2004 US Presidential Election
September 09, 2004
| Damaging Bush Memos Could Be Forgeries [Updated 7:24 EST]
The sixty-first minute
Today’s big Boston Globe story on President Bush’s Air National Guard service is based on memos to file from the personal records of the late Lieutenant Colonel Jerry B. Killian: “Bid cited to boost Bush in Guard.”
The Globe story is itself based on last night’s 60 Minutes report: “New questions on Bush Guard duty.” The online version of the 60 Minutes story has links to the memos. Killian died in 1984; CBS states that it “consulted a handwriting analyst and document expert who believes the material is authentic.” Readers Tom Mortensen and Liz Mac Dougald direct us to a FreeRepublic thread post no. 47 to this effect:
Every single one of the memos to file regarding Bush’s failure to attend a physical and meet other requirements is in a proportionally spaced font, probably Palatino or Times New Roman. In 1972 people used typewriters for this sort of thing (especially in the military), and typewriters used mono-spaced fonts.UPDATE: Thanks to all the readers who have written regarding this post. Several have pointed out that the Executive line of IBM typewriters did have proportionally spaced fonts, although no reader has found the font used in the memos to be a familiar one or thought that the an IBM Executive was likely to have been used by the National Guard in the early 1970’s. Reader Monty Walls has also cited the IBM Selectric Composer. However, reader Eric Courtney adds this wrinkle:
The “Memo To File” of August 18, 1973 also used specialized typesetting characters not used on typewriters. These include the superscript “th” in 187th, and consistent ’ (right single quote) used instead of a typewriter’s generic ’ (apostrophe). These are the sorts of things that typesetters did manually until the advent ofUPDATE 2: Reader John Risko adds:
I was a clerk/typist for the US Navy at the Naval Underwater Systems Center (NUSC) in Newport RI for my summer job in 1971 when I was in college. I note the following with regard to the Killian memos:
UPDATE 3: We have received so much information from readers that it’s hard to keep up. Reader Fred Godel points us to Kevin Drum’s Washington Monthly “Smoking gun update” stating that the White House has released copies of two of the memos and left their authenticity undisputed. Reader John Burgess adds:
I’m afraid the Post 47 at Free Republic is not compelling. By 1969, I was using an IBM Selectric typewriter, with proportional type balls. They were widely available in the public sector-and thus readily available to the military. I do not recall having used a Palatine typeface, but Times Roman was certainly common. While I do think the entire argument about “Bush/AWOL” is bull, the raising of type faces is not useful. In fact, it’s counterproductive because it’s demonstrably false.
Reader Chris Rohlfs points to another “document in Bush’s record (http://www.cis.net/~coldfeet/doc27.gif) which, if real (I got that link from here) appears to have some typing from the same typewriter. Look at the word ‘Recommend.’” Reader Larry Nichols adds:
What a freakin’ joke! I served in the Air Force for 21 years — 1968 to 1989 — the first 7 as a Personnel Specialist and the remainder as a PSM (Personnel Systems Manager). I also spent 2 years as an inspector at Hq SAC, Offutt AFB, NE in Omaha, inspecting Personnel Offices at all 26 SAC bases. As a PSM I had to know every job in Personnel, including the proper filing of documents in individual military records. Memos were NOT used for orders, as the one ordering 1LT Bush to take a physical. This would have done as a letter, of which a copy should have been sent to the CBPO (Consolidated Base Personnel Office) to be filed in 1LT Bush’s military record. Memos DID NOT get filed in personnel records.
Finally — finally for the moment — reader Joshua Persons writes:
I’ve written a post regarding the forgery post on my weblog (click here). Mostly a rehash, but I googled and found a comparable, unrelated government memo from 1972 for visual comparison. Check it out at http://www.ecy.wa.gov/pubs/72e30.pdf .
[End Powerline portion of post]
Ed note: This falls into the We Report, You Decide category of TCP.
Bill at INDC Journal contacted a Forensic Document Examiner to go over the documents in question.
It’s very possible that someone decided to create this document on a computer… I’ve run across this situation before … my gut is this could just well be a fabrication.”
Here’s a side by side comparison of signatures from the known to be true document (left) and the questionable document (right).
UPDATE: The Powerline blog has been linked by Drudge and it hit their servers pretty hard, so you may not be able to get to their site right now. Most everything they have blogged already has been reprinted here. I’ll try to get you updates.
This article has more professional opinions on forgery.
But the use of the superscript “th” in one document - “111th F.I.S” - gave each expert pause. They said that is an automatic feature found in current versions of Microsoft Word, and it’s not something that was even possible more than 30 years ago.
