Sunday, September 19, 2004

Here's my favorite passage from the lengthy Washington Post story on CBS's decision to include the Killian memos in the Bush National Guard story. It's from a document expert CBS consulted, one who raised objections early on:

Emily Will said she called the network that Tuesday and repeated her objections as strongly as possible. "If you air the program on Wednesday," she recalled saying, "on Thursday you're going to have hundreds of document examiners raising the same questions."

Oh, really? Gee, I thought Truth was suppressed in this case until The Power Of A Thousand Mighty Right-Wing Bloggers brought it to light. Is Will making the heretical suggestion that even without the existence of the right-wing Net commentariat these documents might have been discredited anyway, by experts, some of whom might even be liberals? Perish the thought!

Meanwhile, there are now AP and New York Times stories about a phone conversation between Bill Burkett, suspected source of the Killian documents, and Max Cleland. It sounds as if no one in the Kerry campaign really wanted to deal with this guy -- he complains in an e-mail of having to go through "seven layers of bureaucratic kids" before he could talk to Cleland and about not hearing back after talking to Cleland -- yet the Bushies are cranking up a dry-ice machine next to a gun and insisting that the gun itself is smoking ("The trail of connections is becoming increasingly clear").

Now, I've enjoyed advancing the theory that Burkett was hawking this story but Karl Rove actually produced the fake memos and faxed them from a Kinko's near Burkett's house -- but I'm not going to stick with this theory if all the evidence continues to point to Burkett.

Look, CBS got fished in -- there's the problem. It's not the Democrats or Kerry or "the liberal media." (What liberal media?) An interesting tidbit in the Post story is that the White House saw the memos before CBS aired the story and no one there questioned their authenticity. Not enough time? That's White House spokesman Dan Bartlett's excuse: "How am I supposed to verify something that came from a dead man in three hours?" Well, Dan, you aren't -- you're supposed to say you don't know for sure and you have your doubts. Unless you know the documents are fake and you want CBS to embarrass itself.

OK, that's another conspiracy theory. The more likely explanation, of course, as others have noted, is that the White House didn't question the authenticity of the memos because what the documents said was accurate.


Meanwhile, a couple of days ago the L.A. Times ID'd "Buckhead," the Free Republic poster who first questioned the Killian National Guard documents, as Harry MacDougald, an Atlanta lawyer who's a member of two right-wing lawyers' groups, the Federalist Society and the Southeastern Legal Federation.

One last time, just for fun, a little utterly irresponsible idle speculation: Do you think Harry MacDougald is any relation to Jim MacDougald of St. Petersburg, Florida, the former president of Ceridian Benefits Services who retired in 2000 and attended this Florida confab with Karl Rove in 2003? (Nah -- probably not, right? And, as noted above, questions would have been raised about these documents in any case -- though it was awfully helpful to the White House to have them raised within hours, no?)

By the way, has collected some of Buckhead's non-pseudonymous writings. Typical right-wing blather, if mustily florid (" of the grand pooh-bahs of the chattering class in Washington is utterly bereft of any moral discernment...")

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