Tuesday, September 14, 2004

One of the charges about President Bush's stint in the Texas Air National Guard is that he or his family pulled strings to jump over a long waiting line to get in and, therefore sent someone else to die in Viet Nam in his place. Is any of this true?

Nope. It turns out that there was a waiting list to get into the Guard in general but being a pilot was more work than any of these people wanted to put in.

E.D. Hill: "One of the other claims is that President Bush, because of his
connections, was able to in essence jump ahead of hundreds of applicants. Now,
you were the head of the Texas Air National Guard at that time. Did a
significant number of people meet the requirements for the physical,
educational, and security needs to even apply for the specific position that
President Bush took?"

Lively: "No, well actually, I wasn't the head of the Air National Guard,
but I was the head of operations. I was director of operations, and I oversaw
and inspected all the units in Texas, flew with them, and the -- there was no
waiting list for this. See, this is often confused with another thing, which was
a waiting list to simply enlist in the Guard and do your service there rather
than the regular military, and there were lots of people on those waiting lists.
but those people weren't qualified to go to pilot training school. Now in the
course of reading all this stuff, I discovered that Lieutenant Bush took the Air
Force pilot and officer examinations while he was still at Yale finishing up, so
obviously he was looking for a place to be a pilot. And the personnel, some of
the distortion on this came out four years ago when this story first surfaced,
because some people had been in personnel in the Air National Guard including
lower ranking officers in my headquarters, gave improper information to the Los
Angeles Times who had come out with the original story, and a Times reporter
reported erroneous information, not his fault, but theirs."

Hill: So there was no waiting list, therefore there was no list that, you
know, people that he could have jumped in front of?"

Lively: "There was a long waiting list to just simply enlist in the Guard
as a basic airman, but to go in as an officer and go off to flying training. You
don't go to Air Force pilot training unless you really want to fly."

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