August 30, 2004
Is Bush a "Phony Veteran"?
BUZZFLASH GUEST CONTRIBUTION
A great deal of media attention currently focuses on Senator John Kerry’s heroic wartime military service. The media attention is drawn by the partisan group, "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth."
However, combat veterans want to know more details about President George Bush’s military service, including his veteran status. All Americans, especially current active duty service members and veterans are demanding a full accounting of Bush’s military records.
This isn’t an academic exercise: there are nearly 1,000 dead U.S. veterans from the Iraq War, and Bush claims to be a "wartime President." Is Bush a veteran or not? Bush must be asked by the press to provide evidence he is, in fact, a veteran. Or, at a minimum, explain why the White House took years to release this key information.
The stakes are high. If Bush isn’t a veteran, then Bush is ineligible for membership in The American Legion. If Bush isn’t a veteran, this would be a bombshell of enormous proportions and raise questions about Bush’s credibility as Commander in Chief for America’s 25 million veterans.
The questions surrounding Bush’s veteran status and Legion membership are timely and urgent, because Bush speaks this week before The American Legion convention in Nashville, Tennessee. Bush’s military status is critical because Bush holds political rallies before crowds of active duty service members and often wears military-issued clothing, such as when he wore a Navy flight suit and proclaimed the Iraq War was "Mission Accomplished."
Legionnaires might become very irate that Bush tainted their honor as veterans and all the community activities and patriotic events they organize by failing to meet the minimum qualifications to be a veteran and member.
If Bush is, in fact, a "phony veteran," then the impact on Bush’s campaign would be absolutely devastating. Three million members of The Legion would quickly realize they are victims of an insidious scheme to defraud and undermine The Legion’s credibility.
Reasonable people want evidence to support the claim that Bush is either a real veteran or a "phony veteran." Therefore, here’s information about Bush’s claims to be a Legionnaire, information about Legion eligibility, and links to Bush’s military records. The burden is on the White House because Bush hasn’t released any evidence he meets eligibility requirements to be a veteran and Legionnaire.
As Bush has done at prior Legion speeches, he’ll probably wear an American Legion cap, and he’ll mention he’s a member of Legion Post 77 in Houston, Texas. At a television appearance before the Legion in four years ago, Bush claimed to be a Legionnaire.
Even more recently, the Houston Chronicle reported Bush was a Legionnaire in 2003 to rally support for his pre-emptive and unilateral invasion and occupation of Iraq. "Bush, a former Texas Air National Guardsman and a member of the American Legion's Post 77 in Houston, emphasized the positive benchmarks of the war [in Iraq] ...."
There is even current evidence of Bush claiming to be a Legionnaire. On page 32 of the September edition of "The American Legion," The Legion identifies Bush as a member of Post 77.
So, how does a person become a member of The Legion? Here are the qualifications, according to The Legion’s web site:
Bush meets the condition of military service between 1962 and 1975 listed at the Legion web site. However, there is no evidence he meets the criteria of "active military duty" plus an honorable discharge from "active military duty." The Legion membership is clear, military "training" only isn’t listed as an option.
In order to avoid any confusion, let’s look at the terms used in the Legion application, such as "active duty" and "active duty for training" used by the government. As shown by the definitions, "active duty" is significantly different from "active duty for training." A person can only become a "veteran" if they were on "active duty" and have discharge from "active duty" that isn’t "dishonorable." Simply having "active duty for training" is not enough to meet the requirements to be a "veteran."
The Legion also requires a person’s "active duty" must be on Federal Orders. In contrast, State Orders, such as the Texas Air National Guard (TANG) don’t qualify a person for Legion membership. To verify Federal Orders, a complete personnel folder must be available. As the Associated Press law suit points out, only part of Bush’s military records were released. This places the burden of releasing evidence of "active duty" squarely on the shoulders of George W. Bush.
