Thursday :: Sep 16, 2004

Just Gimme Some Truth


by pessimist
"60 Minutes feels that it's important to underscore this point: Those who have criticized aspects of our story have never criticized the major thrust of our report -- that George Bush received preferential treatment to get into the National Guard, and once accepted, failed to satisfy the requirements of his service."

That, folks, should be the topic of discussion. There is plenty of evidence to show that George W. Bu$h abandoned his military service just because the Rich Little Frat Boy didn't want to play soldier anymore. But that news wouldn't play well with the BFEE/PNAC Petroleum Pirate Posse Plan to take over the world after conducting a 'legitimate' electoral victory. Thus, they have to obfuscate the issue.

The Texas Air National Guard memo scandal gets murkier and murkier - just like Karl Rove wants it. That way, no one will notice that a witness has come forward to state that the information contained in these memos is essentially correct - even if the memos themselves are not the originals:


For The Record: Bush Documents

"I know that I didnít type them," says Knox. "However, the information in those is correct."
Lt. Col. Jerry Killian passed away in 1984. Killian's secretary, Marian Carr Knox, describes herself as Killian's "right hand" during much of the 1970s. Knox is 86 years old, and completely comfortable in the eye of a storm. She spent more than two decades keeping pilots and officers in line at Ellington Air Force Base in Houston.

She wants to set the record straight about the memos that CBS News obtained. She flew to New York Wednesday afternoon to tell 60 Minutes that she believes the documents we obtained are not authentic -- but she says the facts behind [them] are very real. She told Correspondent Dan Rather that she believes what the documents actually say is exactly as we reported. Knox says she didnít type these memos, but she says she did type ones that contained the same information.

Knox says that Killian started what she calls a "cover-your-back" file -- a personal file where he stored the memos about the problems with Mr. Bush's performance, his failure to take a physical, and the pressure Killian felt from upstairs. She addressed one memo, and a reference to retired Gen. Staudt pushing for a positive officer training report on Lt. Bush.

Staudt is pushing to sugar coat it.í Does that sound like Col. Killian? Is that the way it felt," Rather asked Knox.

"That's absolutely the way he felt about that," says Knox. "It's just like a personal journal," says Knox. "You write things. It was more or less that."

"These memos were not memos that you typed, and you donít think they came directly out of his files," Rather asked Knox.

"The information, yes," says Knox. "It seems that somebody did see those memos, and then tried to reproduce and maybe changed them enough so that he wouldnít get in trouble over it."

She does remember Killian being upset over Mr. Bush's failure to take a physical. "Did or did not Lt. Bush take a physical as ordered by Col. Killian," Rather asks Knox.

"The last time, no he didnít," says Knox. "It was a big no-no to not follow orders. And I canít remember anyone refusing to. Now for instance, with the physical, every officer knew that before his birthday he was supposed to have that flying physical. Once in a while they might be late, but there would be a good excuse for it and let the commander know and try to set up a date for a make-up. If they did not take that physical, they were off flying status until they did."

Did Knox ever hear Killian talk about this, or did he write memos about Bush not taking the physical? "He was upset about it. That was one of the reasons why he wrote a memo directing him to go take the physical," says Knox. "Iím going to say this, but it seems to me that Bush felt that he was above reproach." She told 60 Minutes again and again that she believed Lt. Bush refused a direct order to take a physical.

"Col. Killianís son says that this isnít true," says Rather.

"He has no way of knowing whether that is true or not," says Knox.

Knox remembers Lt. Bush well, and saw him often as he showed up for weekend training in 1971 and 1972. "He was always very gentlemanly. He called me by the name of his fatherís secretary. He was always apologizing about that," recalls Knox. "He couldnít remember my name. I felt that his parents must have been wonderful to have produced somebody as nice as that."

But did Lt. Bush get into the National Guard on the basis of preferential treatment? "I'm going to say that he did," says Knox. "I feel that he did, because there were a lot other boys in there in the same way."

