My lips are moving and I'm lying
EXCLUSIVE: Bush's Tactical Lying by Jim Moore
by Jim Moore
Author of Bush's Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential
Being wrong is not very gratifying. Still, I had hoped I was mistaken
about George W. Bush. But all of the evidence indicated my president was
a liar, a man skilled at deception and changing the evidence to
construct alternate realities.
I had been interviewing and writing about Mr. Bush consistently for
over 15 years and had spoken with him on the record many times prior to
his political ascension. I gave him the benefit of believing what he told
me. This is what journalists do.
But they also verify. And when I began the business of corroborating
and trying to check out George W. Bush and his various narratives, I
began to have grave doubts. I wrote about them in two books: Bush's Brain:
How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential, and Bush's War for
Re-election: Iraq, the White House, and the People. I had evidence,
documentation, interviews, narratives, and everything a writer needs to
construct a story line. But no one who knew the exact truth from the Bush
perspective, including Mr. Bush, ever agreed to go on the record. My work,
as a result, was often dismissed by the Bush team as "leftist," and a
specious political attack, even though I had been working in mainstream
journalism for over 25 years.
My doubts are gone now, and yours should be, too, as a result of a fine
piece of journalism by my indefatigable friend Russ Baker. Baker, who
writes frequently for various national publications, landed a long
interview with Mickey Herskowitz, originally retained by Mr. Bush to write
the pre-presidential biography in 1999. Herskowitz, a long time friend
of the Bush family, built a successful career as a ghostwriter for the
famous. And it is Herskowitz who got the unvarnished truth from George
W. Bush during a series of long interviews.
Recently, Russ Baker got Herskowitz to sit down to a taped interview
and talk about what Bush had related when they began work on the Bush
biography in 1999. And, according to Herskowitz, almost everything the
public thinks it knows about Bush is wrong.
For 10 years, I have been trying to prove Mr. Bush has been lying and
obfuscating about his time in the Texas and Alabama Air National Guard.
Russ Baker's interview with Herskowitz proved I was right. As I
traveled on the 2000 presidential campaign, I grew weary of hearing Mr. Bush
claim that he had reported for duty in Alabama and then, in his
biography, A Charge to Keep, he claimed he continued to fly with his Texas unit
for many years.
Unless our president is pathological, he knew this was not true. I
never found a record to prove Lt. Bush ever reported to duty in Alabama,
yet the magnificent research work of Paul Lukusiak proved that Mr. Bush
got paid. In fact, the director of human resources for the Alabama
National Guard, Kenneth Lott, admitted to the Los Angeles Times that he
never processed paperwork for Lt. Bush, which meant the Texas transfer
pilot never did a day of duty. Further complicating the story, Bush's
commander in Houston, Rufus Martin told the paper he had "no personnel
contact" for the Alabama unit Lt. Bush was supposed to join.
Lukusiak's work, a significant public service, shows that Martin should
have never signed pay vouchers for Lt. Bush without approved paperwork
from Alabama. But he did. And Lt. Bush got paid. This is particularly
surprising given what Mr. Bush told Herskowitz, and what Russ Baker
reported. He said he left Houston's guard unit under "murky circumstances"
and never flew again.
I had made this assertion many times, but never had proof until Baker's
reporting confirmed what the missing and available records had been
telling me. My own research and writing indicated the future president was
given a free pass to simply leave for Alabama and not report to any
kind of duty ever again. And that's precisely how Mr. Bush related the
story to Herskowitz back in 1999.
During the campaign in 2000, a number of reporters on the press plane
were given shoddy documentation, torn and annotated with hand-written
notes, as an attempt to prove Mr. Bush reported for duty in Alabama. His
own memory, though, was faulty. He said he showed up for training a few
times and made up some days.
There was, however, never a solitary soul who was able to claim they
saw the Lt. at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery. No wonder. After
hearing what Mr. Bush told Hersokowitz, there's no doubt he never did
anything more in Alabama beyond party and show up late for work with a
hangover at the campaign headquarters of Winton Blount.
Through Baker, Herskowitz has verified what a number of sources told me
off the record in Alabama: Bush never talked about the guard and
brought neither uniforms nor equipment of any kind with him for his time in
Montgomery. The guard was no longer a part of his life. I wrote in
various essays and my books that Lt. Bush never did another day of duty,
much less spend time flying, after he left Texas for Alabama in May of
1972. Herskowitz's testimony to Baker corroborates what I reported from
the files available in the Bush Military Personnel Records Jacket.
