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September 10, 2004

Comments

Can't Bouffard talk to an actual media outlet? One that is able to transcribe an entire conversation, or, well, afford one of those recording devices that allow people who weren't there at the time to hear what he said? And what about the other "specialists" (is this a synonym for expert, or are there really no experts on these matters?) the Globe consulted?

And here we are arguing about the authentication of faxes of copies of whatever. CBS really needs to get some outside people a look at the originals or whatever, and we need to get back to arguing about health care and the deficit and how to corral loose nuke tech.

Can't Bouffard talk to an actual media outlet?

Would we have heard his response this quickly if he had? What do these "actual media outlets" have going for them, exactly?

One that is able to transcribe an entire conversation, or, well, afford one of those recording devices that allow people who weren't there at the time to hear what he said?

Misquoting is par for the course with newspapers.

And what about the other "specialists" (is this a synonym for expert, or are there really no experts on these matters?) the Globe consulted?

What about them? Flynn, who didn't change his mind? Is he misquoted too? Are you implying Newspapers and Networks are better at figuring this out than these experts?

And here we are arguing about the authentication of faxes of copies of whatever.

Yep, and it's enough to raise a lot of questions, which should be clear by now.

CBS really needs to get some outside people a look at the originals or whatever...

They don't have them. CBS has been talking around whether they actually have them or not; meanwhile the NYT said they don't. I'm suspicious.

"Misquoting is par for the course with newspapers."

Accurate quoting and interviewee remorse is par for the course with newspapers.

Re "specialists", I was just disputing Slart's implied assertion that the Globe is all Bouffard.

Re newspapers vs partisan web sites I've never heard of, please.


"And here we are arguing about the authentication of faxes of copies of whatever."

Yep, and it's enough to raise a lot of questions, which should be clear by now.

I get the impression that almost any actual non-mass-produced document from 30 years ago disseminated in the same way would provoke a lot of questions.

Also, I presume he would have been notified of his suspension. If was never notified, he knows that one's false also.

The issue of Bush's flight suspension isn't in dispute. It was part of Bush's partially released records.

Armando at tac lists reasons to think Bouffard's a buffoon.

Rilkefan,

Accurate quoting and interviewee remorse is par for the course with newspapers.

I think you're just being naive.

Re newspapers vs partisan web sites I've never heard of, please.

If they're just passing along information from Bouffard, more or less unedited, that's fine by me.

I get the impression that almost any actual non-mass-produced document from 30 years ago disseminated in the same way would provoke a lot of questions.

Sure, but those I can't speak to. The appearance of the document and it's similarity to a Microsoft Word document are what made me so suspicious.

Armando at tac lists reasons to think Bouffard's a buffoon.

Armando doesn't work for a newspaper. Why do you care what he thinks?

From an interview with National Guard Review, Winter 1998:


You know if you’re a person taking orders it is pretty easy to think back about whose orders your liked to follow and why.

Two critical lessons on leadership that I did learn, however, were that you never ask your people to do something that you wouldn’t do yourself.

I was ready to go to Vietnam if called. I was a skilled pilot. I could fly … I was too junior to get to go. But had they wanted me, I would have gone. Had they called our unit, I was totally prepared and would have gone.

I can remember walking up to my F-102 fighter and seeing the mechanics there. I was on the same team as them, and I relied on them to make sure that I wasn't jumping out of an airplane. There was a sense of shared responsibility in that case. The responsibility to get the airplane down. The responsibility to show up and do your job.


I do have some experience on border defense. After all, that was my unit’s mission.

Power can be very corruptive.

Well I kept a level head in a time that was pretty chaotic.

-George Bush

George Bush's National Guard Interview

Jonas:"If they're just passing along information from Bouffard, more or less unedited, that's fine by me."

If Uma Thurman just gave me a massage, more or less unclothed, that's fine by me. (It's even fine by my girlfriend.)

me: "Armando at tac lists reasons to think Bouffard's a buffoon."

Jonas: "Armando doesn't work for a newspaper. Why do you care what he thinks?"

