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Saturday, September 11, 2004

Alleged Killian memos II

The debate about whether the alleged Killian memos are forgeries has its delights. Every geek dreams of the day in which fonts, superscripts, proportional spacing and kerning make the front page of the New York Times and the Washington Post. Well not quite every geek. I consider myself a geek and I just learned what kerning is. Also the thought of total humiliation of George W Bush, Dan Rather or (most likely) both, must delight all right thinking people.

Sad to say the debate is very very irrelevant. Bush's guard disservice is not a top rank issue, legitimate because Rove dared use surrogates to attack Kerry's record, but not really important. Killian's interaction with Bush is a side issue of a side issue. Any reasonable person can tell that Bush disobeyed regulations and got away with it. Neither Bush nor todays voters need(ed) to have this explicitly pointed out by Killian.

In my more paranoid moments, I imagine that Karl Rove typed the memos using microsoft word then signed them James Killian with a signature that doesn't match Killian's. He must have known that another round of Bush and the TANG was coming after the swift boat vets smear. This way, the press is distracted from the fact (noted by the Boston Globe) that Bush ignored his commitment to find a national guard post in Massachusetts when he was at Harvard BS, that the guy who got him the post in the TANG admitted doing so under oath etc etc etc.

One thing in the alleged memos is that they suggest that Bush ignored a direct order to take a flight physical. This would have been a crime. The really relevant issue here is that the Bush administration has argued that it is OK to disobey a direct order if one judges it to be pointless. The commander in chief can not accept such theories which would destroy all military discipline. Bush must fire the people who stated them, if he wants to claim to be qualified to be commander in chief.

One might reasonably hope that service people understand that the "unless the order requires one to do something which is a waste of time" exception applies only to the well connected, so they won't try to take advantage of it.

Also, the alleged memos are not the first documents which suggest that Bush disobeyed a direct order. Back on St Valentime's day, Mark Kleiman noted that The Democratic Veteran linked to the order grounding Bush and James R Bath (you know Bush's link to the Bin Laden family) as posted by Martin at who I believe is a hero farmer in Iowa.

This order from the General Francis Greenlief (chief natinal guard bureau) grounds Bush and orders "Off will comply with para 2-10 AFM, 35-13." This is an order from a major general. It is written in militareese. What exactly does para 2-10 AFM, 35-13 require ? The most reasonable guess is that it is an order to take a flight physical. This would mean that there is uncontested proof that Bush disobeyed a direct order. However, no one has replied to Kleiman's request for a 1972 Air Force Manual, so we don't know. The manual must be an archived document, so it seems to me that it would make more sense to look it up than to argue about kerns and superscripts.

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