Some source material by or concerning Bill Burkett.
The Dallas Morning News
Retired Guard officer says he saw some files discarded in trash
By WAYNE SLATER and MICHELLE MITTELSTADT
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.
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.
: 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.
: 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?
: 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.
: 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 _________?"
"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:
September 23rd, 2004
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.
3. The Boston Globe also ran a story on the TANG matter on Sept 8th. Although the paper claimed its ‘Spotlight Team” had done the investigative work. ( Boston Globe Archives, 2004-09-10 ) THE GLOBE SPOTLIGHT TEAM HAS SCORED ANOTHER BULL'S-EYE WITH ITS REPORT ON GEORGE W. BUSH'S VIOLATION OF HIS CONTRACT WITH THE GOVERNMENT FOR SERVICE IN THE AIR NATIONAL GUARD, AND HIS STAFF'S SUBSEQUENT EGREGIOUS DENIAL AND MISREPRESENTATION OF THE FACTS (PAGE A1, SEPT. 8).
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.
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