Because Armando reasons logically and cites evidence that can be checked; and is in my experience credible and fair. I referred to his list in the hope that people who haven't already made up their minds on this subject could better evaluate Bouffard's credentials (which I wonder about since he's willing to opine on nth-hand documents and seems uninformed and perhaps has to talk to random websites [instead of say Fox News] to get his views known.)

"And here we are arguing about the authentication of faxes of copies of whatever. CBS really needs to get some outside people a look at the originals or whatever"

CBS doesn't have the originals.

Because Armando reasons logically and cites evidence that can be checked; and is in my experience credible and fair.

Credible and fair? Armando nitpicks out of ignorance Bouffard's second-hand statements, and I'm supposed to be impressed?

The reason I'm not taking CBS or Armando that seriously is because they both are citing the mere existence of "Times New Roman" as somehow putting this to rest. They're merely refuting some ignorant speculation with an ignorant dismissal. There were apparently no matches in the forsensic database for such a font on typewriters, which confirms my anecdotal experience.

Meanwhile, the only "typewriter" I've seen dug up so far that has a Times New Romanesque font is the IBM Selectric Composer, which:

- was not used in any of the other, plentiful extant NG documents from this period and office

- would be completely absurd for a Secretary or Killian himself to use for memos

- cannot perfectly center text three times without an apparently enormous and expensive magnetic type drive accessory, and merely using stationary like the other documents would have easily precluded such a massive cache of typesetting equipment, and would have least have been on the right size paper

- the line breaks, spacing, and centering do not match the documents, meanwhile MS Word comes close

- would only produce a superscript "th" by changing the type ball, indicating this is the most typographically obsessed National Guard office in the history of mankind.

It's absurd. CBS, Armando, Kos, whoever haven't added anything to the credibility of these documents, because they don't understand why these things are significant, and would rather not.

Jonas, I think "shredded" would be a better choice above than "nitpicked", but de gustibus. I think you've willfully overlooked the point of my post as I see it and as I described above. And "It's absurd. CBS, Armando, Kos, whoever haven't added anything to the credibility of these documents, because they don't understand why these things are significant, and would rather not." just seems biased, unfair, and conversation-ending.

If there are a bunch of (high-priority?) memos from Killian floating around with font etc. different from these, then that's a quite strong argument against these docs - I hadn't seen this claim before.

To misquote an above post:

"And here we are talking about the authentication of faxes of copies of whatever..." while terrorism is way up. Al Queda is working through the cracks. We're averaging more American deaths per day in Iraq than the first month or so of the invasion. The economy is stagnant at best. The deficit and debt are at record levels. A gun bill passed under Reagan has been allowed to sunset... the list goes on.
Masterful misdirection if you ask me.

JadeGold,

Thanks. I didn't know that. So to make Bush look bad someone forged a document that confirms what is already in the public record. That makes a lot of sense.

This whole forgery business is a great smokescreen, but that's all it is. Bushies don't have to talk about the NG, or anything else. They get to scream about superscripts instead. We know the events described happened, and the documents are overwhelmingly likely to be legitimate.

But this debate absolves anyone of having to discuss that.

NGR: Could you sum up in a simple phrase what your time in the Guard did for you?

Bush: Well I kept a level head in a time that was pretty chaotic. For me it was much more practical. I am not very good at psychoanalyzing myself, but I learned to fly. I learned to fly jets. General James perhaps had the same experience. I remember telling people everywhere I went that it didn’t matter where you’ve been, where you were going or what you were doing, when you put a burner on you are focused on the moment.

http://www.northupinfo.com/ngdr/archive_details.asp?id=180

Bernard:

The '60 Minutes' piece really didn't add anything to what was previously known.

It was well-known Bush used family connections to get into a Guard unit that had a waiting list of hundreds. This was confirmed in 1998 or 99 when Ben Barnes' deposition in a court case was made public. Essentially, his interview on '60 Minutes' WRT getting Bush into the TANG was the same as his deposition.

And it was well-established via documents FOIA'd from Bush's incomplete record he had lost his flight status because he failed to complete an ordered flight physical.

So, the Killian documents added nothing especially new.

