Wednesday, September 22, 2004

'Lucy Ramirez'

USA Today on Bill Burkett:

"In interviews in recent days with USA TODAY, both in person and on the phone, Burkett said he had merely been a conduit for the records purported to be from the private files of Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, one of Bush's former Guard commanders, who died in 1984. Burkett admitted lying to USA TODAY about the source of the documents but said he did not fabricate the papers.

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.

Burkett now maintains that the source of the papers was Lucy Ramirez, who he says phoned him from Houston in March to offer the documents. USA TODAY has been unable to locate Ramirez."


"'I didn't forge anything,' Burkett said. 'I didn't fake any documents. The only thing I've done here is to transfer documents from people I thought were real to people I thought were real. And that has been the limitation of my role. I may have been a patsy.'"


"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.

He said Ramirez claimed to possess Killian's 'correspondence file,' which would prove Burkett's allegations that Bush had problems as a Guard fighter pilot.

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.'

By Monday, USA TODAY had not been able to locate Ramirez or verify other details of Burkett's account. Three people who worked with Killian in the early 1970s said they don't recognize her name. Burkett promised to provide telephone records that would verify his calls to Ramirez, but he had not done so by Monday night.

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 is a fiendishly clever plot, and Burkett is indeed the patsy. Burkett never even saw 'Lucy Ramirez', who is no doubt the employee of the plotters (there is beginning to be speculation about which Republican dirty trickster is actually behind the plot). He can't tie the documents back to anyone (it's like James Earl Ray trying to convince people of the existence of 'Raoul'). Burkett was chosen as the plotters knew he really hated Bush and had a particular issue with Bush's military service which would make him leap at the chance of distributing documentary evidence embarrassing to Bush, he had enough prominence and credibility to be able to interest CBS, he could be tied to the Democrats (a particularly sweet point for the plotters), and he had no expertise in documents. Indeed, he insisted that CBS verify the documents as he had his own doubts. Had the plotters gone directly to CBS with the forged documents, CBS would have been a lot more careful. As it was, Burkett's enthusiasm for attacking Bush led him to lie to CBS about their provenance (I wonder if 'Lucy Ramirez' suggested that to him), and the combination of Burkett's reputation and his lie made CBS blind to any problems they should have seen in the whole scenario (and at least some at CBS were almost certainly in on the plot). Once CBS and Burkett had been led down the garden path, the plotters arranged for 'Buckhead' to be armed with the technical information required to challenge the authenticity of the documents, and the set up was complete. Since the challenge was supposedly by bloggers just interested in the truth, the fact that over 90 per cent of the real substance of the attack came directly from a Republican operative passed unnoticed. It didn't hurt that the disgusting American press was able to write the story as the populist bloggers challenging, and beating, big, bad CBS. The end result is that the whole issue of Bush's military service is confused and unusable by the Democrats, the voters resent the Democrats for raising the matter, the Democrats are cast with the suspicion of being involved in their own dirty tricks involving forgery (!), a particular enemy of Bush gets his comeuppance, the press is further scared off even thinking about raising any issues embarrassing to the Republicans (, a website set up by a Republican operative, demands the resignation of Dan Rather), and Kerry loses even more valuable time in the American media when his attacks on substantive problems with the Bush regime are lost in the Rovean fog.