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In the Loop

A Late Development in Fontgate

By Al Kamen
Wednesday, September 15, 2004; Page A23

Beleaguered CBS anchor Dan Rather and CBS executives have "found a new memo that completely vindicates them," according to some creative bloggers.

The note is from President Bush's late Texas National Guard commander, Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, who just wrote Rather to reassure him that the highly suspect documents used on a "60 Minutes" report showing favoritism to Bush were absolutely, positively, 100 percent real.

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Experts say the documents appear to be fake for a number of reasons. They note that some of the typewriter characteristics did not exist in the early 1970s, when Killian supposedly wrote them. Problems with writing styles, dates and addresses also lead experts to strongly question the documents' authenticity.

But network executives and Rather have repeatedly insisted that the documents are real and that they stand by them.

This latest "document," however, should put to rest any allegation that Rather got hoodwinked by a rather lame fraud. On the other hand, some experts immediately challenged the authenticity of this latest document, saying it lacked the requisite sign-off: "Courage."

A Brigade of Tinfoil Hats

The Justice Department's inspector general reported Monday to Congress on the number of complaints that the IG received from December to June about civil rights or civil liberties abuses by officials in the name of the controversial USA Patriot Act.

The report also listed the "number of 'unrelated' complaints."

Now what might this be? A footnote explains that the "complaints in this category do not cite an improper act by a DOJ employee or contractor or a discernible nexus between the alleged conduct of the DOJ employee/contractor and a . . . civil rights or civil liberties violation."

"Examples in this category include complaints that the government has implanted devices in complainants' heads to control or interfere with their thoughts or actions, or that the government is pumping poisonous gas into their homes."

So does this mean the IG is not going to investigate these complaints? Ahh, the coverup begins.

Next Time, Try the Stairs

The old-timers in McLean call it the "Cheney Curse," but who knows?

Veteran Bush aide Joe Allbaugh, who went private to set up his own strategic planning firm 18 months ago, got home to his McLean townhouse around 5 p.m. Monday to pick up his wife and then head out for the evening. He squeezed his formidable 6-foot-4-inch, 275-pound frame into the tiny elevator and it went up a floor and a half and . . . stopped.

Allbaugh, former head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the folks who handle disasters, now had a mini one of his own. He called his wife on the elevator phone and then smelled something burning -- something that would most likely be a motor. The next call was to the McLean Volunteer Fire Department, which promptly showed up and pried open the door, allowing Allbaugh to crawl out.

"I'm a little claustrophobic," he said, and after 20 minutes in the elevator, "about the size of a dumbwaiter . . . I'd had enough. It's not a pleasant place to be trapped." The firefighters were great, he said.

And the Cheney Curse? Seems the house belonged to Vice President Cheney, who lived there for a number of years around the time he was secretary of defense.


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