Assume the Position
Friday, September 24, 2004
Link to Beheading Videos, Lose PayPal Account
Bill Quick is upset (my ellipsis and emphasis):
Just got this email.
Dear William Quick,
We appreciate the fact that you chose PayPal to send and receive payments for your transactions.
However, your account has been limited for violating PayPal's Acceptable Use Policy regarding Offensive Material. The Policy prohibits the use of PayPal in the sale of items or in support of organizations that promote hate, violence, or racial intolerance; items which graphically portray violence or victims of violence; or items closely associated with individuals notorious for committing murderous acts within the last 100 years.
To appeal the limitation on your account, you will need to:
1. Remove those items from your website that violate PayPal's Acceptable Use Policy. For example, any link to images or videos of terrorsit [sic] executions; and
Sincerely, PayPal Compliance Department PayPal, an eBay Company
What do you think? My initial inclination is to tell these little tin gods to take their attempts to dictate the nature of my content elsewhere.
My second is to wonder if anybody has any free legal advice.
My third is to give these would-be control freaks as much bad publicity as I can.
Anybody want to help me spread the word?
On September 20, 2004, in the post "But Who Speaks For Berg's Son," Quick linked directly to a video of Eugene Armstrong's beheading. Three days later he got the notification from PayPal.
I think there is little, if any, human involvement in that process. PayPal is under constant government scrutiny for any role in facilitating illegal funds transfers. (In July, they reached a $10 million settlement with the government over charges they "aided illegal offshore and online gambling.") No doubt, such scrutiny includes looking for funds transfers that may support terrorists, and PayPal is under an affirmative obligation similar to banks and other financial institutions to do their own monitoring to avoid being used as an intermediary for illegal transactions. The rules for the automated monitoring may be pretty simple in this case: a site links to terrorist recruiting and propaganda videos, the site has a link for PayPal donations, the site is possibly a jihadist site supporting terrorists, PayPal may be being used for the illegal transfer of funds to terrorists and/or terrorist supporters, the associated PayPal account gets suspended and the user is notified by email because PayPal isn't going to take the chance of getting charged by the feds over those transfers.
It doesn't matter whether the action against Daily Pundit was prompted by the results of an automatic search or by someone complaining to PayPal. As far as PayPal is concerned there are only two important questions: 1) does the site link to violent terrorist recruiting propaganda, and 2) does the site link to a PayPal account? If the answer to both is yes, the account gets suspended. PayPal isn't going to undertake a serious investigation to determine whether Daily Pundit is a 'legitimate news and commentary site' or just another underground jihadist website, nor do I think they have an obligation to do so. They provide a service and can terminate it if they think it is potentially being misused, especially if that misuse could place them in violation of US law.
My non-lawyerly advice to Quick is to either end his relationship with PayPal or remove the link to the video of Armstrong's beheading. Trying to convince them his site is legitimate and the link should remain would probably be a wasted effort.
UPDATE: According to Kevin Drum, the same thing happened to TalkLeft, but the notice they received from PayPal was a bit clearer on the offending link (even with the spelling error): "For example, any links to obtain the Eugene Armstrong begeading [sic] video…"
Additionally, a commenter on Drum's post calling himself A PayPal Employee says (apparently in reference to TalkLeft's suspension), "Someone no doubt sent in a complaint, some customer service person took a look at the site, said "looks like an AUP violation", and locked the account. In this case, the user in question had a convincing story, took down the link, and was unlocked within a day." I may have jumped the gun in assuming PayPal uses some automated system to check for user violations of this type.
UPDATE - October 4, 2004: Paypal got around to reviewing Daily Pundit, by which time the link to the Armstrong beheading video had gone dead, essentially putting Daily Pundit back in compliance with PayPal's Acceptable Use Policy. Quick claims victory (emphasis added):
I want to thank everybody who linked to my blog, and all of you who supported me in other ways. I'm not foolish enough to believe that this outcome would have been possible without the help of every one of you who wrote, emailed, called, or otherwise communicated your displeasure to PayPal.I wonder what PayPal's decision would have been if the link to the beheading video was still working when they reviewed the site? In that case, I suspect Quick would have been "asked to change or remove" the link before his account was unfrozen. (Via Silflay Hraka.)
