Bush's Brain - book and movie
Karl Rove Comes of Age
an excerpt from the new book
How Bush's Brain Fooled America
by James Moore & Wayne Slater
While the breaking of Valerie Plame's cover as a NOC operative of the CIA may be regarded as serious in and of itself, there has been some speculation that the damage caused by the leak may extend in very specific directions related to Plame's work with her cover company, Brewster Jennings & Associates. While the majority of commentators felt that her husband was the target for the smear, a body of evidence points to another motive for the leak. The leak may have been instigated as a move to end Plame's work spying on the Saudi royal family, and more specifically her investigation into whether the Saudi oilfields had passed their peak of productivity (see peak oil). In this view (found for example in Michael Ruppert's From The Wilderness news service, ) the leak was an attempt to silence and/or discredit Plame's findings on the state of the world's oil supply, thereby impairing the functioning of the CIA's ability to inform the administration, in turn reducing its ability to act usefully.
The Real Reason Tenet and Pavitt Resigned from the CIA on June 3rd and 4th
Bush, Cheney Indictments in Plame Case Looming
Michael C. Ruppert
additional reporting by
Wayne Madsen from Washington
© Copyright 2004, From The Wilderness Publications, www.fromthewilderness.com. All Rights Reserved. May be reprinted, distributed or posted on an Internet web site for non-profit purposes only.
JUNE 8, 2004
Not only was Plame's cover blown, so was that of her cover company, Brewster, Jennings & Associates. With the public exposure of Plame, intelligence agencies all over the world started searching data bases for any references to her (TIME Magazine). Damage control was immediate, as the CIA asserted that her mission had been connected to weapons of mass destruction.
However, it was not long before stories from the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal tied Brewster, Jennings & Associates to energy, oil and the Saudi-owned Arabian American Oil Company, or ARAMCO. Brewster Jennings had been a founder of Mobil Oil company, one of Aramco's principal founders.
According to additional sources interviewed by Wayne Madsen, Brewster Jennings was, in fact, a well-established CIA proprietary company, linked for many years to ARAMCO. The demise of Brewster Jennings was also guaranteed the moment Plame was outed.
It takes years for Non-Official Covers or NOCs, as they are known, to become really effective. Over time, they become gradually more trusted; they work their way into deeper information access from more sensitive sources. NOCs are generally regarded in the community as among the best and most valuable of all CIA operations officers and the agency goes to great lengths to protect them in what are frequently very risky missions.
By definition, Valerie Plame was an NOC. Yet unlike all other NOCs who fear exposure and torture or death from hostile governments and individual targets who have been judged threats to the United States, she got done in by her own President, whom we also judge to be a domestic enemy of the United States.
Moreover, as we will see below, Valerie Plame may have been one of the most important NOCs the CIA had in the current climate. Let's look at just how valuable she was.
According to an April 29, 2002 report in Britain's Guardian, ARAMCO constitutes 12% of the world's total oil production; a figure which has certainly increased as other countries have progressed deeper into irreversible decline.
ARAMCO is the largest oil group in the world, a state-owned Saudi company in partnership with four major US oil companies. Another one of Aramco’s partners is Chevron-Texaco which gave up one of its board members, Condoleezza Rice, when she became the National Security Advisor to George Bush. All of ARAMCO’s key decisions are made by the Saudi royal family while US oil expertise, personnel and technology keeps the cash coming in and the oil going out. ARAMCO operates, manages, and maintains virtually all Saudi oil fields – 25% of all the oil on the planet.
It gets better.
According to a New York Times report on March 8th of this year, ARAMCO is planning to make a 25% investment in a new and badly needed refinery to produce gasoline. The remaining 75% ownership of the refinery will go to the only nation that is quickly becoming America's major world competitor for ever-diminishing supplies of oil: China.
Almost the entire Bush administration has an interest in ARAMCO.
The Boston Globe reported that in 2001 ARAMCO had signed a $140 million multi-year contract with Halliburton, then chaired by Dick Cheney, to develop a new oil field. Halliburton does a lot of business in Saudi Arabia. Current estimates of Halliburton contracts or joint ventures in the country run into the tens of billions of dollars.
So do the fortunes of some shady figures from the Bush family's past.
As recently as 1991 ARAMCO had Khalid bin Mahfouz sitting on its Supreme Council or board of directors. Mahfouz, Saudi Arabia's former treasurer and the nation's largest banker, has been reported in several places to be Osama bin Laden's brother in law. However, he has denied this and brought intense legal pressure to bear demanding retractions of these allegations. He has major partnership investments with the multi-billion dollar Binladin Group of companies and he is a former director of BCCI, the infamous criminal drug-money laundering bank which performed a number of very useful services for the CIA before its 1991 collapse under criminal investigation by a whole lot of countries.
As Saudi Arabia's largest banker he handles the accounts of the royal family and - no doubt - ARAMCO, while at the same time he is a named defendant in a $1 trillion lawsuit filed by 9/11 victim families against the Saudi government and prominent Saudi officials who, the suit alleges, were complicit in the 9/11 attacks.
Both BCCI and Mahfouz have historical connections to the Bush family dating back to the 1980s. Another bank (one of many) connected to Mahfouz - the InterMaritime Bank - bailed out a cash-starved Harken Energy in 1987 with $25 million. After the rejuvenated Harken got a no-bid oil lease in 1991, CEO George W. Bush promptly sold his shares in a pump-and-dump scheme and made a whole lot of money.
Knowing all of this, there's really no good reason why the CIA should be too upset, is there? It was only a long-term proprietary and deep-cover NOC - well established and consistently producing "take" from ARAMCO (and who knows what else in Saudi Arabia). It was destroyed with a motive of personal vengeance (there may have been other motives) by someone inside the White House.
From the CIA's point of view, at a time when Saudi Arabia is one of the three or four countries of highest interest to the US, the Plame operation was irreplaceable.
KARL ROVE: THE KING OF DIRT
The Turd Blossom's Chickens May Come To Roost
By Wayne Madsen
(Special to From The Wilderness)
December 5, 2003
... I have become aware of journalistic colleagues being mugged (without
any theft involved) on the streets of Washington and London. Could these
have been warnings to those who have written extensively about the misdeeds
of the Bush cabal? Possibly. As the United States continues to sink into
a Third World-style dictatorship, we can expect more harassment of journalists
and political activists.
Unless, that is, Rove is deep-sixed as a matter of political necessity to shore up Bush's Christian Right base. Washington is awash with stories, including those from the normally pro-Bush conservative Washington Times group, of Rove's Hooveresque off-hours antics (as in J. Edgar Hoover). Gee, Karl, how are you going to square that with the good Reverends Robertson and Falwell?
www.ilovekarlrove.com strange satire, but the point about hypocrisy is made ...
George Bush's Brain
by Sander Hicks
originally published by Heads Magazine, Toronto
Hiding the truth in "plain sight"
Karl Rove dirty tricks that leak the true material in a way that discredits the facts.
-- the leaked Cocaine / "W" allegation (in 2000) to an author
with a felony conviction (who then became the issue, not the W's use of
cocaine) Rove's leaking of the truth of Bush and cocaine to convicted
felon James Hatfield for his book Fortunate Son in 1999 (see the film
Horns and Haloes for an excellent account of this).
Horns and Haloes
a film about Jim Hatfield's book "Fortunate Son"Other dirty tricks from the Rove propaganda machine???
-- the "fake" National Guard memos that accurately described Bush going AWOL (the typography has become the issue)
-- some of the bogus 9/11 truth efforts are a manifestation of this very cynical strategy -- put some of the truth out there, but in a manner that is easy for folks to see throughit). Bogus 9/11 complicity claims that distract from excellent evidence proven beyond reasonable doubt and make 9/11 skepticism appear to be kooky science fiction hallucinations
RUSS BAKER, 2005
What’s wrong with the coverage of the CBS scandal?
January 14, 2005 - Atlanta Journal-Constitution
By Russ Baker © 2005
One thing is certain about the CBS documents: If they are not real, then they were prepared by someone who had enough inside information to make them look almost real, but who also knew enough to include a few small telltale signs that might point to their inauthenticity - clues that might be overlooked by a news organization racing to put out an important, timely story under competitive pressures.
It's striking that the critique of the documents appeared on the Internet just hours after CBS aired them, and that the person claiming to be a document expert turned out to be an attorney with strong GOP connections who had no such credentials. How was this man able so quickly to produce his critique, and how did the story grow so quickly to overtake the basic questions about the president's own murky past performance? Did Rove's well-documented history of aggressive last-minute campaign ploys have anything to do with this episode? And why, despite all the questions, has Bush never offered a detailed accounting of his doings in those missing years? That's a news story no one yet has tackled.
