Jewish World Review Sept. 14, 2004 / 28 Elul, 5764
Dan Rather not just like his old nemesis Nixon
Dan Rather made his bones as a White House correspondent hounding President
Nixon on the Watergate scandal. He is ending his career as Nixon ended his,
stonewalling the indefensible.
On Sixty Minutes II last week, Rather broadcast a report alleging President
Bush received special treatment in the Texas Air National Guard, and
disobeyed a direct order to take a flight physical.
The report was based on memoranda purportedly written by LtCol. Jerry
Killian, who commanded the 111th Fighter Interceptor Squadron in which then
Lt. Bush served. Killian died in 1984.
It took less than a day for the story to blow up in Rather's face.
A host of experts say they are 90-99 percent sure the documents were typed
on a computer using Microsoft Word, which hadn't been invented at the time
these memos were supposed to have been written. (The only reason the experts
say they aren't 100 percent certain the documents are forgeries is because
they haven't been able to examine the originals, which CBS has not made
The memos contain many formatting and terminological errors. Headings,
and abbreviations are incorrect; the signature block is in the wrong place.
The purported order to Bush to appear for his physical references an Air
Force manual (AFM 35-13) which does not exist. And manuals relate to
operational procedures, not to enforcement of standards, and thus wouldn't
be cited in an order.
In a memo dated Aug. 18th, 1973, Killian complains of pressure from
Brigadier Gen. Walter Staudt to write a favorable evaluation of Lt. Bush.
But Staudt had retired the year before.
CBS says the memos came from Killian's "personal file." But Marjorie
Connell, Killian's widow, and Gary Killian, his son, said he kept no such
files, and wouldn't have written the things in the suspect memoranda. Rufus
Martin, personnel chief for the 111th at the time, and a friend of Killian's
for 17 years, agreed.
Killian's signature on the suspect memos is different from his signature
on other documents. (Fred Showker, who teaches typography at James Madison
University, told CNS News that Killian's signature on the document ordering
Bush to take a physical appears to have been cut and pasted from another
The main sources for its story CBS has identified are retired MajGen.
Bobby Hodges, and handwriting expert Marcel Matley. But Hodges told ABC
News that he thought the documents were fake. And Matley told the Los
Angeles Times he could authenticate only one of the four documents in
The Prowler column at the American Spectator online (always entertaining,
but often inaccurate) says the documents were sent to the Democratic
National Committee more than six weeks ago.
"I heard they ended up at the Kerry campaign, for them to decide how to
proceed, and presumably they were handed over to 60 Minutes," his source at
the DNC told the Prowler. "I know this much. When there was discussion
here, there were doubts raised about their authenticity."
There were concerns at CBS, too, according to the Prowler.
"The problem was we had one set of documents from Bush's file that had
Killian calling Bush 'an exceptionally fine young officer and pilot,' and
someone who Killian said 'performed in an outstanding manner.' Then you
have these new documents and the tone and content are so different," the
Prowler said a CBS producer told him.
Alarm bells went off, the producer said, when the signatures and initials of
Killian did not match up with other documents on the public record. But CBS
went ahead with the story anyway.
Democratic National Chairman Terry McAuliffe has tacitly conceded the memos
likely are forgeries, by charging that they had been planted by Bush
political aide Karl Rove to embarrass CBS and the Democrats by catching them
peddling bogus information.
Despite the mounting evidence of fraud, Dan Rather is sticking to his story.
CBS insists the memos are genuine, but will not disclose from whom they were
obtained, nor will CBS permit outside experts to examine the originals.
The ghost of Richard Nixon could remind Rather that stonewalling usually
doesn't work, and it's more often the cover up than the original offense
that proves your downfall.
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JWR contributor Jack Kelly, a former Marine and Green Beret, was a
deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force in the Reagan
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