Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Killian documents are controversial documents that were in the news during the 2004 US presidential campaign. The memos were purportedly written by the late Lieutenant Colonel Jerry B. Killian and were presented as authentic in a 60 Minutes Wednesday segment on September 8, 2004, criticizing President George W. Bush's service in the Texas Air National Guard (TexANG) during the Vietnam War. Near-immediate questioning of the validity of the documents on internet forums and blogs, intially focusing on the typographical characteristics of the memos, rapidly spread to the mainstream media, and after initially defending the segment, CBS eventually admitted there was doubt about the memos and eventually conducted an internal investigation. (pdf) The investigation concluded the segment had made false assertions about the authenticity of the documents, and listed other serious criticisms of CBS's report and its handling of the aftermath. The Killian documents are believed by most experts to be forgeries, although others feel this has not been proven with certainty.
Mary Mapes, the segment's producer, was fired for misrepresenting the documents authenticity and mishandling the controversy, and several other senior executives resigned. CBS apologized to viewers. The affair, sometimes referred to as Rathergate, damaged the reputation of CBS News and Dan Rather while bringing considerable attention to the blogging phenomenon.
Related controversies exist over whether or not the allegations contained in the documents are true and accurately reflect Lt. Col. Killian's opinion (See also: George W. Bush military service controversy), or, whether the journalistic lapses cited in the report of the review panel were an attempt to influence the 2004 US Presidential Election or merely poor journalism. Others allege that the documents were engineered and setup by Republicans sympathetic to the President in an effort to undermine a legitimate source of criticism of Bush's service record and misdirect media attention away from Bush to a controversy over questionable documents critical of Bush.
Background and timeline
The memos, supposedly written in 1972 and 1973, were obtained by CBS News producer Mary Mapes from Bill Burkett, a former Texas Army National Guard officer who would later be described by the CBS review panel as a "controversial source," due to his history of being extremely critical of President Bush in the past  and his prior claims that Bush's National Guard record files had been purged. The documents provided by Burkett to Mapes between Spetember 2 and September 5, 2004 allegedly showed that Bush disobeyed orders while in the Guard, and had undue influence exerted on his behalf to improve his record. At the time he supplied the documents, Burkett told Mapes that they were copies of originals that had been obtained from Killian's personal files.
Allegations purportedly supported by memos
The Killian documents include the following accusations:
- An order directing Bush to submit to a physical examination. This order was not carried out.
- A note of a telephone conversation with Bush in which Bush sought to be excused from "drill." The note records that Bush said he did not have the time to attend to his National Guard duties because of his responsibilities with the Blount campaign.
- A note that Killian had grounded Bush from flying for failing to live up to the standards of the U.S. Air Force and the National Guard and for failure to submit to a physical examination. Killian also requested that a flight inquiry board be convened, as required by regulations, to examine the reasons for Bush's loss of flight status.
- A note (labeled "CYA" for "cover your ass") claiming that Killian was being pressured from above to give Bush better marks in his yearly evaluation than he had earned. The note attributed to Killian says that he was being asked to "sugarcoat" Bush's performance. "I'm having trouble running interference [for Bush] and doing my job."
Within hours of the segment, the authenticity of the documents was questioned by posters on Free Republic, a conservative Internet forum, and discussion quickly spread to various weblogs in the blogosphere:
The initial skepticism appeared in the following posts on Free Republic:
- "TankerKC": "[The documents are] not in the style that we used when I came into the USAF...Can we get a copy of those memos?" (posted 19 minutes after the CBS broadcast began)
- "Buckhead": "Howlin, every single one of these memos to file is in a proportionally spaced font, probably Palatino or Times New Roman. In 1972 people used typewriters for this sort of thing, and typewriters used monospaced fonts...I am saying these documents are forgeries, run through a copier for 15 generations to make them look old. This should be pursued aggressively." (responding less than four hours later)
"Buckhead," who gained Internet notoriety, would later be identified as Harry W. MacDougald, an Atlanta attorney who had worked for conservative groups such as the Federalist Society and the Southeastern Legal Foundation and who had helped draft the petition to the Arkansas Supreme Court for the disbarment of President Bill Clinton. These facts, along with his rapid response and specific technical complaints about the memos, would fuel speculation on the political left that the entire document controversy was a right-wing conspiracy.
The following morning, several blogs including Power Line and Little Green Footballs claimed the memos were almost certainly forgeries. On 11 am on September 9th, Charles Johnson at LGF produced an animated .gif file superimposing the photocopied memo on a nearly-identical copy he produced using the default settings of Microsoft Word, while other writers explored in detail the typographical characterstics of the memos.
From there, the story was picked up by The Drudge Report and broke into the mainstream media, including the Associated Press and the other major news networks, as well as getting serious attention from conservative writers such as the National Review Online's Jim Geraghty[][][], and RatherBiased.com, , a blog devoted to criticizing Dan Rather for being liberally biased in his reporting.
CBS News initially claimed the documents were "thoroughly vetted by independent experts" and that they "are convinced of their authenticity." On September 9th, CBS interviewed Robert Strong, a friend of Killian's who ran the Texas Air National Guard administrative office, and quoted Strong's belief that the documents "are compatible with the way business was done at the time. They are compatible with the man that I remember Jerry Killian being." 