The public can view is Bush’s DD214 from August 1968, but not all of his records. Box 17 of Bush’s DD214 (Report of Separation from Active Duty) lists only "AD for TNG (which is "active duty for training"). Bush’s DD214 contains no entries for "active duty" for purposes other than training, a huge difference. When a recruit like George Bush is sent by the TANG to training, they are provided a DD214, but that doesn’t automatically mean they are a veteran; the document usually means the person finished a period of "active duty for training."
The limited paperwork provided by the White House shows Bush went from the Texas Air National Guard (TANG) to "active duty for training." Then Bush went back to TANG where he performed weekend training drills. There is no evidence of Federal Orders (often referred to as Title 10 Federal Orders).
All of the paperwork released by the White House contains only State Orders (often referred to as Title 32 State Orders). If Bush’s only orders are under Title 32, then Bush’s isn’t a veteran, and Bush isn’t eligible to be a Legionnaire.
It may be possible that Bush has Federal Orders, but he hasn’t released the evidence yet. Out of hundreds of pages released late one Friday afternoon in February 2004, there is no evidence to support Bush’s claim. If there are Federal Orders, Bush should release them immediately along with information about his missing months of TANG service.
In fact, the White House intentionally withheld some of Bush’s military records. "The White House didn't release 44 pages of medical records that Bush's aides received this week, but they allowed a small pool of reporters to peruse them for 20 minutes. Bartlett said that was to maintain a zone of privacy that ‘has been traditionally afforded, even to the president.’"
Bush’s DD214 doesn’t list any Federal Orders. So let’s look at Bush’s discharge from the Air Force Reserve, a form called an NGB 22. Bush’s NGB 22 came from the TANG through the Air Reserve Personnel Center, not from the U.S. Air Force (USAF), where people serve on active duty. Under Line 30 on Bush’s NGB 22, only ANG training is listed. There are no periods of Federal Orders for active duty listed on Bush’s NGB 22.
The issue of Bush’s veteran status was brought up at the very start of the last presidential campaign season, but the press dropped it after one story.
The Associated Press (AP) reported Bush’s non-veteran status in 1999, even going so far as to cite the USAF. The AP article confirms Bush was never on active duty. The AP reporter who wrote the story should double-check their sources and quotes. And the AP should be asked to explain why this story was dropped five years ago.
The USAF said Bush was only in training status. Bush served only in the TANG, not in the USAF. The AP article below shows Bush’s spokeswoman Karen Hughes blurring the lines and saying training was equal to active duty.
what’s the bottom line? How do reasonable people check the facts to see
if George W. Bush is a veteran and eligible for Legion membership?
First, each Legion Post must keep a copy of every member’s evidence
of membership eligibility. For Bush, his DD214 and NGB 22 are insufficient
because they don’t document Federal Orders. Therefore, either Bush
lied about his active duty then, or he is withholding documents from
The Legion and the public now.
First, each Legion Post must keep a copy of every member’s evidence of membership eligibility. For Bush, his DD214 and NGB 22 are insufficient because they don’t document Federal Orders. Therefore, either Bush lied about his active duty then, or he is withholding documents from The Legion and the public now.
Without evidence of "active duty" and "veteran" status, any civilian could walk off the street and join The American Legion by merely asserting to be a veteran. Investigative reporters should call and visit the Legion Post where Bush claims to be a member and demand evidence that he is or isn’t a veteran.
If the Legion Post won’t assist with providing evidence of Bush’s Federal Orders, then call Legion National Headquarters at (317) 630-1200. However, there may be a problem. According to the Associated Press, Bush’s Legion membership expired in 2002.
Other than sending the entire national press corps to Post 77, Legion headquarters, or the Legion convention this week to demand clear and convincing evidence of veteran status, here are three groups that ought to launch a full investigation into Bush’s veteran status and Legion membership:
In conclusion, let’s go over the facts. Bush has not provided any evidence he is a veteran. Therefore, Bush may not be eligible to be a Legionnaire. The issue here is the credibility of the President of the United States. Bush should show honor and openness. Either he provides evidence of his Federal Orders, or he resigns from The Legion and apologies to the membership at the Legion convention in Nashville.
A BUZZFLASH GUEST CONTRIBUTION
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