I am of two minds as to whether I should restore PayPal myself. I know many of you canceled your account in sympathy. I would probably have canceled my own account, except that when it was frozen, I wasn't permitted to do so. On the other hand, I do believe in rewarding good corporate behavior, and I do regard this as an example of such. I was not asked to change or remove anything from my site in order to have my account restored. My position all along was that Daily Pundit was a legitimate news and commentary site, and I would not tolerate efforts from anybody to censor the content of this site. This outcome seems to have established to some (unknown) extent that my stand has merit, and with any luck will provide a precedent should other legitimate news-commentary blogs undergo similar problems.
Thursday, September 23, 2004
No Mystery: FOX PDF is a Rescan of the White House Released CBS Killian Memos
LGF has some people stirred up over a minor error by somebody at FOX News. The FOX PDF (3.53 MB) of four of the almost certainly forged CBS Killian memos has the wrong internal creation date, obviously because the computer the PDF was created on had (and probably still has) its date set wrong. I said, "obviously," because the likelyhood of the FOX PDF having been created in February 2004 is about the same as the CBS Killian memos being legitimate.
Three of the four image pages in the FOX PDF clearly have "Sep 10 04 03:08p" in the upper left and the remains of a page number ("p.") in the upper right. I will call that line the FOX Sep header. The FOX PDF was either created from documents that were faxed and scanned on September 10, 2004, or, if it was created long before then, whoever was handling the documents was psychic or in on some conspiracy and knew that the documents would be shown September 8, 2004 on 60 Minutes, or certainly no earlier than September 10, and skillfully post-dated the FOX Sep header.
When you view the FOX PDF in an Adobe PDF reader, the document information displays "Created: 2/6/04 3:24:48 PM" along with other information about the file. The internal object in the FOX PDF containing the wrong date that generates the display is raw text:
7 0 obj
/Producer (HP ScanJet)
/Creator (HP PrecisionScan Pro)
Because that date is February 6, 2004, a lot of people are going off on a tangent about the memos being around at least that long, since that is when the PDF was apparently created. And if the PDF was created by FOX, then they are part of the conspiracy. The simple explanation — the computer the PDF was created on had the wrong date — mentioned in numerous comments to the LGF post and other blogs, doesn't seem to satisfy some of those people. Maybe this will.
CBS News faxed copies of the Killian memos to the White House on September 7, 2004. The White House released the faxed copies to the press during or after 60 Minutes on September 8, 2004. The released copies retained the CBS News fax header on top. Remnants of that fax header seem to appear in the images in the FOX PDF. That being the case, the FOX PDF could not have been created before the White House release and, most likely, it was created sometime after 3:08 PM on September 10, 2004.
The White House released copies appear in a PDF that was either produced by the White House or the Associated Press, available here: White House / Associated Press PDF (80.3 kb). The Adobe reader document information shows "Created: 9/8/04 8:43:41 PM" and "Modified: 9/8/04 9:17:49 PM." The internal object in the PDF is:
30 0 obj
/Creator ( )
/Producer ( )
The image below shows the tops of the four pages in the WH/AP PDF down to the date on the Killian memo. They are reproduced in the order they appear when the PDF is displayed (by PDF page number), which, in this case, is the fax page number order. The CBS News fax header is plainly visible, even at the reduced size of the images. The highlighted areas show the parts of the fax header that appear in the images in the FOX PDF.
The image below shows the tops of the four pages in the FOX PDF, again in display order (chronologically by the dates on the memos, this time) with the areas of interest highlighted. Assuming the "Sep 10 04 03:08p" is a fax header, it is easy to see the pages were fed into the fax machine slightly crooked. The lines across the top and down the left are not quite horizontal and vertical, respectively, while the FOX Sep header is almost perfectly horizontal all the way over to the "p." on the right. Those lines are from the top and left of the pages that were faxed or mounted and scanned on whatever produced the FOX Sep header. In any case, the remnants under the top line are of interest, because they come from the memo documents used.
