Friday, December 31, 2004

Voila Allah !

Allah Pundit is back (albeit without warp drive) at this site: AllahPundit.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Bush Clan Brilliance

Jeb Bush, currently the world's expert CEO with respect to directing massive disaster aid efficiently (re: those back-to-back Florida hurricanes), is dispatched by brother George to oversee the US tsunami aid efforts in the Indian Ocean disaster areas.

One of the worst 3 natural disasters of the century. 150,000, or maybe 400,000, dead - who knows? Yet for sure, the eyes, ears and leaders of the entire world will be focused on it for weeks. And there will stand the world's expert - Jeb Bush - front and center with a national and international audience. And a hotline to the American Prez.


These Bush folks are the best politicians our generation has ever known. I mean, really really good. Equal to or better than the Kennedy clan.

Or, unbelievably lucky?

Methinks more of the "good" and less of the "lucky." Rudy could have hightailed it over there, but he didn't. He has equal disaster management credibility and experience, himself. His trip would have been legit. He had the same luck cut his way, and he did nothing.

So too, Hillary or... pretty much anyone.

Really. Think about it.

nb: Sorry, Rudy. You too, UN.

Think Globally, Act Locally

Jim Geraghty thoughtfully writes:

“… 'Okay, bringing democracy to Iraq hasn’t worked as well as we hoped or expected. What do we learn from this?'

"… 'Pragmacons' … will share the ideals of the 'neocons' - spreading democracy, pluralism, free markets, free speech and religious freedom throughout the world, and relentlessly crushing Islamist terror networks and the rogue states that snuggle with them. But the Pragmatic Cons will also conclude that American options and resources in this effort are limited...."

True, I guess, if you define our stated Iraq objectives as bringing democracy to all areas of Iraq, as one family. But don’t forget the basic and critical “Wolfowitz Plan” element underlying it all. U.S. objectives are far grander - which might require a more modest Iraqi democracy. The key Wolfowitz objective is establishing and supporting an Islamic democratic zone in the region. In short, such democratic zone will, over a generation, break the vicious cycle of despotism and radicalism, in the same manner that the daily exhibition of freedom and wealth under post WW-II Western European democracies taught the common man behind the Iron Curtain which social ordering was better, despite all efforts by the Soviet Bloc to the contrary. The Bloc collapsed.

Establishing an Islamic democracy zone(s) is the strategy. Doing so in Iraq is a tactic. Doing so in Iraq while preserving a "unified Iraq" - that is, with pre-invasion borders - is neither a strategy nor a tactic. It's a minor goal, which can and should be jettisoned if and as needed. As one or more democratic zones are established in Iraq, the pre-invasion borders may or may not stay the same. If they do, and one big democracy zone results, then great! If not, so what? The Iraqi borders were just some straight lines drawn on a map by some white European colonialists early in the century.

The Bush administration included the maintenance of pre-invasion Iraqi borders as a goal, but not an absolute. A unified Iraq nation (i.e., with pre-invasion borders) is not essential to long term Mideast peace and American security that necessarily follows therefrom; but a democratic Islamic zone is essential -- be it the Kurdish region, the Shi’ite region, or both of them.

75% of the population forming two democracies covering 90% of the landmass formerly known as Iraq satisfies the strategic objective. (Remember, the initial tactic under the strategy [per Wolfowitz and Richard Perle] kept Saddam in place and instead would have established a democratic zone in the western Iraqi desert at the US airbase at H3, protected by the No-Fly zone.) If some or all of the Sunni Triangle cannot be pacified at acceptable cost, then we shoulnd't waste our assets on a non-strategic, non-tactical goal. It isn't worth it.

So if we’re going to get all practical, let’s be practical. A unified Iraq is a four-run homer, accelerating the Mideast peace process by years. But a one-run homer is all we need, and perhaps all we can afford. To wit: A balkanized Iraq with two working democratic zones, territories or countries (Kurdistan; Shia’stan) satisfies the basic strategic objectives of the Plan.

So in assessing "What went wrong, and what can we learn?"," don't give short shrift to the notion that our tactical move in toppling Saddam and establishing one or more democracies - be they zones, territories or a single nation - achieved our strategic objective.

Mystified by the French attitude towards America? They're pissed off that the U.S. - all by itself - is about to conclude a successful global strategic move previously reserved to a few Europeans.

Movie Tip #2 from BummerDietz

Man On Fire.

Director Tony Scott (Crimson Tide; Top Gun; etc.) directs Denzel Washington in a great follow-up to their teamwork on Crimson Tide (a slamdunk Top-5-of-Alltime in the submarine genre).

Although it starts slowly, by the 45-minute mark, Man on Fire lights up. The gist is that a former soldier assassin gets put to pasture in Mexico, as a bodyguard amidst rampant kidnapping. He has nothing to live for until his charge, a child played by wunderkind Dakota Fanning, gets kidnapped. The ronin's rebirth parallels his actions in reacting to, and then becoming the fate of, the kidnapping and all involved.

Sound like fairly routine Hollywood action fare? Yes, but for this: The film is steeped in a thoughtful, anti-Politically Correct view. Remember the virulent criticism that the Charles Bronson Death Wish films had to bear, as PC began to ramp up? Man on Fire is every bit as anti-PC as was Death Wish, to a different generation.

Here, kidnappers are not victims of a collapsing third world economy. They are thugs, they are dangerous fire. And fire is fought with fire. In pursuing the kidnapping ring, thugs have no Miranda rights. E.g., they are tortured (by the good guys) until they give up needed information, they are sent to their maker, without apology.* As each scene plays out, you expect the well-worn Hollywood device where the good guy turns the bad guy over to some policing agent. Not here.

A band of filmmakers here in L.A. refers to this genre of film as "Balls to the Wall" - it's an all-out effort, nothing held back. No cheeky preening by celebrities. No comic sidekick to broaden the appeal to multiple quadrants. No inserted-at-the-last-minute love story to appeal to the ladies. No....well, you get it.

It is pure, 100%, no-excuses filmmaking. For a generation, this genre has existed in the backwater B-movie rack, cheaply made primarily for the foreign market, with little known or faded actors just looking for a paycheck.

Man on Fire revives the Balls to the Walls genre with an A+ cast and director, an Oscar nod for the kid, a great script and a rare treat. You leave the theater saying, "What in the hell just happened?"

Maybe you give it a B+ upon exiting, and two days later, when you cannot get the film out of your mind, you realize it's a Hard A. A classic. See it.

This post is one of a series of 2004 film recommendations from BummerDietz.
*cf. Charles Bronson upon capturing a crucifix-adorned thug in Death Wish: "Do you you believe in Jesus?" "Yes, I do." "Good, 'cause you're gonna meet him." [followed with a bullet to the head, and then two more for anti-PC good measure.]

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

WaPo: 10 Errors about Memogate in One Paragraph

Update: Now it's 18 and counting....

Tom Shales of the Washington Post makes 10 errors in writing about CBS's Memogate...

...all in a single paragraph:

"...Tireless press critics during war or peacetime, the conservatives were handed (14) a valuable new weapon (15) when CBS News fumbled(1) a report (13) detailing(2) the president's(3) shoddy record(4) as a member of the National Guard back in Texas (16) . The report was attacked (5) virtually the moment it aired(6) (11) on "60 Minutes" (12) ; documents used (17) to bolster(7) the allegations (18) were condemned by conservative(8) critics as phony and forged(9), though no forging has yet been proved(10)."


1. Fallacy of the 3rd person. "Fumbled" as a verb implies the report was created by a 3rd party, and CBS was negligent in handling the precious gem. Wrong - CBS itself created the report.
2. Begs the question. It is the "detailing" itself that was a forgery. Again this implies that there is a valid story and Platonic truth involved, apart from the forged memos.
3. Use a capital "P." Basic word processing function. Others have had similar problems, it's not the 1st time.
4. Begs the question. Prior to the falsified CBS report, what - exactly - qualified Bush's military record as "shoddy?" (Compared to, say, Kerry's refusal to release his military records due to a "not honorable discharge" problem?)
5. Fallacy of the charged word (verb? adjective?); a form of begging the question. A third grade math teacher does not "attack" someone's homework; she corrects it.
6. CBS's experts declared the memos false 48 hours prior to the airing.
7. The documents didn't "bolster" the allegations. The documents were the allegations.
8. "Conservative critics" such as CBS's own experts, and ABC,a nd the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times. Those right wing nuts.
9. Why the distinction between phony and forged? As in, "Fake, but Accurate?" Compare with 1, 2 and 7, above. And 13, below.
10. The biggest error of all - the fallacy of the false burden. In a court of law, the memos would be inadmissible because they lack "foundation" - that is, a witness to vouch for their creation. Under the laws and culture of the United States, this shortcoming is a close proxy to something being "forged." The law's assumption is that the unvouched document is false. The burden to prove otherwise - to prove that it is valid, via its provenance or "foundation" - lies with the person (CBS) who wants the item admitted to evidence. With no foundation for the memos, other than foundation strongly establishing they were forged, the burden lies with CBS to come forward with evidence to prove the memos are not the forgeries.


