Sunday, September 12, 2004

Document Forgeries?

The 60 Minutes story ( Sep 2004) of newly discovered documents regarding George Bush’s service in the Texas Air National Guard and related publication of a similar story in the Boston Globe the next day has created much controversy as to the authenticity of the documents. This post attempts to summarize in one place the questions and issues regarding the documents which have been made throughout the blogosphere by those who sometimes wear pajamas most of the time and occasionally wearing an Armani suit (Any controversy over whether the Armani was regifted by some comedian will be investigated at a later time). Please see Notice at the end of this post.

General Questions with the documents:

I. All(?) four documents provided by CBS website and the two additional documents that accompany them on a USA today website are of too poor quality to determine with abolutely certainty that these documents are authentic in two aspects:
  1. They are not the originals.
  2. They are recopied to a degree that makes evaluation difficult.
II. CHARACTERISTICS OF THE DOCUMENTS: does allow for general conclusions to a varying degrees of certainty. General issues brought to public attention are:

A. (ALL? CBS documents? +2 USA Documents?) The documents contain proportionally spaced type. In 1972 and 1973, only one(?) commercially available machine could perform typing in the venues such as the 111th Fighter Interceptor Squadron TANG, which is inferred by the claim of authenticity. This machine is the IBM Selectric Composer, a product first introduced in 1966 at a price of about $3,600 to 4,400, unlikely to be of efficient use or a cost effective purchase in a TANG office. Additional features required of the machine used for which there are questions include:
  1. 12 point type and, while hard to discern without better copy, it of Roman family, very similar to Times New Roman, or possibly Palatino, Palantine, Aldine, or Press. Press and Aldine were the only Roman fonts described in the Composer Manual, Press listed up to 11 point and Aldine to 12 point.
  2. (The vertical spacing of the document?)
  3. A true superscript 'th' appeared in several of the documents. It has been (not been?) established that a Composer could perform a true superscript but required a change in type ball to a smaller type. The process required inserting and doing this is methodical and tedious. Of course other balls might have existed which included the “th” as a special key, but is it likely the special ball would not also include 'st' 'nd' and 'rd'; also be used and be true superscripts. Specific issues related to this are described below for each document.
  4. Quotation marks appear to be ‘curled’ which is unusual/unlikely with typewriters of the time.
  5. There are several discrepancies regarding the signatures, which are described below for each document.
B. Per NOTE 2, below, and OPINION NOTE 3, below, several of the documents have been deemed not have been created at the time purported by the date of the document. These have been noted at each specific document issue summary.


A. 2 Feb 1972 SUBJECT Flight Status
  1. Document is totally incompatible with TANG standard format for documents and is not on letterhead. Based on subsequent (previous?) documents at least pre-copied letterhead was available for use.
  2. Signature to the right not typical even without signature element?
B. 4 May 1972 Memorandum for 1st Lt. Geo ... (Authentic and released by WH?)
  1. Header is askew in relation to rest of text. (Pre-copied forms for general use??)
  2. Was "Memorandum for:" a format used at the time and were memo’s used for orders. No per OPINION Note 4, below.
  3. Address for Bush is incorrect for time of memo date. (Was Bush even in Houston at the time of May 4 memo -14 May NLT?)
  4. Is it typical to type “not later than” for someone in the military for 4 years. (NTL) is a standard abbreviation and the addition of this is useless unless used in a document where it will be subsequently used again. No per OPINION Note 4, below.
  5. Annual physical exam (flight) IAW AFM 35-13. Is this the correct reference? (Check OHClapping and another site noting incorrect -- JFK site?)
  6. Superscript 'th' used only once. Superscript for 'st' not used; nor for 111th in header)
  7. Document not created when purported by date on document; see OPINION NOTE 3, below.
  8. Signature element to the right not used at that time. See OPINION Note 4, below.
C. 19 May 1972 Memo to File ... Discussion with Bush ...
  1. No header on document whereas there is on 4 May doc. (Pre-copied forms for general use?)
  2. 1 st Lt. (Is this the std way 1LT is typed at TANG?)
  3. ET?
  4. “Another? Campaign ....” See Note 1, below.
  5. “... his date...” Standard procedure is for physicals yearly to be performed within 3 months measured prior to birth day. GWB’s birth day is 6 July. Why would Killian require by NLT 14 May?
  6. Document not created when purported by date of document, See NOTE 2, below; see also OPINION NOTE 3, below.
D. 1 August 1972 Memorandum for Record; Bush Geo ... Suspension of Flight Status
  1. Header is askew in relation to rest of text indicates pre-copied letterhead.
  2. Date askew up, text askew down?
  3. No superscript 'th'; just standard “th”; why the spaces in "147 th"; why no space at "1st"
  4. Again IAW AFM 35-13; see B.5.
  5. Pseudo-kerning is evident.
  6. Document not created when purported by date of document. See OPINION NOTE 3, below.
  7. Signature element to the right not used at the time. See OPINION Note 4, below.
E. 24 June 1973 Bush, George W. ... (This was a Sunday)
  1. Header address is incomplete; it is missing “Houston Texas, 77034”
  2. The attention line (To: whomever) line for the document is missing.
  3. Superscript 'th' in the heading; space at the 1 st (twice)
  4. F.I.S.? (why not 111th?)
  5. Signature element to the right not used at that time. See OPINION Note 4, below.
F. 18 August 1973 Memo to File

  1. Evidence of kerning, a condition which was not a capability on type machines of the time, including the Composer.

  2. Superscript 'th' after 187 in the fourth line. Although a capability of the Composer, the method of inserting superscript was so difficult and tedious as to be not worth the time spent to do it.

