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Posted: 9/11/2004 8:03:07 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/11/2004 8:09:50 AM EDT by glklvr]

More challenges about whether Bush documents are authentic

By Pete Slover
The Dallas Morning News

AUSTIN, Texas — The man named in a disputed memo as exerting pressure to "sugarcoat" George W. Bush's military record left the Texas Air National Guard a year and a half before the memo supposedly was written, his service record shows.
An order obtained by The Dallas Morning News shows that Col. Walter "Buck" Staudt was honorably discharged March 1, 1972. CBS News reported this week that a memo in which Staudt was described as interfering with officers' negative evaluations of the future president's service was dated Aug. 18, 1973.

That added to mounting questions about the authenticity of documents that seem to suggest Bush sought special treatment as a pilot, failed to carry out a superior's order to undergo a physical exam and was suspended from flying for failing to meet Air National Guard standards.

Staudt, who lives in New Braunfels, Texas, did not return calls seeking comment. His discharge paper was among documents obtained by The Morning News from official sources during 1999 research into Bush's Guard record.

A CBS staffer stood by the story, suggesting Staudt could have continued to exert influence over Guard officials. But a former high-ranking Guard official disputed that, saying retirement would have left Staudt powerless.

Authenticity of the memo and three others included in Wednesday's "60 Minutes" report came in for heavy criticism yesterday, prompting an unusual, on-air defense of the original work. Experts on typography said the memos appeared to have been computer-drafted on equipment not available at the time.

And the widow and son of the officer who supposedly wrote them, Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, who died in 1984, have said it wasn't his nature to keep detailed personal notes.

In its news broadcast yesterday, CBS said the documents were supported by both unnamed witnesses and others, including document examiners.

CBS anchor Dan Rather earlier told The Dallas Morning News that he had heard nothing to make him question the legitimacy of the memos. He attributed the backlash to partisan politics and competitive journalism.

"This story is true. The questions we raised about then-Lieutenant Bush's National Guard service are serious and legitimate," he said. "Until and unless someone shows me definitive proof that they are not, I don't see any reason to carry on a conversation with the professional rumor mill."

The Washington Post quoted Rather as saying CBS had talked to two people who worked with Killian — his superior, retired Maj. Gen. Bobby Hodges, and his administrative assistant Robert Strong — and both described the memos as consistent with what they knew of Killian. Hodges, who told CBS he was "familiar" with the documents, is an avid Bush supporter and "it took a lot for him to speak the truth," the Post quoted Rather as saying.

The Los Angeles Times, however, later quoted Hodges as saying that he believed the memos from Killian were not real. A CBS news executive confirmed that Hodges had changed his story.

Rather's interview with The Morning News concluded before the newspaper determined the date of Staudt's departure, but a CBS staffer with extensive knowledge of the story said later that the departure doesn't derail the story. "From what we've learned, Staudt remained very active after he retired," the staffer said, speaking on condition of anonymity. "He was a very bullying type, and that could have continued."

In the "60 Minutes" report, Rather said of the memo's contents: "Killian says Col. Buck Staudt, the man in charge of the Texas Air National Guard, is putting on pressure to 'sugarcoat' an evaluation of Lt. Bush."

Staudt was the person Bush initially contacted about Guard service, and he was the group commander at Ellington Air Force Base in Houston when Bush arrived there to fly an F-102 jet. He transferred later to Austin, where he served as chief of staff for the Air National Guard.

In the disputed memo, Killian supposedly wrote "(another officer) gave me a message today from group regarding Bush's (evaluation) and Staudt is pushing to sugarcoat it."

It continues: "Austin is not happy either."

The CBS staffer said the memo appears to recognize that Staudt has retired, since it differentiates between his displeasure and that of Austin, where he served his final Guard stint.

But another Texas Air National Guard official who served in that period said the memo appears to wrongly associate Staudt with his group command in Houston, and — based on that mistake — the memo distinguishes his views from that of the Austin Guard.

Retired Col. Earl Lively, director of Air National Guard operations for the state headquarters during 1972 and 1973, said Staudt "wasn't on the scene" after retirement, and that CBS' remote-bullying thesis makes no sense.

"He couldn't bully them. He wasn't in the Guard," Lively said. "He couldn't affect their promotions. Once you're gone from the Guard, you don't have any authority."

Bush has not commented publicly about the CBS report, and aides say his honorable discharge proves he fulfilled his obligations.

