September 09, 2004

Word is docs may be forgeries
Posted by McQ

And Old Dan may have been duped.

Bill at INDC has done some leg work and contacted a forensic document examiner to get his take on the possibilty that the documents which were used on last night's "60 Minutes II" may be forgeries based on their typeface. The expert's conclusion?

Its just possible that this might be a Times Roman font, which means that it would have been created on a computer. Its very possible that someone decided to create this document on a computer... Ive run across this situation before my gut is this could just well be a fabrication.

Conclusion: He thinks there's a 90% probability they're fakes.

Read the whole thing.

Rather Biased Blog comes to the same conclusion with another good discussion of the controversy.

LGF is also on it.

You can see the documents here.

Developing.

UPDATE: CBS News claims it consulted an expert :

Killian died in 1984. 60 Minutes consulted a handwriting analyst and document expert who believes the material is authentic.

UPDATE II (JON): While we're on the subject of frauds.....a correspondent gives me a heads-up to something interesting. First, the caveats:

  • It's just an anonymous bulletin board message.

  • I cannot independently confirm this, right now.

  • It is not dispositive.

That being said, it seems an odd thing to make up, it should be verifiable--and it's perfectly consistent with what we've known of Ben Barnes for a very long time--so I'll post it with advice that you take it with an appropriate amount of salt pending confirmation. From a bulletin board discussion....
Just a note: Ben Barnes daugher, Amy who lives in Denton, Texas is on the radio right now with Monica Crowley (sitting in for Mark Davis on our local radio 820 show) and she just said that herf father is a a political opportunist. Whoa!

She said she loves her father but she knows he is doing this for purely political reasons and that she knows that he never used any influence to get Busn into the National Guard. She also says that he has a book coming out and that is the reason he went on TV. Watch for flying feathers on this.[typos in original -Jon]


I'd be curious to know how she "knows that he never used any influence to get Bush into the National Guard". I'd like to know more about that book, too.

UPDATED AGAIN (JON): A few readers have confirmed hearing it/hearing about it on the radio. It appears it did happen, roughly as described.


UPDATE III (JON): Regarding the forged documents, MyPetJawa has a good roundup of skeptical opinions.

Consider me agnostic, pending much more evidence.

UPDATE IV (McQ): Powerline is all over this. Read it.

UPDATE V (McQ):
Oh this gets better and better. From Powerline:

UPDATE 11: CBS is sticking to its story. It's not entirely clear which story, however. Initially, CBS spokeswoman Kelli Edwards said:

As is standard practice at CBS News, each of the documents broadcast on '60 Minutes' was thoroughly investigated by independent experts, and we are convinced of their authenticity.

Later, however, Ms. Edwards sent out an email that appeared to revise the nature of the "authentication" process:

CBS verified the authenticity of the documents by talking to individuals who had seen the documents at the time they were written. These individuals were close associates of Colonel Jerry Killian and confirm that the documents reflect his opinions at the time the documents were written.

So what CBS is now saying is not that the documents are authentic, but that the opinions they express are authentic, based on the hearsay reports of anonymous persons alleged to be close associates of Col. Killian, who recall his views of thirty-two years ago. This is what passes for "authentication" in the mainstream media.



UPDATE VI (McQ):
More fun. One of the memos seen here was written in 1973 and references talking to Col Walter Staudt about "sugarcoating" a Bush OER.

But according to an LA Times story here, they claim Staudt retired in '72.

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.
UPDATE VI (McQ): The Commisar has uncovered another memo you need to see to believe. Since it appears to fit the authenticity criteria Dan Rather used on the Bush memos, he's thinking seriously about sending it to CBS News.

UPDATE VII (McQ): More experts weigh in. Conclusion? The memos are fakes.

"These sure look like forgeries," says William Flynn, a forensic document expert widely considered the nation's top analyst of computer-generated documents. Flynn looked at copies of the documents posted on the CBS News website (here, here, here, and here). Flynn says, "I would say it looks very likely that these documents could not have existed" in the early 1970s, when they were allegedly written.

Several other experts agree. "They look mighty suspicious," says a veteran forensic document expert who asked not to be quoted by name. Richard Polt, a Xavier University philosophy professor who operates a website dedicated to typewriters, says that while he is not an expert on typesetting, the documents "look like typical word-processed documents."