  3. Staudt mentioned as influencing actions but Staudt retired in 1972. Per OPINION Note 5, this would not have happened; see below.

  4. OETR (not current term for then?)

  5. Vernacular?

  6. Document not created when purported by date of document; see NOTE 2, below. See also OPINION NOTE 3, below.

-- Autocentering of document header? Which ones? Relevancy?
-- Sep 73 discharge at document (Killian signature, document type?
-- Robert Strong interview by NYT via Just One Minute (HT Powerline)
NOTES: From the blogoshpere

1. via
The 19 May 1972 memo CBS purportedly discovered says:

“1. Phone call from Bush....... Says that he is working on another campaign for his dad.”

“2. Physical .... He has this campaign to do and other things that will follow and may not have time.....”

But according to George Herbert Walker Bush’s biography:

“Following an unsuccessful bid for a Senate seat in 1964, Mr. Bush was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1966 from Texas’ 7th District. One of the few freshman members of Congress ever elected to serve on the Ways and Means Committee, he was reelected to the House two years later without opposition. Mr. Bush lost a second campaign for the Senate in 1970.”

“During the 1970’s, Mr. Bush held a number of important leadership positions. In 1971, he was named U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. He served there until 1973, when he became Chairman of the Republican National Committee. ”

Since his dad was Ambassador to the United Nations at the time this memo was supposed to have been written, just what was this campaign that George W. Bush was supposed to be working on in 1972?

2. via
This is the document that matches LGF’s Microsoft Word doc. (Makes note of word wrap too.)

3. via
The "documents" aren't actually "kerned," LGF says. Kerning is a typesetter's process.
The "documents" in question are psuedo-kerned according to how Microsoft Word 97 built-in algorithm decides to space letters depending on how it thinks they read best.
In other words, not only is the spacing on the "documents" proportional, it's also proportional in precisely the same way that Microsoft Word 97's specific algorithm achieves proportionality.
But this document wasn't written in MS Word 97.


1. (Link TBP here)
HODGES SAID HE WAS MISLED BY CBS: Retired Maj. General Hodges, Killian’s supervisor at the Grd, tells ABC News that he feels CBS misled him about the documents they uncovered. According to Hodges, CBS told him the documents were “handwritten” and after CBS read him excerpts he said, “well if he wrote them that’s what he felt.”

Hodges also said he did not see the documents in the 70’s and he cannot authenticate the documents or the contents. His personal belief is that the documents have been “computer generated” and are a “fraud”.
2. (Http://
Killian’s son and personnel chief of Killian’s unit say they are fakes.

3. Dr. Joseph M. Newcomer posts ( . Excerpt:
Based on the fact that I was able, in less than five minutes, to replicate one of the experiments reported on the Internet, that is, to type in the text of the 01-August-1972 memo into Microsoft Word and get a document so close that you can hold my document in front of the “authentic” document and see virtually no errors, I can assert without any doubt (as have many others) that this document is a modern forgery. Any other position is indefensible.
Conclusion on all 4 CBS documents: "... these documents are modern forgeries."
See also OPINION Note 6, below.

4. Post of letter rec'd by PowerLine. Excerpt:
1. The format used in this letter, dated 04 May 1972, which was
allegedly prepared/published 16 months prior to Lieutenant Bush's request for discharge, is completely wrong, as the letter is formatted in a manner that was not used by the Air Force until the very late 1980's/early 1990's.
5. Via Powerline, a Dallas Morning News report in which interview of Col Earl Lively of TANG indicates Staudt would not have been able to influence actions or decisions.

6. Hugh Hewitt post of e-mail interview of Robert "Corky" Cartwright, Professor of Computer Science, Rice University, ACM Fellow, on use of machine technology of the time discredits authenticity.

7. INDC Journal interviews Dr. Philip Bouffard twice -- once for evaluation of documents and again to correct subsequent misrepresentation by Boston Globe in BG article. See Dr. Bouffard's comments here and here.
SUMMARY OF SOURCES: (so far and not yet complete in review)
Allahpundit, Little Green Footballs, INDC Journal, PowerLine, Ace of Spades, Right on Red, BeldarBlog, WizBang, Instapundit, Hugh Hewitt, Just One Minute, (others to be added as needed)

Note: Here is a nice picture of some of the principals blogging on the issue (HT to Allah)

Notice: Original publishing date/time is shown below. This document will be updated as review of blogs proceeds. One update line will show and list sequentially the time/date of updating, however no notations of what is updated will occur. Additions, deletions, clarifications and suggestions are welcome.

Dr. Newcombe posting (via BeldarBlog), misc text mods. 9:18PM 9/12/04
Misc mods; incorp'ing links; add doc format criticism Opinion Note (ON) 4, 5 (via Powerline); ON 6 (via Hugh Hewitt; ON7 via INDC Journal. 11:08PM 9/12/04

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