Newspaper logo  
 
 
  The Real Lt. Col. Burkett: In His Own Words to BBC Television

FISCAL COMMENTARY:

The Real Lt. Col. Burkett
In His Own Words to BBC Television

Shooting the Messenger Doesn't Discredit the Message

by Greg Palast

Safire in the Times, in charging that Burkett faked the document, demanded the military open a criminal investigation. Darn right they should. They haven't. Why not? Maybe they don’t want to check into this ‘fake’ document because maybe it's not fake.
Tuesday, October 5, 2004--When Dan Rather went down for airing a document he couldn't source, he did the courageous thing: blamed someone else.

In this case, Rather and CBS loaded their corporate guilt on a guy you’ve probably never heard of before, rancher Bill Burkett of Abilene, a retired Lieutenant Colonel from the Texas Air National Guard.

CBS did a no-no -- used a document on air without fully checking out its source. No excuses. Shouldn't have done it. They got the document from Burkett.

Once CBS hung out its source and painted a target on him, Rove-ing gangs of media hit men finished him off. Burkett's an evidence "fabricator," "Bush-hater," and even, suggests William Safire in the New York Times as he fantasizes a dark left-wing conspiracy, a felon ready for hard time.

Let me tell you about this Burkett "criminal." I met him while filming for BBC's Television documentary, "Bush Family Fortunes." Better than that, I'm posting a transcript of our hour-and-a-half interview.

Burkett a ‘Bush-hater’? "George W. Bush was an excellent pilot," Burkett told me, "He had the right leadership skills, he had the 'Top Gun' approach."

But I didn't go interview Burkett to chat about our President's days when he flew high. He has an important story to tell which has not one damn thing to do with a memo by some Lt. Col. Killian. It has to do with a phone call and a shredder.

Burkett, a top advisor to Major General Daniel James at the Air Guard, was working at Camp Mabry with Major General James when a call came in from Joe Allbaugh, the Chief of Staff to then-Governor George W. Bush. Bush was about to get a political polishing up for his White House run, with a ghost-written autobiography, which would include his heroic years during the war in Vietnam. Allbaugh, according to Burkett, stated that Bush political operatives Karen Hughes and Dan Bartlett would be dropping by the Air Guard offices to look at the war record and wanted to, "make sure there's nothing in there that'll embarrass the Governor."

According to Burkett, the General and his minions who work for the Governor, not the US Air Force, took this as an unsubtle hint from the boss to purge the record. Lt. Col. Burkett, both curious and disturbed by the call, wondered how his fellow comrades-in-arms would respond. His answer was in the trash-to-be-shredded bin: George Bush's military pay records. "I saw what are called LES (Leave and Earnings Statements) which are pay documents. I saw Retirement Points documents and other administrative information."

He did not see their content, only Bush's name, and therefore cannot answer the 64 million dollar question: Did those records, now "missing," indicate that our President went AWOL while others ended up on the Black Wall?

That's Burkett's story and it's in the BBC film. Watch the film, read the transcript, and judge for yourself. I think you'll find in Burkett a straight shooter, telling a piece of the larger draft-dodge story which mounting evidence corroborates.

So what about that "Killian" document? We don't have it in the BBC film - we would not use a document we cannot source. Burkett passed it on to CBS from a third party, obviously someone still in the Guard or fearful of Bush Family retribution. Now why would they imagine that?

Under pressure, Burkett gave CBS a false name to cover for the whistleblower. Burkett should not have done that. It is understandable but inexcusable. Period. Yet, that does not tell us the document was fabricated. It was the job of CBS to follow up -- they are the journalists.

And it is also the President's job. Safire in the Times, in charging that Burkett faked the document, demanded the military open a criminal investigation. Darn right they should. They haven't. Why not? Maybe they don’t want to check into this ‘fake’ document because maybe it's not fake.

An investigation should begin with questions for the President. After all, he can clear up the matter lickety-split.

"Mr. President, did you or did you not ask your commander Lt. Col. Killian how you could shirk your duty to show up?"

"Mr. President, did you or did you not refuse a direct order to take a medical exam and pee into a jar?" (The record is solid on the evidence of refusing that order, Mr. Top Gun -- you were stripped of your flight wings.)

"Mr. President, did Texas Lt. Governor Ben Barnes make any calls to get you out of 'Nam and into the Air Guard? Yes or no?"

See Dan, that's how it should be done. It wasn't Burkett's job to verify the evidence, it was the job of Dan and the President.

It is for the President, not Bill Burkett, to answer the question, "Did your daddy the congressman vote to send other men's sons to Vietnam while pulling the strings to keep you cozy and safe? Yes or no, Mr. President, yes or no?"


For a clip from the BBC Television investigative reports on George Bush's military career, go to http://www.gregpalast.com/bff-dvd.htm

Greg Palast's interview with Col. Burkett for BBC can be read at http://www.gregpalast.com/documents/BurkettTranscript.pdf




Copyright © 2004 The Baltimore Chronicle. All rights reserved.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

This story was published on October 5, 2004.

