Now that the CBS News documents have been proven beyond a reasonable doubt to be forgeries, it's time to start wondering where the forgeries came from. This is not an academic exercise--the origin of the forgeries will probably determine whether or not CBS comes clean.
The universe of people who could have created the forgeries is relatively small. Creating them required an intense command of the details of Bush's National Guard service and a familiarity with the known literature and documentation. It required time and patience. Who would have the necessary tools, information, and inclination? Three groups immediately come to mind:
(1) The Democratic National Committee and/or Kerry campaign. The DNC and Kerry campaign have opposition research offices which could have fabricated the documents fairly easily. The Washington Prowler reports that an unnamed CBS producer thinks they might have gotten the documents from the Kerry campaign, but this is hardly definitive. In truth, if would be terribly dangerous for any official Democrat to get involved in forgery. It is difficult to believe that any professional political hand would take such a risk.
(2) An unofficial Democratic hack. The world is full of one-time political operatives--people like Sidney Blumenthal--who aren't bound by official duties, have equal access to documents, and have good access to high-level media Pooh-Bahs. (Note to Lawyers: I'm not suggesting Blumenthal is behind this! I'm just using him to illustrate a class of people.) These people are also, on the whole, more politically rabid than the folks who work directly for the party. Don't forget, it was Susan Estrich was exclaimed, "You have to fight fire with fire, mud with mud, dirt with dirt." That was on September 1, while the CBS story was well in the works (the Post reported this morning that CBS has had the documents "for more than a month").
(3) Someone connected with the Texas Air National Guard. Presumably down in Texas there is a finite number of anti-Bush people who have ties to the Texas Air National Guard---people like Robert W. Strong. (Note to Lawyers: I'm not suggesting Strong is behind this! I'm just using him to illustrate a class of people.) Power Line has an interesting post on Strong, who's role in the CBS story seems unclear, except that he's the last man standing on the question of the documents' veracity. Says CBS: "Robert Strong was an administrative officer for the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam years. He knew Jerry Killian, the man credited with writing the documents. And paper work, like these documents, was Strong's specialty. He is standing by his judgment that the documents are real."
If someone like Strong is behind the forgery, there's a good chance CBS will come clean eventually. CBS has been placed in the position not simply of having been duped, but of continuing to facilitate the fraud. That seems untenable.
Unless, of course, the truth is worse. As things stand, CBS can avoid revealing the source of the documents because they maintain an obligation to confidentiality. But that obligation collapses once you admit the documents are forged. If CBS admits the truth, then they have to reveal the source.
People around the web are expecting Rather to fall any minute. That depends on who would go down with him.
6 hours ago