Link Posted: 9/11/2004 8:04:03 AM EDT
Yes, that presents a slight problem for CBS's case that these are authentic.
Link Posted: 9/11/2004 8:05:09 AM EDT

This campaign is really beginning to turn into serious entertainment!
Link Posted: 9/11/2004 8:05:28 AM EDT
Funny how the Bush camp remains quiet about this whole issue and just lets it fall apart on its own.

Link Posted: 9/11/2004 8:05:39 AM EDT
Link Posted: 9/11/2004 8:15:29 AM EDT
This is really going to explode soon.

The Dems are going to blame CBS. CBS will go down swinging at air. CBS will claim the DNC sent the documents, etc.

Link Posted: 9/11/2004 8:15:35 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Cypher214:
Funny how the Bush camp remains quiet about this whole issue and just lets it fall apart on its own.

Link Posted: 9/11/2004 8:17:04 AM EDT
This is more than just a victory for Bush..

It signals ANOTHER defeat for the traditional Media at the hands of the Internet.
Link Posted: 9/11/2004 8:19:15 AM EDT
Man, I was sad to see Howard "Gonna implode at anytime" Dean get dropped from the race, but I would have never thought Lurch's campaign is this entertaining
Link Posted: 9/11/2004 8:24:57 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/11/2004 8:25:25 AM EDT by EricTheHun]
Link Posted: 9/11/2004 8:50:31 AM EDT

Originally Posted By EricTheHun:

You can't continue to print or speak lies in the media any longer without having to contend with millions of amateur news hounds who have nothing but time and the Internet on their hands!

Eric The(Let'sCallThisThe'SixthEstate')Hun

Another case in point whereas M. Moore's movies have been so torn apart and debunked that Liberal Rag "Neewsweek" no longer calls Farenheit 911 a documentary... they call it "Satire"

Link Posted: 9/11/2004 8:56:05 AM EDT
Link Posted: 9/11/2004 9:04:06 AM EDT
So, has CBS started blaming the DNC yet?
Link Posted: 9/11/2004 9:10:14 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/11/2004 9:11:44 AM EDT by EricTheHun]
Link Posted: 9/11/2004 9:11:01 AM EDT
Link Posted: 9/11/2004 10:07:03 AM EDT
Time to see Kerry AND the biased media take a short step off of a very steep cliff.

Link Posted: 9/11/2004 10:26:42 AM EDT

The Shot Heard Round the World
The echoes of the big Internet bang which annihilated a 60 Minutes story in under 12 hours are still resounding. The key riffs apparently started at the FreeRepublic and Powerline and as Samizdata notes, the distributed intelligence of the Internet took over. Under the scrutiny of thousands of analysts, the CBS story began to melt down. The idea that the intellectual resources of a major news agency are always superior to the blogosphere is given by lie by citing these two separate lines of analysis which, though proceeding from different starting points, both led to the conclusion that the documents which Dan Rather relied on to question the Bush National Guard record were faked. Donald Sensing's analysis was grounded in a familiarity with military documents.

The two memos refer to a flight physical and a flight review board, both IAW ("in accordance with") AFM 35-13. But that would stand for "Air Force Manual" 35-13, and manuals are guidelines only. They have no regulatory authority. No one takes a physical exam, flight or not, IAW a manual. ...

So I went there and discovered, sure enough, that there was an Air Force Regulation 35-13, but no AF Manual 35-13 is listed. AFR 35-13 was superceded in 1990 by AFI36-2605 (Air Force Instruction, i.e., the same as a regulation). So I Googled AFI36-2605 and voilá! Here it is. This instruction implements Air Force Policy Directive 36-26, Military Force Management, and Department of Defense Instruction (DODI) 7280.3, Special Pay for Foreign Language Proficiency. It prescribes all procedures for administering the Air Force Military Personnel Testing System and Foreign Language Proficiency Pay (FLPP) program. Which is to say, this publication has nothing to do with flight physicals.

From all this I conclude that the Killian-signed documents are forgeries, forged by someone without a very good knowledge of military correspondence or Air Force publications or procedures. Based on the Air Force's own online library of current and obsolete publications, I conclude that there never was an Air Force Manual 35-13, although there was an AF Regulation by that number. But a lieutenant colonel would never have made such a fundamental error as using "AFM" twice when he meant AFR.