(Hat tip: Ryan McGrath)

UPDATE VII (McQ): Gary Killian, son of LTC Jerry Killian speaks out about the memo controversy:

"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.

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 which said there was pressure to "sugar coat" Bush's performance review.

"It just wouldn't happen," he said. "The only thing that can happen when you keep secret files like that are bad things. ... No officer in his right mind would write a memo like that."

[...]

News reports have said the memos, first obtained by CBS's "60 Minutes II," were found in Jerry Killian's personal records. Gary Killian said his father wasn't in the habit of bringing his work home with him, and that the documents didn't come from the family.

So from whence did they come, CBS?

UPDATE IX (McQ): Jerry Killian's widow says memos don't sound like her late husband:

Marjorie Connell widow of the late Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, the reported author of memos suggesting that Bush did not meet the standards for the Texas Air National Guard questioned whether the documents were real.

"The wording in these documents is very suspect to me," she told ABC News Radio in an exclusive phone interview from her Texas home. She added that she "just can't believe these are his words."

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Comments

FYI - updated post - he's over 90% sure, and he's one of the top two experts in this specific field.

Posted by: Bill from INDC at September 9, 2004 03:17 PM

Who says Dan was duped? I wouldn't put it past him to have been aware of the questinable nature of the documents and still do his story...

Posted by: shark at September 9, 2004 03:19 PM

.....or, have set them up himself, Shark.

Posted by: Bithead at September 9, 2004 03:20 PM

McQ, I have to doubt this very strongly. The White House released their own copies of two of those reports, so it's pretty hard to see how they could be forgeries. (insert snarky line about the Bush administration being easily duped by forgeries, or releasing them anyway...:)

Still, if they're forgeries, the White House got ahold of them, too, and that sounds....improbable.

Posted by: Jon Henke at September 9, 2004 03:21 PM

Ah, I see Bitheads report on Kevin's note that the WHs versions were via CBS.

I'll withdraw that assertion, though I still remain very gun-shy on this allegation.

Posted by: Jon Henke at September 9, 2004 03:24 PM

White House released copies of the docs that were faxed to them by . . . . . CBS.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at September 9, 2004 03:24 PM

Jon, as I understand it what the White House released were copies from CBS which had been faxed to them.

Posted by: McQ at September 9, 2004 03:24 PM

Until I read Bill at INDC, I was wearing the skeptic's hat as well. But a lot of stuff just doesn't fit based on what I've read in the blogs cited so I felt there was enough to put it up and qualify it by saying "may be".

Posted by: McQ at September 9, 2004 03:28 PM

Yeah, I'm still a skeptic about this story, but no longer a cynic.

It will be worth further examination.

Posted by: Jon Henke at September 9, 2004 03:32 PM

Don't know if you made it over to LGF, but he does some side by side comparisons which are interesting.

Posted by: McQ at September 9, 2004 03:34 PM

Here's how you can tell the docs are fakes:

If CBS keeps mum on the issue.

Their silence will be damming.

Posted by: shark at September 9, 2004 03:59 PM

I was skeptical until I saw the th superscripted.

I used selectrics for years with a wide assortment for the varied type balls (before I got my Apple II) and I don't remember anything about a superscript th popping up. There's no key for it.

INDC Journal clinched it for me though.

TTTB (thanks to the blogosphere)

CBK

Posted by: cbk at September 9, 2004 04:00 PM

Just thinking ahead here....

How much play will this get in the old media? Probably not much. The blogsphere will have to carry the ball again.

IF these are fakes, I don't want to just see resignations and/or firings. I want serious jail time for someone.

Posted by: shark at September 9, 2004 04:03 PM

Just heard the same thing on Hannity (about Barne's daughter) as I was driving to the Post Office.

Posted by: McQ at September 9, 2004 04:33 PM

Go Dallas-Ft. Worth talk radio!!

See, I said Barnes was a tool.... Or is that fool?

Posted by: David R. Block at September 9, 2004 04:43 PM

THe death knell sounds for CBS and Blather!!!!

