Sunday, February 17, 2008

Texas Vietnam War Dodger Cornyn Demands Decorated Veteran Noriega’s Military Records.

Now why would our distinguished junior Senator from the great state of Texas want to examine the military records of the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, Lt. Col. Rick Noriega?

For what purpose?

I think we all can guess at the reason. Let’s put it this way. Cornyn dodged the Vietnam War when he could have served in the military, but he instead actively sought a way out. Lt. Col. Noriega, on the other hand, enlisted in the National Guard in the 1980’s in response to the Iranian hostage crisis. He later served in Afghanistan as a result of 9/11 and the subsequent war on terror.

But this is an election year and it obviously has dawned on Cornyn that he had chosen to shirk his walk while Lt. Col. Noriega has walked his. And so now we have a threatened and scared Republican Senator who will fabricate smear for the sole purpose of saving his own scared and sorry derriere.

I don’t think any of us will ever forget the relentless and unconscionable swift boating of John Kerry in 2004, who unlike Bush, did serve in Vietnam. And Bush supporters smeared Kerry mercilessly for it. Yes, folks, this is the sick, twisted and toxic manner in which Republicans and their supporters thrive. The pathetic cowards will smear and demonize decorated war heroes. GOP smear mongers have no honor. They don’t even know its meaning.

Like W., Texas U.S. Senator Cornyn did not serve in the Vietnam War. Both men were of military age at the time and as we know, both are right wing war hawks today. And yet neither was willing to fight in a war themselves when they had every opportunity to do so. While W. his behind his Daddy’s clout and buddies to dodge Vietnam, Cornyn bailed out by using a loophole in the law.

Clueless about the hard and real consequences of warfare, an inept Mr. Bush distracted us from the real war on terror by fabricating an unnecessary debacle called Iraq. His equally oblivious and war dodging soul mate, Mr. Cornyn has blindly and routinely supported W. in his irresponsible quest that has undermined our military as well as our national security. 70% of Americans believe Iraq is a mistake and not worth the price. So much for putting chicken hawks in high positions of power that involve decision making about warfare, our military or our national security. Not to mention the inconvenient truth about our now busted and seriously overdrawn national piggy bank.

It is apparently so easy for swaggering war dodging chickens to send others off into the killing and maiming fields and squander our national treasure while the chickens roost safely at home completely insulated by bastions of personal financial protection and fortresses of political power.

A couple of months ago progressive bloggers, Vince Leibowitz, Hal Heitman, and I put our keyboards together to do a little research on Cornyn’s military history, or rather, the lack thereof. We knew given Cornyn’s age that it is likely he had to have participated in the mandatory Vietnam War draft lotteries of the 1970’s During the time in which so many men Cornyn’s age were drafted into military service we wanted to know why the Senator was neither drafted nor did he enlist.

Vince had discovered an article written in the San Antonio Express News on October 20, 2002 (Section A, page 12) that revealed Cornyn avoided the Vietnam War draft by obtaining a student deferment in 1970.

In 1970, Cornyn requested and received a student deferment from the draft, which was abolished shortly before he graduated in 1973.

"There was a lot of soul-searching going on and a lot of questions about our nation's role in the world," he said. "Ultimately, I turned out to be pretty much a chip off the old block."

I’d say there was a lot of soul searching all right. Cornyn chose to shirk the walk. Chip off the old block? How so? According to Senator Cornyn’s web site his father is a former B17 pilot in WWII and he served in the Air Force for 31 years.

Actually, the fact that Cornyn received a deferment in 1970 is kind of odd given that student deferments were supposed to have come to a screeching halt in 1970. The entire rationale for the draft lottery was to even the playing field for those being called into service. Prior to the lottery student deferments were possible for those enrolled full-time in four year colleges/universities who maintained average/passing GPAs.

Our interest in this issue peaked when strangely, as Vince had discovered, the statement in the San Antonio Express conflicted with one written in the December 14, 2007 issue of the Texas Observer by Jan Reid. In the article about Mr. Noriega’s military service (“Boots on the Ground”) the author had stated Mr. Cornyn was too young to have served during the Vietnam War.

Too young? Vince, Hal and I knew better. Hal, like Cornyn, was of military age at the time and he had to participate in the Vietnam War draft lottery himself.

I am also a baby boomer whose own brother, born the year before Cornyn and one of my brothers-in-law, born a year after Cornyn, also had to go through the draft lotteries.

So, what is Cornyn’s story?

Hal dug through the Selective Service archives and learned that Cornyn did indeed go through the draft lottery system in 1971 and he drew number 28, which is a very low one. You see, those with numbers 0-95 were to have been called into service.

Why did Cornyn go through the draft lottery in 1971 if he received a supposed deferment in 1970?

The fact of the matter is, back in the Vietnam War days deferments were next to impossible to obtain for the young men who followed their fathers into the trades, or for those who did not have the financial resources at the time to attend school. These are the groups that bore the brunt of the draft and most were shipped to Vietnam immediately after basic training. Far too many returned home in body bags.

Fortunately there are times in America when people cry out for justice and fairness for all. During those turbulent Vietnam War times the public grew outraged because so many of the working class and poor citizens were shipped off to the killing fields while the wealthier young men could escape that fate by enrolling and remaining in a university or college. Many of our lawmakers at the time had served in the military themselves and they understood the public’s rage and frustration. And so after enormous public pressure, the draft lottery evolved in an effort to add a degree of fairness to the draft. Here is a snippet on its mission and how the lottery was supposed to have worked.

