Excuse me, but the story is not CBS and the George W. Bush National Guard documents.
The story is: How did the US Congress, the opposition party, the news media, and the US public let the Bush administration start a war based on phony documents?
If someone deceived CBS and passed off forged documents as real, at least CBS consulted experts about the documents before going on the air.
Speaking of questionable documents, the Bush administration has swallowed a large number. What about the obviously forged "yellowcake" documents that were the basis for the "mistaken" claim that Saddam Hussein had a nuclear weapons program?
The Bush administration did not check out the "stovepiped" phony "intelligence" fed them by Iraqi exiles with an agenda and by neoconservatives determined to turn the "war on terror" into a war against Iraq, Iran, and Syria.
The Bush administration ignored all warnings from real experts and CIA and State Department analysts. Bush invaded a country that not only posed no threat to the United States, but also had no weapons of mass destruction and no connections to Osama bin Laden.
The Bush administration’s forged war has cost more than 1,000 American families their sons, husbands, fathers, brothers and a few their sisters, daughters and mothers. Another 7,000—8,000 American soldiers have been wounded, more than half too grievously to be returned to combat. Many have lost arms, legs, eyes.
What have we achieved with these enormous casualties?
We have committed war crimes by bombing residential neighborhoods and killing thousands of women and children.
We have made ourselves infamous as prison torturers.
We have created an insurgency that we cannot put down.
We have given bin Laden an enormous boost in credibility and terrorist recruitment.
We have lost the world’s sympathy.
We have aroused massive anger from Muslims the world over and started a process of Muslim reunification.
We have wasted $200 billion that had high opportunity costs in terms of real needs that went unmet.
We made these egregious mistakes because the Bush administration and the President of the United States used questionable documents that Dan Rather and CBS would have rejected.
You have to ask yourself, why is the front page story CBS? If CBS had forged the documents in order to intentionally mislead the public the way Bush’s government used phony documents to start a war, yes there would be a story.
If someone fooled CBS with forged documents, the only story is: what was that person’s agenda? Why did he do it? Did the forger intend it as an offset dirty trick to the "swift boats" dirty trick against Kerry, or was it a blow aimed at CBS?
The CBS report is about something we already know — the missing gap in Bush’s National Guard service. If the CBS report fails to illume that gap, then the story remains to be told. News organizations should get off CBS and on the story.
Whether documents are forged or authentic, the CBS investigation of Bush’s National Guard service is far less important than Bush’s war based on intentional deception.
Will the American public focus long enough to demand the real story?
Dr. Roberts [send him mail] is John M. Olin Fellow at the Institute for Political Economy and Research Fellow at the Independent Institute. He is a former associate editor of the Wall Street Journal and a former assistant secretary of the U.S. Treasury. He is the co-author of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.