DOCUMENTS AND FACTS AND THE TRUTH
September 23, 2004 - 10 days after CBS broadcast its story based upon questioned documents the President finally questioned the authenticity of the memoranda. “There are a lot of questions about the documents and they need to be answered," he told the Manchester News –Leader. "I think what needs to happen is people need to take a look at the documents, how they were created, and let the truth come out." For 10 days the White House was saying that it had no reason to doubt the authenticity of the memoranda presented by a respected news organization. That delayed reaction tells us volumes about the underlying facts of Lt. George W. Bush and his 1972 service with the Texas Air National Guard.
One would think that the minute the memoranda surfaced, especially the one that purported to order Lt. George W. Bush to report for a flight physical. The President of the United States would have denounced it as a fabrication. After all he is in a unique position to know the facts. He knows whether he received a direct order from his squadron commander to submit to that flight physical in the summer of 1972. If he did not receive such an order we would have expected an immediate denial. That it was not forthcoming is strong evidence that the order was given and was not obeyed. The President has still not denied that Lt. George W. Bush defied a direct order to report for a flight physical in the summer of 1972.
The problem that the President and the White House faced with the CBS story is that they could not know that the memoranda were specious. They knew the facts, of course, and that is why they were not comfortable with an immediate denunciation of the memos as fakes. The White House Spinmeisters reverted to type and issued a classic Watergate Era non-denial denial, “The President does not recall ever having received such a memo,” followed by ten days of silence. The problem was that the fabricated documents had a basis in fact and could not easily be dismissed. Only after the conventional wisdom and CBS concluded that it could not prove the authenticity of the documents was it safe for the President to raise a question.
Historical facts don’t change. Nor are they subject to interpretation. Facts simply exist. Documents, whether factually sound or fictitious in origin, may either accurately reflect those facts or may distort them. Truth has little to do with either facts or documents. Truth, as we use the term in this political season, is neither related to the facts nor to the evidence of them. Truth holds that a typographical error on a government for proves a medal is undeserved. Truth holds that a lack of documentation of a TANG carrier proves that the files were sanitized.
Truth has become a welcome diversion preventing our attention to the endless cycle of death, destruction and debacle that has become the Vietnamization of Iraq. Truth focuses our attention on thirty years ago rather than upon the last thirty months. Facts don’t provide that luxury Facts come home in flag draped boxes. Facts are shed with a mother’s tears.
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