Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Memo-Gate

Dan Rather has officially apologized for basing part of his 60 Minutes story about Bush's National Guard service on memos that have since turned out to be fakes. The right would like to think this is one great left wing conspiracy but so far, the memos have only been traced to former Texas Air National Guardsman Bill Burkett. He says he was just a middle man and while he did originally lie about the source of the memos, he swears he did not forge them himself.


In interviews in recent days with USA TODAY, both in person and on the phone, Burkett said he had merely been a conduit for the records purported to be from the private files of Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, one of Bush's former Guard commanders, who died in 1984. Burkett admitted lying to USA TODAY about the source of the documents but said he did not fabricate the papers.

In earlier conversations with USA TODAY, Burkett had identified the source of the documents as George Conn, a former Texas National Guard colleague who works for the U.S. Army in Europe. Burkett now says he made up the story about Conn's involvement to divert attention from himself and the woman he now says provided him with the documents. He told USA TODAY that he also lied to CBS. Burkett now maintains that the source of the papers was Lucy Ramirez, who he says phoned him from Houston in March to offer the documents. USA TODAY has been unable to locate Ramirez.
So who did forge and leak the memos? Left wing conspiracy theories have it that they came directly from the top -- Bush's brain himself, Karl Rove, but so far there is no evidence of this. The latest rumor does posit that it came from a Republican activist though. Care of The New York Post:

The hot rumor in New York political circles has Roger Stone, the longtime GOP activist, as the source for Dan Rather's dubious Texas Air National Guard "memos."

The irony would be delicious, since Rather became famous confronting President Nixon, in whose service a very young Stone became associated with political "dirty tricks."

Reached at his Florida home, Stone had no comment.

The fact is, of course, that none of this memo business undermines the basic fact that Bush did not show up for duty when he was called to even though he has claimed otherwise as president. Eric Boehlert of salon has it all right HERE.

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