The Corner

Mrs. Knox

Apparently the Chirac Broadcasting System hasn’t learned the first rule of politics: when you’re in a hole, stop digging. Marian Carr Knox — the 86-year old former secretary to Dubya’s squadron commander, Jerry Killian — was flown to New York to talk to 60 Minutes last night, and began the conversation by saying the famous CBS memos weren’t authentic. But, like any lawyer who doesn’t have opposing counsel to object to improper questions, Dan Rather led her through statements about which she apparently knew nothing. And Mrs. Knox speculated her heart out.

Mrs. Knox said that though the CBS documents weren’t real, what is stated in the forgeries is. She talked and talked about how Killian was upset with Mr. Bush, how the rest of the pilots resented him for being a child of privilege, and said that Killian’s son — who disputes the validity of the CBS case against Mr. Bush — “…has no way of knowing whether it’s true or not.” And she does? Not according to the members of the squadron I spoke to this morning.

Col. Bill Campenni (USAF, Ret.) wondered just how Mrs. Knox would have more knowledge than Killian’s son. He told me that not only was young Killian the son of the squadron commander, he was a member of the squadron on duty with the rest of the guys. Mrs. Knox — the squadron secretary — only knew paper. Not people. Killian’s son was in a very good position to know, and she wasn’t.

Mrs. Knox said she remembered that Killian was upset because Mr. Bush didn’t take his flight physical. And she transforms Killian’s supposed frustration into a statement that the other pilots werer resentful of Mr. Bush be cause of his attitude. That’s flatly false according to both Campenni and Joe Glavin, another pilot who flew with Dubya. I asked Glavin if there was any such resentment of Bush. He said, “Absolutely not,” and added that you’d have a really hard time finding anyone who would agree with that.

(Bill Campenni reminds me that though Mr. Bush missed the physical, it made no sense for him to have taken one. He wasn’t going to continue flying. His skill with the F-102 was obsolete, and he wasn’t going to retrain for another aircraft. He was about to leave the Guard to go to Harvard. Which makes it pretty unlikely that Killian actually ordered Mr. Bush to take the physical.)

So why is Mrs. Knox saying all this? Glavin says nobody should care what she said. “She had nothing to do with the unit. She didn’t fly, she didn’t hang out with us.” According to Glavin, she was out of the mainstream of the squadron, in an office that the pilots only visited occasionally. According to Bill Campenni, Knox is a “yellow dog” democrat, and her biases were noticeable even in 1972. Leave it to CBS to find the one yellow dog Dem in the 1972 Texas Air National Guard. Her statement is as valid as the CBS memos.

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