CBS authenticated their documents with General Robert "Bobby" Hodges, a former officer at the Texas Air National Guard and Killian's immediate superior at the time. Hodges agreed with CBS's assessment that the documents were real, and CBS reported Hodges stating that details read to him over the phone were "the things that Killian had expressed to me at the time." , However, he declined CBS's request that he give an interview and review the documents in person, and the "authentication" was performed via telephone. According to Hodges, when CBS read portions of the memos to him he simply stated, "well if he wrote them that's what he felt."  Later, when Hodges had seen the documents and heard of claims of forgery by Killian's wife and son, he stated that they had been falsified. Hodges also claims that when CBS interviewed him, he thought the memos were handwritten, not typed.  New York Times, September 12, 2004)
On September 10, a CBS memo reiterated the company's confidence in the authenticity of the documents, which it said were "backed up not only by independent handwriting and forensic document experts but by sources familiar with their content" and insisted that no internal investigation would take place. Dan Rather, appearing on CNN, asserted "I know that this story is true. I believe that the witnesses and the documents are authentic. We wouldn't have gone to air if they would not have been."
A former Vice President of CBS News dismissed the allegations of bloggers, suggesting that the "checks and balances" of a professional news organization were superior to individuals sitting their home computers "in their pajamas." In response, some conservative bloggers started to refer to themselves as Pajamahadeen.
Left-wing blogs tended to be skeptical of their criticisms. As one poster on the liberal blog Daily Kos wrote in a preface to his rebuttal of forgery arguments:
- "As everyone on the planet no doubt knows by now, the hard-right of the freeper* contingent ... discovered that if you used the same typeface, you could make documents that looked almost — but not exactly — like the TANG documents discovered by CBS News."
Concurrently, USA Today reported that it had also obtained copies of some of the memos and had hired independent document examiners to review them, and other news outlets began to pursue the story aggressively. 
By September 15, some of the experts that were contacted by CBS about the memos publicly stated that they could not verify the authenticity of the Killian memos and communicated this to Mapes prior to the airing of the segment. Emily Will had examined two of the memos for CBS prior to the story being aired, and stated that she told CBS that she had doubts in both the production of the memos and the handwriting. Linda James, another document examiner hired by CBS, stated that the memos were "very poor quality" and that she did not authenticate them.
CBS also hired a private investigator to look into the matter after the story aired and the controversy began.
A political weblog defeatjohnjohn.com, which happened to be run by a graphic designer and typographer provided an analysis that was cited by thousands of blogs within the first 72 hours of the scandal. Convinced the documents were forgeries, defeatjohnjohn offered a $10,000 reward to "anyone who can find for me a typewriter from 1972 that could have reasonably made those documents". Through a series of contributions and pledges from all over the world, the reward grew to more than $50,000 within weeks, giving the previously-small blog some surprising international publicity.
Copies of the documents were first released to the public by the White House. Press Secretary Scott McClellan stated that the memos had been provided to them by CBS in the days prior to the report and that, "We had every reason to believe that they were authentic at that time." Some have critically suggested that this belief of authenticity by the White House could not have existed if the memos contained information they knew to be inaccurate. Others suggest that if the White House did not release what CBS gave them (documents/photocopies of unknown provenance), there may have been complaints of 'failure to disclose'.
Independent media and blog sites accused CBS of expert shopping as they produced document examiners who supported CBS' minority view that the documents were genuine. This charge only escalated as CBS responded to the controversy with an expert named Bill Glennon to defend the documents. Glennon, a former typewriter repairman with no specific credentials in typesetting beyond that job, was found by CBS after posting several opinionated defenses of the memos on left wing blog sites such as Daily Kos.
Marian Carr Knox, a secretary at Ellington Air Force from 1956 to 1979, was Colonel Killian's secretary on the dates of the memos. She was interviewed on September 14, 2004 and denied typing the memos, while insisting they reflected the truth about Lieutenant Bush. She also stated that the memos were not written by Killian.  Referring to the disputed memos, Knox commented "The information in here was correct, but it was picked up from the real ones," she said. "I probably typed the information and somebody picked up the information some way or another."
CBS abandons defense of the segment
As a growing number of independent document examiners and competing news outlets reported their findings about the documents, CBS News stopped defending the documents and began to report on the problems with their story. On September 20 they reported that their source, Bill Burkett, "admits that he deliberately misled the CBS News producer working on the report, giving her a false account of the documents' origins to protect a promise of confidentiality to the actual source." While the network did not state that the memos were forgeries , CBS News president Andrew Heyward did state "Based on what we now know, CBS News cannot prove that the documents are authentic, which is the only acceptable journalistic standard to justify using them in the report. We should not have used them. That was a mistake, which we deeply regret." 
In an interview with Dan Rather, Burkett admitted that he misled CBS about the source of the documents, and then claimed that the documents came to him from "Lucy Ramirez," whom CBS has yet been unable to identify.
Review panel established
Soon after, CBS established a review panel "to help determine what errors occurred in the preparation of the report and what actions need to be taken."  Dick Thornburgh, former governor of Pennsylvania and United States Attorney General, and Louis Boccardi , retired president and chief executive officer and former executive editor of the Associated Press, made up the two-person review board.
On January 5, 2005 the Report of the Independent Review Panel on the September 8, 2004 60 Minutes Wednesday Segment "For the Record" Concerning President Bush's Air National Guard Service was released.
