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Bush Service Memos Questioned 619

Posted by pudge
from the document-verification-is-hard dept.
Twirlip of the Mists writes "Last night, CBS News released a set of memos dated 1972 and 1973 that are purported to raise questions about President Bush's National Guard service. Some are saying those memos might have been produced with a computer. Blogger Scott Johnson ran with the story first this morning, raising questions about the typography of the memos. Blogger Charles Johnson (no relation) went one step further, actually reproducing one of the memos in its entirety using Microsoft Word's default settings. Matt Drudge is running the story now with a link to a CNS News article that includes quotes from typography experts at font foundries Afga Monotype and Bitstream. There's a round-up of key facts about the story on this blogger's web site." The experts in the CNS News story and others could come to no conclusion, and even if the documents are not originals or photocopies of originals, that doesn't necessarily mean that they aren't faithfully retyped copies of originals. CBS continues to assert the documents are authentic.
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Bush Service Memos Questioned

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  • Try this (Score:5, Informative)

    by captnitro (160231) * on Thursday September 09, 2004 @05:54PM (#10206515)
    While I agree with the assertion that these could be retyped, CBS is claiming that's not what has happened, that these are originals.

    I've made a superimposed image [vt.edu] of Word vs. the documents. They have been lined up according to the period after the '1' in the first paragraph. The 'originals' are in red, the Word version in blue.
    • Wow. That's pretty close.
    • The superscript in 187th settles it - that would be a clear difference in the way type writers and word processors handle this.

      • See this analysis [slashdot.org]. There were IBM Selectrics that had proportional spacing.

        Most people now know nothing of typesetting, because their computers do a better job than the $40,000 to $1,100,000 typesetters ever did. However, those who know about typesetting know that Microsoft Word and the old Selectrics are imitating the same font. Both are trying to look like typesetting.

        Times Roman, for example, was designed for the London Times in the 1770s, for example.

        IBM put some quirky symbols on the Select
    • Re:Try this (Score:5, Informative)

      by captnitro (160231) * on Thursday September 09, 2004 @06:00PM (#10206569)
      I hate replying to my own post, but I should note that the difference in the 187'th' has to do with the difference between screen fonts and printer fonts; in the printed version they are aligned perfectly. This was first pointed out by Little Green Footballs.
      • Re:Try this (Score:5, Insightful)

        by bonkedproducer (715249) <paulNO@SPAMpaulcouture.com> on Thursday September 09, 2004 @07:49PM (#10207690) Homepage Journal
        Having plenty of documentation available from my own military records - allow me to point out that the standard appearance of "TH" is not superscript even in today's word processor age, but capitals - if this were "real" it should have been typed "187TH" something I used to hate dealing with before I learned my way around Word's autocorrect features.

        And another thing while I'm on it, gettting out some of the older paperwork while previewing my post - I notice that rarely is "TH" added, I do see it in a few memoranda I have still, but it is always capitalized, or assumed.

        For instance I served in the 35th Maintenance Squadron, 35th Logistics Group, 35th Fighter Wing, MIsawa, Airbase, Japan - almost every document from there is formally typed:

        35 MXS, 35 LG, 35 FW, MISAWA, AB, JAPAN.

        Looks fishy as hell to me considering it's a lot easier to tack on "th" in a Word Processor compared to an old gov't issue Typewriter.
      • Re:Try this (Score:5, Informative)

        by _xeno_ (155264) on Thursday September 09, 2004 @07:53PM (#10207727) Homepage Journal
        I was curious about this, so I decided to check it out for myself. I retyped the memo [xenoveritas.org] into my copy of Word 2003, and printed out a copy.

        I then scanned it back in [xenoveritas.org] and wound up with a document that looked surprisingly similar to the "original document [xenoveritas.org]." Specically, look at the "187th." It's practically identical.

        Oh, and for added fun, try this animation [xenoveritas.org] I created showing a copy in Word fading in with the PDF. Note that the PDF is ever so slightly tilted, so things don't line up quite correctly after the first line. But the animation makes it very clear that the two are very similar.

        Anyway, to sum up:

        • Original document [xenoveritas.org] (mirrored on my site)
        • Scanned copy I made [xenoveritas.org] - this is not an original, it is a copy I typed in Word, printed, and scanned back in to a PDF
        Very supicious.
    • I suspect the difference in the superscript has to do with print font vs. screen font. On my screen the "th" does not rise above the tops of the other letters, but when I print it, the top of the "th" is higher than the other letters.
    • Re:Try this (Score:2, Insightful)

      Note that the superscript "th", which seems to be causing the most tinfoil-hat theorizing among the folks who think modern typography was invented by Bill Gates, doesn't line up at all between the memo and the Word version. Give it up, folks.
      • Re:Try this (Score:5, Funny)

        by Twirlip of the Mists (615030) <twirlipofthemists@yahoo.com> on Thursday September 09, 2004 @06:29PM (#10206868)
        So wait a minute. You're suggesting that despite the fact that this memo allegedly written in 1972/73 includes proportional letterspacing (very rare at the time), a font that didn't exist at that time and kerning which was mechanically impossible for a typewriter or desktop typesetting system of that era, it's not forged because the superscript in the screen-shot is two points off of the superscript in the PDF?

