February 15, 2004
James Moore, Author of "Bush's Brain" and the Forthcoming "Bush's War for Reelection," Comes to the Defense of the Man Who Accuses the Bush Cartel of Cleansing Bush's National Guard Records: A BuzzFlash Exclusive
BuzzFlash Preface: Author and Texan James Moore has been interviewed and written commentaries for BuzzFlash in the past. He is the author of a stellar insight into Bush's image maker and "brain," Karl Rove, a book entitled, appropriately enough, "Bush's Brain." A forthcoming book by Moore, “Bush’s War for Reelection,” has been the basis of several recent high profile stories about former career Texas National Guardsman Bill Burkett, who has accused the Bush minions of expunging Bush's Guard files. Burkett, indeed, wrote an exclusive commentary to BuzzFlash in 2002 at the time Bush appointed the alleged liasion in the cleansing of his records to oversee the nation's Air National Guard [LINK] .
BuzzFlash has written repeatedly about how the White House frames issues to their advantage. BuzzFlash believes Bill Burkett. He has been a longtime reader and writing contributor to BuzzFlash and he has only suffered ill results from his honesty. However, even if one were to discount his story, Bush's National Guard record is still deplorable.
First of all, Bush evaded service in Vietnam, as did Cheney, while still supporting the war. As with the Iraq war, Bush sends other young men and women to die in his place. This is the number one thing to remember in providing context to the National Guard issue. In fact, here is a list of the young men from Bush's and Cheney's hometowns who died in their place in Vietnam because Bush and Cheney were too cowardly to fight in a war that they supported [LINK] . Bush only got into the "champagne National Guard unit" to avoid serving in Vietnam because his father was a big shot Republican, despite scoring the lowest possible score on a test that would make him eligible to become a pilot. George W. Bush leapfrogged over hundreds of other applicants to the "escape service in Vietnam Unit" for no other reason than he was a Bush. That's cowardly elitism at its most despicable. Don't let the White House frame it any other way.
Secondly, even cleansed, Bush's records provide confirmation of most of the accusations against him. There is only a dental record to support his claim that he served in Alabama when he was what the regular armed services would consider "AWOL" for months of actual service. He was grounded as a pilot (for which taxpayers paid for his training) because he refused to take a medical examination (which leads many to speculate that he feared traces of drugs, including cocaine, would show up in his system). He left "for Alabama" before being given permission to do so (which leads to a long-term rumor that Helen Thomas brought up at a White House Press Secretary briefing that Bush was fulfilling community service for a drug conviction during his "missing" Alabama months. This caused White House official front man liar, Scott McClellan to go bonkers [LINK].) And there are many more allegations against Bush that even the cleansed records confirm! God knows what the raw documents, before being vetted, would have revealed. In fact, the documents also raise some NEW questions about Bush's record.
That brings us to James Moore. The Boston Globe, which deserves credit for being the sole mainstream newspaper in 2000 to give serious attention to Bush's National Guard record, lost some of its luster when it printed a credibility attack article on Bill Burkett in its Friday edition [LINK]. You know the White House is at work when they try to undermine the truth about Bush by discrediting other people.
The following piece is Jim Moore's response to that Boston Globe article.
A BUZZFLASH GUEST COMMENTARY
Spinning of the Globe
the facts as quickly as you can.
As George Bush was running for the presidency, there was no other reporter in America who did better journalism than Walter Robinson. The Boston Globe’s ace investigator was the first to discover all of the discrepancies revealed in Bush’s National Guard records. During the course of his work, Robinson spoke with a lieutenant colonel named Bill Burkett. The publication of Robinson’s work immediately made officers at the Texas Guard suspect Burkett as a key source. Robinson got his info elsewhere, though. But he left a story on the table with Burkett.
A few years later, Dave Moniz of USA Today spoke with Bill Burkett about allegations the Lt. Col. had witnessed a senior official at the guard removing documents from Bush’s Military Personnel Records Jacket. Burkett said the papers bearing Bush’s name were being dropped into a waste basket. The other individual present was Chief Warrant Officer George Conn, who corroborated Burkett’s story for the paper. For whatever reason, Moniz’ editors chose not to run the story.
Burkett had already taken up his claims about the Bush file cleanse in official channels. He had written a letter to State Senator Gonzalo Barrientos, and, in testimony before legislators, spoke of numerous irregularities in the Texas National Guard. But no one wanted to hear. The hometown boy, George W. Bush, was running for president, and everyone was getting on the bus.
