Fat Steve's Blatherings

Monday, September 27, 2004

Latest Rathergate updates

      There have been two fine stories about the phony memos that I think illuminate how the fraud may have been pulled, and when, and by whom.

      At American Thinker, Clarice Feldman notes that Sydney Blumenthal had an article in the British Guardian for Sept. 9th.  Blumenthal mentions both The Boston Globe story on Bush's alleged failure to do his duty in the Texas Air National Guard (TANG), as well as CBS's 60 Minutes Wednesday story.  Blumenthal specifically discussed the Ben Barnes interview and the phony memos.

      Now, the 60 Minutes Wednesday story ended at 9:00 EDT, which was 2:00 AM London time.  Yet they had a story on the subject the next day.  Very fast work, that.  And Salon, as I've noted before, also had a Bush Guard story on the 9th.  Blumenthal is the "Washington Bureau Chief" of Salon.

      Hmmm, ya think maybe Blumenthal knew about that CBS story ahead of time?  And considering that Blumenthal was in charge of smears for the Clinton White House, could he have been the guy arranging all this stuff to hit at the same time?  Blumenthal may be a key to this mystery.

      And last week, Baseball Crank had a great story/timeline concerning Josh Marshall, Ben Barnes, and the CBS interview.  I filled it out with a little Googling.

      A chronology seems like the best method of presenting this information (unattributed information from this Washington Post story):

February 12th, 2004: Bill Burkett appears on Hardball, accuses Guard officials in Texas of sanitizing Bush's record.

"March": Bill Burkett allegedly gets a call from Lucy Ramirez, woman of mystery, who says she has records that prove Bush didn't do his duty.  Using an anonymous male intermediary, she allegedly passes them to Burkett on March 3rd, at a Houston stock show.  Burkett reads and xeroxes six memos, then burns the originals so they can't be traced to their source.  Although he's been pursuing Bush on this story for years, he does nothing with the memos but hide them.  [Gee, Bill, I find that last bit just a mite hard to believe.]

June 8th: Barnes, at a campaign rally, says that he got Bush into the Guard, and that's he's not proud he used his influence that way.  (This is exactly what he will say on 60 Minutes Wednesday in Sept.)  The press doesn't seem to pick up on it.

Aug. 13th: Bill Burkett posts on Democrats.com, stating that Bush was AWOL, but that "I have found no documentation from LTC Killian's hand or staff that indicate that this unit was involved in any complicit way to either cover for the failures of 1LT Bush, or to provide him pay or certification for training not completed."  [Hmmm, that sure sounds like Burkett hadn't read the memos yet, doesn't it?]

"Mid-August": Burkett calls ex-Senator Cleland, wants to communicate information about Bush.  Cleland tells Burkett to call the Kerry campaign.  Burkett does so, but gets no satisfaction.

"Mid-August": Someone calls Mapes, tells her Burkett has the long-sought memos.  Mapes begins efforts to get copies of the documents.

Aug. 21st: Burkett complains on-line about calling the Kerry campaign as Cleland suggested, getting run-around from staffers.  Burkett has called Cleland because he says he has information to counter Swifties attack on Kerry. [Gosh, I wonder what that information would be.]

Aug. 22nd: Josh Marshall, reporter and blogger, working with CBS on the "phony Niger documents" story, uses his blog to call for Barnes to come forward and tell the story about how he allegedly helped Bush dodge the draft by getting into the TANG.  No reason is given by Marshall for why Barnes would do this.  The reason Marshall wants it to happen is because of the Swift Boat Veterans For Truth.

Aug. 25th: Burkett writes about "your files that we have now reassembled," and how they prove Bush didn't do his duty.  The post reflects exactly the charges that will be in the CBS story: Bush didn't obey orders, his superiors recorded this fact.

Aug. 27th: Marshall blogs about the June 8th tape, which he hadn't previously known about.

Aug. 28th-Sept. 2nd: Barnes supposedly gets in touch with Rather, says he'll talk about his using influence to help Bush.

Sept. 1st: Marshall blogs that Barnes has already taped an interview with Rather.  Why?  Exactly the reason that Marshall suggested on the 22nd: the Swifties attacks on Kerry.  And what do you know?  Salon has the story too!

Sept. 3rd: Mapes gets the memos from Burkett.  In return, Mapes gives Burkett's number to Joe Lockhart of the Kerry campaign.