As TV lawyers would say, the documents were fake because there was no Air Force Manual 35-13 and it had nothing to do with physical examinations. The analysis of Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs, on the other hand, was based on the technical characteristics of the 60 Minutes documents themselves. He convincingly showed that the 1973 document was produced on Word for Windows by the simple expedient of "proof by construction" -- by exactly duplicating the document in Winword and superimposing both using Photoshop. Poor Kevin Drum dismissed these demonstrations by arguing from authority. "Powerline appears to be the central clearinghouse for amateur discussion of typefaces, terminology, signatures, etc. 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."

Here was the dismissal of amateurs in favor of the genuine CBS branded product. But in fact it was doubtful that the "experts" at CBS stood a ghost of a chance against the "amateurs" who ripping their story apart. Here's was Charles Johnson's matter of fact reply.

I actually received two emails from people questioning my expertise to examine and criticize the documents shown in the entries immediately below. Can you believe it? So here’s the skinny.

I’ve been involved with desktop publishing software and scalable software fonts (as opposed to hot lead type) almost since their inception. I’m a former West Coast editor of a popular computer magazine for a now-orphaned computer, the Atari ST/TT. I also co-owned a software publishing firm, CodeHead Technologies, for whom I designed and laid out packaging and manuals for more than a dozen products (in addition to developing most of those products, using 680x0 assembly language). We used a combination of DTP and traditional typesetting techniques for these jobs, and I cut my teeth on some of the first serious DTP software ever created for personal computers—including Aldus Pagemaker and Aldus Freehand on the Mac, and less recognizable titles available for Atari computers (anyone still using Calamus or Pagestream out there?).

My software company also marketed a word processing program (Calligrapher, written by a developer in Britain) that had the ability to import and use Postscript Type 1 fonts. And I had early experience with some of the dinosaur-like dedicated word processors that were available in the 70s/80s. I’m not boasting like this just to pump up my lizardoid ego; it’s to let you know that I have an extensive background in these subjects—and when I tell you that there’s no way the CBS News documents were created on any machine available in 1972/1973, I ain’t just whistlin’ Dixie.

While there is no doubt that there are competent professionals at CBS News, how many of them have extensive experience in the arcana of military forms or writing DTP software in assembler? None of this is to argue that the mainstream media is always wrong or that the blogosphere will always be right. Blogs, including this one, are often wrong. But there is no reason why bloggers should ipso facto be dismissed as amateur analysts when compared to the Mainstream Media (MSM). The traditional news model is collapsing. It suffers from two defects. The "news object" can no longer be given sealed attributes in newspaper backrooms. The days when the press was the news object foundry are dying. Second, the news industry is suffering from its lack of analytic cells, which are standard equipment in intellgence shops. Editors do some analysis but their focus is diluted by their attention to style and the craft of writing. The blogosphere and other actors, now connected over the Internet, are filling in for the missing analytic function. And although the news networks still generate, via their reporters, the bulk of primary news, they generate a pitiful amount of competent analysis. Put another way, the classic media outlet generates data and entertainment but they don't generate much information. Because of this, the MSM will stumble into these pitfalls time and again. The Andrew Gilligan and Jayson Blair fiascos were indicators that something was really wrong, but no one was listening then. Maybe there is no point to listening now.

Link Posted: 9/11/2004 11:26:36 AM EDT
Link Posted: 9/11/2004 11:31:25 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/11/2004 11:35:52 AM EDT by The_Macallan]

Originally Posted By Zaphod:
This is really going to explode soon.

The Dems are going to blame CBS. CBS will go down swinging at air. CBS will claim the DNC sent the documents, etc.

No it won't.

They'll all just agree to "MoveOn" and get back to the issues that matter... healthcare, manufacturing job losses, deficit, over 1,000 Americans killed over lies in Iraq, yada-yada-yada.

This story will disappear just like the Sandy Burglar story did.

Nothing to see here, let's MoveOn people.

Link Posted: 9/11/2004 11:35:06 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Cypher214:
Funny how the Bush camp remains quiet about this whole issue and just lets it fall apart on its own.

Not hard to do when you have the truth on your side.
Link Posted: 9/11/2004 11:42:47 AM EDT
unfortunately, you're probably right. all the media has to do to quit shooting themselves in the foot is stop reporting on this story. It would be in their best interests to do so...
Link Posted: 9/11/2004 11:46:55 AM EDT

Originally Posted By 1Andy2:
unfortunately, you're probably right. all the media has to do to quit shooting themselves in the foot is stop reporting on this story. It would be in their best interests to do so...