 
Local Stories, Events

Ref. : Civic Events

Ref. : Arts & Education Events

Ref. : Public Service Notices

Books, Films, Arts & Education
Letters

Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

10.17 Could carbon-capture technology be a silver bullet to stop climate change?

10.17 So many animals will go extinct in the next 50 years that it will take Earth at least 3 million years to recover, a study has found

10.16 Can We Go Electric Before It’s Too Late?

10.16 'I leave the car at home': how free buses are revolutionising one French city [with electric or hydrogen buses the cities can be much less polluted and cleaner with far fewer cars]

10.16 Why Public Transportation Works Better Outside the U.S.

10.16 Scottish Power shifts to 100% wind generation after £700m Drax sale

10.16 Australia should be 'exporting sunshine, not coal', economist Jeffrey Sachs tells Q&A

10.15 'It'll change back': Trump says climate change not a hoax, but denies lasting impact [1:10 video; comfortable in his willful ignorance and denial, catastropic effects will be sooner and greater for doing nothing]

News Media Matters

10.16 The Growth of Sinclair’s Conservative Media Empire [Distorting news and issues "analysis" almost completely where cable and Internet are least available]

Daily: FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

10.18 Are You Kidding Me?' Outrage as Democrats Push 'Incremental Steps' Over Bold Agenda Needed to Save Planet from Climate Catastrophe [Neoliberals still control Democratic Party leadership...]

10.18 Republicans are ramming through more judges — by holding hearings when everyone is out of town

10.18 Trump says selling weapons to Saudi Arabia will create a lot of jobs. That’s not true.

10.18 Republicans were supposed to run on their tax cuts. Instead, they’re running away from them.

10.18 The new Republican midterm strategy is to copy Democratic ideas

10.18 Beto O’Rourke shows Democrats how to talk about climate change

10.18 The Democrats’ Incredible Shrinking Message

10.18 'Lives Hang in the Balance': 21 Days Before Midterms, McConnell Admits GOP Still Salivating to Gut Medicare and Social Security

10.17 Republican lawmakers react to the IPCC report – ‘we have scientists’ too!

10.16 The biggest political problem in America, explained in one chart

10.16 GOP plan to get Americans off food stamps puts 4 million children and seniors at risk [What would Jesus say?]

10.15  3,121 desperate journeys  Exposing a week of chaos under Trump's zero tolerance

10.15 We need tax police – and they should go after the likes of Donald Trump [growing the mafia-state; to the extent allowed all tax evaded results in additional debt or taxes on honest citizens]

10.14 Goodbye, Political Spin, Hello Blatant Lies

10.14 NEARLY EVERY MEMBER OF THE CONGRESSIONAL PROGRESSIVE CAUCUS STILL TAKES CORPORATE PAC MONEY

10.13 With Campaign Only 'Powered by People,' Beto O'Rourke Shatters All-Time Senate Fundraising Record With $38 Million Haul [nullifying Citizens United—that empowers corporations and the super-rich—with a pledged commitment returns democracy powered by the people!]

Justice Matters

10.18 Is Fraud Part of the Trump Organization’s Business Model? [Obviously!]

High Crimes?

10.18 Nicaragua used 'weapons of war' to kill protesters, says Amnesty International [why refugee immigrants rightly see jail in the US as an improvement]

10.18 How We Can End the Saudis’ War in Yemen [There is NO EXCUSE for War Crimes]

10.12 Israel’s Illegal Blockade of Palestinian Civilians in Gaza has doubled Unemployment to 50% [5:51 video]

10.12 Trump Says Murder Shouldn’t Stop Saudi Weapon Sales Because ‘We Have Jobs’ [Morals and laws be damned! Trump grows his mafia-state for patron and personal profit]

Economics, Crony Capitalism

10.17 Britain fell for a neoliberal con trick – even the IMF says so

10.11 Climate change will make the next global crash the worst

International & Futurism

10.18 Audio Offers Gruesome Details of Jamal Khashoggi Killing, Turkish Official Says

10.18 Khashoggi Is The Tip Of The Bloody Iceberg: 10 More Reasons to Cut the US-Saudi Alliance

10.17 US-China tensions soar as 'new cold war' heats up [the world needs mutually-beneficial moral friendships among nations, not high-risk emotional outbursts]

10.17 US-China tensions soar as 'new cold war' heats up

10.17 Jamal Khashoggi: gory reports of killing emerge as Pompeo meets Erdogan [What explains Trump's opinion and behavior?]

10.16 Our leaders are destroying our future. Wentworth must be a referendum on climate change

10.16 Tax evasion: blacklist of 21 countries with 'golden passport' schemes published [mafia-states are increasing and growing, threatening financial health of non-mafia states where tax evaded becomes additional debt or taxes on honest citizens]

We are a non-profit Internet-only newspaper publication founded in 1973. Your donation is essential to our survival.

You can also mail a check to:
Baltimore News Network, Inc.
P.O. Box 42581
Baltimore, MD 21284-2581
Google
This site Web

Public Service Ads: