Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Radio boy: Confirmation of the Bush bulge 

Let's forget about trying to figure out whether Bush brings his own glove when it's time to field softballs...

Today's print edition of the Wall Street Journal —which remains a newsgathering organization—has an interesting story (February 22, 2005, p. A1) about Frederick Burks. Frederick Burks is Bush's translator of choice:

When Bush travelled to Bali for a meeting with President Megawati in October 2003, the State Department had another interpreter lined up, but the White House insisted on Mr. Burks.

Deep, deep in the story comes this little nugget:

[Burks] posted allegations on his web site that Bush used a secret listening device in meetings he had attended with President Megawati and most likely had done the same in debate with Senator John Kerry. ... Shortly after that Web posting, he left the State Department's translation service. He says he quit when a new supervisor insisted that he sign a pledge not to divulge any information obtained while intepreting.

So Burks never signed a confidentiality agreement. I went to the Burks site, and here's what I found:

In the recent Bush/Kerry debate, President Bush made a very strange, revealing comment in the middle of one of his turns talking. He had been talking for 60 seconds straight when he slipped in the comment, "let me finish" between his own words. He had been given 90 seconds to respond, and no one was in any way trying to cut him off. What was he referring to? Who was he talking to with this comment? The answer is that it is very possible that Bush was responding to someone who was feeding information to him through a hidden earphone.

Listen to the mp3 of this comment at NYC indymedia, or watch the video on the C-SPAN website at:
rtsp://cspanrm.fplive.net/cspan/project/c04/c04093004_debate1.rm (copy and paste this address to your web browser, then fast forward to 40 min 30 sec).

As a deep insider myself, I have independent confirmation of President Bush using an earpiece to assist him in communicating intelligently with others. I've worked as a contract Indonesian language interpreter with the US State Department for over 18 years. I first started interpreting at the presidential level in 1995 at a White House meeting for President Clinton and President Suharto of Indonesia with their top advisors. ...

On September 19, 2001, just eight days after 9/11, I was in the White House interpreting for an important 90-minute meeting between President Bush and President Megawati Soekarnoputri of Indonesia. This meeting made national news on all the TV networks, as at the time, the administration wanted to show they were supportive of our Muslim friends. Indonesia has the largest population of Muslims in the world. Over 80% of Indonesia's 220 million people are Muslim.

This was my first time interpreting for Bush. The previous day, I had been given the 22 points Bush would be covering in this meeting in order to familiarize myself with the topics to be discussed. About half of these "talking points" had to do with terrorism, which was to be fully expected given what had just happened. The other points, however, involved many details of Indonesian politics which even I would have had a tough time addressing, let alone Bush, who I assumed had limited knowledge of Indonesia.

During those 90 minutes, President Bush not only covered all the points, he covered them quite well and without any notes! Not once during the entire meeting did he look at any notes or receive cues from anyone present in discussing the Indonesian political situation with depth and intelligence. I was astonished! "How could this be?" I asked myself. It was a huge surprise. I concluded either that Bush was much more intelligent than we had been led to believe, or that somehow someone was feeding answers to him through a hidden earpiece. At the time, I really didn't know which of these was true.

Having worked directly with President Bush twice since then, and having additionally talked with many of my fellow interpreters who have worked directly with him, I am now certain that he could not have had that much knowledge of Indonesia. He doesn't even read the daily newspaper to keep up with what's being reported in the press. I am convinced that he must have been using some sort of earpiece through which someone was telling him what to say.

Having interpreted for media guests touring large TV studios, I've seen how the news anchors all have hidden earphones, and how the news producers are feeding them all sorts of information even as they talk live on TV. "20 seconds to a commercial," "15 seconds of filler here," "wrap it up quick " etc... This is standard practice for live TV shows. The "let me finish" comment made by Bush in the debate was only confirmation of something I already knew.

I think, short of Bush's valet coming forth with testimony that he slipped the radio harness onto Bush right before the debate with Kerry, this is all the confirmation we're ever going to get, or need.

NOTE: The WSJ story leads with information about, well, the fact that Mr. Burks does have his quirks—like believing [cough] in US complicity in 9/11 (" 52 (fifty-two) of 105 (one hundred and five) pre-9/11 PDBs mentioned AQ" (back). He also believes in communing with other large-brained mammals like dolphins (fine), and UFOs (not so fine). Probably getting this information on the record was the important point for whichever winger operatives were involved in the story.

How to reconcile those oddities with the fact that (as we've seen) the White House asked for Burks specifically? And the incredible fact that Burks was never made to sign a confidentiality agreement until the very end of his 18 year career?

I'll speculate that we're seeing the "handwriting" of how the Harkonnens Bush Crime Family deals with its retainers. They can't really trust anyone near to them, of course. How could they? So they ensure (1) that they have some sort of hold over their retainers, and (2) can discredit them when needed. Remember Cheney's doctor—who turned out to be a drug addict? The doctor could always have been forced to give Cheney a clean bill of health, if need be. Same idea here. If Burks ever told what he knew, he could be discredited. It may well be that in L'Affaire Gannon, we're seeing the same handwriting—except that in that case it blew up on them.

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