September 9, 2004

WOW, THAT WENT MAINSTREAM IN RECORD TIME:

Some Question Authenticity of Papers on Bush (Michael Dobbs and Mike Allen, September 10, 2004, Washington Post)

Documents unearthed by CBS News that raise doubts about whether President Bush fulfilled his obligations to the Texas Air National Guard include several features suggesting that they were generated by a computer or word processor rather than a Vietnam War-era typewriter, experts said yesterday.

Experts consulted by a range of news organizations pointed typographical and formatting questions about four documents as they considered the possibility that they were forged. The widow of the National Guard officer whose signature is on the bottom of the documents also disputed their authenticity. [...]

CBS News released a statement yesterday standing by its reporting, saying that each of the documents "was thoroughly vetted by independent experts and we are convinced of their authenticity." The statement added that CBS reporters had verified the documents by talking to unidentified individuals who saw them "at the time they were written."

CBS spokeswoman Kelli Edwards declined to respond to questions raised by experts who examined copies of the papers at the request of The Washington Post, or to provide the names of the experts CBS consulted. Experts interviewed by The Post pointed to a series of telltale signs suggesting that the documents were generated by a computer or word processor rather than the typewriters in widespread use by Bush's National Guard unit.

A senior CBS official, who asked not to be named because CBS managers did not want to go beyond their official statement, named one of the network's sources as retired Maj. Gen. Bobby W. Hodges, the immediate superior of the documents' alleged author, Lt. Col. Jerry B. Killian. He said that a CBS reporter read the documents to Hodges over the phone, and that Hodges replied that "these are the things that Killian had expressed to me at the time."

"These documents represent what Killian not only was putting in memoranda, but was telling other people," the CBS News official said. "Journalistically, we've gone several extra miles."


If they really mean that they checked the "authenticity" of the documents by asking guys about thirty year old conversations--not by examining the documents--they're dead men walking.

A series of thoughts occur here:

* What will really drive this story is the chance for CBS's rivals to discredit them--Bush will just get collateral benefits.

* But, those benefits are huge. It makes him bulletproof against even legitimate questions and can't help but be tied to the Kerry campaign.

* The Left, which seems to have thought these documents were a big deal, will be despondent if they are discredited.

* Has someone checked to see if these documents were done on the same machine as Linda Tripp's talking points?

* Commander's Son Questions Memos on Bush's Service (KATHARINE Q. SEELYE and JIM RUTENBERG, 9/10/04, NY Times)

A day after memos emerged suggesting that George W. Bush received favorable treatment when he was in the National Guard during the Vietnam War, the son of Mr. Bush's squadron commander said he doubted the authenticity of some of the memos his father was said to have written.

The White House, meanwhile, for the second day in a row dismissed renewed questions about Mr.Bush's service as "recycled" and said they were part of a "coordinated attack" by Senator John Kerry, Mr. Bush's Democratic opponent in the presidential campaign, and his associates.

The new fracas over Mr. Bush's service began after CBS News and its program "60 Minutes'' reported on four memos they said were from the personal file of Lt. Col. Jerry B. Killian, who died 20 years ago. The memos said Mr. Bush had disobeyed a direct order to go for a physical in 1972 and that Colonel Killian had felt pressure to "sugarcoat'' Mr. Bush's record. [...]

Meanwhile, the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, which has ties to the Republicans and has attacked Mr. Kerry's service in Vietnam, said Thursday that it would spend $680,000 to put up a nationwide commercial that criticizes Mr. Kerry for tossing his war decorations.


Then there's the Times... Not only do they not have the technical questions that have been raised about how the documents were produced but they fail to mention that a 527 was up and ready to run with an ad that ties into the Guard service question, even though they do find room to portray the Swift Boat vets as a GOP front group. Amazing.

MORE:
You'll be shocked to hear that the anti-Bush ad was entirely paid for by a Kerry fundraiser, TV writer gives $100G to Texans for Truth (SHARON THEIMER, 9/9/2004, The Associated Press)

A television writer and fund-raiser for John Kerry is the first six-figure donor to a new group that is criticizing President Bush's National Guard service during the Vietnam War.