For the following detailed comparison, the PDFs were viewed in Adobe Reader 6.0 CE with the magnification set to 150% and the images captured with the reader's built in "Snapshot Tool." At this slight magnification, even with a bit of fuzziness from the JPEG compression, it is clear that the smudges in the FOX PDF match the tops of the CBS fax header on the copies received by the White House on September 7, 2004.
The above should satisfy nearly everybody. The images in the FOX PDF are refaxed and rescanned versions of the CBS Killian memos faxed to the White House and released by them.
There are diehards who might insist, "Ok, there's the remains of some kind of fax header or something on there, but it doesn't prove it's from the CBS faxes to the White House," even though the remnant page numbers seem to match the memo dates in the differently ordered FOX PDF. [The May 4, 1972 memo is the second page of the WH/AP PDF and the first page of the FOX PDF, the remnant closely matches the top of "PAGE 02" of the CBS News fax header. Likewise, the August 18, 1973 memo, which is the fourth page in both PDFs, shows a remnant of "PAGE 04," yet the clear FOX Sep header on the page shows "p.3" (apparently the order it was faxed in).] There is a small possibility of coincidence: the red remnant could be from a 02 or 03 and the blue remnant from a 04 or 01, there are only 16 possible ways to order four documents, other fax machines might space their headers the same way, and so on. Occam's Razor says we should have stopped long before now, but let's go one step further.
A standard size of a sheet of paper in the US is 8.5 x 11 in. The Adobe reader says the pages in the WH/AP PDF are 8.48 x 11 in. On the faxes from CBS News to the White House, the CBS news fax header appears to have been placed by the fax machine within the borders of the 8.5 x 11 document that was faxed. In the FOX PDF, however, the FOX Sep header is clearly above the horizontal line marking the top of the faxed document. The August 18, 1973 memo on the fourth page of both PDFs has initials/file coding/signature in the lower right corner. To get the full 8.5 x 11 image with the additional FOX Sep header above it, the image had to be slightly reduced in size (that is a normal function of fax machines, which will reduce, crop, or split pages when the transmitted paper size doesn't match the receiving unit's paper size). However the fax machine operated and the images entered into the PDF creation software, the Adobe reader indicates each page is 7.63 x 10.76 in.
Because the document images are different sizes in the two PDFs, properly comparing them requires they be magnified by different amounts. I used the easy trial-and-error method. First, I magnified the May 19, 1972 memo on the third page of the WH/AP PDF by 400% and copied the subject line into a new image. Then I went to the May 19, 1972 memo on the second page of the FOX PDF and copied and pasted the same line at various magnifications until the length matched the copy from the WH/AP PDF. The lengths matched using a magnification of 425%. Those magnification factors were used for the final step, taking another look at the CBS fax phone number.
Although the orange image was probably good enough to satisfy most people, here are the same areas from the PDFs again, this time with the FOX image magnified 425% and placed above the WH/AP image magnified 400%.
Not 100% proof, but certainly beyond any reasonable doubt, the remnant on the FOX PDF is the fax phone number from the CBS News fax header. [After what CBS has done, I feel no hesitation in displaying that number. Besides, it may have already been disconnected since it's been public since the WH/AP PDF was released --lp.]
Still, the really, truly, tin-foil hatted crowd might say the remnant could be from another phone number, or CBS News had the documents months before Burkett supposedly gave them the first two in August 2004, and has been faxing them hither and yon. While the probability of that is some smidgeon above zero, I don't believe it to be the case.
As far as I'm concerned, there is no mystery aside from the minor one dealing with the competence of whoever produced the FOX PDF. Not only was the date on the machine wrong, they created a huge file. The WH/AP PDF is only 82,246 bytes and is quite readable. The poorer quality USA Today PDF containing all six suspected forgeries was originally only 90,078 bytes (it's been modified to 115,587 bytes to add a new first page which says CBS no longer vouches for the authenticity of the documents). The four individual PDFs of the documents on the CBS site range from 77-151 kB. But the FOX PDF weighs in at 3,710,889 bytes — over 45 times larger than the WH/AP PDF, with no better quality. It seems whoever scanned the documents and created the PDF didn't bother to compress the images at all. So, whoever created the FOX PDF might be somewhat technically incompetent, but they aren't part of the conspiracy.
