Reader Mail

The Plain Truth

Mr. Van Os replies. Plus more on the Kinko’s Caper. Also: Spielberg and the Godfathers, continued. And lots else.

9.20.04

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THE KINKO'S CAPER
Re: George Neumayr's Working Kinko's:

This is regarding your September 17 story, "Working Kinko's."

You re-quoted a quote that the New York Times ascribed to me, in which I was discussing a hypothetical worst-case scenario with the Times reporter, Ralph Blumenthal. The Times inaccurately quoted me by using only half of my sentence, in a manner implying that I would condone forgery. This was a terrible misquote on which the Times honorably issued a correction this morning. I am an ethical citizen and an ethical lawyer and never ever would I condone forgery or falsification. Growing up immersed in the strong values of rural East Texas I learned the ways of honor and integrity from my military officer father and my schoolteacher mother. I am an Eagle Scout. My peers in the legal profession have honored me with the highest possible "AV" peer review rating for ethics and legal ability. I hew to the principles of honor and integrity with my every breath.

My real statement to the Times was that if hypothetically an individual in 2004 sat at a word processor and tried to create replicas of documents that they believed existed in 1972 or 1973, that could not change whatever the objective reality was of what George W. Bush was doing or not doing or where he was or wasn't at the times in question. My statement is such a plain truth that it hardly needed to be said, but I said it to the Times reporter in order to illustrate why the issues surrounding the "CBS documents" are not material to and cannot change the facts of history, whatever those facts may be. I invite you to see the correction published in the New York Times this morning. My statement was not intended to condone forgery and if stated in full cannot fairly be read to do so.

Referencing your reference to my previous service as Democratic County Chairman for Travis County, Texas, an honorable position in which I was proud to serve, I served in such position for the term of 1996-98. I moved away from Travis County in February 1999. I was active in the Travis County Democratic Party from the mid 1970s to 1999. During my over 20 years in Travis County Dan Rather did not perform a fundraiser for the Travis County Democrats to my knowledge. The fundraiser that you appear to be referring to must have occurred after I no longer lived in Travis County. There is nothing in the slightest dishonorable about Dan Rather appearing at a fundraiser for one of the two major political parties -- many public figures often lend themselves to such activities out of a sense of civic duty. However, to suggest any connection between that fundraiser and Bill Burkett is ridiculous.

As Lieutenant Colonel Burkett's personal attorney, I do not have the legal right to divulge anything that he may have said to me in confidence in the course of my professional relationship with him. Thus I cannot and will not do so, unless and until he releases me from that professional obligation, which is something that he has the legal right to do or not to do at any time. Based upon my personal knowledge of Bill Burkett's character from knowing him and knowing of his reputation among his peers, I will state unequivocally that Bill Burkett did not falsify or create the "CBS documents." I do not assume that anyone falsified or created those documents until more is known, but if anyone did, it was not Bill Burkett. I will stake my reputation and good name on this certainty. Further from my knowledge of Bill Burkett's character and integrity, I will state unequivocally that if, hypothetically speaking, Bill Burkett handled documents that were recent creations rather than true copies of originals, he would have done so only because he had reason to believe they were true copies rather than recent creations.

The entire focus on Bill Burkett is being foolishly used to deflect attention away from other questions that are more relevant for the American citizenry at large. Colonel Killian's secretary, Ms. Knox, has publicly stated that although she did not type the "CBS documents", they may be attempted re-creations of documents that may have existed, and the contents of the documents do reflect what was actually going on with George Bush and the Texas Air National Guard. Bill Burkett is not the individual who is currently an employee of the citizens of America and who is currently asking the taxpayers to rehire him. George Bush is. The taxpaying citizens have a right to get answers to the questions of what he was doing and why and where he was and why during the times that Ms. Knox refers to, times when he was previously serving as an employee of the citizens and taxpayers of America. It is absurd to expect anyone to believe that an individual intelligent enough to be President of the United States cannot remember any details about significant events in his life. Americans are generally a forgiving people if they are told the truth. Mr. Bush should trust the people and give them a chance to handle the truth. That might show that he has more appreciation for self-governing democracy than his actions have generally shown.

Thank you for printing this rejoinder to your misleading implications about my character and Bill Burkett's character.

Sincerely,
-- David Van Os
San Antonio, Texas

Isn't David Van Os running for or being nominated to the Texas Supreme Court?
-- A. Stanbury

The method Mr. Neumayr proposes to help expose the CBS document fraud looks nice at first, but won't likely work in practice.

