Upset over his predecessor's remarks about helping "privileged" young men like George W. Bush get into the National Guard at the height of the Vietnam War, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst today said he was giving back a $5,000 campaign donation from Ben Barnes. Barnes, a Democrat who served as Texas House Speaker and lieutenant governor in the '60s and '70s, gave the money to the Dewhurst campaign on Dec. 3, 2002, a Dewhurst spokesman said. In a statement Friday, the Republican Dewhurst said he was "saddened and disappointed" by Barnes' remarks on "60 Minutes" this week. Barnes said he helped Bush and other sons of wealthy Texans get into the Guard to escape Vietnam, and he was now ashamed of what he'd done. Barnes said he was asked a Bush family friend, the late Sidney Adger, a Houston oilman, to recommend the younger Bush for a pilot position. Barnes said he shouldn't have had the power "to choose who was going to Vietnam and who was not. "With less than two months to go before Election Day, this attempt at character assassination represents politics at its worst," said Dewhurst, who was elected lieutenant governor in 2002. Barnes spokeswoman Karen Hinton declined comment. Bush has said he is proud of his service and that neither he nor his father asked for help in finding the Guard opening. A White House spokesman said there was "no truth" to Barnes' story, reports Houston Chronicle. According to Guardian Unlimited, some forensic experts were quoted by news organizations, including The Associated Press, that the memos appeared to have been computer-generated with characteristics that weren't available three decades ago. ``The documents are backed up not only by independent handwriting and forensic document experts but sources familiar with their content,'' CBS News said. At question are memos that carry the signature of the late Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, then the commander of Bush's Texas Air National Guard fighter squadron. They say Killian was under pressure to ``sugar coat'' Bush's record, and Bush refused a direct order to take a required medical examination and discussed how he could skip drills. ``60 Minutes II'' relied on the documents as part of a Wednesday segment on Bush's service in the Texas Air National Guard from 1968 to 1973. Bush spokesman Scott McClellan said Friday the White House, which distributed the memos after obtaining them from CBS News, was not trying to verify their authenticity. ``We don't know if the documents are fabricated or authentic,'' McClellan told reporters traveling with the president to West Virginia. McClellan suggested the memos surfaced as part of ``an orchestrated effort by Democrats and the Kerry campaign to tear down the president.'' The White House says it doesn't know if the memos are genuine, but a spokesman said this much is clear: Democrats are "determined to throw the kitchen sink" at the president. Press Secretary Scott McClellan said regardless of where the documents came from, they don't change the fact that Bush did his Vietnam-era duty and was honorably discharged. McClellan said it's all part of an "orchestrated effort" by Democrats to tear down Bush because John Kerry is slipping in the polls. But Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe said Americans "deserve to know the truth" about Bush's time in the Texas Air National Guard. McAuliffe wants Bush to publicly answer questions about his Vietnam-era service. He said that even if those particular records turn out to be fakes, there's other evidence the commander-in-chief shirked his duty in his early days. He said Pentagon documents show Bush "just didn't show up." McAuliffe said Bush has twice lied about his military service, publishes NewsNet5.
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Rescuers found the pilot of one of the two Su-34 fighters that had collided in midair in the Far East on January 18