The NY Times reports:
Military records that could help establish President Bush's whereabouts during his disputed service in the Texas Air National Guard more than 30 years ago have been inadvertently destroyed, according to the Pentagon."Inadvertently destroyed"? As Smithers would say, "Honesty sir, you just don't put the effort into your schemes anymore."
The destroyed records cover three months of a period in 1972 and 1973 when Mr. Bush's claims of service in Alabama are in question.
The disclosure appeared to catch some experts, both pro-Bush and con, by surprise. Even the retired lieutenant colonel who studied Mr. Bush's records for the White House, Albert C. Lloyd of Austin, said it came as news to him.
The loss was announced by the Defense Department's Office of Freedom of Information and Security Review in letters to The New York Times and other news organizations that for nearly half a year have sought Mr. Bush's complete service file under the open-records law.
There was no mention of the loss, for example, when White House officials released hundreds of pages of the President's military records last February in an effort to stem Democratic accusations that he was "AWOL" for a time during his commitment to fly at home in the Air National Guard during the Vietnam War.
Dan Bartlett, the White House communications director who has said that the released records confirmed the president's fulfillment of his National Guard commitment, did not return two calls for a response.
But gee, "inadvertently destroyed" sure sounds familiar. Was this the same inadvertent destruction that caused the State Department to "inadvertently" leave a couple of months off its annual terrorism report for 2003, thereby drastically undercounting the number of terror attacks for that year?
If there's a bright side, it's that perhaps this is evidence that the Pentagon and the State Department have finally buried the hatchet and are sharing sources and methods with each other.