No it wont, the Internet will keep it going.
Link Posted: 9/11/2004 11:56:56 AM EDT
Link Posted: 9/11/2004 12:13:33 PM EDT
I got this from Command-Post, who got it from FreeRepublic:

48 problems with the memos.

1. proportional spacing not generally available (no confirmation this type of technology was available at TANG)
2. superscripts not generally available
3. Small “th” single element not generally available (not common, but available. Highly unlikely the machines were available at TANG)
4. 4’s produced on a typewriter are open at the top. 4’s on a word processor are closed. Compare the genuine Bush ANG documents, where the 4’s are open at the top, to Rather’s forgeries, where the 4’s are closed at the top
5. Smart quotes. Curved apostrophes and quotation marks were not available – only vertical hash marks.
6. The blurriness of the copy indicates it was recopied dozens of times, common tactic of forgers (confirmed by CBS).
7. Signature block. Typical authentic military signature block has name, then rank, then on the next line the person’s position. This just has rank beneath the name.
8. Margins. These look like a computer’s unjustified default, not the way a person typing would have done it. Typewriters had fixed margins that “rang” and froze the carriage when typist either hit “mar rel” or manually returned carriage.
9. Date inconsistent with military style type. Date with three letters, or in form as 110471.
10. Words run over consistent with word processor.
11. Times Roman has been available since 1931, but only in linotype printshops…until released with Apple MacIntosh in 1984 and Windows 3.1 in 1991.
12. Signature looks faked, and it cut at the very end of the last letter rather than a fade when pressure would have been released.
13. No errors and whiteout (CBS used copies)
14. No letterhead
15. Exact match for Microsoft Word Processor, version disputed, but converted to pdf matches exactly.
16. Paper size problem, Air Force and Guard did not use 8 1/2 x 11 inch paper until the 1980s.
17. Overlap analysis is an exact match (see #15).
18. Absence of hyphens to split words between lines, c/w 1970’s typewriter. (see #8)
19. 5000 Longmont #8 in Houston Tx. does not exist (actually does exist, but Mr. Bush had already moved TWICE from this address at the time the memo was written).
20. Box 34567 is suspicious, at best. This would not be used on correspondence, but rather forms. The current use of the po box 34567 is Ashland Chemical Company, A Division of Ashland Oil, Incorporated P. O. Box 34567 Houston (this has been confirmed by the Pentagon, per James Rosen on Fox News)
21. It would have been nearly impossible to center a letterhead with proportional spacing without a computer (not impossible, but for Killiam, who did not type, improbable).
22. Bush’s grade would be abbreviated “1/Lt” not “1st Lt”
23. Subject matter bizarre
24. Air Force did not use street addresses for their offices, rather HQ AFLC/CC, Wright-Patterson AFB, OH 45433.
25. Kerning was not available
26. In the August 18, 1973 memo, Jerry Killian purportedly writes: “Staudt has obviously pressured Hodges more about Bush. I’m having trouble running interference and doing my job.” but General Staudt, who thought very highly of Lt. Bush, retired in 1972.
27. Language not generally used by military personnel.
28. Not signed or initialed by author, typist, or clerk.
29. Not in any format that a military person would use, e.g. orders not given by Memo.
30. Is the document original or a copy of an original? Why all the background noise such as black marks and a series of repeated dots (as if run through a Xerox).(Rather explained his document was a photocopy-brings up additional questions of how redacted black address was visible from a several generation copy)
31. The Killiam family rejected these documents as forgeries. Then where did the “personal files” come from if not the family?
32. Why no three hole punches evident at the top of the page?
33. Mr. Bush would have had automatic physical scheduled for his Birthday – in July! He would not have received correspondence.
34. Why is the redacted address of Longmont #8 visible beneath the black mark? This would have been impossible after one copy, but it would be visible if the document was scanned.
35. Why were these exact same documents available for sale on the Internet y Marty Heldt, of leftist web site Tom Paine, as early as January 2004? Is this where CBS obtained their copies?
36. Acronym should be ORT, not ORET.
37. Last line of document 4 “Austin will not be pleased with this” is not in the same font and has been added!
38. Handwriting experts are not document experts – apples and oranges.
39. Lt Col Killian didn’t type
40. The forged documents had no initials from a clerk
41. There was no CC list (needed for orders)
42. Subject line in memos was normally CAPITALIZED in the military
43. The forged documents used incorrect terminology (“physical examination” instead of “medical”)
44. There was no “receipt confirmation box” (required for orders)
45. The superscript “th” in the forged documents was raised half-way above the typed line (consistent with MS Word, but inconsistent with military typewriters which kept everything in-line to avoid writing outside the pre-printed boxes of standard forms)
46. CBS admits that it does not* have the originals, but only original documents can be proven to be real; copies can *never be authenticated positively…repeat: only original documents can be proven real. CBS never had the originals, so CBS knew that it was publishing something that couldn’t be assured of authenticity.
47. Regarding superscript - typewriter example had it underlined in the keystroke but the forged document doesn’t.
48. May 4, 1972 “order” memo and the May 19, 1972 “commitment” memo typeface doesn’t match the official evaluation signed 26 May 1972. Or does the TxANG have a new typewriter just for Col. Killian’s memorandum

