View Full Version : USA Today: FBI Expert Says Signatures On CBS Docs Are Probably "Forgeries"

09-13-2004, 12:38 AM
Of course Jaz knows better because there's a guy over at Democrats Underground who tells him so.

I'm still waiting for Jaz to produce even one other document that has the proportional spacing, centering, and Times New Roman font found in the CBS documents.


WASHINGTON — Questions about President Bush's service in the Texas National Guard have been shunted to the background by a debate over the authenticity of newly disclosed documents that purport to show problems with his performance as a pilot.

Document analysts differ over whether the memos, ostensibly written by Bush's commander, Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, are genuine and could have been produced by typewriters available at Ellington Air Force Base in Houston in 1972 and 1973. <B>Two retired FBI forensic document examiners who studied the memos at USA TODAY's request said Sunday that they probably are forgeries.</B> Four other authorities interviewed by USA TODAY, including typewriter and type font experts, said the technology existed at the time to create the documents. <I>(RL: Before you start wetting yourself Jaz, they're not saying that the technology was in use by the National Guard nor do they say that the technology was readily accessible)</I> None of the experts consulted offered an unequivocal opinion.

Whether the memos are authentic was further clouded by conflicting or changing stories — or refusal to comment — by some of the people who were Bush's superiors in the Guard.

White House spokesman Dan Bartlett declined to offer an opinion Sunday and said, "We have not conducted an independent analysis of the documents." He said he showed Bush copies of the memos and the president "had no specific recollection of any of the documents I showed him."

Here's a look at some of the key points in dispute.

Technical questions

The authenticity debate focuses on two areas:

•Typography. Within minutes after the documents were reported Wednesday night on the CBS program 60 Minutes, questions began to appear on Internet sites suggesting they were fake. The questions centered on whether the memos contained typographical elements that would not have been produced by typewriters in use at the time: the type face; a small, raised "th" character in type called "superscript" in references to Bush's unit, the 111th Fighter Interceptor Squadron; and the varied space taken up by letters of different widths.

<B>Gerald Richards, who examined the documents on behalf of USA TODAY, is a document authentication expert who worked for the FBI for 20 years and was chief of its document examination and research unit. He said there was a typewriter available in 1972, the IBM Composer, that could have produced the elements in the memos attributed to Killian. But the machines were not easy to use and were expensive, he noted.</B>

Richards qualified his assessment by pointing out that analyzing documents from copies rather than originals is less precise. He estimated that the copies given to him were at least third-generation copies.

<B>"It is highly probable that (the original memos) were computer-generated," Richards said. "And it is highly probable that they were not generated by a typewriter vintage circa 1972."</B>

•Signatures. Some doubters said Killian's signatures didn't match known samples of his writing.

Richard Williams, who examined the documents at USA TODAY's request, is a 23-year veteran of FBI document authentication who testifies frequently as an expert witness. He said he had questions about Killian's signature on the memos.

<B>"In all probability, the signatures are forgeries," he said, pointing in particular to the spacing of the letters, and the more cramped appearance of the signature in the suspect documents. But because the documents are copies, much of the information that experts rely on, such as inks, watermarks and impressions on the paper, is unavailable, he said.</B>

<I>(RL: Something that the expert that 60 Minutes used to "authenticate" their documents said himself two years ago...in fact, based on his earlier statements, the 60 Minutes expert - who they won't let talk to the media now - there is no way that the signature can be authenticated, but it can be proven to be a forgery)</I>

Cyrus Highsmith, one of the other four experts consulted, is a type designer with the Font Bureau, a digital type foundry in Boston. He said the memos' typeface, known as Times Roman, existed at the time and could have been produced by a typewriter. <B>But another typeface expert, Jonathan Hoefler of Hoefler & Frere-Jones in New York, said he would be surprised if the documents were produced before the mid-1980s because such typewriters were not widely available in the 1970s. </B>

Some experts pointed to the small "th" symbol raised above the line of type as the kind of symbol that could be produced only by computer. But a separate document released by the White House in February as part of Bush's military file contains a similar <B>but not identical small "th" character on a form listing Bush's service assignments.</B> (<I>RL: The other examples of the superscript were made manually - as I often did on my own Selectric - with the regular T and H keys and not as the result of a single character as the CBS docs show</I>)


Retired major general Bobby Hodges, a Texas Air National Guard officer who is mentioned in the memos, said Saturday that he believes the documents are fake.

