Dan Rather’s Worthy Crusade


I’m not in a place to judge the veracity of Dan Rather’s reporting on Bush’s National Guard service, but as usual, Sidney Blumenthal has done an extraordinary job sequencing the bits and pieces of the Rather CBS story and suggests that Rather’s $70 million lawsuit against CBS will animate some much needed truth-telling about Bush’s slippery story on military service.
Blumenthal writes:

If the court accepts [Rather’s] suit, however, launching the adjudication of legal issues such as breach of fiduciary duty and tortious interference with contract, it will set in motion an inexorable mechanism that will grind out answers to other questions as well. Then Rather’s suit will become an extraordinary commission of inquiry into a major news organization’s intimidation, complicity and corruption under the Bush administration. No congressional committee would be able to penetrate into the sanctum of any news organization to divulge its inner workings. But intent on vindicating his reputation, capable of financing an expensive legal challenge, and armed with the power of subpoena, Rather will charge his attorneys to interrogate news executives and perhaps administration officials under oath on a secret and sordid chapter of the Bush presidency.
In making his case, Rather will certainly establish beyond reasonable doubt that George W. Bush never completed his required service in the Texas Air National Guard. Moreover, Rather’s suit will seek to demonstrate that the documents used in his “60 Minutes II” piece were not inauthentic and that he and his producers acted responsibly in presenting them and the information they contained — and that that information is true. Indeed, no credible source has refuted the essential facts of the story.
Most cases of this sort are usually settled before discovery. But Rather has made plain that he is uninterested in a cash settlement. He has filed his suit precisely to be able to take depositions.

A principled stand to get at the truth is what we need, and if this is what Dan Rather is up to then all the better.
— Steve Clemons


22 comments on “Dan Rather’s Worthy Crusade

  1. Art Rantarian says:

    It certainly might be fascinating and useful to see what kind of influences were at play on CBS during the episode. As to Bush’s record, it is not worthy of further debate.


  2. Kathleen says:

    Well, if all it takes is yelling forgeries, forgeries, forgeries, perhaps the families of the dead and wounded in Iraq should yell forgeries, forgeries, forgeries, and sue that SOB-In-Chief, too. Afterall the paper that did the trick was a known forgery.
    I do agree that Poppy is expert at cover-ups.
    Let them eat yellowcake.


  3. Jay C says:

    Steve, I wish I didn’t have to say it, but I think you’re just whistling into the wind on this one: the likelihood of Dan Rather’s suit getting anywhere near revealing any “truth” about George W. Bush’s Vietnam-era is probably next to zip. Foir three main reasons:
    1. Poppy Bush has probably seen to it (long since) that anything discreditable in Dubya’s records has been well and truly scrubbed – and unlike his idiot son, GHWB knows how to manage a cover-up. Whatever might be lurking in the official documents will probably remain hidden for ever: or at least until Dan Rather’s lawsuit is a distant footnote in history.
    2. The Right-Wing Noise Machine has already greeted the news of the Rather suit with a barrage of scorn and derision: all they have to do is screech “Forgeries! Forgeries! Forgeries!” over and over again – and of course, they will – to make the issue one of “MSM credibility” and Rather’s “gullibility” instead of Bush’s military service – and the media, naturally will bend over backwards to be “fair”: the chances, IMO, of getting unbiased coverage of this suit, given that it is about a top-level [Republican] politician are nil.
    3. By the time this suit sees the inside of a courtroom, it will be (at soonest) next summer: smack in the middle of the Presidential campaign. Dredging up dirt on Dubya will most likely be seen as yesterday’s news by most folks; even should some “smoking gun” get unearthed in the Rather/CBS discovery, it will be too late to do more than add just a tad more mud on GWB’s already-tarnished reputation: as he heads into (a long-overdue) retirement.
    Sorry, Steve: while I wish old Dan luck in his action, I don’t think it will do much positive even if he wins.


  4. Dave says:

    Just wanted to add: It may turn out that the CBS documents were retyped from genuine Killian memos; I hope the original memos (if they exist) see the light of day. But Occam’s Razor is seldom wrong.


  5. Dave says:

    There’s only one problem with this: the documents on which the reporting was based are obvious forgeries. I remember when the first blog posts challenging the proportional font used in the documents appeared — regardless of the posts’ right-wing pedigree, I had to admit they were absolutely right. I then embarassedly watched the progressive blogs try to imagine a way in which the documents *could* have been generated by an expensive, proportionally-spaced typewriter (which didn’t have the right font) which *just possibly* could have been installed in the office which purportedly generated the documents… but it was all just wishful thinking. Of course I believe the President never completed his TANG service, and that the Rather story was broadly correct. I would be thrilled if the lawsuit could uncover what actually happened. But if it turns on the authenticity of the documents, the case is doomed. In the end there’s no excuse for, in Katie Couric’s (!!) words, sloppy reporting.