So what kind of officer was Lt. Bush? "Bush seemed to be having a good time. He didn't seem to be having any problem with the other pilots," says Knox. "But, his time there, it seemed that the other fellows were, Iím going to say this, sort of resentful of him because of his attitude ... that he really didnít have to go by the rules." Knox says the fact that then - Lt. Bush was repeatedly missing drills was not lost on his fellow pilots. "They missed him. It was sort of gossip around there, and they'd [the other officers would] snicker and so forth about what he was getting away with," says Knox. "I guess there was even a resentment."

Knox says that working in a senate campaign in 1972 became more important to Mr. Bush than flying for the Guard. "I think it is plain and simple. Bush didn't think that he had to go by the rules that others did," says Knox. "He had this campaign to take care of, and that's what he was going to do -- and that's what he did do."


Ex-Guard Typist Recalls Memos Criticizing Bush

George W. Bush's commanding officer in the Texas Air National Guard wrote memos more than 30 years ago objecting to efforts to gloss over the young lieutenant's shortcomings and failure to take a flight physical, the officer's former secretary said Tuesday night. But Marian Carr Knox of Houston said she thought four memos unveiled by CBS News last week were forgeries ó not copies of the ones she typed at the time. Knox, 86, worked for 23 years at Ellington Air Force Base in Houston and served as a typist for Lt. Col. Jerry B. Killian, then Bush's squadron commander, and several other officers.

In a brief interview Tuesday, she confirmed that Killian had concerns about Bush's failure to take his physical examination in 1972, which prevented him from flying, and about efforts by higher-ups to protect the future president from the fallout. Knox told several newspapers that Killian kept the personal files on Bush, and on other topics, in a desk drawer as a way of "covering his back" in anticipation of later questions about his actions. She retired in 1979, before Killian's death, and said she did not know what became of the files. Killian died in 1984, and his views of Bush have been hotly debated by those around him, with Knox joining another former Guard officer who said objections to Bush's service sounded like those the squadron commander would have made.

Knox said that the four memos first shown last week on CBS News did not look authentic. Knox based her objections to the memos not on the type but on the content, which she said smacked of the Army, not the Air Force. After speaking briefly to The Times, Knox said she was tired of talking about the subject and turned the phone over to her son, Patrick M. Carr. Carr said he had heard his mother describe for other reporters how some of the terminology in the memos, including the use of "billets" and a reference to the "administrative officer" were not in common usage in the 147th Fighter Interceptor Group, for which she worked. She said those terms sounded more like the ones used by the Army National Guard, her son said.

CBS spokeswoman Sandy Genelius greeted Knox's statements with mixed emotions. While suggesting that Knox was wrong about the authenticity of the memos, she was pleased that the one-time secretary corroborated their content. "While we do not believe that she is a documents expert," CBS spokeswoman Sandy Genelius said of Knox, "it is exceptionally noteworthy that she supports the content of our story."

Like all aspects of the debate, the views of the principals tend to coincide with their feelings on the election. Knox identified herself as an opponent of Bush, whom she called unfit for office.

Careful, Marian! George is already messing with your Medicare! Wouldn't want to lose your Social Security also, would you? Sooner that you are going to, I mean?

But to get back to the 'kill the messenger' strategy of the BFEE/PNAC Petroleum Pirate Posse, Dan Rather does cut to the chase about the issue - answer the damn questions !


Dan Rather To Bush: ĎAnswer The Questionsí

"With respect: answer the questions," said Dan Rather, the CBS News anchor. He was asking a direct question to President George W. Bush, his re-election campaign and his political allies in the press and on the Web. "Weíve heard what you have to say about the documents and what youíve said and what your surrogates have said, but... answer the questions."

The questions raised by his reporting, he said, have remained unanswered by the Bush administration: Did Mr. Bush get preferential treatment for the Texas Air National Guard? Was then - Lieutenant Bush suspended for failing to perform up to Texas and Air Guard standards? Did then - Lieutenant Bush refuse a direct order from his military superior to take a required examination?