February 22, 2005
Hinchey sees hand of Rove
'They set up Dan Rather'
By Paul Brooks
Hurley – Democrat Maurice Hinchey has turned
an army of right-wing bloggers into a quivering mass of indignation.
Hinchey suggested that presidential political mastermind Karl Rove is behind the fake documents that brought down several top executives at CBS. The controversy led to the early retirement of longtime anchor Dan Rather, many believe.
The remarks came at a session on Social Security in Ithaca on Sunday, but the comments didn't stay in Ithaca very long. An operative with the littlegreenfootballs.com Web site had recorded Hinchey's comments. Within hours, a transcript of his comments about Rove and a copy of the audiotape were on the Web site. By yesterday afternoon, the site had more than 1,400 responses to his comments.
At the speech Sunday, Hinchey said the media has been attacked and manipulated.
"Probably the most flagrant example of that is the way they set up Dan Rather," he can be heard saying in the audio clip.
"Now, I mean, I have my own beliefs about how that happened: It originated with Karl Rove, in my belief, in the White House ... . Once they did that, then it undermined everything else about Bush's draft dodging. … That had the effect of taking the whole issue away."
The documents in question addressed Bush's military service in Alabama in 1972 while on leave from the Texas National Guard. Ultimately, CBS could not prove that the memos were authentic.
The bloggers were quick to respond to Hinchey's remarks.
"This guy needs a clue-by-blog and wake up to being a mature person," wrote "mglazer." "The old days of sitting in a little town hall and pandering to your constituents with LIES is no longer OK, acceptable or ignored – we can ALL HEAR what you say now."
There was this from "mich-again": "Rove isn't stupid enough to offer up those documents and actually think CBS would not discover the ruse. How freaking ignorant are these people?"
And this from "christheprofessor": "I say Republicans in the House of Representative should demand an investigation of his, er, evidence, and then have him censured."
The congressman from Hurley said he expected his comments might end up on the Internet.
"I knew that was going to happen when I saw this guy sitting in the front row with a tape recorder. They have been following me around taping everything I say in the hope they can find something to use against me," he said yesterday.
He stands by his comments.
"I didn't allege I had any facts. I said this is what I believe and take it for what it's worth," said Hinchey, now in his seventh term. He pointed to the fake documents in the CBS case as well as a scandal involving a leak from the Bush administration that revealed the name of an undercover CIA agent to the media.
"My theory is they came from the same place, which is the Bush administration and Karl Rove," he said.
The White House did not return a call for comment by deadline last evening.
Hinchey said he has no plans to stop making allegations against Rove and the Bush administration.
"What we are seeing is very new and very dangerous," Hinchey said. "No administration has attempted to manipulate the facts and information and to manipulate the news media to distort the facts ... as what we are seeing in this administration."
Saturday, September 18, 2004
Robert Sam Anson suggests that there is something fishy about the blogger campaign to attack the CBS memos, referring to a Freeper posting by someone named 'Buckhead' a little over three hours after the CBS report first aired:"First (leaving aside how suspiciously well Buckhead puts sentences together for a righty blogger), there's the extraordinary, yeah, boggling, knowledge of typewriting arcana. More remarkable still are the circumstances under which discernment occurred. Namely, viewing the document on a TV screen from a presumed distance of six to a dozen feet. Folks who make their living at this sort of thing rely on magnifying glasses, if not microscopes. And they don’t venture opinions unless the document's in their puss.
Then there's the warp speed with which Buckhead discerned monkey business. The last big document mess was the trove that conned Seymour Hersh into believing Jack Kennedy signed a contract with Marilyn Monroe agreeing to pay a hundred grand in consideration of her shutting up about their adventures between the sheets, as well as his pillow talk of owing the 1960 election to the good offices of Chicago mob boss Sam (Momo) Giancana. Their exposure (in which your correspondent had a walk-on) took weeks. And those documents were nutso on their face.
Another timing oddity which may or may not be related to the mysterious Buckhead, depending on your choice of villain, is the Pentagon's release of allegedly newly-discovered records of Mr. Bush’s flight hours and middling piloting abilities one day almost to the minute before Mr. Rather’s report—following four months of insisting there were no more documents to disgorge. Second coincidence: The Pentagon release came hours after the Boston Globe, poring through yet other records, reported that Mr. Bush 'fell well short of meeting his military obligation' by failing to report to a Boston-area Guard unit after he enrolled in the Harvard Business School, and by earlier ducking out on required training and drills for a total of nine months. Either could have landed Mr. Bush on full-time active duty for two years, potentially in Vietnam. But he received no punishment whatsoever.
Finally, there's a detail that appears to have escaped press notice: The Web site where Buckhead's posting appeared also happens to be the repository for anti-Jew, anti-Catholic, anti-homosexual, anti-John Kerry rants by Jerome R. Corsi, Ph.D. And whom, you ask, is Dr. Corsi? Co-author of the best-selling Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry, that's who."After digesting that, read what PR Week has to say:"Creative Response Concepts (CRC), the VA-based agency promoting the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, used right-wing blogs and news sites to turn a CBS report casting doubt on President George W. Bush's National Guard service into a potential black eye for both the network and the Democrats.
A CRC client, the Cybercast News Service (CNS), was among the first to voice suspicion that documents suggesting Bush had received preferential treatment in the Guard were forgeries.
'After the CBS story aired, [CNS] called typographical experts, got them on the record that these papers were fishy, and posted a story by 3pm Thursday,' said CRC SVP Keith Appell. 'We were immediately in contact with [Matt] Drudge, who loved the story.'
CRC worked with CNS and the Media Research Center, another media watchdog client, to push the story into the mainstream press.
'We've been communicating with bloggers and news websites to make sure they know it isn't just Rush Limbaugh and Matt Drudge who are raising questions,' added CRC president Greg Mueller."After someone probably pointed out that the Official Story is that populist bloggers did the CBS story all by their lonesomes, and that PR firms are paid to stick to the Official Story and not blow their own horns, CRC issued a sort of retraction:"Please understand, we never meant to imply that the blogosphere is something we did, or even could, control or direct. No one controls the bloggers. The extraordinary depth and breadth of their talent and resources only breeds one thing: a fierce independence much needed in the country. They are a force the PR industry and news media need to pay greater attention to.
In the interview with PR Week, we tried to communicate that the bloggers, and then CNS www.cnsnews.com, were moving this story, which we then began pushing to conservative media, news websites and 'mainstream' press.
If anything, we're just proud that our client, CNS News, provided some hard news reporting to add some gasoline to the already rampant wildfire that the bloggers had started. Do we deserve credit for that? Not nearly as much as the guys at PowerLine, Instapundit, LittleGreenFootballs, INDCJournal, Allahpundit, and so many others deserve."The conspiracy is starting to unravel. CBS was attacked, not by bloggers, but by swift boats. As I wrote a few days ago on what I called the 'quick blogger response team', the coordinated way in which the bloggers worked, together with their amazing speed and instant expertise on old typewriters and fonts, not to mention the way their postings were seamlessly integrated into the mainstream media, indicates that the attack on the CBS memos was not the bottom-up populist unorganized campaign that has been depicted by the right-wing media, but nothing less than a propaganda blitz by the Republican Party to deflect attention from some very embarrassing material by attacking the messenger. It should not be a surprise that PR firms would fasten on blogging as a method of disguising the fact that the message is coming from a partisan source. After all, deceiving people is their job. However, from now on Americans should never assume that just because information is coming from bloggers that it is not part of an organized campaign of disinformation.
posted at 3:47 AM permanent linkWednesday, September 15, 2004
For a scandal known as Rathergate, because the superscript th was allegedly unavailable when CBS's memos were supposed to have been typed, the comments of Lt. Col. Jerry Killian's former secretary, Marian Carr Knox, are somewhat ironic (my emphasis):"Knox said signs of forgery abound in the four memos.
She said the typeface on the documents did not match either of the two typewriters that she used during her time with the Guard. She identified those machines as a mechanical Olympia typewriter and the IBM Selectric that replaced it in the early 1970s.
