[FoRK] Bush booted from cockpit?

jbone at place.org jbone at place.org
Mon Mar 15 11:06:03 PST 2004

And another one...


Bush booted from cockpit?

As a lieutenant in the Texas Air National Guard, George Bush insists he  
voluntarily stopped flying in 1972 because he simply lost interest in  
being a pilot. That explanation has never washed (most pilots would  
rather fly than eat), and now a new possibility has emerged; the  
Pentagon, suspicious of possible drug or alcohol use, booted Bush from  
the cockpit. That's the intriguing scenario laid out in a detailed,  
must-read [1] from Sunday's Spokane, WA., Spokesman-Review newspaper.

Pointing to stringent U.S. regulations known as the Human Reliability  
Program -- and in place at the time of Bush's spotty service -- the  
rules were used to weed out pilots who had access to nuclear weapons.  
Pilots such as Bush. According to the paper, HRP was instituted "to  
screen military personnel for their mental, physical and emotional  
fitness before granting them access to nuclear weapons and delivery  
systems. Under the rules, pilots could be removed immediately from the  
cockpit for HRP issues."

The Spokesman-Review notes Bush flew F-102s, which routinely carried  
conventional warheads, but were also capable of carrying nuclear-tipped  
missiles, meaning he'd fall under the HRP rules. The paper also reports  
nearly 50,000 pilots were decertified due to HRP between 1975 and 1984.

If Bush was yanked because of the program there ought to be a clear  
paper trail in his military records. But no mention was found among the  
documents the White House released last month in an effort to quell the  
controversy of Bush's missing year [2] from the Texas Air National  
Guard between 1972 and 1973. Then again, there were lots of things  
missing from that White House document dump, such as an Officer  
Effectiveness Report for Bush's final year in the Guard. It's among the  
most important evaluations superiors do on officers. But according to  
White House, the document simple does not exist.

The Spokesman-Review got nowhere with the White House, the Pentagon, or  
the National Guard Bureau with its questions about Bush's Guard  
service, and any possible HRP connection. It's obvious an information  
lockdown is now in effect. Even the National Guard Bureau's Freedom of  
Information Act officer has stopped taking requests on Bush's military  

Still, the article goes a long way in explaining what's always been the  
biggest mystery surrounding Bush's questionable Guard service: Why did  
he stop flying? When he landed a coveted spot in the Texas Air National  
Guard at the height of the Vietnam War in 1968, Bush pledged, "I have  
applied for pilot training with the goal of making flying a lifetime  
pursuit." Instead, 22 months after the government spent nearly $1  
million training him to be a pilot, Bush, with two years left on his  
commitment, simply walked away from his aviating career, never flying  
after April 1972.

The article wasn't all bad news for Bush. He still has a few Guard  
defenders. Retired Brig. Gen. Walter Staudt, the man who got Bush a  
direct commission as a second lieutenant straight out of Yale  
University in May 1968, is 81 years old and itching for a fight. "I  
love the guy [Bush]," he told the Statesman-Review. "I'm so tired of  
this negative crap about him that I'd like to volunteer to build a barn  
and take you press guys out behind it and kick your asses."

-- Eric Boehlert

[08:07 PST, March 15, 2004]


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