There are just a few notes to wrap this up.
First, it's very easy to mess up the date on a Windows computer. That's because one of the quickest ways to check a calendar is to double-click on the time in the Windows Taskbar. That brings up the Date/Time Properties page with a dropdown to pick months and a scroller for the years. The problem is that if you click OK when you are done checking dates in the calendar, you've just set the system date to whatever month and year was last displayed. Clicking Cancel is safe, unless you really wanted to change the system date.
Second, the answer to a question I've seen in some blog comments. It is possible to change a PDF's internal creation date without apparently changing the file's Created and Modified date, at least in Windows 98 and prior. Because that object in an unencrypted PDF is raw text, a disk editor or hex editor can be used to change the numbers. So long as you don't add or remove any bytes from the file you won't get an error. (There are various checksums in the PDF format, adding or removing bytes will pop-up a an error message like "PDF Damaged - Rebuilding" — it flashes by too fast for me to read it — but a few minor errors won't prevent the reader from displaying it.) A disk editor won't change the file system's Created and Modified times, when you save the file from a hex editor it might. But even then, there are tools, some built-in to various hex editors and others stand-alone, that allow you to "touch" the file dates and times. That's how software producers sometimes set the file times of all the files in a package to the version number of the release. (It might be harder to do with the Windows NT, 2000 and XP encrypted file system; but you could always copy the file to a machine running Windows 98, make your changes, then copy it back. I don't think copying files changes their Created and Modified dates. The Last Access date is another story.)
Finally, unlike bloggers, the major media are very proprietary and copyright conscious. They aren't often going to link to another news site's PDF. They are even less likely to host a copy of it on their site (the individual documents might be public domain, but the act of collecting them into a PDF generates a copyright interest in the file itself). I suspect, in a case like this, they would probably print the PDF and then scan the printed pages and create a new PDF. They might even try to remove extraneous material, such as some other news organization's fax header. In this case, the creator of the FOX PDF didn't completely succeed.
Tuesday, September 21, 2004
Monday, September 20, 2004
The 'Unimpeachable' Impeached - Burkett Lied to CBS
When the CBS Bush Guard memos first fell under a cloud after the 60 Minutes broadcast, CBS stood by the story, the documents and their source, saying in a statement, "…including documents that were provided by unimpeachable sources…"
Today's CBS statement says the source was anything but "unimpeachable" (excerpt, emphais added):
Bill Burkett, in a weekend interview with CBS News Anchor and Correspondent Dan Rather, has acknowledged that he provided the now-disputed documents used in the Sept. 8 "60 Minutes Wednesday" report on President Bush’s service in the Texas Air National Guard.
Burkett, a retired National Guard lieutenant colonel, also admits that he deliberately misled the CBS News producer working on the report, giving her a false account of the documents’ origins to protect a promise of confidentiality to the actual source.
Burkett originally said he obtained the documents from another former Guardsman. Now he says he got them from a different source whose connection to the documents and identity CBS News has been unable to verify to this point. Burkett’s interview will be featured in a full report on tonight’s CBS Evening News with Dan Rather (6:30-7:00 p.m., ET/PT).
In short, retired TexANG/USAFR Lt Col Bill Burkett lied to CBS.
Dan Rather quasi-apologizes (excerpt, emphais added):
Now, after extensive additional interviews, I no longer have the confidence in these documents that would allow us to continue vouching for them journalistically. I find we have been misled on the key question of how our source for the documents came into possession of these papers. That, combined with some of the questions that have been raised in public and in the press, leads me to a point where-if I knew then what I know now-I would not have gone ahead with the story as it was aired, and I certainly would not have used the documents in question.
But we did use the documents. We made a mistake in judgment, and for that I am sorry. It was an error that was made, however, in good faith and in the spirit of trying to carry on a CBS News tradition of investigative reporting without fear or favoritism.