        Ain't just a river in Egypt, y'all.
        • I'm saying that the whipped-it-out-in-Word theory doesn't hold up. Doesn't mean it's not a forgery (though I have yet to see any credible evidence that it was) just that it's not this particular kind of forgery.

          Your comments about what was and was not possible for typewriters of the time have already been refuted by many other posters, so I won't bother adding to it. I will, however, point out that your belief that TNR is a product of the Eighties is so ignorant as to make you not worth taking seriously
          • I'm saying that the whipped-it-out-in-Word theory doesn't hold up.

            A printed copy of the memo whipped out in Word matches the PDF supplied by CBS News perfectly, once you do things like straighten it to compensate for the distressed look of the CBS News PDFs.

            It doesn't just hold up, Daniel. It's a fucking out-of-the-park home run.

            Your comments about what was and was not possible for typewriters of the time have already been refuted by many other posters

            Simply untrue. Be honest. Did you click ONE LINK
          • Re:Try this (Score:3, Informative)

            by _xeno_ (155264)
            Actually... It does hold up.

            I posted this somewhere else, but just compare the original [xenoveritas.org] (note: mirrored on my site) with a scanned copy [xenoveritas.org] I made. The copy is simply a retyped version of the memo [xenoveritas.org] that I printed to a laser printer and then scanned using a sheet-feeding scanner - similar to a fax machine.

            They look like they're identical, including the 187th part. The only thing my copy's missing is the dust and dirt on the paper.

        • Re:Try this (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Quarters (18322)
          Are you actually claiming that Times didn't exist in 1972? Do you understand where Times came from? It was the font that the New York Times commissioned to make their paper stand out.

          There's this element called "lead", see, and people used to carve backwards letters out of it, arrange them in words and rows and then smear ink on them and smash them on paper. Artisans created unique and interesting font designs to make specific applications of the technology pleasing to the eye, easy to read, and unique.

          • It was the font that the New York Times commissioned to make their paper stand out.

            Times of London. Nice try, tho. The New York Times doesn't even use Times. They use Imperial for their body type and a custom-designed Cheltenham for headlines and decks.

            And no, if you'd been paying attention you'd know that I'm saying that these memos were typeset in not just any Times but in Microsoft Times New Roman. Positively identified by a forensic documents expert around 3:00 EDT today and subsequently confirmed by
        • Re:Try this (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Zeinfeld (263942)
          So wait a minute. You're suggesting that despite the fact that this memo allegedly written in 1972/73 includes proportional letterspacing (very rare at the time), a font that didn't exist at that time and kerning which was mechanically impossible for a typewriter or desktop typesetting system of that era, it's not forged because the superscript in the screen-shot is two points off of the superscript in the PDF?

          I see no evidence of Kerning. The spacing looks to me like it is typewritten, not computer type

          • Re:Try this (Score:3, Informative)

            Having a key for superscript th was certainly not uncommon

            It was EXTREMELY uncommon. The superscript "th" type ball was only available from IBM by a custom order. It was machined to order and sold for an outlandish price.

            And the typewriter it fit into could not do proportional letterspacing.

            having a proportional printing typewriter was not uncommon either

            It was very uncommon; you mean to say that it was not unheard-of. But the typewriters that could do proportional letterspacing did not have removabl

        • The Times New Roman typeface was designed by Stanley Morison and Victor Lardent [linotype.com] in 1932. Everything that produces proportional characters since then has, at a minimum, tried to imitate Times New Roman exactly. The old proportional spacing IBM Selectric typewriters and MS Word look identical because they are trying to be identical.
          • The Times New Roman typeface

            Asked and answered elsewhere. We're talking about Microsoft Times New Roman, a very specific version of Times New Roman with specific letter-spacing. I should have been more specific.

            The old proportional spacing IBM Selectric typewriters

            There were no proportional-spacing IBM Selectric typewriters. The IBM Executive was a proportional-letterspacing typewriter, but the type that came out of it looked nothing like Times New Roman of any variety, much less Microsoft's.
    • Re:Try this (Score:3, Informative)

      by spitzak (4019)
      My quick opinion is that if this test is real then these certainly are forgeries, produced just as he said.

      Though proportional-spaced typewriters existed then and were quite common (despite claims to the contrary by some people here), they were still mechanical devices. There were only 4 (perhaps 5) letter widths possible, and the numbers (the "en-space") were 3 units (this is for the IBM Selectric I am familiar with). This produces obvious alignement vertically between far more letters than the Word outpu
  • by jgardn (539054) <jgardn@alumni.washington.edu> on Thursday September 09, 2004 @05:55PM (#10206526) Homepage Journal
    CBS's reputation is at stake. They must obtain and release the originals. That is the only way to satisfy the critics. As it stands now, it is blatantly obvious that CBS hasn't been checking their sources and as such, they can't be trusted to break stories.
    • What are you talking about? I watched 60 Minutes last night, and CBS did consult documents experts. Just because there are other experts who disagree does not mean CBS did not do their job. They may have been hoaxed here, but it is unclear by whom -- even the white house is not questioning the authenticity of these documents which suggests they are consistent with what the white house knows about Bush's (lack of) service at the time.