11. Factually incorrect. Blogs began questionning the provenance several hours after the program. The false claim that it was "virtually the moment it aired" is often repeated to support the "Karl Rove tricked us" BS, to wit: Rove OK’ed the documents with CBS, then waited to attack.
12. The program was 60 Minutes II, a Wednesday program, not "60 Minutes", a Sunday program.
13. Fallacy of objectification. The error is in referring to "a report" instead of "CBS's report."
The use of "a report" implies that the report was something that had independent existence, like the "9/11 Commission Report" as being "a report that people were talking about." There was no objective "report" here without CBS; CBS created the report.
14. Fallacy of the charged word. Neither CBS nor any whistleblower nor any other leftist group volunteered any information or ratted out CBS. It was high-IQ tenacity - not unlike the breaking of the Japanese military codes just prior to the Battle of Midway - that broke Memogate, not anyone "handing" anything to Bush.
15. It was ammunition, not a weapon. Same gun, different day.
16. It's TANG, dammit. Texas Air National Guard. Not the different group called the "National Guard."
17. Technically, they are purported photocopies of documents (which turned out to be fake), not the original documents themselves. And don't get me started on the fraudulent "personal files" angle...
18. There were no "allegations." 60 Minutes II presented the story as fact, and the faked memos were the basis of the purported facts. "Allegations" implies a forum where CBS would debate the evidence, instead of a bully pulpit used for 11 days to attack the debunkers.

Movie Tip #1 from BummerDietz

Yeah, I know, Variety and Hollywood Reporter are filled with ads soliciting Academy members to give nominations to this-or-that person. It's mostly noise. Whatever.

BummerDietz, however, will do you a solid. If you are in the 30's-to-50's age band, there are certain films that operate within a zeitgeist that you - but not others - can see.

Over the next few days, I'll post about these films, in no particular order. See them. Of course there are others, but I had a busy year.

Collateral. A masterpiece. The "Tom Cruise" of it all overshadowed the brilliance of director Michael Mann.* Mann is a rarefied master at the top of his game, speaking the zeitgeist with minimal but powerful words, with jazz-like visuals and seamless music. Add to that Cruise-as-assassin, at times offering up his nihilist, existentialist, Hessian and even Nietzschean thoughts, buddied at gunpoint with Jamie Foxx.

Like Top-10-of-Alltime Blade Runner (wherein Harrison Ford does just fine, but face it, he ain't the reason the movie is great), so too in this film Tom Cruise does just fine, but he ain't the movie. This tricked most celebrity-obsessed critics, who gave the film only tepid applause as they instead focused intently from their West Hollywood theater seats at Cruise's greyed-for-the-role hair. Not within Michael Mann's world, they were left to write about "Cruise looks older" and "the Los Angeles cab scenes" prompted by instances where the film's cab driver discusses Los Angeles transversal theory. These critics completely missed the - obvious - intellectual and philosophical through-lines of the film. Further, while critics foamed all over themselves trying to name all the homage/borrowings in Kill Bill (a fine film), they missed the plethora of equally artistic, and less obscure, hat tips to modern films embedded into Collateral.**

Great, the critics didn't catch on. The film belongs to my generation, not a bunch of cackling Broadway-loving morons.

And the hidden masterwork of it all? The script by Stuart Beattie.

This film is a masterpiece, and a good ride (even if the studio had to "Hollywoodize" the third act/ending a bit to bring in the crowds).

My highest recommendation.
* - Mann was the creator of the 80's TV show Miami Vice. Yeah, ha ha, we now laugh at 80's TV, but as an art form within a medium, Miami Vice was not only best-of-breed, but also set a new table for others, as Citizen Kane did for filmmakers a few decades before.

** - For example, the final Collateral scene involves a ride on a commuter train. Its hat tip to Ridley Scott 's art in the death of Roy Batty is overwhelming; you even wonder maybe that's why Cruise's hair was made grey. On another level, the circumstances of a very young Tom Cruise's end-of-film train ride 20 years earlier in Risky Business (to Tangerine Dream's haunting "Love on a Real Train") compared to his (grey-haired) end-of-film train ride in Collateral will leave you speechless.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Janus Faced Awards 2004

Scylla & Charybdis 2004 Janus-Faced Awards For Outstanding Examples of Shameless Media Hypocrisy

2004 Winner:

CBS News, for not assigning a single reporter to investigate John Kerry's "less than honorable" discharge from the Navy (documented in over 100 pages of military records that Kerry refused to release), even as Kerry's campaign identity was debuted at the Democratic convention as a Spielbergian "Citizen Soldier." Refusing to investigate the disparity of Kerry running as a hero, although he had been dismissed without honor from the military, CBS News soon thereafter crafted and defended its infamous anti-Bush Memogate story based upon faked memos about Bush's Air Guard service.

CBS News frosted its own cake by offering the following diaphanous defense of its Janus-faced treatment of the candidates:

"Supporters of now-President Bush have been critical of opponent John Kerry's Vietnam record. Now it's the president's turn to answer tough questions about his own service."
2004 Runner Up:

CBS News, for its intense August 2004 stories searching for any connection between the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth 527 Group and the Bush campaign, via common attorney Benjamin Ginsberg; yet all the while, CBS News was itself violating Viacom rules and federal payola statutes by cutting a deal with the Memogate forger to introduce the forger to Joe Lockhart of the Kerry Campaign, thereby facilitating the coordination of a parallel DNC media campaign with the CBS News Memogate story. This Runner-Up might be upgraded to Co-Winner, if the suspected widespread coordination of the story among CBS, NYTimes, the DNC, MoveOn, the Democrats' 527 called "Texans for Truth" and the Kerry campaign is ever established.

2004 Honorable Mention:

William Safire, for displaying the good sense to be a MSM pioneer in publicizing what the bloggers had been blogging for days/weeks - that felonies had been committed , and calling for a criminal investigation into Memogate. Yet just days later, Safire began his repeated attacks upon courts having the power to investigate reporters. "That's some catch, that Catch-22." "Thanks, it's the best there is."

Friday, December 24, 2004

Burkett Whoppers

Some source material by or concerning Bill Burkett.

The Dallas Morning News
Retired Guard officer says he saw some files discarded in trash