Link Posted: 9/11/2004 12:16:25 PM EDT

Originally Posted By DrFrige:

Another case in point whereas M. Moore's movies have been so torn apart and debunked that Liberal Rag "Neewsweek" no longer calls Farenheit 911 a documentary... they call it "Satire"

Maybe it should be put in for Best Comedy.

How about Best Fantasy?
Link Posted: 9/11/2004 12:20:01 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/11/2004 12:21:21 PM EDT by Spade]
From the National Review:


The only expert cited by CBS in this case, Marcel Matley, wrote in the September 27, 2002 issue of the journal, "The Practical Litigator":

In fact, modern copiers and computer printers are so good that they permit easy fabrication of quality forgeries. From a copy, the document examiner cannot authenticate the unseen original but may well be able to determine that the unseen original is false. Further, a definite finding of authenticity for a signature is not possible from a photocopy, while a definite finding of falsity is possible.

Attempting to authenticate a signature from a photocopy is exactly what Matley did for CBS.

Game over.

UPDATE: A couple of readers question whether this really is "game over" - whether CBS can hunker down and wait for the storm to blow over.

Actually, it appears CBS no longer has any witnesses backing up its case.

RatherBiased.com notes that Robert Strong told the New York Times that he does not believe that his former associate [Jerry Killian] used a proportional font typewriter during his time in the Texas guard. "'I'm skeptical that Killian was working on that,' Mr. Strong said."

Now we also hear that in an interview with The Los Angeles Times, Marcel B. Matley, CBS' document examiner "said he had only judged a May 4, 1972, memo — in which Killian ordered Bush to take his physical — to be authentic. He said he did not form a judgment on the three other disputed memos because they only included Killian's initials and he did not have validated samples of the officer's initials to use for comparison."

The sole remaining individual cited in CBS's report is author Jim Moore, who Rather said, "has written two books critical of President Bush and his service in the Guard." Moore, however, simply asserts that the documents are real and that the lack of a White House statement discrediting the documents (yet) shows that "the White House probably knows that these documents are, in fact, real."

Uh, no. That statement is meaningless. By that standard, I can assert that the fact that Ed Bradley, Mike Wallace, Morley Safer and the rest of the Sunday 60 Minutes crew haven't come to defend Rather means they "probably know that these documents are, in fact, fake, and so badly done that a third-grader could recognize the differences between a document created with a typewriter and one created on a modern computer, and that Rather has gone cuckoo for cocoa puffs."

Right now, the camp that believes the documents are the real deal consists of Dan Rather, Jim Moore, Tom Harkin, and possibly Terry McAuliffe, although the DNC head also apparently thinks Karl Rove did it.

Link Posted: 9/11/2004 1:51:15 PM EDT
Seems the Boston Globe is also guilty

September 11, 2004
HOT UPDATE: Dr. Bouffard Speaks About Boston Globe!

I just interviewed Dr. Bouffard again, and he's angry that the Globe has misrepresented him. He's been getting hate mail and nasty phone calls since last night's story was posted, and he wants me to correct the record. He did not change his mind, and he and his colleagues are becoming more certain that these documents are forgeries.

Instead of providing my analysis of our conversation, I'm largely going to transcribe his unaltered quotes (please note that he's a rather colorful, engaging older gentleman):

(I'm dynamically updating as I transcribe quotes, so keep refreshing)

"What the Boston Globe did now sort of pisses me off, because now I have people calling me and e-mailing me, and calling me names, saying that I changed my mind. I did not change my mind at all!"