The purpose of the panel was to examine the process by which the September 8 Segment was prepared and broadcast, to examine the circumstances surrounding the public statements and news reports by CBS News after September 8 defending the segment, and to make any recommendations it deemed appropriate. Among the Panel's conclusions were the following:
- The most serious defects in the reporting and production of the September 8 Segment were:
- The failure to obtain clear authentication of any of the Killian documents from any document examiner;
- The false statement in the September 8 Segment that an expert had authenticated the Killian documents when all he had done was authenticate one signature from one document used in the Segment;
- The failure of 60 Minutes Wednesday management to scrutinize the publicly available, and at times controversial, background of the source of the documents, retired Texas Army National Guard Lieutenant Colonel Bill Burkett;
- The failure to find and interview the individual who was understood at the outset to be Lieutenant Colonel Burkett’ s source of the Killian documents, and thus to establish the chain of custody;
- The failure to establish a basis for the statement in the Segment that the documents "were taken from Colonel Killian’s personal files";
- The failure to develop adequate corroboration to support the statements in the Killian documents and to carefully compare the Killian documents to official TexANG records, which would have identified, at a minimum, notable inconsistencies in content and format;
- The failure to interview a range of former National Guardsmen who served with Lieutenant Colonel Killian and who had different perspectives about the documents;
- The misleading impression conveyed in the Segment that Lieutenant Strong had authenticated the content of the documents when he did not have the personal knowledge to do so;
- The failure to have a vetting process capable of dealing effectively with the production speed, significance and sensitivity of the Segment; and
- The telephone call prior to the Segment’s airing by the producer of the Segment to a senior campaign official of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry - a clear conflict of interest - that created the appearance of a political bias.
- Once questions were raised about the September 8 Segment, the reporting thereafter was mishandled and compounded the damage done. Among the more egregious shortcomings during the Aftermath were:
- The strident defense of the September 8 Segment by CBS News without adequately probing whether any of the questions raised had merit;
- Allowing many of the same individuals who produced and vetted the by-then controversial September 8 Segment to also produce the follow-up news reports defending the Segment;
- The inaccurate press statements issued by CBS News after the broadcast of the Segment that the source of the documents was “unimpeachable” and that experts had vouched for their authenticity;
- The misleading stories defending the Segment that aired on the CBS Evening News after September 8 despite strong and multiple indications of serious flaws;
- The efforts by 60 Minutes Wednesday to find additional document examiners who would vouch for the authenticity of the documents instead of identifying the best examiners available regardless of whether they would support this position; and
- Preparing news stories that sought to support the Segment, instead of providing accurate and balanced coverage of a raging controversy.
Panel's view of the documents themselves
The panel did not undertake a thorough examination of the authenticity of the Killian documents, and did not itself reach a definitive conclusion as to whether the documents are authentic, although it did identify a number of issues that it said raised serious questions about the authenticity of the documents and their content. According to the report, the expert consulted by the panel concluded the documents were produced on a computer.
Concerning the typographical issues, the panel met with Peter Tytell, a New York City-based forensic document examiner and typewriter and typography expert who analyzed the typeface of the documents. Tytell concluded that the documents were not produced on a typewriter in the early 1970s but were produced on a computer in a Times New Roman typestyle that would not have been available at that time, and therefore the documents are not authentic. The panel stated that it found Tytell's analysis sound in terms of why he believed the documents are not authentic, although it reached no conclusion as to whether Tytell was correct in all respects.
The actual question of whether or not the documents were genuine was beyond the panel's purview, so it was not considered in any depth. However, the panel did criticize CBS's "rigid and blind" defense of the memos long after it was generally agreed they could not be substantiated.
CBS responded by firing producer Mary Mapes; demanding the resignations of senior vice president Betsy West, who had been in charge of all prime time newscasts, 60 Minutes Wednesday executive producer Josh Howard, and Howard's top deputy, Senior Broadcast Producer Mary Murphy; and apologizing to CBS viewers.
Critics of CBS and Dan Rather suggested that CBS's decision to air the story reflected either poor journalism or an attempt to influence the United States Presidential Election of 2004.
Some defenders of Dan Rather and CBS have alleged that Republicans, possibly Karl Rove and/or Roger Stone, in order to discredit the controversy over President Bush's service record, falsified and supplied the documents used in the 60 Minutes report. They allege this was a plan to misdirect media attention away from a potentially legitimate source of damaging criticism and claim corroborating evidence exists which supports the criticisms of Bush's service record contained in the documents.
These allegations have never been substantiated by any factual evidence, and the circumstantial evidence for this view mainly consists of the rapidity with which the documents' authenticity was challenged by Bush supporters() and Karl Rove's past history of engineering similar political dirty tricks, and the suspicious refusal of any federal or state prosecutors to launch an investigation to identify and prosecute the forger .
Republicans dismiss those allegations and claim an opponent of Bush falsified the documents—possibly Bill Burkett, who brought the documents to CBS. However, the origin of the documents prior to Bill Burkett and CBS is unknown.
The most prominent advocate of the Karl Rove hypothesis to date, has been the Democrat Representative Maurice Hinchey (D.-NY), who on February 19, 2005, in a speech at a community forum in Ithaca, New York said,
- "I have my own beliefs about how that happened: it originated with Karl Rove, in my belief, in the White House. They set that up with those false papers. Why did they do it? They knew that Bush was a draft dodger." 
- HINCHEY: "it doesn't take a lot of imagination to come up with the name of Karl Rove as a possibility of having done that."
- WOODRUFF: "But, at this point, it is just imagination, is that correct?
- HINCHEY: "It's a possibility, yes. It's a possibility based upon circumstantial evidence and the history of his behavior over the course of several decades."