She spoke fondly of the Olympia, which she said had a key with the 'th' superscript character that has been the focus of much debate in the CBS memos."The issue of the superscript th, which got the bloggers in the door on the whole forgery issue, was phony. Not only was the superscript th available at the time, it was available to Killian. On the other hand, Knox's view that the type on the memos doesn't match the type on either of her two typewriters is very compelling evidence that the memos were recreated on modern equipment. We know they must have been recreated rather than completely made up because Knox is very specific that she typed memos containing 'the same information' that is in the CBS memos. Why would anyone take the risk of recreating the memos if they had access to the original memos?
posted at 11:27 PM permanent link
Assuming for the moment that the CBS documents are forgeries, but, as the former secretary of Lieutenant Colonel Killian says, accurately reflect his thoughts and are likely based on the contents of his original notes (and watch for reports of this in the disgusting American media to simply say the documents are forgeries, without reference to the vital fact that the contents are substantially true), why would the forger go to all the trouble of making a forgery? If he had access to the original notes, and he must have had such access in order to make substantively accurate forgeries, why not send them to CBS? The only reason you would make a forgery, and a forgery which was discovered with very suspicious speed and detail, is if you were trying to undermine the credibility of the content of the notes. If you knew the substance of the notes was going to be released, and might be an election issue, releasing the notes yourself in a forged form is the perfect way to diffuse the crisis. Everyone is now watching the spectacle of the alleged shenanigans, and completely ignoring the substantive issues raised by the notes.
posted at 2:52 AM permanent link
"Why Bush Left Texas" by Russ Baker is the first article to seriously consider the deep reasons for the inconsistencies in Bush's military record and the extremely odd way in which this record has been presented to the American people. Finally, someone has stopped beating around the Bush (this article should have been written by somebody - or at least somebody other than James Hatfield, who was on the story and may have uncovered even more if not for his unfortunate 'suicide' - five or six years ago). Baker writes:
"A months-long investigation, which includes examination of hundreds of government-released documents, interviews with former Guard members and officials, military experts and Bush associates, points toward the conclusion that Bush's personal behavior was causing alarm among his superior officers and would ultimately lead to his fleeing the state to avoid a physical exam he might have had difficulty passing."
and (my emphasis):
"If it is demonstrated that profound behavioral problems marred Bush's wartime performance and even cut short his service, it could seriously challenge Bush's essential appeal as a military steward and guardian of societal values. It could also explain the incomplete, contradictory and shifting explanations provided by the Bush camp for the President's striking invisibility from the military during the final two years of his six-year military obligation. And it would explain the savagery and rapidity of the attack on the CBS documents."
"It is notable that in 1972, the military was in the process of introducing widespread drug testing as part of the annual physical exams that pilots would undergo."
and, explaining the reason why witnesses are so hard to find:
"One of the difficulties in getting to the truth about what really took place during this period is the frequently expressed fear of retribution from the Bush organization. Many sources refuse to speak on the record, or even to have their knowledge communicated publicly in any way."The usual Republican stooges are going to demand a lot more specifics than are contained in this article, but it is an excellent start. Somebody still needs to find out whether the drug test was a particular worry to Bush because of other drug-related legal difficulties he was having in Texas (the fact that a drug test at the time would not have been able to detect cocaine use is irrelevant if Bush thought it might and couldn't afford to take the risk that a positive drug test would put him in breach of the terms of some conditional sentence he was purporting to fulfill). The reckless drug use, general lack of care about other people, and the feckless wasting of chances given to him solely because of the position of his father are all important examples of Bush's irresponsibility, a trait which continues to this day. Bush's irresponsibility is the governing characteristic of his personality. His handlers know this, and hiding it has been Rove's chief occupation for the past four years (note that the secretary who may have typed the originals of the CBS memos says that the CBS memos are forgeries, but the contents of them accurately reflect the thoughts of one of Bush's commanders, a combination of facts which indicates to me that the faulty memos may have been supplied to CBS as part of a dirty tricks campaign to hide their content under a Rove-directed campaign of bloggers against the form of the memos). Bush's ignoring the memo presented to him by the CIA in August 2001 which referred to the specific danger of an attack like September 11 is just another manifestation of this profound personality disorder. The fact that a person with Bush's specific flaws is running his campaign as representing the responsible guardian of the American people against the evils of the world of terrorism is nothing short of obscene.
posted at 2:26 AM permanent linkTuesday, September 14, 2004
Some have surmised that the entire CBS documents scandal is another dirty trick by Karl Rove. The idea is that Rove circulated embarrassing documents that were going to come out anyway, but altered them so the right-wing bloggers could make their arguments that the documents were forgeries. The whole forgery issue would then provide a smokescreen for the real contents of the documents. While I have yet to see any evidence that the documents were indeed forgeries, and the fact you can recreate similar looking documents on a computer today just proves that fonts don't change (which is the whole point of fonts!), the idea that Rove might try such a trick isn't as crazy as it seems. James H. Hatfield, the suicided author of the Bush biography 'Fortunate Son', had a very similar Rove experience. From Barbelith Webzine:"They produced a run of 45,000 copies, and this time, with Hicks as a mouthpiece, Hatfield did not spare the anonymity of his sources. 'I know that Sander Hicks, my publisher, has stated in interviews and in the introduction to the new, updated second edition of Fortunate Son that (Karl) Rove was one of my sources, but I cannot personally deny or confirm.' And so we get to the alleged villain of the piece. Karl Rove, ex-Nixonite and Bush camp spin-doctor described by Hatfield himself as 'the ultimate dirty trickster'. Also implicated was Clay Johnson, advisor and long-time friend to Bush. Hicks' and Hatfield's version goes like this: when Bush made his hasty admission and the media seemed ready to pounce, Rove realised he needed to find a way to remove discussion of Bush's drug past from the national debate so thoroughly that even Bush himself couldn't bring it up again. Right around August 1999, when Bush made that press conference blunder, J. H. Hatfield's biography Fortunate Son was in its final stages with St. Martin's Press.According to Hatfield, during the writing of Fortunate Son he had contacted Rove and Johnson and interviewed them at length. Hatfield mistakenly assumed that Johnson and Rove weren't aware of his 1988 conviction for solicitation of capital murder. Rove and Johnson realised that, in Hatfield, they had found their solution to Bush's drug problem. A flawed author."
September 15, 2004
National Guarding Bush: Did Karl Rove Plan Leak of Alleged Forged Documents to 60 Minutes?
A BUZZFLASH GUEST CONTRIBUTION
by Mike Burke
The big buzz on the Internet and in the papers over the past 24 hours has been the fallout from the "60 Minutes" story this week on President Bush's service (or lack thereof) in the Texas National Guard. In particular, scores of blogs and Matt Drudge have honed in on accusations that documents obtained by "60 Minutes" bolstering the case that Bush did not fulfill his duties were faked. The right wing FreeRepublic website posted this theory:
"Every single one of the memos to file regarding Bush's failure to attend a physical and meet other requirements is in a proportionally spaced font, probably Palatine or Times New Roman. In 1972 people used typewriters for this sort of thing (especially in the military), and typewriters used mono-spaced fonts."
The post went on to say, "[T]hese documents are forgeries, run through a copier for 15 generations to make them look old. This should be pursued aggressively."
The dominant thinking seems to be that if the documents were forged, they were leaked in an effort to harm Bush. But it is worth considering another possibility: the Bush team itself may have "leaked" the forged documents. The whole affair seems to bear what is known as "The Mark of Rove," as in Karl Rove, senior advisor to President Bush; Karl Rove the grand wizard of dirty tricks.
It is commonly known that one of Bush's greatest weaknesses in the presidential campaign is Vietnam. While John Kerry fought in the war and earned (deservedly or not) three Purple Hearts, a young George W. Bush enlisted in the Texas National Guard with help, it turns out, from then-Texas Speaker of the House Ben Barnes. Barnes, of course, was a central figure in the "60 Minutes" story, as he admitted for the first time to the media to intervening to get Bush into the Guard and keep him out of Vietnam.
As investigations by the "Boston Globe" and others have uncovered, Bush's military record was shoddy at best, criminal at worst. He may be the first president who could have been tried for going AWOL. To counter Kerry's "war hero" image, Bush supporters have launched an attack campaign on Kerry's record in Vietnam, questioning his account of his service. They have also portrayed him as having betrayed veterans when he spoke out against the war in 1971 in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
If Rove is behind the leaking of the alleged "forged" documents shown on "60 Minutes", it could well be phase two of a strategy to kill all criticism of President Bush for his record during the Vietnam War era. If the documents turn out to be fakes, the story will no longer be about Bush's military record but about who forged the documents. In fact that is essentially what is happening already. It won't be long before fingers start pointing toward the Kerry camp.
If you think this sounds like a nutty conspiracy theory, you probably haven't been following Karl Rove's career; a career replete with dirty tricks and sophisticated, preemptive political strikes.
Remember the allegations that Bush was arrested in 1972 on drug possession charges, specifically cocaine? Today it is basically a non-story. But it is worth looking back at why.
In 1999, St. Martin's Press published a critical biography of Bush titled "Fortunate Son". The book quoted an unnamed "high-ranking advisor to Bush," who revealed Bush's 1972 drug bust. The source told author J.H. Hatfield, Bush "was ordered by a Texas judge to perform community service in exchange for expunging his record showing illicit drug use."
