September 9, 2004


Is It a Hoax?: Experts weigh in on the 60 Minutes documents. Says one: "I'm a Kerry supporter myself, but . . . I'm 99% sure that these documents were not produced in the early 1970s." (Stephen F. Hayes, 09/09/2004, Weekly Standard)

DOCUMENTS CITED Wednesday by 60 Minutes in a widely-publicized expose of George W. Bush's National Guard Service are very likely forgeries, according to several experts on document authenticity and typography. The documents--four memos from Killian to himself or his files written in 1972 and 1973--appear to indicate that Bush refused or ignored orders to have a physical exam required to continue flying. CBS News anchor Dan Rather reported the segment and sourced the documents this way: "60 Minutes has obtained a number of documents we are told were taken from Col. Killian's personal file," he said. The 60 Minutes story served as the basis for follow-up news reports for dozens of news organizations across the country. The memos were almost immediately questioned in the blog world, with blog Power Line leading the charge.

And according to several forensic document experts contacted by THE WEEKLY STANDARD say the Killian memos appear to be forgeries. Although it is nearly impossible to establish with certainty the authenticity of documents without a careful examination of the originals, several irregularities in the Killian memos suggest that CBS may have been the victim of a hoax. [...]

There are several reasons these experts are skeptical of the authenticity of the Killian memos. First the typographic spacing is proportional, as is routine with professional typesetting and computer typography, not monospace, as was common in typewriters in the 1970s. (In proportional type, thin letters like "i" and "l" are spaced closer together than thick letters like "W" and "M". In monospace, all the letter widths are the same.)

Second, the font appears to be identical to the Times New Roman font that is the default typeface in Microsoft Word and other modern word processing programs. According to Flynn, the font is not listed in the Haas Atlas--the definitive encyclopedia of typewriter type fonts.

Third, the apostrophes are curlicues of the sort produced by word processors on personal computers, not the straight vertical hashmarks typical of typewriters. Finally, in some references to Bush's unit--the 111thFighter Interceptor Squadron--the "th" is a superscript in a smaller size than the other type. Again, this is typical (and often done automatically) in modern word processing programs. Although several experts allow that such a rendering might have been theoretically possible in the early 1970s, it would have been highly unlikely. Superscripts produced on typewriters--the numbers preceding footnotes in term papers, for example--were almost always in the same size as the regular type.

Hard to believe someone would actually do such a thing, but it makes for an amusing story and, if proven, may get Senator Kerry down to the 30's.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 9, 2004 8:06 PM

CBS also has unearthed the original copy of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, complete with all their return e-mail addresses.


Posted by: John at September 9, 2004 8:30 PM

This is certainly the most interesting story of the week. The memos have all sorts of anomalies that make it unlikely they were produced when they supposedly were: a proportional font, kerning, the superscript "th", "curly" apostrophes, anachronistic language ("CYA", "feedback"), usage that isn't military standard (spelling out NLT, "1st LT" as opposed to "1LT"), possibly an incorrect paper size (apparently the military used paper smaller than the 8.5" x 11" standard), Killian's signature doesn't match the ones on other documents, pressure described as coming from one officer who actually retired the previous year, etc.

Posted by: PapayaSF at September 9, 2004 8:31 PM

Hmmm... Someone should check Karl Rove's laptop for Word documents from last week.

Posted by: Mike at September 9, 2004 8:34 PM

You'd think, what with all of Soros' millions funding them, these clowns could spring for an old manual typewriter and spend ten minutes banging out these things.

And another lesson is to never ever ever ever use Microsoft products. Use an old Mac running FullWrite if you have to, but MS stuff is too common, and its quirks and default behavior are too well known. I mean really, at least use something other than the default settings. At least this incompetent remembered to turn off the auto-justification.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at September 9, 2004 8:41 PM

What is most interesting about this story is the power of distributed intelligence. Remember the big hubbub about forged documents in the runup to the Iraq war? If they had been published online, think the global intelligence network of the internet would have sniffed out any problems just as quickly? And how big is the CIA's budget again?

Posted by: brian at September 9, 2004 8:54 PM

The deciding evidence for me was when Charles Johnson (Little Green Footballs) fired up his MS Word program, typed in the document using the default settings, and the result was a document which can be exactly overlaid on the memo copy without further formating. Off hand, I would say the probability of any typewriter being able to also reproduce this document is 0 (zero).

This reduces CBS's credibility to zero, innoculates Bush against any further National Guard questions, and illustrates to all the dishonest means the Democrats are reduced to in their desperation to win the election.

Posted by: jd watson at September 9, 2004 9:26 PM

I was skeptical at first but it appears that these might be forgeries. If true you gotta wonder if a GOP mole did this to CBS since it was so easily detected. As stated above this destroys CBS's integrity and should take them out of the campaign equation (i.e why should Bush or any GOPers talk to CBS reporters?). And if this can get traced back to Kerry's camp somehow it could put Kerry down into the 30's.

