DAN THE AXE
By Jon Christian Ryter
September 20, 2004
Newsweek was the first mainstream mass circulation publication to identify a disgruntled former Texas National Guardsman, Lt. Col. Bill Burkett as the source of the forged Bush memos. After Newsweek named Burkett, several other publications including the Washington Post, New York Times and Washington Times named him as the elusive source of the memos. Newsweek revealed that the memos had been faxed to CBS producer Mary Mapes from a Kinkos™ in Abilene,, Texas, 21 miles from Burkett's home in Baird. Mapes, who reportedly dislikes President George W. Bush almost as much as Dan Rather, has spent almost five years trying to find someone who would go on the record to discredit Bush' Air Guard service. Mapes, by the way, is the CBS producer who put together the CBS report on the sex abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib that gave America a black eye around the world. It was Mapes' five year vendetta to get Bush that let Dan Rather honestly say on 60-Minutes II that the story about the Bush memos was the result of "...over four years of investigative work." He omitted one word—it wwas the result of over four years of vindictive investigative work. Mapes went after Bush much the same way the Charlotte Observer went after Jim Bakker of the PTL Club, and persecuted him so ruthlessly that the federal judge that sentenced him gave Bakker 38 years in prison—37 1/2 years more than Martha Stewart whose greed cost Martha Stewart shareholders million of dollars in losses to their personal investment portfolios.
Honest reporters work diligently to get the story—not to get people.. Biased, partisan talking heads on adrenaline rushes go after their "quarry" the way big game hunters stalk their prey. Mainstream newsmen and women—whether the most junior stringer on the street to the most famous news anchor—lose their credibility and tarnish the names of the news organizations they represent when they place their personal partisan feelings before their instinct to gather and report the news without bias.
Unfortunately, some very partisan CBS news people apparently feel it is their responsibility to help Democratic presidential wannabee John F. Kerry who is sliding downhill faster than a skunk on a greased kiddie slide. Burkett, a known left wing ideologue, has a very sharp axe to grind against the President (whom he claims used his influence in 1998 to prevent him from getting medical treatment and causing his forced retirement from the military). Before 60-Minutes II even remotely considered using the Bush Memos, they should have investigated Burkett's bias—and they should have honestly gauged thee authenticity of the "evidence" Burkett was offering— particularly since the August 225 Online Journal article offered more than just a clue that the memos were replicas of what Burkett thought existed. They were not original documents—or even Xerox copies of original documents. They were recreated documents—and not recreated from anyone's memory, but from their imagination.
Tragically, once the documents proved to be fabrications, Dan Rather, John F. Kerry and Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe all insisted that even though the memos had been discredited, the information in them had not since an 86-year old typist looking for 15-minutes of fame said someone who died years ago thought that way although there is no evidence—except that which was fabricated—to verify her claim. Dan Rather just doesn't get it. Neither do John Kerry nor Terry McAuliffe.
The documents are fakes. Someone made them up. By extension, that means whomever fabricated the memos fabricated the messages within the memos. That means the allegations Rather wanted Bush to defend himself from are equally groundless. End of story—but hopefully, not the end of the investigation. Whomever faked the memos and forged the signature of Lt. Col. Jerry Killian is guilty of a crime. The victim of this crime was the President of the United States and, by extension, the people of the United States who support him. Thieves (or thief) attempted, through fraud and skullduggery, to steal the office of the presidency. Forgery is a felony. Whomever forged those documents needs to arrested and charged with that crime. This was not a harmless political prank this was a very serious crime. We need to treat it as such.
