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September 21, 2004
This Is What CBS Considers An "Unimpeachable" Source?

USA Today conducted a remarkable interview with the CBS source for the Killiam forgeries, longtime Bush-hater Bill Burkett, which must be read to be disbelieved. Burkett convulses, Burkett claims he's a patsy, Burkett admits to lying to everyone, and in the same breath says he's still talking to "save his name", which by any standard is a ship that's long since sailed.

Burkett agreed to go on the record with USA Today after being outed by CBS as its source, and offered a fantastic explanation of the Killian memos' origin:

Burkett's emotions varied widely in the interviews. One session ended when Burkett suffered a violent seizure and collapsed in his chair. Earlier, he said he was coming forward now to explain what he had done and why to try to salvage his reputation. In the past week, Burkett was named by many news reports as the probable source of the documents.

"It's time," Burkett said. "I'm tired of me being the bad guy. I'm tired of losing everything we've got," a reference to his financial and health struggles since he left the Guard. Turning to his wife, Nicki, he said: "We've lost it all, baby. We've lost everything."

Bear in mind that the last time we heard from Burkett, he claimed to see Bush's Guard records in a facility where they weren't kept. Now he has convulsions, fainting spells, and these melodramatic exchanges with his wife while conducting interviews with USA Today. Keep this in mind later on.

Sitting in a rocking chair in his weathered ranch house south of Baird, Texas, Burkett recounted his continuing efforts beginning before he was discharged from the Texas Army National Guard in 1998 to clean up what he saw as Guard corruption and mismanagement. He said that activity led to a telephone call in March from Ramirez and her offer to provide documents damaging to President Bush.

Burkett said Ramirez told him she had seen him the previous month in an appearance on the MSNBC program Hardball, discussing the controversy over whether Bush fulfilled all his obligations for service in the Texas Air Guard during the early 1970s. "There is something I have that I want to make sure gets out," he quoted her as saying. ...

In earlier conversations with USA TODAY, Burkett had identified the source of the documents as George Conn, a former Texas National Guard colleague who works for the U.S. Army in Europe. Burkett now says he made up the story about Conn's involvement to divert attention from himself and the woman he now says provided him with the documents. He told USA TODAY that he also lied to CBS.

What we are seeing is a pattern of lies, one after the other, and lies that don't lend themselves to easy resolution. First, George Conn gives him the memos, and George Conn is conveniently overseas. Next, after that blows up, a mysterious woman named Lucy Ramirez appears out of nowhere to offer documents from Killian's file. Burkett next spins a tale about the document transfer that sounds as if it came from the pages of a Robert Ludlum novel:

Burkett said he arranged to get the documents during a trip to Houston for a livestock show in March. But instead of being met at the show by Ramirez, he was approached by a man who asked for Burkett, handed him an envelope and quickly left, Burkett recounted.

"I didn't even ask any questions," Burkett said. "Should I have? Yes. Maybe I was duped. I never really even considered that." ...

An acquaintance of Burkett, who he said could corroborate his story, said he was at the livestock show on March 3. The woman, who asked that her name not be used, said Burkett asked if he could put papers inside a box she had at the livestock show. Often, she said, friends ask to store papers in her box that verify their purchases at the livestock auction. She said she did not know the nature of the papers Burkett gave her, and he did not say anything about them.

This occured on March 3, the date of the livestock show. Burkett claims that a friend could corroborate this story, and the unnamed friend says that Burkett had given her some papers at the show for her to store. We are supposed to believe that Burkett, an avid Bush-hater who had just made his wild accusations on February 12th, had been handed an envelope full of documents that could have supported his contentions -- and he asked an acquaintance to hold onto them while he did what, check out the cows?

Does that make sense to you?

Wait until you hear Burkett's explanation as to why he doesn't have the originals:

After he received the documents in Houston, Burkett said, he drove home, stopping on the way at a Kinko's shop in Waco to copy the six memos. In the parking lot outside, he said, he burned the ones he had been given and the envelope they were in. Ramirez was worried about leaving forensic evidence on them that might lead back to her, Burkett said, acknowledging that the story sounded fantastic. "This is going to sound like some damn sci-fi movie," he said.

After keeping the copies for a couple of days, he said he drove to a location he would not specify, about 100 miles from his ranch, to put them "in cold storage." Burkett said he took the action because he believed the papers were politically explosive and made him nervous. "I treated them like absolute TNT," he said. "They looked to me like they were devastating."

So now after hitting the Mother Lode in his quest to discredit George Bush, what does this supposedly rational man do? According to his own account, he burns the evidence that will support him. Why does he do that? Because his source wants all forensic evidence to her removed? If that was the case, why would she have handed him the originals to begin with?

Ultimately, Burkett decided to turn over the documents to one of the most persistent journalists, CBS producer Mary Mapes, sometime in August. He and his wife met Mapes and CBS reporter Mike Smith at a pizza restaurant a few miles from their ranch. At first he gave them only two of the six documents, which Mapes said she planned to have analyzed for authenticity, according to Burkett.

So CBS had all six documents and only used four of them? We know, separately from Burkett, that he had six because USA Today ran all six with their story, although this is the first confirmation that CBS had them all. Considering the amateurish nature of the forgeries CBS ran, one has to ask why they held back the other two. If they were so bad as to not pass Mapes' smell test, why would she have published the four she did? Why didn't CBS ask that question before airing the story?

For those of us who have personal experience with this type of person, these signs look appallingly familiar. Burkett starts with a lie (Feb 12 story about file cleansing) that gets debunked. He tries to back his lie up with an escalating series of lies, culminating in the forgeries. He passes them off to CBS and USA Today by claiming a source that's conveniently overseas. When those blow up in his face (in small part because the forgeries use Army lingo, Burkett's branch, instead of Air Force), he then spins tales of a mysterious woman who sends an intermediary to deliver envelopes full of documents but who later insists that he burn the evidence. Her name is conveniently common enough in Texas to thwart any effective checking of her identity, and now he claims to be a "patsy". When challenged, he reacts by becoming ill and making melodramatic statements.

Burkett has all the earmarks of a pathological liar. If you've never dealt with the type, you would be amazed at how adept they are at convincing people of their sincerity. But as they get challenged, they raise the stakes of their lies every time, until people either figure out they're lying or figure that the stories are so fantastic that they can't have been made up.

Burkett can't lie his way out of this. He's either the source of the forgeries himself, or he is still covering up for someone else, someone with more to lose than Burkett. Either the FBI or Texas authorities need to keep the pressure on Burkett to find out the truth behind the smokescreen of Burkett's lies.

UPDATE: Welcome Lucianne readers, and I appreciate the Golden Drawstring Award ...

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at September 21, 2004 4:13 AM

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» It Just Keeps Getting Worse And Worse from Ipse Dixit
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» Who Is Lucy Ramirez? from MartiniPundit
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Tracked on September 21, 2004 10:44 AM

» The Source Formally Known as Unimpeachable from
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Tracked on September 21, 2004 11:05 AM

» CBS -- Tool of the Democrats from The Key Monk
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Tracked on September 21, 2004 11:36 AM

» The Unimpeachable Source from infidel cowboy
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Tracked on September 21, 2004 8:18 PM

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