The White House released records Tuesday to buttress the president's assertion that he fulfilled his military duty during the Vietnam War, but it faced new questions about whether George W. Bush's file was altered before his 2000 presidential race.
Retired National Guard Lt. Col. Bill Burkett said Tuesday that in 1997, then-Gov. Bush's chief of staff, Joe Allbaugh, told the National Guard chief to get the Bush file and make certain "there's not anything there that will embarrass the governor."
Mr. Burkett said that a few days later at Camp Mabry in Austin, he saw Mr. Bush's file and documents from it discarded in a trash can. He said he recognized the documents as retirement point summaries and pay forms.
Bush aides denied any destruction of records or any order directing that any information in Mr. Bush's personnel file be destroyed. "The charges are just flat-out not true," said Dan Bartlett, White House communications director.
He said the president has been forthright in producing all documents relevant to his stint in the Texas Air National Guard between 1968 and 1973. He dismissed Mr. Burkett as a disgruntled former officer of the Texas Guard.
Mr. Allbaugh, now a Washington lobbyist, called Mr. Burkett's assertions "hogwash."
A spokesman for the Texas Air National Guard, Lt. Col. John Stanford, dismissed Mr. Burkett's account of the conversation as "far-fetched." Of the accusation that the files were altered, he said, "I have no knowledge that such an event ever occurred."
The release Tuesday of Mr. Bush's retirement point summaries and pay records as a member of the Guard underscored an effort by the White House to resolve a growing political debate over whether the president fulfilled his military obligations.
Mr. Bush's military record emerged as an issue in the 2000 campaign after a review of his military file found no evidence that he showed up for Guard duty for more than a year after transferring in May 1972 from his base in Houston to Alabama, where he worked on a Senate campaign.
Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe recently called Mr. Bush "AWOL" – absent without leave – during the time he was in Alabama. He noted that Mr. Bush's commanding officers said that they could not recall him taking part in some training.
Mr. Bush, who appears increasingly likely to face decorated Vietnam War veteran John Kerry in November, has long said he fulfilled his Texas Air National Guard duties, both in Texas and Alabama.
The records that the White House released Tuesday reflect pay and service for dates in 1972 and 1973 – a further refutation of the "outrageous, baseless accusations" made by Democrats, said White House press secretary Scott McClellan.
The records show that Mr. Bush was paid for 82 days of service during 1972 and 1973 – nearly half of which occurred during a three-month period, from May through July 1973. The records do not indicate what duty Mr. Bush performed or where. The White House said it has not been able to produce fellow Guardsmen who could testify that Mr. Bush attended Guard meetings and drills.
"The president recalls serving both when he was in Texas and when he was in Alabama," Mr. McClellan said. "We have provided you these documents that show clearly that the president of the United States fulfilled his duties, and that is the reason that he was honorably discharged." 'That means he served'
The White House also issued an assessment solicited from a retired Texas Air National Guard personnel director who scoured the Bush military files during the 2000 campaign and reviewed the latest documents.
The new records "clearly" show that Mr. Bush "completed his military obligation in a satisfactory manner," retired Lt. Col. Albert Lloyd Jr. wrote.
Mr. McAuliffe said he still has questions.
"The fact remains that there is still no evidence that George W. Bush showed up for duty as ordered while in Alabama," he said. "We also still do not know why the president's superiors filed a report saying they were unable to evaluate his performance for that year because he had not been present to be evaluated."
Mr. McClellan said the records came to the staff's attention only Monday, after a check with the Air Reserve Personnel Center in Denver the day after Mr. Bush said on NBC's Meet the Press that he "absolutely" was willing to release his military records.
The 11 pages are pay records and summaries reflecting how many points Mr. Bush accumulated toward fulfillment of his Guard obligation. The records don't document any service dates between April 16, 1972, and Oct. 28, 1972 – periods during which Mr. Bush was in Alabama.
Although the records do reflect some pay dates in 1972, Mr. McClellan stopped short of saying the documents offered definitive proof that Mr. Bush had shown up for duty in Alabama. "When you serve, you are paid for that service, and these documents outlined the days on which he was paid," he said. "That means he served."
Mr. McClellan said Mr. Bush, a fighter pilot who didn't fly after April 1972 and later lost his flight status because he didn't complete his annual physical exam, performed "equivalent duty" in Alabama. He declined to specify what duties Mr. Bush performed or discuss why the president didn't undergo his physical that year. 'The fair picture'
Mr. Bartlett called the Burkett allegations "outlandishly false" and accused him of being part of a group of disgruntled former Guardsmen critical of Maj. Gen. Daniel James III, head of the Texas National Guard before Mr. Bush promoted him to head the National Guard in Washington.
Gen. James' office referred all calls to Col. Stanford.
Mr. Burkett and other Guardsmen were critical of discipline standards and other issues under Gen. James.
Mr. Burkett said from his home near Abilene that he remains loyal to the Guard.
But Mr. Burkett, whose voting record shows that he has voted in both GOP and Democratic primaries, said he was disturbed over how the Bush file allegedly was handled. He initially made his assertions on a Web site two years ago.
His accusations are reported in detail in a forthcoming book, Bush's War for Re-Election, by James Moore.
"I would like it that everybody sees the honest and fair picture here," he said.
According to Mr. Burkett, he was at headquarters in the summer 1997 when he heard the conversation between Gen. James and Mr. Allbaugh. He said the Guard commander had the conversation about eliminating "embarrassments" on the speaker phone.
About 10 days later, he said, he saw Texas Gen. John Scribner going through the Bush file.
"I looked down and saw files on the table and of that sort of stuff, and in the wastecan there is a retirement points document that has the name Bush, George W. lLt on it," he said. "There were both originals and Xerox copies in the stack."
Gen. Scribner, now retired, denied the episode. "I sure don't know anything about what he's talking about," he said.
Staff writers Pete Slover and Ed Timms contributed to this report

Burkett backtracks; was only trying to get Bush to release the pertinent documents in his military records
By Ben Conover

November 5, 2000—Texas National Guard Lt. Colonel (retired) Bill Burkett, in providing clarifications to published reports, says he was not pointing fingers but raising the question of whether Gov. George W. Bush, his aides, and other Guard officers were merely incompetent in their handling of Bush’s military records and trying to get Bush to order the release of the pertinent records: his payroll and retirement records, which would settle the question of whether he fulfilled his military obligation.
“Within the morning press reports in the London Sunday Times and other publications, I am stated to have alleged that the staff of George W. Bush ‘doctored’—the key term—the military files of George W. Bush in whatever attempt to cover his military record,” said Burkett.
What follows is a series of questions and answers.

Question: Was this politically motivated and coordinated with the Gore campaign?
Burkett: No. Not whatsoever. In no way did any member of the Gore campaign or any election official, Republican or Democrat know my comments. My observations were responses to questions of how the file was developed; disseminated under the Freedom of information Act (FOIA) and what was missing within the files which would resolve the question of satisfactory participation. These were my personal responses to the asked questions that were not sanctioned by anyone, nor shared with anyone. They were made on the basis of my 28-year career, my working experience within the senior staff at the Texas National Guard headquarters and my knowledge of the operational procedures of the US military including the subject of personnel files of retired or discharged soldiers and airmen.

Question: Why, do you believe, you were contacted?
Burkett: [I] will background how this occurred, which should be self-explanatory. The context of the DUI story indicated the mishandling or failure to fully disclose a past criminal record of Governor Bush. I believe that the military record and the irregularities that point to a possible extended period of nonperformance and early release may have also indicated a pattern of lack of full disclosure by the Governor and his campaign. This issue of military records had been highly visible on at least two previous occasions within the campaign, however, Senator Kerrey, as an honored and decorated [Navy] SEAL, most recently focused on this issue within the last 10 days. I would guess that within the eleventh hour and following the revelation of the DUI story, the media and voters were waiting for the next shoe to drop. This issue may have been viewed as the “next shoe.”
In June of 1998 and with the full and personal knowledge of Dan Bartlett and the Governor, I reported problems of force structure, readiness operational efficiency personnel and procedures within the Texas National Guard. At that time, and periodically thereafter, I have been in contact with various [audio, video and print] news writers and publishers. In 1998, I provided sufficient detailed information including documentation of severe irregularities within the Governor’s own chain of command in an effort to correct those deficiencies which I believe undermined the Texas National Guard and in some cases broke the law.

Question: How did your reference in this story develop?
Burkette: I contacted a website that outlined the Governor’s personal military career irregularities and suggested that there were two official documents that would resolve the issue of satisfactory and honorable service. Suddenly on Friday afternoon, my telephone became barraged with media calls and messages, including those who had known of my previous whistle blowing but had failed to report it. I explained my background and personal observations to each of them in minute detail, often repeating the entire process for clarity. I was extremely careful not to point an accusing finger, but rather shape a question which could resolve this allegation of integrity that had clouded the Bush campaign since June of 1999—the issue of his personal military service.

Question: Did you allege that the governor’s staff “doctored” the records?
Burkette: No, instead I stated that the way this had been handled by the Bush staff, including knowledgeable military officials at the Texas National Guard, that it left the implication that the Bush staff had first incompetently provided an incomplete military file for the Governor which was consistent with his autobiography
. I further observed that they probably did not anticipate that the file would be scrutinized to the level that it was. Whenever someone determined holes in service “big enough to drive a Mack truck through,” additional information—all of which was unofficial and some in pencil notations—were then submitted to the press to answer questions. I further observed the this “trust me, I’m the Governor” approach had worked throughout Texas for George W. Bush within his tenure and the media had given the Governor a free pass, without the same scrutiny as the vice president [was given], until the eleventh hour revelation of the DUI. But this still left the basic question: Why didn’t Governor Bush simply release his military pay files and retirement points accounting records, which are the only official records that will show that he satisfactorily and honorably completed his service commitment?

Question: Were there other issues that you discussed?
Burkett: Yes. In each call, I, in essence scolded media representatives for not doing their homework and reviewing this information before the eleventh hour. When asked if I would go on record, I said, “yes, I have nothing to hide,” even though I knew that the mention of my name with the Bush campaign would immediately strike a personal response because of my whistle blowing in 1998.

Question: Again, was this a “Democratic ploy” as stated by Karen Hughes of the Bush staff?
Burkett: No. Absolutely not.
Karen Hughes has again skirted the real issue and question. Dan Bartlett and the Governor have also refused to answer the basic question and furnish the official files that will resolve this issue. I am in no way linked to the Democratic Party. I am simply an energized citizen and retired soldier who would like to have the issues of each possible commander-in-chief resolved prior to the election, in order that we can escape holding another American presidency hostage to actions and allegations by the opposing party in Congress. We have suffered from this partisanship for the past eight years. George W. Bush says that he is the only candidate who can bridge this impasse. This is his opportunity to start that process. This is what I believe other Americans share with me—a sincere belief that they have the right and capacity to make educated decisions; but that candidates have the responsibility for full and complete disclosure.