More here, including relevant video from 60 Minutes.
Powerline is back up and has more updates.
UPDATE: Kevin Drum reports that CBS will stand by its use of the memos.
For what it’s worth, I spoke to someone a few minutes ago who’s familiar with how the documents were vetted, and the bottom line is that CBS is very, very confident that the memos are genuine. They believe that (a) their sources are rock solid, (b) the provenance of the documents is well established, and © the appearance of the documents matches the appearance of other documents created at the same place and time. In addition, people who knew Killian well have confirmed that the memos are genuine.
Son of Late Officer Questions Bush Memos
The authenticity of newly unearthed memos stating that George W. Bush failed to meet standards of the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War was questioned Thursday by the son of the late officer who reportedly wrote the memos.
Posted by Michele at September 9, 2004 06:00 PM | TrackBack
Love it! Just absolutely Love It!!
Posted by: Don at September 9, 2004 02:03 PM
one wonders how this will end. Specualtion right now is tempting. That said, I wonder how the “old media” is reacting to the dissection they’re getting on the net every day.
Posted by: skip at September 9, 2004 02:35 PM
They’ve got it right on the paper size - the AF used a smaller-than normal format too, until (I believe) the early to mid 80s.
As far as the Selectrics went, I remember being very intrigued by one when we got one in our office around 1978. Wouldn’t do proportional spacing, though it was neat changing the type balls for different fonts. Considering how reluctant the AF was to change out working office technology (IE electric typewriters for Selectrics) during the Carter era, I find it hard to believe the ANG (which was perennially more cash strapped) would go for high-end Selectrics in the Nixon era. They traditionally made do with AF cast-offs.
BTW, I can’t pull up the www.cis.net/~coldfeet/doc27.gif - can anyone else?
Posted by: JLL3 at September 9, 2004 02:36 PM
Some military folks I know point out that some of the terms and formating are wrong.
One says it should be “MEMORANDUM FOR RECORD” not “Memo To File”, notes that there are no ranks mentioned anywhere, etc.
And somebody else pointed out that Killian’s signature looks different than it does on other memos.
Posted by: Spade at September 9, 2004 02:53 PM
BTW, after looking at the docs off the CBS site, I’ve got the following comment…
The custom for military filing is for the admin clerk to initial the upper left-hand corner before putting it in the person’s file, or it was at that time.
4 May 72 is missing that mark.
So to my way of thinking, having been through one more military records keeping class than I care to think about (which was one…) , and having filed more crap that I REALLY want to think about over 23 years in various jobs in the military - the two without file marks weren’t kept in a military file system, in any orderly room or commander’s secretary file.
And that being said, I’ll say no more about the provenance of these documents.
Posted by: JLL3 at September 9, 2004 03:02 PM
My experience as an Army Reserve typist is wrong branch of service, wrong area, and ten years too late, but the whole thing still smells to high heaven to me. We got IBM Selectric III’s in about 82 - up ‘till then we were using clunky old manual typewriters and carbon paper. People have said different things about the availability of proportional fonts, but I seriously doubt that anybody in the military would have had anything that would produce a small “th” like in that second one until the 80s at least. Plus, it looks very suspicious how the link at powerline shows it lines up perfectly (except for copier blurring) with a Word document.
Posted by: samuelv at September 9, 2004 03:40 PM
Shoulda got a couple of geeks and Navy clerks to vet their work. Now every geek and Navy clerk in the world is looking at this stuff and saying to themselves “Fake”.
Nice try, pencilheads, got any other torpedos in the tube? Maybe you could trot out those girls from the LA Times they used on Arnold. They really didn’t get that much milage, maybe no one will notice the coincidence.
Posted by: torpedo_eight at September 9, 2004 03:43 PM
Heck I was a better forger of my father’s signature on my report cards when I was in Jr. High. And his signature was very difficult to do.
This is gonna get really interesting!
Posted by: TexasGal at September 9, 2004 04:00 PM
I love the first comment in this thread almost as much…
Posted by: Cap'n DOC at September 9, 2004 04:00 PM
I think you should add that the memos the White House released were the identical memos CBS faxed to them, not memos they had in their possession that matched these.
” I now have copies of the memos the White House released, and they are just versions that CBS faxed to the White House the day before the 60 Minutes segment aired. There’s no indication that the White House had its own copies of these memos and had been sitting on them.
Posted by: Gabriel Hanna at September 9, 2004 04:45 PM
I don’t know anything about military documents, but what concerns me are the obvious discrepancies in the signature(s) of Commander Killian.