- would only produce a superscript "th" by changing the type ball, indicating this is the most typographically obsessed National Guard office in the history of mankind.

One thing that's been bruited is that the typewriter might have had a specific key (plus, presumably, the accompanying doodad) for "th". Any thoughts?

Anarch,

One thing that's been bruited is that the typewriter might have had a specific key (plus, presumably, the accompanying doodad) for "th". Any thoughts?

According to a guy who owns a IBM Selectric Composer, it's on a seperate type ball thingy. Here he is descibing the process it took him to try to recreate that part of the memo:

To make the superscripted th, I first typed "111", then switched the font to the 8pt font, switched the escapement lever to the smaller escapement (horizontal movement), reverse indexed the paper 1/2 line up, typed the "th", indexed 1/2 line down, switched the escapement lever to the wider escapement, then changed the type ball back to the 11pt font. On other tries, I was able to produce the superscripted th much cleaner (where it looked proper), but on the one I sent you, the carrier slipped forward a little bit when I switched the escapement lever to and from the smaller spacing.

Rilkefan,

I think you've willfully overlooked the point of my post as I see it and as I described above.

True. I'm simply not interested in arguing about Armando versus Bouffard. I'm interested in the memos.

If there are a bunch of (high-priority?) memos from Killian floating around with font etc. different from these, then that's a quite strong argument against these docs - I hadn't seen this claim before.

My apologies, I guess I'm getting a little frustrated with reading all this debate but I haven't outlined all of the pieces that I've noticed following this story for the past day or so.

In any case, this guy is conducting amateur-hour signature analysis. That doesn't particularily interest me, but it does show samples of previously confirmed Killian memos, in all their monospaced, non-times-roman glory - as one would normally expect.

Barnes' story doesn't seem to hold up, Jade.

I fear you've badly misread the Daily Howler article. First, it doesn't directly mention Barnes (who testified under oath as to his part in getting Bush into the TANG); and, second, the Howler piece is about conflicting stories from two newspapers (Dallas Morning News and LA Times) using the same source (not Barnes).

However, let's play the devil's advocate for a moment and assume Barnes was lying through his teeth about getting Bush into the NG. How do we account for this 1999 AP story:

Barnes testified for several hours Monday in a deposition in the case. Afterwards, his lawyer issued a written statement saying Barnes had been contacted by the now-deceased Sidney Adger, a Houston oilman and friend of the elder Bush.

''Mr. Barnes was contacted by Sid Adger and asked to recommend George W. Bush for a pilot position with the Air National Guard. Barnes called Gen. (James) Rose (Texas Air Guard commander) and did so,'' the statement said.

''Neither Congressman Bush nor any other member of the Bush family asked Barnes' help. Barnes has no knowledge that Governor Bush or President Bush knew of Barnes' recommendation,'' the statement said.

Barnes also said he met in September 1998 with Donald L. Evans, a longtime friend and chief fund-raiser for Governor Bush. Barnes told Evans about Adger's request, and ''Governor Bush wrote Barnes a note thanking him for his candor in acknowledging that Barnes received no call from any member of the Bush family.''

If we're speculating that Bush got into the NG on his own merits, why is Bush thanking Barnes for testimony he knows to be a lie?

If we're speculating that Bush got into the NG on his own merits, why is Bush thanking Barnes for testimony he knows to be a lie?

It's you that's misunderstood. Bush is thanking Barnes for acknowledging the truth, which is that no one in the Bush family asked him to do anything at all.

The Howler article doesn't mention Barnes, true, but it does put lie to the idea that Bush needed Barnes' help at all in getting the TANG slot. Which you'd know if you'd bothered to read it.

You must have read a different Daily Howler article; again, the one I read has the LA Times and Dallas Morning News coming to very different conclusions about TANG billet availability after interviewing the same source.

And as Barnes noted, both in his deposition and in the '60 Minutes' piece, he maintains that neither Bush sought him out to lobby for TANG billet. Instead, in both the deposition and '60 Minutes,' Barnes noted it was Sid Adger, a long-time Bush family friend, business partner, and supporter who asked Barnes for assistance. Given the Bush family penchant for using surrogates, this isn't surprising.