Critics of CBS and Dan Rather alleged that CBS's decision to air the story reflected an attempt to influence the United States Presidential Election of 2004. Mary Mapes was faulted for not appearing objective by calling Joe Lockhart, a senior official in the John Kerry campaign prior to the airing of the piece and offering to put him in touch with the source of the documents.
Soon after the broadcast, as attacks on the authenticity of the documents mounted, one possibility advanced by some bloggers was that the documents had been forged by Republican supporters of Bush, perhaps even with the involvement of Bush's political strategist, Karl Rove. The hypothesis was that a controversy over the documents, and their subsequent discrediting, would undermine the credibility of Bush's opponents, and would distract attention from the undisputed facts that supported the criticism of his Vietnam-era actions. (For example, it was known that Bush had not taken the required National Guard physical and had accordingly been grounded from flying. The CBS broadcast added only the allegation that Killian had directed Bush to take the physical on a particular day.) This view was endorsed by Representative Maurice Hinchey (D.-NY) on February 19, 2005, in a speech at a community forum in Ithaca, New York:
- I have my own beliefs about how that happened: it originated with Karl Rove, in my belief, in the White House. They set that up with those false papers. Why did they do it? They knew that Bush was a draft dodger. 
Supporters of this theory point to Rove's history of deceptive tactics (), along with the speed with which the arguments for forgery were developed and presented, by people who supposedly had no knowledge of them before the broadcast (). To date, however, there is no direct evidence of Rove's involvement. Rove himself has denied it. 
Detailed analysis of authentication issues
No generally recognized document experts have positively authenticated the memos. Several individuals with expertise in typewriters or computer typography regard the documents as forgeries based on typographical analysis. These include Peter Tytell, a document examiner and typewriter expert , Thomas Phinney, an Adobe computer font expert , and Joseph Newcomer, a computer typography pioneer and Windows typography expert . This conclusion is based in part on analysis of the letterspacing, as follows:
- The typography of the Killian documents can be matched with a modern personal computer and printer using Microsoft Word with the default font (Times New Roman) and other settings. Therefore the equipment with which the Killian documents were actually produced must have been capable of matching the typographical characteristics produced by this modern technology.
- But the letterspacing of the Times New Roman font used by Microsoft Word with a modern personal computer and printer employs a system of 18 units relative to the letter height (em), with common characters being 5 to 17 units wide. (The technology allows even finer variability of character widths, but the 18 unit system was chosen for compatibility with the Linotype phototypesetting and earlier hot-metal versions of the font.) In contrast, the variability of character widths available on early 1970s typewriters using proportional letterspacing was more limited, due to the mechanical technology employed. The most sophisticated of these machines, the IBM Selectric Composer, used a system of 9 units relative to the letter height, in which all characters were 3 to 9 units wide. Less complex machines used fewer widths.
- Differences in individual character widths accumulate over the length of a line, so that comparatively small differences become readily apparent. Because of the differing character widths employed, the letterspacing exhibited by the Killian documents (matching that produced by a modern computer and printer) could not have been produced with a mechanical typewriter using proportional letterspacing in the early 1970s. At the time the documents were purportedly created, the matching letterspacing could only have been produced using phototypesetting or hot-metal printing. But it is not a realistic possibility that Killian would have had these documents printed, so it must be concluded that they are modern forgeries.
Brigadier General David L. McGinnis (ret'd), who once worked for an assistant Secretary of Defense, said that the documents proved that Bush did not complete his national service commitments, even if the records showed that he had been paid during this time. Lawrence Korb said that a truthful evaluation by Killian would have resulted in Bush's being drafted for active duty in Vietnam. The two men made these statements immediately following the CBS broadcast, apparently on the assumption that the documents were genuine. Aside from the documents newly publicized by CBS, however, Korb, who was an Assistant Secretary of Defense during the administration of Ronald Reagan, had already concluded, based on undisputed records, that Bush did not fulfill his Guard obligations and could have been ordered to active duty as a result. 
The majority of typewriters available in 1972 used fixed width fonts. Typewriters with proportional fonts were first introduced in 1941, mass-produced from 1948 onwards, and were in widespread use by 1972.
The most common typewriter available in 1972 with proportional font support and a similar (though not exact)  match to the font some claim was used in the memos (11-point Press Roman vs. 12-point Times New Roman) is the IBM Selectric Composer. The IBM Executive supported a single serifed proportional font that is very different from the Selectric Composer font that most closely matches the font some believe is used in the memos; however, the actual font used is almost impossible to identify, and various fonts supported by the Selectric and the Executive are likely candidates.
Bill Glennon, a technology consultant in New York City with typewriter repair experience from 1973 to 1985 who was recruited by CBS as an expert on the documents' authenticity after defending them on several liberal blogs such as Daily Kos, said experts making the claim that typewriters were incapable of producing the memos "are full of crap. They just don't know." He said there were IBM machines capable of producing the spacing, and a customized key — the likes of which he said were not unusual — for creating the superscript th (discussed below).  Responding directly to Glennon was Thomas Phinney, program manager for fonts at Adobe Systems. Phinney stated that the memos could not have been produced with 1970s typewriters or low-end typesetters, such as the IBM Executive or Selectric Composer machines, due to differences in letter width and spacing. 
Phinney's view is supported by some typeface designers. The theory is that each time a typeface is redeveloped for new technology, the widths, heights or designs will vary slightly. Hence Times Roman on an Apple LaserWriter is different from the Times New Roman on Windows operating systems.
