Skip to comments.Safire: It Was a Crime
Posted on 09/23/2004 6:22:26 AM PDT by Leofl
Quoting U.S. Criminal Code, Chapter 63, Section 1343, New York Times columnist William Safire went straight to the heart of the CBS Rathergate scandal, writing, "At the root of what is today treated as an embarrassing blunder by duped CBS journalists may turn out to be a felony by its faithless sources."
Writing in Wednesday's New York Times, Safire noted that the statute holds that "Whoever, having devised any scheme or artifice to defraud transmits or causes to be transmitted by means of wire, radio or television communication in interstate or foreign commerce, any writings for the purpose of executing such scheme or artifice, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both."
Safire contends that law applies to those who "conceived a scheme to create a series of false Texas Air National Guard documents and append a photocopied signature to one of them."
Says Safire, that person "then helped cause the fraudulent file to be transmitted by means of television communication to millions of voters for the purpose of influencing a federal election" which he adds is "no mere 'dirty trick' but a potential violation of federal law."
Safire writes that it must be revealed:
Who was the forger?
Did others conspire with him or her to present an apparent government document - with knowledge of its falsity and with intent to defraud, which is a felony in Texas?
Who was meant to to benefit from the forgery and how? While admitting that the feds and the courts "have no business forcing journalists to reveal sources," Safire argued that there is no ethic that requires a journalist to protect a source who lied.
Accordingly, he wrote, Dan Rather went to the Texas ranch of his source and telecast Bill Burkett's admission to having falsely "thrown out the name" of someone who gave him the false evidence, adding that his real source was some hard-to-find mystery woman named Lucy Ramirez.
Safire speculates that in return for his fake documents the Bush-hating Burkett got "coveted access to someone high up in the Kerry campaign."
Burkett was able to reach Kerry's ally former Sen. Max Cleland, to "plead for access to higher-ups so as to launch a 'counterattack' on Bush, who was benefitting from the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth attacks on Kerry's war record. Cleland, he says, confirmed getting the call and said he told Burkett to try the Democratic National Committee. ..."
When Burkett's call to DNC headquarters was not returned, he then asked CBS producer Mary Mapes to help him get the top-level Kerry access he craved.
Prior to the "60 Minutes" telecast, Mapes or some other "60 Minutes" staff member got Burkett what he wanted - a call from Joe Lockhart, the newly hired former Clinton press aide. With the number generously supplied by CBS, Safire recalls that Lockhart called Burkett. "We don't know what was said," Safire wrote, adding that "the call from on high was payoff in itself."
Safire wonders what CBS should do now. He suggests that:
The network should release Rather's interview with Burkett in its entirety, including the outtakes.
Mary Mapes, at the center of all this, should be allowed to speak to reporters.
Viacom should use its vast resources to track down the possible original sources, who likely have engaged in criminal conduct. Appointing independent reviewers should not be a device to duck all others' questions, Safire argues, saying that this is U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's trick to stonewall his Oil-for-Food scandal.
"Conservatives," he adds, "should stop slavering over Dan Rather's scalp, and liberals should stop pretending that noble ends justify fake-evidence means. Both should focus on the lesson of the early '70s: From third-rate burglaries to fourth-rate forgeries, nobody gets away with trying to corrupt American elections."
the one you want is james carville. saw him on fox yesterday and he did not look good. looked like he had lost a lot of sleep. i think i once heard him use the term 'sugar coating'.
Posting note: William Safire should not be listed as author of the source piece. Right?
Maybe more indicting is what did , Mapes or some other "60 Minutes" staff member say to Lockhart about the memos and Burkett and when?
Safire column itself: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1223146/posts
Below is a partial list of threads having some analyses of various statutory frameworks. The closest statute I have seen is a New Hampshire statute, 666:7. A link to it is in one cross reference here (#710 in thread 1221349).
I made multiple posts in most of the threads linked below, and a thorough review requires reading forward from the linked point. The last thread has some interesting "parallels," including the forgery of an official document that, if authentic, would show a clear connection between Mohammed Atta and Iraq. Ironically, Safire published that forgery as authentic ;-O
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1216465/posts?page=133#133 <-- read from #133
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1217992/posts?page=55#55 <-- Nos. 55,72,101,113
http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/18/506.html <-- 18 USC 506 - re: #113 above
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1218457/posts <-- See #6 (by ScottFromSpokane)
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1219685/posts?page=37#37 <-- read from #37
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1221349/posts?page=701#701 <-- Atta/Iraq
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1223146/posts?page=42#42 <-- 18 USC 1343
Sad thing is that rather could become a martyr, going on the air with tears in his eyes claiming to be a victim of the evil Republicans and President Bush.
He'd get plenty of air time.
Yep, Rather and SeeBS only WISH this story would go away.
Fact is - it's just getting started.
I disagree. Dan is one of the big fish who need, not frying, but smoking over a slow fire.
Yes, go after his DNC connections as well, but if Dan gets burned it may well serve notice to the rest of his ilk that the public will no longer look the other way when they willingly carry the Dem water.
Hey, Russert, Matthews, Jennings, Scheaffer, Sawyer, Couric, et al: you are being scrutinized. If you want to keep your jobs, get off your DNC kneepads.
Hey, NYT, LAT, Boston Globe, WaPo, NPR, et al: if you want to want to be viable and credible, stop being propaganda organs.
Note to self, lists should be standardized, Caps or no...
What goes around, comes around.
Journalist as revolutionary. We've got some loony ideas in this country about what exactly 'freedom of the press' and the holiest of Holys First Amendment are supposed to mean. A professional journalist in a major metropolitan newspaper informed the readers recently that some nut with some nutty ideas, who got in trouble for something or other (I don't remember the details) had the "First Amendment right" to have those ideas heard and published! Nuts!
Hmmm: the thought of Dan smoking over a slow fire is an enjoyable one. (It also reminds me that it's almost lunch time). That said, I don't believe that taking him down will dissuade other Media types from continuing to act as paid spokespersons for the Democrat Party. They are, as a group, far too arrogant and politically rigid to back off. They will, instead, rationalize (I'm smarter and more careful), temporize (this will all blow over soon), and criticize (those &^%$!! Republicans). That's why we need to focus on their Democrat enablers - the ones who feed them the stories, leaks, and deep background material with which to do their bidding.
Let's do both. Just as we are perfectly capable of fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq simultaneously, so also can we attack both sides of the media/DNC cabal.
Way to go! bump!
Agreed. Just be ready for a fight; the stakes are awfully high.
Safire grows a spine. Spontaneous regeneration does occur. Water turns to wine. Etc.
Thanks for writing this ... I hope Safire gets your note, although he is almost certainly aware of all of it.
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