To make the lottery as fair as possible, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) developed a unique random calendar and number selection program for Selective Service. Using this random selection method for birthdays, each day of the year is selected by computer in a random manner, and that date is placed in a capsule. The capsules are then loaded in a large drum on a random basis. By the same method, numbers from 1 to 365 (366 for men born in a leap year) are also selected in a random fashion, placed in capsules, and the capsules are placed into a second drum. The process, repeated a second time, results in two sets of drums. Official observers certify that the capsule-filling and drum-loading were conducted according to established procedures. This certification is secured to each drum; they are sealed and placed in secure storage. Should a lottery be conducted, one of the first actions would be an inspection of these stored drums and the selection of a set to be used in the lottery.

So much for the NIST’s mission of fairness where Cornyn is concerned.

Because Mr. Number 28 Cornyn avoided the draft.

Last night while writing this diary, I received an email from Hal. As a result of his persistent research efforts he finally discovered how Senator Cornyn had ducked the draft.

According to Hal:

Even though the lottery was instituted in 1969, and meant to level the playing field and deny young men the opportunity to avoid military service by going to college, people were still allowed to apply for and were granted education deferments, aka 2-S deferments, up until September 1971. These deferments did not vaporize, they were held in force after 1971. This is how Cornyn was able to maintain his student deferment while others in his age group went to Vietnam.

So, a man who cowered behind a 2-S deferment has the arrogance to demand the military records of decorated veteran Rick Noriega?

I am convinced that Vietnam War dodging Senator John Cornyn fully intends to swift boat Lt. Col. Noriega and his service in Afghanistan.

If the junior Senator from the great state of Texas thinks that we Texas Democrats are going to let him, Rove and members of the GOP smear a Texas war veteran and demean his military service, these boys and girls have another thing coming.

Texas Democrats don’t let Texas Republican Chicken Hawks smear Texas war heroes.

Texas Democrats, and any revolted and sickened Republican who may be reading this blog, I urge you to go to Lt. Col. Noriega’s website to sign the petition against Senator Cornyn’s swift boat attacks. Let us put a final end to the Republican hate machine that is fueled by personal smear, sleaze and slime. This machine is hostile to us as a people and only serves to hurt. Hate cannot engender anything good, positive, uplifting or worthwhile.

A special note of thanks to Vince Leibowitz and Hal Heitman who contributed research materials for this diary, and to Randy Erb, for his input and for his service and contributions as a Vietnam War Veteran and former draft counselor. And a big thank you and hugs to my brother and one of my brothers-in-law who went through the draft lotteries as full-time college students in excellent academic standing, with no deferments available to them at the time.

Another person whom I don’t even know also inspired me to write this piece. He or she deserves a rather extraordinary applause for his or her heroism, integrity and bravery. Let all of us in the Democratic Party give our deepest and most heartfelt thanks to real hero who donated a portion of his or her re-enlistment bonus to support Rick Noriega.

From a comment posted by a real American hero Daily Kos on February 15, 2008.

just made it a nice round $28,100.

People who never served don't get to swiftboat my brothers and sisters.

I've got about $500 left from my re-enlistment bonus. I was going to save up to build a new PC, but getting Democratic Veterans into office is more important right now. by soonergrunt on Fri Feb 15, 2008 at 04:58:35 PM PST

There was a time, not so very long ago, when Americans used to be more like “Soonergrunt” and less like Cornyn, Bush, Rove and Co.


s said...

Great story.

Has anyone actually found the deferment documentation yet? If Cornyn hasn't released them, it could be because they contain something embarrassing. Even if everything is in order, it would be a basic good faith gesture for him to release his "military records" for public scrutiny as well.

Libby's Blog said...

Good point. Thank you - I'll pass your suggestion on to the Noriega campaign.

thefensk said...

I know this is an old post but you've posted on this subject before and I thought I'd share my experience with student deferments. I am a native Texan, and am not a Cornyn supporter, but I was in this very same boat.

I was born in 1952, started school in 1970, did not take a deferment immediately. Got my draft number (46!!) in 1971 lottery. Student deferments were indeed discontinued late in 1970.


There was a little known provision in the presidential directive that abolished the student deferment that grandfathered student deferments for those individuals who had been a student in good standing, and who had continuous enrollment in good standing. In other words, if you had been eligible for the deferment when it was available, and had not taken it but your eligibility requirements had never lapsed (i.e you took enough hours and had stayed in school) you were still eligible. There wasn't a lot to love about Dick Nixon, but I'll have to thank him for that! Lawyers, go figure.

I got my deferment in the spring of 1972 ... I had already had my physical and received my 1-A classification. I can't remember where I found this out ... the student draft counselors didn't know about it. Anyway, I sent my transcripts to the Draft Board and got the deferment. It wasn't magic, just heads up legwork.

As to why I didn't take it immediately, you have to put yourself in the context of the times. We didn't know the draft was going away at that time. Didn't seem like it ever would. Your draft "age liability" was age 26 normally, but if you took a deferment like that, it extended to age 35. It seemed to me a good idea to take a chance on the lottery. I have about the same luck with the money lottery.

I was just relating this experience to someone and was doing a little googling on the subject and found these blogs. I figure I had to be one of the last student deferments in the country. Even with no draft I didn't breath easy until I turned 36.

Anonymous said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.