The proposed emphasis is on examination of physical traces on copies and electronic files on PCs. Before any such review can be conducted, the proper legal papers must be served. In the intervening time period, an accident or coincidental series of events could occur at the Kinko's making such a reconstruction of events difficult or impossible. After all, computer hard drives crash often. Individual computers are replaced regularly, and fires do happen. Think of Rosemary Woods "terrible mistake" and the missing eighteen minutes of conversations on the Nixon tapes. Think of the fire at UNESCO when investigators were auditing the books in the 1980s. Someone well connected, such as the attorney David Van Os, for example, could help expedite this process.
-- Henry C. Blaufox

Texas songwriter Kinky Friedman should write a song on Kinko's.
-- R.L.A. Schaefer
Dubuque, Iowa

The law in Texas is severe for forgeries of government documents - it is considered a felony. The question is if the Texas Rangers investigate.
-- unsigned

Dan Rather should consider selling paint when he leaves CBS. He has more shades of gray than Home Depot.
-- unsigned

I just think Dan Rather's arrogance is amazing in the face of the evidence against his veracity. I've said this before and I'll say it again, the American public is forgiving, but some people think they're above having to sink to their knees and ask America for forgiveness and admit (at least) not having been diligent enough in checking the authenticity of the documents in question, and (at worst) wanting so desperately to believe the documents were authentic because of his hatred of the President that he said, "Damn the torpedoes; full speed ahead!"

The American Spectator has done a great job covering the story. Thanks!
-- M. Hlebo

I believe that what Dan Rather did with these forged documents is pretty routine. He takes an unsubstantiated allegation about a conservative and treats it as fact. I think the major media does that all the time. The NYTimes does it daily. This incident is important because it is one of the very few times the biased media has been outed.

I do not think like some do that this will bring Rather down because the other major media will say "on the one hand," and "on the other hand" etc. Sadly he will get away with it, but they will not be able to shove this particular calumny on the public.

The elite media is not merely biased: they are FAR left wing. Their views are closer to our enemies than to the administration.

If the Bush campaign agrees to have Scheiffer as a moderator, they are insane. If I were they I would be inclined to insist that only moderators from centrist organizations be allowed to ask questions. Scheiffer will simply softball Kerry and hardball Bush. I wouldn't put anything past them-even feeding Kerry questions a priori.
-- LT

Through the continuing saga of Dan the Document Man, I thought he would come through a little tattered but intact. After all, forcing Dan Rather out of CBS is to the nightly news anchors as forcing Bill Clinton out of the Presidency was to the Democrats. Suffer he must, but to remove him would be an attack on their own positions of power. Admit the errors, apologize and move on.

But Dan isn't playing ball, and appears to digging in for the long fight. Dan and CBS can no longer question President Bush with any credibility with the public. The question will always be, "What did you make up this time, Dan?" For the other guys, the problem is guilt by association. As this drags out, the public distrusts them all more and more. It is one thing to screw up and lose your credibility, quite another thing to lose yours due to someone else.

Dan could and should get the boot for this, if it goes on for another week he probably will. But you can bet he's not getting a lot of support from his peers. My bet is that Dan is hitting the knees every night hoping for a big story to come and overshadow his.
-- Scotty Uhrich
Glyndon, Minnesota

Dan Rather's lawyer seems to use the Rev Al Sharpton school of logic -- "so what if the Tawana Brawley caper was a hoax, it COULD have been true, that's all that matters." And so Reverend Al sits at the right hand of the Democrats, as though the Tawana Brawley case was OK with everyone. I guess it was and so nothing is unusual about the fake memo logic -- if you are a Democrat. Don't we have laws against this kind of thing? Doesn't anybody care? Are you no longer guilty if you don't admit you
are? I feel as though I am living in a parallel universe.
-- N. Haseley

A great article. Please help me with some definitions. The memo copies revealed by Dan Rather are almost uniformly referred to in the press as "forgeries." Merriam-Webster online includes this line in the definition of forgery: "to make or imitate falsely especially with intent to defraud." It is the word "imitate" that implies to me that there is a "real" set of memos somewhere out there that served as guides or models. Given the various questions about the content and tone in the memos raised by the TANG officers that served with then LT Bush, "fake" might be a better word that "forgery."

I think these are "fake" memos, made up from nothing by members of the VABC (vast anti-Bush conspiracy).