Sept. 4th?: Lockhart calls BurkettThey later disagree about what they said during the conversation.  [See below]

Sept. 7th: CBS honchos hear about the story from Mapes, while Rather is supposedly taping interview with Barnes.  Texans For Truth starts running an ad alleging Bush's lack of service.

Sept. 8th: The Boston Globe, and U.S.News and World Reports both have stories that day about Bush's Guard service.  60 Minutes Wednesday runs the story that evening.  An hour after the story runs, USA Today is given the documents by Burkett, by pre-arrangement.

Sept. 9th: Blumenthal has the above mentioned piece in The Guardian, Salon has its story, and Terry McAuliffe announces that the DNC will attack Bush on this issue.  Many other papers write about the Guard issue.

      Interesting, no?  If the interview took place before Sept. 1st, why was the story about it happening on the 7th?  And what was Rather doing that day, instead of conferring with the CBS brass about the story?

      If Barnes had in fact not done the interview till the 7th, why are Marshall and Salon both saying he had given the interview?  Marshall claimed to have three sources for his story, all saying that Barnes had already talked to Rather.

      And why does CBS think Barnes has never spoken out before, when in fact he's told the story at a Kerry rally?

      More than ever, I think someone in the Democratic Party is coordinating this behind the scenes.  And I think CBS got hustled into pushing the story on the air too quickly.  Was Mapes part of that?  Rather?  Blumenthal?  McAuliffe?  Someone needs to follow up on this.

      What the timeline strongly suggests is that someone in the Democratic Party got in touch with Burkett after Aug. 13th, and gave him the documents.  Burkett then began trying to flog them to the Kerry campaign.  While that was going on, someone also in on the forgery told Mapes that Burkett had the memos.  Burkett, acting under instruction, refuses to give the memos to Mapes till the print stories and Texans For Truth ads are almost ready to go, then passes them Sept. 3rd.  Mapes and Rather are informed of the Globe and U.S. News stories, and rush to get their segment on the air by Sept. 8th at the latest.  Unfortunately for the forger, he's young enough that he doesn't realize how easily the memos will be exposed.  Sydney, you're looking better and better for this!

      Kudos to the Baseball Crank and Clarice Feldman, who've put together two large pieces of this puzzle (though they still haven't realized the significance of the simultaneous print stories).

      Update: The Washington Post reports that Crazy Bill Burkett wants to sue CBS.  What's really interesting is a little snippet in paragraph three:
Burkett has had little luck finding a lawyer to represent him. His first attorney, David Van Os of San Antonio, bowed out because he was involved in the initial negotiations with CBS and feels a conflict of interest.

      Well well well well.  Van Os was involved in "negotiations," and "feels a conflict of interest."  Lawyers may correct me if I'm wrong, but if Crazy Bill hired Van Os to represent him in negotiating with CBS, and CBS did in fact betray Burkett, there isn't any conflict of interest.  It sounds like CBS hired Van Os, doesn't it?  OR MAYBE VAN OS WAS HIRED BY SOME OTHER PARTY INVOLVED IN THIS DEAL?

      Captain Ed wondered
So how does such a well-connected man within Democratic circles wind up as Burkett's mouthpiece? I can understand why Burkett would want Van Os as his attorney, but why would Van Os want a fringe fire-breather like Burkett as a client, especially this close to his own election? Having any connection to Burkett will likely be fatal to Van Os' hopes for November in Texas. [Van Os is running for the Texas Supreme Court.]

Could it be to give Burkett a connection to the Democrats that would be protected by attorney-client privilege? Is Van Os involved in Burkett's dirty-tricks campaign while running for the Texas Supreme Court? One thing is certain: his relationship with Burkett allows the long-time Bush hater easy access to the highest levels of the Democratic Party, and if Burkett followed Max Cleland's advice, Van Os' relationship would have made it quite easy for Burkett to be received at Kerry's campaign headquarters.

      Maybe there's some explanation for all this that doesn't involve Van Os working for the Democratic Party.  But I'm having a hard time thinking what it could be?

2nd Update: Turns out that Burkett was misquoted. (hat tip: Beldar)

3rd Update: Beldar speculates about a defamation suit against CBS by Burkett (he doesn't think Burkett has any great hope), but doesn't much discuss why there'd be a conflict of interest if Van Os represented Burkett in such a suit.



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