Baker's interview also corroborates my own investigation of the run up
to the war with Iraq. In both of my books, I used all available
evidence to make the case that the Bush administration, indeed, the Bush
campaign, had been thinking about Iraq long before 9/11. Bush's chief
political advisor Karl Rove, along with Vice President Dick Cheney and the
now-household names of Wolfowitz and Perle and Rumsfeld, had all been
lusting after Iraqi oil since the 1994 essay published by the Project for
the New American Century. They wanted to project American power into
the Middle East; and toppling Saddam, beyond acquiring Iraq's oil
reserves, also provided a number of domestic political positives for Mr. Bush.
Herskowitz told Baker that Bush was interested in a war because it
would help him politically and that he would use that political capital to
win passage of his legislative agenda.
Herskowitz's words prove that our president is a reckless cowboy - a
man who views war and conflict as a great game and does not think of the
families he has destroyed to acquire "political capital." During the
course of interviewing and doing research, I spent several days talking
to Wade Lieseke of Tonopah, Nevada, whose adopted son was killed in the
opening days of the Iraqi invasion at the Battle of Al Nasiriyah.
Lieske, who was a door gunner for two tours of duty in Vietnam, told me,
"The elitists who start these wars don't give a damn about those of us who
have to fight them. We're just cannon fodder. And all they do is lie to
us. It's just about greed and power and ego." I thought Lieseke was a
bit cynical but I understood his anger after losing a son he loved in a
meaningless, hopeless endeavor. After reading what Herskowitz told Russ
Baker, I think Wade Lieseke was restrained and I was, at age 52,
The Herskowitz interview with Baker is more evidence that the Bush
organization is willing to recreate history, alter evidence, destroy
documentation, and mislead anyone who is seeking the facts about their power.
When Lt. Col. Bill Burkett told me that he had witnessed the Bush guard
files being purged at Camp Mabry in Austin, I had a great deal of
difficulty giving his narrative any credence. However, when I began calling
his associates to inquire about Burkett's character, they all flattered
him with compliments for integrity and honesty, including his
commanding officer Gen. Danny James. James later called Burkett a liar after I
related the story of the purging. I included Burkett's narrative in my
second book because it fit with the facts of what I was able to prove
through my own research. Documents, both missing and available, pointed
toward corroboration of Burkett's claims. After reading Herskowitz's
quotes in Russ Baker's piece, it becomes abundantly clear that the Bush
dynasty is willing to do whatever is necessary to reconstruct a more
favorable history. They give credibility to conspiracy
The way Herskowitz was treated for trying to write the truth comports
with what Col. Burkett told me about the National Guard file cleansing.
Karen Hughes, a Bush confidant and counselor, told lies about
Herskowitz, claiming he had habits that interfered with his writing and that he
had missed deadlines. Neither was true. According to what he told
Baker, he'd already written six chapters and had the finish line in sight.
Hughes, though, knows how to reconstruct facts to suit her hero. She
was, after all, part of the plan Col. Burkett overheard presented to Gen.
Danny James by then-Gov. Bush's Chief of Staff Joe Allbaugh. The goal
was to "remove embarrassments" from the Governor's file. What Mr. Bush
told Herskowitz was another embarrassment when it was written, so
Herskowitz was fired because he was unwilling to help the Bush cronies build
their false reality.
Our default position as Americans is to trust our president.
Unfortunately, we cannot do this any longer. The administration of George W. Bush
proves we must be skeptical. Our president looked us in the eye on
national television and told us that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass
destruction and was a grave and gathering threat; and he did this as
though it had just occurred to him to confront the Iraqi dictator. We saw a
man acting out a charade, a president who has a facility for a
selective recall of his own past and the necessary psychological tricks to
convince himself it was okay to lie to us because he was lying for a good
reason. Russ Baker's fine journalism has done us all a great favor by
getting as close to Mr. Bush's thinking as anyone has ever done.
Nonetheless, we failed in our responsibilities as citizens. We let Mr.
Bush get away with this. And we ought to be ashamed. Now, we need to do
something about our own mistakes.
posted by Steve @ 10:24:00 PM