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Jay Currie

One Damn Thing After Another

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Instapundit asks, How Gullible is CBS

This gullible.

Smoking Gun?

In Sunday'sWahington Post,
White House communications director Dan Bartlett had agreed to talk to "60 Minutes," but only on condition that the CBS program provide copies of what were being billed as newly unearthed memos indicating that President Bush had received preferential treatment in the National Guard. The papers were hand-delivered at 7:45 a.m. CBS correspondent John Roberts, filling in for Rather, sat down with Bartlett at 11:15.

Half an hour later, Roberts called "60 Minutes" producer Mary Mapes with word that Bartlett was not challenging the authenticity of the documents. Mapes told her bosses, who were so relieved that they cut from Rather's story an interview with a handwriting expert who had examined the memos.

At that point, said "60 Minutes" executive Josh Howard, "we completely abandoned the process of authenticating the documents. Obviously, looking back on it, that was a mistake. We stopped questioning ourselves. I suppose you could say we let our guard down."
washington post
You can almost hear the CBS folks yelling, "Bingo"/

Steyn Speculates

As the network put it last week, ''In accordance with longstanding journalistic ethics, CBS News is not prepared to reveal its confidential sources or the method by which '60 Minutes' Wednesday received the documents.'' But, once they admit the documents are fake, they can no longer claim ''journalistic ethics'' as an excuse to protect their source. There's no legal or First Amendment protection afforded to a man who peddles a fraud. You'd think CBS would be mad as hell to find whoever it was who stitched them up and made them look idiots.

So why aren't they? The only reasonable conclusion is that the source -- or trail of sources -- is even more incriminating than the fake documents. Why else would Heyward and Rather allow the CBS news division to commit slow, public suicide?
mark steyn
Likely not Karl Rove.

Terrorists? No terrorists here

Norm Spector posts a press release from The National Council on Canada-Arab Relations (NCCAR) and the Canadian Arab Federation (CAF) calling for an investigation of Canwest's altering of al-Reuters reports. They cite an example:
In one Reuters story, the original copy reads: “… the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, which has been involved in a four-year-old revolt against Israeli occupation in Gaza and the West Bank.”

In the National Post version, printed Tuesday, it became: “… the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a terrorist group that has been involved in a four-year-old campaign of violence against Israel.”
I climbed into my pyjamas and did what any self respecting blogger would do - I Googled "al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades". Here is a quick summary of highlights from their most recent operations.

* A pair of January 2003 suicide bombings in downtown Tel Aviv that killed 23 people and injured about 100 more, in one of the bloodiest attacks of the current Palestinian uprising;
* A November 2002 shooting spree at a kibbutz in northern Israel that killed five Israelis, including two children, and wounded seven more;
* A March 2002 suicide bombing in Jerusalem that killed three Israelis, prompting Israel to call off ceasefire talks with Arafat’s Palestinian Authority;
* Another March 2002 suicide bombing in a Jerusalem café that killed 11 Israelis and wounded more than 50;
* A March 2002 sniper attack on an Israeli army checkpoint in the West Bank in which the gunman methodically killed 10 Israelis, including seven Israeli soldiers, before escaping;
* A January 2002 suicide attack in Jerusalem by a female terrorist that killed an elderly man and wounded about 40 oother people.
council on foreign relations
Thank God that's cleared up...How could the Post be so bigoted?

UPDATE: there is a conversation going on about this topic at Jim Elve's political E-group: my most recent posting is,
"the problem is not when legitimate terrorists are labelled as terrorists, the problem is when people who are not terrorists are labelled terrorists. The problem is when the Arab community as a whole is painted with the terrorist label. "

I would be a great deal more impressed with the bleating of Canada's Arab and Islamic community if I had seen them collectively and passionately condemn Arab and Islamic terrorism as and when it happens. Until I hear that and given that virtually all terrorist acts in the world today are being commited by Islamists, my assumption is the average Arab or Islamic person I meet is more likely than, say, the average Chinese person I meet, to support terrorism or potentially be a terrorist.

When the Muslim clerics condemn terrorism from the pulpits of their mosques, when the Islamic community shun terrorists and their followers, then I will be more inclined to lend a sympathetic ear to Arab or Muslim complaints they are being discriminated against.