So, we have a sworn deposition saying Barnes helped get Bush into the TANG. We have Bush, himself, thanking Barnes for that testimony. Hmmmm.

Yes, Barnes has been rather trustworthy as a witness, hasn't he?

So, we have an archivist with data vs w guy whose word has been...subject to change without notice. Which of these am I supposed to believe?

Which is all more or less beside the point. What the Daily Howler article pointed out rather effectively is there was no such long line of waiting applicants for Bush to have been bumped in front of. Case closed.

Slart, I think you're overreading the Howler article - "case closed' seems a bit eager to me. It certainly does raise questions about that part of the case against Bush. Perhaps in the last five years a more definitive set of data has been produced - I'll keep my eyes peeled.

JadeGold's point seems to me quite sensible. Throughout Bush's political carreer his treatment of his Guard time has seemed less than forthright to me, including this point and the mistakes/... in his autobiography.

Oh, I'm not saying there's no points at all to be made about Bush's Guard service. Just that the meme that has Bush being bumped in front of hundreds of candidates has no substance (and has actually been contradicted by the archivist), and the idea that Barnes bumped him in front of hundreds or even dozens of other qualified candidates is therefore fallacious.

"Case closed" is one of those things people say when the case is not closed, like they say "clearly" when things are not clear, "certainly" when things are not certain, and "to tell the truth" when you have reason to doubt what they're about to say.

One must also understand the reason for Barnes' deposition in 1998. It wasn't because Barnes wished to "stick it" to Bush; quite the opposite, in fact.

That Barnes assisted Bush's entry into the TANG is not just asserted by Barnes but by others.

Jake Johnson, a former legislator, said Rose once told him that " 'I got that Republican congressman's son from Houston into the Guard.' " Johnson, a close friend and ally of Rose's, was chairman of the House Veterans and Military Affairs Committee in Austin in the late 1960s. He said Rose made the remark at one of their frequent meetings about bureaucratic infighting in the Texas Guard.

Asked about Rose's claim, Staudt said: "Lots of people like to take credit. I'm the guy he [Bush] came to see. . . . I don't care who said who called who. . . . We ran the unit." Staudt said that "nobody called me using influence, including Rose," but when asked if Rose mentioned George W. to him at all, Staudt said: "I don't know."

Point taken. Still, no sense fighting the war of opinion unless it's in some way backed with fact, and I think the Guard archivist is backed with a great deal more in the way of data than Ben Barnes is.

So, unless one has got something more specific and verifiable than the Howler piece to offer, one is fighting the war of opinion unarmed. IMHO, of course.

Last time I saw the 'hurry-up-and-raise-the-flag-and-declare-victory' mantra embodied by "Case Closed"--it was in the Weekly Standard, where it was declared Iraq and Al Qaeda had an "operational relationship."

That particular "closed case" didn't stay closed very long.

Jonas: I'm simply not interested in arguing about Armando versus Bouffard. I'm interested in the memos.

This is my view as well. I'm a bit disappointed by some of the comments I've been seeing from people on this issue, comments like the poster on Kos who said that Marshall and Drum should "stfu" about their doubts about the memos. And others who have labelled anyone who questions the authenticity of the memos as "freepers and wingnuts."

First, the entire case against Bush about guard service doesn't rest on the authenticity of these memos, but it will if the entire debate begins to focus on them. The really sad thing, IMO, is that people like Charles Johnson will gain substantial credibility once these things are uncovered as a fraud, but simply because he has typography experience, not because he has any other insight or special morality.

If more people from the anti-Bush camp had been able to say "Hey, enough people who know something about the technology are raising questions about this, let's hold off on defending them," then the situation wouldn't be as bad. Now, however, a lot of people have put their own credibility on the line by defending them (Kos, Atrios), and are going to look pretty dubious once the facts come out.

My estimation of Marshall and Drum as good source of opinion and fact have risen considerably in the last couple of day.

The really sad thing, IMO, is that people like Charles Johnson will gain substantial credibility once these things are uncovered as a fraud, but simply because he has typography experience, not because he has any other insight or special morality.