A Week Before Memogate: Burkett Claims Bush lies about his service, smears Kerry's and seeks exoneration for the Abu Ghraib brass
By Bill Burkett
Online Journal Contributing

August 25, 2004—While we all watched the news about the impending attack on Najaf, we also heard the breaking news that an internal investigation by the US Army and Department of Defense would clear all senior commanders from wrong doing in the Abu Ghraib prison case.
The logic behind this somewhat dubious finding is that commanders must be left with honor and integrity; for if we find that the leaders actually violated the rules, all hell will break loose concerning discipline within the ranks. This logic implies that the followers are more than dumb—they know no evil, hear no evil and see no evil.
Now think about this paradox. This past February, I was again questioned nationally concerning what I had seen and heard in May and June of 1997 regarding the cleansing of the personal military records of one 1st Lt. George W. Bush. These were specific events that I reported immediately and in a later letter to several state legislators in Texas, including state Senator Gonzalo Barrientos, in June 1998, in which I submitted my firsthand eyewitness account. I was then questioned under oath by five or six Department of Defense lawyers during the first week of January 2002 and I also submitted a sworn affidavit, again repeating the same facts in my civil case of whistleblower retaliation and retribution against me by Col. William Goodwin, Col. Jackie Taliaferro and Col. Archie Meador. Also last February, I did swear, when asked by Chris Mathews on MSNBCs Hardball, the response of the White House and Bush has always been that the 'system' of commanders, clerks and record keepers were remiss.
Yes, Bush's claim was that he was in Alabama as ordered to attend drill and complete his contracted training. Not a single credible witness has answered the calls that included rewards of cash to corroborate his story. During the Friday evening before the Democratic National Convention, the final payroll records from the Denver archives were released; records which erased the last doubt about Bush's non-attendance for training—proof from the massive system of clerks, airmen and commanders all simply said that he was not in Alabama doing what he was ordered to do. Was there a massive conspiracy throughout America against George W. Bush during 1972 in Alabama? Was there a conspiracy that included his unit administrative officer, commander in Alabama, his unit administrator, and his commander at the 111th in Houston?
And did I join that conspiracy in June 1997 to smear his good name when I reported what I had overheard and later again told Bush that his own senior staff was breaking regulations? Also, when I appeared before a state oversight committee where I was subjected—and again in February 2004—to a conjured cover-up and alibi by the chairman of that committee, Republican State Representative Bob Hunter?
The two-part alibi from George W. Bush was that the system was incompetent, including all his commanders, the administrators and even the records processors, and over a longer term, the records custodians and even the microfiche machines. The second part was that a single officer—a mere mortal among the politically powerful, would make up such a story and then tell it consistently on numerous occasions under oath.
And we notice that ever since the last day of the Democratic National Convention, the same logic has been applied. Once again, the logic is that all of the commanders, processors, and boards of officers who dealt with John Kerry's military files were especially incompetent and favored Kerry where they had faulted Bush. That Kerry's files would have been doctored favorably, while Bush's would have been laxly handled and several items, including attendance and pay records, were just forgotten and overlooked.
So the logic is that the systems that we call command and administration within the US government were incompetent and unfair to opposite extremes, rather than fair and reasonable. Those claims absolutely assert that all servicemen; soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines are suspect, including the 27 soldiers, who independently and of their own free will and accord, took America's stance on the Geneva conventions into their own hands at Abu Ghraib.
George W. Bush, you may be the president [sic]. But I know that 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". I know that you not only lied to the American people in 1994, but have lied consistently since then. Mr. Bush, not every serviceman except you is incompetent. When you failed to show up as ordered for duty, they simply recorded the truth. And the truth was, they didn't think you were especially important enough to jeopardize their own careers to cover for your absence by fraudulently counting you as present in any piece of documentation when you clearly were not present.
Now Mr. Bush, we have finally confirmed the truth concerning your failure to complete your minimum satisfactory drill participation in 1972 and 1973. Yes, you did receive an honorable discharge, and, for whatever reason, someone in Texas did cover your "six" on that one. And someone in June of 1997 also tried to cover your "six" by making sure that the counseling statements and other files, which explained the reason you were grounded, did not survive a records scrub.
This is all bad enough, but to continuously lie to the American people for years is outrageous. One can easily see how this "slick Willie" act of falsity could potentially carry over into policy, such as weapons of mass destruction, an attack on Iraq, the price of a prescription drug program, your close insider working relationship with Ken Lay at Enron, or Vice President [sic] Cheney's personal relationships and dealings with Halliburton. Mr. Bush, you've forgotten what the truth is. You have attended so many of your own "closed town hall" meetings, that you've begun to believe the briefing cards of those hand-selected people in attendance.
And you feel able to call all of us lowly soldiers; lowlife National Guardsmen and reservists—some 3,000 of whom left today from Texas for 18 months in Iraq; some 185,000 soldiers, airmen, marines and sailors who have already served in Iraq or Afghanistan—incompetent.
You have labeled an entire generation of veterans who actually did your laundry while you flew, for the time that you actually did your duty; people who cooked your meals; pumped your flight fuel and did your maintenance; people who did your payroll or kept your retirement points files, incompetent. And then you, by actions of your henchmen, would dare to call all of those who supported Kerry's service, people who also pumped the gas, did the laundry, sat on awards boards, the commanders at all levels, whom you say favored John Kerry, while others disfavored you, incompetent.
I clearly understand Mr.Bush. For when you issued your report, clearing your senior leaders of all fault, while casting the aspersions and blame on 27, you sent specific statements as well.
Of those 27, it isn't hard to figure out that the active duty folks are given non-judicial punishment and quietly taken care of. But the "reservists'—the part-timers cast into duty with the least amount of training, are referred for judicial proceedings with far greater latitudes for punishment.
Mr. Bush, once again, your policies reflect your attitude about service. As I learned throughout my 28-year career, in senior military courses including the Command and General Staff College, a commander establishes his own operational profile by actions, not words.
And your command profile, Mr. Bush, is that the grunts are like beetles and snails to you. You talk a good line, but they are always at fault for your problems. It was that way when you flew at the 111th. They caused you to quit coming to drill and obeying orders because they just couldn't get it right on your pay and attendance records. You learned how incompetent they were in March of 2000 when you discovered and released accusations that John McCain had lost his mind while "serving" as a prisoner of war. And then, once John Kerry was nominated as your opponent, you discovered and turned over to your financiers (just like the Wyly brothers from 2000), Bob J. Perry and others, the information that John Kerry was favored and awarded medals for service that you never even saw.
Your command profile, sir, is that you are a liar.
While in uniform I saluted every president since Lyndon Baines Johnson, whether I agreed with him or not. And while you were my governor, I saluted you as well. I saluted the position of authority and followed all lawful orders by those appointed over me.
Mr. Bush, in 28 years as an enlisted man, an officer, a commander and a member of the staff team, I never missed a drill that I didn't make up. But then again, I was never given that opportunity. It was an order.