Desktop magazine in Australia analysed the documents in its November 2004 issue and concluded that the typeface was a post-1985 version of Times Roman, rather than Times New Roman, both of which are different in detail to IBM Press Roman. The article did not dispute that superscripts and proportional fonts were available in the 1970s.
The Selectric Composer cost $3,600 to $4,400 in 1973 dollars ($16,000 to $22,000 in 2004 dollars). (Regular Selectrics were available second-hand for around $150 , but could not have produced the documents in question.) Most of the known genuine documents from Bush's ANG base were typed using the more typical fixed width fonts commonly associated with typewriters. However, one document released by the Pentagon on September 24 (well after the controversy erupted) uses a proportionally spaced font similar (but not identical) to the font used in the Killian memos .
Some argue that the Killian memos display kerning, a sophisticated character spacing that is ubiquitous with word-processing documents and uncommon in typewriters in 1972. Technically, Microsoft Word does not perform true kerning by default, but the TrueType engine used by Windows supports something called "hinting" or pseudo-kerning, which is not implemented on mechanical typewriters.
Some typewriters that were available at the time, the IBM Executive and the IBM Selectric Composer, were capable of kerning. However, on these typewriters, kerning required additional operations such as backspacing or manually moving the carriage back slightly.
Because a typewriter does not have the ability to know what the user is going to type next, it is up to the typist to decide when to move the carriage to the next line. Often, a typist will use hyphenation to split a word between two lines on a syllable boundary, while computer word processors (and Microsoft Word in particular) do not do this by default. The lines in the memos are split along word boundaries at the exact location where Microsoft Word would have split them. However, since Microsoft Word was specifically designed to produce output similar to that of a professional office typewriter, that is not surprising.
The Killian Memos display superscripted "th" glyphs in a smaller font on numbers (such as 111th) that are generated automatically by Microsoft Word but some claim would require excessive effort to create using most 1972 typewriters.
Dan Rather has pointed out several documents of unquestioned authenticity in the Bush records have apparently superscripted 'th' characters interspersed throughout. However, these are not technically superscripts, since they are not raised above the level of the normal text, like an actual superscript would be. The CBS memos show signs of such raised superscripts.
However, the superscripts in the CBS memos are mathematically reduced versions of the standard letters, suggesting computer production. Traditionally, superscripts in metal type differed from standard letters by being proportionally wider and heavier, so that when set, they looked the same "weight".
Lt. Col. Jerry Killian's former secretary, Marian Carr Knox, who worked from 1956 to 1979 at Ellington Air Force Base in Houston, recalls that during her time at the Guard, she used a mechanical Olympia typewriter, which did have a special 'th' key. (This 'th' character was the same weight as the other characters.) She said it was replaced by an IBM Selectric in the early 1970s. She asserts that the memos are not real, as the typeface does not match either of the two typewriters and that she would have remembered typing them.  However, she also says that the content of the memos is genuine, and speculates that they may have been copied from originals that Killian had her type in the early 1970s. 
Shortly after suspicions emerged over the memos' authenticity bloggers at ChronicallyBiased  discovered that two of the memos, dated May 4 and August 1, 1972, feature a three-line centered heading which aligns exactly, not only between the two memos (dated three months apart), but also with a comparison document created using the auto-centering feature of Microsoft Word.
In terms of approximation, centering headers, even if the font is proportional, is not necessarily difficult. For example, one can left-justify the header and then use the space bar to count the number of spaces from the end of the text to the right margin. The IBM Executive and Selectric also have a kerning key which would give a more accurate measure of the whitespace. Once this number is determined, halving it gives the number of leading spaces for the approximately centered header. While a skilled typist could produce reasonably centered single-line headers using this technique, perfectly centering three lines in succession (as is found in the address block of two different Killian memos) and in relation to each other is highly improbable due to the slightest typing variations, to say nothing of human error.
Word processors, by contrast, center text based on a computer algorithm that justifies a word or row of words from a fixed center point of the page as opposed to the left margin on the typewriter. Since it adjusts text around a consistent center line and not an approximated center as measured from the paper's edge this algorithm ensures virtually perfect centering that is consistent from line to line in successive blocks of text. When overlaid with a word processor-centered 3 line address block found on two Killian memos and a 2 line block on another, the allegedly typed text matches perfectly with that produced by a computer. The probability of a typewriter user perfectly centering successive lines of text to both the page itself and to each other on at least three different dates is very remote, making the centering issue a strong piece of evidence against the memos' authenticity.
Another feature of computer word processors such as Microsoft Word is "smart quotes"—the automatic translation of typed apostrophes and quotation marks depending on context. While typewriters of that era generally only supported a single kind of apostrophe ( ' ) and a single kind of quotation mark ( " ), word processors have the ability to display curved marks like those used in typeset text. An example from the Killian memo is the word "I’m", which would have been rendered as "I'm" on a typewriter or computer word processor without this feature. Word processors can also convert typed quotation marks into curved left and right marks, so "this" automatically becomes “this”. Double quotation marks are not used in any of the Killian memos. (You may have to enlarge the font size of your browser or print this page in order to see the difference between the two kinds of apostrophes.)
This image of a 1954 advertisement for an IBM Executive typewriter allegedly shows the ability of that machine to produce left and right quote marks. However, close examination where the individual pixels are visible shows the resolution of the image is too low to make such a determination. Many analysts have disqualified the IBM Executive on other grounds, particularly the typeface and spacing differences (see above).
