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September 9, 2004

Stephen Hayes writes in a column just made public at the Weekly Standard that a group of independent document experts express serious doubts about the authenticity of the memos CBS used as proof of their allegations against the President. Hayes notes that one of the experts is a self-described Kerry supporter who nonetheless says he is "99% sure" that the memos were created well after their dating:

DOCUMENTS CITED Wednesday by 60 Minutes in a widely-publicized expose of George W. Bush's National Guard Service are very likely forgeries, according to several experts on document authenticity and typography. The documents--four memos from Killian to himself or his files written in 1972 and 1973--appear to indicate that Bush refused or ignored orders to have a physical exam required to continue flying. CBS News anchor Dan Rather reported the segment and sourced the documents this way: "60 Minutes has obtained a number of documents we are told were taken from Col. Killian's personal file," he said. The 60 Minutes story served as the basis for follow-up news reports for dozens of news organizations across the country. ...

"These sure look like forgeries," says William Flynn, a forensic document expert widely considered the nation's top analyst of computer-generated documents. ... Several other experts agree. "They look mighty suspicious," says a veteran forensic document expert who asked not to be quoted by name. Richard Polt, a Xavier University philosophy professor who operates a website dedicated to typewriters, says that while he is not an expert on typesetting, the documents "look like typical word-processed documents." ...

Xavier University's Polt, in an email, offers two possible scenarios. "Either these are later transcriptions of earlier documents (which may have been handwritten or typed on a typewriter), or they are crude and amazingly foolish forgeries. I'm a Kerry supporter myself, but I won't let that cloud my objective judgment: I'm 99% sure that these documents were not produced in the early 1970s."

Says Flynn: "This looks pretty much like a hoax at this point in time."

So far, between Hugh Hewitt's on-air interview with Farrell Shiver, Hayes' interview with his panel of experts, and INDC Journal's interview with Dr. Phillip Bouffard, the only people still saying the documents could possibly be authentic is CBS News spokesperson Kelly Edwards. She has avoided commenting directly about the authenticity of the documents but instead insists that the opinions expressed on them matches up with the late Col. Killian's sentiments at the time, according to unnamed sources. By the time Hayes attempted to contact Edwards, though, she declined all comment, saying that CBS had been "overwhelmed" with telephone calls.

"Overwhelmed" -- it's a great description of what this story will do to CBS News credibility if they don't cough up their source soon.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at September 9, 2004 7:34 PM

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