Documentary Planned On Questions Surrounding Bush’s Military Service

The New York Observer reports that Meghan O’Hara, who has worked with Michael Moore on previous documentaries, is working on a documentary about the controversy over George Bush’s military service:

The former president was originally admitted into the Texas Air National Guard more than 40 years ago, in 1968, with the American military already deeply engaged in the war in Vietnam. In 1973, Mr. Bush officially departed the Guard, without having seen any combat, to attend Harvard Business School. What, exactly, transpired in between has since become the subject of much heated debate.

Questions about Mr. Bush’s service in the Guard—did his family use its political connections to help him avoid combat in Vietnam? Did he eventually skirt the requirements of his service?—first began to surface during his successful 1994 run for the governorship in Texas.

Several years later, in the fall of 2004, with Mr. Bush locked in a heated presidential reelection campaign against U.S. Senator John Kerry, the topic exploded into a four-alarm national controversy, thanks to a flawed story on the subject by CBS News’ 60 Minutes II. The story, produced by Mary Mapes and reported by Dan Rather, featured the first on-camera interview with Ben Barnes, the former Texas lieutenant governor, explaining his role in helping Mr. Bush leapfrog a long waiting list to land a coveted spot in the Texas Air National Guard. The story also featured a number of documents ostensibly detailing Mr. Bush’s failure to live up to the requirements of his military duty.

Afterward, reporters and bloggers challenged the veracity of the documents, and CBS News was unable to fully verify the origin or legitimacy of the documents in question, resulting in the so-called Memo-gate scandal and the eventual dismissal of several top CBS News producers, including Ms. Mapes.

Since then, questions about Mr. Bush’s military service have largely dropped out of the national conversation. That said, intense interest in the topic continues to smolder in certain corners of American military and journalistic life.

In 2005, Ms. Mapes wrote a book about Mr. Bush’s military service and the controversy surrounding her reporting on it, called Truth and Duty: The Press, the President, and the Privilege of Power.

Unfortunately this is a little late. With George Bush out of office and not likely to run for any other office, the political significance of this  (and potential audience of such a documentary) is considerably reduced. It does remain of some historical interest to clarify these issues. Unfortunately the story died during the 2004 campaign when questions were raised regarding the documents given to Rather by one source but the case against Bush did not rely on the questionable memos. The story should have been pursued in 2004 based upon the evidence beyond the questionable documents.


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1 Comment

  1. 1
    NatetheGrate says:

    Well, it sure would be nice to know the truth about this, whatever it turns out to be. If George W. fulfilled his obligations to his reserve unit, good for him. But if he didn’t and avoided the consequences because of family connections, what a freakin’ hypocrite!

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