Before we aired our story on September 8, 2004, I had essentially tried to marry the Killian documents with the official record. I was looking for anything that didn’t fit: dates, names, references to rank, and a variety of other factors. I was looking for a stopper, a place where the Killian memos clashed with the official record, something that would indicate to me that the new memos weren’t real.
But when she does find just that, in this memo supposedly from August 1973 which references General Walter (Buck) Staudt --who had been retired for almost a year and half by that date--she waves it away with a ridiculous explanation:
In this informal memorandum, Killian says that “Staudt has obviously pressured Hodges” about Bush. And Killian says “Harris gave me a message today from Grp regarding Bush’s OETR.” He writes that “Staudt is pushing to sugarcoat it.” It goes on: “Bush wasn’t here during rating period and I don’t have any feedback from the 187th. I will not rate. Austin is not happy today, either.”
By August 1973, Buck Staudt had formally left the Guard, but was working as an executive pilot for Conoco Oil Company, in a position based at Ellington Field. He was also on the Houston Chamber of Commerce Aviation Committee, a group he would eventually chair. Because the city of Houston owns the land on which Ellington Field sits, city politics and business interactions were crucial to the way the decisions were made about how the Texas Air National Guard and Ellington Field were operated logistically.
Staudt was on base regularly and wielding as much or more clout than he had in his days in the Guard.
Robert Strong told me that even after Staudt’s retirement, “Bobby Hodges wouldn’t go to the bathroom without Staudt’s permission.” Others backed up this assessment of Staudt’s influence after he left the Guard.Robert Strong being an administrator--a 'ground pounder' in pilot terminology, to whom nothing would be confided by fliers--based in Austin, not at Ellington AFB.
Mapes conveniently ignores that numerous pilots from that era vigorously dispute that Staudt would have had any influence, much less power to control anyone still on active duty. And all she would have to do is read the newspapers to find this out:
Retired Col. Earl Lively, director of Air National Guard operations for the state headquarters during 1972 and 1973, said Staudt "wasn't on the scene" after retirement, and that CBS' remote-bullying thesis makes no sense.
"He couldn't bully them. He wasn't in the Guard," Lively said. "He couldn't affect their promotions. Once you're gone from the Guard, you don't have any authority."And this is not the only 'stopper' in the memoes that should have shown Mapes and Rather that they were dealing with fraudulent documents.
[To be continued]