"Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past." Orwell-- The US is probably moving toward becoming a heavily controlled Rightist state. This blog is an effort to document how that happened.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

The Rather-Mapes Inquisition Revisited

On September 9, 2004, CBS aired a program segment that would cost producer Mary Mapes her job and would seriously damage the reputation of Dan Rather. The network produced photocopies of documents that showed that George W. Bush tried so evade his Air Guard duties in 1972. The documents were attributed to his commanding officer, Colonel Jerry Killian. One documents expert told Mapes the documents were trustworthy, and another supported his view. The problem was that several other experts advised CBS not to use them

The rest the mainstream press made the story CBS’s failure to establish beyond doubt that the copies were legitimate and resolutely refused to consider the context in which Mapes and Rather made their decisions. As a result, questions about George W. Bush’s Guard service was rendered out of bounds.CBS did not reveal its source, and some conservatives insisted they came from the Democratic National Committee. Later, USA Today turned up another document in which Killian tried to find out if Bush ever took the physical examination. Marian Carr Knox , Killian’s former secretary, said she did not type them but was certain their contents reflected the facts of the situation then and Killian’s frustration that Bush was defying him.

In the ensuing debate, neither her comments or the USA Today document were given any weight.Killian was not alive to verify the documents, but CBS had contacted his commanding officer General Bobby Hodges who said the memos reflected what Killian had told him about Bush. He did not vouch for their authenticity. After a storm of criticism arose, he told CBS they were forgeries and refused to verify that the contents reflected accurately what Killian reported about Bush.2 Right-wing bloggers said the documents were forgeries because they contained "superscripts", and they said typewriters in 1972-1973 were not equipped for that. CBS soon proved that government typewriters then did have "superscript," but no one seemed to listen and even now journalists praise the accuracy of those right-wing bloggers.

CBS had to reveal that the copies came from Lt. Colonel Bill Burkett, who had become an anti-Bush zealot because, earlier he had claimed, Bush operatives had purged Air Guard records of damaging information. He said that aids of the governor visited the archives of the Texas Guard at Camp Mabry in 1997 and scrubbed them of much of the information about Governor Bush’s service according to Burkett. He reported hearing Joe Albaugh, Bush’s chief of staff, discussing with Adjutant General Daniel James the need to get rid of documents that could embarrass the governor. Several days later, Burkett saw several such documents in a trash can and read them When he made that claim, he was counting on a colleague to support him; but that man backed out at the last minute.Burkett had said he made repeated attempts to tell the Kerry campaign that he saw documents like them at in the trash at his base. He never got beyond a number of youthful workers, so he sent an e-mail to Senator Max Cleland. He said he was never contacted by anyone from the campaign.

Burkett, a very religious man, probably did not forge the papers. He later admitted the were given to him by a Hispanic woman whose story he very much wanted to believe. This person seems to have vanished from the radar. Who sent her remains a mystery, but this writer would not be astonished if Karl Rove had enlisted her in a brilliant sting that discredited CBS and Dan Rather and made explorations into George W. Bush’s background out of bounds.

The known information about Bush’s Guard service certainly suggested that what the documents said was true, and this is probably why Mapes and Rather went with the story and made the mistake of assuming the documents were legitimate. For some reason, none of the critics of CBS showed an ioata of intererst in what was known from other sources about Bush's Air Guard Service. The team appointed to investigate Rather and Mapes was unable to demonstrate that they were forgeries. It was not instructed to look into Bush's service in the Air Guard. The inquisitors had many questions about Ms. Mapes' politics, as though liberals had a compulsion to fabricate evidence.

George W. Bush made a six year commitment to the Texas Air National Guard in 1968.The sons of other prominent Texas families occupied had found this a convenient way to have stateside duty. Bush scored the minimal points on a qualifying test and with the help of Lieutenant Governor Ben Barnes was given one of two remain flying slots in a Guard Unit known as the "champaign unit." He was assigned to flying F102 interceptors. At the time there was a waiting list of over 100,000 people trying to get into the Air National Guard. 4 People who saw the papers of the papers of the late Colonel Jerry Killian indicate that Bush discussed with him ways to avoid regularly scheduled drills from May to November and to get around taking a physical examination in 1972 and that the colonel was pressured by superiors– one of whom was a legendary retired officer- too see that Bush received good ratings. Bush was ordered to take the annual physical examination but never did so .

