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Don't let GOP muddy the waters

THE SEPT. 21 front-page story on CBS's apology about the authenticity of documents related to President Bush's National Guard service record only serves to obfuscate the real story, and feeds the Republican desire to muddy the waters so that the public dismisses the whole issue ("CBS says it's sorry for story on Bush").

Not until the end of the article does it say: "A secretary to Killian at the time, Marian Carr Knox, told CBS and other media outlets last week that the documents appeared to be forgeries, yet the content appeared accurate, saying that Killian indeed expressed concerns about Bush."

The Globe's Spotlight Team has painstakingly documented the preferential treatment given Bush, and his spotty service record. In fact, the day before reporting on the original CBS story, the Globe reported on documents released by the Pentagon that supported these main allegations ("Bush fell short on duty at guard," Page A1, Sept. 8).

The following are pertinent facts from that article that did not rely on the disputed documents:

* While Bush was in Alabama, he was removed from flight status for failing to take his annual flight physical in July 1972.

* Ben Barnes, who was speaker of the Texas House of Representatives in 1968, said in a deposition in 2000 that he placed a call to get young Bush a coveted slot in the Guard at the request of a Bush family friend.

* Bush, a fighter-interceptor pilot, performed no service for one six-month period in 1972 and for another period of almost three months in 1973, the records show.

The Bush administration is hoping that voters will write off this issue as too confusing, or, worse, a partisan fiction. This administration is adept at changing the subject to avoid answering detailed questions. The Globe, in its zeal to appear nonpartisan, should not assist in that effort.

West Newton

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