CBS Plans New Memos Statement

Fabrice Tourre, Goldman Sach's Executive Director of Structured Products Group Trading on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, April 27, 2010 during to the Senate Investigations subcommittee hearing on Wall Street investment banks and the financial crisis. CBS

CBS News planned Monday to issue a statement about documents purporting to show President Bush neglected some duties when he was in the National Guard more than 30 years ago.

The authenticity of the documents — four memoranda attributed to one of Mr. Bush's Guard commanders, Lt. Col. Jerry Killian — has been under fire since they were described in a .

According to The Washington Post, the network plans to say it was misled about the authenticity of the documents.

The New York Times reports that CBS News officials met Sunday evening with anchor Dan Rather, the reporter of the contested story, to discuss the network's next steps.

CBS sources confirm that the network plans to issue a statement but would not comment on its content. Additional reporting on the documents dispute will air on Monday's CBS Evening News.

It was not clear if the network planned to apologize, the Post reported.

The Post and Times report that CBS' latest move comes after Rather met in Texas with Bill Burkett, a former Texas National Guard official who has been named as a possible source for the documents.

CBS has not revealed who provided the documents or how they were obtained.

Burkett has previously alleged that in 1997 he witnessed allies of then-Gov. Bush discussing the destruction of Guard files that might embarrass Mr. Bush, who was considering a run for the presidency.

Bush aides have denied the charge. Burkett has refused to comment on the controversy over the CBS memos story.

Questions about the president's National Guard service have lingered for years. Some critics question how Mr. Bush got into the Guard at a time when there were waiting lists of young men hoping to join it to escape the draft and possible service in Vietnam.

In the Sept. 8 60 Minutes report, former Texas Lt. Gov. Ben Barnes — a Democrat — claimed that, at the behest of a friend of the Bush family, he pulled strings to get young George W. Bush into the Guard.

Other questions concern why Mr. Bush missed a physical in 1972, and why there are scant records of service during the summer and fall of 1972, when he transferred to an Alabama guard unit so he could work on a campaign there.

The CBS documents suggested that Mr. Bush had disobeyed a direct order to attend the physical, and that there were other lapses in his performance. One memo also indicated that powerful allies of the Bush family were pressuring the guard to "sugar coat" any investigation of Lt. Bush's performance.

Skeptics immediately seized on the typing in the memos, which included a superscripted "th" not found on all 1970s-era typewriters. Some relatives of Col. Killian disputed that the memos were real. His former secretary said the sentiments regarding Mr. Bush were genuine, but the documents were not.

Some document experts whom CBS consulted for the story told newspapers they had raised doubts, and were ignored. CBS disputed their accounts. But the main document expert the network consulted insisted he had vouched only for the authenticity of the signatures on the memos, not whether the documents themselves were genuine.

CBS News stood by its reporting while vowing to continue working the story. Last week, the network acknowledged there were questions about the documents and pledged to try to answer them.

Mr. Bush maintains that he did not get special treatment in getting into the Guard, and that he fulfilled all duties. He was honorably discharged.

On Saturday, a White House official said Mr. Bush has reviewed the disputed documents that purport to show he refused orders to take a physical examination in 1972, and did not recall having seen them previously.

In his first public comment on the documents controversy, the president told The Union Leader of Manchester, N.H., "There are a lot of questions about the documents, and they need to be answered."
  • Jarrett Murphy

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