After Lt. Col. Bill Burkett's name surfaced in the scandal as the likely perpetrator of the Bush Memos, Burkett's lawyer, David Van Os (a very partisan former head of the Travis County, Texas Democratic Party who is currently running for a seat on the Texas Supreme Court) issued a statement on behalf of his client concerning a quote he made to the New York Times in which he Van Os—said: "If, hypothetically, Bill Burkett or anyone else, any other individual, had prepared or typed on a word processor as some of the journalists are presuming without much evidence, if someone in the year 2004 had prepared on a word processor replicas of documents they believed had existed in 1972 and 1973—which Bill Burkett has absolutely not done—what difference would it make?" In his rebuttal statement, Van Os said: "My purpose in making this point was to illustrate how the new effort of the White House spin machine and its media puppets to focus on Lt. Col. Bill Burkett is but another and typical effort to destroy an individual citizen as a way to deflect attention away from the relevant public issues. For this reason, Lt. Col. Burkett no longer trusts any possible outcome of speaking to the press on any issued regarding George W. Bush and does not choose to dignify recent spurious attacks upon his character with any comment."
Between March and August when the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth launched their advocacy campaign against John Kerry, Burkett intensified his own personal campaign against the President that had actually begun in the spring of 2003. Burkett also initiated an email newsletter campaign against Bush in February, 2004, reiterating his year-old claim that he had evidence that Bush lied about his service in the Texas Air National Guard. The current Bush flap appears to stem from the Online Journal article on August 25 (but it may have actually stemmed from a call from Burkett to CBS sometime between September 2 and September 4 when CBS may have been offered incriminating documents that would substantially prove that Bush lied about his service in the Texas Air National Guard—a charge Mapes had been chasing, by her own admission, for almost five years). In any event, had they read the Online Journal article, CBS would have discovered a couple of comments from Burkett that should have raised red flags about the content of the memos that, in turn, should have caused them to examine, more closely, not only the documents but the man who provided them. However, it appears—in my humble opinion—that Kerry was sinking so fast because of the Swift Boat attacks, he needed a quick boost in the polls before the gap between the incumbent and the challenger became too great to close. The memos, if they passed "first glance muster," would stop the hemorrhaging and perhaps even provide a transfusion that would bring Kerry back to life.
The most logical timeline suggests that when Mapes received the Burkett memos or was told Burkett had them, CBS dispatched her to Baird, Texas—21 miles form Abilene—on September 5 to interview him. Regardless of the minute details of how it all came down, what resulted from that meeting was the 60-Minutes II report with Dan Rather on Sept. 8 (which indicates just how thorough and serious CBS was in attempting to verify the authenticity of the memos).
Once all their forensic experts backed away from the conclusions advanced by Dan Rather, making it clear they had misgivings about the authenticity of the memos right from the start, CBS was left with two people who supported Rather 's view that Bush lied—Burkett, who provided the "replicas" of what such memos would have looked like if they actually existed, and Marion Carr Knox, the 86-year old former typist of Lt. Col. Jerry Killian who admitted that even though she believed the documents were forgeries, she thought they expressed the views of Killian and would have been pretty much what Killian would have said if he said anything.
The New York Times noted that by the time they interviewed Knox, she had morphed into what they described as Killian's military aide-de-camp. "We did discuss Bush's conduct," Knox told the Times, "and it was a problem Killian was concerned about." 'She concluded to the New York Times that even though the memos were false, the content of the memos accurately reflected Killian's sentiments. It is important to remember that Knox was a civilian typist who served primarily as Killian's secretary. Senior military officers never discuss their personal feelings about subordinate officers with even more "subordinate" subordinates unless they are dictating a memo that is going into their personnel file since, at that point, their views become public knowledge. Since Killian didn't do that, and Knox never typed such a memo, we can safely conclude that Knox was expressing an opinion based on the idle fancies of an 86-year woman swimming in the public eye and loving the notoriety. Nothing more. Nothing less.
An additional warning flag that should have alerted CBS that there was something wrong with the Bush memos was a statement Burkett made to the Associated Press on February 17, 2004 in which he claimed he overheard a conversation between then Gov. George W. Bush's chief-of- staff, Joe Albaugh, and then Texas Air National Guard head Gen. Daniel Jones in which they were reportedly discussing sanitizing Bush's records so that there wouldn't be anything in them that could embarrass the governor. Burkett claims that he saw Bush's files in a trash can a few days later. In his August 25 Online Journal article, Burkett said: "George W. Bush, you may be the president. But I know you lied. I know from your files that we have now reassembled, the fact that you did not fulfill your oath, taken when you were commissioned to 'obey the orders of the officers appointed over you..."