  6. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “I’m not in a place to judge the veracity of Dan Rather’s reporting on Bush’s National Guard service, but…………”
    So its the simple obvious stuff that baffles ya, but world affairs come easy to ya?
    Look, anyone with half a brain, that even takes a cursury look at Bush’s service history can tell that, at best, daddy bailed him out of military criminal charges, not the least of which was being AWOL. There is no way on God’s green earth that any other conclusion can be reached. Why the hell do you think they worked so hard to bury Rather and his storyline?


  7. Steve Clemons says:

    ManagedChaos — I have seen the New York Sun article but haven’t otherwise seen David Wurmser calling me out. I think he called out Newsweek which reported the same that the New York Times did last June. David’s comments sounded like a non-denial denial to me — but I’ve written all that I will write on the subject, and like Newsweek, I’m comfortable with what I have written and am standing by it.
    All the best,
    Steve Clemons


  8. Carroll says:

    CFR’s Hart Suggests False Flag Event For Iran War
    Tacit warning to Iranian government suggests staged event may be used to ensure “bombs fall on your head”
    Thursday, Sept 27, 2007
    Council on Foreign Relations member Gary Hart, famed for stating that Americans will die en- mass on home soil this century, and for declaring 48 hours after 9/11 that it should be used “to carry out a new world order”, has written a scathing letter to the leaders of Iran clearly warning that the U.S. government has a history of staging provocations in order to initiate conflict with other nations and that Iran could be next.
    Hart references the sinking of the USS Maine in Havana harbor in 1898, which led to the Spanish American war, as well as the Gulf of Tonkin incident, which was ultimately the catalyst for airstrikes on Vietnam.
    Why does Hart reference these two cases? Because they are both examples of staged managed events that were used to coerce the American public into supporting war.
    The sinking of the Maine was immediately blamed on the Spanish, with the innovator of yellow journalism William Randolph-Hearst enflaming anti-Spanish sentiment in his papers by definitively claiming that it was a Spanish plot. No reliable evidence was ever produced linking Spain to the event and it is now widely believed that the event was at best a mechanical failure or at worst a false flag operation.
    Similarly the Gulf of Tonkin incident saw President Johnson accuse North Vietnamese PT boats of attacking strike carries in the gulf, the USS Maddox and the USS Turner Joy. Documents and tapes released via the Freedom of Information Act have since shown that Johnson knew that there were no PT boats and no attacks, but still went ahead with lying to the American public on national TV to garner support for escalating the war in Vietnam. Johnson also had the NSA fake intelligence data to make it appear as if the two US ships had been lost.
    Hart, one of the instigators of the Homeland Security apparatus that has evolved since 9/11, then goes on to state that American people are reluctant to go to war unless provoked and coldly remarks “For historians of American wars the question is whether we provoke provocations.”
    He then mentions the Iraq war and refers to how the public were duped into accepting the invasion via the spectre of 9/11. Hart writes “even in this instance, we were led to believe that the mass murderer of American civilians, Osama bin Laden, was lurking, literally or figuratively, in the vicinity of Baghdad.”
    To those who do not read history Gary Hart’s letter makes for a confusing read, but to those who know anything about staged provocations, the intent is clear. Hart is declaring that the elite controlled US government has attacked countries based on false pretenses in the past and will gladly do so again.
    Hart’s declarations carry the same sentiment as those of fellow globalist Zbigniew Brzezinski earlier this year. The Former National Security Advisor and founding member of the elite policy making group the Trilateral Commission implicitly warned a Senate Foreign Relations Committee that an attack on Iran could be launched following a staged provocation in Iraq or a false flag terror attack within the U.S.
    Brzezinski alluded to the potential for the Bush administration to manufacture a false flag Gulf of Tonkin type incident in describing a “plausible scenario for a military collision with Iran,” which would revolve around “some provocation in Iraq or a terrorist act in the US blamed on Iran, culminating in a ‘defensive’ US military action against Iran that plunges a lonely America into a spreading and deepening quagmire eventually ranging across Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.”
    Texas Congressman and Presidential candidate Ron Paul has also recently warned that a “Gulf of Tonkin like event” may be used to provoke air strikes on Iran as numerous factors collide to heighten expectations that America may soon be embroiled in its third war in six years.
    Here is Gary Hart’s letter in full:
    Unsolicited Advice to the Government of Iran
    Presuming that you are not actually ignorant enough to desire war with the United States, you might be well advised to read the history of the sinking of the U.S.S. Maine in Havana harbor in 1898 and the history of the Gulf of Tonkin in 1964.
    Having done so, you will surely recognize that Americans are reluctant to go to war unless attacked. Until Pearl Harbor, we were even reluctant to get involved in World War II. For historians of American wars the question is whether we provoke provocations.
    Given the unilateral U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, you are obviously thinking the rules have changed. Provocation is no longer required to take America to war. But even in this instance, we were led to believe that the mass murderer of American civilians, Osama bin Laden, was lurking, literally or figuratively, in the vicinity of Baghdad.
    Given all this, you would probably be well advised to keep your forces, including clandestine forces, as far away from the Iraqi border as you can. You might even consider bringing in some neighbors to verify that you are not shipping arms next door. Tone down the rhetoric on Zionism. You’ve established your credentials with those in your world who thrive on that.
    If it makes you feel powerful to hurl accusations at the American eagle, have at it. Sticks and stones, etc. But, for the next sixteen months or so, you should not only not take provocative actions, you should not seem to be doing so.
    For the vast majority of Americans who seek no wider war, in the Middle East or elsewhere, don’t tempt fate. Don’t give a certain vice president we know the justification he is seeking to attack your country. That is unless you happen to like having bombs fall on your head.
    I am pretty sure the Iranians already know plenty about false flags by Israel and the US. But never hurts to remind them.
    How good is Russian sattelite spying in the ME?
    Maybe they can catch Isr/US at any false flag operation.
    Personally I think it would take a lot to get Iran to respond to our provacation. I think like Lebanon and Syria reaction to Israel they are willing to take some temporary loses while making their objections to the UN and letting the world get s***pot full of disgust for Israeli and US agression.
    We owe the UN dues, they should kick the US out of the UN….isolate us. Kick us out of NATO also.
    Then see how much strutting their stuff around the world on American taxpayers blood and money our politicans can do.


