Tuesday, September 14, 2004

A Rove dirty trick?

Some have surmised that the entire CBS documents scandal is another dirty trick by Karl Rove. The idea is that Rove circulated embarrassing documents that were going to come out anyway, but altered them so the right-wing bloggers could make their arguments that the documents were forgeries. The whole forgery issue would then provide a smokescreen for the real contents of the documents. While I have yet to see any evidence that the documents were indeed forgeries, and the fact you can recreate similar looking documents on a computer today just proves that fonts don't change (which is the whole point of fonts!), the idea that Rove might try such a trick isn't as crazy as it seems. James H. Hatfield, the suicided author of the Bush biography 'Fortunate Son', had a very similar Rove experience. From Barbelith Webzine:

"They produced a run of 45,000 copies, and this time, with Hicks as a mouthpiece, Hatfield did not spare the anonymity of his sources. 'I know that Sander Hicks, my publisher, has stated in interviews and in the introduction to the new, updated second edition of Fortunate Son that (Karl) Rove was one of my sources, but I cannot personally deny or confirm.' And so we get to the alleged villain of the piece. Karl Rove, ex-Nixonite and Bush camp spin-doctor described by Hatfield himself as 'the ultimate dirty trickster'. Also implicated was Clay Johnson, advisor and long-time friend to Bush. Hicks' and Hatfield's version goes like this: when Bush made his hasty admission and the media seemed ready to pounce, Rove realised he needed to find a way to remove discussion of Bush's drug past from the national debate so thoroughly that even Bush himself couldn't bring it up again. Right around August 1999, when Bush made that press conference blunder, J. H. Hatfield's biography Fortunate Son was in its final stages with St. Martin's Press.

According to Hatfield, during the writing of Fortunate Son he had contacted Rove and Johnson and interviewed them at length. Hatfield mistakenly assumed that Johnson and Rove weren't aware of his 1988 conviction for solicitation of capital murder. Rove and Johnson realised that, in Hatfield, they had found their solution to Bush's drug problem. A flawed author."

Hatfield himself said:

"When Fortunate Son: George W. Bush and the Making of an American President was published and subsequently recalled by St. Martin's Press (under pressure from Bush's legal eagles) in October 1999, everyone wanted to know who my sources were for the controversial afterword in which I alleged Dubya had been arrested for coke possession in 1972 and had his record expunged due to his father's political influence. Believing that principles only mean something if you stand behind them when it is inconvenient, I wouldn't oblige . . . . But thanks to the new introduction [in the July 2001 reprinting of the book] by my publisher, Sander Hicks, who 'named names' and identified my sources, I was backed into a corner. When USA Today's Bob Minzeheimer point-blank asked me at the BEA press conference if Karl Rove, Dubya's chief strategist and dirty trickster extraordinaire, was indeed my major source - the so-called 'Eufaula Connection' - I had to fess up to the truth, especially since Hicks was also handing out to the press copies of my private phone records along with the new version of Fortunate Son. . . . And, of course, Rove 'was traveling and could not be reached' for a comment. He can't go on the record and say it isn't true, because IT IS and the phone records speak volumes. How else would I have his private number at his home in Ingram, Texas, plus his fax machine and other unlisted numbers? . . . Although I had no choice but to identify the sources since my publisher had admittedly reneged on his promise 'to take these names to the grave' (in his defense, he felt a professional and personal obligation to expose them since he believed I was the victim of one of Rove's notorious dirty tricks), the general consensus was that I divulged my sources only to heighten interest in the book and spike sells. In other words, I only did it to draw attention to the book and make the cash registers sing like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. . . . It's a classic case of damned if you do and damned if you don't."

So Rove, in the face of very damaging information concerning Bush's drug habits that he knew was going to come out anyway, leaked that information to a man with a serious criminal record who Rove knew was writing a book on Bush. When the embarrassing information became public, Hatfield's legal problems were also publicized, and the substance of the allegations against Bush was buried under the issue of the credibility of Hatfield himself. Hatfield's credibility problem led to the disappearance of his whole book, which was, and is, the only attempt to uncover some of the more sordid details of Bush's past. This was a spectacular disinformation success for Rove, as the Bush cocaine allegations have never been an issue since the original publication of Hatfield's book was pulped. There are obvious parallels to the current CBS documents. Due to the forgery allegations, the messenger, in this case CBS, has become the issue rather than the documents themselves. The entire controversy over Bush's service record has been completely forgotten in the arguments over trivialities. If the documents are forgeries, I would not discount the Rove hypothesis.