      What's interesting to me is that these documents have already undergon

      • by Twirlip of the Mists (615030) <twirlipofthemists@yahoo.com> on Thursday September 09, 2004 @06:32PM (#10206906)
        CBS did consult documents experts

        CBS News claims that they consulted one document expert, who remains unidentified. While Dr. Philip Bouffard, widely recognized expert in the field of forensic document identification, is quoted on INDC Journal as saying that he's "90% sure" these documents are forgeries.

        Your main point is correct: If these documents are outside forgeries, then CBS News deserves merely to be tortured for their negligence, not burned at the stake.

        But the possibility exists that these forgeries were manufactured by CBS News. And that possibility is way too scary to dismiss out of hand.
        • But the possibility exists that these forgeries were manufactured by CBS News. And that possibility is way too scary to dismiss out of hand.

          The possibility also exists that they were manufactured by raiders from Remulak, and with only slightly less probability. CBS has nothing to gain from such a forgery, and everything to lose. Their reputation as a reliable source of news -- "liberal bias" or no -- is quite strong, and for them to make up documents like this would be profoundly stupid, especially since

          • by Twirlip of the Mists (615030) <twirlipofthemists@yahoo.com> on Thursday September 09, 2004 @06:53PM (#10207129)
            CBS has nothing to gain from such a forgery

            You don't know the value of an exclusive. The ad revenues for last night's "60 Minutes II" were over the top.

            for them to make up documents like this would be profoundly stupid

            It was profoundly stupid for Dan Rather to get into a shouting match with the sitting vice president of the United States on live television, too. But he did it, in 1988.

            especially since the documents themselves do not really add a whole lot to the case already made in the Ben Barnes interview

            Ah, but that's where you have to have been paying attention. Ben Barnes made these exact same claims in 1999, when then-Governor Bush was running for president. His claim was widely debunked. It never even really broke as a story because it never held water to begin with. He alleged that he pulled strings while he was Lt. Gov. of Texas, for instance, but when Bush was trying to get into the TANG Barnes was in Switzerland as UN general envoy to Geneva. That kind of thing.

            The reason Barnes is in the news today is because he's got this shit-hot new documentary evidence. Except the evidence turns out to be forged.

            the interview itself, which seems to have settled the question about whether Bush pulled strings to avoid military service

            Except that Barnes has nothing at all to back up his claims except a set of forged memos with a dead lieutenant colonel's name on them.

            Barnes was outed as a liar by both the pundits and the press in 1999. He's back with forged documents. What do you think?

            Anyway, as I've said elsewhere, I think this is all a distraction

            Agreed. Blame the Democrats who decided to spam the press with the National Guard story again when their candidate took a nosedive in the polls.
  • by Sebastopol (189276) on Thursday September 09, 2004 @05:57PM (#10206540) Homepage
    If these are forged, why did the White House release them?

    At first I thought it was idiot Democrats trying to smear, now maybe it is idiot Republicans trying to make Democrats look bad.

    I can't wait to see if anyone can demonstrate what military typewriters in 1972 were capable of proportional fonts!!!

    • by jgardn (539054) <jgardn@alumni.washington.edu> on Thursday September 09, 2004 @06:00PM (#10206570) Homepage Journal
      The White House only released the documents that they had. Those documents were obtained from CBS.
    • A-HA! The WH released memos that CBS News faxed them. The WH never had originals at all.

      Kevin Drum (blogging from the Left) [washingtonmonthly.com] looked into this.
    • Via Atrios [blogspot.com] The IBM Electric typewriters were a series of electric typewriters that IBM manufactured, starting in the late 1940s. They used the conventional moving carriage and hammer mechanism. Each model came in both Standard and Executive versions; the Executive differed in having a multiple escapement mechanism and four widths for letters, producing a near typeset quality result. [emphasis mine]
      • Not "IBM Electric." "IBM Executive." The IBM Executive and the IBM Composer were the only typewriters that could produce variable-pitch type in 1973. But neither of them could produce superscript "th" in smaller type. They lacked that character.

        And neither of them had the Times New Roman font that these memos were typeset in. That font didn't exist in 1973. It also didn't exist in 1984, when the man who allegedly wrote and signed these memos died.
        • But neither of them could produce superscript "th" in smaller type. They lacked that character.


          Got a photo of the keyboard handy? I haven't been able to google up anything better than small bad scans of old adverts.
        • You might find this [demon.co.uk] interesting. Or not, if you're determined to believe the memos are forgeries.

          During the decades of transatlantic "sharing" of the Times designs, and the transfer of the faces from metal to photo to digital, various differences developed between the versions marketed by Linotype and Monotype. Especially these became evident when Adobe released the PostScript version, for various reasons having to do with how Adobe produced the original PostScript implementations of Times. The width met
        • Oh yeah ... [typolis.de]

          The Times New Roman appeared for the first time on october 3rd 1932 ...
          • Sigh. You're not paying attention. There are lots of implementations, if you prefer that word, of Times New Roman out there. Microsoft's is the one that was used in these memos, as identified positively this morning by forensic expert Dr. Philip Bouffard.

            When was Microsoft Times New Roman invented, smarty-pants?

            If you want to chastise me for not being sufficiently specific, mea culpa.
            • Sigh. You're not paying attention. There are lots of implementations, if you prefer that word, of Times New Roman out there. Microsoft's is the one that was used in these memos, as identified positively this morning by forensic expert Dr. Philip Bouffard.

              I can only find one other case in which Dr Philip Bouffard has provided advice concerning a typewriter font on the net. It involves wierd UFO shit [ufoevidence.org] and Bouffard appears to be supporting the claims made by the UFO believers.

              Bouffard is mentioned in a numb

        • What needs to be done is to find an Executive and type out the memo on it, scan and post it to the net.

          The 'd' and 'b' characters are pretty unique and their variation from Times doesn't look like a generational error. I don't see kerning in the memos, either. Word, on the other hand, does a good job kerning the "fe" in "feedback", for example.
      • My mother used to use one of those models of IBM typewriter at her job. There is no way in hell that you would find one at a typical office, let alone a military installation. It still wouldn't look anything like the images of the memos that have been posted to the web.

        Back then, most people in the military were still using grungy old manual typewriters. The military is not noted for being on the cutting edge of office equipment.

  • by GypC (7592) on Thursday September 09, 2004 @05:59PM (#10206558) Homepage Journal

    ... and nothing on John Kerry's service record or his post-service Vietnam war related activities? Kerry is anything from a hero to a traitor who should have been executed a long time ago, depending on who you believe. Much more interesting stuff.

    I think Slashdot's political section is biased.

    • Don't forget "admitted war criminal".

      All of this stuff has to do with things that happened 30 years ago. We elected (and re-elected!) Clinton who completely dodged the draft - Apparently we were past this 12 years ago.

      A much more important comparison between the two candidates is what they have done in the last 3 years, not what they did 30 years ago.

      • by Otter (3800)
        A much more important comparison between the two candidates is what they have done in the last 3 years, not what they did 30 years ago.

        I entirely agree -- whether it's Kerry's service in Vietnam, Bush's in the National Guard, Clinton's deferment or Dean's 4-F, it's ancient history and it's only baby boomer narcissism that anyone thinks any of this matters.

        That said...

        Kerry has based his entire campaign on his 4 months in Vietnam. Just last week, he responded to Zell Miller's attack on his Senate votes with

        • I agree with you there - he's the one that keeps bringing it up!

          I'd think that if I'd worked at a job for 20 years, I'd probably have a thing or two to tell a perspective employer other than what I did 30+ years ago.

        • Kerry has based his entire campaign on his 4 months in Vietnam.

          No he hasn't. The Dem *Convention* focused on his war record to counter the FUD about the Dems always being weaker than the Reps at protecting the country, yadda, yadda. Its bullshit, but a lot of people believe it, so he has to counter that. After the Convention, Kerry has done everything he can to steer the talk to things he believes Bush is weak on. Its Bush's attack dogs that want Vietnam to stay on the table, because as long as thats

    • by jgardn (539054)
      Actually, it shows the difference between Republicans and Democrats. Republicans are more than willing to honor our military and let the small stuff slide. We're even willing to forgive Kerry for lying about his service and for admitting to committed war crimes. It just doesn't bother us because we know the realities of war.

      However, the left wants to find any small inconsistency or the smallest lie that Bush told and magnify it. It is important that we have a rock-solid case to defend Bush so that we can k
      • by r7 (409657)
        >it shows the difference between Republicans and Democrats. Republicans are more than willing to honor our military and let the small stuff slide. We're even willing to forgive Kerry for lying about his service and for admitting to committed war crimes.

        Actually I think this better illustrates the differences. Republicans repeat fabrications questioning a Democratic who served in Vietnam and at the same time ignore what everyone knows is Bush's AWOL (an actual crime).

        There is perhaps no better illustr
    • by autopr0n (534291)
      Kerry's military history is so last week. Bush's military history is what we're talking about today. Anyway, this is really intresting. And, btw what do the rest of this guy's personal documents look like are they all written in Times New Roman as well?
  • There's a lot of motivation right now, both to discredit Bush and to make him look alright. I wouldn't be surprised if this is fake.
  • by waynegoode (758645) * on Thursday September 09, 2004 @06:04PM (#10206611) Homepage
    and even if the documents are not originals or photocopies of originals, that doesn't necessarily mean that they aren't faithfully retyped copies of originals.

    I find it hard to believe I just read that. Technically that is true, but it sounds like "if it turns out the documents are forged, let's still give them the benefit of the doubt that the documents really existed." By the same reasoning, if a reporter makes up a quote and is found out, that still doesn't mean the person didn't say it, so don't reject the quote!

    In any investigation, if the documents are fake there is no reason to assume real ones existed.

    • Exactly- it's on the guy who provided these to CBS now to prove that originals exist.

      And the moral of the story is if you're going to forge records from the early 1970s, at least go to the trouble to find early 1970s equipment to do it on.
    • Excuse me, but this is just stupid. "Just because they are fake doesn't mean they are false". So if I make up something, does that mean it is true?

      If these are merely retypings, then the originals must exist somewhere. These are supposed documents written by a dead officer. If the originals don't exist, it was all made up and CBS is untrustworthy as a news source.
  • by Coryoth (254751) on Thursday September 09, 2004 @06:12PM (#10206690) Homepage Journal
    This seems to be what US politics is all about.

    Democrats:"Here are some documents relating to dubious military service 30 years ago!"

    Republicans:"Liars they are forged! Here are some potential reasons to prove it!"

    Which is to say, there are two parties, that are essentially identical (yes, yes, they have their differences, but compared to the differences in other countries, they are trivial), that find pleasantly obscure and largely irrelevant issues to have long and involved debates over, which the media (of course) buys into heavily. Don't let them waste your time! Don't get caught up in senseless hype chanting mantras about being AWOL, or faked documents - it mostly doesn't matter!

    Take a step back, ignore "the other side" for a moment, and actually consider what is important.

    Do you believe in larger government or smaller government? Good, now realise that it doesn't matter whether you vote Republican or Democrat because, regardless of rhetoric, if you look at the records they do an equally good job of growing government and government spending.

    Do you believe conservative or liberal social policy? Good, now realise that it doesn't matter whether you vote Republican or Democrat because, regardless of rhetoric, if you look at the records neither side has actually implemented any significant social policy change in the last 20 years.

    Stop getting distracted by soap operas over trivialities designed to distract you from the fact that neither side ever gets around to doing much of anything with regard to all their rhetoric. Stop letting yourself get dragged in to caring about petty debates over non issues. Take a look at what you actually believe in from a purely political philosophy point of view, and spend some time looking at what is going to work the best to see those ideas actually get implemented!

    Jedidiah
    • Well, to me trying to implement is as important as actually implementing in determining how much I think a politician agrees with me.

      And I guess it also depends on what your threshold for signifigance is. To me, it is very significant that under Bush's watch mercury compounds have suddenly been downgraded from toxic chemical status to "volatile organic compounds" and that manufacturers have been given the right to violate clean air acts.

      I also think it is very significant that the Defense of Marriage Act
      • And I guess it also depends on what your threshold for signifigance is. To me, it is very significant that under Bush's watch mercury compounds have suddenly been downgraded from toxic chemical status to "volatile organic compounds" and that manufacturers have been given the right to violate clean air acts.

        I also think it is very significant that the Defense of Marriage Act was signed into law with little protest by Clinton.


        Oh, I agree there are differences. My point was not that there aren't difference
  • by DeComposer (551766) on Thursday September 09, 2004 @06:13PM (#10206699) Journal
    From http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/ [talkingpointsmemo.com]:

    The conservative blog Powerline has a roiling debate or series of charges that the documents published by CBS last night are forgeries.

    The basis of the claim is that the sort of proportional font spacing evidenced in the memoranda wasn't available at the time in question. It only came later with word processors and computers and laser printers. Basically, they say, all people had back then were old fashioned block-type typewriters.

    On the face of it, that sounds logical to me. But the editor of the site has now posted the comments of at least one reader who says such machines were actually widely available at the time.

    It seems worth noting that the White House accepted the documents as genuine and even began releasing them to other journalists yesterday evening -- though it's not clear to me whether they were releasing their own copies or simply passing on what CBS had given them.

    The deeper point is that CBS reported that they had handwriting experts scrutinize these documents to ascertain their authenticity. It seems hard to imagine they'd go to such lengths to have experts analyze them and not check out something so obvious as seeing if they'd been written by a typewriter that was in existence at time. (Hard to imagine or, if true, unimaginably stupid.)

    One way or another, I doubt we'll have to speculate about this for very long. This question about what sort of typesets were available in 1973 should be easy enough to settle.
  • I'd like to see the output of some high-end typewriters of the era. It's possible that the people who made "Times New Roman" for the PC tried to reproduce the typesetting font, and that typewriter makers in the 70s also perfectly emulated typesetting fonts. Someone needs to find one of those old proportional-width typewriters and compare the output with a freshly printed MS-Word document with the defaults. Until someone does that, the jury is out (at least in my mind)
    • The thing is some pissant Lt. Col in the TXANG isn't going to have a high end typewriter at his desk (or in his secretary's pool). How about someone pulling out the Requisition orders for typewriters from the TXANG in the early 70's (or reciepts for typewriter ribbon) to figure out what equipment they had on hand.
  • Well, thus endeth the accusations that politics.slashdot is left-wing only.
  • List of websites: (Score:4, Informative)

    by jlgolson (19847) * on Thursday September 09, 2004 @06:29PM (#10206865) Homepage Journal
    Here are a few websites that reference this situation:

    UPI: breaking news [washingtontimes.com]

    littlegreenfootballs.com [littlegreenfootballs.com]

    AllahPundit here [allahpundit.com] and here [allahpundit.com] and here [allahpundit.com].

    indcjournal.com [indcjournal.com]

    cnsnews.com [cnsnews.com]

    command-post.org [command-post.org]

    hftp.blogspot.com [blogspot.com]
  • by mabu (178417) *
    This is getting out of hand.