<B>On Saturday, Hodges told The Washington Post he had been "misled" by CBS and now believes the documents are forgeries. Hodges made similar comments to The New York Times. He did not return calls from USA TODAY. </B>

<B><I><U>CBS would not comment on the record.</U></B> (RL: If Dan Rather is so certain they're real, why is he hiding them away and why isn't he ENCOURAGING others to evaluate them???)</I>

A second former Texas Air National Guard official who is mentioned in the memos, retired colonel Walter B. "Buck" Staudt, has been publicly silent since the program aired. In one memo, dated Aug. 18, 1973, Killian, Bush's squadron commander, purportedly wrote that Staudt was pushing him "to sugar coat" Bush's military job evaluation.

<B>Records show that Staudt retired in 1972 and would not have been involved in Bush's military career in 1973. CBS acknowledged Sunday that Staudt retired in 1972 but said he remained influential in the Guard. The Dallas Morning News on Saturday quoted retired colonel Earl Lively, who was director of Air National Guard operations at state headquarters in 1972 and 1973, as saying that Staudt "wasn't on the scene" after he retired. "Once you're gone from the Guard, you don't have any authority," Lively said. </B>

Some former Guard officials agree that Staudt may still have been wielding influence behind the scenes after he retired. Bob Strong, a former Texas Air National Guard officer who was assigned to state headquarters in 1972, said Sunday that Staudt was powerful and well-connected in Texas politics and had been influential in getting Bush into the Guard.

"Because of his political connections, he still had the potential to become involved in political decisions with Bush," Strong said.

So far, neither the White House nor former officers in the Texas National Guard have challenged the central assertions in the documents: that Bush's performance as a pilot was under scrutiny by commanders beginning in 1972 and that Killian, his supervisor, was unhappy with him.

In a 2002 interview with USA TODAY, Dean Roome, a former fighter pilot who lived with Bush in the early 1970s, said that during the first part of Bush's pilot service, he was a model officer. But he described Bush's Air Guard career as erratic — the first three years solid, the last two troubled.

"You wonder if you know who George Bush is," Roome said. "I think he digressed after a while. In the first half, he was gung-ho. Where George failed was to fulfill his obligation as a pilot. It was an irrational time in his life."

Pressed for details during the 2002 interview, Roome declined to elaborate. In February this year, replying to an e-mail from USA TODAY, Roome wrote that he admires Bush and does not want to be seen as attacking him. "Only George W. Bush knows why he was unable to continue flying in the Guard," Roome wrote.

Family and associates

Jerry Killian died in his sleep of a heart attack in 1984 while on active duty at Ellington Air Force Base. His son, Gary, who also served in the Guard at Ellington from 1971 until 1979, said standard procedure would be for someone at the base to clean out the deceased officer's desk and turn over personal effects to the family. The family had no knowledge of any files Killian kept, he said. "I can tell you with absolute certainty no files existed other than in his office," Gary Killian said in an interview.

Gary Killian and Killian's widow, Marjorie Connell, say Killian was not the type of person to write memos or keep files, and both are upset that his name has surfaced in connection with a highly charged political debate about Bush's Guard service.

"She's very upset that her husband's name was used in this way," said Ed Connell, her current husband. "It does appear that the documents are forgeries, but we're not experts and we have no way to prove it." He said his wife has told him that Killian "pretty well kept work separate from home" and did not bring home paperwork or talk much about what went on at the base.