Doubtful. Look, folks like Chas Johnson and Glenn Reynolds have been wrong so many times before, without so much as an "oops," it'll take a lot more than being right once or twice.

OTOH, what can we expect if these documents are verified? My thinking is that we'll get not a mea culpa but just more dark mutterings about conspiracies.

I've said it before but these documents don't shed any new light as to what was already known. US News & World Report neatly summarizes what a very lazy media could have reported long ago.

I agree unreservedly with everything said here.

Question: can the valiant Encyclopedia Browns of the blogosphere now go to work on the rather more important question of whether North Korea has conducted a nuclear test?

I think the U.S. and South Korean government's reassurances are much more likely than not to be true, that it would make no sense for North Korea to conduct an above ground test near the Chinese border, that you can tell these things with seismographs and they know what their doing, etc. The MOAB-type-bomb theory certainly sounds more sensible. But the statements from Condoleeza Rice and anonymous U.S. officials that it may be "a forest fire of some kind" do not inspire confidence, unless the reports of mushroom clouds and craters visible from sattelites and large explosions are simply false.

I'm not really asking for speculation on what caused this explosion, so much as for information on how you determine whether or not there has been a nuclear test. My understanding is that seismographers can tell with a decent amount of confidence, so the U.S. would be able to rule out a nuclear test without necessarily having much clue about what it was. But I don't know a blessed thing about seismography. Can someone who does confirm this? I mean, it can't be that much more difficult to find seismographers than experts on kerning and different models of 1970s IBM typewriters, right?

The lead guy on the docs at Kos investigating in a responsible way. Hopefully this story will be settled one way or the other in the near future.

You're absolutely correct, Marguerite. For many, many reasons the story in N. Korea is much more important than fonts and typewriters of the early 1970s. I'd be really surprised if it was a nuclear test; seems to me, Japan would be screaming bloody murder as of yesterday if it was. They'd have likely started to register some fallout by now.

Additionally, you'd also expect to see some seismic analyses and satellite imagery. It's pretty tough to conceal setting off a nuke these days.

JadeGold,

And it was well-established via documents FOIA'd from Bush's incomplete record he had lost his flight status because he failed to complete an ordered flight physical.

I don't disagree, but there are a hell of a lot of people who do. I commented over at Asymmetric Information that it was clearcut that Bush had disobeyed an order to take his physical. I was shouted at by lots of people who cited various regulations, claimed no one would ever issue an order via memorandum, etc. The consensus there is that not only are the documents forged but the relevant events never happened. Now I happen to think this is loony, but after all, everyone there is a self-proclaimed expert on forensic document analysis, military procedure, typesetting, or some other relevant topic. Read it and weep.

I'm not an expert on any of that. But to me it is common sense that if Bush had received no order he would say so, declare the memos plainly fake, and complain loudly and piously about smear tactics. Of course the strategic geniuses all argue that not doing so is a masterstroke of some sort.

D-P-U,

Now, however, a lot of people have put their own credibility on the line by defending them (Kos, Atrios), and are going to look pretty dubious once the facts come out.

That's true on both sides. Watch the arguments from conservatives get even sloppier now as everyone has put their bets down and are standing by it 100% - despite the fact that I am convinced that the forgery charge is ultimately true.

Marguerite,

Question: can the valiant Encyclopedia Browns of the blogosphere now go to work on the rather more important question of whether North Korea has conducted a nuclear test?

This is absurd. The only reason I've been personally looking into the memo forgery issue is that it actually depends on facts I am personally able to evaluate. When I first heard that people were claiming it was a forgery, I resigned myself from even considering it given that I presumed that, as usual, it was going to hinge on an understanding of arcane National Guard procedure and regulation and hazy memories of events thirty years ago which I have absolutely no means of evaluating - which, by the way, never stopped most people on both sides of this insipid debate.

Gary Farbers arguments rest on debunking claims individually - proportional spacing, Times New Roman, the superscript "TH" - despite the fact that these undoubtedly simplistic objections lead me and others to understand that the IBM Selectric Composer is the only known typewriter to be able to achieve these various characteristics in combination.