Posted by: particle at September 9, 2004 04:48 PM

You can pretty well chalk up that comment by Barnes' Daughter as confirmed. I was listening to it live and was just floored as she laid out those comments about her father. Given this, and the fact that he has either a) Lied under oath 4 years ago, or b) is lying through his teeth now to help Kerry (gotta justify spending his money on Kerry), both his and CBS' credibility are going to go even deeper in the tank than they already are. And if it's true that CBS used forged documents (convienient that the Col. is long since dead...), then the CBS news division, 60 Minutes and Dan Rather are through. Viacom won't have any other option but to pull the plug, just to keep from losing even more viewers than they already are. The $$ factor will come into play. Makes me wonder if the DNC and the Kerry campaign will continue to use this particular line of attack till Nov 2, like they've claimed they would if these memos are discredited. Rather has really steppped into it this time...

Posted by: Greg at September 9, 2004 04:52 PM

I read this and it points to an interesting issue besides the typography of the letter. The graphical analysts mention that the signature is definitely odd.

"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.'"

So we have a all too modern type font and a cut and possibly scanned signature.

Like another reader, I want to see someone do jail time over this.

Posted by: capt joe at September 9, 2004 04:56 PM

You wingnuts are so full of shit. You kooks are being DEBUNKED:

http://www.thetalentshow.org/archives/001216.html

YOu digital brownshirts need to get your shit together. I smell SLANDER lawsuites to you and your right-wing blogger pals!

Posted by: Right Wing Lies at September 9, 2004 05:01 PM

Left Wing Nutjob, you are so yesterday. The argument has gone beyond it was Microsoft word that done the dirty dead.

Read up on the points before you progress further.

Oh, slander... scary. Slander lawsuit from a dead man (Killian died in 1984). ooohh aaahhh.

Posted by: capt joe at September 9, 2004 05:08 PM

Dumbass....we've included plenty of statements indicating that this is preliminary and may well not be accurate.

Besides, the link you cite is peddling the argument that the White House released the documents, too. Considering the fact that the White House documents came via CBS, I think that's a bit of a silly argument. And I should know, since I used it near the beginning of this thread.

In any event, I think your citation misses the point that it's the formatting that is the issues.

Posted by: Jon Henke at September 9, 2004 05:10 PM

Hey, RightWingLies, you need to keep up. The White House docs were copies of those CBS faxed to them.

Obviously you didn't read INDC Journal. If you have, explain the closed "4", because the good professor over there who says he's 90% convinced their fake says the closed '4' didn't exist on typewriters of the day.

Posted by: McQ at September 9, 2004 05:11 PM

Just watched a segment on Brit Hume's show with Byron York. Apparently a fox news staffer re-typed one of the letters with MS word using the default settings and the thing came out formatted identically on the page. Not real sure what it means but I think it may be a bit much for a coincidence.

Posted by: Curt Mitchell at September 9, 2004 05:34 PM

Question:
One thing I noted was the date so close to the top of the page on the PDF documents.

It's been a while since I've used a typewriter, but I recall having to feed the paper under the bail. It was a bitch to get a straight typing line if you started below the bail, not that it couldn't be done, but it was generally more bother than worth and doing so meant you had to type, then advance and remember to lift the bail or it frequently ate the paper.

Could that be a function of having been scanned since scanners tend to select now around the text and omit the white space to keep the image size down?

And before anyone eats my lunch for such a suggestion, I think positioning might provide a clue since it wouldn't occur to someone who hasn't fought with a typewriter and paper trying to get the damn thing in there straight. I went to my legal admin wife to ask roughly how far she used to space down on a page for dating and she said it's possible of course to get that kind of spacing (as the PDF has) but that the usual was about a 1 inch margin off the top.

Posted by: looker at September 9, 2004 05:40 PM

Powerline has ever more updates.

Included is an actual signature of Killian side by side with the one in the memo. Does not look similiar to me but I am not a graphologist.

Also, one reader points out that the type is kerned. Kerning is not possible on a typewriter because kerning is a graphical transformation. That is something that computers do, not 1972 mechanical typewiters, even very expensive ones.

I think CBS is getting nervous. Nothe this at the end of this article?

Later, however, she sent an e-mail to WND, adding, "CBS verified the authenticity of the documents by talking to individuals who had seen the documents at the time they were written. These individuals were close associates of [Bush commander] Colonel Jerry Killian and confirm that the documents reflect his opinions at the time the documents were written."