Right now, even in the wake of the attrocity in Russia, the Islamic silence on terrorism is deafening.


Good Advice for Democrats and Kerry

outside Democratic strategists, and they all say it makes zero sense for Kerry allies to piggyback on the Rather attacks against Bush's National Guard service now that the anchor's credibility is melting like the Wicked Witch of the West.

Worried Dems say it shows lack of discipline, lack of strategy, lack of message and freelancing — just what a slipping campaign can't afford. "It's stupid, it's stupid, it's stupid. Get off the National Guard and all that bull. Every day we talk about the National Guard and Vietnam is another day that George Bush wins. No one cares about 30 years ago," a top Dem says.

Another tells of a focus group of swing voters this week where no one even mentioned Rather's Guard flap but an unnerving number "parroted back" attacks on Kerry as a flip-flopper who lied about his Vietnam service. "The Kerry people think they didn't attack Bush hard enough. They're dead wrong. More attacks on Bush aren't a reason to vote for Kerry," this strategist says.
new york post
The whole, boring and startlingly irrelevant attack on Bush's 30 year old National Guard record has never made much sense to me. The only explaination I can come up with is that Kerry has so little to say that his campaign realized they had to come up with something.

It is kinda pathetic that the Democrats couldn't have come up with a better candidate. Why not?

As much as anything my sense is that most of the better candidates - Joe Liberman, Dick Glephart, Hillary (well, for some she is) - were simply out of tune with the Moore Dems. They were clued in enough to realize that the legions of anti-war Moore/Dean supporters did not want to hear a more realistic message. While Liberman and Glephart ran in the primaries I had no sense their hearts were in it.

The nasty, dumb and entirely personalized attacks on Bush from the nutty elements of the left are not helping Kerry a bit. All they are doing is suggesting that this election is not about a pro-Kerry vote; its all about how many people will hold their noses and vote for anybody, literally, anybody but Bush. I am not inclined to think that voting block will be big enough to defeat Bush.


The narrative wheeze

Analysis of CBC's (oops...the raginkrautpoints out in email that my instincts got the better of my typing, CBS) non-statement is all over the blogosphere. Essentially, Rather and Co. have admitted there are some questions about the Killian memos but argued that the "thrust" of the story is true.

This is not going to work but the rhetorical mechanics of the move are unsurprising. They are exactly the same as the tactics of Michael Moore supporters when confronted with the fact F9/11 is factually challenged.

"It's a narrative."

Now, in the hands of good PoMo thinkers, a narrative is a story which, while factually false reflects an underlying truth.

On this line forged documents are like voice overs and the music which introduces the news - props. So it just doesn't matter that a newsmagazine runs the forged documents straight. They are, after all, props.

The narrative wheeze is a wonderful way of avoiding the tedium of actually reporting a story. Instead a news organization can simply make it up. So long as it really, sincerely believes that there is an underlying truth to the story, on the narrative account, any facts which turn out to be, er, false can be simply wished away.

Using the narrative wheeze I can grab a picture of John Kerry, crudely Photoshop him having relations with a goat and run with the story. If people point out that the picture is an obvious fake, so what. So long as I sincerely believe the picture reflects an underlying truth, according to the narrative wheeze I've done nothing wrong.

It is pitiful to see a once respected news organization fall to this. Edward Murrow and Eric Severid are wearing paper bags on their heads in newsie heaven.


Mrs. Knox

Mrs. Knox was Col. Killian of memo fame's secretary. According to the Dallas News as republished on LGF,
HOUSTON — The former secretary for the Texas Air National Guard colonel who supposedly authored memos critical of President Bush’s Guard service said Tuesday that the documents are fake, but that they reflect real documents that once existed.

Marian Carr Knox, who worked from 1956 to 1979 at Ellington Air Force Base in Houston, said she prided herself on meticulous typing, and the memos first disclosed by CBS News last week were not her work.

“These are not real,” she told The Dallas Morning News after examining copies of the disputed memos for the first time. “They’re not what I typed, and I would have typed them for him.”

