Wednesday, January 12, 2005

The Lost Interview with Colonel Hack (worth)

The following is an excerpt from the Independent Panel Report on CBS News:

Colonel David H. Hackworth was interviewed by Rather as an expert to evaluate the documents that Mapes obtained from Lieutenant Colonel Burkett. Colonel Hackworth is a retired Army officer who has been a columnist, commentator and reporter for various news organizations. Mapes said that she asked Colonel Hackworth to “look at the back and forth” in the Killian documents because he had worked in the Pentagon and knew about Pentagon politics. Even though Colonel Hackworth was never in the TexANG, did not know Lieutenant Colonel Killian or any of the other relevant individuals, had no personal knowledge of President Bush’s service in the TexANG and had no personal knowledge regarding the Killian documents, he reached some highly critical conclusions in his interview regarding President Bush’s TexANG service based solely on the purported authenticity of the Killian documents and his general knowledge of the military.

First, Colonel Hackworth concluded that the documents were “genuine.” He reached this conclusion by relating his own experience at the Pentagon during the Vietnam War when he was running the “Army input system for . . . basic training.” Colonel Hackworth said that, while in that post, he received and refused requests by members of Congress and generals to assign certain men to particular units and wrote “cover my own butt” memoranda in many cases to document his refusals. Colonel Hackworth then concluded that Lieutenant Colonel Killian was “in the same kind of pickle that I found myself in” and proceeded to discuss what Lieutenant Colonel Killian was thinking at the time he wrote the memoranda. Rather asked Colonel Hackworth whether there was any doubt in his mind that the documents were real, and Colonel Hackworth replied, “Having been down that road before I would say that these are genuine documents.”

Second, Colonel Hackworth concluded that, by not taking his physical, then-Lieutenant Bush was “insubordinate” and would have been treated more harshly had he been “an unconnected Lieutenant.” Third, Colonel Hackworth stated repeatedly throughout his interview that then-Lieutenant Bush was “AWOL” and that a person would have to reach that conclusion when reviewing the documents “unless you’re the village idiot.” Colonel Hackworth appeared to be referring to the fact that he had seen no evidence that President Bush was “present for duty” once he left for Alabama in 1972, although he did not articulate clearly how he reached his conclusion. Finally, Colonel Hackworth concluded that “the bottom line here is – is the abuse of power.” He said that “[I]t’s how people up at the top can . . . lean on the little people.”

Rather thought Colonel Hackworth was a “strong and valuable expert witness.” Mapes also believed that Colonel Hackworth was important for the Segment and included excerpts of his interview in early drafts of the September 8 Segment script. These excerpts were ultimately cut from the final script by Heyward and West.

Maybe that's how Heyward saved his job?


Blogger C.M. Burns said...

It may be how Heyward kept his job, but it still doesn't mean he should still have one. Small, small credit to him for seeing Hackworth's opinion for what it was-worthless, but if this was the kind of thing that Rather and Mapes were bringing to him, why didn't he push for a stronger overall review. While I haven't read the complete report yet(It's sitting at home waiting for me to go through tonight), it's clear that there were many signals that the whole piece needed careful scrutiny. He still needs to go, and to quote a family freind who is a J-School professor at Northwestern and no fan of Dubya, Rather "Should be uncermoniously fired and pointed to as an example of jurnalistic hubris gone awry. I've failed kids for less".

Wed Jan 12, 01:44:00 PM 2005  

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