Hunter's arguments at Kos evaluate a handful of individual issues, which is indeed useful. But again, in combination, the problems have not gone away. Optical centering on the Selectric Composer? I doubt it. It just so happens the Selctric Composer is arbitrarily set to precisely the default settings of MS Word years later, which would be for the wrong size paper? Oh, come on. The Selectric Composer is used only in these personal memos, and none of the other previously confirmed memos of Killian and his office? Please.

Bernard: Did you seriously expect you could suggest untoward behavior by Bush at Asymmetrical Info and get some response other than the tortured whinings of howler monkeys?

The military doesn't take unilateral action like grounding aviators/pilots on a whim. They do it because the aviator/pilot isn't medically qualified (declining vision gets a lot of them) or they've exhibited poor performance or they fail to keep up with requirements/training.

As the order suspending Bush's flight status shows: "Reason for suspension: Failure to accomplish annual medical examination."

Bush's CO likely told Bush several times to get his flight physical. When Bush ignored this "guidance," (really an order) the CO likely put it down on paper in the form of an order, telling him to comply. After all, it's not just Bush whose butt is on the line--it's also the CO's, whose job it is to maintain the readiness of his wing.

If one doubts the military takes grounding aviators/pilots seriously, please note Bush's orders confirming his loss of flight status also included this: "Off will comply with para 2-10, AFM 35-13. Authority: Para 2-29m, AFM 35-13."

This bit refers to "When a Rated Officer Fails To Accomplish a Medical Examination Prescribed by AFM 160-1…" and directs: "(1)The local commander who has authority to convene a Flying Evaluation Board will direct an investigation as to why the individual failed to accomplish the medical examination. After reviewing the findings of the investigation, the local commander may convene a Flying Evaluation Board or forward through command channels a detailed report of the circumstances which resulted in the officer’s failure to accomplish a medical examination, along with a recommendation that the suspension be removed. (2) The individual’s major command will forward the report along with the command recommendation to USAFMPC/DPMAJD, Randolph AFB TX 78148 for final determination."

IOW, the chain of command wanted an inquiry held as to why this person failed to comply with his orders. This inquiry is also part of Bush's missing service record. Again, the use of terms such as "will direct" and "will forward" are military-speak for "this is an order."

I wonder what the good folks at AI think of people like BGEN David L. McGinnis (former aide to the assistant secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs) who said of Bush's failure to comply with his flight physical requirements: "Failure to take your flight physical is like a failure to show up for duty. It is an obligation you can't blow off."

Or MGEN Paul A. Weaver Jr. (former director of the Air National Guard): "There is no excuse for that. Aviators just don't miss their flight physicals."

JadeGold,

As I said, the only thing I disagree with you on is the implication that this is crystal clear to everyone. Obviously it's not.

In a way it goes to Hilzoy's question as to why people are supporting Bush. We haven't seen a lot in the way of thoughtful responses. What I fear is that the kind of blind and unquestioning loyalty we see at AI is widespread, and dangerous.

Of course, I'm one of those who simply cannot grasp how anyone could vote for Bush in the face of his actual performance in office. The TANG issue, and his response to it, is just some extra data about what kind of person he is.

Jonas, since we both consider this an important point, I'd like to point to an (unfortunately citeless) claim at tac: "several memos released by the White House and by the Bush campaign under FOIA have identical superscripting, fonts, and spacings...including some that date back to 1968" - if this is true then I think the forgery case is greatly weakened - at least I can't come up with a simple sustainable anti-doc scenario.

Rilkefan,

...if this is true then I think the forgery case is greatly weakened - at least I can't come up with a simple sustainable anti-doc scenario.

You'd be dead right about that. However, I have not seen one memo with the ducks lined up in a row like that - if I did, I'd drop this issue. I worry our banned friend Daniel there may have taken the word of various bloggers around town, like the one you showed me a while back, where assertions were made about the typeface being identical and it was clearly not. (That post actually has been edited to reflect that now.)