  9. mlaw230 says:

    As far as I know, the “independent” review board never actually said that these documents were forged. It appears that the superscript font was available back then and it is reported that the President’s subsequent discharge papers, which no one is disputing, carried the same header, so who knows?
    Someone will depose the source of the documents, and copiers and printers all have tags now, this should be traceable, if anyone really wants to know.


  10. Robert Morrow says:

    I am a Republican, but I never bought Hugh Hewitt’s defense of Bush on this issue. I always thought that Bush got preferential treatment in his National Guard Service and he basically just walked away from it. The guy who made those fraudulent copies was basically right – too bad he made up forged copies to bolster his case that Bush got special treatment.
    So basically I agree with Dan Rather – the story was right, but the document used to “prove it” was an unfortunate forgery. That’s my theory.


  11. pauline says:

    I wouldn’t mind seeing bushwacker senior having to testify under oath in a civil trial.
    He sure was busy pulling strings for w back in the day that now, decades later, made all this Rather/national guard stuff happen.
    Come to think of it, I guess the bushwacker family tree is just full of nasty buzzards that would dive into a vat of blood and excrement to reach the dirty dollars at the bottom.
    Here’s hoping a false flag doesn’t show up on the front pages to spoil the truth!


  12. susan says:

    “It would be wonderful to see THE TRUTH win out somewhere for once.”
    I would like to see that smirk wiped off his smug face.


  13. Carroll says:

    I hope this gets to court.
    It would be wonderful to see THE TRUTH win out somewhere for once.


  14. susan says:

    For too long team Bush has used humiliation, intimidation, ridicule, coercion, and threats to stifle any discussion about Bush misconduct.
    As Karl Rove famously said, “We will fuck him. Do you hear me? We will fuck him. We will ruin him. Like no one has ever fucked him!”
    Go Dan!


  15. ... says:

    wurmser is off the deep end, but he has lots of company… the osp was essential for all sorts of corrupt reasons.. this guy is saying corruption is essential… he will probably be out of a job if it isn’t i take it????


  16. lambert strether says:

    It would be useful to restore Paul Lukasiak’s work to the mix (endorsed by Salon’s Eric Boehlert; linked to by Froomkin (back in the day)).
    Lukasiak worked from primary source material: Bush’s TANG payroll records. Boehlert (via Froomkin) concluded:
    Lukasiak arrived at the overwhelming conclusion that not only did Bush walk away from his final two years of military obligation, coming dangerously close to desertion, but he attempted to cover up his absenteeism through swindle and fraud.”
    I like to think that if Rather had gone with Lukasiak’s work, instead of the Killian memos, which were open to challenge even in the absence of the coordinated (false) attack on them, the outcome of the story, and of the 2004 election, would have been very different.


  17. ManagedChaos says:

    Steve, David Wurmser is calling you out. He says you’re making shit up. Are you a conspiracy theorist? He says the Office of Special Plans stocked with Israeli-firsters and their parallel false intelligence network created to deceive Americans into an illegal war is/was essential. What say you?


  18. Kathleen says:

    Mmmmmm. the plot thickens….. and probably sickens. Not that easy to dismiss a civil suit, especially if you can prove damages and there is no national security issue.
    Those depositions are gonna be Dyn-O-mite.
    Gonna love this one.
    W stands for Wuss.
    W stands for Weasle.
    W stands for Wall to Wall War.
    W stands for Wrong.
    I showed my Bush doggy biscuit to a friend last night watching the debates. He noticed some words on the backside.
    Crunch, crunch, all gone. I wisssssssh.
    Santa, puhleeeeeeze. Give me impeachment for Xmas.


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