"I would appreciate it if you could do whatever it takes to clear this up, through your internet site, or whatever."

"All I'd done is say, 'Hey I want to look into it.' Please correct that damn impression!"

"What I said to them was, I got new information about possible Selectric fonts and (Air Force) documents that indicated a Selectric machine could have been available, and I needed to do more analysis and consider it."

"But the more information we get and the more my colleagues look at this, we're more convinced that there are significant differences between the type of the (IBM) Composer that was available and the questionable document."

"The (new Selectric) typefaces sent to me invalidated the theory about the foot on the four (originally reported to INDC), but after looking at this more, there are still many more things that say this is bogus."

"... there are so many things that are not right; 's crossings,' 'downstrokes' ..."

"More things were looked into; more things about IBM options. Even if you bought special (superscripting) keys, it's not right. There are all kinds of things that say that this is not a typewriter."

"Any form of kerning may be critical (he hasn't rendered a definitive verdict if there is a form of kerning yet). If there is any type of kerning, it obviously isn't a typewriter or it's definitely a typeset document."

On the Globe and others:

"You talk to someone on the phone and it comes out different than you said!"

On the source of the 1969 Air Force Supply Memo:

Dr. Bouffard received an e-mail from the address of Roy Huber, a noted retired forensic analyst in Ottawa, but a response indicated that it was Lynn Huber.

"I presumed that it was a relative of Roy. The document said that there are fonts from the IBM that don't have the foot on the '4.'"

The e-mail also contained an attachment to possible Selectric fonts that indicated that the "4" had a foot, and the Air Force memo that indicated that the military purchase of such a machine was a possibility.

But since having had more time to analyze the fonts of the Selectric:

"We've looked into more and more IBM options and ... there are all kinds of things that say this isn't a typewriter."

UPDATE: These are all the transcribable quotes that Dr. Bouffard gave me at this time. More as the story develops.

I provide his words, you decide ... but I have come to the definitive conclusion that the Boston Globe misrepresented their main source's testimony to stunningly misleading effect.

Whether or not the docs are even forgeries or not is almost secondary in the media narrative at this point. The fact is, Dr. Bouffard was used as the main source to write the following headline in the Boston Globe:

Authenticity backed on Bush documents

Square that headline with the quotes from their source that are listed above.

UPDATE: NOTE TO COMMENTERS - Feel free to parse the details of whether the document is fake or not, if that's your passion, but I think that many of you that bother are missing the real point here. At this point, with this angle, the veracity of the document is almost secondary to the Boston Globe's willingness to mislead you into believing that the case is closed.

UPDATE: Also, to be perfectly clear - Dr. Bouffard is not indicating yet that the the docs are definitely fake, he's just clueing me in on a preponderance of indications that it may be likely. Expert analysis is still underway.

Just want to make sure that I don't present a mischaracterization that is the opposite of the Globe's presentation.

UPDATE: By the way, if anyone would like to contact the ombudsman for the Globe ...

Christine Chinlund
617-929-3020 / 3022

Is misrepresentation by the Globe a pattern?

Posted by Bill at 11:00 AM | TrackBack (30)

Link Posted: 9/12/2004 8:09:31 AM EDT

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Modern Times
With the New York Times reporting that a key 60 Minutes source has turned on CBS, their earlier decision to "stand by their story" has doubled a bet on a losing hand. Retired General Bobby Hodges of the Texas Air National Guard repudiated the documents which CBS said he would corroborate.

Sept. 11 - A former National Guard commander who CBS News said had helped convince it of the authenticity of documents raising new questions about President Bush's military service said on Saturday that he did not believe they were genuine. The commander, Bobby Hodges, said in a telephone interview that network producers had never showed him the documents but had only read them to him over the phone days before they were featured Wednesday in a "60 Minutes" broadcast. After seeing the documents on Friday, Mr. Hodges said, he concluded that they were falsified.

Worse, Hodges virtually accused the network of deceptive journalism. Commenting on the process through which he was interviewed, "Mr. Hodges, 74, who was group commander of Mr. Bush's squadron in the 147th Fighter Group at Ellington Field in Houston in the early 1970's, said that when someone from CBS called him on Monday night and read him documents, 'I thought they were handwritten notes.'" They were not; they were supposedly typewritten notes which may now turn out to be forgeries prepared on Word for Windows.