Meanwhile, the case against the IBM Selectric Composer gets sounder. Apparently, myself and others have been misspeaking - MS Word does not kern, only some dumb-hack fascimile thereof. No matter - the Selectric Composer can't do the psuedo-kerning either. The argument for the "kerning knob" is rather ludicrous, as we have to assume that Killian or his secretary was tucking in each individual letter beneath the last flawlessly, which would make typing a one-minute memo take hours. Pseudo-kerning on the CBS memos and complete lack of kerning on the IBM Selectric Composer is demonstrated here - although he inaccurately calls it "kerning" without clarification.

HAHAHAHAHA. This is hilarious.

"So despite all the BS floating around from self-described experts we can be quite sure he did get such an order, disregarded it, and was suspended. These things happened, which, to my mind, makes it overwhelmingly likely the documents are legitimate."

Yeah, and because the sky is blue, this memo I have from God to the angels directing them to paint the sky blue MUST be legit.

Yeah, the "memos" didn't really say anything new. That's not the point. The point is that a major news organization like CBS would actually break the story with such a minimum of crappy partisan "evidence."

Raina: Let's be clear on a few things, ok?

I've no idea if the memos are fake or not. I suspect you don't, either. But let's look at what we do know. We know an awful lot of people who are convinced these memos are forgeries have posted a boatload of "evidence" that has been false. We've been told Times New Roman font didn't exist in the early 1970s and that no typewriter, in a nation which put men on the moon, was capable of producing a superscript 'th.' Marguerite, several comments upthread, links to a blog which debunks several other claims.

Moreover, if you insist we blame CBS for shoddy journalism, why not also attack USA Today? After all, they, too, obtained copies of the memos (plus 2 more) independent of CBS. They, too, are convinced the memos are real.

They, too, are convinced the memos are real.

Which neatly explains why they're jumping through a lot of hoops to determine whether they are.

From the USAToday link:

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.

And here I thought we were talking about the validity of the documents.

And here I thought we were talking about the validity of the documents.

Of course. But it's rather telling the WH certainly isn't taking issue with the contents.

But it's rather telling the WH certainly isn't taking issue with the contents.

It'd probably be rather telling if the WH were taking issue with the contents, too.

Raina,

You don't know what the evidence is. You've read a lot of demonstrably false BS posted by morons.

You concede the content is accurate, and the events not in dispute. Then the documents add nothing. So why bother to forge them?

The fact is they are wholly consistent with events, could have been produced at the time, have not been challenged by the White House, and were authenticated by CBS.

On topic, here's an interesting discussion of fonts and kerning as it applies to the memos. I'm not adopting or denying his conclusions, just noting that the fellow seems to be rather well-credentialed, and does an exhaustive analysis and explanation of the fonts and other issues.

Bernard: You don't know what the evidence is. You've read a lot of demonstrably false BS posted by morons.

Excuse me? Is this thread to degenerate into name-calling? Could we have a measure of respect for others who have differing opinions please?

JadeGold: We know an awful lot of people who are convinced these memos are forgeries have posted a boatload of "evidence" that has been false. We've been told Times New Roman font didn't exist in the early 1970s and that no typewriter, in a nation which put men on the moon, was capable of producing a superscript 'th.' Marguerite, several comments upthread, links to a blog which debunks several other claims.

Jade, I'm guessing that you aren't old enough to have used a typewriter. While some were apparently available, in the dozens that I used, none had a superscript "th", or for that matter, a "st", "nd", or "rd" either. There were only so many typebars, and it didn't make sense to waste some on something that wouldn't be used very often, so I think that some people can be forgiven for assuming that there weren't any. But it does appear that some typewriters had them, and that it was possible to create them on the IBM Selectric Composer.

