Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) Gave the following speech at a community forum in Ithaca, New York, on Saturday, February 19 from 1:00 to 3:00pm at Ithaca Town Hall. In it, he blames Karl Rove for the "Rathergate" scandal, claiming Rove created the forged documents used in the discredited CBS report about George Bush's service in the Texas Air National Guard. The exact transcript below was taken directly from the recording of the speech made by a member of the audience:

Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY): Well, you know, they are manipulating the media, they did it in the very beginning through intimidation. They would intimidate the people in the, uh, in the press conference. And ... they would ask -- they would allow questions to be asked only of people that they knew were going to ask the right kind of questions, from their point of view. And, you know, that has its effect, had, had its effect on people. People have been -- people in the media have been intimidated. The media has changed in the last four years. People have changed in the last four years. They've had a very very direct, aggressive attack on the, on the media, and the way it's handled. Probably the most flagrant example of that is the way they set up Dan Rather. Now, I mean, I have my own beliefs about how that happened: it originated with Karl Rove, in my belief, in the White House. They set that up with those false papers. Why did they do it? They knew that Bush was a draft dodger. They knew that he had run away from his responsibilties in the Air National Guard in Texas, gone out of the state intentionally for a long period of time. They knew that he had no defense for that period in his life. And so what they did was, expecting that that was going to come up, they accentuated it: they produced papers that made it look even worse. And they -- and they distributed those out to elements of the media. And it was only -- what, like was it CBS? Or whatever, whatever which one Rather works for. They -- the people there -- they finally bought into it, and they, and they aired it. And when they did, they had 'em. They didn't care who did it! All they had to do is to get some element of the media to advance that issue. Based upon the false papers that they produced.

Audience Member: Do you have any evidence for that?

Congressman Hinchey: Yes I do. Once they did that --

Audience: [Murmuring]

Congressman Hinchey: ...once they did that, then it undermined everything else about Bush's draft dodging. Once they were able to say, 'This is false! These papers are not accurate, they're, they're, they're false, they've been falsified.' That had the effect of taking the whole issue away.

Audience Member: So you have evidence that the papers came from the Bush administration?

Congressman Hinchey: No. I -- that's my belief.

Audience Member: OK.

Congressman Hinchey: And I said that. In the very beginning. I said, 'It's my belief that those papers, and that setup, originated with Karl Rove and the White House.'

Audience Member: Don't you think it's irresponsible to make charges like that?

Congressman Hinchey: No I don't. I think it's very important to make charges like that. I think it's very important to combat this kind of activity in every way that you can. And I'm willing -- and most people are not -- to step forward in situations like this and take risks.

Audience: [Clapping and cheering.]

Congressman Hinchey: I consider that to be part of my job, and I'm gonna continue to do it.