Daniel O'Keefe, a writer/producer whose work includes such sitcoms as "The Drew Carey Show" and "Seinfeld," donated $100,000 this week to Texans for Truth, an Austin-based group that plans to run anti-Bush television ads starting Monday.

The group spent about $100,000 on its first ad buy, an anti-Bush commercial that starts Monday in the presidential battleground states Arizona, Michigan, Ohio, Oregon and Pennsylvania.

MORE:
CBSNEWS LAUNCHES INTERNAL INVESTIGATION AFTER SUSPICIOUS BUSH DOCS AIRED (Drudge Report, 9/10/04)

CBS NEWS executives have launched an internal investigation into whether its premiere news program 60 MINUTES aired fabricated documents relating to Bush's National Guard service, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned.

"The reputation and integrity of the entire news division is at stake, if we are in error, it will be corrected," a top CBS source explained late Thursday.

The source, who asked not to be named, described CBSNEWS anchor and 60 MINUTES correspondent Dan Rather as being privately "shell-shocked" by the increasingly likelihood that the documents in question were fraudulent.


Son of late officer, other questions memos attributed to Bush commander (BOBBY ROSS JR., 9/09/04, Associated Press)
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 - with the subject line "CYA" - which said there was pressure to "sugar coat" Bush's performance review.

"It just wouldn't happen," the 51-year-old Houston businessman 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," 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. He said he was e-mailed the memos Thursday, but he wouldn't say by whom.

Asked if he was suggesting the memos might be fabricated, Gary Killian said, "I don't know what else to think."

The personnel chief in Killian's unit at the time also said he believes the documents are fake.

"They looked to me like forgeries," Rufus Martin said. "I don't think Killian would do that, and I knew him for 17 years."


False Documentation?: Questions Arise About Authenticity of Newly Found Memos on Bush's Guard Service (ABCNEWS.com, Sept. 9, 2004)
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."

First reported by CBS's 60 Minutes, the memos allegedly were found in Killian's personal files. But his family members say they doubt he ever made such documents, let alone kept them.

Connell said Killian did not type, and though he did take notes, they were usually on scraps of paper. "He was a person who did not take copious notes," she said. "He carried everything in his mind."

Killian's son, Gary Killian, who served in the Guard with his father, also told ABC News Radio that he doubts his father wrote the documents. "It was not the nature of my father to keep private files like this, nor would it have been in his own interest to do so," he said.

"We don't know where the documents come from," he said, adding, "They didn't come from any family member."


'60 Minutes' Documents on Bush Might Be Fake (Robert B. Bluey, September 09, 2004, CNSNews.com)
The 32-year-old documents produced Wednesday by the CBS News program "60 Minutes," shedding a negative light on President Bush's service in the Texas Air National Guard, may have been forged using a current word processing program, according to typography experts.

Three independent typography experts told CNSNews.com they were suspicious of the documents from 1972 and 1973 because they were typed using a proportional font, not common at that time, and they used a superscript font feature found in today's Microsoft Word program.


CBS News denies Bush docs forged: Experts suspect damning '70s memos created with modern word processor (Art Moore, 9/09/04, WorldNetDaily.com)
Spokeswoman Kelli Edwards said she was aware of the charge that the documents, purportedly produced in 1972 and 1973, appear to have been forged with a modern word processor.

"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," she said.

Edwards refused to comment further, referring back to her statement as the final word.

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."


Guard Memos Fuel Another Vietnam-Era Battle: CBS defends letters that seem to impugn Bush's service as some question the documents' authenticity. Partisans on both sides engage. (James Rainey And Mark Z. Barabak, September 10, 2004, LA Times)
Forensic authorities said that critical memos that CBS News said were written by Bush's squadron commander in the early 1970s might not be legitimate — the product of a modern-day word processor and not a Vietnam-era typewriter that Bush's commander would have used.