Hatfield later revealed that his source was none other than Karl Rove. That might seem ridiculous, considering Rove's lifelong loyalty to the Bushes and the fact that he now has an office adjacent to Bush's in the White House. But leaking the story to Hatfield essentially discredited the story and sent it into the annals of conspiracy theory. Soon after the book was published and just as St. Martin's was preparing a high profile launching of the book, the "Dallas Morning News" ran a story revealing that Hatfield was a felon who had served time in jail. In response, St. Martin's pulled the book.
" When the media stumbled upon a story regarding George W. Bush's 1972 cocaine possession arrest, Rove had to find a way to kill the story. He did so by destroying the messenger," says Sander Hicks, the former publisher of Soft Skull, which re-published "Fortunate Son." "They knew the stories of Dubya's cocaine and drink busts would come out, so they made certain that it would come out of the mouth of a guy they could smear," said journalist Greg Palast, who wrote the forward to the final edition of the book.
If Rove was Hatfield's source, he certainly wasn't trying to expose Bush's drug use. Instead he was trying to discredit and ultimately kill the story. And it worked. Few reporters since have dared to touch the story.
Consider also the history of Rove's dirty tricks, chronicled by James Moore and Wayne Slater in their book "Bush's Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential."
In 1986, according to the book, Rove told reporters that someone had bugged his office where he was campaign manager for Texas gubernatorial candidate Bill Clements. On the morning of a major debate Rove called a press conference. He said, "Obviously I don't know who did this. But there is no doubt in my mind that the only ones who would benefit from this detailed, sensitive information would be the political opposition." The press quickly assumed the bugging was done by Clements' opponent, Mark White, who was leading in the polls. By election day, Rove's candidate won and the source of the bug was never found -- but many reporters later concluded that Rove himself had placed it.
Four years ago during the Bush-Gore race, the Gore camp mysteriously obtained sensitive campaign materials from the Bush campaign including a video of the Texas governor prepping for a debate and detailed campaign strategy notes. Rove soon accused the Gore campaign of secretly taping Bush. Later a former employee of a Bush campaign adviser admitted supplying the information to Gore.
In trademark fashion, Rove's role in the case was never clear. He never leaves fingerprints behind. It is known as the "Mark of Rove."
It may well have returned in the form of Times New Roman font on some forged documents.
A BUZZFLASH GUEST CONTRIBUTION
Mike Burke is a producer for the national radio and TV show Democracy Now! He can be reached at mike @democracynow.org
Behind the Bushes
Fortunate Son by J.H. Hatfield
Reviewed by David Cogswell
By David Cogswell
A felony conviction can certainly pose a credibility problem. When it became publicly known that J.H. Hatfield, the author of the biography of George W. Bush Fortunate Son, had been convicted of complicity in an attempted murder, the book itself and not its subject became the event. It was recalled by its publisher, St. Martin's Press, and turned into "furnace fodder," according to the publisher's public statements.
Most press coverage of the book focused on the author's allegation that Bush had been convicted of cocaine possession in 1972, had served a term of public service in atonement and had then had his record expunged as a favor to the Bush family. This was presumably the most potentially scandalous part of the book, the point reporters seized upon to show the extreme dimensions of the book. When the criminal history of the author became public, the allegations were widely dismissed along with the rest of the book.
Though an embarrassed press viewed it as an anticlimax to a shut case, "Fortunate Son" was republished January 1 as a paperback by a "punk" publisher Soft Skull Press, a Lower East Side venture begun in 1992 by 28-year-old Sander Hicks. The publisher said he believed in the credibility of the book, that the author had the documentation to prove his case in a libel court. He said he was willing to take the chance that the Bush clan would never take the chance of allowing the inquiry that would be set off by a libel trial. The new edition of book was published January 1, 2000, a few months after its first publication. As of May, no libel case has been filed. It is hard to believe the Bush family would not use any legal means to stop these damaging allegations that could endanger the presidential aspirations of its chosen successor to the throne, if it could. It therefore lends some credence to the assertion of the publisher. He, in fact, is the one who is putting his money, his company and his reputation on the line. It is unlikely the fledgling company could survive a judgment against it in a libel case.
Punk indeed! To openly confront one of the most powerful political families in recent American history -- one whose patriarch is former president, vice president, director of the CIA, head of the Republican National Committee during the Watergate scandal, Kissinger protege and ambassador to Beijing during Nixon's secret war on Cambodia -- is either extremely brave, or painfully naive.
In the absence of legal action following the re-publication of the book, the silence is deafening. If only the single, damaging cocaine allegation were unprovable, it is reasonable to assume that appropriate legal action would be taken. George W. Bush was asked about the book in an interview by Brill's Content. He called the book "outrageous." But he did not say the allegations were false. He spoke instead of the "fraudulent nature" of author, and said there is "no recourse." Whether or not Dubya knows it, surely his handlers, surely the canny Karl Rove knows that if the material is slanderous, there is a simple recourse. In slander cases, the burden of proof is on the defendant. If he cannot prove his charges, Bush wins. Bush has asserted that all the men executed in Texas under his watch had "access to the courts," now he would have us believe that he, who has had every privilege of wealth and power, does not.
Considering the stakes -- choosing the man who will occupy the most powerful office in the world -- it seems worth looking at the book to see if it stands or falls on the merit of its arguments and its documentation. Hatfield is not applying for the job of president, but George W. Bush is. Hatfield would not be the first person convicted of a crime who wrote a valuable book. Readers are certainly able to bring the tools of critical thinking to these arguments, just as they should to any argument by any politician who has not been convicted of a crime. The public issue is not who Hatfield is, but who George W. Bush is.
The new edition has a new forward in which the author confesses his own crime up front, in colorful detail, and it is not pretty. It is, however, undeniable after a couple of paragraphs that the clarity of his prose is gripping. This impression is borne out as the main body of the story unfolds. Hatfield is a powerful writer. The story is compelling, coherent and bolstered by a mountain of documentation.
After reading press reports, one of the most surprising things about the book is that it is not merely a smear. The book paints a rounded portrait, the Bushes emerge as people, not monsters. Its bias is clearly anti-Bush, but the case is well-constructed. It goes into detail about the SEC investigation of W's alleged insider trading, the Bush family's involvement in the Savings & Loan and BCCIA scandals, W's job as hatchet-man for his father's presidential campaigns and a great many other worthy scandals.
The second publication has two other additions, one is a 54-page index of source notes that was dropped from the original publication by St. Martin's in order to get the book to press before its competition. The notes provide a roadmap for any research into the information in the book.
The new edition also has an introduction by Toby Rogers, a Quill Award-winning journalist, and author and editor Nick Mamatas. In it, they document additional embarrassments, such as the fact that W's grandfather Prescott Bush and great-grandfather George Herbert Walker were directors of Union Banking Corporation, which was seized under the Trading with the Enemy Act in 1942 for its contribution to Nazi war efforts, including raising $50 million for the Nazi rearmament effort by selling Nazi war bonds. The cocaine controversy is only a minor part of the story. The introduction begins with an informed review of the history of the institution of freedom of the press. It quotes a statement of Milton that was the foundation of his argument against censorship: "Though all the winds of doctrine were let loose to play upon the earth, so truth be in the field, we do injuriously by licensing and prohibiting to misdoubt her strength. Let her and falsehood grapple; who ever knew truth put to the worse, in a free and open encounter."
Any student of history knows that crime is a relative term in the world of politics. Convicted felon though he is, J.H. Hatfield has performed a service that is vital in a democracy. He has written an informative history of a man who would be president. Call it atonement.
A version of this review was originally published in The American Book Review
New York Times
September 16, 2004
OP-ED COLUMNIST Pre-emptive Paranoia
By MAUREEN DOWD
[H] ere's how bad off the Democrats are: They're cowering behind closed doors, whispering that if it should ever turn out that Republicans are behind this, it would be so exquisitely Machiavellian, so beyond what Democrats are capable of, they should just fold and concede the election now - before the Republicans have to go to the trouble of stealing it again.
There's no evidence - it's just a preposterous, paranoid fantasy at this point. But it speaks to the jitters of the Democrats that they're consumed with speculation about whether Karl Rove, the master of dirty tricks and surrogate sleaze, could have set up CBS in a diabolical pre-emptive strike to undermine damaging revelations about Bush 43's privileged status and vanishing act in the National Guard, and his odd refusal to take his required physical when ordered.