    It reminds me of a guy who walks into a shopping mall, throws a bunch of pennies on the floor, and while everying is on their hands and knees picking up loose change, he's making off with all their shopping bags.

    People get off your knees. Have some self respect and decency and don't fall prey to this big inept pseudo-journalistic, National Enquirer-esque troll that really has very little to do with real issues.

    Kerry went to Viet Nam. Bush did not. That's all there basically
  • A few points.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by automandc (196618) * on Thursday September 09, 2004 @06:45PM (#10207051)
    First, when I first saw the headlines my left-wing conspiracy-nut side immediately suspected the Republicans of faking these, since the documents overall support Bush's story that he didn't break any rules (at least, that was what the Wash. Post seemed to imply this morning, and if they couldn't twist them into a scandal then I don't think anyone could.)

    In any case, there are a few reasons why I don't think they are fake:

    1. Zoom in on the PDF scans that are available, and the characters seem to support typewriter more than laser printer. First, it seems that there are different ink-levels that one would expect from a ribbon. Compare like letters in different words and you will see that they are darker in some places, or have extra pixels representing "blobs" hanging off of them (bottom serif on the lowercase "n" is a good one). That may be scanning artifact, but it would indicate typewriter.

    2. Everyone is making a big deal about the superscript 'th', but IIRC the IBM "golfball" typewriters had the superscripts as special characters (I'm not the first to point this out either). The connectedness of the "th," the fact that they have the same "ink level," and the fact that the entire "th" is no wider than the widest character seems to indicate to me that they were stroked by a typewriter.

    3. If the superscript "th" was a function of Word's Auto Format, why didn't it happen in the "111th" in the letterhead?

    4. Some of the letters, notably the lowercase "e", look too imprecise to have been laserwritten. Again, very well could be a scanning artifact.

  • by I_Love_Pocky! (751171) on Thursday September 09, 2004 @06:46PM (#10207056)
    You are all overlooking the obvious possibility that the military has had access to modern computers since their time travel experiments in the 1940's. This was clearly typed back in the 60's using a then 20 year old copy of Word 2000. Simple questions call for simple answers.
  • Just look at the Discharge Document [johnkerry.com] and other documents [johnkerry.com] from Kerry. These all use either handwriting or fixed width fonts.
  • I for one am getting tired of what Bush or Kerry did or did not do 30 years ago. What I want to know is current events like an explanation for Kerry's current voting record for the last year? Why he chose not to resign as a Senator?

  • An analysis (Score:4, Informative)

    by Futurepower(R) (558542) <MJennings.USA@NOT_any_of_THISgmail.com> on Thursday September 09, 2004 @08:38PM (#10208086) Homepage

    I'm not saying this is the only possible explanation, but this is what I thought of when I looked at the Bush documents in PDF format [washingtonpost.com] that can be seen on the Washington Post web site. The documents brought back strong memories of working with those machines.

    Typeface and font used in the letters. -- Much is being made of the proportional font used in the letters. People are saying the proportional spacing is an indication of forgery, because the letters look like Microsoft Word documents.

    However, I've often had the experience of walking into a military office and being shocked by the office equipment there. There are numerous ways that people in the military get things that they don't really need. For example, a general may requisition something and then discover that his secretary doesn't want to learn how to use it. So, then it is available to an office of lower rank.

    The fonts are consistent with those sold with a kind of upscale IBM Selectric typewriter that was actually a low-cost typesetting machine. (Typesetting was what it was called before everyone could do it on a personal computer.) These machines had a one-use carbon ribbon. The impression of each character was clearer than the clearest laser printer.

    I'm a bit confused about the model numbers of the typewriter. It could have been called a Selectric costing then about $2,500, I believe. I seem to remember that they had another name for the more upscale, true typesetting machines. (I wrote computer manuals which I typed on a Selectric and were prepared on those machines.)

    There were usually some odd symbols and characters like "th" on the type balls used by the Selectric family of typesetting machines. That's because of the design of the balls. Whereever there was room, there were characters, partly to assure that the balls would be balanced, I suppose, and partly just because there was room.

    There's a funny side to the self-consistency in my guess about the machine used to prepare the memos. Back then anyone writing and publishing computer user manuals really struggled with the publishing. Whenever something needed to look professional, we had it typeset. To do that, we did what is called "spec type". On one occasion I spent 11 hours specifying typesetting values for one particularly complicated page.

    After you have spent many, many hours worrying about the look of type, you begin to be extremely sensitive to everything about it. (Either that, or you wouldn't be successful.)

    Looking at the letters discussing preferential treatment for George W. Bush brings back strong memories. The Selectric was an unbelievably complicated machine that needed frequent service because it depended on everything being adjusted to extremely fine tolerances.

    Anyone familiar with this can see something funny about the letters immediately. It's obvious to me. Whoever had the typing machine did not have the maintenance contract. It's easy to know this because the letters are not all level with the baseline. That's what would happen when the Selectric or other typing machine from the same family was not adjusted.

    The funny self-consistency is this. It's easy to guess that they got the machine from the general's office after some civilian secretary there decided that the new machine was too complicated to learn. But, since an office of lower rank was not allowed to have such a machine, they did not have the maintenance contract. That could be why the baseline of the type is so messy.

    Someone said that the letters were forgeries because they were obviously done with Microsoft Word. It is impossible to simulate the variation of baseline with Microsoft Word; Word is too basic a tool, it is not able to do many of the functions of real typesetting. People who are sensitive to the beauty of type certainly don't use MS Word.

    I use Ventura Publisher. It is possible t
    • Re:An analysis (Score:5, Interesting)

      by gleam (19528) on Friday September 10, 2004 @01:33AM (#10210038) Homepage
      Thank you.

      Here's what the original blogger gives us as proof that this was rare, courtesy of the ever-accurate freerepublic.com (where "Unfit for Command" co-author Jerry Corsi conflated islam, catholicism, and "boy buggery"):

      "Every single one of the memos to file regarding Bush's failure to attend a physical and meet other requirements is in a proportionally spaced font, probably Palatine or Times New Roman. In 1972 people used typewriters for this sort of thing (especially in the military), and typewriters used mono-spaced fonts.

      The use of proportionally spaced fonts did not come into common use for office memos until the introduction high-end word processing systems from Xerox and Wang, and later of laser printers, word processing software, and personal computers. They were not widespread until the mid to late 90's.

      Before then, you needed typesetting equipment, and that wasn't used for personal memos to file. Even the Wang and other systems that were dominant in the mid 80's used mono-spaced fonts. I doubt the TANG had typesetting or high-end 1st generation word processing systems."

      That's absurd, and demonstrably false. You mentioned the selectrics. IBM's electric typewriters had proportional fonts as far back as 1945. Even if the base had a typewriter that was nearly 30 years old, it would still be capable of creating proportional fonts.

      Doubters should also remember that today's most popular proportional fonts have been used in typesetting (and on selectrics) since well before TrueType.

      Furthermore, Maj. Gen. Bobby Hodges, mentioned in the memos and involved in the back-and-forth, has confirmed that Killian expressed to him the same sentiments contained in the memos.

      Regarding the superscripted 'th' argument, this document from Bush's official records also contains a superscripted 'th': http://www.usatoday.com/news/bushdocs/9-Miscellane ous.pdf [usatoday.com]. The superscripted th is on page three, in the second line of the log.

      The White House even admits the authenticity of the documents, so why is this even an issue?

      Because people don't want to realize that Bush disobeyed a DIRECT ORDER from his superior officers.

      Because people don't want to think that the plane Bush flew continued to be used regularly through 1975, despite Bush and Bartlett's claims that it was "being phased out" and that Bush didn't need to take the physical because the planes wouldn't be used.

      The best line I've heard lately, courtesy of Kevin Drum:

      This story is a perfect demonstration of the difference between the Swift Boat controversy and the National Guard controversy.

      Both are tales from long ago and both are related to Vietnam, but the documentary evidence in the two cases is like night and day.

      In the Swift Boat case, practically every new piece of documentary evidence indicates that Kerry's accusers are lying.

      Conversely, in the National Guard case, practically every new piece of documentary evidence provides additional confirmation that the charges against Bush are true.

      regards, ed
      • IBM's electric typewriters had proportional fonts as far back as 1945. Even if the base had a typewriter that was nearly 30 years old, it would still be capable of creating proportional fonts.

        That is not correct. IBM made a line of typewriters that used proportional spacing: the IBM Executives. IBM also made a line that had interchangeable type balls that could take different typefaces: the Selectrics.

        The Executives could not produce Times New Roman type, or, indeed, any variety of Times. The Selectrics
        • Regarding the superscripted 'th' argument, this document from Bush's official records also contains a superscripted 'th':

          And there ends the similarities between that document and these. That document damns more than it forgives, friend. Compare the typography.


          It does help to clarify the matter. The forgery camp has been making blanket statements that superscript "th" was utterly unavailable circa 1972. They have also said that proportional spacing was utterly unavailable circa 1972. It turns out both
          • Re:An analysis (Score:5, Informative)

            by Twirlip of the Mists (615030) <twirlipofthemists@yahoo.com> on Friday September 10, 2004 @03:47AM (#10210480)
            The forgery camp has been making blanket statements that superscript "th" was utterly unavailable circa 1972. They have also said that proportional spacing was utterly unavailable circa 1972.