When Burkett agreed to tell me his story for my forthcoming book, “Bush’s War for Reelection,” he had already been ignored by a number of newspapers. Burkett’s allegations, not surprisingly, were not easy to corroborate through interviews with witnesses. Contrary to assertions in the Boston Globe, however, I interviewed numerous people about both Burkett and his claim of file cleansing, and, during the course of a half-hour interview with Mike Rezendes, I explained why I believed Burkett’s story to be true. However, his report used one flip sentence from our conversation where I described the informational standoff as “he said, she said.”
What Rezendes didn’t tell his readers was that I spoke with Brig. Gen. Danny James, accused by Burkett of directing the file cleanup, and James denied the events. He is quoted numerous times in my book. Additionally, I contacted the National Guard office in Austin and was told neither the guard nor any of its officers would be commenting on Burkett’s charges. Phone calls and e-mails to Joe Allbaugh went unanswered. Eventually, I sent a registered letter to him, Dan Bartlett, and Karen Hughes. Only James responded. Scribner and Allbaugh came out of the woods when Bush started taking fire. Probably, my previous book, “Bush’s Brain,” kept them from agreeing to be interviewed by me.
The key to confirming Burkett’s version of events, of course, was George Conn, who was in the museum with Burkett when the files were supposedly being purged. I contacted Conn in Europe via e-mail. He was non-responsive to my inquiries. Conn did, however, offer a character reference on Burkett to Ralph Blumenthal of the New York Times, which described Burkett as truthful and honorable. Conn wasn’t the only one who felt that way. Harvey Gough recalled being told about the Bush file incident by Burkett right after it happened, and several others within the guard attested to Burkett’s integrity. Conn, in fact, had stuck by Burkett throughout his Texas senate testimony on guard malfeasance, in his letter to the state senator, and while serving as a source for USA Today’s eventual story this week. In seven years, Burkett’s story has never changed. The only thing new is George Conn’s failure to support his friend.
Here is one theory. Conn is a civilian employee of the U.S. Army in Germany. There are any number of levers the White House can pull to exercise influence over his comments, an issue the Globe failed to explore. Conn, undoubtedly, one could argue, had reason to worry about his employment if he stuck by Burkett. Burkett, however, understands what he is confronting. He still considers Conn a friend. “But I can’t expect him to give up his life for me over this,” Burkett told me.
A writer’s job includes connecting the pieces. I told Rezendes that a combination of facts made Burkett’s story believable. Reporters had all discovered there were documents missing from the Bush file in Austin. When they filed FOIAs, certain records did not appear. Combine that fact with Karl Rove’s history of deceptive political tactics, Burkett’s impeccable reputation as an officer and a man, and his story is worth telling, even after Conn withdraws his affirmations of events. The information speaks for itself, and rather loudly, though Burkett’s story will not be completely told until my book is released.
I shared all of this with the Globe, but none of it appeared in Rezendes’ article. Conn had convinced Rezendes that Burkett’s story was phony. Rezendes did not report on anything about potential motivation for Conn, nor, did it appear, had he asked Burkett about his own credibility. Burkett is in poor health, living on the edge of the desert in West Texas, and trying to enjoy his retirement after 28 years of service in the National Guard. His wife was an organizer in the state for Republican presidential candidate John McCain. Burkett is uncomfortable on camera, and, as a result of a virus contracted while on duty in Panama, is subject to physical collapse. This is hardly the profile of a man who would choose to make up a story and take on the White House.
The Globe's journalism has now achieved political subjectivity. Rezendes’ story is posted on the Bush campaign’ website, as though it were a GOP news release. The essence of the piece is also the heart of a rambling narrative by Rush Limbaugh on his Internet site. In a confirmation that the truth of Burkett’s story has traction, Limbaugh vilifies me as a hack, dismisses Burkett, and glorifies Rezendes’ and his newspaper. I must be doing my job.
Now, if only Matt Drudge would accuse me of bedding an intern.
A BUZZFLASH GUEST COMMENTARY
Articles in the BuzzFlash Contributor section are posted as-is. Given the timeliness of some Contributor articles, BuzzFlash cannot verify or guarantee the accuracy of every word. We strive to correct inaccuracies when they are brought to our attention.
otherwise noted, all original