White House Releases '73 Bush Dental Exam
By DEB RIECHMANN
The Associated Press
Wednesday, February 11, 2004; 9:50 PM
WASHINGTON - The White House late Wednesday released a copy of a dental evaluation President Bush had in the National Guard in Alabama during the Vietnam War to rebut suggestions from Democrats who have questioned whether the president ever showed up for duty there.
A copy of the dental examination done on Jan. 6, 1973, documents the president serving at Dannelly Air National Guard Base in Alabama, White House press secretary Scott McClellan said in a statement. Bush completed most of his National Guard training in Texas, but in 1972 was allowed to leave and perform his duties in Alabama so he could work on a Senate political campaign.
The White House obtained the dental record, along with other medical records it did not release, from the Air Reserve Personnel Center in Denver, Colo., McClellan said. The record was accompanied by a statement from Dr. Richard J. Tubb, the president's current physician, who stated that he read Bush's records, which covered a period from 1968 to 1973, and concurred with the doctors' assertion that Bush was "fit" for service.
"The records reflect no disqualifying medical information," Tubb said.
The White House hardened its defense of President Bush's National Guard service Wednesday, saying his critics are "trolling for trash." Yet, several members of an Alabama unit Bush was assigned to said they couldn't recall ever seeing him.
The Associated Press contacted more than a dozen people who were members of the Montgomery-based 187th Tactical Reconnaissance Group in 1972. All were quick to point out that the unit had as many as 800 members and Bush was not yet famous.
Bush, who spent most of his service in Texas, received permission to perform his duties in Alabama while working on a family friend's political campaign.
"I don't remember seeing him. That does not mean he was not here," said Wayne Rambo, who was a first lieutenant with the 187th. "I don't want to cast any aspersions or to say he was or was not there."
Bush's spokesman, Scott McClellan, said the renewed requests for additional records show that some people "are more interested in trolling for trash for political gain" with the presidential election nine months away. "This is nothing but gutter politics."
In a new development Wednesday, a retired Texas National Guard officer said he overheard a conversation in 1997 between then-Gov. Bush's chief of staff, Joe Allbaugh, and then-Adjutant Gen. Daniel James of the Texas Air National Guard in which he contends those two men spoke about getting rid of any military records that would "embarrass the governor."
Former Lt. Col. Bill Burkett told the AP that he saw documents from Bush's file discarded in a trash can a few days later at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas. Burkett described them as performance and pay documents. He said the documents bore the header: "Bush, George W. 1lt." - meaning first lieutenant.
James and Allbaugh deny the allegation.
"The alleged discussion never happened," said James, who appointed by the president in 2002 to lead the Air National Guard. "I have never been involved in, nor would I condone any discussion or any action to falsify any record in any circumstance for anyone."
Allbaugh, now a Washington lobbyist, told The Dallas Morning News that Burkett's assertions were "hogwash."
© 2004 The Associated Press