            That's kind of an oversimplification. Okay, it's not really an oversimplification as much as it is out-and-out wrong. "They" have been saying since early Thursday morning that superscript type balls for the IBM Selectric were available, but only by custom order to IBM and at great cost. "They've" also been saying that the only typewriter that could produce the superscript "th" seen in the CBS memos could not have produced proportional letter-spacing.

            I think it will be helpful for everyone to be very clear on exactly what is claimed to be anachronistic

            The list is not a short one. Basically everything about these documents is wrong. The format is not correct. The typography is impossible with 1970's-era equipment. The signatures on the two signed memos do not match the signing officer's actual signature. One memo refers to an Air Force manual, AFM 35-13, that never existed; there was a regulation AFR 35-13, but it dealt with supplemental pay for soldiers who were proficient in a foreign language. And, of course, the contents of these memos is suspect because it doesn't jibe with any other account.

            And so on, and so on, and so on.

            I think the jury's still out on this.

            Oh, technically it is. But we're not convicting a man of murder here. There's no reason to err on the side of caution -- either way. Do these documents appear to be forgeries? Yes, definitely. Is there anything about them that suggests they're not forgeries? Nope. Ergo ...

            It is possible that some obscure custom typebar for the IBM Executive was in use

            It is not possible, actually, according to representatives of IBM's media relations office. They have the records, and they say that no such custom-made Executives were ever produced.

            Right now it looks to me like CBS screwed up bigtime.

            Yes, either by passing off obviously forged documents ...or by forging them. Not sure we'll ever know which it was.
    • Re:An analysis (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mdielmann (514750)
      My mom had a selectric back in the day, and may still have it kicking around. It was probably bought about the time this whole fiasco was occuring. I seem to recall that it did proportional spacing, and had the th symbol, but it's been a long time (I mean, come on, who on /. has used a typewriter in the last 10 years?). It was definitely the golf ball style. I remember popping that thing off just for fun, and probably screwing up the adjustments in the process.

      I'll have to check it out, and post any co
  • by Masker (25119) on Thursday September 09, 2004 @10:10PM (#10208851)
    I, for one, am willing to bet that these documents (at least the CYA one; what about the others? Anyone re-type those, especially the ones with _signatures_?) are done in Word. It's _way_ too big of a coincidence that they line up exactly like this.

    However, there is plenty of other evidence [glcq.com], based on the documents that the White House released earlier [glcq.com], that show that Bush did not complete his service legally, and even that the Air Force pointed this out to his ANG unit.

    Now, I know tons of people here are saying "So what, this happened 30 years ago", and that it doesn't matter anymore. However, lying about it over and over and over again, _does_ matter.

    And, as for this kind of trivial issue is distracting us from the bigger issues, you'd be right if this wasn't part of a larger pattern of contemptuous lying from Bush to the public. Basically, the guy lies about anything so that he can just do whatever the fuck he wanted to in the first place:

    1) Didn't want to go to ANG duty, but still want to be elected? Lie about your service.
    2) Want to secure Iraq's oil supply, but populace won't support outright imperialism? Lie about your reasons (and scare the crap out of them).
    3) Want to get credit for cracking down on terrorists, but didn't do squat to actually prevent September 11th? Lie about what info you had earlier in 2001.

    Bush is a pathological liar, and a danger to this country. He will say whatever needs to be said to push through his agenda. And, that makes it important to stop him, and makes this issue non-trivial.
  • by deanj (519759) on Friday September 10, 2004 @12:11AM (#10209640)
    The Washington Post [washingtonpost.com]

    and ABC News [go.com] now have stories about it.

    From the ABC News article:

    Among the points Flynn and other experts noted:

    The memos were written using a proportional typeface, where letters take up variable space according to their size, rather than fixed-pitch typeface used on typewriters, where each letter is allotted the same space. Proportional typefaces are available only on computers or on very high-end typewriters that were unlikely to be used by the National Guard.

    The memos include superscript, i.e. the "th" in "187th" appears above the line in a smaller font. Superscript was not available on typewriters.

    The memos included "curly" apostrophes rather than straight apostrophes found on typewriters.

    The font used in the memos is Times Roman, which was in use for printing but not in typewriters. The Haas Atlas -- the bible of fonts -- does not list Times Roman as an available font for typewriters.

    The vertical spacing used in the memos, measured at 13 points, was not available in typewriters, and only became possible with the advent of computers.

    CBS seriously screwed up on this one.

  • by mc6809e (214243) on Friday September 10, 2004 @12:34AM (#10209750)
    A lot has been made of the fact that the text is proportionally spaced. Some have pointed out that a few typewriters has this ability.

    Fine.

    But what about kerning? [webopedia.com]

    "In typography, kerning refers to adjusting the space between characters, especially by placing two characters closer together than normal. Kerning makes certain combinations of letters, such as WA, MW, TA, and VA, look better. "

    There is kerning in the memo with SUBJECT: CYA. It happens between the 'f' and 'e' characters of "interference" and "feedback".

    The trouble is that kerning requires remembering the previous character.

    As advanced as typewriters might have been in 1973, I doubt any had memory.

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