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Last Updated: Saturday, 14 February, 2004, 08:33 GMT
Bush's military records released
George W Bush in his Air National Guard days
Mr Bush trained as a pilot in the National Guard
The White House has released President Bush's National Guard records in a bid to refute accusations that he shirked military duties during the Vietnam war.

Initial examination of hundreds of pages from 1968-73 gave no indication of anything out of the ordinary, correspondents said.

But nor was there any new evidence to rebut the critics, they added.

Democratic presidential hopeful John Kerry, a Vietnam veteran, has said Mr Bush must come clean on the issue.

Critics say Mr Bush used his family influence - his father was a Texas congressmen at the time - to join the National Guard to avoid being drafted into units being sent to the war in Vietnam.

Mr Bush trained as a pilot while a member of the Texas and Alabama air national guard but never flew in combat.

He spent much of 1972 helping with a political campaign in Alabama and opponents say he failed to turn up for guard duties during this time.

There were some who sought to leave a wrong impression there was something to hide when there is not
White House spokesman
Doubts were first raised nationally during the 2000 presidential campaign and the issue has resurfaced as the Democratic Party decides whether Mr Kerry, a decorated war veteran, will be its challenger to Mr Bush in this November's White House elections.

Earlier this week, the White House released Mr Bush's payment and dental records.

The BBC's Rob Watson in Washington says the lengths the administration is going to are seen as a sign it is badly rattled by the latest public opinion polls suggesting the president's trustworthiness and job approval rating are at an all-time low.

Campaigning doubts

A two-inch (5cm) stack of files gathered from various depositories was distributed to reporters and some were allowed a brief look at other medical records from Mr Bush's time in the National Guard.

"We received the entire file this afternoon and the president felt everything should be made public," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said.

"There were some who sought to leave a wrong impression there was something to hide when there is not," he added.

But there was no new evidence documenting that Mr Bush showed up for temporary duty in Alabama while working on a political campaign from May 1972 to May 1973 - a key demand by the Democrats.

The records released earlier this week showed that Mr Bush received credit for nine days of active duty during that period.

The president left the national guard in 1973 with an honourable discharge to attend Harvard Business School. He said that proves he did nothing wrong.

Flight suspension

A group of reporters at the White House's Roosevelt Room was given 20 minutes to review the president's medical exams during his service. The documents were not allowed to leave the room.

The records showed that the president was in good health, a Reuters correspondent said.

They also cited a suspected allergy to penicillin, a case of appendicitis and fractured ribs Mr Bush suffered as a teenager.

The records showed that Mr Bush was suspended from flying in 1972 because he did not take a physical. His last flight exam was in May 1971.

White House communications director Dan Bartlett said the president did not take the physical because he was going to be doing duties that did not involve flying.


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The BBC's Martin Turner
"The problem is the contrast with John Kerry, who won medals in south east Asia"



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