Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Truth or Urban Legend?

A number of blogs have linked to an article purporting to rebut the latest press questions about Lt Bush being AWOL while he was in the Air National Guard: Bush Guard Service, The True Story.

While the article may be factual, it reads like an Urban Legend ready for email. There are no hyperlinks to source documents, nor even proper citations so readers can cross-check the original publications. For example, the author introduces a quotation with:

The following is from a letter by Col. William Campenni Ret. published in the Washington Times.

Really? What issue on what date on what page? Is there a link to an on-line version?

In fact, Col. Compenni wrote an OP-ED piece for the Washington Times (not a letter to the editor), which appeared in the Sept 1, 2004, edition. The link is here.

But I really shouldn't have to work that hard to verify their story. If we're going to be persuasive, we bloggers need to document source material in our research or our arguments will be too easy to dismiss as conservative rants.

Update: I've spent the last two hours doing more research. Col. Compenni did write a letter to the Washington Times (Article ID: 200402110908390018) which was published on Feb. 11, 2004, and that's what Bloyer quotes from. Since the original now costs money to access, try G. Gordon Liddy's site which has the full letter here.

My point remains: I shouldn't have to work this hard to dig up source material quoted online. Other stuff I came across while I was searching:

- Using Google search term: Sunday Telegraph Turnipseed

Media failed to find facts behind Bush's service record February 11, 2004. This Sun-Times story seems to be a recap of a story in London's Sunday Telegraph on Feb. 8, 2004 found here.

The story was also picked up by Thomas H. Lipscomb in the Jewish World Review here.

- I did a Google search within www.aerospaceweb.org for "MAJ Maurice Udell" and then just "Udell" (since it's an unusual name). The searches couldn't find this name, although the ChronWatch article says that site was his source. The site does have a nice article on the F-102.

Being the curious sort, I sent the site webmaster a question:
Gordon Bloyer posted an article defending President Bush's ANG service at http://www.chronwatch.com/content/contentDisplay.asp?aid=9259

In the article, he says "The following is research from aerospaceweb.org ........", but provides no hyperlink to your site. My Google search of your site was
negative for "MAJ Maurice Udell" who was cited in the alleged article.

Did Aerospaceweb.org really publish this article? I'd like to document the truth or falsity of Bloyer's article on my blog. I hate sloppy research!
I'll let you know if I get an answer back.

I came across a couple of other stories when I did a wider Google search for MAJ Udell. They are from the AWOL flap last February.

The first is actually a comment to a blog post. The comment quotes a Washington Post article and gives its link (my kind of documentation) as
http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A60817-2004Feb21?language=printer
The link still works, and pulls up an article with the following headline and byline:

Why Bush Stopped Flying in Guard Unclear
Having Expressed Desire to Be a Lifetime Pilot, He Gave Up His Wings in 1972

By Josh White Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 22, 2004; Page A08

I also found an article from WorldNetDaily posted on February 18, 2004, at 1:00 a.m. Eastern here.