The docs reflected Killians opinions at the time?? Sounds like hearsay to me.

That sounds like the beginning of a rowback to me.

Posted by: capt joe at September 9, 2004 05:41 PM

wow, synchronicity.

Anyway, even the most leftie commentators are conceding that these are forgeries. eg. at winds of change.

Now it is a Rovian plot to throw the media off the track of something else. What ever that is!?

Posted by: capt joe at September 9, 2004 05:55 PM

those lying liars ....

Posted by: capt joe at September 9, 2004 06:37 PM

It's not just the fonts that don't work. The street address that Bush was supposed to be living at, wondering why a TANG unit would be using a post office box, the post office box number itself... for more, check out more questions

Posted by: stevesturm at September 9, 2004 06:46 PM

One of the commentors on powerline mentioned that paper size for military memos was 8.5" x10.5".

I found a reference to it.

So as he pointed out if it was a photocopy onto regular paper, there should be a black line on the side where the paper was different.

Also, one of Capt Ed's commentors points out a story by Bobby Ross, where they interviewed Killians son.

I haven't found it yet, but it does point out that the style of this memo does not match what his father did.

By BOBBY ROSS JR., Associated Press Writer
DALLAS - 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.

"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.

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 which said there was pressure to "sugar coat" Bush's performance review.

"It just wouldn't happen," he said. "The only thing that can happen when you keep secret files like that are bad things. ... No officer in his right mind would write a memo like that."

News reports have said the memos, first obtained by CBS's "60 Minutes II," were found in Jerry Killian's personal records. Gary Killian said his father wasn't in the habit of bringing his work home with him, and that the documents didn't come from the family.

Posted by: capt joe at September 9, 2004 06:53 PM

Democratic Party chairman Terry McAuliffe (search) said, "George W. Bush's cover story on his National Guard service is rapidly unraveling. ... George W. Bush needs to answer why he regularly mislead the American people about his time in the Guard and who applied political pressure on his behalf to have his performance reviews 'sugarcoated'

I don't suppose there's ANY chance that Terry will reconsider his options if this works our wrong.

Posted by: looker at September 9, 2004 07:04 PM

Also, one reader points out that the type is kerned. Kerning is not possible on a typewriter because kerning is a graphical transformation. That is something that computers do, not 1972 mechanical typewiters, even very expensive ones.

Some kerning was possible on the IBM Executive, which debuted in the 1950s. It used a proportional font, and you could go one halfspace back before typing a letter combination that looked better kerned. The most advanced version of the IBM Executive hit the market around 1967.

I used an Executive for 2 years when I worked as a draftsman (I had to type a lot of reports as well as draw pretty pictures), and got to be rather adept at primitive kerning on it. The best example I can give you is typing upper case W or V and then upper case A, but there were other combinations that I used. (It's been 22 years, I don't remember all of them.)

All that said, I will point out that the Executive (that I used, at least) had a sans-serif font, and the documents have a serif font. I don't know whether other fonts were available on the Executive, but it was not able to change fonts -- you were stuck with whatever keys you had. The Selectric had the changeable element ball, but that used a mono-spaced font.

Posted by: Steverino at September 9, 2004 08:08 PM

Here's how you can tell the docs are fakes:

If CBS keeps mum on the issue.

Their silence will be damming

And so far....nothing.

CBS can clear this up by giving us:
1) Detailed provenance of the documents
2) Details on what "expert" authenticated it, and what his ressonings were

And since I havent heard any of that.....

Posted by: shark at September 9, 2004 09:04 PM

And now to be the 1st into the pool asking who's the forger....my personal guess is Susan Estrich.

It's slimy and stupid just like her....

Posted by: shark at September 9, 2004 09:05 PM

Man, I wish I hadn't slept through this while it was developing.

This is just amazing to watch.

Posted by: Dean Esmay at September 10, 2004 04:18 AM

BY THE WAY:

It is high time the mainstream media be held to at least the minimum standards expected of competent bloggers, isn't it?

Pass the meme on. :-)

Posted by: Dean Esmay at September 10, 2004 04:19 AM