Friday, 10 September 2004


The Democratic campaign in the US elections is turning Rancid. Foetid. Slimy.

Political dirty tricks are nothing new : faked documents have been used to discredit political opponents since time immemorial. Usually they work, at least partially : by the time a decent forgery is exposed as such, the damage has been done, the election held, and there's no way of correcting the injustice.

But the combination of Internet Time, Political Bloggers who are willing to spend the time ferreting out the facts that MSM (Main Stream Media) is not, and in this case, a really, really clumsy forgery have exposed the whole rotten mess. One involving George W Bush's National Guard service.

I bring to your attention this PDF file, as Exhibit A.

People of my vintage will instantly recognise this as most certainly not produced by any common typewriter in use in 1973. But thanks to Charles over at LGF and the many comments on his post, we can now state authoritatively that it was produced by a computer running Microsoft Word, and probably printed on an HP laserjet printer. And to state what should be obvious (but may not be to younger readers), neither of those existed in 1973. Or 1983, for that matter.

Charles isn't the only one to discover this : Jeremy Chrysler has done independent research on another of the documents, and come to the same conclusion. It wasn't Rocket Science - just set the font in a Word document to 'Times New Roman', and don't bother changing any of the default values for spacing, margin, tab, date position etc etc etc.

Some of the characteristics of the printing did exist in 1973: upmarket (as in 'Twice the cost of a new car') machines existed that did proportional spacing, though none to this fine a degree of precision. But the th could not have been performed by any single machine that existed at the time : A Golfball Selectric didn't have that font in its repertoire, and didn't have any font small enough to match the superscript. (I know - I first used a Golfball typewriter/terminal in 1970, and had one connected to my computer in 1980).

With any other typewriter, the page would have to be physically removed, inserted into another typewriter, a microscope used to judge the spacing, and those two letters typed - then the page would have to be replaced (again using a microscope and hair-fine adjustments to 1/100 of an inch) in the original machine, and typing resumed.

OK, so maybe these are re-typed copies of the original? Except that as seen in Exhibit A, the actual pages used by CBS in their report damning Bush, they have signatures and initials on, and appear to have been 'aged' plausibly.

There are numerous other signs that the documents are suspicious : from the signature which doesn't match other, authentic documents, to the paper size, to the reference to pressure from an officer who'd retired a year before this memo was supposedly written... but enough. PowerLine has most of the details. Within 24 hours, this fraud, broadcast on and repeatedly authenticated by them has been exposed as not just a fake, but a crude and incompetently-executed fake. Despite what CBS is still saying:
CBS News released a statement yesterday standing by its reporting, saying that each of the documents "was thoroughly vetted by independent experts and we are convinced of their authenticity." The statement added that CBS reporters had verified the documents by talking to unidentified individuals who saw them "at the time they were written."

CBS spokeswoman Kelli Edwards declined to respond to questions raised by experts who examined copies of the papers at the request of The Washington Post, or to provide the names of the experts CBS consulted.
"These documents represent what Killian not only was putting in memoranda, but was telling other people," the CBS News official said. "Journalistically, we've gone several extra miles."
Some Extra Miles. Good Grief.

Meanwhile, from MSM, all we have (from some) is that "doubts are being raised" about their authenticity.

Readers in Australia may not know that Kerry has been caught repeatedly lying in testimony to the US Congress: his 'Apocalypse Now' story of being in Cambodia in Christmas 1968 (and which he has used to great effect in a number of political speeches) has also been as thoroughly debunked as these fake documents: but unless you read political blogs, you may not know it. US papers are still full of editorials castigating the dozens of people Kerry served with, who contradict his many stories, as 'Smear-Mongers' and 'Paid Republican Shills'. Meanwhile, in the midst of a closely-fought election campaign, it's now nearly 40 days since Kerry talked to any reporters who might ask him embarressing questions.

I truly hope that the Kerry party machine had nothing to do with these obvious fake documents, 'authenticated' by CBS though they may be. Not because they're fakes, but because they are so unbelievably amateurish. I hope so, but given that some of the documentation on Kerry's website about his highest medal is most unusual (3 different citations, not signed by the right person, the alleged signer says he's never seen it, the award of a 'Silver Star with V' doesn't actually exist...) what I have thought until now was just a long sequence of individually not-unlikely clerical errors now appears more worthy of attention. I still think it's very probably just Situation Normal etc. But I'm no longer totally certain. Fortunately, the US Navy is conducting an official, if quiet, investigation, and it will all come out in the wash.

1 comment:

Ancient_Hacker said...

These documents are so ridiculous!

I don't know the state of typing technology in the USAF circa 1972, but just guessing from what I saw in the 80's, it's quite likely to have been an older typewriter, quite possibly a manual. You know, not electric powered. The kind with individual type bars. The kind that tend to get out of alignment, so all the commonly-used letters tend to be a bit tilted or displaced up or down a bit.

And you used carbon-paper to make multiple copies, which tended to blur all the copies a bit.

And initial capital letters would tend to be displaced a bit if you rushed pressing the letter key before the shift key was all the way down.

And the type bars would get dirty and some small letter elements would get filled in with glop from the ribbon.

And one would make typing MISTAKES, which were too tedious to erase on all carbons, so one would xxxxx out mistakes. And there was NO spelling or grammar chcker, so there would be a few spelling errors.

And it seems unlikely that the date would be formatted as
"10 August 1972" in the USAF. Much more likely to be "10/08/72". Just like there's no real coins dated "110 B.C.", there tended to be relatively few uses of the "19" prefix in the previous century.

And you couldnt reorder your sentences, so thoughts would sometimes be out of sequence, and you couldnt Cut/Paste your way to a better ordering.

Oh, and of course, no proportional spacing! I've seen dozens of typewriters in my day, and not a single one had proportional spacing. Yes, there's probably dozens of patents for such things, but they were definitely NOT popular, and probably VERY unpopular for typical USAF work, which has a lot of forms to fill out. You do NOT want to fill out any form with columns and numbers on a proportional font typewriter!

And most definitely not KERNING, where the word "Finger the Forgery" will have the "o" and "i" slid back under the "F".
Oh, and no special characters, so any special typography had to be hand-inked in. No fractional subscruipt ot superscripting, no "th".

Not to mention no Times Roman font! This rights to this font were owned by um, probably Merganthaler, and it's very unlikely any typewriter manufacturer would pay the royalties to use this proportional-spaced font on a non-proportional typewriter, when each typewriter company had plenty of home-grown fonts, all better-suited for typewriters.

Here's an example of some circa 1974 typing:

Note how different this monospaced font looks! See the typing errors. See the hand-written symbols. See the letter "c" displaced downward. See the occasional capital letter displaced due to mis-timing. See the letter "e" filled-in with typing glop.

This a very very very obvious fake. Very obvious to anyone over age 40 or so who had experience with real typewriters. I'd guess this was done by some relative youngster who has never seen an actual old typed document. What a poor forgery!!