The Bush Document Dump

So far as I understand it, the White House is giving reporters access to the documents from Bush’s military records but not letting them have copies. According to the LA Times today, the White House is showing reporters copies of medical records while distributing copies of other (presumably less sensitive) documents. Unfortunately, I cannot trust the LA Times, based on the way they reported Thursday this week about how Bush listed his arrest record in his Guard application.

The part that concerns me reported is in an LA Times article from Feb. 13th. It says (call this item 1):

On the form, Bush was asked: “Have you ever been arrested, indicted or convicted for any violation of civil or military law including minor traffic violations? (If YES, explain stating nature of offense, date, name and place of the court and disposition of the case.)”

And then the article goes on to list various infractions:

According to McClellan’s unaltered copy, Bush responded: “Misdemeanor, New Haven, Connecticut, December 1966, charge dismissed.

“Two speeding tickets, July ‘64 and August ‘64, $10 fine, Houston traffic court.

“Two collisions, July ‘62 and August ‘62, $25 fine, Houston traffic court.”

Now, that all seems just fine and dandy.

Except Kevin Drum points to the full graphic of the redacted document (cited in a blog entry of his from Feb. 13th), and that document says at the bottom quite clearly in the non-redacted section (call this item 2):

Have you ever been detained, held, arrested, indicted or summoned into court as a defendant in a criminal proceeding, or convicted, fined or imprisoned or placed on probation, or have you ever been ordered to deposit bail or collateral for the violation of any law, police regulation or ordinance (excluding minor traffic violations for which a fine or forfeiture of $25 or less was imposed [Italics in original])? Include all court martials while in military service [blacked out] If “YES” list the date, the nature of the offense of violation, the name and location of the court or place of hearing, and the penalty imposted or other disposition of each case.

Item 1, in the LA Times, says “including minor traffic violations” while Item 2, in the actual document the newspaper is presumably reporting about, says “exluding minor traffic violations for which a fine or forfeiture of $25 or less was imposed.”

That’s a direct contradiction between the LA Times report and the actual wording on the document.

Of more concern, though, is that if the instructions say to exclude minor traffic violations, why would Bush have included two such violations that did not exceed the $25 fine listed in the instructions?

How can we trust that the LA Times is correctly reporting what is on the original document when they reverse the meaning of the one part of the document that we are able to confirm?

And given that two of the three items reported to be on the document should never have been included, according to the instructions on the document, how can we trust that what the LA Times reports about the document is correct, and not just as innacurate as its characterization of what was included/excluded?

OK, that’s step 1. Step 2 is:

Given that it’s demonstrably the case that the press is able to look at these documents and then write articles that report precisely the opposite of what those documents say (“include” vs. “exclude”), how can we trust that reporters who see this new batch of documents in the White House are going to correctly report what’s in those documents?

ABC News has already concluded that there’s nothing there, as Terry Moran on ABC Nightly News on Thursday and Friday cast the dental exam and the payroll records as proof of Bush’s service in Alabama (treating “Bush was proven to be in Alabama during the period” and “Bush was on base in Alabama during the period” as though it means “Bush served his duty in Alabama during the period”).

I don’t trust the media to report accurately on these documents.

Therefore, all the documents need to be released to the public, not just to the White House press corp, or we haven’t gained anything at all in terms of completeness.

Last of all, how can we know that the documents released through the White House are all the documents in the files? Doesn’t the full disclosure Bush promised in the Russert interview require that Bush authorize free access to the documents directly, rather than as provided by the White House? How else could the public ever know that all the records have been made available?