Reproduction of the documents using modern technology
Several experiments have suggested that the memos could be duplicated with the default settings in Microsoft Word 2003  — apparent evidence of a word processing origin. Many consider this fact to be too great a coincidence to explain away; for them, it is incontrovertible proof that the memos are amateurish forgeries. Others have pointed out that duplicating the output of an executive office typewriter was a specific design goal of Word, with Microsoft going so far as to acquire its fonts from the same source used by IBM.
The underlying suggestion that the documents produced are identical has also been disputed by liberal sites such as Daily Kos, which pointed out that there were letters and words in the original which were not aligned properly, as well as variations in the boldness of letters, and even in the shapes of certain numbers.  Some of these observations, even if substantiated, could still be explained as common by-products of FAX transmission and/or repeated photocopying (a technique often used by forgers to give the appearance of age). One approach, using a custom computer algorithm to find the best alignment between the scanned memo and the Word version, seems to show an exact overlay, demonstrating how the low fidelity of the CBS documents can give the appearance of differences between individual letters in the two versions due to the random "thickening" introduced during the FAXing and/or photocopying process . However, the same low fidelity also aids the appearance of an exact overlay, as the re-sizing of the CBS documents obscures details.
Some claim that this screenshot of an Word document is an exact replica. Daily Kos readers again purported the existence of an inconsistent baseline in the original and divergent locations of the 'th' supercript . In response, the creator of the screenshot printed the Word document to a PDF and obtained a much closer match to the superscript . In Microsoft Word, the 'th' superscript is drawn in a different location on the screen than it is when printed. Another experiment showed that faxing, scanning, and copying a Word document creates random baseline irregularities . It has been reported that at least one of the documents obtained by CBS had a fax header indicating it had been faxed from a Kinko's copy center .
Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs published an animated GIF of one of the CBS memos and a version he typed in Microsoft Word on Mac OS X using the software's default settings. The overlay allows easy examination of Johnson's claim that the two are nearly identical. When using other versions of Microsoft Word or alternative products such as Wordperfect, with their default settings on, such an exact match is not usually obtained .
Inability to reproduce using contemporary technology
Thus far, no one has been able to reproduce the exact typography, spacing and layout of the Killian memos using technology available in 1972. (One critic even offers a reward of over $50,000 to anyone who can "reasonably" duplicate the memos using the default setup of a 1972 typewriter. ) As described above, this situation contrasts significantly from that regarding 'modern' technology, in that many find reproductions made with Microsoft Word to be convincingly exact, while others disagree. No reproduction using contemporary technology has proven as convincing.
Many analysts have said that they were not concerned with whether or not it was hypothetically possible to duplicate one or even a few of the typographic features with 1973 technology, but whether it was likely that all of them would have matched, at least as closely as the Microsoft Word samples, using a single typewriter that could plausibly have been in use at a remote national guard base in 1973 (and apparently wasn't used to type any other memos from that base). Several people with experience in operating either the IBM Executive or the Selectric Composer have said that they were much more complicated to operate than a regular typewriter and therefore were reserved for important correspondence within the companies where they had worked.
No similar contemporary documents
The Washington Post reported that "of more than 100 records made available by the 147th Group and the Texas Air National Guard, none used the proportional spacing techniques characteristic of the CBS documents". This raises the question of the likelihood of a National Guard office having access to this type of equipment. However, on September 24, 2004, just four days after CBS admitted it couldn't authenticate the Killian memos, another PDF packet of Bush's Guard records appeared on a Pentagon site containing the full master list of the officially released records.  The PDF packet is simply labeled "Documents Released on September 24, 2004," and the sixth document, dated February 19, 1971 and titled "Appointment and Federal Recognition," is proportionally spaced. While it appears to be of a different font style than that used in the Killian memos, it is apparently the first officially released document that is in some sort of obviously proportionally spaced font.
One's versus Ell's
On September 13th, CBS Evening News introduced two new claimed experts to vouch for the authenticity of the memos. One of the individuals, a software designer named Richard Katz, claimed that a lower case ell was used in place of the numeral one in the memos. Further, he claimed that this would be difficult to duplicate on a computer today. Mr. Katz did not elaborate on how he was able to determine ell's were used in place of one's and why it would be difficult to duplicate on a computer.
There is speculation that Mr. Katz was referring to the fact that early typewriters did not have a one or zero key and that typists learned to use ell's and the letter "O" in their place. However, analysis by other individuals have shown that it is exceedingly difficult to discern a one from a lowercase ell even when dealing with a pristine original, let alone poor quality photocopies. Further, the one discerning trait that can be analyzed, the character space occupied by ell's versus one's, indicates that the typist did in fact use one's rather than ell's where the numeric character was appropriate. 
Other authenticity issues
In addition to the typographical concerns, other issues have been raised regarding the content and formatting of the memos.
Of the documents, only the May 4 memo bears a full signature. This signature was confirmed as authentic by Marcel Matley , an expert consulted by CBS. Matley examined only the signature and made no attempt to authenticate the documents themselves . A different independent certified forensic document examiner said Killian did not sign the documents .
Skepticism from Killian's family and others
Jerry Killian's wife and son argued that their father never used typewriting equipment and would have written these memos by hand. The family also stated that Killian was not known for keeping personal memos and that he had been very pleased with George Bush's performance in his TANG unit.
