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Gore Campaign Declined Bush Guard Story
AP via Yahoo! ^ | 09/20/04 | Matt Kelley

Posted on 09/22/2004 12:09:35 AM PDT by conservative in nyc

WASHINGTON - Former Vice President Al Gore (news - web sites)'s presidential campaign heard but did not pursue allegations about George W. Bush's Air National Guard service, similar to the information in discredited documents aired by CBS News this month, a former campaign official said Tuesday.

Tony Coelho, who ran the campaign for several months in 2000, said he did not follow up on the claims because they were not serious enough to demand further attention.

"Of everyone I talked to, no one had anything that rose to the level that we should get ourselves into," Coelho said.

CBS and anchor Dan Rather apologized Monday for a "60 Minutes" segment that quoted documents purported to be from one of Bush's commanders in the Texas Air National Guard. The documents say the commander, Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, ordered Bush to take a medical exam, which he did not, and felt pressured to sugarcoat an evaluation of then-1st Lt. Bush.

Rather said the network could not determine if the memos were authentic.

White House officials and other Republicans suggested that Democrat John Kerry (news - web sites)'s presidential campaign was behind the CBS report. Kerry campaign officials denied that.

Kerry adviser Joe Lockhart said he spoke with Bill Burkett, who gave CBS the documents, after a network producer suggested it. Lockhart and Burkett said they only discussed how Kerry could respond to a group of Republican veterans who accuse Kerry of exaggerating his Vietnam War record.

Coelho said he remembered taking phone calls in 2000 from several Texans with allegations about Bush's Guard service. He said he did not remember if any were from Burkett, a former Texas Army National Guard officer and longtime Bush critic.

"I never felt there was anything substantive for us to try to deal with or not, so we never pursued it," Coelho said. "We never had any documents given to us. That would have been something different. We would have had to check it out."

TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: algore; coehlo; gore; memogate; rathergate; tang; tonycoelho
Nonsense. This is why the Democrats rue the day Algore invented the Internet.

Algore DID try to use the Bush AWOL story in the closing days of the 2000 campaign. Senators Bob Kerrey, Daniel Inouye and Max Cleland disparaged President Bush's military service in a press conference that I'm sure Algore had everything to do with:

Bob Kerrey: "During May 1968, there were 350 Americans dying every week in Vietnam, and he applied, as was his right, to the Texas Air National Guard. He applied to the Texas Air National Guard. In spite of the fact that there were 500 people ahead of him; he was accepted on the same day he applied. Now, I'll let him explain how that happened. I don't question that both he and I were both given an opportunity to go to college, and we were not required to go to Vietnam while we were in college. When we got out of college, we were required to serve; he made a commitment to the Texas Air National Guard. And, God bless him for doing so. There have been many moments when Nebraska National Guard folks are on their way to Bosnia or some other deployment and they say goodbye to their families, too. They rip their lives as well. I'm not taking anything away for our Guard or our Reserve men and women. But, Governor Bush made a six-year commitment. And, he's making truth telling and character a big issue in this campaign."

Daniel Inouye: "The question is where were you, Governor Bush? What about your commitment? What would you do as Commander In Chief if someone in the Guard or in another service did the same thing? During my service, if I missed training for two years, at the least, I would have been court-martialed. I would have been placed in prison."

Max Cleland: "About thirty years ago, there were two young men about my age who faced a similar decision. They were both the sons of influential families. They both attended Ivy League colleges. They both could easily get a deferment or an easy assignment. One did, one did not."

"It's still a little unclear what George W. actually did do, but I can tell you what Al Gore did."
"Tell him and George Bush that it makes a difference if you served your country. It makes a difference if you chose not to. Al Gore is only man qualified to be our next president and Commander-in-Chief, and is the man veterans and the military need in the White House. I am honored and proud to support my fellow veteran, Al Gore."

And at the exact same time, Bev Harris of was pushing the Burkett angle (along with statements of Marty Heldt and Robert A. Rogers) in a press release:

"Air National Guard Commanding Officer Alleges Bush Military Records Cleansing

SUBJ: Military Records of George W. Bush - Clarification Bill L. Burkett LTC (ret)

Within the morning press reports in the London Sunday Times and other publications, I am stated to have alleged that the staff of George W. Bush doctored [the key term] the military files of George W. Bush in whatever attempt to cover his military record.

Let me answer questions about my responses within a chronological pattern:

Was this politically motivated and coordinated with the Gore Campaign?