In this vast left-wing conspiracy theory, Mr. Rove takes real evidence on W.'s shirking and transfers it to documents doomed to be exposed as phony (thereby undermining the real goods), then funnels it through third parties to Dan Rather, Bush 41's nemesis on Iran-contra. A perfect bank shot.
The secretary for W.'s squadron commander in the Texas Guard told The Times that the information in the disputed memos is correct - it's just the memos that seem fake.
"It looks like someone may have read the originals and put that together,'' said a lucid 86-year-old Marian Carr Knox, who was flown up to New York yesterday by beleaguered CBS News executives.
She told Mr. Rather that her boss, Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, wrote a "cover-your-back file,'' a "personal journal'' to keep a record about the politically connected Bush in his charge. She said the contents of that mirrored the CBS documents, but she said those documents were not on the right forms and contained Army terms rather than Air National Guard argot. She confirmed that young Bush had disobeyed a direct order from Colonel Killian to take a physical.
"It was a big no-no to not follow orders,'' she said, adding that the Bush scion's above-the-rules attitude caused some snickers and resentment among fellow officers.
Those who suspect Mr. Rove note that when he was Bill Clements's campaign strategist in a 1986 governor's race in Texas, he was accused of bugging his own office to distract from a debate, according to James Moore and Wayne Slater, authors of "Bush's Brain.'' They said it turned the election because after that, the Democrat could not get any attention.
Was the same scenario playing out yesterday evening on CNN? After a five-minute report on the CBS memo controversy, CNN spent about 30 seconds reporting that two more marines had been killed in Iraq.
House Republicans started clamoring for a Congressional inquiry into the documents used by "60 Minutes,'' saying it might be an attempt to manipulate the election. (Isn't that what the Democrats are scared the Republicans are doing?)
These same Republicans never wanted investigations into missing W.M.D., why Congress passed a Medicare bill based on faulty figures, Abu Ghraib or even whether those Swiftie guys were lying, for Pete's sake.
The Democratic paranoia is a measure of the intimidation the West Wing is wielding in a race where
John Kerry can't seem to take advantage of any of the Bush administration's increasingly calamitous blunders.
The administration has been so dazzling in misleading the public with audacious, mendacious malarkey that the Democrats fear the Bushies are capable of any level of deceit.
Iraq is a vision of hell, and the Republicans act as if it's a model kitchen. The president and vice president brag about liberating Iraqis and reassure us that they are stopping terrorist violence at its source and inspiring democracy in the region by bringing it to blood-drenched Iraq.
But what they haven't mentioned is that they have known since July that their rosy scenarios are as bogus as their W.M.D. That's when the president received a national intelligence estimate that spelled out "a dark assessment of prospects" for stability and governance in Iraq in the next 18 months, as Douglas Jehl wrote in today's Times <http://www.nytimes.com/2004/09/16/politics/16intel.html> . Worst-case estimates include civil war or anarchy.
Unlike the president, the young men and women trying to stay alive in the unraveling chaos of Iraq can't count on their daddies to get them out of the line of fire.
Thomas L. Friedman is on book leave.Copyright 2004 <http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html> The New York Times Company <http://www.nytco.com/>
THE LYNCHING OF DAN RATHER
On British TV, Dan feared the price of "asking questions"
By Greg Palast
September 21, 2004 00:29
"It's that fear that keeps journalists from asking the toughest of the tough questions," the aging American journalist told the British television audience.
In June 2002, Dan Rather looked old, defeated, making a confession he dare not speak on American TV about the deadly censorship -- and self-censorship -- which had seized US newsrooms. After September 11, news on the US tube was bound and gagged. Any reporter who stepped out of line, he said, would be professionally lynched as un-American.
"It's an obscene comparison," he said, "but there was a time in South Africa when people would put flaming tires around people's necks if they dissented. In some ways, the fear is that you will be necklaced here. You will have a flaming tire of lack of patriotism put around your neck." No US reporter who values his neck or career will "bore in on the tough questions."
Dan said all these things to a British audience. However, back in the USA, he smothered his conscience and told his TV audience: "George Bush is the President. He makes the decisions. He wants me to line up, just tell me where."
During the war in Vietnam, Dan's predecessor at CBS, Walter Cronkite, asked some pretty hard questions about Nixon's handling of the war in Vietnam. Today, our sons and daughters are dying in Bush wars. But, unlike Cronkite, Dan could not, would not, question George Bush, Top Gun Fighter Pilot, Our Maximum Beloved Leader in the war on terror.
On the British broadcast, without his network minders snooping, you could see Dan seething and deeply unhappy with himself for playing the game.
"What is going on," he said, "I'm sorry to say, is a belief that the public doesn't need to know -- limiting access, limiting information to cover the backsides of those who are in charge of the war. It's extremely dangerous and cannot and should not be accepted, and I'm sorry to say that up to and including this moment of this interview, that overwhelmingly it has been accepted by the American people. And the current Administration revels in that, they relish and take refuge in that."
Dan's words had a poignant personal ring for me. He was speaking on Newsnight, BBC's nightly current affairs program, which broadcasts my own reports. I do not report for BBC, despite its stature, by choice. The truth is, if I want to put a hard, investigative report about the USA on the nightly news, I have to broadcast it in exile, from London. For Americans my broadcasts are stopped at an electronic Berlin wall.
Indeed, Dan is in hot water for a report my own investigative team put in Britain's Guardian papers and on BBC TV years ago. Way back in 1999, I wrote that former Texas Lt. Governor Ben Barnes had put in the fix for little George Bush to get out of 'Nam and into the Air Guard.
What is hot news this month in the USA is a five-year-old story to the rest of the world. And you still wouldn't see it in the USA except that Dan Rather, with a 60 Minutes producer, finally got fed up and ready to step out of line. And, as Dan predicted, he stuck out his neck and got it chopped off.
Is Rather's report accurate? Is George W. Bush a war hero or a privileged little Shirker-in-Chief? Today I saw a goofy two page spread in the Washington Post about a typewriter used to write a memo with no significance to the draft-dodge story. What I haven't read about in my own country's media is about two crucial documents supporting the BBC/CBS story. The first is Barnes' signed and sworn affidavit to a Texas Court, from 1999, in which he testifies to the Air Guard fix -- which Texas Governor George W. Bush, given the opportunity, declined to challenge.
And there is a second document, from the files of US Justice Department, again confirming the story of the fix to keep George's white bottom out of Vietnam. That document, shown last year in the BBC television documentary, "Bush Family Fortunes," correctly identifies Barnes as the bag man even before his 1999 confession.
At BBC, we also obtained a statement from the man who made the call to the Air Guard general on behalf of Bush at Barnes' request. Want to see the document? I've posted it at: http://www.gregpalast.com/ulf/documents/draftdodgeblanked.jpg
This is not a story about Dan Rather. The white millionaire celebrity can defend himself without my help. This is really a story about fear, the fear that stops other reporters in the US from following the evidence about this Administration to where it leads. American news guys and news gals, practicing their smiles, adjusting their hairspray levels, bleaching their teeth and performing all the other activities that are at the heart of US TV journalism, will look to the treatment of Dan Rather and say, "Not me, babe." No questions will be asked, as Dan predicted, lest they risk necklacing and their careers as news actors burnt to death.
"Bush Family Fortunes," the one-hour documentary taken from Greg Palast's BBC investigative reports, including the story of George Bush and Texas Air Guard, can be viewed, in part, at www.gregpalast.com/bff-dvd.htm
To receive more of Palast's investigative reports, sign up at www.gregpalast.com/contact.cfm
September 20, 2004|9:56 PM
Even if he did condemn some other mother’s son to Vietnam, you
had to feel for Ben Barnes.
Who Is ‘Buckhead’? Kerry Assaulter Seemed Prepped
by Robert Sam Anson
The last seven days brought this: Dick Cheney suggested that the election of John Kerry would result in "devastating" terrorist attack. (His nominal boss merely opined that Mr. Kerry is a fan of Saddam Hussein.) Two generals informed the Senate Armed Services Committee that the C.I.A., in contravention of international and military law, kept up to 100 Iraqi detainees off the Abu Ghraib prison rolls in order to hide them from the Red Cross. The "Coalition of the Willing" lost another member when Costa Rica, which doesn’t maintain an army and never joined it in the first place, asked to be taken off the White House list. Remaining international relief workers began clearing out of Iraq, after four of their number, including two Italian women, were kidnapped from their headquarters in downtown Baghdad. The U.S. effectively ceded the Sunni Triangle to the bad guys, who said thank you by launching one of the heaviest ever mortar barrages on the center of the capital.
And, oh yes: American deaths in Iraq passed the 1,000 mark. (Actually, this happened roundabout the time Mr. Bush was citing phony figures for Al Qaeda leadership killed or captured during his convention acceptance speech, but the Pentagon was late owning up.)
