Anchor: CBS Evening News
Dan Rather and The Killian Matter
September 10, 2004
By: Stan Klos
Since the story on the letters allegedly written by late Lt. Col. Jerry Killian surfaced I have been flooded with questions on their authenticity. It is impossible for me to determine authenticity of the letters/memos without a physical inspection. One can determined if the letters were done by a typewriter or a printer in the matter of minutes by an expert like Frank Mowery of the Shakespear-Folger Library in Washington DC. This is where I would start the authentication process.
What I would like to point out, however, is that forged letters attempting to personally attack a President are nothing new. These Killian Memos are quite harmless compared to what was done to the 11th President of the United States George Washington (1st under the constitution -see uspresidency.com). Forged letters supposedly written by the Commander-in-Chief first surfaced in 1777. These letters dated 1776 were of such vile content that if even remotely true Washington would have be branded a traitor to his command and country. The letters were supposedly found in a small portmanteau of his Washington's body-servant, Billy, who was captured at Fort Lee. This story too was fabricated.
Washington ignored the British fabrication and dismissed the publication with no comment in 1777. The letters were, however, reprinted by his political enemies in 1797 and created fervor against him. Washington was forced to respond and did so directly to the Secretary of War on March 3, 1797:
"As I cannot know how soon a more serious event may succeed to that which will this day take place, I have thought it a duty that I owe to myself, to my country, and to truth, now to detail the circumstances above recited; and to add my solemn declaration that the letters herein described are a base forgery, and that I never saw or heard of them until they appeared in print."
The founders set up the third government of the United States with the House checking the Senate, Supreme Court Checking the Executive and everyone checking each other all ultimately answerable to the citizen. They realized from the failed unicameral government that Federal power was needed to conduct the business of the United States and check political ambition with the only thing that could possibly work in a Republic - AMBITION. Many and I mean many Presidential races of the past make the current use of "all the available means of persuasion to get elected" like a slow pitch softball game.
Be that as it may, Lt. Col. Jerry Killian is deceased and such a refutation as Washington made in 1797 is impossible. Experts, however, have the technology to prove or disprove the memo and in time the truth will prevail. Be assured, however, these memos will surface again and again as even the most successful politicians have 4 out of 10 people looking and having the means to remove them from office thanks to the Forgotten Founders.
As for Rather I offer the following characteristics of the powerful written by Aristotle 2300 years ago:
As to Power: here too it may fairly be said that the type of character it produces is mostly obvious enough. Some elements in this type it shares with the wealthy type, others are better. Those in power are more ambitious and more manly in character than the wealthy, because they aspire to do the great deeds that their power permits them to do. Responsibility makes them more serious: they have to keep paying attention to the duties their position involves. They are dignified rather than arrogant, for the respect in which they are held inspires them with dignity and therefore with moderation -- dignity being a mild and becoming form of arrogance. If they wrong others, they wrong them not on a small but on a great scale.
If indeed these letters are forged Mr. Rather will be responsible for doing harm on a great scale. I believe, however, Mr. Rather will embrace the positive characteristics of the powerful and apologize. We, as reasonable citizens both conservative and liberal, must then accept his apology as even well seasoned reporters can make a grievous mistake.
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