"The Bush family's hostility to Rather first broke the surface of
public attention back in 1988, when Vice President George H.W. Bush was
confronted on network television about his various roles in the criminal
affair now known as Iran/Contra."
Just Cut Out Their Tongues
Posted September 22, 2004
By: Thom Hartmann
The CBS/Rather/Bush/Guard affair - regardless of how it ultimately turns
out - has brilliantly deflected the issue of George W. Bush having strings
pulled to get him into the Guard, and then not fulfilling his service
requirements. Anytime the issue is raised in the future - regardless of
facts or context - partisan Republicans will simply dismiss it by saying,
"Those documents were forged." That four-word sound byte will be remembered
long after the details of Bush's failures have dimmed from popular memory.
Politically, it was a masterstroke.
And not only does it hurt Bush family enemy Kerry, but also gets back at
Bush family enemy Dan Rather, against whom they've nursed a 16-year grudge.
The Bush family's hostility to Rather first broke the surface of public
attention back in 1988, when Vice President George H.W. Bush was confronted
on network television about his various roles in the criminal affair now
known as Iran/Contra. At the time, rumors were flying that in the fall of
1980 then-VP-candidate Bush had negotiated with Iran to hold the American
hostages until after the election. The hostages were not only held
throughout the election campaign, but were released the very hour Ronald
Reagan was sworn into office. The ongoing dragged-out hostage crisis (and
Carter's failed attempt at rescue) had knocked the incumbent president down
so far in the polls that the long-shot ticket of Reagan/Bush won.
When it later came out, in part because of an investigation started by
Senator John Kerry, that after the 1980 election Reagan/Bush were illegally
selling American missiles to the Iranians "in exchange for hostages" at a
time there were no hostages (the Iranian hostages had been freed, and the
Lebanese hostages not yet taken), speculation intensified. The key to
busting the whole deal open and indicting George H.W. Bush, some
congressional investigators believed, would be Bill Casey. As the manager of
the 1980 Reagan/Bush campaign, he would have known of the deal, and
persistent allegations floated around Washington that he'd even helped
organize the initial negotiations between Bush and Iranian representatives.
When Reagan/Bush took the White house, they elevated campaign manager Casey
to the role of Director of the CIA. And the congressional committees looking
into Iran/Contra so wanted to talk with Casey that they took the rare step
of subpoenaing a sitting head of the CIA.
As White House insider Barbara Honegger wrote in her groundbreaking book
"October Surprise," Casey "reportedly attended meetings in Paris, France, on
October 19 and 20, 1980, with Iranian officials and agents of French
intelligence to arrange an arms-for-hostages-delay deal with Iran. The
morning of his first scheduled under-oath testimony before the Senate
Intelligence Committee on the secret Iran initiative he was struck by
seizures in his CIA headquarters office in Langley, Virginia, and underwent
speech-incapacitating left-brain surgery shortly thereafter. Had he lived to
testify, according to life-long friend and counsel Milton Gould, Casey would
have told the 'entire truth.' He died on May 6, 1987."
Since the left temporal lobe of the brain - "Broca's region" - controls
speech, some "conspiracy minded" folks suggested at the time that this was
simply a hi-tech version of the mob cutting out an informer's tongue.
Six months after Casey was silenced, on January 25, 1988 in a CBS broadcast,
Dan Rather cornered Vice President George H.W. Bush about the whole Iran
issue, and Bush became furious. Barely able to speak, his face twisted with
rage, Bush blurted out: "It's not fair to judge my whole career by a rehash
on Iran. How would you like it if I judged your career by those seven
minutes when you walked off the set in New York?" Bush's voice was cracking
with hysteria as he added, "Would you like that?"
Dan Rather has been on the Bush family enemies list ever since. But he's not
Another member of the Bush family enemies list is Senator John Kerry, who
opened the precursor to the Iran-Contra investigations, which brought about
the demand for Casey's testimony. Kerry then led inquiries into the Bank of
Commerce and Credit International (BCCI), which broke open a tangled web
that included organized crime, international terrorists, and members of both
the Bush family and the Bin Laden family.
Indeed, as The Wall Street Journal noted in a front page story on December
6, 1991 ("Family Ties: How Oil Firm Linked To a Son of Bush Won Bahrain
Drilling Pact"/"Harken Energy Had a Web Of Mideast Connections; In the
Background: BCCI" by Thomas Petzinger Jr., Peter Truell And Jill Abramson):
"The mosaic of BCCI connections surrounding Harken Energy may prove nothing
more than how ubiquitous the rogue bank's ties were. But the number of
BCCI-connected people who had dealings with Harken -- all since George W.