CBS's last hope had been to show that Colonel Killian -- whose wife maintains did not type -- prepared the documents on an IBM Selectric or Composer. Those probabilities took a dive now that experimental attempts to reproduce the document on such equipment have failed. Worse, Computer Science Professor Robert Cartwright of Rice University (hat tip: Hugh Hewitt) shows that the variable letter spacing based on the adjacency of letters found in CBS's documents was computationally impossible on any mechanical device available in 1973. Modern word processing processing programs, like Microsoft Word, contain information in the font definition which, for example, tuck a small "i" under the overhang of a capital "T". No mechanical typewriter then available could do this.

... in 1971, even the most powerful available computer systems were not equipped to produce documents like the Killian documents. In Fall 1971, I entered graduate school in Computer Science at Stanford. I soon gravitated to the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, which had the most powerful time-sharing system (a PDP-10) on campus. In either 1972 or 1973, Xerox gave the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory a prototype xerographic printer called a "Xerox Graphics Printer (XGP)". Two similar prototypes were given to the MIT Computer Science Department and the Carnegie-Mellon Computer Science Department. The programming staff at the Stanford AI Laboratory was thrilled with the gift because it was the first opportunity that computer science research community had to develop software to support printer quality type-setting. The three Computer Science Departments cooperated in developing the word processing programs to support the XGP. I wrote my first published research paper and my doctoral disseration using the XGP in Spring 1976. It would take another decade before comparable word processing systems were available to most computer science researchers on minicomputers running Unix. It would take nearly another decade before they were widely used on personal computers.

The typed text in the "Killian memos" is kerned (check out letter combinations like "fo" and "fe"), but the (IBM) Composer text is clearly not. Kerning is a computationally complex task beyond the capacity of any mechanical typewriter--even one as expensive and elaborate as the IBM Selectric Composer.

The CBS attempt to escape the kill zone and regain the offensive on the Bush National Guard story appears to have failed. By clutching the faked documents closer to the center of their story they may have effectively destroyed their own expose. But the true magnitude of the catastrophe is hinted at by the Los Angeles Times. In an article entitled No Disputing It: Blogs Are Major Players, Peter Wallsten says:

These days, CBS News anchor Dan Rather and his colleagues at the network's magazine program "60 Minutes II" are enduring an unusual wave of second-guessing by some of the public and fellow journalists. For that, they can thank "Buckhead." It was a late-night blog posting by this mystery Net-izen that first questioned the validity of documents Rather cited Wednesday as proof that George W. Bush did not fulfill his National Guard duty more than 30 years ago.

Although the article half-humorously suggests "Buckhead" is actually Karl Rove, "Buckhead" maintains he acted alone. "But once I posted the comment to Free Republic I was no longer working alone, and that is the real point of the story about the story about the story." The real catastrophe for CBS is that Killian incident is probably not an isolated setback so much as proof that maneuvers which worked in the past can no longer be attempted with impunity. The equivalent of the longbow had arrived on the media scene. When the longbow was first deployed on the European battlefield, it was obviously a formidable weapon.

Such was the power of the Longbow, that contemporary accounts claim that at short range, an arrow fired from it could penetrate 4 inches of seasoned oak. The armored knight, considered at one time to be the leviathan of the battlefield, could now be felled at ranges up to 200 yards by a single arrow. One account recalls a knight being pinned to his horse by an arrow that passed through both armored thighs, with the horse and saddle between!

But it was long years before it was taken seriously. After all, mounted cavalry was the aristocratic weapon and the longbow that of the despised yeomen, the medieval equivalent of bloggers in their pajamas. It took Crecy, Poitiers and finally Agincourt to bring home the fact that the longbow threat was real. As the Christian Science Monitor remarked:

The English longbow plied by yeomen ended the military power and social reign of knights. "Shining" armor fell to a taut string, a cured piece of wood, and a tipped arrow. The military dynamic of the Middle Ages - knight, squire, and armorer - ceased.

It did not bring an end to history: a new dynamic replaced the old, but an era had passed.

posted by wretchard | Permalink: (Click to access comments)11:39 AM Zulu

Link Posted: 9/12/2004 8:22:09 AM EDT
This $hit is more entertaining that watching TV. I just love it to pieces, when these news media guys in the guise try to help their favorite candidate and this stuff just explodes all around them like a mortar shell and takes their fair-haired(Kerry) with them.
Link Posted: 9/12/2004 8:31:09 AM EDT

No one in the media would have questioned it.
Link Posted: 9/12/2004 8:40:06 AM EDT
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