The apology is weak (quasipology?), but I never expected him to fall on his sword so I'm not suprised. Nor did I expect him to admit the reason he, Mapes and whoever else at CBS were so easy to fool was because they wanted to believe, because they have such hatred or fear of Bush they let their bias completely override their news judgement, and he didn't. So I'll remind you of what Dan Rather asked Laura Bush during the Republican Convention, "Now that friends and supporters of the President have raised the issue of John Kerry's combat record in Vietnam, do you or do you not think it's fair now for the Kerry people to come back and dig anew into your husband's military service record?" One can easily take "Kerry people" to be the CBS people that developed and aired this story.
UPDATE: I didn't watch the CBS Evening News with Dan Rather, but Spoons, Wizbang, and Allah did. Apparently, Rather said during the broadcast, "He did not come to us; we went to him and asked him for the documents," referring to Burkett (transcript at the Mudville Gazette, for RatherBiased.com during their hosting switchover). This leads to the question Allah poses, "Who told them Burkett had the documents?"
Wait and see if the final investigation into this doesn't take the same turn as the 9/11 Commission: We have found no credible evidence of a collaborative relationship between CBS News, the 527 organizations, Bill Burkett, and the Kerry campaign.
Sunday, September 19, 2004
About Those Forgeries: Josh Marshall, Meet Dan Rather
Not the CBS Bush Guard memos, which CBS may soon acknowledge as forged, the other ones about Iraq trying to acquire uranium from Niger. If this is true, it will be interesting to see if Josh Marshall will publicly eat crow, or just ignore it [or do a Dan Rather - see the second update].
On August 1, 2004, Josh Marshall wrote the "middle-man" or "security consultant" who passed the forged documents to the Italian journalist had at one time worked for Italian intelligence and got the forged documents from Italian intelligence. He admits, "The Financial Times story said that he 'had a record of extortion and deception and had been convicted by a Rome court in 1985 and later arrested at least twice.' Several of the particulars here are incorrect. But he does have a criminal record," and there are rumors the guy is trying to sell his story. But, Marshall has interviewed him and we should believe Marshall's account because (empahsis added):
We already have his account. And needless to say, we didn’t pay him. But it’s reasonable to ask how trustworthy his account is since he seems to be someone of rather less than spotless integrity. The answer is that we’ve confirmed the key details of the story I outlined above independently.
The Italian businessman at the centre of a furious row between France and Italy over whose intelligence service was to blame for bogus documents suggesting Saddam Hussein was seeking to buy material for nuclear bombs has admitted that he was in the pay of France.
The man, identified by an Italian news agency as Rocco Martino, was the subject of a Telegraph article earlier this month in which he was referred to by his intelligence codename, "Giacomo".
His admission to investigating magistrates in Rome on Friday apparently confirms suggestions that - by commissioning "Giacomo" to procure and circulate documents - France was responsible for some of the information later used by Britain and the United States to promote the case for war with Iraq.
Italian diplomats have claimed that, by disseminating bogus documents stating that Iraq was trying to buy low-grade "yellowcake" uranium from Niger, France was trying to "set up" Britain and America in the hope that when the mistake was revealed it would undermine the case for war, which it wanted to prevent.
Italian judicial officials confirmed yesterday that Mr Martino had previously been sought for questioning by Rome. Investigating magistrates in the city have opened an inquiry into claims he made previously in the international press that Italy's secret services had been behind the dissemination of false documents, to bolster the US case for war.
According to Ansa, the Italian news agency, which said privately that it had obtained its information from "judicial and other sources", Mr Martino was questioned by an investigating magistrate, Franco Ionta, for two hours. Ansa said Mr Martino told the magistrate that Italy's military intelligence, Sismi, had no role in the procuring or dissemination of the Niger documents.
He was also said to have claimed that he had obtained the documents from an employee at the Niger embassy in Rome, before passing these to French intelligence, on whose payroll he had been since at least 2000.
Marshall claimed to have "confirmed the key details…independently." Those key detail being that the forgeries came from Italian intelligence. The obvious reason for the Italians pushing the forged documents, of course, was to back the case for war. Now, however, Rocco Martino says before an investigating magistrate, as opposed to sitting in "a restaurant in mid-town Manhattan" where Marshall interviewed him, that he was on the French payroll and Italian intelligence did not produce or disseminate the forgeries. The obvious reason for the French to push the forgeries was to spoil the case for war.
