Skip to comments.Are the CBS National Guard Documents Fake? (UPDATED: "At Least" 90% Positive They're Fake)
Posted on 09/09/2004 1:22:10 PM PDT by TastyManatees
Are the CBS National Guard Documents Fake?
(UPDATED: "At Least" 90% Positive They're Fake)
INDC Exclusive. Must Credit INDC.
Based on Powerline's suspicions of forgery over the documents put forth regarding George W. Bushs National Guard service, I decided to do some legwork and track down the opinions of forensic document examiners that may have an expertise in old typefaces.
After contacting several experts, a rather notable Forensic Document Examiner named Dr. Philip Bouffard took the time to examine a pdf of the documents and perform an initial visual analysis of their authenticity. Dr. Bouffard has a PhD in Chemistry from the University of Michigan, but got involved in forensic examination of typefaces after working in graphics with NCR until 1973 and taking a two-year Certification Program in Document Examination at Georgetown University. After completing the program, he became specifically interested in typewriter classification and went to work for a prosecutors crime lab in Lake County, Ohio.
Using something called the Haas Atlas, the definitive collection of various typefaces, Mr. Bouffard (and other forensic document examiners) examined the veracity of various documents for over 30 years. Beginning in 1988, Mr. Bouffard hired a programmer to write a computer database program that catalogues the nearly 4,000 typefaces that appear in the Haas Atlas. This computer program is now a forensic standard that is sold as a companion to the Haas Atlas by American Society of Questioned Document Examiners (ASQDE).
UPDATE: The name of the program that Dr. Bouffard developed is called "The Typewriter Typestyle Classification Program" (C:\TYPE).
What did Dr. Bouffard think of the documents?
First, the necessary caveats:
The pdf document is of poor quality. It seems to have been copied and recopied several times, blurring letter characteristics.
Also, certain types of analysis can only be done on the original documents, which dont seem to be available, even to CBS.
So Dr. Bouffard is very clear that his analysis is not 100% positive. That being said
Its just possible that this might be a Times Roman font, which means that it would have been created on a computer. Its very possible that someone decided to create this document on a computer... Ive run across this situation before my gut is this could just well be a fabrication.
The reasons why?
Right off the bat, Dr. Bouffard noted what others in the blogosphere have been talking about something called proportional spacing, which means that each letter does not take up the same amount of width on the page. On old typewriters that do not have proportional spacing, the letter i would be as wide as the letter m. Except for professional typesetting, proportional spacing was only available on a very few models (an IBM model, "Composer" and perhaps one or two other models) that were not widely available in 1972-73; the vast majority of typewriters did not have proportional spacing. Because of this, Dr. Bouffards computer program immediately eliminated over 90% of the possible fonts from typewriters that could create such a document, narrowing it down to perhaps 15 fonts used by a very few models.
Next, Dr. Bouffard began entering individual characters in an attempt to match them to the remaining fonts that were available on proportional spacing typewriters of that era, focusing on numbers. Thus far, one character stood out, the number 4. In the document provided by CBS News, the number 4 does not "have a foot" and has a closed top, which is indicative of Times New Roman, a font exclusive to more modern computer word processing programs. other characters matched the old proportional spacing fonts (available on only a small few typewriters of the era), but this number did not (please note that this is only an initial analysis with numerical characters).
Dr. Bouffard ran this number and could not find a match in his entire database of over 4,000 typewriter fonts that have been maintained and collected into his computer database since 1988. Otherwise, the font is very indicative of Times New Roman, the font that is only available on computer word processing programs.
The final word?
Once again, lets not forget the qualifications: it's a bad copy of a copy and we have no original document for review, but, based on the initial analysis of the documents by an industry expert with over 30 years of experience in typesetting and forensic document examination, the documents could just well be a fabrication.
In light of this information, I think that it would be highly appropriate for CBS News and the Boston Globe to attempt to obtain a copy of the original document for more thorough vetting, and run a correction/addendum to the story.
I still have two other forensic document examiners that are examining the pdf file, and I will update if/when they get back to me. I also plan to ask Dr. Bouffard more detail about the nature of the "th" on the end of dates, though in our first conversation he indicated that some typewriters had the capability to do something in that format.
UPDATE: Dr. Bouffard called me again, and after further analysis, he says that he's pretty certain that it's a fake.
* He looked through old papers he's written, and noted that he's come up against the inconsistency of the "4" several previous times with forgeries that attempt to duplicate old proportional spaced documents with a computer word processing program.
* Regarding the small "th" after the date, Dr. Bouffard told me that it was possible to order specialty keys that would duplicate the automatic miniaturization completed by word processors after a numerical date, but it was certainly not standard, and wouldn't make a lot of sense in a military setting. "That by itself, while suspicious, is not impossible, but in conjunction with the (font irregularity of the) number four, it is really significant," he said.
* Dr. Bouffard said that signature analysis isn't that relevant because the signature could have easily been copied and pasted onto one of the photocopied forgeries from another document.