Small potatoes, in short. Bagatelles. Asterisks to the REALLY BIG story this week, which was exactly when Times New Roman showed up on typewriters.
Doubtless you’re aware that this was the font employed in the composition of several three-decade-old documents that came into the possession of Dan Rather of CBS News. Their gist: George W. Bush was not recruiting-poster material while serving with the Texas Air National Guard. Such was the view of the documents’ purported author, Mr. Bush’s squadron commander, Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, about whom one of the few items not in dispute is that he’s been dead for 20 years. Pretty much everything else about the late colonel—including whether he could type—is jump ball. Ditto opinion on whether the documents are forgeries, and, if so, a clumsy scheme hatched by Democrats (the position of Fox News et al.), or a clever snare laid by Republicans (the hunch of—among Kerry-backing others—Terry McAuliffe, who’s suggested the trap-setter may be Lord Vader himself, Karl Rove.)
What this has to do with who should be standing on the Capitol steps holding his right hand up Jan. 20 is beside the point, in media calculations. All focus now is on type fonts, graphology, the expertise of dueling experts and the history of typewriters, which is far more storied and studied than you might expect.
Before plunging in, an admission: Your correspondent doesn’t have a clue whether the documents in question are genuine. And cares less—either about their authenticity, or what Dubya was up to when he was (or wasn’t) serving with the Texas Air National Guard. What Mr. Bush has been up to the last four years, and will be for another four, given the chance—that’s tastier fish to fry.
So what’s the excuse for what follows? Well, maybe it’s not as interesting as how the Vice President decided last week that trading on eBay could be a solution for unemployment, but it does offer a window on the press, the right, our politics in general, and why Ralph Waldo Emerson was no dope when he said, "When you strike at a king, you must kill him." Who knows? There may also be instruction on how John Kerry ought to handle himself as the days tick down.
With that preamble, here goes, starting with a tick-tock of the hoo-hah filched from ABC’s "The Note" and the Los Angeles Times.
At 8 p.m. last Wednesday, 60 Minutes broadcast Mr. Rather’s report, which centered on ex–Texas House Speaker and Democratic power Ben Barnes describing how he’d greased Mr. Bush’s way into the Guard (putting the lie to the longstanding claim that Dubya had made it on his own hook), and now felt bad on account. Mr. Barnes’ assistance wasn’t exactly a scoop, though that’s how Mr. Rather advertised it; in 1999, he’d told essentially the same story to the Dallas Morning News. All that was new was being on camera. Sandwiched between his recollections and White House communications director Dan Bartlett kicking them as "dirty politics," the documents appeared, accompanied by Mr. Rather saying they’d been verified by "a handwriting analyst and document expert." To bolster credence, there was an interview with a Texas Air Guard officer and friend of Killian’s, Robert Strong, who said the papers were "compatible" with the fella he remembered Jerry Killian being.
Not the most ringing testimony. Nor was the word of a single, unidentified, off-camera "expert" exactly open-and-shut proof. But Mr. Barnes was emphatic and—better yet—truthful. And Ben Barnes, Dan Rather said, was what the story was all about.
That’s not how it worked out.
Mr. Rather’s report hadn’t been over 10 minutes when a post appeared on the right-wing Web site FreeRepublic.com from "TankerKC," saying the documents were "not in the style that we used when I came into the USAF … can we get a copy of those memos?"
Three hours and a little later, fat met fire with another FreeRepublic posting, this one from a blogger named "Buckhead." He (or she—Buckhead won’t reveal his identity outside cyberspace) wrote:
Every single one of these memos to file is in a proportionally spaced font, probably Palatino or Times New Roman. In 1972 people used typewriters for this sort of thing, and typewriters used monospaced fonts. The use of proportionally spaced fonts did not come into common use for office memos until the introduction of laser printers, word processing software, and personal computers. They were not widespread until the mid to late 90’s. Before then, you needed typesetting equipment, and that wasn’t used for personal memos to file. Even the Wang systems that were dominant in the mid 80’s used monospaced fonts. I am saying these documents are forgeries, run through a copier for 15 generations to make them look old …. This should be pursued aggressively.
Here the plot starts a-thickening.
First (leaving aside how suspiciously well Buckhead puts sentences together for a righty blogger), there’s the extraordinary, yeah, boggling, knowledge of typewriting arcana. More remarkable still are the circumstances under which discernment occurred. Namely, viewing the document on a TV screen from a presumed distance of six to a dozen feet. Folks who make their living at this sort of thing rely on magnifying glasses, if not microscopes. And they don’t venture opinions unless the document’s in their puss.
Then there’s the warp speed with which Buckhead discerned monkey business. The last big document mess was the trove that conned Seymour Hersh into believing Jack Kennedy signed a contract with Marilyn Monroe agreeing to pay a hundred grand in consideration of her shutting up about their adventures between the sheets, as well as his pillow talk of owing the 1960 election to the good offices of Chicago mob boss Sam (Momo) Giancana. Their exposure (in which your correspondent had a walk-on) took weeks. And those documents were nutso on their face.
Another timing oddity which may or may not be related to the mysterious Buckhead, depending on your choice of villain, is the Pentagon’s release of allegedly newly-discovered records of Mr. Bush’s flight hours and middling piloting abilities one day almost to the minute before Mr. Rather’s report—following four months of insisting there were no more documents to disgorge. Second coincidence: The Pentagon release came hours after the Boston Globe, poring through yet other records, reported that Mr. Bush "fell well short of meeting his military obligation" by failing to report to a Boston-area Guard unit after he enrolled in the Harvard Business School, and by earlier ducking out on required training and drills for a total of nine months. Either could have landed Mr. Bush on full-time active duty for two years, potentially in Vietnam. But he received no punishment whatsoever.
Finally, there’s a detail that appears to have escaped press notice: The Web site where Buckhead’s posting appeared also happens to be the repository for anti-Jew, anti-Catholic, anti-homosexual, anti-John Kerry rants by Jerome R. Corsi, Ph.D. And whom, you ask, is Dr. Corsi? Co-author of the best-selling Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry, that’s who.
Anyhow, FreeRepublic devotees batted Buckhead’s discovery around a bit, in fashion somewhat less refined than Oxford Union joustings. Sample: "KERRY IS A NARCISSISTIC LIAR, GOLDBRICKER, AND TRAITOR!"
Meanwhile, things were cooking at another right-wing site, littlegreenfootballs.com, which joined the party at 11:30 p.m. eastern time with its own take. By morning, other bloggers were twittering and alarums were issuing from the established right, including (Salon reported) Cybercast News, part of veteran "liberal media" basher L. Brent Bozell’s empire; and Creative Response Concepts, an Arlington, Va., P.R. emporium whose clients include the Republican National Committee, the Christian Coalition and a lengthy list of like-minded others. Its senior staff is heavy with Pat Robertson alumni, one of whom serves as official spokesman for—you guessed right again—Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.
Bloggers were in a frenzy now, traffic so heavy that one site got knocked offline by the volume. But most stayed in the hunt, and at 2:41 Thursday afternoon, with the Rather story less than 19 hours old, a blogger reported consulting with a forensic expert who’d assessed the Killian documents as fishy, too. Soon thereafter, an uncharacteristically tardy Matt Drudge weighed in with his first "FLASH!" This led to Bill Kristol’s Weekly Standard professing indignation at 5 p.m. An hour later, so did even huffier Fox, where Brit Hume reported that an office elf had created a Killian clone with Microsoft Word.
All that remained was for the allegedly nonpartisan mainstreammedia—"MSM," in blogspeak—to get into the act. They did so with relish, led by the A.P. and happy-to-pee-on-CBS-News ABC. The next day, the contretemps made The New York Times and The Washington Post, which played the story the same as they had the Swift Boat stuff: This guy says this, that guy says that, and even if we know who’s full of it, our job ain’t telling you.Fresh from offering Bob Dole a platform to spread unchallenged slanders about John Kerry’s war wounds, Wolf Blitzer chipped in by posting on CNN’s Web site a 30-year old transcript of Dan Rather being unawed by Richard Nixon during a Watergate press conference. "Now," intoned Wolf, "the 72-year-old CBS News anchor finds himself in yet another confrontation with a Republican President." (For a hint of lupine motive, Google "Blitzer AIPAC").
From there it was off to the races, every furlong adding new typewriter experts offering this, that and the other opinion about Times New Roman, proportional spacing and "superscript," the gizmo that makes tiny "th’s" after numbers. Demonstrating thoroughness (or need to fill airtime and column inches), the press also served up quotes from various and sundry friends and family members of the principals involved—including the daughter of Ben Barnes, who phoned up a Dallas talk-radio station to call her father a liar.