In contrast, Killian's secretary at the time, Marian Carr Knox, stated, "We did discuss Bush's conduct and it was a problem Killian was concerned about. I think he was writing the memos so there would be some record that he was aware of what was going on and what he had done." She added that Killian had her type the memos and locked them away in his private files. She did not believe the CBS documents were real, due to inconsistencies, but said the content is accurate and was perhaps copied from the originals. Gary Killian, Killian's son, disputed her version of the history. 
Earl W. Lively, who at the time was the commanding officer at the Austin TANG facility was quoted in the Washington Times as saying, "They're forged as hell."
Mention of influence by retired officer
An officer, Walter Staudt, cited in the memo dated August 18, 1973 as exerting pressure on officers to "sugar coat" their evaluations of Bush, had in fact retired from the service in March of 1972. Defenders contend that Staudt could have continued to exert influence after his retirement.
Staudt, however, in an exclusive interview with ABC Sept 17th, has denied this. ABC News "Speaking Out" Staudt said he never tried to influence Killian or other Guardsmen, and added that he never came under any pressure himself to accept Bush. "No one called me about taking George Bush into the Air National Guard," he said. "It was my decision. I swore him in. I never heard anything from anybody. And I never pressured anybody about George Bush because I had no reason to," Staudt told ABC News in his first interview since the documents were made public.
One of the memos indicates that Killian had requested that a flight inquiry board be convened to examine the causes of Bush's loss of flight status. However, no records of this request or the flight inquiry board itself have been found. Regulations required such a review following the grounding of any pilot.
According to U.S. Air Force practice of the 1970s, the memo dated "04 May 1972" should have had the date formatted as "4 May 72". Months were abbreviated to three characters, leading zeros were not used, and only the last two digits of the year were used up until the year 2000. In this memo, other discrepancies include:
- The terminology "MEMORANDUM FOR" was never used in the 1970s.
- The abbreviations in this letter are incorrectly formatted, in that a period is used after military rank (1st Lt.). According to the Air Force style manual, periods are not used in military rank abbreviations.
- The abbreviation for Fighter Interceptor Squadron (FIS) includes periods after each capital letter. Again, periods are not used.
- In paragraph 1, the phrase "not later than" is spelled out, followed by (NLT). NLT was, and is, a widely recognized abbreviation for "not later than" throughout all military services, so the inclusion of "not later than" was not a generally accepted practice and completely unnecessary in a letter from one military member to another.
- According to an ex-Guard commander, retired Col. Bobby W. Hodges, the Guard never used the abbreviation "grp" for "group" or "OETR" for an officer evaluation review, as in the CBS documents. The correct terminology, he said, is "gp" and "OER."
- Lieutenant Colonel Killian's signature element is incorrect for letters prepared in the 1970s. This letter uses a three-line signature element, which was normally not used. Three-line signature elements were almost the exclusive domain of colonels and generals in organizations well above the squadron level.
- Finally, the signature element is placed far to the right, instead of being left justified. The placement of the signature element to the right was not used or directed by Air Force standards until almost 20 years after the date of this letter.
In 1921, two different committees decided on standard paper sizes for the United States. A group called the Permanent Conference on Printing established the 8" by 10½" size as the general U.S. government letterhead standard, while a Committee on the Simplification of Paper Sizes came up with the more familiar 8½" by 11" size now known as US Letter. The U.S. military used the smaller size up until the early 1980s. So a low-quality photocopy of the memos might have shown thin vertical lines or some other indication of the smaller paper size in a photocopy of the memos if they had been typed on the 8" by 10½" paper.
Inconsistency with Killian's earlier memos
The memos released by CBS appear to be inconsistent with earlier memorandums, written by Killian, and released by the Department of Defense. According to the Washington Post on September 14, 2004, "The analysis shows that half a dozen Killian memos released earlier by the military were written with a standard typewriter using different formatting techniques from those characteristic of computer-generated documents. CBS's Killian memos bear numerous signs that are more consistent with modern-day word-processing programs, particularly Microsoft Word..." The language and terminology in the memos also differed from standard military usage, (for example, in the use of abbreviations, and in punctuation).
The vast majority of independent document authentication experts contacted by the major news media and bloggers have indicated a strong likelihood that the Killian memos are forgeries constructed with the use of modern word processing software and printer technology, with the memos "aged" using multiple generations of copying to blur the characters. Several are "certain" that the documents are fraudulent. For example, Frank Abagnale Jr., the forger whose story was told in the movie Catch Me If You Can, believes the memos are forgeries from what he has seen on television; Abagnale has not personally examined the documents or any copies. In contrast, Dr. David Hailey, who holds a doctorate in technical communication and is an associate professor and director of a media lab at Utah State University, stated in October 2004 that "evidence from a forensic examination of the Bush memos indicates that they were typed on a typewriter."  Hailey's study has been controversial with critics pointing out that Hailey donated $250 to Kerry's campaign; Hailey has also been the subject of an email campaign demanding his dismissal from the university after bloggers alleged that he fabricated portions of the study and made several claims in it that were perceived to be misleading.  Dr. Joseph Newcomer, described by FOX News as "an expert in computer-based typesetting", called Hailey's study "deeply flawed". 
Forensic document examiner Dr. Philip Bouffard has claimed there is a very high probability that the memos are fake , yet the Boston Globe cited him as a "skeptic" whose "further study" caused his views to shift . Bouffard claims that further study left him "more convinced" that the memos were forgeries and that he was quoted out of context by the Boston Globe. 