Bush came on board -- likewise raises the question of whether they mask an
effort to cozy up to a presidential son."
This all came into the open because of the tenacious efforts of former
prosecutor and U.S. Senator John Kerry. As David Corn noted in an article
first published in The Nation: "In the fall of 1992 Kerry released a report
on the BCCI affair. It blasted everyone: Justice, Treasury, US Customs, the
Federal Reserve, [Democrats] Clifford and Altman (for participating in 'some
of BCCI's deceptions'), high-level lobbyists and fixers, and the CIA. The
report noted that after the CIA knew the bank was 'a fundamentally corrupt
criminal enterprise, it continued to use both BCCI and First American...for
CIA operations.' The report was, in a sense, an indictment of Washington
cronyism. In the years since, there's been nothing like it."
Which brings us to what may be the most recent Bush family political dirty
Back during the years when BCCI and the Bin Ladens were helping prop up one
of George W. Bush's failing oil businesses, Karl Rove was perfecting the art
of using misdirection to win political campaigns. James Moore and Wayne
Slater, who wrote "Bush's Brain" - the unauthorized biography of Rove -
noted that when Rove ran Bill Clements' campaign in Texas in 1986, he is
alleged to have bugged his own office to distract voters from the real
issues of the campaigns. "Who bugged Rove?" became the big story in the news
for weeks, pushing other issues off the front page (and implying that Rove
and his candidate were the victims of dirty tricks). Rove's candidate won an
Others have suggested - although there is no clear evidence one way or the
other - that Rove was behind the appearance in the Gore campaign of Bush's
debate prep notes. Had Bush "lost" the debates in a big way, the issue could
have been deftly shifted to the Gore campaign having had advance copies of
Perhaps it's a short leap from bugging your own office, to planting debate
prep materials with your opponent, to placing phony documents to kill an
For example, Robert Sam Anson points out in a September 16, 2004 article in
The New York Observer that, "Mr. Rather's report hadn't been over 10 minutes
when a post appeared on the right-wing Web site FreeRepublic.com from
'TankerKC,' saying the documents were 'not in the style that we used when I
came into the USAF . can we get a copy of those memos?'"
This was followed in a few hours by a detailed typographic analysis from
another blogger named "Buckhead" - even though the typography had only been
shown on television, not exactly a medium conducive to examining typographic
The blog site that "broke" the story of the alleged forgery of the documents
Dan Rather had shown the world was, to quote Robert Sam Anson, "the
repository for anti-Jew, anti-Catholic, anti-homosexual, anti-John Kerry
rants by Jerome R. Corsi, Ph.D."
For some, the name may sound familiar. As Anson continues: "And whom, you
ask, is Dr. Corsi? Co-author of the best-selling 'Unfit for Command: Swift
Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry,' that's who."
And now we learn from CBS that "Buckhead" - the blogger who posted to
Corsi's website detailed information about the memos' typography just 3
hours after the story had aired on CBS - wasn't a typesetter or typographer
at all. Instead, he's a lawyer, Harry MacDougald, who the LA Times notes,
has "strong ties to conservative Republican causes who had helped draft the
petition urging the Arkansas Supreme Court to disbar President Clinton after
the Monica S. Lewinsky scandal" and has connections, at least
institutionally, to Ken Starr and other senior Republicans.
Most recently, it's been reported by The New York Times that the Texas man
who may have passed the documents along to Dan Rather was Texas Air National
Guard senior advisor and former Lt. Colonel Bill Burkett.
In February of 2004, USA Today reported Burkett claimed to have witnessed
and overheard senior Guard officers working to do a thorough "cleansing" of
George W. Bush's National Guard records for a biography Karen Hughes was
writing before his last run for president. If true, Burkett - another Bush
family enemy - is now on the short list of potential fall guys in this case.
It's enough to make you wonder who's next on the schedule for temporal-lobe
Thom Hartmann (thom at thomhartmann.com) is a Project Censored Award-winning
best-selling author and host of a nationally syndicated daily progressive
talk show. www.thomhartmann .com His most recent books are
"The Last Hours
of Ancient Sunlight," "Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance
and the Theft of Human Rights," "We The People: A Call To Take Back America," and
"What Would Jefferson Do?: A Return To Democracy."