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Sunday, September 12, 2023
I’m 99.99% Convinced: The Killian Docs are Forgeries
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 5:08 pm

Here’s why:

1.) (update: this a revised and simplified point #1–the original one is below*)

It seems to me to assume that Killian used complex office equipment to produce memos for the file only is improbable at best. It is improbable he typed them himself in the 1970s, and doubly improbable that he used expensive, special equipment to do so. It is triply improbable that he was a perfect typist–and one look at the CBS docs requires one to assume he was an expert typist for the documents to be genuine.

I have used IBM Selectrics (never the Composer) and I remember having the devil’s own time getting the margins and formatting the way I wanted. And typos take on a whole new meaning when one is actually typing on a typewriter (note to the youngster in the audience: they don’t underline misspelled words in red and correcting mistakes has to be done right when you make them–going back and lining up the page and fixing an error without it looking like you had done so is nearly impossible).

2) The memo is easily reproduced using the default settings on MS Word–as Charles of lgf demonstrates with the following animated GIF that alternates between PDF versions of the CBS docs and the one Charles types straight into Word (and no, your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you–the graphic pulsates between the CBS doc and the Word version):


3) However, an attempt at reproducing the document with an IBM Selectric Composer, produces the following (the red text is from an IBM Selectric Composer and the black from the CBS doc–note, they do not overlap):

The above image was produced as the result of some intrepid research by J. Harrell of The Shape of Days–who has larger graphics to examine and who has much more that is worth reading on this subject. I would note that this kind of research is the kind of thing that the MSM ought to be doing. It occurred to me yesterday that some news reporter ought to find all of the equipment under controversy and see if the memo could be reproduced, and how difficult it would be to do so.

Now, the possibility that there is some other tech out there that could have produced those memos exists, but it strikes me as slim. However, anyone who has ever used typewriters certainly knows how difficult it is to produce the kind of letter-perfect docs one can make with Word and a laser printer. Since typewriters are mechanical, it doesn’t take much to have imperfections show up. And given that Killian’s family says he didn’t type, I find it unlikely that he was producing these perfect docs.

4) Hugh Hewitt has a list of reasons why the documents are suspect, including:

*Lt Col Killian didn’t type;
*Lt Col Killian’s family says he did not maintain such records;
*Guard regulations prohibited the maintenance of such records;
*General Bobby Hodges didn’t vouch for the docs as CBS said he would;
*Colonel Buck Staudt –cited in the memos as pushing Killian to “sugarcoat” a Bush evaluation– had retired more than a year before the memo was allegedly written;


*Most experts, from Dr.Cartwright at Rice, the above-referenced Dr. Bouffard and Farrell Shiver, range from certain to almost certain in their conclusions that the docs are not legit;
*CBS doesn’t have the “originals” and didn’t reveal that fact until pressure mounted;
*The fake docs are easily and exactly reproduced on modern word-processing equipment, underscoring the ease with which the bad forgery could have been produced contrasted with the near impossibility of Lt Colonel Killian’s producing them in 192/3;

6) Other reasons to doubt the docs:

Again, I think that the main story here is a media story with two major components: the sloppiness (and perhaps partisanship) of CBS and the MSM v. blogs in terms of fact-checking and in this case, actual reporting (bloggers have done leg-work, like that noted above, and have interviewed experts of relevances). Normally I scoff at the idea that blogs can replicate the work of the MSM. In this case, however, bloggers have done better work than many in the press.

Robert Tagorda there are high political stakes to be associated with these memos—and if they are fakes, they could mightily damage Kerry, even if the Kerry campaign had nothing to do with the distribution of the memos.

Indeed, fake memos will be more damaging to Kerry than real memos will be to Bush. Why?–because fake memos raise serious questions about the integrity of the anti-Bush side of the equation (even if unfairly). Remember how the polls showed that a large percentage of voters held the Bush campaign responsible for the Swift Boat ads? I would expect a similar linkage in the minds of the voters between the Kerry camp and these memos. Further, a definitive declaration that these memos are fake will lead to greater distrust of MSM stories that criticize Bush.