In the interest of accuracy, I suggest that the media describe these memos as fakes until Denial Dan can prove otherwise.
-- Rich Renken
Ballwin, Missouri

Are the docs Rather has first generation copies. I recall being told by a copy machine techie that photocopying/faxing can reduce the written/typed letters by as much as 6%. If there is no appreciable difference in Rather's copies, it's likely they are first generation copies, not multiple copies of copies.

They could have been created as originals and faxed from Kinko's.

Imagine a lawyer in court offering a forged document as proof of innocence. "Your honor, altho this document is forged, the information it contains is true and exonerates my client." Result: Guilty verdict for defendant, disbarment for attorney, jail time for both !
-- J. Dolan

I think we should let Karl Rove off the hook and point the finger at the real culprit: John Ashcroft. Poor ol' Dan Rather is actually the victim of a cruel hoax and is living proof that Mr. Ashcroft has failed to prevent these types of fraudulent scams perpetrated against the elderly. What's next? Dan Rather looks to be easy prey for an unscrupulous aluminum siding salesman.
-- Dave Gottenborg
Greenwood Village, Colorado

Excellent article! I have one question, though: does anyone know WHEN the forged documents were faxed to CBS? I would love to know the time frame. Thank you.
-- Gerry Seifert
St. Louis, Missouri

I am heartened to see my peers desire for factual reporting. But the best distillate I have seen yet of the whole affair is --

"There is nothing as deceptive as an obvious fact." -- Arthur Conan Doyle
-- John McGinnis
Arlington, Texas

SPEECH IMPEDIMENTS
Re: Jeremy Lott's Voltaire's Bastards:

I've always like Mr. Lott's articles, but this one was a home run. I've been yelling about this in my blog for months. I'll grant that maybe John McCain had his heart in the right place -- who could complain about his announced motive of removing the corrupting influence of money in politics? But what he and Russ Feingold have concocted is nothing short of censorship. The media and the politicians are all for strengthening this law so that in effect, the only political free speech left would be that of, guess who, the media and politicians.

This law attempts to remove "the people," or redefine who those "people" are, from "government of, by, and for the people"; it at least attempts to remove them from public political discourse. A good rule of thumb in these days of confusing "lawyer" speak from elected officials and blurry media reporting is that any time the politicians and the main stream media are BOTH for some piece of legislation, it cannot be good for the average American. REPEAL this ridiculous legislation, and enact something that will actually work. We need MORE political discussion in this country, not less -- never less.

I find it VERY interesting that neither the politicians or the media will discuss why political campaigns are so expensive in the first place -- media buys! We as Americans should address our greedy media companies about this problem. The Internet is providing great leverage against the traditional media outlets and their extortion of the political process, new legislation should take advantage of this new media and it's promise to level the playing field.

I suggest an Election Channel -- all elections, all the time -- no paid political advertising. Pass a law that bans media companies from political advertising. Or if they advertise political candidates or agendas, they must give full and fair time to all candidates -- then watch them run away from this revenue stream. Let the media go begging for political advertising and I guarantee prices will drop like a rock.
-- Doug
Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

POLL CATS
Re: Lawrence Henry's Polling for Yourself :

Mr. Henry's column describes a "Delphi oracle" methodology and is a respected predictive tool.

The Iowa Electronic Markets is another good example of this approach where people are actually betting money on the outcome.

I am a brand strategist who has been classically trained in (and taught) research methodology (116th and Amsterdam -- but I hate to admit that to my fellow conservatives) and I use a variation of Henry's idea with message testing we do for our marketing clients.

Suppose a client wants to test four or five approaches to a marketing campaign, each with a different strategy, not just creative execution. I focus group or survey people and carefully study not just what the respondents tell me they like, but what they think other consumers will like.

Anyway, sorry to ramble on like a pocket-protector wearing geek, but I did think Henry's article was excellent and enjoyed reading it.
-- unsigned

Very thought-provoking article by Mr. Henry, but one sentence really provoked the proverbial "WTF?"

"Grand Rapids, Michigan, TV station WZZM published the results of a 'Who Do You Think Will Win?' survey the next day. Their results? Bush 59%, Kerry 37%, Someone Else 2%, Not sure 2%."

Just who are these people responding "Someone Else"? Are such willfully ignorant people allowed to vote? Or was this some Internet poll with snickering 5th-graders trying to skew the results? Anyone who thinks "Someone Else" (Hillary in a massive write-in campaign?) will win is someone whose opinion is, well, not worth much, to say the least.