Possibly, since Marshall had independently confirmed the key details that would indicate Martino is lying to the Italian magistrate, we should expect him to jump on a plane to Rome and help the Italians get the real story.
Or, maybe we should just say, Josh Marshall, meet Dan Rather.
UPDATE: Added a link to the WP story on the CBS Memo flap via Patterico, cleared up my rendering of Marshall's description of the middle-man's past association with Italian intelligence—replaced "had worked for" with "had at one time worked for"—and cleaned up a few typos.
UPDATE - September 20, 2004: Josh Marshall goes the Dan Rather route and sticks to his story (emphasis added):
Following up on the post below about Rocco Martino, a number of readers have asked about the piece that appeared Sunday about Martino and the Niger business in the Telegraph.
The Telegraph piece contains some information that is accurate. But the article also relies heavily on intelligence and law enforcment sources who are using disinformation to cover for Italian intelligence.
The thrust of the piece is false.
Time may or may not prove whether Marshall's thrust (the Italian's were the source of the forgeries) or the Telegraph's thrust (it was the French) is what really happened. Meanwhile, Marshall chooses the path of saying what Martino told him is true, and what the Telegraph reports Martino told the Italian magistrates is false. I guess Marshall doesn't believe he needs to give himself any wiggle room by entertaining on screen the possiblity that Martino lied to him because either 1) he's absolutely certain his story is right, or 2) he thinks the Italians and French will sling accusations back and forth forever and the question will never really be settled, so he can pretend a false certainty.
Flipping Channels From CBS to Fox
A treat from Treacher.
"Look at these documents!" He threw some photocopies down on her desk and looked at her like, Hah? Can you believe this? She glanced through them quietly for a moment.
"These... Mulder, these are obviously fakes. The dates are in the early '70s, but they don't look anything like typewritten documents of the time. And you should know, we've got 80 file cabinets full of them in this dump." She held them up. "Where did you get these?"
"That's the question, isn't it?" Mulder started pacing and running his hands through his hair. "Where did I get them indeed? The ancient Egyptians believed that preserving a pharaoh's corpse would ensure him a place in the 'celestial fields' forever. And yet…
Go on and read the whole thing, you know you want to.
Ah, Revisionism, How Simple You Make the World
Dreck points to this post at TigerHawk on an article quoting Diana Kerry, chairwoman of Americans Overseas for Kerry, in The Weekend Australian. While they discuss whether or not the Kerry campaign is "deliberately undermining the American war effort" by "criticizing allies for standing with us" and related issues, I'll just concentrate on Diana Kerry's thoughts and words as related by Roy Eccleston in the article:
Diana Kerry, younger sister of the Democrat presidential candidate, told The Weekend Australian that the Bali bombing and the recent attack on the Australian embassy in Jakarta clearly showed the danger to Australians had increased.
"Australia has kept faith with the US and we are endangering the Australians now by this wanton disregard for international law and multilateral channels," she said, referring to the invasion of Iraq.
Asked if she believed the terrorist threat to Australians was now greater because of the support for Republican George W. Bush, Ms Kerry said: "The most recent attack was on the Australian embassy in Jakarta -- I would have to say that."
What country had the US invaded with Australia by her side at the time of the Bali bombing? That would be Afghanistan.
What country had primarily Australian forces freed from Muslim rule at the time of the Bali bombing? That would be East Timor.
The Bali bombing took place Oct 12, 2002. The US was busy demonstrating "wanton disregard for international law and multilateral channels" by working with the UN Security Council to get weapons inspectors back into Iraq. Iraq had agreed in September and inspectors were due to go in November.
The invasion of Iraq didn't happen until some five months after the Bali bombing. But, hey, why let facts stand in the way of implications otherwise?
That terrorist's would respond to the US invasion of Afghanistan is something that just can't be said in certain circles, like the Democratic National Committee and the Kerry Campaign.
But what if Diana Kerry and/or Roy Eccleston is/are correct, that Jemaah Islamiyah (Indonesia's version/offshoot/associates of al-Qaeda) bombed Paddy's Bar and the Sari Club because Australia was standing with the US on the issue of Iraq? Would things have been any different if we were following brother John's direction?