The signatures were clearly executed by two different people. The question is why? It could be that someone else signed the document for the Commander, and that both are official - if it weren’t for the differences in the format. If the person(s) forging the second document had access to the first, it’s a pretty lame job.
What is even more lame is CBS. Didn’t they check any of this out? I knew the main stream media was in bad shape, but this is pathetic.
Posted by: Jim at September 9, 2004 05:00 PM
We better send this up to Che Fong.
Posted by: jones at September 9, 2004 05:10 PM
Am I the only one who can see through the black-out on this page?: http://www.cbsnews.com/htdocs/pdf/BushGuardmay4.pdf
You can clearly read that it says 5000 Longmont #8 underneath the blackout…
Is that normal???
Posted by: Seixon at September 9, 2004 05:22 PM
The signature has been faked as well.
‘60 Minutes’ Documents on Bush Might Be Fake
…But the experts interviewed by CNSNews.com homed in on several aspects of a May 4, 1972, memo, which was part of the “60 Minutes” segment and was posted on the CBS News website Thursday….
…the use of the superscript “th” in one document - “111th F.I.S” - gave each expert pause. They said that is an automatic feature found in current versions of Microsoft Word, and it’s not something that was even possible more than 30 years ago…..
…He also pointed to the signature of Killian, the purported author of the May 4, 1972, memo ordering Bush, who was at the time a first lieutenant in the Texas Air National Guard, to obtain a physical exam.
“Do you think he would have stopped that ‘K’ nice and cleanly, right there before it ran into the typewriter ‘Jerry,” Showker asked. “You can’t stop a ballpoint pen with a nice square ending like that … The end of that ‘K’ should be round … it looks like you took a pair of snips and cut it off so you could see the ‘Jerry.’”
In other news:
Thursday, Sept. 9, 2004 10:28 a.m. EDT
A witness in the 1971 Winter Soldier investigation, which was organized by John Kerry and bankrolled by Jane Fonda and formed the basis for Kerry’s Senate war crimes testimony later that year, is accusing Kerry of coercing his account to make the military look bad.
“When I got [to the Winter Soldier investigation], I had no intention of saying anything,” Vietnam combat veteran Steven J. Pitkin told WABC Radio’s Mark Levin on Wednesday.
But when Kerry and other members of his group Vietnam Veterans Against the War pressed him to give an account that painted Vietnam soldiers as war criminals, “that was a real shock to me,” Pitkin said.
As Kerry pressed him to give false testimony, Pitkin said, other VVAW members surrounded him and began urging, “C’mon, people need to hear this, man.”
“It was a big pressure job,” the Special Forces veteran told Levin. “[Kerry] did what I call extreme coaching.”
Pitkin, who was awarded the Combat Infantry Badge, Army Commendation Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, RVN Cross of Gallantry, Air Medal and Purple Heart for his Vietnam service, said also that Kerry’s famous medal-throwing protest was staged, with some VVAW protesters discarding phony ribbons in a show for the media.
“I heard that they had been scouring Army surplus stores and asking everybody to bring in various ribbons,” Pitkin said.
Kerry has told reporters he kept his medals that day, but threw away ribbons belonging to somebody else.
In a sworn affidavit filed last Tuesday, Pitkin said.
“During the Winter Soldier Investigation, John Kerry and other leaders of that event pressured me to testify about American war crimes, despite my repeated statements that I could not honestly do so. … Kerry and other leaders of the event instructed me to publicly state that I had witnessed incidents of rape, brutality, atrocities and racism, knowing that such statements would necessarily be untrue.”
Pitkin’s account flatly contradicts Kerry’s own version of his participation at the January 1971 anti-war hearings, where he maintains he was primarily a spectator who merely watched as others came forward with their war crimes claims.
Based on Pitkin’s admittedly false account and other witness statements, Kerry told the Senate Foreign Relations committee that soldiers fighting in Vietnam were “monsters” who raped and pillaged South Vietnam “in a fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan.”
MSM can’t keep covering kerry crimes forever. The guy belongs in prison, not the senate, or white house.
Lets watch the polls plummet for kerry as this stuff spreads.
better get fitted for that yellow jumpsuit Kerry.
Posted by: Nathan at September 9, 2004 05:29 PM
Posted by: CERDIP at September 9, 2004 05:40 PM
it gets worse for the left, research into those winter soldier protests turn up “Bill Clinton, the protestor leader” stuff too.
All their idols are communists, LoL
Posted by: Nathan at September 9, 2004 06:01 PM
“It’s just possible that this might be a Times Roman font, which means that it would have been created on a computer. It’s very possible that someone decided to create this document on a computer… I’ve run across this situation before … my gut is this could just well be a fabrication.”
The reasons why?
