What Else Is In Scott's Head?

The blog site for writer Scott C. Smith. Some observations on the world we live in and life in general. And maybe some politics.

Friday, September 10, 2004

The Bush Memos: A Hoax?

In a segment about George W. Bush's service in the Air National Guard, the CBS program Sixty Minutes II produced memorandums supposedly written by a man named Jerry B. Killian, who was held the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and was George W. Bush's squadron commander. The documents, supposedly written in 1972 and 1973, appear to support the claim that Bush had not fulfilled his military obligations in the Air Guard.

There's just one small problem: the documents may very well be forgeries.

The Washington Post is reporting that a number of experts in the field of authenticating documents believe the memorandums to have been written using a computer or word processor, and not a 1972-era typewriter. The experts believe the font used is "Times New Roman," a common font of word processing programs and a font not used in those old typewriters. The formatting of the documents also suggest they were created on a computer.

Killian's widow, Marjorie Connell, dismissed the documents as "a farce."

(The memos can be read at the CBS web site).

I've looked over the documents. I'm not an expert on authenticating documents, but it's very clear that the documents do not appear to have been created on a typewriter. I fired up MS Word and typed out some of the text from one of the memos, selecting Times New Roman. The result is an exact match in style of the document supposedly from 1972, including the formatting of the address "111th Fighter Interceptor Squadron." MS Word even formats 111th to look the same as the 1972 memo.

For comparison, here is one of the documents supposedly from 1972. I then typed out the text of that document using MS Word. The line formatting is a little different but to me the two documents look the same. Here's my version of the document.

CBS is standing by its claim that the documents are authentic, having had the documents examined by their own experts.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

I'll make a prediction: CBS News will retract the story.

Oy vey.


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