* He said that he didn't know who CBS contacted to verify the document's authenticity, but that there is really only one other man that may be more qualified to determine authentic typefaces than himself. I think that the burden of proof may be on CBS to reveal this information.
I asked him to put a percentage on the chances that this was a fake, and he said that was "hard to put a number on it." I then suggested "90%?" Again he said it's "hard to put an exact number, but I'd say it's at least that high, sure. I pretty much agree that that font is Times New Roman."
I hesitate to render verdicts, but based on an initial visual analysis by one of the country's foremost forensic document analysts that specializes in old typefaces, it looks like CBS was duped.
That should be a task that can be accomplished with a little effort. Anything that came over the Commanding officer's signature which dealt with official business should be discoverable. For instance See BS claims to have had originals of the Col's signature to compare with their documents. Where did they find it? If on an official memo or order they should produce it for comparison.
Drudge already has it up! Prepare for a fecal-fling!
Thanks for enlightening us all. No really, you raised our level of understanding of the issue to a level I personally didn't think could be achieved. You are absolutely vital to this discussion, and you deserve credit for holding CBS to their words. Without your expertise and calm help in sorting out the forgery question, we all would have been lost.
Really. I mean it.
Look, we are in agreement at this point, but how half baked was the assumption about the proportional font being an indicator of forgery in view of the fact that this expert endorses it?
sorry, that's a bogus rationalization.
First, have you ever worked with a scanner? It doesn't make things less legible.
Second, they'd retype the documents, and then create all the artifacts to make it look like an old document?
Third, instead of putting up the original document online, they put up their re-created document, and pass it off as original?
Sorry, this theory is ridiculous.
IBM typewriter with proportional spacing was introduced in 1941.
IBM announces the Electromatic Model 04 electric typewriter, featuring the revolutionary concept of proportional spacing. By assigning varied rather than uniform spacing to different sized characters, the Type 4 recreated the appearance of a printed page, an effect that was further enhanced by a typewriter ribbon innovation that produced clearer, sharper words on the page. The proportional spacing feature became a staple of the IBM Executive series typewriters.
On the Executive, you could optionally have removable type-bars. This is somewhat like later Smith-Corona portables which have removable type-slugs on the two outermost type-bars, with corresponding changeable keytop caps. In this case, though, it's the whole type-bar.
Howie Carr, Boston Herald, RKO Radio Boston, is now reading the articles on air....audience New England and NY.
If you fire up Word with default margins and default font (Times New Roman at 12 pts), and type the text of the memos yourself, the results are exactly the same as the pdfs of the actual memos. Characters line up with characters on adjacent lines perfectly. (I did this myself with the last memo.) It's hard to avoid the conclusion that not only are these memos fake, they're not even very good fakes. I hope this ends Rather's career.
LOL. This place is amazing...
This is so cool . . . how many times has the partisan media twisted some seemingly positive piece of information about Bush into a bizarre negative attack (like that whole yellow cake uranium fiasco, where the entire focus of the MSM was on who in the Bush Whitehouse leaked the info) . . . now the blogosphere is pulling the same thing on CBS . . . CBS thought they had nailed Bush, but now the story is all about CBS and how big of a lie they told . . . the point they tried to make has faded into the background noise, drowned out by this new hoax scandal . . . they are going to have to defend themselves, rather than attack Bush . . . sweet . . .
He's pretty good at steering this ship, too!! He's always on Watch. God love him and protect him.
The above is a superimposition of an MS Word 2002 document (red) and the "original" memo (gray).
The document was typed using Times New Roman size 12. The document used the standard MS Word formatting. The only deviation: The header was further indented 1/8th of an inch from the default.
In order to superimpose the 2, the original was resized twice, once in the horizontal direction and once in the vertical. The relative proportions were NOT changed on either document.
Anybody would like to guess the chances that a 1970's typewriter and a 2002 version of MS Word would yield documents that are so similar???
These things have feet, even hard core rats that I know read Drudge.
The obvious question is why would CBS would not vet them very carefully before airing them?? I know Dan Rather is in the tank for Kerry, as reported earlier. Did he run roughshod over the other producers and editors at CBS who may have counseled further investigation?? This may have been Rather's swan song and he couldn't resist it!! Could this have been a plant by some anti-CBS hoaxers who couldn't believe that CBS would go for such obvious bait?? Fun questions to ponder this afternoon.
The expert was suspicious about the proportional font, but consider this: wouldn't that be the first thing anyone would notice? How smart would it be for CBS to present a document that couldn't possibly be typed in 1972?
Don't answer that.
How smart would it be for a forger to produce an impossible document that sticks out like a sore thumb, especially when ordinary military typewriters are easily available?
I respect the expert's opinion, particularly when he gets into the nuts and bolts of typeface differences. This is enough to require a look at the original document.
Can someone dig up other documents prepared by this guy around the same time to see if they match the type on these? Go!
I guess the same odds that Kerry will sign standard form 180 and release "ALL" of his records.