I never missed a training period, and never got out of anything early, even though I, too, was in school. I missed Father's Day for 17 straight years while on National Guard duty. I missed the birthdays of my children and my wife. I missed our anniversary. I missed making payrolls as a boss. The water heater or the washer would always go out while I was at annual training, or the kids would have a major accident. But I was never excused to even attend to my family.
But, Mr. Bush, I wasn't special, and neither were any of the men or women who served under me or with me.
Sir, I have a much higher opinion of their work; their value and their service than you. I know they made a few mistakes, but they didn't go out on their own and violate the Geneva Conventions at Abu Ghraib. They didn't go out on their own and fabricate awards for John Kerry. And they didn't go out on their own and destroy your military service.
I will close, Mr. Bush, with this true story, but leave the name out for his protection. I was a platoon leader at the time when a young man came before my desk for not showing up for drill. We were at war, Mr. Bush. You know, the one in Vietnam.
He was a nice young man; very connected within our community. In fact, his dad was head of the draft board. He was also a student friend of mine. But he was a specialist four and I was his platoon leader at that time. He reported properly, but had this smile in the corner of his eye. Once I had told him "parade rest," I asked him why he found it difficult to show up for drill the morning before.
He said, "Sir, I overslept."
I replied, "Specialist, do you not own an alarm clock?"
He replied, "Yes sir, but we got in kinda' late last night. You know?"
"Specialist, did you sleep alone?"
"No sir. I mean, sir, no I didn't and that's part of the reason I was late."
"Are you saying that she couldn't wake you up? It was a 'She' wasn't it specialist?"
"Sir, okay (and the smile disappeared from the corner of his eye and replacing it was a touch of anger that a 'friend' would corner him like this) I get it. I was late."
"Specialist, what time did you get here?"
"I don't know sir, about 2, I think."
"Wrong specialist, you didn't get here until this morning. Do you think I don't know what the hell goes on around here? Are you saying I'm not responsible for being a good leader and being responsible for the truth? You arrived on time this morning and just thought no one would know, and if they did, they'd look the other way.
"Specialist, you may be my friend outside of uniform, but that doesn't buy you any extra credit when in uniform. So you'll understand that I'm referring you for charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, non-judicial punishment. You will meet right now with the platoon sergeant and he will apprise you of your rights for trial by court-martial under judicial punishment. I order you to report before me at 15:30 this afternoon to apprise me of your decision. Do you understand me, Specialist _________?"
"Yes, sir."
"Dismissed", I said. The young man who had been called to attention before I told him of my impending actions, saluted, did an about face and left the area.
This failure cost him to forfeit two days pay, make up the day that he had missed and a reduction in rank to private first class.
That specialist was a rich boy and a local favorite son. He had money, influence and drove a GTO. And he never missed another guard drill. He fulfilled every day of his six-year hitch and became a state Senator and CEO of a major corporation. And he's a Republican, just like you.
And when I saw him at our 25th college reunion, he told me that he remained mad at me for nearly three years after that. But looking back, he was mad because I had embarrassed him by making him face his own responsibility. He didn't thank me in front of anyone else. But one-on-one, he thanked me.
Mr. Bush, the National Guard, the reserves, the army, navy, air force and marines are made up of the same people you see on the streets every day, and they're not all Republicans. Most of them were born at night. It just wasn't last night.
[Lt. Col. BIll Burkett is a decorated Vietnam era veteran who served 28 years in senior command and staff positions within the US Army and Army National Guard. While serving on the National Guard staff for then Governor George W. Bush, Burkett broke ranks and exposed an ongoing scam of reporting over 1,700 soldiers as present (Ghost Soldiers- USA Today, 2001) and fraudulent readiness reporting (USA Today) as well as the shredding of George W. Bush's own military service files. Burkett was one of five subjects in James Moore's book, "Bush's War for ReElection," and one of the sources for information in the Michael Moore's film "Farenheit 911." He is decorated soldier and recognized military process expert.]

A top rate, pre-publication timeline from American Thinker - please visit the site and read many other solid pieces of analysis:

Who knew?
September 23rd, 2004
Clarice Feldman

An examination of the timeline of publicly-reported events leading up to the Rathergate scandal raises some interesting questions about possible as-yet unrevealed collusion among Bill Burkett, members of the national press corps, and the Kerry campaign. Someone other than CBS and Burkett appears to have known about the phony documents, and spread the word quietly, in preparation for a massive coordinated campaign to discredit President Bush.
On April 27, Kerry campaign literature suddenly claimed that there were "verbal orders" from Killian to suspend Bush for failing to take his medical exam. Shortly afterward (in "May" according to Burkett's ex-lawyer, Van Os) Burkett began getting calls from "national newspapers and TV." How did these reporters suddenly and mysteriously find their way to Baird, Texas within days of the Kerry campaign piece?
Unless you believe that a number of journalists saw a lodestar leading them, like Magi, to the doorstep of Bill Burkett in search of memos (which seem to have been created shortly before), the more reasonable conclusion is that someone pointed them in that direction.
CBS indicates Mary Mapes, the segment producer, had been in communication with Burkett for 18 months prior to the Sixty Minutes show, which puts her in this pack of reporters. But who else was in on the scam? We are told that Mapes and the CBS team were obsessed with their “scoop,” so they certainly didn’t tip-off the competition.
Members of the national press corps know something critical about the story – who was peddling the documents. Yet none have yet revealed themselves. In the midst of biggest journalistic scandal in decades, they are holding their tongues. Who directed them to Burkett? And when?
The public wants to know. And, given the fact that this scandal bears directly on the forthcoming presidential election, we have a right to know. The press corps, the schools of journalism, and all those nonprofit organizations which never tire of giving awards to journalists for “outstanding public service,” are almost completely silent on the obligation of the “profession” of journalism to purge itself of what looks like corrupt collusion to spread forgeries. From the press reports the timeline is fairly clear, though, unlike CBS, I am not vouching for anybody's credibility. We don't know when all of these memos were created. But based on technical evidence, one appears to have been created on February 6, 2004. On February 12, less than a week later, USA Today reported that there had been efforts to cleanse Bush's record. The source for this story was Burkett. The next day the Boston Globe contacted George O. Conn, former Chief Warrant Officer in TANG ,who flatly denied Burkett's claim, saying he never saw anyone combing through the Bush records or discarding any of them. Shortly afterward according to Van Os (Burkett's ex-lawyer) Burkett received a call from a man (Burkett says a woman, Lucy Ramirez) telling him he had documents confirming Burkett's story that Bush was ordered to take his medical exam and refused to do so. Burkett says he was busy but agreed to pick them up at Houston on March 3, and says did so. So how did these reporters, so close in time to the Kerry communication on this same point, suddenly get the idea, in late April/early May, that Burkett had documents on Bush's TANG service? And why would they seek documents which probably could not have existed, if they gave credence to Conn, who said the story was false?
Was someone spreading the word? How would the person who gave the cue to the press know there was something there, unless he were involved in creating the documents and passing them to Burkett? And, if that's so, reporters other than Mapes who contacted Burkett are in the best position to crack this mystery. There must have been others also in the know. How else to explain that on August 11 the Chairman of the Tennessee State Vets for Kerry hinted on a radio interview that there was new evidence regarding Bush's failure to take his medical exam and loss of flight status? This is particularly curious because on August 13 Burkett posted an internet article indicating that he had not yet seen documentary evidence of the claim.
But it is approximately this time (mid-August is the best date CBS has given) when Burkett gave CBS the first 2 of the 6 memos. On August 21, Burkett posted on the web that he had spoken to Max Cleland, who said he did want to mount a "counterattack" to the Swift Boats campaign.
Four days later, Burkett posted on the web that "we have reassembled" the Bush files. No explanation is given for whom the “we” refers to. Nor is the meaning of “reassamebled” clear. And a time frame is notably absent. But according to Burkett and Van Os (if you choose the believe them), the phony memos had been in his hands since March 3. The only new development is that by August 21 he had turned 2 of them over to CBS. By September, it is clear that someone either within CBS or Kerry's camp (or both) was leaking the details of the story. On September 1, liberal blogger Josh Marshall reported that Sixty Minutes was working on a story about Bush's service, and on September 2 , Salon reported that there were "unanswered questions" respecting the President's service in TANG.
Two days later, Lockhart called Burkett. Lockhart says he's 99.9% sure he didn't discuss the memos. This is not terribly believable, because by this time Texans for Truth was about to launch its ad campaign, Operation Fortunate Son, in which these documents would be certain to play a big supporting role. The scent of collusion is obvious to me. But then I was the first kid in my class to figure out there was no Santa Claus.
The next day, September 5, Burkett gave the remaining 4 memos to CBS. And the very next day, Terry McAuliffe issued a release raising questions about Bush's service. The DNC followed this up with yet another presser on the same topic on September 7. On September 8 the CBS story runs. The DNC must have worked very hard that evening because it gave three more pressers on the topic on September 9.
The next day the Boston Globe got a TANG document dump; Nicholas Kristoff of the New York Times wrote a TANG piece; Texans for Truth began running its Operation Fortunate Son ads; and McAuliffe held a press conference alleging the President was AWOL.

To maximize a campaign story, one must plant seeds in the public mind about it beforehand and get the troops in line to capitalize on it after it breaks. It is hard for me to look at this timeline and (assuming the parties have told the truth) not see judicious leaks ahead of time, and a well-planned campaign to maximize its impact once the story broke.
And it is even harder to imagine all this without believing that whoever gave the documents to Burkett also told the press that Burkett had them. That person may also have been the one contacting the Tennesee State Vets for Kerry, Texans for Truth and the DNC. Just who do you suppose would do all of that?

