The daughter of former Texas Lt. Gov. Ben Barnes says her father fabricated claims made on “60 Minutes II” that he used his influence to help President Bush avoid going to Vietnam 36 years ago.
Amy Barnes Stites telephoned the Mark Davis radio show on WBAP in Dallas yesterday and described her father as a political opportunist who lied about Bush’s National Guard record to help promote his upcoming book, elect John Kerry and “make Bush look like the bad person.”
Jeff Williams, producer of the Mark Davis show, told WorldNetDaily that after independent confirmation, his staff is now certain that the woman who phoned in identifying herself as Amy from Denton, Texas, is Barnes’ daughter.
“We are without any doubt that it is her,” Williams said.
WBAP now has a recording of the conversation linked to its website.
The show was hosted yesterday by Monica Crowley of WABC in New York, who also is a Fox News Channel contributor.
The questioning of Ben Barnes’ veracity is just one element of the “60 Minutes II” segment under fire. As WorldNetDaily reported, CBS News is defending accusations that early 1970s documents used in the program Wednesday night to discredit Bush are forgeries, created with a modern word processing program.
In a CNN interview today, CBS News anchor Dan Rather responded to questions swirling around the documents, asserting, “I know that this story is true.”
“I believe that the witnesses and the documents are authentic,” Rather said. “We wouldn’t have gone to air if they would not have been.”
Asked if there would be an apology or retraction, Rather replied, “Not even discussed, nor should it be. I want to make clear to you, I want to make clear to you if I have not made clear to you, that this story is true, and that more important questions than how we got the story, which is where those who don’t like the story like to put the emphasis, the more important question is what are the answers to the questions raised in the story, which I just gave you earlier.”
‘Purely political reasons’
Ben Barnes, in the “60 Minutes II” segment Wednesday, told Rather he pulled strings in 1968 to get Bush, then a college graduate, into the Texas Air National Guard, a posting that made it unlikely Bush would have to go to Vietnam.
Barnes said he made the request of Houston oilman Sid Adger, a friend of the Bush family.
But in the conversation with Crowley yesterday, Barnes’ daughter said her father told her in 2000 he did not use his influence to help Bush avoid Vietnam.
Here is an excerpt:
STITES: I love my father very much, but he’s doing this for purely political reasons. He is a big Kerry fund-raiser and he is writing a book also. And [the Bush story] is what he’s leading the book off with … . He denied this to me in 2000 that he did get Bush out [of Vietnam service]. Now he’s saying he did.
CROWLEY: Did he tell you, Amy – and I’m glad I have you on the line with me – did your father tell you that he was prepared to do this on behalf of John Kerry – go after President Bush like this?
STITES: He told me he was going to do it. In fact I talked to him a couple of months ago. He told me he was writing the book. He told me that he was going to be talking about this. And he knows that I – we have very diverse political opinions. He knows my opinions and we get into this debate every time I see him. But, you know, he said that he was going to be talking about it.
CROWLEY: Now you’re saying, Amy, that he has had two separate stories on President Bush’s Guard duty during the Vietnam era?
STITES: Yes, yes. This came out in 2000 and I asked him then, at the time, if he [helped get Bush into the Guard]. He said, “No, absolutely not. I did not do that.”
CROWLEY: So, I hate to put you in this position but I will ask you, do you think your father, Ben Barnes – who was on “60 Minutes II” with Dan Rather last night – do you believe that he lied on the air to the American people last night about President Bush?
STITES: Yes, I do. I absolutely do. And I think he’s doing for purely political, opportunistic reasons – trying to get John Kerry elected and trying to make Bush look like the bad person. … Like I said, he’s going to be trying to promote his book that he’s got coming out.
Critics of Barnes have noted a discrepancy in his story, illustrated in remarks he made to Democratic supporters in Austin, Texas, May 27.
In a video excerpt posted on the Internet and reported by CBS News online, Barnes stated: “I got a young man named George W. Bush into the National Guard when I was lieutenant governor of Texas, and I’m not necessarily proud of that, but I did it.”
But Barnes was not lieutenant governor when Bush entered the National Guard in 1968. He was state House speaker at the time and became lieutenant governor in 1969.