Dan Rather has sued CBS for wrongful dismissal. He claims, among other more interesting things that the Killian memos shown on 60 minutes II which I have been calling "the forged Killian memo" for years, are authentic. The other things are more interesting. He claims that CBS tried to bury the Abu Ghraib story, that the substance of his accusations against Bush is correct, and that CBS hired a private investigator and ignored his conclusions that "after following all the leads given to him by Ms. Mapes, he [Rigler] was of the opinion that the Killian Documents were most likely authentic, and that the underlying story was certainly accurate." All this is a bit more important than the memos themselves.
To me, the unimportance of the memos in the case against Bush is the strongest argument against Rather and Mary Mapes (the "producer" who did the actual reporting).
I wrote at the time
Saturday, September 11, 2004
Alleged Killian memos II
The debate about whether the alleged Killian memos are forgeries has its delights. Every geek dreams of the day in which fonts, superscripts, proportional spacing and kerning make the front page of the New York Times and the Washington Post. Well not quite every geek. I consider myself a geek and I just learned what kerning is. Also the thought of total humiliation of George W Bush, Dan Rather or (most likely) both, must delight all right thinking people.
Sad to say the debate is very very irrelevant. [snip]
In my more paranoid moments, I imagine that Karl Rove typed the memos using microsoft word then signed them James Killian with a signature that doesn't match Killian's [OK so I'm totally paranoid now] He must have known that another round of Bush and the TANG was coming after the swift boat vets smear. This way, the press is distracted from the fact (noted by the Boston Globe) that Bush ignored his commitment to find a national guard post in Massachusetts when he was at Harvard BS, that the guy who got him the post in the TANG admitted doing so under oath etc etc etc.
the alleged memos are not the first documents which suggest that Bush disobeyed a direct order. Back on St Valentime's day, Mark Kleiman noted that The Democratic Veteran linked to the order grounding Bush and James R Bath (you know Bush's link to the Bin Laden family) as posted by Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org who I believe is a hero farmer in Iowa.
This order from the General Francis Greenlief (chief natinal guard bureau) grounds Bush and orders "Off will comply with para 2-10 AFM, 35-13." This is an order from a major general. It is written in militareese. What exactly does para 2-10 AFM, 35-13 require ? The most reasonable guess is that it is an order to take a flight physical. This would mean that there is uncontested proof that Bush disobeyed a direct order. However, no one has replied to Kleiman's request for a 1972 Air Force Manual, so we don't know. The manual must be an archived document, so it seems to me that it would make more sense to look it up than to argue about kerns and superscripts.
So at the time it was clear to someone who had been following the issue that the controversial memos added essentially nothing to what was known about George Bush's long past misconduct. There was no reason to go with them at all and certainly no reason to present them without checking with people like Killian's secretary.
Rather and Mapes demonstrate that they haven't gotten in by continuing to argue that the memos are authentic.
Mapes' argument was that the Killian documents "meshed" with the facts in precise and nuanced ways. "The Killian memos, when married to the official documents, fit like a glove," she wrote. "There is not a date, or a name, or an action out of place. Nor does the content of the Killian memos differ in any way from the information that has come out after our story ... In order to conclude that the documents are forged or utterly unreliable, two questions must be answered: 1) how could anyone have forged such pristinely accurate information; and 2) why would anyone have taken such great pains to forge the truth?
OK I have a couple of answers Ms Mapes. 2) Rove forged the truth hoping that someone would fall for the forgery and the ensuing controversy would convince people that Bush was never AWOL and the accusations against him are false. This is exactly what happened, so, while such a scheme would be optimistic it wouldn't be insane. 1a) the facts in the memos, including facts not yet in the public record, are accurate because Bush was in so much trouble he remembers even through the haze of alchohol and we all know what else (cough cocaine cough). or 1b) the official information which only later became public was known to the people in the Bush administration who have favored access to Bush's TANG records.
In brief you were punked. Now is the forged by the Bush team hypothesis paranoid ? I actually don't think so. First Mapes' questions are otherwise hard to answer. Second it explains why a well connected freeper challenged the authenticity of the documents while the 60 minutes II stopwatch was still ticking. It is my current working hypothesis.