Mrs. Knox, 86, who spoke with precise recollection about dates, people and events, said she is not a supporter of Mr. Bush, who she deemed “unfit for office” and “selected, not elected.”

“I remember very vividly when Bush was there and all the yak-yak that was going on about it,” she said.

But, she said, telltale signs of forgery abounded in the four memos, which contained the supposed writings of her ex-boss, Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, who died in 1984.

She said the typeface on the documents did not match either of the two typewriters that she used during her time at the Guard. She identified those machines as a mechanical Olympia, which was replaced by an IBM Selectric in the early 1970s.

She spoke fondly of the Olympia machine, which she said had a key with the “th” superscript character that was the focus of much debate in the CBS memos. Experts have said that the Selectric, and mechanical typewriters such as the Olympia, could not produce proportional spacing, found in the disputed documents.

Now this woman does not like Bush, would not vote for him and suggests the fake memos reflected documents which existed at the time. But the story here is forgery. That is the contemporary issue, Bush's Guard service is very old and not very interesting news.

Who forged the documents and how they managed to get them to CBS and how CBS could have been this badly hoaxed are important right now.


Joe Klein on Johnny Cambodia's lame campaign

The real story is quite simple. Bush seems to believe what he says and Kerry doesn't quite...

A much stronger argument was available, given the recent events in Iraq: Bush has chosen not to fight in the Sunni triangle, and the war cannot be won until he does. "You can't allow the enemy to have sanctuaries and expect to win," John McCain told me. "You have to go in and dig them out."

Kerry could have challenged Bush: "Fight the war, Mr. President, or bring the troops home." It would have been blunt, strong, simple—indeed, simplistic, just as Bush often is—but it might also have put the President on the defensive for a change. Kerry wouldn't even have to say what he would do: he could legitimately argue that would depend on the situation on the ground in January. It would also, I suspect, reflect Kerry's true feelings: that Bush has waged an incompetent war in Iraq, which he is in serious danger of losing.
time via andrew sullivan
Of course, as Andrew points out, Kerry cannot appear to be good at war because this would alienate the Moore Democrats and the rest of the left who hunger for defeat.

The bigger issue is that Kerry simply has never demonstrated much by way of conviction on the war or, for that matter, any other issue. Does Kerry have a personal political philosophy? Has he ever written it down? I meant it is great to joke about Kerry being on both sides, voting for and against; but is there any actual position which he has held consistently for more than one Senate election cycle?

Meanwhile at CBS

My bet is that the American Spectator is going to crash any second on this:
"We're having a hard time tracking how we got the documents," says the CBS News producer. "There are at least two people in this building who have insisted we got copies of these memos from the Kerry campaign by way of an additional source. We do not have the originals, and our sources have indicated to us that we will not be getting the originals. How that is possible I don't know."
american spectator
Interesting, very interesting.

Sullivan gets it - sort of

CBS then ran with a story that was based on newly discovered military memos indicating that one National Guard officer was irritated that political pressure had been brought to bear on him to excuse George W. Bush's erratic attendance record. The supporting evidence was far stronger than that behind the Swift Boat Veterans' campaign - and so the new media struck back. A blog called Powerline immediately claimed that the documents were hoaxes; within hours, Drudge had picked up the story. CBS defended its story, but as of the end of last week, no proof of a hoax had been provided. We'll see. But whatever happens to this new twist in campaign news, it's impossible to understand the dynamic without absorbing the new and varied media landscape American politics now operates in.

The upshot is that the politicians and the major parties have seriously lost control of the process.
andrew sullivan
Now this article which appears in the London Sunday Times is right about the politicians and major parties having lost control of the process. But , and allowing this was written late last week, he completely spins the issue of why the new media pounced.

Suggesting that the evidence was far stonger than the Swift Bost Vets evidence is silly. With the Swifties there were sworn affidavits from men who served with Kerry in Viet Nam which disputed virtually every element of the "narrative" (PoMo word for "not, strictly speaking, true) Kerry has constructed, sworn to and published about his service in Viet Nam.

With the Bush National Guard Service no one has been able to come up with a "smoking gun" until, miraculously, CBS got its hands on some memos, source unknown, which suggested Bush defied orders and was AWOL. Those memos struck several bloggers as more than a little convienient and, on closer inspection, products of MS Word rather than a clanky electric typewritter circa 1971.

