Well, the “Bush Guard Memo,” piece, which aired on “60 Minutes II” last week purporting to present newly discovered documents refuting some of what President Bush has claimed and previous documents have supported about Bush’s record in the Texas Air National Guard, seems to be crumbling at an exponential rate. Earlier today, Retired Maj. General Hodges, Killian’s supervisor at the Grd and one of the sources that CBS News claims helped them authenticate the documents is crying foul.
Here is what ABC News is reporting:
Retired Maj. General Hodges, Killian’s supervisor at the Grd, tells ABC News that he feels CBS misled him about the documents they uncovered. According to Hodges, CBS told him the documents were “handwritten” and after CBS read him excerpts he said, “well if he wrote them that’s what he felt.” [emphasis mine]
Hodges also said he did not see the documents in the 70’s and he cannot authenticate the documents or the contents. His personal belief is that the documents have been “computer generated” and are a “fraud”.
CBS responds: “”We believed Col. Hodges the first time we spoke with him. We believe the documents to be genuine. We stand by our story and will continue to report on it.”
This statement jibes with statements made by family members and associates who claim that Lt. Col. Killian was not a typist and never kept copious notes. Killian had no home office and his son, who also served in the National Guard until 1991 pointed out that creating such memos was something that “noone in their right mind would do in the military.”
What Killian’s son was referring to was the fact that the military reserves the right to audit personnel files at any time for any reason. Finding documents such as these in an audit would like have ended the Colonel’s career.
Byron York, of National Review Online also points out that it was Killian’s habit never to type up the evaluation documents. Instead, his habit was to simply sign off in this manner: “I concur with the comments and ratings of the reporting official,” and then would sign his name.
So why would Killian go to all the effort to type up four additional memos when he never liked to type in the first place? And why would these “recently discovered” memos contradict the reports that went into Bush’s official records?
And most important, why has CBS not offered to turn the original documents over to anyone for final verification? Again I ask, what are they afraid of?
Today, Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post, reporting on CBS’s defense of the Bush Guard Documents, noted at one point that:
“The Dallas Morning News cast fresh doubt on the documents by reporting last night that the officer named in one memo as exerting pressure to “sugarcoat” Bush’s military record was discharged a year and a half before the memo was written. The paper cited a military record showing that Col. Walter “Buck” Staudt was honorably discharged on March 1, 1972, while the memo cited by CBS as showing that Staudt was interfering with evaluations of Bush was dated Aug. 18, 1973.
The Seattle Times also reported on this recent discovery today:
The man named in a disputed memo as exerting pressure to “sugarcoat” George W. Bush’s military record left the Texas Air National Guard a year and a half before the memo supposedly was written, his service record shows.
An order obtained by The Dallas Morning News shows that Col. Walter “Buck” Staudt was honorably discharged March 1, 1972. CBS News reported this week that a memo in which Staudt was described as interfering with officers’ negative evaluations of the future president’s service was dated Aug. 18, 1973.
That added to mounting questions about the authenticity of documents that seem to suggest Bush sought special treatment as a pilot, failed to carry out a superior’s order to undergo a physical exam and was suspended from flying for failing to meet Air National Guard standards.
A CBS staffer stood by the story, suggesting Staudt could have continued to exert influence over Guard officials. But a former high-ranking Guard official disputed that, saying retirement would have left Staudt powerless
The credibility of these documents continues to get thinner by the minute… As does Rather’s defense of them.