Is Bush secretly getting his lines fed to him?
Wow, if this is true, it's HUGE!
Is Bush Wired?
Bush's mystery bulge
This is reprinted from Salon.com
Bush's mystery bulge
The rumor is flying around the globe. Was the president wired during
the first debate?
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By Dave Lindorff
Oct. 8, 2004 | Was President Bush literally channeling Karl Rove in
his first debate with John Kerry? That's the latest rumor flooding the
Internet, unleashed last week in the wake of an image caught by a
television camera during the Miami debate. The image shows a large
solid object between Bush's shoulder blades as he leans over the
lectern and faces moderator Jim Lehrer.
The president is not known to wear a back brace, and it's safe to say
he wasn't packing. So was the bulge under his well-tailored jacket a
hidden receiver, picking up transmissions from someone offstage
feeding the president answers through a hidden earpiece? Did the
device explain why the normally ramrod-straight president seemed
hunched over during much of the debate?
Bloggers are burning up their keyboards with speculation. Check out
the president's peculiar behavior during the debate, they say. On
several occasions, the president simply stopped speaking for an
uncomfortably long time and stared ahead with an odd expression on his
face. Was he listening to someone helping him with his response to a
question? Even weirder was the president's strange outburst. In a
peeved rejoinder to Kerry, he said, "As the politics change, his
positions change. And that's not how a commander in chief acts. I, I,
uh -- Let me finish -- The intelligence I looked at was the same
intelligence my opponent looked at." It must be said that Bush pointed
toward Lehrer as he declared "Let me finish." The green warning light
was lit, signaling he had 30 seconds to, well, finish.
Hot on the conspiracy trail, I tried to track down the source of the
photo. None of the Bush-is-wired bloggers, however, seemed to know
where the photo came from. Was it possible the bulge had been
Photoshopped onto Bush's back by a lone conspiracy buff? It turns out
that all of the video of the debate was recorded and sent out by Fox
News, the pool broadcaster for the event. Fox sent feeds from multiple
cameras to the other networks, which did their own on-air
presentations and editing.
To watch the debate again, I ventured to the Web site of the most
sober network I could think of: C-SPAN. And sure enough, at minute 23
on the video of the debate, you can clearly see the bulge between the
president's shoulder blades.
Bloggers stoke the conspiracy with the claim that the Bush
administration insisted on a condition that no cameras be placed
behind the candidates. An official for the Commission on Presidential
Debates, which set up the lecterns and microphones on the Miami stage,
said the condition was indeed real, the result of negotiations by both
campaigns. Yet that didn't stop Fox from setting up cameras behind
Bush and Kerry. The official said that "microphones were mounted on
lecterns, and the commission put no electronic devices on the
president or Senator Kerry." When asked about the bulge on Bush's
back, the official said, "I don't know what that was."
So what was it? Jacob McKenna, a spyware expert and the owner of the
Spy Store, a high-tech surveillance shop in Spokane, Wash., looked at
the Bush image on his computer monitor. "There's certainly something
on his back, and it appears to be electronic," he said. McKenna said
that, given its shape, the bulge could be the inductor portion of a
two-way push-to-talk system. McKenna noted that such a system makes
use of a tiny microchip-based earplug radio that is pushed way down
into the ear canal, where it is virtually invisible. He also said a
weak signal could be scrambled and be undetected by another
Mystery-bulge bloggers argue that the president may have begun using
such technology earlier in his term. Because Bush is famously prone to
malapropisms and reportedly dyslexic, which could make successful use
of a teleprompter problematic, they say the president and his handlers
may have turned to a technique often used by television reporters on
remote stand-ups. A reporter tapes a story and, while on camera, plays
it back into an earpiece, repeating lines just after hearing them,
managing to sound spontaneous and error free.
Suggestions that Bush may have using this technique stem from a D-day
event in France, when a CNN broadcast appeared to pick up -- and
broadcast to surprised viewers -- the sound of another voice seemingly
reading Bush his lines, after which Bush repeated them. Danny
Schechter, who operates the news site MediaChannel.org, and who has
been doing some investigating into the wired-Bush rumors himself, said
the Bush campaign has been worried of late about others picking up
their radio frequencies -- notably during the Republican Convention on
the day of Bush's appearance. "They had a frequency specialist stop me
and ask about the frequency of my camera," Schechter said. "The
Democrats weren't doing that at their convention."
Repeated calls to the White House and the Bush national campaign
office over a period of three days, inquiring about what the president
may have been wearing on his back during the debate, and whether he
had used an audio device at other events, went unreturned. So far the
Kerry campaign is staying clear of this story. When called for a
comment, a press officer at the Democratic National Committee claimed
on Tuesday that it was "the first time" they'd ever heard of the
issue. A spokeswoman at the press office of Kerry headquarters refused
to permit me to talk with anyone in the campaign's research office.
Several other requests for comment to the Kerry campaign's press
office went unanswered.
As for whether we really do have a Milli Vanilli president, the answer
at this point has to be, God only knows.
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About the writer
Dave Lindorff is the author of the new book "This Can't Be Happening!
Resisting the Disintegration of American Democracy." Reach him at