And they wonder why conservatives view polls so skeptically...
-- Wylie Merritt
Norman, Oklahoma

SUCH TEETH
Re: Reader Mail's Shark Bites and R. Emmett Tyrrell's Ugly Jaws:

As an American with Scottish ancestry, I hope Mr. Tyrrell's next target will be Disney. Remember stingy Scrooge McDuck and his even stingier nemesis Flintheart Glomgold? And then there's Kim Possible's mad golfer villain.

We must root out every stereotype in popular culture. Our posterity depends on it! We must never rest until --

Ooh -- somebody dropped a quarter!
-- Kevin McGehee
Coweta County, Georgia

Regarding "Ugly Jaws" and some of the letters back:

I, too, used to be a fan of Mr. Tyrrell till this latest article, in which Emmett's Ugly Jaws of political correctness pop out of the water at us. Come on, if you have any pride in your family's Italian heritage, Emmett, you would not recommend that Americans of Italian ancestry request victim status from society and become another in a long list of Whiner-Americans. I don't know if the movie you have reviewed is any good, but the Sopranos is a great show. Keep in mind that, even though most of your "Italian-Americans" do not fit the stereotype as mobsters, the stereotype came from some truth. If there were no truth behind stereotypes, we wouldn't have them.

Now we have Mr. Castellano (Reader Mail) inadvertently trying to start a new stereotype about Italian-Americans not being good at math or basing their calculations solely on rectal extraction. Let's see, we take .00025% (that's 3 zeros) of 26 million and end up with 65 Italian-Americans. Heck, that barely covers the Soprano family, much less Johnny Sac across the river, and what about the Corleonies? Don't go telling me that that whole bunch is innocent -- I seen Tony Soprano kill a guy with my own eyes, right there on TV; and what about that NJ tollbooth shooting in Godfather I -- just gruesome, I tells ya. Yer a bunch of homicidal maniacs, all of yous!

Mr. Tyrrell, please don't take the movie so seriously, and don't tell us whether we can make fun of y'all or not. We can, and we will, if we so desire. Next time these Ugly Jaws of political correctness surface, I suggest we stick a dive tank in them and then shoot at it. Speaking of which, it's not like we Great-White-Shark-Americans get treated very fairly in the mass media either. Maybe .000017% of us have ever, ever, even come close to Amity, Long Island, and of that number easily more than half of us have never bitten more than one limb off of a surfer or swimmer. Hmmm, getting hungry now ... gotta go ...
-- Jimmy Antley

Let's be very clear: Francis Ford Coppola, an Italian-American, made the movie The Godfather, after buying the rights to the blockbuster novel, The Godfather, from Italian-American author Mario Puzo. Steven Spielberg, Jewish-American, had nothing to do with it.

Both the book and the movie are slam dunk classics and will be loved by many generations of Americans long after they've stopped hyphenating themselves, hey -- just like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by that redneck cracker nineteenth-century journalist and author, Samuel Clemens aka Mark Twain. It's no accident that Huck is the ragged son of a drunken, brutish Irishman. And there is Jim, the colored slave and Huck's friend and companion who's running away to freedom. Huckleberry Finn is a great American classic. It would take at least a Francis Ford Coppola or a Steven Spielberg to understand its humanity and turn it into a great movie.
-- Mary Eastman Wilbur
St. Charles, Illinois

CRAZY
Re: Pamela Harris's letter in Reader Mail's Moving On and replies to it in Reader Mail's AShark Bites

Wow. This is great stuff. CBS airs a story with forged documentation and Ms. Harris sees Karl Rove and the White House being responsible based on no evidence at all. I guess she can not be counted among the undecided in this election, eh? To paraphrase a famous line from the movie 1941 (no relation to Fahrenheit 9/11): That is the craziest thing I have ever heard. How many more like her do you suppose are out there?
-- Michael Tobias
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

I'm sorry, I thought the original letter by Pamela Harris was too wacky to be real. I thought it had to be a satire. I wouldn't have commented on it but I guess from reading the reader mail, everyone else is taking it seriously. You sure we haven't been spoofed by some evil right-wing parodist?
-- Paul Doolittle

SPELLING RELIEF
Re: John Tabin's In Full Gallup:

As a Bush supporter, I am gratified that the latest polls show the President ahead by a greater margin than the percentage of those who are "undecided." That's because I think that there's a pretty good chance that the most of "undecided" will move to Kerry. After all, hasn't he established clearly by now that he is one of them?
-- Colin A. Hanna
West Chester, Pennsylvania

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