September 10, 2004

Raines to Rather: Just Go. Don't Fight the Power.

. . . And CBS should fire anyone else who actually looked at the documents it presented on its 60 Minutes segment. Forget all the subtleties that are apparent to anyone with even a light background in typography. There are two things that should have leaped to the attention of anyone, even a 20-year-old who's never seen a typewriter in his/her life:

1. The signatures on the real documents don't match the ones on the fakes. That should have raised some questions.

2. The person who created the forged documents didn't even use Courier. The shocker isn't that these were forged, but rather the fact that they were done in such a sloppy fashion.

At this moment I believe this is a story about the failure of the mainstream media (MSM), rather than a story about the election this November. That will change if it appears that somene in the Kerry campaign supplied these fake memos—that's Watergate-level stuff.

Your main links are here: the Weekly Standard, which has a concise summary of the major issues with the problem documents. Powerline, which broke the story, and Drudge, who is also providing regular updates. But don't just go to the main Powerline link; scroll the entire main page while you're there, because Deacon, Rocket, and Trunk are constantly updating on the forgery issue. There were 334 trackbacks to that main post when I was last there; amazing.

Here's my question for the rest of the class: 3.If these memos have been in Jerry Killian's personal files (that his family says he never kept) for three decades, and have only recently been spirited out without the knowledge of his family members (who say they know nothing of their origins), how come they've clearly been copied many times? If they were authentic, the paper itself might be yellowed, but where would all those specks have come from? After all, they've just been sitting there in Killian's personal file for three decades . . .?

Here's a summary of the problems that are being reported with the forged memos. It's meant to be a study guide only, as the story is still developing and the blogosphere is still doing its research. In this case there are far too many issues for any one blogger to cover, so I'm giving you an overview. This is what is being said at present (I'll vouch for the first three items):

4. The suspect memos are kerned. Not just proportionally spaced, as an IBM Selectric "golf ball" would have done, but actually kerned. (Type "To" in your word processor, and look at how the two characters get all cozy. A typewriter can't do that.)

5. There is a single "curly quote" used as an apostrophe, rather than the "tick mark" one sees on typed documents from the 1970s.

6. There is a superscript "th" that comes and goes. Micrsoft Word supplies these automatically, but in those days we were supposed to shift the paper in the typewriter to move the letters in ordinals around, and they didn't end up being smaller: just higher in relation to the numerals.

7. The term "memo to file" can be superimposed on the two separate documents that bear it. Very fishy, in two documents supposedly produced four months apart.

8. The paper in use by the military around that time was not 8 1/2 x 11; it was 8 x 10. Yet the suspicious documents have no lines around the edges to show they've been photocopied in a larger-format machine (yet clearly these are supposed to be copied of copies, given the degradation in quality).

9. Some have detected a pattern in the dots that are apparently supposed to signify age in the document.

10. Jerry Killian apparently referred to his unit using different abbreviations at different times, if we are to believe the suspect documents.

11. The phrase "medical examination" was apparently not used. It should be "flight exam," or "flight physical," or "flying physical."

12. The date 04 May 1972 is incorrect; it should be 4 MAY 1972.

13. One of the suspect memos appears to have been written on a Saturday.

14. Medical exams were supposed to occur by the end of the month in which the pilot was born, so there would be no reason for Bush to be examined at any other time than during the month of July (by the end of the month).

15. Exams were never ordered. It was simply understood that if the physical didn't take place, the pilot wouldn't get paid. It was something individuals were responsible for; their superiors didn't get involved in it.

16. There's not SSCI code at the top of the page, and that is critical for all U.S. Military correspondence. (Aha! Maybe Killian just typed it up at the end of a long day, like we do in corporate America when we sense a political shitstorm brewing 'round us that may get us in trouble 30 years later, after we've died. But Killian didn't type.)

17. The protocol for Killian to refer to his own rank was not "Lt. Colonel." It should have been "LC," or "LTCOL," or "Lieutenant Colonel, [branch of service]."

18. "Commander" is incorrect usage for that time. It should have been "Commanding."

19. Killian's widow, Marjorie Connell, says a) Killian didn't keep his own files; b) the suspicious memos don't sound like they use language he'd actually employ; and c) when he needed records, he wrote things down. But mostly he kept things in his head. Morever, d) he liked G.W. Bush.

20. Killian's son maintains some of the documents were forged.

21. The term "MEMORANDUM FOR" is incorrect for that time frame.

22. There should be no periods after the rank, according to the Air Force style manual of the times.

23. Ditto the abbreviation for Fighter Interceptor Squadron (FIS). Ixnay on the periods.

24. The phrase "not later than" would never have been spelled out. Only the abbreviation (NLT) would have been used.

25. Lt Col Killian's signature block is incorrect for letters from the 1970's. This document employs a three-line signature element; these were only used by colonels and generals in organizations well above the squadron level.

26. The signature element is placed far to the right, instead of being left justified. The signature element was not supposed to be placed to the right of the document until almost 20 years after the date of this letter, per Air Force standards.

UPDATE: Donald Sensing has more on the military irregularities in the problem memos.

See below for the rest of the linkfest.

Jeff Harrell has a few thoughts;

Little Green Footballs gives us a side-by-side comparison of an "old" memo next to a word-processed one from a few hours ago. They line up exactly.

Dale from Q and O reproduces a CBS graphic that needs no Photoshopping at all.

Allah has lots of juicy goodness.

The Ace of Spades speculates on the possibility that Dan Rather will have to retire over this.

Protein Wisdom has some good links—and, oddly enough, a smartass remark or two. Jeff G. also did his own "on the spot" re-creation of one of the suspect memos, which he says took him all of ten minutes.

James has been updating on this issue as well. Do some scrolling.

Posted by Attila at September 10, 2004 04:55 AM

Apparently a mustachioed, sombrero-wearing document expert named "Don Rayther" will testify they're real.


Posted by: The Pirate at September 10, 2004 07:18 AM

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic "Let the issues be the issue.

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