Prosecute the Forger

The day after CBS aired its story using forged documents to attack President Bush’s service in the Air National Guard, Democratic partisans were demanding an investigation.

A gloating Dan Rather rushed to publicize their demand on that night’s “CBS Evening News.”

“Democratic senators sent a letter to Defense Secretary Rumsfeld today asking for an investigation into the status of President Bush’s National Guard service records,” said Rather. “The Democrats called the belated revelation of new records, quote, ‘inexcusable.'”

Rather then cut to reporter John Roberts, who introduced a sound bite from left-wing Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa. “And the records, as I say, show, I think very clearly, he did not do his duty,” said Harkin.

Well, it turns out what the records really showed was that someone forged U.S. military documents, in a time of war, in an effort to take down the Commander in Chief.

Find the Culprit

The Democrats were right about one thing: An investigation is needed. But it should be conducted by the Department of Justice, not Defense. It is Justice’s duty to find the forger and prosecute.

“There are federal and state laws that are both criminal and civil that penalize forgery and aiding and abetting the use of forged documents,” Rep. Chris Cox (R.-Calif.) told the Orange County Register last week. “If these documents are in fact forgeries, someone is guilty of those crimes.” Cox, one of the most thoughtful conservatives in the House, is a Harvard Law School graduate.

New York Times columnist William Safire, a one-time Nixon speechwriter who supported Bill Clinton in 1992, also suggested that someone had committed a felony here. He cited Chapter 63, Section 1343 of the U.S. Code: “Whoever, having devised…any scheme or artifice to defraud…transmits or causes to be transmitted by means of wire, radio or television communication in interstate or foreign commerce, any writings…for the purpose of executing such scheme or artifice, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both….”

Then there is Chapter 18, Section 1001: “[W]hoever, in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the Government of the United States, knowingly and willfully…makes or uses any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry . . . shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both.”

It is not a partisan cause to hold legally accountable those responsible for forging military documents with the apparent intent of influencing a presidential election. It is a patriotic cause. Bill Burkett, who supplied the forgeries to CBS, claims he did not create them. As USA Today reported, Burkett says a “Lucy Ramirez” of Houston called him out of the blue and sent him the documents through an intermediary. But USA Today could not find Ramirez.

The logical suspicion is that a domestic enemy of this particular President created the forgeries CBS made into global news. But for all we know now it could have been a foreign enemy of the United States. That is why Justice must do its job: Find the culprit, indict.