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September 16, 2004

The New York Times Scrubs Bill Burkett's Records

Ralph Blumenthal endeavors to burnish the credibility of a man implicated in providing the forged Bush documents to CBS.

Ironic that an article about a man alleging to have witnessed the "scrubbing" of one man's records should find his own so thoroughly cleansed, isn't it?

HOUSTON, Sept. 15 - Bill Burkett once said his job was to make Gov. George W. Bush a hero.

As a lieutenant colonel working on the readiness of the Texas National Guard, Mr. Burkett, a lay preacher's son from Portales, N.M., was brought in with a high commission in 1996 to work on mobilization plans that would make the Guard shine.

"I was very supportive of Bush," he said in an interview this year.

Is that what he said in an interview this year?

Well, how this statement from Mr. Burkett earlier:

I have argued with the senior members of the Bush team since 1996, insisting that preventive war was not an option for the United States. The Preventive War concept is a WARHAWK product which, in my opinion, is totally foreign to the principles the Founding Fathers established for the USA.

I wonder -- when he was, by his own account, "argu[ing] with the senior members of the Bush team [back in] 1996, insisting that preventive war was not an option for the United States," was he "very supportive of Bush"?

Pretty interesting that Governor Bush's advisors were discussing preventative war in 1996. Perhaps they suspected trouble from Okalahoma, and wanted the capability to take those Okie evil-doers out if necessary.

But Burkett's also been "very supportive" of all sorts of poliicians. Including, for exampe, Cynthia McKinney:

Only one Democrat chose to step forward and openly place blame, which was deserved, squarely on the shoulders of high-paid professionals who were armed with every advantage other nations would die for. She was castigated and called every named. She is now ostracized from her own party as well as the party of the President. Where were her defenders? More important, where were the defenders of the Constitution and this nation?

Burkett says the following in a Texas Democrats yahoo club he belongs to:

Since 1998, I've commented that we Democratic Leaders were the ones who bear the blame for Democratic defeats. And over the past year, we;ve made great strides to try to correct those problems in Texas. We're not there yet, but we are on our way.

So, let me get this straight: Burkett is a self-described Democratic leader at least since 1998, but we are to believe he was "very supportive" of Bush? When? When did he go from being a Republican to a Democratic leader, exactly?

When did he stop being "very supportive" of conservative Republican George Bush and begin being so admiring of left-liberal-lunatic Democrat Cynthia McKinney?

Probably about the same time he was wrangling with the Governor over preventative war in 1996, and fighting the Governor's staff over their various "WARHAWK product[s]."

There is no evidence that Burkett has ever been anything but a rabidly-partisan Democrat except for his own self-serving say-so -- but of course the Times reporter, eager to put some distance between Burkett and the Democratic Party, dutifully records Burkett's assertion without doing the most cursory fact-checking.

Blumenthal then turns to Burkett's discredited charges about witnessing the "scrubbing" of George Bush's files.

Burkett has named George O. Conn as having been a witness to these alleged crimes. Blumenthal suggests that George O. Conn just might back up Burkett's story:

Mr. Conn, who vouched for Mr. Burkett in his suit in 2002, has a United States government job in Germany and did not respond to an e-mail message and a telephone message left at his home in Dallas. In an e-mail message in February, Mr. Conn said: "I know LTC Bill Burkett and served with him several years ago in the Texas Army National Guard. I believe him to be honest and forthright. He 'calls things like he sees them.' "

Mr. Conn declined to say whether he had seen any cleansing of Mr. Bush's files with Mr. Burkett.

But Conn has in fact previously said whether he saw any cleansing of files. Blumenthal should have been readily able to find this article, being that it was published by the New York Time's sister-paper the Boston Globe:

George O. Conn, a former chief warrant officer with the Guard and a friend of Burkett's, is the person whom Burkett says led him to the room where the Bush records were being vetted. But Conn says he never saw anyone combing through the Bush file or discarding records.

"I have no recall of that," Conn said. "I have no recall of that whatsoever. None. Zip. Nada."

Conn's recollection also undercuts another of Burkett's central allegations: that he overheard Bush's onetime chief of staff, Joe M. Allbaugh, telling a Texas Guard general to make sure there were no embarrassments in the Bush record.

Burkett says he told Conn, over dinner that same night, what he had overheard. But Conn says that, although Burkett told him he worried that the Bush record would be sanitized, he never mentioned overhearing the conversation between Allbaugh and General Daniel James III.


According to Burke, Conn asked Scribner what he was doing and Scribner replied that he was looking through Bush's records. Burkett said Conn and Scribner then briefly left him alone, and that he saw some pages of Bush's military records in a trash can near Scribner's desk.

Conn contradicts most of Burkett's rendition. He said that he remembers introducing Burkett to Scribner at the museum but that Scribner never said he was going over the Bush file. "If he had said he was going through George W. Bush's records I would have dropped my teeth. Wow," Conn said. "I would definitely have remembered that. I don't recall that at all."

Burkett also says that, before the encounter with Scribner, he was standing with a group of Guard officers, and heard a ranking officer order Scribner to review the Bush file and remove any documents that might be embarrassing to the then-governor.

But Scribner told the Globe yesterday that no such thing occurred. "It didn't happen. I wasn't even there," Scribner said.

So, Burkett is contradicted by every single man he claims to have been involved with the scrubbing and/or witnessed the scrubbing.

But Ralph Blumenthal doesn't see fit to mention that little triviality. Ralph Blumenthal finds a "previous interview" in which Burkett makes the self-serving, credibility-enhancing statement that he was once very supportive of Bush, but just goshdarn misses the Boston Globe's discrediting of his threadworn charges.

Is Blumenthal merely incompetent? Or is he competent at his actual job-- to enhance the credibility of a potentially-useful Bush accuser and thereby help John kerry get elected?

Blumenthal then goes on to portray Burkett as a brave liberal soul soldiering on amidst conservative thugs who ostracize him. Blumenthal spends so much time relaying what a straight-shooter Burkett is he just seems to forget a few things:

1) Burkett has a history of nervous breakdowns.

2) Due to his illness, he has been unable to find steady work (according to his pleadings in his suit against his superior officers in the guard), a situation for which he personally blames George W. Bush.

3) He claims, rather implausibly, that Bush pulled strings in the Texas guard to deny him medical coverage in an act of retaliation over some dispute Burkett had had with his superiors over a management issue.

4) Burkett's claims about witnessing files being scrubbed have evolved over the years; in a press release he released, he specifically denied that any scrubbing took place, and said only that Bush's files had been handled in an "incompetent manner."

5) He is a hardcore political crank given to likening his political opponents to Napoleon and "Adolf" (one presumes he means Hitler, not Coors).

And, if that's not enough:

6) By the way, he seems to have been at the very least an accomplice in a major act of political forgery. But perhaps the Times no longer considers that a knock against one's credibility-- at least, so long as the forgery was done in order to demonstrate a "higher truth."

I think we can all see the way the New York Times, Boston Globe, and CBS are intending to play this. Plan B-- yes, the man might occasionally dabble in the odd bit of forgery, but we can take his word anyway, because, hey, he was once "very supportive" of George W. Bush, right?

At least before he becan calling him "Adolf."

If the New York Times believes it's no major breach to so thoroughly scrub the files of a demonstrated crank in order to advance their own political ends, how on earth do they have the chutzpah to even accuse Bush of doing similarly?

Life is funny. Had George Bush been a left-liberal political crank rather than a Republican President of the United States, he could have avoided all this Keystone Kriminal records-scrubbing. Our national paper of record, the New York Times, would have taken care of his dirty work for him.

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posted by Ace at 01:29 AM

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