Mr. Rather asserted that the lack of denial was itself evidence of the essential truth of his findings. "Itís never been fully, completely denied by the Bush-Cheney campaign or even the White House that he was suspended for meeting the standards of the Air Force or that he didnít show up for a physical," he said. "The longer we go without a denial of such things, this story is true."

That Good Old Vast Right Wing Conspiracy Rides Again

Mr. Rather said that the focus on questions over the veracity of the memos was a smoke screen perpetrated by right-wing allies of the Bush administration. "I think the public, even decent people who may be well-disposed toward President Bush, understand that powerful and extremely well-financed forces are concentrating on questions about the documents because they canít deny the fundamental truth of the story," he said. "If you canít deny the information, then attack and seek to destroy the credibility of the messenger, the bearer of the information. And in this case, itís change the subject from the truth of the information to the truth of the documents. This is your basic fogging machine, which is set up to cloud the issue, to obscure the truth," he said.

In the meantime, tens of thousands of e-mails from angry Bush supporters have poured in to the CBS offices in New York. A new Web site has been established called Rathergate.com, which has asked concerned critics to fax complaints to CBSís local affiliates and advertisers, putting more pressure on the news organization to either shore up the loose ends or establish an internal investigation, much as New York Times columnist William Safire had suggested in his column on Monday, Sept. 13.

But inside the West 57th Street offices of CBS News, some staffers felt the organization had acted like a ponderous sloth batting away a swarm of flies. They think the network had already lost. "I think itís too late to make a difference," said one angry CBS News staffer. "These guys lost the debate last week by taking a beating for 48 hours on Web and cable before making feeble attempts to defend themselves." The 60 Minutes defense, said the staffer, "should have been on last week and should have been much better illustrated."

Brownshirt Repellant

And what if it was discovered that the documents were indeed forged? Mr. Rather said that it would require an exceptional amount of knowledge to craft a forgery ó and not just the typographical kind. "Youíd have to have an in-depth knowledge of Air Force manuals from 1971," he said. "Youíd have to have Bushís service record, youíd have to have the Air Force regulations from 1971, youíd have to know nearly all of the people involved directly at that time, including the squadron commander, who was Bushís immediate superior, and his attitude at the time ó youíd have to know all those things and weave all those things in." But despite a number of experts calling the memos forgeries, he said that "the truth of these documents lies in the signatures and in the content, not just the typeface and the font-style."


The Last Word

Did Mr. Rather worry that the current scandal would tarnish his reputation, especially in the twilight of his career? Yes, said Mr. Rather, he did worry ó but he also seemed to worry for his colleagues in the press. "I certainly care about it," he said. "To me, even people who arenít inclined ... to like me know Iím a lifetime reporter trying to be independent and to report without fear or favor, to be an honest broker of information. On the times when Iíve failed, either because I didnít ask enough of the right questions, or didnít ask the right questions, I, and almost every other journalist, have taken a fair enough criticism for ... not asking the right questions, or not asking the right questions strong enough, long enough in the time preceding the war. And I think some of that criticism is justified. I do not except myself in that criticism."

Mr. Rather said that he was sure that the credibility of CBS News would hold up after the memo scandal had passed. "I think over the long haul, this will be consistent with our history and our traditions and reputation," he said. "We took heat during the McCarthy time, during Vietnam, during civil rights, during Watergate. We havenít always been right, but our record is damn good."

It should have been damn better - and a lot sooner. You and your colleagues still failed us, Mr. Rather. This is the sort of thing that should have been presented back in 1999 - long before the GOP thugs had a chance to force a decision in their favor through physical threats. At least a thousand Americans - and tens of thousands of Iraqis and Afghanis - would still be here if you had.

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pessimist :: 3:13 PM :: Comments (25) :: Digg It!