Saturday, September 18, 2004

Is Max Cleland the "Unimpeachable Source"?

Is Max Cleland Dan Rather's "unimpeachable source"? Bill Burkett, the man many people believe to be the source of the CBS documents has revealed that he passed along information to former Senator Cleland who is now working for the Kerry Campaign. Did Max Cleland then give the documents to good old reliable Dan Rather? It could explain Dan's repeated assertion that the documents came from an "unimpeachable source". It is becoming increasingly apparent that no one from the TANG supplied the documents to CBS, so who could have done it? Who would Dan Rather have so much confidence in that he would be willing to stake the reputation of CBS News and his career on? Who has played a very prominent role in the Kerry Campaign, especially on the Vietnam War front? Who has the motive to want to strike back at the President and the Republicans due to his defeat in 2002? Who recently made a very public trip to Texas on behalf of the Kerry Campaign? Who does Bill Burkett acknowledge speaking to on the phone? Who acknowledges speaking to Bill Burkett on the phone? Who does Bill Burkett acknowledge "passing information" to? The answer to all of these questions is Max Cleland. The embittered former Senator from Georgia who still claims to have lost his seat due to a television ad that he claims attacked his patriotism. A Vietnam War veteran who's hatred for the President and the Republicans has reached a boiling point in this campaign.

Bill Burkett has an incredibly long and shady record of making baseless allegations against the President. Surely Dan Rather could not consider him "unimpeachable". But if the documents came from a former Senator CBS and Dan Rather would be a lot more likely to take the documents at face value and a lot less likely to believe that the documents are fake. A former Senator would never be part of a scheme to take the President down using forged documents would he? If Max Cleland did give the documents to CBS and he did receive them from Bill Burkett it is likely that the former Senator did not know the memos were a fake. He may very well have assumed that CBS would authenticate the documents before going to air.

A Theory on the CBS Debacle:

A random former National Guardsman contacts Senator Cleland and says he has found a treasure trove of damaging documents from the TANG. The former Senator, still angry about his defeat in 2002 tells him to fax them to his office and he will take a look, not making any promises and possibly not taking the man on the phone very seriously. The former Guardsman faxes the documents. Senator Cleland reads them, comes to the conclusion that they may be authentic and decides that the story is to good to not try to score points with. He then passes the documents to CBS assuming (or maybe not) that CBS would have their "experts" authenticate them. CBS calls several experts and people with direct knowledge of the President's service. Several experts declare the documents suspicious and several of the people with first hand knowledge of the President's service say the documents are inaccurate. CBS shops around until they find someone to tell them what they want to hear, ignoring the experts who might have a negative impact on a story they have been pursuing for three years. After all, the documents came from a former Senator with "unimpeachable credentials". They agree to keep the source and the "experts" anonymous. In a rush to shore up a struggling Kerry Campaign, Dan rather launches the story on 60 Minutes II. Within hours the memos are called into question. In the following days it becomes obvious the memos are fake. Dan is incredulous and unbelieving. He refuses to believe that a former Senator who himself lost three limbs in the Vietnam War would pass him fake documents pertaining to the President's service and allow him to go to air with them. After several more days Dan Rather realizes he has been had. But he knows that if he admits the documents are a fraud he will be forced to reveal his source, a source with direct links to the Kerry Campaign. Rather knows that if the public finds out that the Kerry Campaign is responsible (directly or indirectly) for the forged documents, the campaign is all but over.

What Rather Might Do

Rather speaks to Cleland, Cleland tells him that he received the documents from Bill Burkett. With increasing pressure from affiliates and within CBS News Rather decides that he has to come clean and name his source. But instead of naming Cleland as the source he names Burkett, who did originally create the memos, but who is not technically the CBS source. Rather escapes with no dignity but a job and the entire debacle is laid at the feet of Burkett, allowing Cleland and the Kerry Campaign to get off the hook.

This is only a theory about what could have happened and what might happen in the near future. It is based on the speculation that Dan rather could not be stupid enough to consider Bill Burkett an "unimpeachable source", which would point to a third man so to speak. Hey, if the Democrats can run an entire presidential campaign on conspiracy theories why can't we have a few of our own?

For an example of how confident Dan Rather had to be in his source to not see the memos were fake, click here.

Be sure to check the current posts for updates.