UPDATE: Reader William Henslee writes the following interesting comments:

1. The Nicolas Kristoff column in the NYT was datelined and online on Sept 8th, not Sept 9th. That was the same date of the CBS program and had to be done prior to the CBS broadcast. Its also interesting to note that the Times online edition of this column already had a place for readers to enroll for continuing “breaking news” bulletins on the Air National Guard story. Someone would have had to write the code for that on Sept 8th after the Times staff anticipated that there were going to be a lot of additional breaking news on the story.
2. The NYT article on the TANG documents also carried a Sept.8th dateline, although in was published on Sept. 9th. The story also credited a NYT staffer in Dallas, Texas with contributions to the story, so the Times would have to have had prior knowledge of the date to break the information in order to get an outlying staffer to work on it.
4. Both the NYT column by Nicolas Kristoff of Sept. 8th and the Boston Globe article on Sept. 8th use an analysis of Bush service records from the same retired Lt. Col Lechliter, vouching for him as an expert who has conclusively proved that Bush failed to fulfill his Guard duties. It seems unusual that two media giants separated by hundreds of miles would seek out the same ‘expert’ on the same day to validate their stories. Who is Lechliter? Is he an aparatchnik of the Kerry Campaign?
I believe this is sufficient evidence of collusion between these media outlets on the timing of the stories to infer that they were being fed information by someone in the Kerry campaign.
Our own Steve Gilbert, whose articles on this site contend that Burkett composed the docuemnts himself in August, naturally politely dissents:
The claim is made that one of the memos was created in February, which is based on a a LGF story which says that Fox's .pdfs show a Feb creation date.
Since the pdf is of a fax that is itself dated Sep 10, this is easily explained that the computer used to make the pdf had an inaccurate time stamp. (The computer's clock and date was off-which is not at all uncommon, especially in work computers.)
The author asks why the media would get in touch with Burkett months ago? Well, Burkett was a one man band in February, trotting out (once again) his story about having seen Bush's records destroyed. This all was in the context of Terry McAuliff and Michael Moore raising it again--and Farenheit 9/11 coming out... Remember, Burkett claims to be (and surely is) one of the sources for Michael Moore's docu-fantasy.
Lastly, the Aug 11 foreshadowing by the Chairman of the Tennessee State Vets for Kerry did not mention documents. Indeed, the remarks are clearly about a different subject, the introduction of drug testing, which was a canard being raised by the ultra left around that time. It is discussed here.
UPDATE 2: A reader adds the following comments:
Texans for Truth is a 527 technically separate from the DNC. Texans for Truth, according to the IRS was formed on 8/31/04, and created its commercial blasting Bush’s National Guard service on 9/7/04 the day before the CBS Story.
Terry McAuliffe held a press conference on 9/6/04 devoted to questioning Bush’s National Guard Service, minutes after the CBS Story on 9/8/04 McAuliffe issued a statement about Bush’s National Guard service quoting the CBS Story, and Operation Fortunate Son was launched as a DNC operation on 9/9/04 referencing the CBS Story as proof, with Sen. Tom Harkin running around holding press conferences and town hall meetings questioning Bush’s National Guard service again referencing the CBS Story.
So we are to believe that it is coincidental that within a span of four days:
9/6/04 McAuliffe holds press conference questioning Bush’s NG Service
9/7/04 Texans for Truth airs a commercial questioning Bush’s NG Service
9/8/04 CBS, The Boston Globe, and the NY Times do stories questioning Bush’s NG Service
9/9/04 DNC Launches Operation Fortunate Son questioning Bush’s NG Service
Another angle I don’t see anyone exploring is the role of Texans for Truth. This is a 527, if they were coordinated into this attack that is a violation of McCain-Feingold.


The purpose of this posting of complete copyrighted materials on this non-commerical blog is that the source material may be fairly used and reviewed in their entirety by researchers, reporters, commentators and others.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

The 68-Page Mapes Legal Memo

Why did Mapes submit a 68-page defense memo to CBS? Because Mapes' employment agreement likely has a termination provision (see the Viacom termination clause template at the end of this post).

With that clause, the only way that Mapes can be fired by CBS/Viacom without them paying her any severance is under the "felony misconduct" provision of her contract. I've previously written about the felonies involved in forging, transferring or publishing the memos under Texas Penal Code 32.21.

Why is this severance payment an issue? Mapes likely has millions of dollars of stock in the form of in-the-money Viacom stock options. As Lee Iacocca found out (when Chrysler cancelled his ability to exercise his vested stock options after he left the company), corporations under public scrutiny will sometimes try to cancel a departing and disgraced employee's exercise of options, under the theory of set-off. That is, the company claims that it could sue the employee for millions for wrongdoing by the employee; hence, the position of "let's just call it a draw," whereby the company doesn't sue, and the employee losses their options.

Mapes is fighting that battle.

Likely, CBS/Viacom has some convincing evidence that she is the forger, or a conspirator with Burkett or Texans For Truth in the forgery. Under her contract (see below), Viacom likely has to give her prior written notice of its belief that she has misbehaved, triggering a 10-day cure period. Mapes is likely exercising her right to "cure" a claimed default by rebutting the CBS claim and evidence that she has committed a fraudulent act. Her 68-page defense memo is just such an attempt.

All in all, Mapes is on the hotseat, and Viacom wants to fire her, without violating her contract.


Typical Viacom Executive Employment Agreement Termination Provision:

8. Termination.

(a) Termination for Cause. Blockbuster may, at its option, terminate your employment under this Agreement forthwith for Cause and thereafter shall have no further obligations under this Agreement, including, without limitation, any obligation to pay Salary or Bonus or provide benefits. Cause shall mean: (i) embezzlement, fraud or other similar conduct involving Blockbuster which would constitute a felony; (ii) conviction of a felony; (iii) unauthorized disclosure of Confidential Information; (iv) your failure to obey a material lawful directive that is
appropriate to your position from an executive(s) in your reporting line; (v) your material breach of this Agreement; or (i) your failure (except in the event of your disability) or refusal to substantially perform your material obligations under this Agreement. Blockbuster will give you written notice prior to terminating your employment pursuant to (iv), (v) or (vi) of this paragraph 8(a), setting forth the nature of any alleged failure, breach or refusal in reasonable detail and the conduct required to cure. Except for a failure, breach or refusal which, by its nature, cannot reasonably be expected to be cured, you shall have ten (10) business days from the giving of such notice within which to cure any failure, breach or refusal under (iv), (v) or (vi) of this paragraph 8(a); provided, however, that, if Blockbuster reasonably expects irreparable injury from a delay of ten (10) business days, Blockbuster may give you notice of such shorter period within which to cure as is reasonable under the circumstances.

Pay No Attention To the Man Behind the Curtain.....

Jim Geraghty reports that:

A little birdie familiar with discussions at CBS News tells me that the network suits will announce Dan Rather's replacement the day they release the report into the fake memos.... I guess the aim is to distract from the bad news by creating two headlines instead of just the bad one.

Half right, I think. The "New Anchor" announcement is to provide cover for the lack of any substance in the announcement regarding the results of the Thornburgh Report.


"Well, Larry, I know that question gets a lot of attention with the "conspiracy" crowd in the - what do you call it, pajama blaggoshere? -- your question about the Thornburgh Report. And I appreciate that. But I think what the American people really are asking is, 'Who is this new anchorperson who is expected to follow in the footsteps of Murrow, Cronkite and Rather?' That's the question that the American people want answered. And that's why I'd like to answer that question, and talk about CBS's new anchorperson, ____. "

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

History Repeats

The Benefit of Clergy was a medieval technicality run amok. It started out as the perfectly sane political arrangement whereby a clergyman could be tried only in church court, and not in the King's court.

Clergy proved their status to the King's clerk by reading a verse from the Bible, thus winning their release (i.e., only clergy could read.) Later, this immunity applied to anyone who could read. Thereafter, anyone who could recite a 3-word Bible verse was deemed to be "reading," and thus deemed "clergy," and thus was protected by "benefit of clergy," and thus had legal immunity in the courts.

Memorize a Bible verse and earn immunity from the courts?

Literate folks love their immunity.

Compare with California Civil Code 3510: "When the reason of a rule ceases, so should the rule itself."

Monday, December 20, 2004

Stupid Girl

I would not be able to face my colleagues if I ever had a quote this inane attributed to me, particularly as a so-called expert commentator, in the natonal press:
"There was another half to that story that had to do with verifiable events of what Bush may have been up to."

Verifiable . . . speculations?

"Look, dear, you've had a hard day. Why don't you head over to the grocery store, they have some lovely fresh greens that just arrived. You can get some nice greens, and we'll make a nice salad. Yes, that's right, dear. Don't trouble yourself with this logic stuff anymore. That's right. OK. Bye."


Stupid Girl You pretend you're high Pretend you're bored Pretend you're anything Just to be adored And what you need Is what you get Don't believe in fear Don't believe in faith Don't believe in anything That you can't break You stupid girl You stupid girl All you had you wasted All you had you wasted What drives you on (What drives you on) Can drive you mad (Can drive you mad) A million lies to sell yourself Is all you ever had Don't believe in love Don't believe in hate Don't believe in anything That you can't waste You stupid girl You stupid girl Can't believe you fake it Can't believe you fake it Don't believe in fear Don't believe in pain Don't believe in anyone That you can't tame You stupid girl You stupid girl All you had you wasted All you had you wasted You stupid girl You stupid girl Can't believe you fake it Can't believe you fake it You stupid girl You stupid girl Can't believe you fake it Can't believe you fake it You stupid girl

A Letter to Dick Thornburgh

Someone had to say it....

December 19, 2004

Richard Thornburg, Esq.
Kirkpartick & Lockhart
1800 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20036-1221

RE: 60 Minutes II Investigation

Mr. Thornburgh:

The original 60 Minutes II broadcast on September 8, 2004 stated: "60 MINUTES has now obtained a number of documents we are told were taken from Colonel Killian's personal file."

Texas Penal Code Section 32.21 provides that anyone involved with transferring, passing or publishing two or more "government records" is guilty of a felony. The mere fact that two or more "government records" are involved establishes the requisite criminal intent. Texas law does not allow for an innocent trafficker, if two or more forged government records are involved.

Prior to the September 8, 2004 broadcast by CBS, someone (e.g., an attorney) researched Texas law and realized that Section 32.21 rendered the memos to be felony contraband, in that almost any action taken involving them would constitute a felony. To avoid such felony jeopardy, a cover story was created, that the memos were from "personal files," not government records. The creation of such cover story - to avoid the Texas felony forgery law - is a strong marker of nefarious intent.

The determination of when, and by whom, such "personal files" claim was first made, will indicate the person(s) with mens rea, and pinpoint the forger(s).

Note that such claim of "personal files" may well have been invented by the attorneys at CBS News. Note the likelihood that (contrary to the claim in the original broadcast), no one "told CBS" that the forged memos were from "personal files;" that the claim was a defensive action created by the attorneys at CBS, pre-broadcast.

Your investigation should focus on that likelihood, and the public version of your report should disclose the results of this aspect of your investigation.

Very truly yours,

[ ]

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Thornburgh to Withhold CBS Report To Prevent Criminal Prosecution of CBS Execs

[See Update at bottom...]

Many assume that the television networks, operating under FCC license, are "public" institutions, directly answerable to the public interest. That is a false assumption.

The FCC has virtually no power over the networks, and certainly doesn't control them. The FCC has no power to intrude into network content decisions, nor any management matters. The FCC does not approve hiring or firing. Or anything, really, other than cross- ownership and the vestige of what was once called FinSyn (financial and syndication rules).

The networks are for-profit companies, owned by behemoth conglomerates. On paper, network executives answer only to private boards of directors, which (on paper) are obliged to protect the interests of the owner/stockholders. (This has generally been determined by courts to mean, "protect the financial value of the company.") Not to shock any Scylla reader, but "the public," and "viewers" don't have a seat anywhere in the network corporate organizational chart.

So when CBS announced the vaunted "independent review" of Memogate, many just expected that a 1000-page footnoted Mea Culpa Term Paper, written by Richard Thornburgh, would be posted on CBS's web site, for all the world. CBS carefully managed that impression, announcing that, "The findings also will be made public."

But, CBS did not say, "The Report will be released." Instead, just "the findings." Perhaps we can expect findings such as: "CBS's previous statement was correct; there is no 'definitive proof' that the memos are either authentic or forged."

So much for background. Let BummerDietz give you a peak at the quarterback's playbook:

Former U.S. Attorney General Richard Thornburgh is an attorney with Kirkpatrick & Lockhart ("K&L"). K&L has a practice specialty involving "internal investigations." K&L has been hired by Viacom to investigate CBS News and Memogate.

K&L's primary objective in the investigation is "to prevent criminal charges from being filed" against CBS.

If criminal charges are unavoidable, K&L's second objective is to ensure that CBS and its executives are "acquitted of any charges."

To prevent indictment and assure an acquittal of CBS, K&L's expertise is to conduct the investigation "to maximize the ability to assert attorney-client and work product privileges over the materials compiled in any subsequent criminal or civil proceeding."

Nowhere on K&L's list is, "Coming clean with facts for our viewers."

What criminal liability is at issue? Plenty.

In other words: Dick Thornburgh's investigation is intended to shield CBS from criminal liability, and the results will not be made public.*

As stated in K&L's own words:

"We have also conducted complex internal investigations... We have ... a former United States Attorney General. The touchstone of our effort is ... to prevent criminal charges from being filed or, failing that, to ensure that our personal and institutional clients are acquitted of any charges that
may be brought against them.

"Our attorneys have conducted and/or orchestrated numerous internal investigations ... [which are] set up and conducted to maximize the ability to assert attorney-client and work product privileges over the materials compiled in any subsequent criminal or civil proceeding... .

[UPDATE: The soundbite reason why the Report itself will not be released, and why any public statement about it by CBS will be devoid of any details, is because the "privilege" (the right to withhold the report from being disclosed via subpoena in any criminal or civil litigation) would be forfeited or "waived" by CBS/Viacom, if CBS/Viacom were to make any voluntary public disclosure of "any significant part" of the Report.

All states have similar privilege laws. In Texas, for example, see the Texas Rules of Evidence Rule 511:


A person upon whom these rules confer a privilege against disclosure waives the privilege if...the person ...voluntarily discloses or consents to disclosure of any significant part of the privileged matter unless such disclosure itself is privileged...']
* -I've previously warned that this was likely.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

2004: The Year of the Document Scandals

I cannot help but note that 2004 featured four high-level document forgeries and document scrubbings. A record year:

Michael Moore's Fahrenheit Fakery Scandal. (Even my left-wing Hollywood friends now concede that this once-heralded "documentary" was in reality a fictional work.)

Sandy Berger Archive Scrubbing Scandal. *

CBS News and the Memogate Scandal.

Kerry's Scrubbing of His Military Records (and the MSM not mentioning it, directly resulting in the phenomena of the Swift Boat Vets.)

* - Despite this blog having 14 minutes of exposure regarding Memogate, I have to nominate Bergergate as a personal, freakish favorite dark horse of 2004. An otherwise extraordinary story, it was simply overshadowed by breaking events.

Here are the reported facts, and timeline, that I have pieced together (online) re Bergergate:

July - September 2003

On July 18, September 2 and October 2, Berger goes to Archives, and is allowed into top secret room, to prepare for 9/11 commission testimony; and/or respond to 9/11 commission subpoena to Clinton administration.

After Berger's visit, Archives officials believed documents were missing. An Archives employee called former White House deputy counsel Bruce Lindsey, who is former president Bill Clinton's liaison to the National Archives. The Archives employee said documents were missing and would have to be returned. The documents were returned the following day from Berger's office to the Archives. This returned batch did not include any 'after action reports.' It is unclear whether the Archives staff knows, or suspects, that after-action reports were taken in this first visit.

October 2003

After being busted in September, informally, by the Archives staff, Berger goes back to the Archives. Archives officials were wary, and this time, they specially coded the papers to more easily tell whether some went missing. They devised a coding system and marked the documents they knew Berger was interested in canvassing, and watched him carefully. They knew he was interested in all the versions of the millennium review, some of which bore handwritten notes from Clinton-era officials who had reviewed them. At one point an Archives employee even handed Berger a coded draft and asked whether he was sure he had seen it.

Berger repeatedly persuaded monitors assigned to watch him review top-secret documents to break the rules and leave him alone. Berger asked them to leave the room so he could make sensitive phone calls. The Archives monitors told the FBI Berger was observed stuffing his socks with handwritten notes about files he reviewed that were going to the Sept. 11 panel.

After this second round, Archives staff contacted the FBI.

Berger hired a lawyer and volunteered that he had also taken 40 to 50 pages of notes during his visits. However, Berger still does not return at least some of the 4 or 5 copies of a 15-page "after action memos." They were "inadvertently discarded" according to Berger's attorney.

January 2004

The FBI raided Berger's house for missing documents, and he became the target of a probe.

The missing documents are a number of copies of a January 2000 "after-action report" (4 or 5 copies, with handwritten comments) criticizing the government's response to terrorism plots at the turn of the millennium. The document was written by Richard A. Clarke, at Berger's direction. This report is said to be highly critical of Clinton terrorism strategy and response, and the various drafts have Clinton officials' comments on them. Perhaps two dozen specific recommendations - spin for "failure analysis" - were included in the report. (And the comments? They provide a real-time, irrebuttable snapshot of what the Clintons did, and did not do. Pretty much zero wiggle room. And during a post-9/11 election, something that takes away one's wiggle room is a bad thing. Bad things need to be scrubbed.)

Clarke testifies to the 9/11 Commission in March, 2004, concurrently with the release of his book "Against All Enemies." Clarke, a Democrat, was the poster child for the political position claiming that Clinton was on top of the game against al qaeda, whereas Bush was negligent. The thrust of Clarke's book and testimony, coordinated with the 9/11 Commission hearings, echoed during the Democratic primaries, and his story was a significant factor in shaping the tone and substance of the Democratic candidates' (anti-war) positions and attacks on Bush.