Others who worked with Killian said the documents were consistent with the by-the-book officer they knew him to be. Strong, the former Texas Air Guard officer, called Killian "a straight-arrow kind of guy, a top-notch professional."

Strong reviewed the memos for CBS before they aired and said he thought they looked authentic, although he had no direct knowledge. The memos, he said, "are totally consistent with the way he (Killian) did business." <I> (RL: But Strong can't explain why other documents from Killian that weren't mysteriously secreted away for three decades say just the opposite)</I>

Retired general Belisario Flores, who ran the Texas Air Guard at the time, said it was common practice for officers to write memos for a personal file to be used in managing and evaluating subordinates. But he said it would be unusual for such files to be preserved for years after they were written.

"Nothing is impossible, but I find it very difficult to believe that would happen," Flores said. He called Killian "a good friend" and said he couldn't remember him ever mentioning problems dealing with Bush. Many of the people who worked with Bush in the Guard have since died, he said.

The politics

USA TODAY obtained copies of the documents independently soon after the 60 Minutes segment aired Wednesday, from a person with knowledge of Texas Air National Guard operations. The person refused to be identified out of fear of retaliation. It is unclear where the documents, if they are real, had been kept in the intervening three decades.

The White House, which was given copies of the documents by CBS, distributed them in e-mail to reporters Wednesday.

Bartlett, the White House spokesman, who was interviewed by CBS, did not address specifics contained in the memos but said as he has before that Bush fulfilled his service obligations. Bartlett cited as proof the fact that Bush received an honorable discharge.

No matter how it turns out, for now the controversy over the documents has blunted criticism of Bush's Guard record, which has been a persistent irritant for Bush since he first campaigned for the White House. It has sapped the power from an issue that had appeared to be a weapon for the Democrats against Bush.

Mr. Kotter
09-13-2004, 06:56 AM

By the time this is over, CBS and Rather will be exposed for the partisan bafoons they are.... ROFL

09-13-2004, 07:15 AM
What was the term for Dan Rather at RNC in '92 in Houston....

Rather Biased.

09-13-2004, 07:58 AM
What a joke.

I don't understand for the life of me how we got to this point.

First of all, what manner of idiot builds his campaign around 4 months of service 35 years ago in a war he is known for opposing?

Why is it somehow unpatriotic to ask questions about what a candidate presents as his principle qualification for being President? How can a candidate run on an item and then declare that no one has a right to ask him questions about it?

Then, when that item is turning south and becoming a negative, the solution is not to attempt to control the message by coming up with an agenda of some sort, but by attacking the other candidate as being responsible for something that some group who likes him is doing? So the message was originally "vote for sKerry, he was in Nam" and now the message is "vote for sKerry, Bush wasn't in Nam"?

And now, with the house of cards falling in on itself, documents are being forged and reported as authentic, stories in wire services being completely contrived?

Could the left look any more desperate here? News organizations are willing to sacrifice any vestige of credibility to achieve their end? The candidate's message is reduced from service to the other guy's non-service?

Simply amazing. In my best attempt to be non-partisan, I can't for the life of me figure out what kind of morons are running the sKerry campaign. Bush could have been defeated, maybe even with this candidate, who amazingly achieves the strange combination of being both limp-wristed and ham-fisted. But the way the sKerry campaign is being run is completely insane.

09-13-2004, 01:40 PM
Certain people seem to be avoiding this little corner of the board.

09-13-2004, 01:42 PM
CBS has lost all journalistic credibility. What an embarassment. All they had to do is say "in light of recent events, CBS has decided to re-investigate the sources in regards to this story. More news to follow as events unfold".

09-13-2004, 02:07 PM
CBS has lost all journalistic credibility. What an embarassment. All they had to do is say "in light of recent events, CBS has decided to re-investigate the sources in regards to this story. More news to follow as events unfold".

No kidding! Pride comes before destruction though, I suppose.