One common thread to the debate over the documents' authenticity lies in the partisanship of the debate participants. Most obviously, there is the fact that the most influential bloggers currently supporting the claim of authenticity are well-known for holding liberal views , while the earliest and most influential bloggers to question their authenticity such as Little Green Footballs , Power Line (blog) , and Jim Geraghty at National Review Online  generally holding conservative views. The conservative bloggers even began to refer to themselves collectively by a self-deprecating name, the Pajamahadeen, in reference to comments made by a CBS executives. Those bloggers viewed this affair as confirmation of a "liberal bias" at CBS News, particularly because CBS went ahead with the report even after doubts were raised by some of their own document experts. The Thornburgh/Boccardi Report, however, concluded that an eagerness to land the story was at fault rather than a liberal bias, while acknowledging that Mapes' contacting the Kerry camp was "a clear conflict of interest."
NB: the following are all PDF documents and might prove larger than expected.
- Memorandum, May 4, 1972
- Memo to File, May 19, 1972
- Memorandum For Record, Aug. 1, 1972
- Memo to File, Aug. 18, 1973
- USA Today
- "60 Minutes Documents on Bush Might Be Fake" CNSNews.com - September 09, 2004
- "Questions Arise About Authenticity of Newly Found Memos on Bush's Guard Service" ABC News - Sept. 9, 2004
- "Some Question Authenticity of Papers on Bush" Washington Post - September 10, 2004
- "Guard Memos Fuel Another Vietnam-Era Battle" Los Angeles Times - September 10, 2004
- "False Documentation? Questions Arise About Authenticity of Newly Found Memos on Bush's Guard Service" ABC News - Sept. 10, 2004
- "Anatomy of a Forgery" American Spectator - September 10, 2004
- "FOX Interviews Commander's Son" FOX News - September 10, 2004
- "Rather Defends CBS Over Memos on Bush" Washington Post - September 11, 2004
- "Amid Skepticism, CBS Sticks to Bush Guard Story" Los Angeles Times - September 11, 2004
- "More challenges about whether Bush documents are authentic" The Seattle Times - September 11, 2004
- "Killian Memo Has Wrong Deadline, Cites Wrong Regulation" The American Thinker - September 11, 2004
- "Gaps in Service Continue to Dog Bush" Washington Post - September 12, 2004
- "The X Files Of Lt. Bush: A flurry of contested memos and memories sheds more heat than light on his record" Time - September 13, 2004
- "Expert Cited by CBS Says He Didn't Authenticate Papers" Washington Post - September 14, 2004
- "Document Experts Say CBS Ignored Memo 'Red Flags'" Washington Post - Wednesday, September 15, 2004
- "Ex-Guard Typist Recalls Memos Criticizing Bush" Los Angeles Times - September 15, 2004
- Boston Globe apologizes for taking misquoting two experts about memos
- "Memos on Bush Are Fake but Accurate, Typist Says' NY Times - Sept. 15, 2004
- "CBS Guard Documents Traced to Tex. Kinko's" Washington Post - Sept. 16, 2004
- "Rather Concedes Papers Are Suspect" Washington Post - Sept. 16, 2004
- "'Buckhead', who said CBS memos were forged, is a GOP-linked attorney" Seattle Times - Sept. 17, 2004
- Washington Post: A Pentagon memo next to one of CBS's Killian memo - added here Sept 18, 2004
- "In Rush to Air, CBS Quashed Memo Worries" Washington Post - Sept. 19, 2004
- Graphic comparison of all the CBS memos with officially released Killian memos Washington Post - Sept. 19, 2004
- "CBS Says It Can't Vouch for Bush Documents" - New York Times - September 20, 2004
- "Scoops and skepticism: How the story unfolded" - timeline from USA Today - Sept. 21, 2004
- "Prof Pursued by Mob of Bloggers" Wired, Oct. 07, 2004
-  Savage parody of the Rove conspiracy theory.
- "CBS falls for Kerry campaign's fake memo" Mark Steyn Chicago Sun-Times - Sept. 12, 2004
- "Paper War on Bush Record" Los Angeles Times - September 15, 2004
- "The Death Cry of Snob Journalism" by Michelle Malkin
Blog and other links
- Blog-gate Columbia Journalism Review
- Viacom press release with official CBS statement in response
-  and  The original blog posts which called attention to the integrity of the documents.
- Original overlay created by Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs, and "print to file" version of the same experiment
- Enlarged overlay created in Microsoft Word over alleged Killian memo – Enlargement created by a medical imaging professional in a way that does not degrade resolution.
- Typography Expert Joseph M. Newcomer's take on the memos
- RatherBiased.com, an anti-Rather site which has been calling the anchorman liberally biased
- Powerline, one of the main blogs charging CBS with fraud - This site is referenced by several news outlets
- National Review Online's The Kerry Spot by Jim Geraghty (which linked to RatherBiased, Powerline, and LGF)
- "A Compendium of the Evidence" lists the various suspicious elements of the memos.
- Democratic National Committee "Action Alert" E-mail
- Samples of Killian's signature from the memos and elsewhere
- Rathergate.com Anti-authenticity site
- Kos blog disputing forgery arguments
- Amygdala blog disputing claims memos could not be from 1970s
- Flash comparing one of the memos to Microsoft duplicate
- The Paper Trail: A Comparison of Documents by The Washington Post print edition.
- So what IS the deal with those darn CBS Memos? A detailed analysis supporting authenticity.
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