The network, which first reported on the documents Wednesday, insisted that the four memos from 1972 and 1973 had been authenticated by the network's experts and by "close associates" of the commander, Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, who "confirm that the documents reflect his opinions and actions at the time."

The charges and countercharges came during a feverish day of politicking that began with Democrats welcoming the chance to turn the same spotlight on the president's military record that had been shone on Sen. John F. Kerry's Vietnam War service for several weeks, beginning last month.

The relish with which some launched the Democratic attack was counterbalanced, however, by some party strategists who worried that criticism of Bush's service 30 years ago would distract from issues that concern voters today.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 9, 2004 11:17 PM
Comments

LTC Killian's widow told ABC radio:

her late husband would be "turning over in his grave to know that a document such as this would be used against a fellow guardsman," and she is "sick" and "angry" that his name is "being battled back and forth on television."
Her late husband was a fan of the young Bush, said Connell, who remarried after her husband died in 1984. "I know for a fact that this young man was an excellent aviator, an excellent person to be in the Guard, and he was very happy to have him become a member of the 111th."

Posted by: David Cohen at September 9, 2004 11:44 PM

Having so many early boomer generation folks in the higher reaches of the big news organizations here probably helps explain in part why the mainstream media jumped on this so fast while igronring the swift boat story.

Most of the senior edtiors and writers never served in Vietnam; to them, investigating those charges against Kerry (for an outcome they probably don't want to know) is seen as a long, drawn out pain on a subject of which they have no first-hand knowledge. But most of those same editors and writers began in the news business working on those old typewritters, and can identify with the lack of superscript type or Times New Roman fonts on those machines, once those details were brought up by others on the Internet. So this is an easy "get" for them, and -- as OJ said in the other thread -- it gives CBS's rivals a chance to embarass them with only a minimal amount of effort.

Posted by: John at September 9, 2004 11:47 PM

I'm reconsidering my agnosticism, OJ.

Posted by: ghostcat at September 10, 2004 12:09 AM

"The reputation and integrity of the entire news division is at stake, if we are in error, it will be corrected," a top CBS source explained late Thursday.

What reputation? The one for being Terry Mcauliff's bitch?

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at September 10, 2004 12:16 AM

The idea they have a rep to uphold is the biggest lie here.

McCauliffe has been shopping this story all year. Wonder if their curiousity will go beyond Selectric balls.

Posted by: JAB at September 10, 2004 12:23 AM

I cannot believe it. At 22:00 PDT, CNN headline news is still showing the 02 August memo with no mention of the doubts on the document's autheticity.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at September 10, 2004 1:09 AM

"an anti-Bush commercial that starts Monday in the presidential battleground states Arizona, Michigan, Ohio, Oregon and Pennsylvania."

If Michigan is a battleground state, the Johns have a really big problem. Enough to start typing a few letters on your word processor, I suppose. Has anybody checked whether Nixon is really dead, or has he just changed his party affiliation ?

Posted by: at September 10, 2004 3:28 AM

If it is true the memo used a proportional font, it is hard to say who was the most thicker than a brick: the person who forged, or the people who swallowed, it.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at September 10, 2004 6:38 AM

Just got my Boston Globe off the porch. Let's see... front page story, above the fold, "Kerry team, DNC hit Bush on Guard issue." This is what, the third day in a row for front-page Bush Guard stories?

Nothing on the front page about forged documents. But I have learned from experience to check the paragraphs about two-thirds or three-fourths of the way through the story, after the jump. (I have no doubt that studies have shown these to be the least-read paragraphs.) Sure enough, the Washington Post "some question" story gets a hurried mention on page A8.

Hey, if this can be connected to the Kerry campaign, it provides the perfect excuse to Torch him.

Posted by: Bob Hawkins at September 10, 2004 8:30 AM

What happened to creeper? Are you out there, hello.....hello.....hello??

Posted by: jim hamlen at September 10, 2004 10:37 AM
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