Poor Mr. Barnes. Even if he did condemn some other mother’s son to Vietnam, you had to feel for him. On top of the Oedipal run-in with the kid (that’ll be an interesting Thanksgiving dinner), the Republican National Committee, well-prepared for this moment, disgorged an encyclopedia of bile enumerating his "ethical mishaps."
Midst the hubbub, which Mr. Kerry passed assuring Time (which was about to report him 11 points down and sinking), "I think we are doing extraordinarily well"—the Boston Globe stepped forward with new, unflattering information on Mr. Bush’s Guard tenure gathered from an officer in his unit, who identified himself as a non-Dubya-hating Republican lately gone over to the Dark Side. This elicited the following post on the conservative "News Forum": They are Hanoi Boi’s kneepad-wearing, Kool-Aid drinking buttboys.On it went, until Dan Rather got fed up a lot quicker than John Kerry did with the Swift Boat buccaneers, and—as they say down Sam Houston State way—stuck an apple in the pig’s mouth.
Partly, at least.
Leading off his Friday newscast with the firestorm, Mr. Rather noted that "many" of those besieging him "are partisan political operatives" and stuck to his six-shooters about the Killian papers being on the up-and-up. For proof, he displayed a 1968 document about Mr. Bush’s service released by the Pentagon using the superscript feature his critics claimed hadn’t existed then, and quoted the owner of the company that distributes Times New Roman as saying it had been around since 1931. He also trotted out Robert Strong again and interviewed the previously unnamed document and handwriting expert, Marcel Matley, who’d done the verifying for 60 Minutes. Momentarily, that was good enough for Matt Drudge, who headlined: "KEY CHALLENGES TO NATIONAL GUARD DOCUMENTS ANSWERED."
Did that end it? Not on your life.
The furor’s continued, as have the attacks on CBS News, whose reach the right has reason to loathe. The New York Post even thinks it’s fingered the source of the Killian papers, an ex-Guardsman whose background couldn’t be better for Mr. Bush’s backers: illness acquired while on a Guard mission to Panama; lawsuit filed against the government; and—the really good part—two nervous breakdowns. Stand by for even grubbier tidbits, ’cause the Post’s on the case.
But a retired four-star who fought bravely in Vietnam pretty well settled one aspect of the debate in his autobiography some years back.
"I am angry that so many sons of the powerful and well-placed managed to wangle slots in Reserve and National Guard units," he wrote. "The policies determining who would be drafted and who would be deferred, who would serve and who would escape, who would die and who would live were an anti-democratic disgrace."
The book was called My American Journey; the author was Colin Powell.
Is there a moral in any of this, save further confirmation how sordidly frivolous "the most important election in our lifetime" has become?
Only for John Kerry.
Until lately, he’s had his finger in his ear, wondering how to stave off the looming prospect of losing Secret Service protection the morning after the election. The side that’s been urging caution, according to The Times, is led by the odd couple of Joe Lockhart and Bob Shrum, who has apparently been tuning in to Dr. Phil. The forces urging flank-speed attack are commanded by David Thorne, Mr. Kerry’s Yale roommate, former brother-in-law and still best friend.
Mr. Kerry’s usual guides in tough spots—polls and focus groups—delivered a mixed message, so this time he was on his own. It’s not yet certain where he’ll come down. And whether (for a change), he’ll stick to it when he does. But from what Mr. Kerry’s been saying the last week or two—calling Iraq "the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time" and the "W." in Mr. Bush’s name standing for wrong on about everything else—it looks like he’s got his flak jacket on, and is steering to the sound of the guns.
If the Killian papers are a set-up, meant to discredit, distract, deflect (all of which they’ve done splendidly, whoever’s behind them), he knows who’s waiting in the weeds around the bend: people who will stop at nothing.
John Kerry met an enemy like that a long time ago. He did all right, then. He might again.
You may reach Robert Sam Anson via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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This column ran on page 1 in the 9/20/2004 edition of The New York Observer.
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November 1, 2002
Exposing Karl Rove
by WAYNE MADSEN
He's America's Joseph Goebbels. As a 21-year old Young Republican in Texas, Karl Rove not only pimped for Richard Nixon's chief political dirty tricks strategist Donald Segretti but soon caught the eye of the incoming Republican National Committee Chairman, George H. W. Bush. Rove's dirty tricks on behalf of Nixon's 1972 campaign catapulted Rove onto the national stage. From his Eagle's Nest in the West Wing of the White House, Rove now directs a formidable political dirty tricks operation and disinformation mill.
Since his formative political years when he tried to paint World War II B-24 pilot and hero George McGovern as a left-wing peacenik through his mid-level career as a planter of disinformation in the media on behalf of Texas and national GOP candidates to his current role as Dubya's "Svengali," Rove has practiced the same style of slash and burn politics as did his Nixonian mentor Segretti. Many of us remember the Lincolnesque Senator Ed Muskie breaking down in tears during the 1972 campaign over Segretti-planted false stories in a New Hampshire newspaper that accused Mrs. Muskie of being a heavy smoker, drinker, and cusser and accused Muskie of uttering a slur in describing New Hampshire's French Canadian population. Rove's hero also forged letters on fake Muskie campaign letterhead, disrupted rallies and fundraising dinners, and spread false stories about the sex lives of candidates. Segretti's brush also smeared George McGovern, George Wallace, Shirley Chisholm, and McGovern's first vice presidential choice, Senator Tom Eagleton. Segretti of course did not go on to a high-level White House job -- he was sentenced to six months in federal prison for distributing illegal campaign material.
In many respects, however, the apprentice Rove has far exceeded the chicanery and evil-mindedness of his mentor Segretti. Rove is a tech-savvy puppet master for Bush. Take, for example, last June's discovery of a "lost" CD-ROM in Lafayette Park across from the White House. Contained on the CD was a PowerPoint presentation given by White House political director Ken Mehlman to Rove on the strategy for next Tuesday's off-year election. The slide show showed First Brother Jeb Bush being vulnerable in Florida. Jeb Bush later joked that the disc was part of a plot cooked up by him and his brother to make it appear that he was vulnerable in order to rally an otherwise complacent GOP base in the Sunshine State. Or was it a joke? Jeb Bush and his political minions like Katherine Harris have shown us that if anyone thinks what the GOP has done in Florida is funny they have an incredibly sick sense of humor.
Rove's own tendency to be sick-minded originates with his mentor Segretti. The 2000 GOP primary was a chance for Rove to hone his skills in dirty tricks. His target then was Senator John McCain who appeared to be within striking distance of Dubya in South Carolina after the then-GOP maverick's surprise upset victory in New Hampshire. Rove's operation proceeded to target McCain with false stories: McCain was a stoolie for his captors in the Hanoi Hilton (this from a lunatic self-promoting Vietnam "veteran"); McCain fathered a black daughter out of wedlock (a despicable reference to McCain's adopted Bangladeshi daughter); Cindy McCain's drug "abuse"; and even McCain's "homosexuality." In the spirit of Segretti, Rove engineered a victory for Dubya but at the cost of trashing an honorable man and his family. Muskie, McGovern, Carter, Mondale, Dukakis, Gore, Hart, Tsongas, Clinton, Biden, Dole, Perot, and others had all seen the Segretti/Rove slash and burn tactics before.
And Rove's penchant for fascistic demagoguery and outright lying continues to this very day. After Paul Wellstone's sons asked that Vice President Dick Cheney not attend the Minneapolis memorial service for their father, mother, and sister, the White House explained that the real reason wasn't the surviving Wellstone family's abhorrence for Cheney but the fact the family didn't want Cheney's Secret Service protection to interfere with public access to the service. Of course, the Rove and Ari Fleischer disinformation machine forgot to take into account that two attendees, Bill and Hillary Clinton, had their own Secret Service details. But such is the case with a White House that takes its lessons from Goebbels and the editorial staff of the old Soviet News Agency Tass.
Rove's dirty fingerprints could also be seen in the Iowa Senate race between Tom Harkin and GOP candidate Greg Ganske. A few months ago, a story was leaked that the Harkin campaign had employed a spy within the Ganske campaign. To put this in a Rove context, we must go back to the 1986 Texas gubernatorial race in which Rove's candidate Bill Clements was taking on Democratic Governor Mark White. Just before a debate between the two candidates, Rove spun the story that his office had been bugged. No proof. But the insinuation that White's people had carried out the bugging was reported by the media. In the election, Clements defeated White. Rove stashed away more political capital into his already heavy knapsack of ill-gotten IOUs.
