Saturday, October 30, 2004

AIM Report: "Can Dan" Campaign on Verge of Success

AIM is leading the campaign to hold Dan DNC Rather and Mary Mapes guilty for their fraudulent story designed to influence the election

"This is a brazen attempt to deceive the American people and subvert a U.S. presidential election."


AIM founder Reed Irvine's "Can Dan" campaign against Dan Rather, launched 16 years ago, appears to be on the verge of success.

AIM members, staffers and supporters gathered outside the CBS News offices in Washington, D.C., on September 21 to call for the firing of Dan Rather in the wake of the CBS Evening News anchorman's use of forged documents in a story designed to discredit President Bush. Rather, in a "60 Minutes" broadcast on September 8, featured documents purportedly authored by a National Guard commander, in order to prove that Bush had neglected his service to the nation as a young man in the Guard during the Vietnam War.

In a statement to the press, AIM editor Cliff Kincaid said that CBS had been caught "in the middle of a criminal conspiracy" that was seeking "to use forged documents to bring down an American president." Kincaid added, "This is a brazen attempt to deceive the American people and subvert a U.S. presidential election."

AIM was joined by members of the FreeRepublic.com, one of the national websites featuring the Internet "bloggers" who were the first to draw attention to the discrepancies in the CBS documents and the fact that they were likely forgeries. For their efforts, a former CBS News executive ridiculed them as people wearing their pajamas in front of their computers.

But at the anti-CBS protest, several of the "Freepers," including FreeRepublic spokesman Kristinn Taylor, proudly wore their pajamas. (The complete statements of Kincaid and Taylor are included at the end of this AIM Report).

Rather eventually apologized for the broadcast and acknowledged that the network received the documents from bitter ex-Guardsman Bill Burkett, a partisan critic of Bush who admitted deceiving the network about where they had come from. Burkett did not identify their ultimate source.

CBS then announced that former Attorney General Dick Thornburgh and retired Associated Press (AP) official Louis Boccardi would investigate the scandal.

But AIM said that the current Attorney General—or at least the FBI—might have an interest in the "Rathergate" matter. After all, forging government documents is a violation of federal and state law.

Federal law prohibits the forging of government or public records for the purpose of defrauding the U.S. In a Supreme Court case, Hammerschmidt v. United States, Chief Justice Taft defined "defraud" as follows: "To conspire to defraud the United States means primarily to cheat the Government out of property or money, but it also means to interfere with or obstruct one of its lawful governmental functions by deceit, craft or trickery, or at least by means that are dishonest." This means, the Justice said, that it "is not necessary that the Government shall be subjected to property or pecuniary loss by the fraud, but only that its legitimate official action and purpose shall be defeated by misrepresentation" or fraud.

The broadcasting of forged documents to affect a presidential campaign and election clearly falls in the parameters of "conspiracy to defraud."

Ironically, CBS initially claimed that it was the responsibility of the White House to expose the documents as forgeries. Its rationale is that it turned the forgeries over to the White House communications director Dan Bartlett, who did not immediately expose or denounce them as forgeries. The Washington Post reported that CBS correspondent John Roberts called "60 Minutes" producer Mary Mapes "with word that Bartlett was not challenging the authenticity of the documents. Mapes told her bosses, who were so relieved that they cut from Rather's story an interview with a handwriting expert who had examined the memos. At that point, said '60 Minutes' executive Josh Howard, 'we completely abandoned the process of authenticating the documents.'"

With such a position, CBS should not now object to an FBI investigation into the origin and distribution of the forgeries. It should be prepared to waive its First Amendment privileges in order to determine the truth and punish the perpetrators of this fraud

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