Trail Of Connections

A trail of connections suggests that the Kerry campaign is involved with Dan Rather’s forged documents.

Republican National Committee Communications Director Jim Dyke issued a statement summarizing the trail of connections:

Bill Burkett, Democrat activist and Kerry campaign supporter, passes information to the DNC; Kerry campaign surrogate Max Cleland discusses "valuable" information with Bill Burkett; Bill Burkett talks to "senior" Kerry campaign officials; an apparently unsuspecting news organization uses faked forged memos and an interview with Ben Barnes at the same time the Democratic National Committee launched Operation Fortunate Son; and Kerry campaign manager Mary Beth Cahill was among the first to call Ben Barnes and congratulate him after his interview. The trail of connections is becoming increasingly clear.

Dyke's statement is supported by a number of press reports.

The Washington Post reported that Bill Burkett is the suspected source of Dan Rather's forged documents. After Burkett was named as a possible source of the papers, The Washington Post reported on Thursday, that the documents faxed to CBS bore markings indicating that they had been faxed from a Kinko's in Abilene, 21 miles east of here.

Saturday, the Washington Post reported on parallels between Rather's forged documents and Burkett's internet postings:

In e-mail messages to a Yahoo discussion group for Texas Democrats, Burkett laid out a rationale for using what he termed "down and dirty" tactics against Bush. He said that he had passed his ideas to the Democratic National Committee but that the DNC seemed "afraid to do what I suggest."

In another message, dated Sept. 4, Burkett hinted he might have had advance knowledge of some details in an explosive segment that aired Sept. 8 on CBS's "60 Minutes." In addition to airing footage of an interview with former Texas lieutenant governor Ben Barnes saying he helped Bush get into the Guard, the network broadcast documents purporting to show that Bush had disobeyed a direct order to take a physical required to continue flying in the spring of 1972.

[. . .]

For his part, Burkett said in an Aug. 25 posting to a different Web site, Online Journal, that he and other researchers had "reassembled" files showing that Bush did not fulfill his oath to obey his superior officers.

[. . .]

The CBS documents include several phrases that crop up in Web logs signed by Burkett, including "run interference," and references to a pilot's "billet." Former Air National Guard officers have pointed out that "billet" is an Army expression, not an Air Force one. Burkett has also used the expression "cover your six," a military variant of the vulgar abbreviation "CYA," which appears in one of the CBS documents.

In an Aug. 21 posting, Burkett referred to a conversation with former senator Max Cleland (D-Ga.) about the need to counteract Republican tactics: "I asked if they wanted to counterattack or ride this to ground and outlast it, not spending any money. He said counterattack. So I gave them the information to do it with. But none of them have called me back."

Cleland confirmed that he had a two- or three-minute conversation by cell phone with a Texan named Burkett in mid-August while he was on a car ride. He remembers Burkett saying that he had "valuable" information about Bush, and asking what he should with it. "I told him to contact the [Kerry] campaign," Cleland said. "You get this information tens of times a day, and you don't know if it is legit or not."

The Houston Chronicle reports that Burkett has a long history of making charges against Bush and the Texas National Guard and notes that Burkett's allegations have changed over the years, and have been dismissed as baseless by former Guard colleagues, state legislators and others:

Even Burkett has admitted some of his allegations are false.

Burkett wrote a long indictment against Bush for a Web site in 2003 in which he said he personally was ordered to "alter personnel records of George W. Bush." In that article, Burkett said that when he refused he was sent to Panama as punishment, where he contracted a disabling disease.

But when asked about that charge by the Houston Chronicle in February, Burkett said, "That statement was not accurate, that is overstated."

According to the Houston Chronicle, if Burkett is the source of Rather's forged documents Burkett must have recently obtained them:

One month ago, in an essay posted on a progressive Web site, Burkett theorized that Killian would have been a likely person to know more about Bush's service. But, he conceded, "I have found no documentation from LTC Killian's hand or staff that indicate that this unit was involved in any complicit way to ... cover for the failures of 1Lt. Bush ... "

If Burkett is in fact the source, then CBS got them from a man with a well-established history of Bush loathing and didn't question it.

The Associated Press reports that Burkett passed along information to a former senator working with John Kerry's campaign:

A retired Texas National Guard official mentioned as a possible source for disputed documents about President Bush's service in the Guard said he passed along information to a former senator working with John Kerry's campaign.

Ben Barnes, interviewed by Rather in the "60 Minutes'" hatchet job, is a close friend and top fundraiser for John F. Kerry. The Cox News Service reports that Barnes, a well connected Democrat, is a Kerry partisan.

Ben Barnes was elected the Texas House of Representatives in 1959. Five years later he was House speaker. Four years after that Barnes served two-year terms as lieutenant governor. According to Cox:

By 34, his career as a candidate was over, a victim of being on the periphery of a legislative scandal known as "Sharpstown" involving banking legislation approved by lawmakers who benefitted from it. Barnes was never charged with wrongdoing, but the taint helped make him a third-place finisher in the 1972 Democratic gubernatorial primary.

He became a wealthy lobbyist and one of the nation's most dependable Democratic fundraisers, especially for U.S. senators.

According to Newsweek, Beth Cahill, Campaign Manager for the Kerry campaign was among the first to make a congratulatory call to Ben Barnes late last Wednesday night after his 60 Minutes interview.

The Democratic Party's "Fortunate Son" video contains part of the interview in which thoroughly discredited Ben Barnes is interviewed by the even more thoroughly Dan Rather.

In 2001, the Washington Post reported that Rather spoke at a Democratic fundraiser. Rather excused this partisan behavior by saying he "didn't ask the question, and I should have."

Finally, the focus on President Bush's service in the National Guard was started by Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe. February 1, 2004, on ABC's "This Week," McAuliffe said that Democrats would make reports that the president went "AWOL" from the Alabama National Guard in the early 1970s a central focus of the presidential campaign. Unfortunately, McAuliffe was true to his word.

Regardless of all the media attention, this failed attempt Democrats and CBS to smear is not only irrelevant; it is unimportant and an indication of how desperate the Democrats have become in their failing effort to defeat President Bush.

During the 1992 campaign, Mr. Kerry defended then-candidate Bill Clinton, saying:

We do not need to divide America over who served and how. I have personally always believed that many served in many different ways ... We certainly do not need something as complex and emotional as Vietnam, reduced to simple campaign rhetoric.

That was a wise position in 1992, it would have been an even more wise position a decade later. It's unfortunate that Kerry flip flopped on this issue as well.

During this time of war, the primary focus of the presidential campaign should be about which candidate can better conduct the war against terrorism. By focusing on a failed attempt to smear the president, the media and the Democrats have diverted the voters attention from the real issues.

Posted by Dan Spencer at September 20, 2004 4:10 AM