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Bush's Silence on Guard Duty Speaks Volumes


President Bush's tenure as a member of the Texas Air National Guard has dogged him throughout much of his time in the Oval Office. Perhaps the most publicized report on the President's service came in the summer of 2004 during the presidential campaign when CBS News broadcast a report by Dan Rather, the former anchorman who left the network last week after more than 30 years. That report was largely discredited when it was learned that parts of it were based on unauthenticated letters.

The President's time in the military is raised again in a new book by a former Texas political insider. NPR's Senior News Analyst Daniel Schorr reprises the author's claims.

DANIEL SCHORR reporting:

The story of President Bush and the Texas Air National Guard seems to be a hardy perennial. Its most recent incarnation was on CBS 60 Minutes 2 in 2004. Allegations that it was favoritism that got the young George W. Bush a spot in the National Guard collapsed under the weight of the revelation that the allegation was based in part on forged documents. Now comes a book by the man who says he was the won who swung the deal on behalf of Texas oilman Sidney Adger, a close friend of then Congressman George Bush. In his book, which is titled Barn Burning, Bond Building, Ben Barnes, who was a Democratic Speaker of the Texas House in 1968, said that he called General James Rose, the Air National Guard commander, and asked that young Bush be appointed ahead of those on the long waiting list.

Barnes wrote, I looked at it as a simple political favor of the kind that might one day pay back a dividend or two. Barnes also touches on another question, why young Bush having made it into the Guard and gotten his pilot training, failed to show up for a required physical examination. It has never been adequately explained why Bush never took that physical. Barnes does express regret for having helped Bush to get into the Guard. He says, I want to make clear how ashamed I am of what I did. For every privileged boy like George W. Bush that I helped, another young man was shipped to Vietnam. I don't expect the White House to comment on this latest blooming of a hardy perennial. This is Daniel Schorr. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.