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To: LindyBill who wrote (72695)9/22/2004 7:51:50 PM
From: LindyBill  Read Replies (1) | Respond to of 766935
Staudt speaks out about Bush memo debacle

By Leigh Jones
The Herald-Zeitung

Published September 22, 2004

Three weeks ago, New Braunfels resident Col. Walter Staudt became a national figure, albeit a silent one.

Ever since he was named in a controversial memo CBS aired purporting to prove that President George W. Bush’s Texas Air National Guard service record was “sugar-coated” due to political pressure, Staudt has been bombarded by reporters wanting him to verify or disavow those claims.

When the phone rings, he does not answer, and when someone comes to the door, he only opens it a crack.

“I counted up to 40 calls last Monday, but I probably got 50 or 60 phone calls that day,” he said. “Lots of them even come to the door.”

Staudt, 81, has only given interviews to ABC and the Herald-Zeitung.

He is not trying to be rude, but he has answered these questions before.

“The subject started when (Bush’s) daddy ran for vice president, and it’s been going on ever since,” he said. “I don’t have much to tell. It’s simple to me. There was no political influence. That’s the truth.”

Since Dan Rather broadcast the memo on “60 Minutes,” questions about its authenticity have been nonstop. CBS executives initially stood by the story, but Rather admitted Monday he could not prove the document was legitimate.

The backpeddling was aided by the discovery that Staudt, named in the document dated Aug. 18, 1973, was honorably discharged March 1, 1972.

As brigadier general of Bush’s unit, Staudt was responsible for enrolling anybody who wanted to enter pilot training.

He maintains no one did Bush any favors — no one had to.

“He was a good candidate, well educated,” he said. “We needed pilots, and he wanted to be one.”

Sitting in his office, surrounded by pictures and paintings of fighter planes, Staudt’s military reserve softened as he remembered his first encounter with the young, prospective guardsman.

“I asked him why he wanted to be a pilot, and he said it was because his daddy was one. That’s a good reason,” he said.

Staudt had no idea the young man he swore into the Guard would one day be commander in chief.

“(Bush) was just another second lieutenant fighter pilot,” he said. “You never know where people will end up.”

After Staudt retired in early 1972, he did not have any more contact with Bush, but he has watched him closely since 2001.

“ I think he’s done a real good job (as president). I’m proud of him. I guess I’m prejudiced, I don’t know,” he said.

Staudt is looking forward to some peace now that CBS and Rather have admitted they cannot prove the memos’ authenticity. Although relieved, Staudt said he was surprised they finally decided to be honest. He never thought they would be.

Staudt said he had no idea why the memos’ author decided to use his name. He claimed he never met Bill Burkett, Rather’s source for the document.

Considering what the formerly unimpeachable network put him through, it is no surprise that Staudt’s television is not tuned to CBS. But that was not always the case.

“I have watched CBS News since Walter Cronkite was there,” he said. “I won’t be watching them anymore. I don’t like it when people lie.”

Staudt indicated a Chinese proverb hanging next to his desk that could have been written about his brush with fame: The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war.

“That’s true. That’s very true,” he said.

To: LindyBill who wrote (72695)9/22/2004 7:52:08 PM
From: unclewest  Respond to of 766935