Posted by: AWW at September 9, 2004 10:22 PM

Offhand, I can think of many (public) figures who would do such a thing, from rabid Bush haters (the hard left blogs like Kos et al.), to Democratic operatives like Lehane or Sasso or Whouley, to devious types like James Baker or Snarlin' Arlen Specter, to some enterprising reporters at a competing network, and even to a few talk show hosts (like the guys who called Hugo Chavez 2 years ago, pretending to be Castro).

Whatever the source, CBS deserves all the egg on its face that it gets. This is as bad as the NBC scandal 12 or 14 years ago when they used firecrackers to start gas tank fires.

The only remaining question is: will Dan Rather apologize on camera? Let's hope Sumner Redstone makes him.

Posted by: jim hamlen at September 9, 2004 10:29 PM

When Kerry had his first run for Congress, his brother was arrested for breaking into his GOP opponent's HQ(this was in 1974 the post-Watergate election) so Promethean levels of stupid criminality are not unknown to him.

Posted by: Bart at September 9, 2004 10:43 PM

If CBS had to retract any part of their story the GOP would justifiably pummel the heck out of them. Expect a NY Times editorial comparing the whole thing to the Reichstag fire.

Posted by: oj at September 9, 2004 10:44 PM

I just heard ABC radio news with a quote from Col. Killian's widow. She doesn't think he wrote the memos. ABC's expert thinks they look more like modern computer output than typewriter copy.

Instapundit passes on the the Colonel's son also doesn't think his father wrote the memos, and Nightline will be covering the memos tonight.

Posted by: Bob Hawkins at September 9, 2004 10:49 PM

Powerline now has a link to the Associated Press story questioning the legitimacy of the documents.

While this isn't game, set, match for CBS' ability to stonewall on the story, once the AP sends something like this out, the network will have to release at the least the names of their authenticators if not the person(s) who supplied the documents.

Posted by: John at September 9, 2004 11:15 PM

What's next for the left: finding prescription slips for Viagra in Dick Cheney's garbage? Unearthing doobies from Texas landfills with Bush's DNA on them? Discovering a credit card voucher showing that Karl Rove placed the order to the Newburgh restaurant for the meals the Kerry/Edwards clan ate after visting Wendy's?

Or will they just stop and catch their breath? 4 years is a long time to scream.

Posted by: ratbert at September 9, 2004 11:20 PM


The beauty is that CBS's rivals have a vested interest in shredding them, even if it helps Bush in a collateral way.

Posted by: oj at September 9, 2004 11:21 PM


You took the words right out of my keyboard. If this is the best the Kerry-Edwards-Carville-Cahill-Estrich-MoveOn-Daily Kos-Josh Marshall axis can do, then, even putting morality and character aside, these people are simply too damned incompetent to be entrusted with political power.

Wild thought just occurred to me: what if al-Qaida produced the forgeries?

Posted by: Mike Morley at September 9, 2004 11:34 PM


Nah, they aren't that dumb.

Posted by: Jeff at September 9, 2004 11:35 PM

Who at CBS takes the fall here. My money is on the segment's producer.

Posted by: Jeff at September 9, 2004 11:38 PM


I agree.
I wonder if there's some way to use that power on classified material, without actually releasing the material ?

Maybe releasing a similar document, and applying any insights to the original docs ?

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at September 10, 2004 12:18 AM


Why not release all the material?

Posted by: oj at September 10, 2004 12:25 AM

Jeff - Agree that probably some no name at CBS will take the fall for this. I can't see Rather going down for this when he can easily shift the blame to some staffer. And, after my post above, I'm thinking the MSM will not follow this back to the Kerry campaign (assuming it came from there) to minimize the damage to Kerry.

Posted by: AWW at September 10, 2004 12:28 AM


I am absolutely for that. In fact, if I were President, I'd install webcams in the Oval Office, so that anyone, anywhere, could see with whom I was meeting, and, except for sensitive military stuff, I'd include audio.

However, I'm not holding my breath regarding the big document release.
Knowledge is power, and closely held knowledge gives the appearance of even greater power.
Somewhat like the "Guild secrets" of the Middle Ages in Europe.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at September 10, 2004 1:58 AM

They'll blame it on 60 Minutes producer Don Hewitt (a self-hating Jew born Horowitz) whom they are pushing out the door anyway. And it couldn't happen to a nicer bucket of sleaze.

Posted by: Bart at September 10, 2004 7:07 AM

OK Bart. Let's call him the leader in the clubhouse.

Posted by: Jeff at September 10, 2004 7:21 AM

Actually, Hewitt retired a couple of months ago, about the time of the Bill Clinton book lovefest on "60 Minutes" (or was it the Bob Woodward lovefest? I know it was after the Richard Clarke lovefest). With Don out of the way, this has all the markings of anchorman Dan bigfooting this one onto the program himself, based on his close ties to Democratic Party officials in Texas who no doubt helped hook him up with Ben Barnes on this story.

Posted by: John at September 10, 2004 8:20 AM


If you're right, then the next report Dan Rather will be doing is of a chili cookoff in Waxahachie.

Ben Barnes's record of integrity should have alerted anyone to be at least a teensy bit cautious. That they failed to exercise even minimal scepticism speaks volumes about CBS' in-house bias. But then last time, the MSM were wheeling around that disgusting smut-peddler Larry Flynt like he was the paragon of journalistic integrity.

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