Did John Kerry vote to authorize the use of force to overthrow the Taliban and attack al-Qaeda? Yes.
Was John Kerry in favor of using the Security Council to threaten force against Iraq to get weapons inspectors back in? Yes.
Did John Kerry later vote for the use of force resolution against Iraq? Yes. Of course he would have had the French and Germans along with him, having told them it was only a bluff to get Hussein to back down. But would JI have known it was only a bluff?
Looks like, Bush or Kerry, JI still would have carried out the Bali bombing unless the Australians had told a President Kerry to get stuffed if he asked for their support in attacking Afghanistan and forging a coalition to pressure Hussein.
[As I recall, they likely would have carried out the bombing anyway because they thought the clubs were frequented by Americans. The politically incorrect, but probably more accurate, rendering was something like 'Americans, Australians, who can tell the difference? You're all just white infidels to me.']
Lt Bush Was Never 'Transferred' or 'Reassigned'
Once 2d Lt George W. Bush started flying with the 111th Fighter Interceptor Squadron of the 147th Fighter Interceptor Group, that was his unit of final assignment with the Texas Air National Guard. HE WAS NEVER TRANSFERRED TO ANOTHER UNIT. HE WAS NEVER REASSIGNED TO ANOTHER UNIT. PERIOD.
I don't know what percentage (50%, 75%, higher?) of the absolute crap floating around in the 'Bush was AWOL' and 'Bush shirked his duites' stories is caused by the mistaken notion that Bush was transferred or reassigned, but it accounts for a lot of it. News reporters, talking heads, columnists, bloggers, anti-Bush, pro-Bush, and neutral keep saying that 'Bush was transferred to X' or 'Bush never showed up for X assignment' and so on, and they are all wrong. (I might have said it somewhere in passing, myself, though I don't think so.) Misuse of those terms has spawned countless demands for documentation that could not possibly exist, and misunderstanding the military's use of those terms for personnel leaving active service has spawned outlandish stories.
Ask one simple question: If Bush had been transferred, why was Lt Col Killian still Bush's squadron commander? If Bush had been "transferred" to the 9921st Air Reserve Squadron, Lt Col Killian would no longer have been his commander. If Bush had been "reassigned" to the 187th Tactical Reconnaissance Group, Lt Col Killian would no longer have been his commander.
At the end of May 1972, Bush submitted an application to transfer to 9921st Air Reserve Squadron. It made its way up the chain, with everybody giving their okay until it got to the Air Reserve Personnel Center, where it was shot down on July 31, 1972. By then, Bush was only going to be in Alabama a few more months because he was working on a senatorial campaign that would wrap up after the November election, so he asked if he could do "equivalent training" with the 187th Tactical Reconnaissance Group. He did not ask for reassignment, either permanent or temporary, to the 187th; nor was he transferred or reassigned to the 187th, permanently or temporarily.
That is why there is no documentation regarding a Lt Bush at either the 9921 ARS or 187 TRG. Whether he ever showed up on the base and did "equivalent training" at the 187th is an open question. But there is no question that Bush was never, ever assigned to the 9921 ARS or the 187 TRG. Note that this means that Bush was never, ever, not for one single second, a member of the Alabama Guard, Alabama Air Guard, Alabama National Guard, or Alabama Air National Guard (or any other phrasing).
As for the Boston Globe's stories about Bush never showing up for duty in Massachusetts when he went to Harvard, Bush separated from the Texas Air National Guard, he didn't have to show up for duty. He was told that if he wanted to remain in the Guard, he had two months to find a unit willing to accept him, a pretty tough task considering the tight hold on flying slots and that they'd probably have to retrain him into another aircraft. So whether he couldn't find another unit, or didn't bother looking, he submitted his request for discharge from TexANG on September 3, 1973, and it was approved, effective October 1, 1973. (It's possible that if Bush had requested a discharge back in May of 1972, before he went to Alabama, it would have been granted and none of this would matter.)
