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Bush National Guard Documents' Authenticity Questioned - 2004-09-10

Some investigations of new documents questioning the propriety of President Bush's military service in the United States during the Vietnam War suggest that those documents may be forgeries. The White House says the documents are part of a coordinated Democratic Party campaign to attack the president.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan says he does not know whether the documents obtained by CBS television are fabricated or authentic. But he says regardless of their veracity, they do not change the fact that Mr. Bush met his military obligations more than 30 years ago, and was honorably discharged from the National Guard.

CBS interviewed a former Texas politician who said the Bush family asked him to give preferential treatment to the young George W. Bush to get him into the Texas Air National Guard at a time when entering those U.S.-based units significantly reduced the likelihood that young men would be sent to Vietnam.

Separate documents accompanying that report allege that Flight Lieutenant Bush was suspended from flight status for failing to perform up to standards, and for failing to take his annual physical examination as ordered.

The White House says Mr. Bush did not take that physical because he was being transferred to the Alabama National Guard in a non-flight status. The transfer to Alabama was arranged so Mr. Bush could work on the Republican Senate campaign of one of his father's friends.

Now, several experts contacted by news organizations say the 30-year-old memos appear to have been written with a computer instead of a typewriter from that era. CBS has launched an internal investigation into the documents, but says it stands by the conclusions of its experts that they are genuine.

Mr. McClellan says one thing that is clear is what he calls the timing and coordination. He says there is an orchestrated effort by Democrats and the campaign of John Kerry to tear down the president, because Senator Kerry is lagging in the polls.

The White House spokesman says he is not surprised people are seeing what he calls the same old recycled attacks. He says Democrats are determined to throw a variety of allegations at the president, and Mr. McClellan suspects this is just the beginning.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe says his party will pummel Mr. Bush throughout the run-up to November's election with allegations that he used family connections to get into the National Guard, and then shirked his duties there.