If it were to be shown that Clarke's book, and his 9/11 testimony, were misleading about Clinton, such would significantly lessen, if not destroy, the political message that Clarke came to symbolize, and constituted a blow to the Democrats' "Blame Bush" campaign message.

The "After Action Report" is the smoking gun that supposedly does just that.

So, Berger's motive? Not hard to spot.....

nb: The after-action report has not been made public, and it appears that Berger was successful in destroying the only drafts that included the Clinton administration comments. In other words - Berger successfully scrubbed the files.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Safire is Wide of the Mark, Again, On Immunity

"A lawyer who represents himself has an ass for a client."

Similarly, a journalist who exercises journalism upon himself leaves a messy puddle on the floor.

William Safire, for the second time in as many months, writes a column in which he whines about judges who refuse to grant journalists absolute immunity and an uber-function above our three-branch government. Bill's first salvo back in September, in a misguided support of reporter's immunity from judges, also missed the mark.

Bill leaves a messy puddle on the floor.

Safire likens his demanded "reporter's shield" immunity to the familiar attorney-client, or doctor-patient, privilege. Note that, with those privileges, statutory exceptions exist for fraud, waiver, etc. And a judge can - and does - call protected persons into chamber, and reviews the claim. When the claim is bogus, or an exception applies, the judge then disallows the claim of privilege, and the "public" aspect of the tribunal continues.

But Safire - and others in the media - object to exactly that oversight. They object to the very idea that ANYONE has oversight over them. They want absolute privilege - immunity - and NO ONE TO REFEREE IT.

So Safire's appeal to be treated in the same manner as other privileges is cynical. That is exactly what he doesn't want. Safire whines:

"Here's the rub: no privilege is absolute.... We [the media] are expected to use common sense in balancing our right to remain silent with our obligation to bear witness."
"We [the media] self-police ourselves?" Bill, enough. You want absolute immunity, pure and simple.

A qualified privilege is a good idea. Let a judge sort it out, in camera.

And for those sticklers for exactitude, as Safire typically is (when not in a puddle): The 1st Amendment states: "Congress shall make no law... abridging the freedom ... of the press." Safire's so-called Constitutional complaint is not about Congress, but rather about judges. As in, the Judicial branch, not the Legislative branch. So stop with the pious pronouncements as to "Founders Intent." If the Founders intended the press to be exempt from the Judicial Branch, the 1st Amendment would provide as much.

>>>Warning: Proceed Further Only If You Are Savvy in History and Law:

Pursuant to Article III of the Constitution, all "judicial power" resides in the Supreme Court and such lesser courts as may be established by Congress. "Judicial power" means "all cases, in law and equity, arising under this Constitution, the laws of the United States, and treaties made...."

Safire's claim - that "judicial power" does not, as a Constitutional matter, include a court having any power over persons who call themselves "the Press," is not a valid argument according to the text of the Constitution. The Supreme Court was given all judicial power, and Congress (via the Amendments) was prevented from passing laws abridging press freedom. Despite the Press' best writing, the Constitution does NOT provide that "Judicial power means all cases, in law and equity, except no power over members of the Press."

What is a valid argument is that Congress, in establishing inferior courts underneath the Supreme Court, cannot pass a law to establish such courts so as to "abridge the freedom of the press."

Query: Can Congress pass a law (e.g., a reporter's immunity, or shield, law) that strips the inferior courts of any jurisdiction over the Press? A correct read of Article III is, "No." Judicial power lies with the Supreme Court. Congress cannot strip the Supreme Court, or its inferior courts, of such power.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Viacom Employees: Here's How To Narc on the Rats

Now, BummerDietz is no rabble-rouser. Just because I broke the story that the mere publication of the memos, per se, violated a Texas felony forgery law, doesn’t make me a Wobblie. Nor did my sending of letters, and posting of templates, to Texas law enforcement constitute anything that a good citizen wouldn’t otherwise do.

And in that vein, BummerDietz certainly wants thousands of Viacom and CBS employees to exercise their silenced voices, as encouraged by their corporate parent.

You see, Viacom is the parent of CBS and CBS News. The Thornbugh Report is now said to be delayed until January. Perhaps legitimate (that is my own feeling), but perhaps it is a cynical stalling tactic (many others believe this). In any event, great, more time to collect relevant information.....

So, if you are a Viacom employee and sense stalling - PARTICULARLY IF YOU HAVE A SMOKING GUN THAT HAS BEEN IGNORED - what can you do?

Lodge a complaint, of course. And see the secret back-door email I include, below. Readers, please Do NOT SPAM these addresses. That is counterproductive.

Apart from the many legal – in fact felony- violations outlined at this blog, a reader notes that the Viacom “Rules of Business Conduct” book spell out areas of interest, and the procedure for Viacom employees to lodge complaints:

Call. Call OpenLine (the compliance telephone line) at (212) 846-9060.

Email. Send an e-mail from any location to: or to or to nonmanagementdirectors@viacom .

Write: Non-Management Board of Directors, Viacom Inc., 1515 Broadway, 52nd Floor, New York, NY 10036-5794

And if you have something that needs to bypass Viacom, take it directly to Richard Thornburgh.

Fax: Fax 202.778.9100
Mail: c/o K&L,
1800 Massachusetts Avenue,
N.W.Washington, DC 20036-1221

Some Rules that a Viacom employee may believe have been violated:

Federal law and Viacom policy prohibit the contribution of Viacom funds, assets, services or facilities to or on behalf of a federal political party, candidate or political action committee (“PAC”)…

[UPDATE: Can it get any better than Richard Thornburgh rummaging through CBS News, charged with the task of discovering instances of violation of Viacom policy - to wit, were CBS News or Viacom assets, services or facilities "contributed" to a political party or candidate? ....Shines a whole new light on the connection of Mapes to the DNC, and Mapes to the PAC of Texas Dems called, without irony, Texans-for-Truth.

I guess it all depends upon whether "contributed" means "to give or supply in common with others" or "submit for publication" or "to help bring about a result" or to "act as a factor."

Let's state the Viacom policy in alternate words from the dictionary. Viacom policy prohibits:

1. Contribution of Viacom funds, assets, services or facilities to or on behalf of a federal political party, candidate or political action committee.

2. Giving or supplying of Viacom funds, assets, services or facilities to or on behalf of a federal political party, candidate or political action committee.

3. Submitting Viacom funds, assets, services or facilities for publication by or for the benefit of a federal political party, candidate or political action committee.

4. Use of Viacom funds, assets, services or facilities to help bring about a result for, or on behalf of or the benefit of, a federal political party, candidate or political action committee.

5. Providing Viacom funds, assets, services or facilities to used as a factor involving any federal political party, candidate or political action committee.

Mapes and CNB have a problem. No wonder there is
turmoil over Thornburgh within CBS News.....]

Obeying both the letter and spirit of the law is one of the foundations of Viacom’s ethical standards. It is Viacom’s policy to comply with all applicable laws, rules and regulations. You must always conduct your business affairs with honesty, integrity and good judgment. You must respect and obey the laws of the cities, states and countries in which we operate. While you are not expected to know the details of all the laws that govern our business in every jurisdiction, you are expected to understand the laws and regulations applicable to your duties at your Company and to understand the regulatory environment within which Viacom operates well enough to know when to seek advice from supervisors, managers or other appropriate personnel.

You have a primary business responsibility to your Company and to Viacom and you are expected at all times to work in the best interests of your Company and Viacom. You must avoid all conflicts between the best interests of your Company and Viacom and your own personal relationships or interests. Even the appearance of a conflict of interest can undermine our integrity in the minds of your co-workers, our customers, our suppliers or the public.

Viacom requires that you disclose, in writing, any personal business or other relationship that could potentially affect your business judgment on behalf of your Company and Viacom. The existence of a potential conflict of interest, such as one or more of the situations discussed below, does not necessarily constitute a violation of Viacom’s conflict of interest policy. Our policy is one of disclosure and review of potential conflicts and prohibition of actual conflicts of interest. In some cases, disclosure may be all that is required. In others, the situation may require additional action to avoid a conflict of interest or to remedy one. But remember, in all cases, you must disclose all potential conflicts of interest.

Viacom has established procedures to review all disclosures of potential conflicts of interest to determine whether there is a significant risk that the situation presented is likely to affect your business judgment. If it is determined that an actual conflict of interest may exist, Viacom will determine what additional actions are required to be taken by you, your Company and/or Viacom with respect to the situation. Viacom’s determination that a particular situation does not give rise to an actual conflict of interest will not be considered a waiver of its conflict of interest rules.

Hat tip to reader MachiasPrivateer.