The Facts Machine

"And I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide"

Wednesday, September 15, 2004


After the first day, I was no longer all that interested in the amateur document-analysis much of the righty blogosphere was conducting since CBS went public with the Killian memos.

Frankly, I didn't feel any need to listen to some of the same people who were all too eager to pimp various unsubstantiated claims about Iraq's WMD stockpiles, Saddam's attempts to buy uranium, and John Kerry's "unearned" medals, yet suddenly became meticulous forensic examiners when Dan Rather was involved. (On the one hand, John Kerry is responsible for manipulating the Navy into giving him awards. On the other hand, Bush couldn't have done anything wrong because "he got an honorable discharge!") I therefore resolved to wait it out until the dust settled a bit.

What's going on right now?

--Tonight Dan Rather interviewed Marian Carr Knox, secretary for Lt Col Jerry Killian, the fellow believed to have written the memos in question. Her stance on the issue is that while she believes the physical memos themselves are not authentic (she never typed them), the content of the documents is not only accurate, but similar to that found in other documents she did type. Her comments support the idea that the documents in question may have been recreations of actual documents with similar subject matter.

--Congressional Repubs attack CBS, essentially saying: "How dare Dan Rather and those bastards at 60 Minutes make conservatives on TV and the the internet get so worked up about the authenticity of a couple decades-old memos that didn't tell us anything we didn't already know, thereby causing the issue of Bush's service record to gain much more traction than it otherwise would have!"

--The origin of the documents, according to the Washington Post, has been traced to a Kinko's in Abilene, Texas. This is noteworthy because that origin may implicate Bill Burket, resident of nearby Baird, as the source of the documents. The deal on Burkett is that he has previously claimed that Bush's Guard record was "cleansed" (as in, some damaging bits were taken out) in 1997. For more on him, go here.

Ok, those are the bits of news on this matter that are relevant to me. My take? I'm guessing the specific documents in question will turn out not to be authentic documents. If that's the case, it looks as if CBS fucked up in that regard, and a spanking is in order.

Some people, though, think that Dan Rather should have done to him what Jim Caviezel had done to him by the Romans. (and I mildly enjoyed that movie) To them I'd offer a warning: The babies got their bottle, in that those specific documents may not have been written on early 70's typewriters. But tonight's interview of Ms Knox may bring people's eyes back on the ball, that the bigger issue is that Bush still got in through his connections, did not fulfill his obligations, refused a direct order, and has been lying in recent years about his service. Going on about a couple questionable documents is going to start looking very petty soon. But don't ask me, ask the White House.

And by the way, with Ms Knox, the Instapundits and Ratherbiased's and the Powerline's and their bretheren got exactly what they wanted: Dan Rather talked to someone on national television who said, rather bluntly, that the Killian memos as presented by CBS are not authentic. Note that the "they're fake!" crowd has focused pretty much exclusively on the fonts and spacing of the documents, while giving virtually no attention to their content, which Knox and others (like Scott McClellan) say is --gasp!-- consistent with other accounts of Bush's service record. Too bad for all them bloggers that Knox had to go and give them blueballs with that whole "I've typed up other memos with those sentiments" thing.

I will not post again on this until real news comes up.


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