exist under federal law at the archives. Although the White House previously promised to make public all records, it ignored the AP’s FOIA request, leading the news agency to ask a federal judge to order compliance.

In February, after questions arose about whether he fulfilled his duty, President Bush told a national television audience that he would "absolutely" release all records pertaining to his military service. Days later, the White House claimed it had released everything. Bush campaign spokesman Terry Holt told Fox News the documents were "black and white proof that the president served in the National Guard."

But the White House only released partial documentation and, as the AP reported, “records released so far do not put to rest questions over whether Bush fulfilled his National Guard service for a period during the Vietnam War."

Just last week, the Pentagon claimed that key records not yet made public were "inadvertently destroyed." The White House previously acknowledged the missing records, but AP reports the President has not authorized the release of copies, which are legally required to exist at the Texas archives. That is why the news agency has had to file a FOIA request.

In its legal brief, AP wrote, "A significant, ongoing controversy exists over the president's military service during the Vietnam War, specifically whether he performed his required service between May and October 1972...The public has an intense and legitimate interest in knowing the facts concerning the president's military service. Reviewing the microfilm copy of the personnel file at the Texas Records center could well answer the questions that have been raised."

AP said full disclosure would give the public the whole story, and also answer questions about "allegations that potentially embarrassing material was removed from Bush's military file in 1997."

For more information, go to //www.misleader.org


Informant: Steve Smith
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