Right off the bat, Dr. Bouffard noted what others in the blogosphere have been talking about – something called “proportional spacing,” which means that each letter does not take up the same amount of width on the page. On old typewriters that do not have proportional spacing, the letter “i” would be as wide as the letter “m.” Except for professional typesetting, proportional spacing was only available on a very few models (an IBM model, “Executive” and perhaps one or two other models Mini-Update: Dr. Bouffard e-mails to correct me that it was seven or eight possible models, not one or two - Ed) that were not widely available in 1972-73; the vast majority of typewriters did not have proportional spacing. Because of this, Dr. Bouffard’s computer program immediately eliminated “over 90%” of the possible fonts from typewriters that could create such a document, narrowing it down to perhaps 15 fonts used by a very few models…..
UPDATE: Dr. Bouffard called me again, and after further analysis, he says that he’s pretty certain that it’s a fake.
Read it all, it’s interesting.
Posted by: Nathan at September 9, 2004 06:36 PM
One of Charles’ commenters points out that the date format, 18 August 1973 isn’t standard military date format of the time. This was the proper way: 18 AUG 73. (These days, it would be referenced like this: 18081973.)
Posted by: Juliette at September 9, 2004 06:41 PM
More Evidence of the CBS News Killian Memo Forgeries: The Paper Size is Wrong
Not until World War I or shortly after was a standard paper size agreed to in the United States. Interestingly enough, within six months of each other, two different paper sizes were set as the standard; one for the government and one for the rest of us¡¦.
In 1921, the first director of the Bureau of the Budget established an interagency advisory group with the President¡¯s approval called the Permanent Conference on Printing which established the 8¡È x 10¨ö¡± as the general U.S. government letterhead standard. This extended an earlier establishment made by the former President Hoover, the Secretary of Commerce at the time, who established the 8¡È x 10¨ö¡± as the standard letterhead size for his department¡¦.
Now, during the same year, a Committee on the Simplification of Paper Sizes consisting of printing industry representatives was appointed to work with the Bureau of Standards as part of Hoover¡¯s program for the Elimination of Waste in Industry. This group came up with basic sizes for all types of printing and writing papers. The size for ¡°letter¡± was a 17¡È x 22¡È sheet while the ¡°legal¡± size was 17¡È x 28¡È sheet. The later known U.S. letter format was these sizes halved (8 ¨ö¡± x 11¡È and 8 ¨ö¡± by 14¡È)¡¦.
Once these committees found out about each other a couple years later, they agreed to disagree until the early 1980¡¯s when Reagan finally proclaimed that the 8.5¡È x 11¡È was the official standard sized paper.
Any military memorandum in 1973 would have been on 8 x 10 1/2, and the CBS memo¡¯s clearly were not, showing once again the amateur nature of their forgery.
Posted by: jack risko at September 9, 2004 06:47 PM
This is fairly straight forward to figure out.
All they have to do is get lots and lots of memos from this guy from the same era. If they have them for Bush, they must have them for other people.
Get those and compare.
Posted by: JeremyR at September 9, 2004 06:52 PM
“Mr. Rather said the authenticity of the 32-year-old email has been confirmed by several Nigerian officials who specialize in electronic funds transfer by email.”
Posted by: TL at September 9, 2004 07:06 PM
As someone pointed out, MSM deserves the disecting they are getting. They have lied and decieved people long enough. Party partanship does not belong in the press if they want to have “free” press. the level of corruption in the media and DNC has never been so transparent as it is now.
When we get MSM journalists back to doing what they are supposed to do, report the news and RESEACH the facts, I’ll be happyier. Maybe I’ll even buy a newspaper when that time comes.
Posted by: Nathan at September 9, 2004 07:13 PM
LOL TL...good one! I gave CBS a call to ask when to expect a retraction and an apology. However, all the voice mailboxes were full. So, I called the ‘video’ seller for 60 minutes. A woman in Vermont answered and was stunned to listen to me explain about false reporting concerning superscripts and paper sizes!! ha ha She stayed on with me for a while and put out some liberal ideas about how terrible everything is in America. But she listened to me and ended up losing the debate…I told her to get her resume out just in case CBS closes up business…. ha ha ha
Posted by: dickmr at September 9, 2004 07:18 PM
Also, MSM needs to know that they can no longer control public opinion, “letters to the editor” are no longer under the control of those MSM editors. they appear in blogworld.
Posted by: Nathan at September 9, 2004 07:18 PM
Another item that just may be picking nits is the centering of the header on the two memorandums. My recollection of documents from that era is that most clerk typists (AFSC 291) did things the easiest way they could get away with. I would think that most officers would be even less patient with that formal type of header, especially on non-formal documents of this nature. However, it is very easy to accomplish with Word.