The reason I think that this potential damage to Kerry is greater than the risk to Bush is simple: Bush isn’t basing his re-election his Texas Air National Guard service.

* My original 1) For anyone who thinks that solution is that Killian could have used The IBM Composer, note the following about the machine in question:

The first IBM Composer was the IBM “Selectric” Composer announced in 1966. It was a hybrid “Selectric” typewriter that was modified to have proportional spaced fonts. It is 100% mechanical and has no digital electronics. Since it has no memory, the user was required to type everything twice.

Does this sound like a likely thing for a Lt. Colonel to have done? Typed the memo twice (and perfectly, mind you) for a memo to a file?

Update: a reader notes that typing twice is only for fully justified documents–and a rereading of the documenation online confirms this fact. Still, the consensus continues to be that this was an espcially sophisticated machine to be using for simple memo-typing. However–this doesn’t disuade my position, as per below.

Filed under: US Politics, 2004 Campaign | |Send TrackBack

bLogicus linked with CBS Against the World - Memos, memos, memos
The American Mind linked with Missing the Point
Six Meat Buffet linked with fontgate, typegate, rathergate
RIGHT ON RED >> linked with Selectricity


  • el
  • pt
    1. You’ve got a misconception in your “have to type everything twice” comment. I used an IBM Selectric Composer in journalism class from 1974-76 and you had to type everything twice in order to produce right-justified copy, which was the principle purpose of using the Composer. The first time through it counted the number of spaces in the line, and measured the amount of space remaining at the end of the line, and gave you a code which you recorded on your draft copy. Then the second time through you set a dial to that code and it stretched each space to the appropriate length to make the right-hand edge line up. If you were just typing a memo you could type it once with no problem.
      However, it would be a waste of a highly-complicated machine to do that. Also, to get some of the effects seen on the CBS forgeries would have taken some special expertise and a lot of extra time, and it’s ridiculous to suppose that a non-typist such as Killian would have known how to do them or would have cared. I’ve seen loads of things typed on the Composer by non-typists, and they didn’t look nice and clean like the CBS forgeries do.

      Comment by Mark Thompson — Sunday, September 12, 2023 @ 5:28 pm

    2. Thanks-I re-read the docs and have made the correction online.

      Comment by Steven Taylor — Sunday, September 12, 2023 @ 5:41 pm

    3. Selectricity
      Atrios offers this from PC Magazine as evidence that documents created on a Selectric typewriter can also be reproduced exactly in Word:

      Looks pretty convincing, right? Here’s the catch. Edward Mendelson, the author of the PC Mag article, st…

      Trackback by RIGHT ON RED >> — Sunday, September 12, 2023 @ 5:49 pm

    4. I think the biggest key here is in POint 4:

      That too me is more important then anything, if the Col. was retired, why we would he come back for this Memo.

      Comment by Jeff Vreeland — Sunday, September 12, 2023 @ 9:33 pm

    5. fontgate, typegate, rathergate
      While it’s nice to finally have some dogshit to rub Rather’s face in, is anyone really going to notice - or more importantly - will this make any kind of difference in the election?

      Trackback by Six Meat Buffet — Sunday, September 12, 2023 @ 9:47 pm

    6. Missing the Point
      Steven is correct that some are focusing on the technological ability of a 1973 typwriter to create a document that…

      Trackback by The American Mind — Sunday, September 12, 2023 @ 10:06 pm

    7. I think as Dr. Taylor said, it will hurt Kerry more then anything as people will put 2 and 2 together, even though it has nothing too do with him.

      Comment by Jeff Vreeland — Sunday, September 12, 2023 @ 10:07 pm

    8. CBS Against the World - Memos, memos, memos
      Fox News (via Backcountry Conservative) reports in a teaser to open their 9 a.m. programming that CBS is supposed to issue a statement today related to the allegedly forged National Guard memos. No word on the nature of the statement. While CBS has hel…

      Trackback by bLogicus — Saturday, September 25, 2023 @ 10:19 am

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