Friday, September 10, 2004

Faked Documents Hurt CBS... and Maybe Kerry

CBS aired another hit piece against President Bush on their 60 minutes program Wednesday night. New documents supposedly found in the personal files of Bush's National Guard squadron commander, the late Col. Jerry Killian, cast doubts on the President's military service. They could prove damaging to the President, save for one small thing... They are almost certainly fake. Apparently the documents were created on a computer, quite possibly using Microsoft Word. Here are the particulars:

Questions are also being raised about the memos by document experts, who say they appear to have been written on a computer, not a typewriter. The memos are dated 1972 and 1973, when computers with word-processing software were not available.

More than half a dozen document experts contacted by ABC News said they had doubts about the memos' authenticity.

"These documents do not appear to have been the result of technology that was available in 1972 and 1973," said Bill Flynn, one of country's top authorities on document authentication. "The cumulative evidence that's available … indicates that these documents were produced on a computer, not a typewriter:"

Among the points Flynn and other experts noted:
The memos were written using a proportional typeface, where letters take up variable space according to their size, rather than fixed-pitch typeface used on typewriters, where each letter is allotted the same space. Proportional typefaces are available only on computers or on very high-end typewriters that were unlikely to be used by the National Guard.

The memos include superscript, i.e. the "th" in "187th" appears above the line in a smaller font. Superscript was not available on typewriters.

The memos included "curly" apostrophes rather than straight apostrophes found on typewriters.

The font used in the memos is Times Roman, which was in use for printing but not in typewriters. The Haas Atlas — the bible of fonts — does not list Times Roman as an available font for typewriters.

The vertical spacing used in the memos, measured at 13 points, was not available in typewriters, and only became possible with the advent of computers.

In a telephone interview from her Texas home, Killian's widow, Marjorie Connell, described the records as "a farce," saying she was with her husband until the day he died in 1984 and he did not "keep files." She said her husband considered Bush "an excellent pilot."

"I don't think there were any documents. He was not a paper person," she said, adding that she was "livid" at CBS. A CBS reporter contacted her briefly before Wednesday night's broadcasts, she said, but did not ask her to authenticate the records.

The Democratic National Committee sought to fuel the controversy yesterday by holding a news conference at which Iowa Senator Tom Harkin pointed to the documents as a fresh indictment of Bush's credibility. "Mr. Bush has repeatedly insisted that he did his duty. We now know this isn't true... The president lied to the American people... So when George Bush, in the Oval Office earlier this year, said 'I did my duty,' I'm sorry, we now know he didn't do his duty." Guess Harkin wanted the documents to be true so badly that he didn't worry about authentication before playing a little charachter assassination.

This can only turn out badly for the Democrats and John Kerry. Not only can Kerry not avoid nagging questions about his Vietnam service, and not only can they NOT make the same type of charges stick against the President, but now they have to explain why they tried to make political hay out of some faked documents.

Other questions need to be addressed. Who actually faked the papers? Who leaked them? How were they authenticated by CBS, but recognized as questionable by everyone else in the media? Apparently, that last question is causing Dan Rather and his cronies at CBS severe discomfort. Serves 'em right.