During the 2000 presidential campaign, we were obviously treated to more Rove chicanery when the following Associated Press story hit the wires: "A woman who worked for a media company that produced ads for President George W. Bush's campaign was indicted for secretly mailing a videotape of Bush practicing for a debate to Vice President Al Gore's campaign." Yes, that videotape, along with a 120-page briefing book, just happened to turn up in Gore's headquarters as fast as the CD-ROM turned up in Lafayette Park. The sourcerer Segretti must be very proud of his apprentice. In 1980, no Republican bemoaned the fact that Jimmy Carter's debate briefing book was swiped and found its way into the hands of the Reagan-Bush campaign. In Rove's world, its only an affront when someone "steals" your own campaign secrets and not when your are on the receiving end of a heist.
"If you're not with me, you're against me." Bush's binary view of "good and evil" and "friend and enemy" sits well with the Rove strategy. Georgia's conservative but libertarian-minded Representative Bob Barr found out about this in last August's primary when his GOP primary opponent John Linder began spreading around stories that Barr was "soft on terrorism." Because Barr was skeptical about a number of aspects of the Bush-Ashcroft USA PATRIOT Act, he became a target for the Rove machine. However, it was likely that Barr became a target earlier on when he supported Steve Forbes against Bush in the 2000 primary. Bush apparently means to say, "If you've not always been with me, you're against me." It must have really been a dilemma for Bush and Rove to have to come to the support of John Sununu, Jr. in the New Hampshire Senate race. Although Daddy made George W. unceremoniously give the axe to Sununu's father as White House Chief of Staff during the Bush 41 administration, the man who the junior Sununu defeated in the primary, Bob Smith, was even more of a problem. He had the temerity to quit the Republican Party in 2000 and run against Dubya for President. So in Bushspeak, which is obviously borrowed from Forrest Gump's scripts, "if you're less with me than the other guy, you're more against me."
Undoubtedly, Rove was also behind the campaign to "get" Georgia Representative Cynthia McKinney who was the first nationally-known politician to question what Bush may have known beforehand about 9-11. She was defeated by a former Republican state judge who had supported the wacky Alan Keyes for President in 2000. Never mind, McKinney was "less with Bush" than Keyes, so it was more important to get McKinney who was "more against" Bush.
In all seriousness, rewarding the GOP on November 5 will only increase the appetite of Rove to amass more and more power into the White House. The advent of a Democratic-controlled Senate and House might even begin to spell the end of the road for Segretti's star pupil. German opposition figures in the mid-1930s often lamented the fact that they could have stopped the rise of the Nazis if only they had been more united in a common front when they had a chance. However, they fell prey to the media manipulation of Goebbels and fought among themselves more than they did against the menace from the far right. We Americans also have an early opportunity to stem an out-of-control and anti-constitutional regime with the Rasputin-like Rove at the after steerage helm of our ship of state. That opportunity presents itself next Tuesday--Election Day.
Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and columnist. He wrote the introduction to Forbidden Truth.
Madsen can be reached at: WMadsen777@aol.com
The resignation of Scott McClellan (Keith Olbermann)
SECAUCUS -- I smell something - and it ain't a copy of the Qu'ran sopping
wet from being stuck in a toilet in Guantanamo Bay. It's the ink drying on
Scott McClellan's resignation, and in an only partly imperfect world, it
would be drifting out over Washington, and imminently.
Last Thursday, General Richard Myers, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff, and Donald Rumsfeld's go-to guy whenever the situation calls for the
kind of gravitas the Secretary himself can't supply, told reporters at the
Pentagon that rioting in Afghanistan was related more to the on-going
political reconciliation process there, than it was to a controversial note
buried in the pages of Newsweek claiming that the government was
investigating whether or not some nitwit interrogator at Gitmo really had
desecrated a Muslim holy book.
But Monday afternoon, while offering himself up to the networks for a series
of rare, almost unprecedented sit-down interviews on the White House lawn,
Press Secretary McClellan said, in effect, that General Myers, and the head
of the after-action report following the disturbances in Jalalabad,
Lieutenant General Karl Eikenberry, were dead wrong. The Newsweek story,
McClellan said, "has done damage to our image abroad and it has done damage
to the credibility of the media and Newsweek in particular. People have lost
lives. This report has had serious consequences."
Whenever I hear Scott McClellan talking about 'media credibility,' I strain
to remember who it was who admitted Jeff Gannon to the White House press
room and called on him all those times.
Whenever I hear this White House talking about 'doing to damage to our image
abroad' and how 'people have lost lives,' I strain to remember who it was
who went traipsing into Iraq looking for WMD that will apparently turn up
just after the Holy Grail will - and at what human cost.
Newsweek's version of this story has varied from the others over the last
two years - ones in The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Washington Post, and
British and Russian news organizations - only in that it quoted a government
source who now says he didn't have firsthand knowledge of whether or not the
investigation took place (oops, sorry, shoulda mentioned that, buh-bye). All
of its other government connections - the ones past which it ran the story -
have gone from saying nothing like 'don't print this, it ain't true' or
'don't print this, it may be true but it'll start riots,' to looking
slightly confused and symbolically saying 'Newsweek? Newsweek who?'
Whatever I smell comes from this odd sequence of events: Newsweek gets
blasted by the White House, apologizes over the weekend but doesn't retract
its story. Then McClellan offers his Journalism 101 outdoor seminar and
blasts the magazine further. Finally, just before 5 PM Monday, the Dan
Rather drama replaying itself in its collective corporate mind, Newsweek
I'm always warning about the logical fallacy - the illusion that just
because one event follows another, the latter must have necessarily caused
the former. But when I wondered tonight on Countdown if it applied here,
Craig Crawford reassured me. "The dots connect."
The real point, of course, is that you'd have to be pretty dumb to think
that making a threat at Gitmo akin to 'Spill the beans or we'll kill this
Qu'ran' would have any effect on the prisoners, other than to eventually
leak out and inflame anti-American feelings somewhere. Of course, everybody
in the prosecution of the so-called 'war on terror' has done something dumb,
dating back to the President's worst-possible-word-selection ("crusade") on
September 16, 2001. So why wouldn't some mid-level interrogator stuck in
Cuba think it would be a good idea to desecrate a holy book? Jack Rice, the
former CIA special agent and now radio host, said on Countdown that it would
be a "knuckleheaded" thing to do, but "plausible."
One of the most under-publicized analyses of 9/11 concludes that Osama Bin
Laden assumed that the attacks on the U.S. would galvanize Islamic anger
towards this country, and they'd overthrow their secular governments and
woo-hoo we've got an international religious war. Obviously it didn't
happen. It didn't even happen when the West went into Iraq. But if stuff
like the Newsweek version of a now two-year old tale about toilets and
Qu'rans is enough to set off rioting in the streets of countries whose
nationals were not even the supposed recipients of the 'abuse', then weren't
those members of the military or the government with whom Newsweek vetted
the plausibility of its item, honor-bound to say "you can't print this"?
Or would somebody rather play politics with this? The way Craig Crawford
reconstructed it, this one went similarly to the way the Killian Memos story
evolved at the White House. The news organization turns to the
administration for a denial. The administration says nothing. The news
organization runs the story. The administration jumps on the necks of the
news organization with both feet - or has its proxies do it for them.
That's beyond shameful. It's treasonous.
It's also not very smart. While places like the Fox News Channel (which,
only today, I finally recognized - it's the newscast perpetually running on
the giant video screens in the movie "1984") ask how many heads should roll
at Newsweek, it forgets in its fervor that both the story and the phony
controversy around it are not so cut-and-dried this time.
Firstly, the principal reporter on the Gitmo story was Michael Isikoff -
"Spikey" in a different lifetime; Linda Tripp's favorite journalist, and one
of the ten people most responsible (intentionally or otherwise) for the
impeachment of Bill Clinton. Spikey isn't just a hero to the Right - the
Right owes him.
And larger still, in terms of politics, this isn't well-defined, is it? I
mean Conservatives might parrot McClellan and say 'Newsweek put this country
in a bad light.' But they could just as easily thump their chests and say
'See, this is what we do to those prisoners at Gitmo! You guys better watch
Ultimately, though, the administration may have effected its biggest mistake
over this saga, in making the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs look like a liar
or naïf, just to draw a little blood out of Newsweek's hide. Either way -
and also for that tasteless, soul-less conclusion that deaths in Afghanistan
should be lain at the magazine's doorstep - Scott McClellan should resign.
The expiration on his carton full of blank-eyed bully-collaborator act
passed this afternoon as he sat reeling off those holier-than-thou remarks.
Ah, that's what I smelled.
Watch Keith each weeknight at 8 p.m. ET as he Counts down the best, the worst, and the oddest news stories of the day.
* May 16, 2005 | 11:31 a.m. ET