Burkett told the AP that, at that time, he told Chief Warrant Officer George Conn of the conversation he purportedly overheard, and the fact that he found Bush's records in a trash can. He said he confided in Conn because Conn took him to a room where Bush's records were being "scrubbed." When asked, Conn told the media he never witnessed files being sanitized, nor did he recall any such conversations with Burkett. Conn should have been the very first person CBS called to test Burkett's credibility.
Burkett is listed on the website of Veterans For Peace as a "contributing writer." Whether Burkett is linked to the Veterans For Peace only as an unpaid writer or if he is an active participant in their anti-war rallies, he is, first and foremost, a commodity of value to the Veterans For Peace— which they have not hesitated to use.
The organization was originally formed by 100 liberal, antiwar celebrities like former M*A*S*H actor Mike Farrell. Today, other than protesting the War in Iraq, Veterans For Peace is singularly dedicated to the election of John F. Kerry since they obviously believe if Kerry is elected he will pull American troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan and surrender the Mideast to the United Nations. If that were to happen it would mean that every American who shed blood in the sands of Iraq or Afghanistan would have shed their blood in vain and those who died on September 11, 2001 in New York, Washington, DC and in a desolate field in Pennsylvania, have not been avenged. And the Muslim extremists who declared war on the American people will believe they have won and can bring their unholy jihad to your neighborhood the next time they strike.
Other than the small contributions of the disenfranchised left or from the disgruntled anarchists of the far left, the key financial support that funds the agenda of Veterans For Peace comes from two sources: George Soros' Open Society Institute and the Tides Foundation. How close is the link between the Kerry Campaign and Bill Burkett? Only the hierarchy of Veterans For Peace and whomever at the Tides Foundation authorizes the checks—wait a minute...that's Teresa Heinz Kerry—knows for sure. And, quite frankly, Teresa isn't talking. She has already told those wondering why the Tides Foundations finances the activities of so many anti-American protest groups that she has no idea what the Tides Foundation does with the grants she bequeaths it. And furthermore, she's made it clear that it isn't anyone's business but hers.
Veterans For Peace, which is actively protesting against American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan (just as its 1970s counterpart, Vietnam Veterans Against War—whoops...that's John Kerry's anti-American, antiwar group protested against the soldiers who were fighting in Southeast Asia. (Well, its easy to see why Teresa and John got married. They have so much in common.) Veterans For Peace protested against President George H.W. Bush during the Gulf War and in 1992 the antiwar group held a peace rally in communist Cuba to show their solidarity with Fidel Castro. Just think, if Teresa gets elected—er, John Kerry gets elected—it will be your taxpayer dollars that will be used to finance their antiwar rhetoric as they surrender the mantle of governance to the UN. Why is it, I wonder, that all the un-American groups in this country always support the Democratic candidate for president?
As Kerry's polling numbers began to take a serious dip, the Kerry people sensed that the Bush Campaign was going to experience a major bounce at the end of the Republican National Convention in New York, and decided to spend a few extra million to devulcanize the bounce. In addition to spending $35 million in new TV ads in the battleground States, a new group called Texans for Truth suddenly appeared out of nowhere to counter the impact of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.