Posted by: thirdfinger at September 9, 2004 07:18 PM
I read yesterday on one of the blogs that the recently retired producer of 60 minutes didn’t allow Dan Rather to break this Guard story, because it was too flimsy. Now the guy is retired and Dan makes a fool of himself showing these forgeries. I hope CBS retires him.
Read John Kerry’s anti-America book THE NEW SOLDIER and 4 chapters of UNFIT FOR COMMAND for free online
Posted by: somsy at September 9, 2004 08:09 PM
I’m trying to verify a report that Brigadier General Staudt—the alleged source of the pressure on Lt. Col. Killian in the questioned memos—actually retired the year before the memos were written. Anyway, in the course of this research I ran across a cached (Spokane) Spokesman-Review story from August 28, 2004 with this priceless quote from Brig. General Staudt.
“[81-year-old] Retired Brig. Gen. Walter Staudt, who gave Bush his direct commission as a second lieutenant out of Yale University in May 1968, said the Texas Air Guard had nuclear-capable jets, including F-101s and F-102s…. ”I love the guy,” Staudt said of Bush. ”I’m so tired of this negative crap about him that I’d like to volunteer to build a barn and take you press guys out behind it and kick your asses.”
I love this guy. I’ll help with the barn, General—just tell me where.
Posted by: TMigratorious at September 9, 2004 08:26 PM
Bush’s application, as well as his commission, were handled by then-Col. Walter B. “Buck” Staudt, who said, “Nobody did anything for him…. There was no … influence on his behalf. Neither his daddy nor anybody else got him into the Guard.” Staudt, who retired in 1972 as a brigadier general, said Bush was enrolled quickly because there was a demand for pilot candidates.
Posted by: anachronda at September 9, 2004 08:39 PM
FWIW, I‘m currently an AF / ANG contractor, and our date format (on the forms I filled out last week) is DDMONYYYY, ie 18AUG2004, and has been that way since Y2K.
Posted by: SDN at September 9, 2004 08:56 PM
I went through the same process as Pacetown did, but ended up with much different results than what The Talent Show rebutted with. Let’s just say the results aren’t going to refute the forgery charge.
Posted by: Nathan at September 9, 2004 09:16 PM
“In addition, people who knew Killian well have confirmed that the memos are genuine.”
This is just like the line that all of the people on Kerry’s boat sided with him (conveniently forgetting Steve Gardiner). Would someone’s son know his father well, particularly when he also served in the TexANG? Would someone who served with Lt. Col. Killian and a document expert count either?
“I am upset because I think it is a mixture of truth and fiction here,” said Gary Killian, son of Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, who died in 1984.
Another officer who served with Killian and a document expert also said Thursday the documents appear to be forgeries.
Gary Killian, who served in the Guard with his father and retired as a captain in 1991, said one of the memos, signed by his father, appeared legitimate. But he doubted his father would have written another, unsigned memo that said there was pressure to “sugar coat” Bush’s performance review.
Posted by: Rich Blinne at September 9, 2004 09:40 PM
It sems we have another “Nathan” here….
This aren’t going well for the DNC in their false claims attack department.
The much touted “Bush Familly” book, tripped and died out of the starting gate,
A Veteran reveils that John Kerry coherced him to LIE to the grand jury investigation
This forgery of a documment, which now has ABC’S NIGHTLINE looking into the issue tonight, as well as being questioned the son of the late officer who reportedly wrote the memos.
And, lets not leave out Ben Barnes daughter, who stepped forward to claim her father is lying, and is only doing this to promote a book. Last year he told her there was no truth to the story.
It’s not as though many would believe a crook like him anyway.
It seems The democrats are beginning to eat each other, with ABC abandoning the sinking kerry swiftboat disimformation crew and attacking it’s alphabet competitor.
beginning of a meltdown?
Posted by: Nathan at September 9, 2004 10:33 PM
“Gary Killian, who served in the Guard with his father and retired as a captain in 1991, said one of the memos, signed by his father, appeared legitimate.”
Served in the Guard? Does that make him another ‘shirker’? Why does the left make such a big deal out of what all these non-serving Guardsmen are saying anyway? Oh thats right, a persons credibility isnt built on their record and reputation, it depends completely on how they line up with John F Kerry.
Posted by: mark buehner at September 9, 2004 10:58 PM
is it possible there’s another memo?
Posted by: marcjohnson at September 10, 2004 09:17 AM
marcjohnson - re: other “Memo”
LOL - brilliant!
Posted by: Jim at September 10, 2004 03:09 PM