9/25/2004

Forgery of federal documents, wire fraud, mail fraud, and conspiracy goes unprosecuted. Tax dollars at work.

After a dozen denials and counter-attacks, CBS News on Monday said it regretted broadcasting a story about President Bush's military service based on fabricated documents, saying the source of the material had misled the network.

In a statement, CBS said former Texas Guard official Bill Burkett "has acknowledged that he provided the now-disputed documents" and "admits that he deliberately misled the CBS News producer working on the report, giving her a false account of the documents' origins to protect a promise of confidentiality to the actual source." Bill Burkett is already guilty of wire fraud by faxing the fake documents from a Kinko’s to CBS News.

Additional reporting on the documents will air on CBS Evening News, including the interview of Burkett by Rather. CBS News pledged "an independent review of the process by which the report was prepared and broadcast to help determine what actions need to be taken." Even though CBS has done numerous investigations on other people, for some reason the entire media network developed amnesia.

In a separate statement, Rather said that "after extensive additional interviews, I no longer have the confidence in these documents that would allow us to continue vouching for them journalistically."

"I find we have been misled on the key question of how our source for the documents came into possession of these papers," Rather added.

In the statement, CBS said: "Burkett originally said he obtained the documents from another former Guardsman. Now he says he got them from a different source whose connection to the documents and identity CBS News has been unable to verify to this point." If Bill Burkett is able to prove that someone else created the documents, he can still be charged for conspiracy after misleading the producer. It can be assumed that if Mr. Burkett had to mislead the producer, Burkett knew the documents were counterfeit.

Questions about the president's National Guard service have lingered for years. Some critics question how Mr. Bush got into the Guard when there were waiting lists of young men hoping to join it to escape the draft and possible service in Vietnam. What is not mentioned is that there was no list for National Guard Men pilots, only regular service duties.

Some document experts whom CBS consulted for the story told newspapers they had raised doubts before the broadcast and were ignored. President Bush maintains that he did not get special treatment in getting into the Guard, and that he fulfilled all duties. He was honorably discharged. What CBS does not mention is the fact that forgery of federal documents is a felony.

In essence, Bill Burkett used CBS to get in contact with the Kerry campaign in order to give them advice. Kerry spokesman Joe Lockhart says there was no mention of the memos in his short conversation with Burkett. But an ABC News story on September 9th (the day after the 60 Minutes piece aired) mentions Democrats pointing to the memos as evidence of Bush's avoidance of service. The Democrats internet ad released on September 14th goes one step further, using footage of Ben Barnes being interviewed by Dan Rather and referencing the newly "unearthed" memos.

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