The Facts Machine

"And I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide"

Wednesday, June 23, 2004


Tuesday afternoon, the White House made a substantial document dump regarding torture policy. The release of these documents is both incomplete and self-serving for the administration, yet they will certainly go to some length to characterize this release as comprehensive, or at least indicative, content-wise, of most or all possible documents.

Anyone remember the last time they did something like this?

Sure you do: The revisiting of the Texas/Alabama National Guard story last February. The administration dumped a boatload of documents on the press, told them "this is everything we have", and the media ate it up. And it gave Matt Drudge a chance to write the headline "BUSH ORDERS FULL RELEASE". So it wasn't all bad, then.

Anyway, the "dump a bunch of stuff and just say it's everything, even if it isn't" strategy seemed to work like a charm.

That is, until Tuesday.
The Associated Press sued the Pentagon and the Air Force on Tuesday, seeking access to all records of George W. Bush's military service during the Vietnam War.

Filed in federal court in New York, where The AP is headquartered, the lawsuit seeks access to a copy of Bush's microfilmed personnel file from the Texas State Library and Archives Commission in Austin.

The White House says the government has already released all the records of Bush's military service.

Controversy surrounds Bush's time in the Texas Air National Guard because it is unclear from the record what duties he performed for the military when he was working on the political campaign of a U.S. Senate candidate in Alabama.

There are questions as to whether the file provided to the news media earlier this year is complete, says the lawsuit, adding that these questions could possibly be answered by reviewing a copy of the microfilm of Bush's personnel file in the Texas archives.

The Air National Guard of the United States, a federal entity, has control of the microfilm, which should be disclosed in its entirety under the Freedom of Information Act, the lawsuit says.
Now I admit, I'm much more interested in discussing what George W Bush did from 2001 to 2004 than what he did in 1972 and 1973. But the juicy part of this story is the reaction and coverup as much as it is the history itself. (as in, why did they initially only give up some meaningless pay stubs and a dental record?)

But more importantly, if the Associated Press is wising up to the Bush mass-document-dump strategy, as shown by their lawsuit, why would the administration try the very same thing again A) at the same precise moment as the AP filing, and B) with information of much greater importance that could be easily shown as being selective and self-serving?

We'll see how this pans out. Anyway, it's past my bedtime. If you want to know more about the torture document release, this guy has a pretty comprehensive roundup.

UPDATE: Washington Post editorial, "A Partial Disclosure"


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