Pace Andrew but the motivation was the scent of a forgery which could be easily proven using the technology which bloggers are most familiar with - computers. I have no doubt that bloggers, though likely different bloggers, would be all over an obviously Photoshopped picture of John Kerry shooting a Vietnamese baby as he alledged the guys he served with were in the habit of doing.


OK, now it's definitive, the memos were forged

Joseph M. Newcomer who practically invented computer typesetting writes a pure, expert opinion on the Killian memos.
You cannot assemble a set of assertions about what MIGHT have been possible using a variety of unrelated technologies that existed in 1972, and somehow magically combine them into a single technology that could have existed in the offices of the Texas Air National Guard, used for casual memos, and produced the memos in question that are VIRTUALLY PIXEL-LEVEL IDENTICAL TO THOSE PRODUCED BY MICROSOFT WORD.

There are numerous other clues to indicate an amateur at work. In many cases, there is a space preceding the st or th, in an attempt to prevent Word from automatically superscripting these. Of course, any experienced Word user knows that this automatic superscripting can be instantly undone just by typing Control-Z as soon as it happens, but an amateur would not know this. Many have commented on the anomalies of the curly quotes, another piece of Word automation which would not have been found in documents of the era. I know that our fonts did not have left and right quote marks because of limitations of the character sets, which could only have 95 or 96 printable characters. Most of our contemporaneous printers used 7-bit ASCII fonts, which had no option for specifying curly quotes, nor did our software automatically generate them, as Word does. Not only are these documents forgeries, they are incompetently done forgeries. They make the forger of a da Vinci-with-acrylics look positively sophisticated by comparison.

It does not take a sophisticated expert in forensics or document authentication to spot these obvious forgeries. The forgery is obvious to anyone who knows the history and technology of digital typesetting, not to mention to any intelligent 12-year-old who has access to Microsoft Word.

Forgery and Campaigns

The wheels are falling off the entire CBS Bush memo story with experts retracting and assorted individuals who knew Killian - son, wife, fellow officer - distancing themselves from the memos.

The fallout is what will matter now.

First, at the CBS level, this has exposed the network as, at a minimum, deeply biased and unwilling to do its due dilligence when a story is breaking against Bush.

Second, at the Bush campaign level, this story effectively removes the National Guard service questions from serious play. Bush will be able to dismiss most allegations with a fairly easy forgery quip.

The Kerry campaign is in deeper water. It, or the DNC, is the obvious CBS source and as such it is open to the charge that the documents originated there. The public understands forgery and understands that forging documents is wrong. Because the Kerry campaign was so eager for the story to be true they failed to distance themselves from the documents as soon as any question of the document's authenticity arose. As one of my commentors pointed out below, now it is much too late.

More generally, the American people have been treated to a Kerry campaign which will not let its candidate meet with the national press and which will not distance itself from the Michael Moore/DU/Indymedia/ Bush haters. At a certain point the vitriol these people spew will begin to revolt that public.

A challenger, especially a challenger as weak as Kerry, needs to be more than the only alternative to the incumbent. Somehow he has to present a real and attractive alternative vision.

Questions about Bush's National Guard service are largely irrelevant to the current campaign. Bush is a known quality. But the Bush haters in the Kerry camp have tried to counter the very real questions raised by the Swift Boat Vets about Kerry's account of his service by dragging this issue up again. It was, until the forged documents, a sideshow. Now it will dominate this week's news cycle. Kerry's own message, whatever it is, will be lost in the barrage of speculation as to the source of the memos. That is one of the five weeks left until election day shot.

One serious leak from CBS as to who the source was could finish the Kerry campaign if there is any suggestion at all of DNC or Kerry campaign involvement. How long CBS will keep silent is an open question. If Rather has his way the source will never be known. But the pressure for disclosure mounts with every defection of an expert or identified source.

Stonewalling is not a serious option. CBS is going to have to act and act quickly if it is to have the slightest chance of maintaining a shred of its credibility.

There are people at CBS, at the Democratic Party and at the Kerry campaign who know the sourcing of the memos. One of them is going to talk.