Likewise, all the stories about Bush's service after his discharge from TexANG (he failed to show up at a correctional unit in Denver, he was assigned to a unit that only existed on paper, his term of service was extended as a penalty for missing drills, etc.) are absolute garbage. Both George Bush and John Kerry were treated the same as everybody else who was discharged with less than SIX years of service (the minimum military service obligation* for everybody who entered any branch or component of the US military at the time): they were placed on the Standby Reserve mobilization lists. Bush went on the list maintained by the Air Reserve Personnel Center, Denver, Colorado, credited with having served 5 years, 4 months, and 5 days toward his six year obligation; Kerry went on the list maintained by the Naval Reserve Manpower Center, Bainbridge, Maryland, credited with having served 3 years, 10 months, and 16 days toward his six year obligation. That is no-drill, no-pay, no-promotion, no-retirement credit, no-duty, absolutely-being-a-civilian status, except the military can call them back to active duty for war, national emergency, or as otherwise authorized by law. That Bush's and Kerry's discharges indicate they were "transferred" to ARPC and NRMC, respectively, does not mean they were reassigned to some unit to which they should have ever physically shown up. All they were required to do was keep ARPC or NRMC apprised of their current address or any material change in their personal status that would render them unfit for recall.
People can draw their own conclusions about the nature and quality of military service by Bush and Kerry, but cutting down on the mischaracterizations would help. For myself, I think it's obvious Kerry faced greater hazards and hardships than Bush during the Vietnam War (Bush certainly risked mishap every time he strapped himself into a jet and there was some possibility of him going to Vietnam, but he didn't end up in Vietnam, nobody was trying to kill him, and he didn't have to put up with living in a war zone or on a ship), not that it has anything to do with qualifications for being President. I think being the son of the sole Republican Congressman from Texas probably helped Bush get a flying slot in the Guard (even indirectly—seeing "George Herbert Walker Bush" listed as father on the background paperwork would probably ring some bells), but that doesn't have much to do with who should be President in 2005. I also think Kerry showboated during his time in the service, while Bush plodded; that wouldn't have anything to do with being qualified for the Presidency, either, except that it has been the tenor of their post-Vietnam era lives as well.
* The Military Service Obligation (MSO) is specified by 10 USC 651. While this chart on the HQ ARPC page deals with enlisted discharges, the MSO periods in it also apply to commissioned officers. The difference is, where enlisted members are automatically discharged from the Reserves without taking any action after they have completed their MSO, officers are just notified they have completed their MSO and have been moved from active to inactive standby until they formally tender their resignation.
Here is how the Marine Corps addresses the question, you have to accept their security certificate. (IRR is Individual Ready Reserve, the R-ECC is the the date a person's MSO ends.)
Enlisted IRR Discharge Request
Enlisted IMA/MTU Marines who are within 90 days of their R-ECC date will receive a letter from the Career Planners (CP). This letter will inform them (IMA/MTU Marines), if they do not reenlist or contact the CP prior to 30 days before their R-ECC date, they will be involuntarily transferred to the IRR. After being transferred to the IRR they will be discharged on their R-ECC date.
Within approximately 90 days after discharge, a Marine should receive a Discharge Certificate. If a certificate is not received after 90 days or, if a Marine believes they may not have been discharged on their R-ECC date, please call the Customer Service Center at (800) 255-5082.
Resignation from the IRRThe accusation that Bush had about six months tacked onto his service commitment as a penalty for his missed drills is based upon misunderstanding the difference in treatment between enlisted personnel and officers. On May 1, 1974 (Reserve Order HB-001484), the month Bush's MSO was up, HQ ARPC/NARS-B (Non-Affiliated Reserve Sections - Standby Reserves - Active) transferred control of him to HQ ARPC/ISLRS (Inactive Status List Reserve Section - Standby Reserves - Inactive). When Bush finally got around to tendering his resignation, he was discharged from the Standby Reserves on November 21, 1974 (Reserve Order CB-6892). If Bush were being penalized six months, he wouldn't have been moved to the Inactive list in May 1974, his MSO would have been extended to November 27, 1974 and he would have stayed on the Active list until November 1. (The transfer of responsibility between ARPC sections takes place for everybody on the first of the month, regardless of what day of the month their MSO actually expires.)