This lede from an article in tomorrow's Washington Post tells you all you need to know about the president's promise on Sunday to release all his military service records ...
The Defense Department has requested that President Bush's payroll records from his service in the National Guard be sent to Washington from a DOD archive in Colorado, to ascertain whether they can be released to news organizations and public interest groups that have formally requested them in recent days, according to DOD officials.
This is exactly the point. Whatever privacy considerations are at issue here are ones the president can simply waive. Yet it seems pretty clear from that graf that he hasn't. Otherwise, it's not clear to <$Ad$>me what hold up there would be on releasing all those records to news organizations.
And another matter. The White House is already trying to wriggle out of the president's commitment to release all the records about his military service.
When asked about this on Monday, Scott McClellan said (itals added): "You know, we made everything we had available during the 2000 campaign." And then later he said "Well, everything we had we made available. And like I said, if there's more, we'll do our best to keep you updated on that."
Sorry. But that's not the question. Press secretaries are in the business of choosing words carefully -- especially at rough moments. And what McClellan is saying here is that the campaign released all the records it had on the president's service.
Now, needless to say, that places a rather high degree of trust in the White House and/or the Bush campaign that they'd willingly turn over any truly damning documents, if such exist -- especially when they're in charge of defining what's relevant. But even if we discount the possibility of dishonesty, what McClellan is saying is simply beside the point.
We're not interested in getting a full look at the Bush 2000 archive on the president's military service. We're interested in the United States government's archive on the president's military service.
And it seems the president still refuses to allow this. To make this happen what he would have to do would be to formally waive the rights he enjoys under the Privacy Act which prohibits the Pentagon and its various subdivisions from releasing certain classes of information about his service.
Tim Russert asked the president the question directly. The president answered it unequivocally: he said he would release everything. Now his press secretary is trying to nullify the president's promise with silly word games. If my friends in the White House press corps fall for this one it will almost be beyond belief.