Assuming that this National Guard office did indeed have an IBM Selectric Composer, which cost equivelant to about $20,000 in today's dollars, and that there were personnel who had the training required to use it effectively, and that they were using it to produce memos instead of publication quality brochures, as it was designed to do, and that they only used it for memos regarding George W. Bush, as all other available documents from that office were obviously created on a regular typewriter, here's what the user would have to do each time they wanted to type that superscript "th":

To make the superscripted th, I first typed "111", then switched the font to the 8pt font, switched the escapement lever to the smaller escapement (horizontal movement), reverse indexed the paper 1/2 line up, typed the "th", indexed 1/2 line down, switched the escapement lever to the wider escapement, then changed the type ball back to the 11pt font.
Putting people on the moon has absolutely nothing to do with typing technology. After all, the documents as they apppear could have easily been produced on a Linotype machine. It's just extremely unlikely.

By the way, the above quotation is from this blog that contacted the owner of an IBM Selectric Composer. He reproduces the contents of the memos for us, and the blogger overlays the results with the memo.

D-P-U: Sadly, I'm old enough to have used (and owned) a typewriter. Heck, I can even remember the days when forms were hand-created using Form-A-Line, X-Acto knives and gallons of White-Out.

I'm also old enough to have served in the military as a midshipman, active duty officer, and reserve officer. I can't claim any specialized expertise with typewriter histories, fonts, etc. To me, it all boils down to there are experts on both sides saying conflicting things.

The problem that immediately strikes me, though, is the fact there were an awful lot of "experts" who threw up an awful lot of accusations that were simply false. I'm also struck by how few--on the "forgery" side--are unconcerned by the fact the content of these memos aren't in dispute.

The problem that immediately strikes me, though, is the fact there were an awful lot of "experts" who threw up an awful lot of accusations that were simply false.

Sure there were, but on both sides. But that shouldn't detract from the legitimate points that have been raised. It's like Reynold's harping on an on and on about how Kerry got the date of his trip to Cambodia wrong. Even if Kerry mistook Tet for Christmas in his recollection, that error should not then mean that everything else he recalls about Vietnam is also incorrect. In the same way, because a few uninformed right-wingers with an axe to grind climbed on to the memogate express and incorrectly stated that certain fonts didn't exist, that doesn't invalidate the other major problems with the memos (especially the perfect match with MS Word).

I'm also struck by how few--on the "forgery" side--are unconcerned by the fact the content of these memos aren't in dispute.

Why? This discussion isn't about Bush's record, it's about CBS failing to check their sources very carefully. I'm particularily annoyed with CBS in this regard because it's taken so much attantion away from the actual story, and will cast any further memos or evidence into disrepute.

D-P-U: Again, it comes down to experts saying different things. Some have agendas, some may have legitimate concerns.

CBS claims to have vetted the documents. As does USA Today. Apparently, they were satisfied.

I'm particularily annoyed with CBS in this regard because it's taken so much attantion away from the actual story, and will cast any further memos or evidence into disrepute.

Come now. Let's assume the recent Killian memos never surfaced, for a moment. Given the existing and uncontested documentation extant concerning Bush's spotty NG record and given Bush's own story on his service has changed several times over the past two decades--do you honestly believe these same folks crying "forgery" would have admitted something was fishy WRT Bush's TANG tenure?

By the way, that earlier link by Slarti has been hosed, and there's a new link to it here.

It explains a lot of stuff in technical detail, but the guy really knows his stuff. He nails it by showing that while Times Roman has been around for a long time, the pseudo-kerning used by Word with TrueType fonts (always turned on, by the way, and not the true kerning that is supposed to occur when you turn on kerning) proves that this document could not be created by anything until TrueType version of Times New Roman was made available.

I am amazed, though, that someone with his extensive knowledge of typography has such a crappy-looking page. But the content is excellent.

Fafnir interviews a real expert.

For anyone who still cares, this gentleman claims to have solved the font issue regarding the minor variances between Times New Roman and the font in the memo . I haven't verified this myself, but he's a memo-agnostic Democrat who has been interrogating his typographer friend.

Jonas, I don't see much variation between Times New Roman and the memo font that can't be explained by photocopy artifacts.

Jonas, I don't see much variation between Times New Roman and the memo font that can't be explained by photocopy artifacts.

Could be. I could have sworn when I was futzing around in Photoshop with the memo and Times New Roman that there were some fundamental differences between them, but I can't recall specifically what it was. I'll wait and see what case this guy makes, and take it from there I guess.

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