Blogs > Liberty and Power > One More on the Memos

Aug 8, 2005 1:06 pm

One More on the Memos

I can't resist one more comment on the CBS memos thing.  In the New York Times this morning, we have a lawyer for Bill Burkett, the Texan thought by some to be the source of the memos:

Asked what role Mr. Burkett had in raising questions about Mr. Bush's military service, Mr. Van Os said: "If, hypothetically, Bill Burkett or anyone else, any other individual, had prepared or had typed on a word processor as some of the journalists are presuming, without much evidence, if someone in the year 2004 had prepared on a word processor replicas of documents that they believed had existed in 1972 or 1973 - which Bill Burkett has absolutely not done'' - then, he continued, "what difference would it make?"

Is it me, or is this just an unbelievably cavalier attitude toward what constitutes evidence and an utter disregard for how one establishes truth? (Not to mention the "without much evidence" line.  Tell me again how this is "not much?")  Again, I'm pretty sure that W had help in and out of the Guard - just like lots of other folks at the time.  But if you want to prove it, you better have the goods.  Saying that we "know" he didn't fulfill his obligations so that the fact that the evidence for it might have been constructed ex post isn't important, just doesn't wash.  Memo to Dan Rather:  Orson Welles's character in Touch of Evil concocted evidence, often against genuinely guilty folks, but ended up swimmin' with the fishies by the time the curtain fell on that great piece of film noir.

I've been saying this over and over, but it bears repeating:  no matter how right folks might be about Bush, the injustice of the War in Iraq or anything else, concocting evidence or playing Moore-like with the truth does more harm than good.  The truth is bad enough - it doesn't need friends like this.

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More Comments:

Steven Horwitz - 9/15/2004

Agreed, Ralph. It's certainly possible that the forged documents represent some reality that's been painted over, but this, as you say, is not the way to deal with them.

Ralph E. Luker - 9/15/2004

Steve, If the document collection in re Bush's service in the TANG was sanitized by agents acting in behalf of the family sometime in the 1990s, you can surely understand the instinct of someone to attempt to replicate what had been there. I don't condone the deception. It is a bad way to deal with the power imbalance that may have allowed a document collection to be sanitized.