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Sunday, September 12, 2004

Was Bill Burkett CBS News' Rathergate source?

Ace of Spades follows up vigorously on what seems to me a very plausible suggestion from Newsweek — that CBS News' Rathergate source may have been the controversial Bill Burkett.  It's speculation, but not without considerable basis for it, and it might indeed explain a lot.

Update (Sun Sep 12 @ 4:13pm):  My commenters on this thread are coming up with other intriguing bits that may support an alternate theory on the origin of the CBS News docs.

Posted by Beldar at 01:33 PM in Mainstream Media, Politics (2006 & earlier) | Permalink


Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to Was Bill Burkett CBS News' Rathergate source? and sent a trackback ping are listed here:


(1) Dan made the following comment | Sep 12, 2004 2:27:34 PM | Permalink

There's a bunch of info out there on this guy. Even the Globe previously called his story "questionable."


(2) The Raving Atheist made the following comment | Sep 12, 2004 2:56:23 PM | Permalink

Sorry for the repetition, but I didn't see this post until just after I post this as part of a comment to the USA Today Post:

(5) As to the origin of the documents, one avenue that needs to be pursued is item number 36 of the Free Republic talking points: “Why were these exact same documents available for sale on the Internet [b]y Marty Heldt, of leftist web site Tom Paine, as early as January 2004? Is this where CBS obtained their copies?” Although it has now been removed from the official list due to the lack of a link, it doesn’t seem to be the kind of thing that would just come out of nowhere. And indeed, ALL four of the documents are available at AwolBush.com, which identifies them as “Documents Obtained by Walter Robinson, Martin Heldt and other researchers through the Freedom of Information Act.” I have a feeling this posted listing pre-dates the CBS controversy, as it doesn’t mention Rather as the source but does mention Heydt. And oddly, the news updates on the main page’s sidebar end with September 8, 2004, the day the story broke.

(3) Pierre Kandorfer made the following comment | Sep 12, 2004 3:24:30 PM | Permalink

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(4) J_Crater made the following comment | Sep 12, 2004 6:53:01 PM | Permalink

The "CBS" documents on the BushAOL site have the exact filenames as those from CBS and same format (pdf). I suspect these are from CBS.

(5) The Raving Atheist made the following comment | Sep 12, 2004 7:26:45 PM | Permalink

Correction: It now appears that the six disputed documents did NOT appear on BushAwol.com prior to the CBS story on September 8, 2004. The pdf documents posted at BushAwol bear the names assigned to them by CBS and USA Today. Furthermore, they were not identified in the inventory on this site on August 10, 2004, which linked to BushAwol and purported to provide a list of all the documents then appearing on BushAwol.

(6) Chuck made the following comment | Sep 12, 2004 7:50:39 PM | Permalink

I wonder if Rather confused Bill Burkett, the disgruntled ex-TANG officer, with B. G. Burkett, the co-author of "Stolen Valor"?

I can see someone at CBS suggesting that Rather speak with B. G. Burkett to get the latter's opinion of GWB's guard service. But Dan f**ked up big time, called the wrong Burkett and discovered a soul-mate who happened to have lots good, juicy, secret "information" on GWB's service with TANG.

(7) Harlan Pepper made the following comment | Sep 12, 2004 9:16:37 PM | Permalink

How serious of a crime is the forging of these types of military documents? If CBS rolls over on their source and it happens to be Bill Burkett, could law enforcement seize his computer hard drives and forensically search them for evidence he created those docs. That would be kind of cool, eh?

(8) Fredrik Nyman made the following comment | Sep 12, 2004 9:47:42 PM | Permalink

How serious a crime is it to claim that the documents were obtained through the FOIA act?

(I'm assuming that this kind of documents simply aren't covered by the FOIA).

(9) The Raving Atheist made the following comment | Sep 13, 2004 10:14:48 AM | Permalink

Wizbang today is pointing a tentative finger at Heldt, based on this thread in which a former Democratic consultant claims that Heldt tried to sell him on obviously forged documents in January 2004. Apparently that is where the Freeper suspicions came from, rather than from anything posted on Heldt's site.

As to the FOIA issue, it's probably not a crime at all to misidentify the source. And as I've noted, Heldt DID probably get them through FOIA -- on September 8th, after the people responsible for updating the FOIA production received them from CBS and decided to turn them over to Heldt in an excess of caution.

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