Texans For Truth, which may have been planned before the Swift Boat Veterans group surfaced—perhaps to be used a week or so before the election when Bush could not respond to it before the votes were cast; or perhaps to administer the coup d' grace to the President after the Bush Memos were aired like so much dirty laundry on 60 Minutes II. Or perhaps, it was just a coincidental last minute scramble on the part of the Democrats to find anything they could use to lessen the impact of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. It really doesn't matter when they were conceived since it wasn't formed and financed by Texans even though it is headed by one—Glen Smith. Smith is the former managing director of Public Strategies, the PR firm that handled Ann Richard's gubernatorial campaign against a young and still inexperienced George W. Bush in 1994. Texans For Truth is actually part of Drive Democracy. Texans for Truth and Drive Democracy are funded by MoveOn.org, which is largely bankrolled by socialist financier George Soros. The socialists, feminists, the gay rights crowd, the environmentalists and those who want their welfare incomes back are banking that the $200 million that Soros, Heinz Kerry, Progressive Insurance's Peter B. Lewis and other well-heeled liberals have invested will drive George W. Bush out of office and help the Democrats regain control of the Congress and the purse strings of the nation—with just a little help from their liberal friends in the media.
Dan Rather is still assuming the righteous position that CBS vetted the Bush Memos sufficiently, and that if the memos aren't exactly memos from the National Guard files, they are accurate enough facsimiles to establish, at least to his satisfaction, that President George W. Bush lied about his Texas Air National Guard service, and he needs to answer the allegations contained in the memos.
Dan Rather is living in a media world that has just been turned upside down by a new breed of investigative reporters—amateur, inexperienced web jockeys—working in their underwear while the world sleeps around them as they strive to hold the feet of the Dan Rathers of the world to the fire—demanding an accounting from the media companies that employ them when they break the trust our Founding Fathers placed in them by providing them with special protections under the 1st Amendment so they could keep our government honest. How can they do that when they, themselves, are not honest?
Unlike most news stories, in this case Dan Rather became an integral part of his own story because of his sloppy, partisan reporting. Instead of recusing himself when the story blew up in his face, Rather engaged in media spin in an attempt to save face. He brought an 86-year old shill on air to save his bacon. And, while she was stoking the fire under the skillet, Rather failed to tell his audience that Marian Carr Knox was not what she appeared to be. Knox isn't the nice old granny you thought she was. She is a very partisan Democrat who dislikes Bush. But then, anyone who regularly read the Dallas Morning News knew that in 2000 she voted for Al Gore—and they knew that Knox told the Dallas Morning News that Bush was "unfit for office" because he was "selected" and not "elected." Dan Rather couldn't even play his alibi straight. He had to use a ringer.
When the American people lose faith in the integrity of the fourth estate, the caretakers of the free press are no better than the worst of those about whom they write. We insist—no, we demand—that the media police their own, and hold those who break the public trust accountable. The American people demand two things of CBS: First, we demand that that CBS require Dan Rather on the same 60 Minutes II platform where he called the president a liar—to apologize to the President of the United States. And second, we demand that CBS suspend Dan Rather for at least 30 days as a warning to his peers that biased journalism will no longer be tolerated from the fourth estate.
Next, I would also like to ask everyone reading this article to do two things. First, I would like you to go to Grassfire.net and sign the petition that Grassfire has launched concerning the Bush Memos and Dan Rather. Second, I would like each of you to send an email to CBS at (firstname.lastname@example.org), call CBS in New York or send them a fax, and let them know that until Dan Rather apologizes to President Bush and until CBS suspends him, you will boycott not only all CBS programming, you will also boycott all Viacom films, you will not frequent Blockbuster Video, nor will you watch any other Viacom satellite networks. Oh, and by the way, I also need one other small thing. I need to get this message into the hands of at least one million people this week. Let's show the liberals we're serious about taking our country back.
© 2004 Jon C. Ryter - All Rights Reserved
Jon Christian Ryter is the pseudonym of a former newspaper reporter with the Parkersburg, WV Sentinel. He authored a syndicated newspaper column, Answers From The Bible, from the mid-1970s until 1985. Answers From The Bible was read weekly in many suburban markets in the United States.
Today, Jon is an advertising executive with the Washington Times. His website, www.jonchristianryter.com has helped him establish a network of mid-to senior-level Washington insiders who now provide him with a steady stream of material for use both in his books and in the investigative reports that are found on his website. E-Mail: BAFFauthor@aol.com