Conservative media slantUnfortunately, the report, anchored by CBS's star reporter Dan Rather and produced by veteran Mary Mapes, uses several documents that cannot be fully authenticated, known colloquially as the "Killian documents." The documents, which some on the right claim to be forgeries, are secondary to the thrust of the presentation, showing that the late Colonel Jerry Killian, Bush's commander at the time, purport to show Killian was critical of Bush's service, but not particularly important in the context of the report. Within minutes, right-wing Internet blogs and commentary sites begin making allegations of forgery, focusing on alleged typographical inconsistencies and anachronisms in the wording of the documents (largely disproven within days, but the debunkings never get the airplay that the accusations receive). For two weeks CBS defends the authenticity of the documents, but on September 30, reverses course, with Rather saying publicly, "[I]f I knew then what I know now -– I would not have gone ahead with the story as it was aired, and I certainly would not have used the documents in question." CBS News President Andrew Heyward adds, "Based on what we now know, CBS News cannot prove that the documents are authentic, which is the only acceptable journalistic standard to justify using them in the report. We should not have used them. That was a mistake, which we deeply regret."
Iraq war and occupationHe writes in part, "I fault this president for not knowing what death is. He does not suffer the death of our 21-year-olds who wanted to be what they could be. ...He hasn't the mind for it. You see him joking with the press, peering under the table for the weapons of mass destruction he can't seem to find, you see him at rallies strutting up to the stage in shirt sleeves to the roar of the carefully screened crowd, smiling and waving, triumphal, a he-man. He does not mourn. He doesn't understand why he should mourn. He is satisfied during the course of a speech written for him to look solemn or a moment and speak of the brave young Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. But you study him, you look into his eyes and know he dissembles an emotion which he does not feel in the depths of his being because he has no capacity for it. He does not feel a personal responsibility for the 1,000 dead young men and women who wanted to be what they could be. They come to his desk not as youngsters with mothers and fathers or wives and children who will suffer to the end of their days a terribly torn fabric of familial relationships and the inconsolable remembrance of aborted life...they come to his desk as a political liability, which is why the press is not permitted to photograph the arrival of their coffins from Iraq. How then can he mourn? To mourn is to express regret, and he regrets nothing. He does not regret that his reason for going to war was, as he knew, unsubstantiated by the facts. He does not regret that his bungled plan for the war's aftermath has made of his mission-accomplished a disaster. He does not regret that, rather than controlling terrorism, his war in Iraq has licensed it. So he never mourns for the dead and crippled youngsters who have fought this war of his choice.
Anti-terrorism and homeland securityDyckman writes, "The 'man on horseback' mentality, the belief that a leader's strength is more important than where it leads them, defines a population that is vulnerable to dictatorship. This is not to call Bush a dictator or suggest that he wants to be one. But let no one believe that it couldn't happen here, as has happened so often elsewhere. It has happened here, and by the design of better statesmen than Bush. John Adams, an original American patriot, signed the Alien and Sedition Acts that put people in prison for what they said or wrote. Abraham Lincoln, one of our three greatest presidents, suspended the writ of habeas corpus. Woodrow Wilson, a scholar by profession, jailed and deported people for opposing a war that, nearly a century later, still raises the question of what American interests compelled our participation. Franklin D. Roosevelt put 110,000 men, women and children in concentration camps because of their race. In each instance, danger was the pretext for suspending democracy and decency." Dyckman says the seeds of dictatorship have been sown in his own state of Florida: "In December 2000, the Florida House of Representatives, in broad daylight, voted 79 to 41 to steal the 2000 presidential election by formally appointing the Republican slate of electors regardless of what a recount might show. Though presumptively legal under the Constitution, that was a dictatorial act in light of the modern expectation that the people, not the politicians, elect the president. Florida rewarded the perpetrators by sending Tom Feeney to Congress and re-electing nearly everyone who followed his orders. If that disgraceful vote ever became even an issue in any of their campaigns, I am unaware of it. The Senate did not follow suit, but only because of President John McKay's shrewd strategy of waiting to see what the Supreme Court would do. Nonetheless, a precedent was set for use in the next state where one party controls both houses and opportunity knocks." (St. Petersburg Times)