Dan Rather later apologized for using the documents since it had become impossible to authenticate them.On September 29, 1972, the Air National Guard confirmed orders suspending Lt. Bush from flying status because he had not accomplished a medical exam. Years later, an aid to Governor Bush explained that he had decided to quit flying. This was at a time wheen the military started testing for drug use and insisting that the examinations be administered by military physicians. Bush had managed to arrange to meet his Guard obligations in Alabama, where he was involved in a Senate campaign.

Linda Allison, widow of the campaign chairman, and others reported that they had kn knowledge that Bush wanted to participate in the campaign until several days before his arrival. She said, "Well, you have to know Georgie....He really was a totally irresponsible person. Big George called Jimmy [ her husband] and said, he’s killing us in Houston, take him down there and let him work on that campaign...." She said she thought he was using pot and "perhaps cocaine."It was said that Bush thrashed the house he rented in Montgomery and did not pay the damages. There is no record he ever appeared for drills there in 1972-1973. General William Turnipseed, who then commanded the Alabama Guard, said Bush did not appear for duty. He received two special orders instructing him to return to Texas for duty, and he did log 36 days of duty, beginning in July, 1973.In the Fall of 1973, Bush was demoted to assignment in the Obligated Reserve Section in Denver because he was unable to meet his obligations as a jet fighter pilot. Bush was released early from the Guard in return for his signing a promise that he would enter the Reserves, but he never kept the promise. However, pay records that were later released showed that he made some effort to make up some service obligations while there working on a senatorial campaign.

In September, 2004, it was reported that critical written reports on Bush’s service, though required to be preserved had either not been written or had somehow disappeared. Bush had missed his medical examination in `1972, but somehow the report on this incident was missing. He had clearly missed five months of drills and regulations required that he receive counseling after this infarction. Yet no information on these events were found in his files.Questions about Bush’s military service were explored in some detail by the AP wire service, The Washington Post, Boston Globe, and other print media during the campaign of 2000. The television news programs did not deal with it then and it was not a major issue. 7The issue briefly reappeared in early 2003. In February, 2004, the Bush White House tried to end the discussion of his Guard Service by making public hundreds of documents.They were mostly payroll records, but many key pieces of correspondence had somehow disappeared.

The documents proved difficult to understand, and only independent Paul Lukasiak of Philadelphia bothered to study them. The president claimed he had "made up" all their monthly training exercises he had missed, but Lukasiak proved that five months had not been made up. Bush’s records showed he often took substitute training before scheduled monthly training but there was no proof Alabama Guard authorities authorized these substitutions. Moreover, his substitute training did not conform to Air Force regulations requiring it occur no more than 15 days before a scheduled Unit Training Assembly or 30 days after it. One John Calhoun claimed he was Bush at 8 or 10 of the assemblies, but Bush himself never claimed to be at more than one of the assemblies Calhoun mentioned. Nevertheless, Calhoun was featured on many right-wing talk and cable shows in 2004. At the same time, one Bob Mintz, until recently a Republican, came forward to testify that he had been looking for Bush at the base because he wanted to find another bachelor to chum around with but never found him. Retired Colonel and flight instructor Leonard Walls, who is non-political, also testified that he never met Bush at Dannelly Air National Guard Base in Montgomery. Lukasiak raised many other troubling matters, one of which was why Bush was stripped of flight status in 1973, but the mainstream press showed no interesting in his investigative work.

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About Me

Sherm spent seven years writing an analytical chronicle of what the Republicans have been up to since the 1970s. It discusses elements in the Republican coalition, their ideologies, strategies, informational and financial resources, and election shenanigans. Abuses of power by the Reagan and G. W. Bush administration and the Republican Congresses are detailed. The New Republican Coalition : Its Rise and Impact, The Seventies to Present (Publish America) can be acquired by calling 301-695-1707. On line, go to http://www.publishamerica.com/shopping. It can also be obtained through the on-line operations of Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Do not consider purchasing it if you are looking for something that mirrors the mainstream media!