No. Not whatsoever. In no way did any member of the Gore Campaign or any election official, Republican or Democrat know my comments. My observations were responses to questions of how the file was developed; disseminated under the Freedom of information Act (FOIA) and what was missing within the files which would resolve the question of satisfactory participation. These were my personal responses to the asked questions that were not sanctioned by anyone, nor shared with anyone. They were made on the basis of my 28 year career, my working experience within the senior staff at the Texas National Guard headquarters and my knowledge of the operational procedures of the US military including the subject of personnel files of retired or discharged soldiers and airmen.

Why, do you believe, you were contacted?

Question 3 will background how this occurred which should be self-explanatory. The context of the DUI story indicated the mishandling or failure to fully disclose a past criminal record of Governor Bush. I believe that the military record and the irregularities that point to a possible extended period of nonperformance and early release may have also indicated a pattern of lack of full disclosure by the Governor and his campaign. This issue of military records had been highly visible on at least two previous occasions within the campaign, however, Senator Kerrey as an honored and decorated SEAL most recently focused on this issue within the last ten days I would guess that within the eleventh hour and following the revelation of the DUI story, the media and voters were waiting for the next shoe to drop. This issue may have been viewed as the next shoe.

In June of 1998 and with the full and personal knowledge of Dan Bartlett and the Governor, I reported problems of force structure, readiness operational efficiency personnel and procedures within the Texas National Guard. At that time, and periodically thereafter, I have been in contact with various [audio, video and print]news writers and publishers. In 1998, I provided sufficient detailed information including documentation of severe irregularities within the Governors own chain of command in an effort to correct those deficiencies which I believe undermined the Texas National Guard and in some cases broke the law.

How did your reference in this story develop?

I contacted a website that outlined the Governor's personal military career irregularities and suggested that there were two official documents that would resolve the issue of satisfactory and honorable service. Suddenly on Friday afternoon, my telephone became barraged with media calls and messages including those who had known of my previous whistleblowing but had failed report it. I explained my background and personal observations to each of them in minute detail, often repeating the entire process for clarity. I was extremely careful not to point an accusing finger, but rather shape a question which could resolve this allegation of integrity that had clouded the Bush campaign since June of 1999 - the issue of his personal military service.

Did you allege that the governor's staff doctored the records?

No, instead I stated that the way this had been handled by the Bush staff including knowledgeable military officials at the Texas national guard, that it left the implication that the Bush staff had first incompetently provided an incomplete military file for the Governor which was consistent with his autobiography. I further observed that they probably did not anticipate that the file would be scrutinized to the level that it was. Whenever someone determined holes is service big enough to drive a Mack truck through additional information [all of which was unofficial and some in pencil notations] were then submitted to the press to answer questions. I further observed this "Trust me, I'm the Governor" approach had worked throughout Texas for George W. Bush within his tenure and the media had give the Governor a free pass without the same scrutiny as the Vice President until the eleventh hour revelation of the DUI. But this still left the basic question - Why didn't Governor Bush simply release his military pay files and retirement points accounting records, which are the only OFFICIAL records that will show that he satisfactorily and honorably completed his service commitment?

Were there other issues that you discussed?

Yes. In each call, I, in essence scolded media representatives for not doing their homework and reviewing this information before the eleventh hour. When asked if I would go on record, I said, yes, I have nothing to hide even though I knew that the mention of my name with the Bush campaign would immediately strike a personal response because of my whistleblowing in 1998.

Again, was this a Democratic ploy as stated by Karen Hughes of the Bush staff?

No. Absolutely not.

Karen Hughes has again skirted the real issue and question. Dan Bartlett and the Governor have also refused to answer the basic question and furnish the OFFICIAL files that will resolve this issue. I am in no way linked to the Democratic Party. I am simply an energized citizen and retired soldier who would like to have the issues of each possible commander-in-chief resolved prior to the election, in order that we can escape holding another American Presidency hostage to actions and allegations by the opposing party in Congress. We have suffered from this partisanship for the past eight years. George W. Bush says that he is the only candidate who can bridge this impasse. This is his opportunity to start that process. This is what I believe other Americans share with me - a sincere belief that they have the right and capacity to make educated decisions; but that candidates have the responsibility for full and complete disclosure.If you would like to speak with me personally - on the record - I can be reached at [Phone Number Deleted] in Abilene, Texas.

Please call in order to verify my signature.
Bill L. Burkett
LTC (Ret)"

I doubt this coordinated attack was a mere coincidence.

There's more information on the Second Gore October/November surprise here.
1 posted on 09/22/2004 12:09:36 AM PDT by conservative in nyc
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To: conservative in nyc

An ethics contest between Dan Rather and Tony Coelho...

Now THAT's amusing! LOL.

2 posted on 09/22/2004 12:52:37 AM PDT by calcowgirl
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