Thursday, September 09, 2004

Folks, let's be a little bit wary about at least one aspect of this National Guard story. The right-wingers are claiming that the "smoking gun" documents from Lieutenant Colonel Jerry B. Killian are forgeries; that's no surprise, but they may actually be right.

The documents in question are dated 1972 and 1973; they're available partway down the left column at this CBS page; they're PDFs.

The gist of the forgery argument is that the documents are in a proportional font -- which means that different letters have different widths and the characters don't stack up neatly from line to line as they do on a typical document typed on a typewriter. There were typewriters in the early 1970s that used proportional fonts, as Atrios notes ... but then there's another problem: in a few places there are typographic peculiarities that were virtually impossible to generate on even the fanciest 1970s typewriters but are produced routinely in Microsoft Word, most notably the "th" in "111th" that's a superscript and in smaller type.

Power Line is the one-stop-shopping spot for forgery claims; from there you can go to INDC Journal for more info, and to the usually vile Little Green Footballs for a replication of one document that, yes, does look a lot like one of the documents in question. (The letterspacing in the two versions of "CYA" is almost identical.)

If these documents are forgeries, my first inclination is to don the tinfoil hat and ask whether Karl Rove had something to do with this. Can I imagine Rove creating forged documents that make his boss look bad, planting them, seeing to it that interested parties know they exist, then staying mum at the White House after they're brought to light, while bloggers and other journalistic irregulars reveal the fakery and embarrass anyone who was fished in? Sure I can:

There's Rove announcing in 1986 that his office had been bugged. By sheer chance, no doubt, he gave this news to the media the morning before a critical debate between Texas' Democratic Gov. Mark White and Republican Bill Clements, Rove's guy and the man expected to lose the debate. Democrats always suspected that Rove had the bug planted himself, but they could never prove it. Clements won.

You know about that (and a lot more) if you've read the book Bush's Brain or seen the movie. If I'm right, it's brilliant -- it taints the whole subject; it rubs off on honest people raising questions about Bush's youth, whose claims the public will never be able to distinguish from the forgeries, if that's what they are. And large chunks of the public will associate the forgery with the Kerry campaign.


Maybe these documents are legit -- peculiarly modern-looking papers from decades ago -- or maybe they were faked by a well-intentioned fool on our side. I fear they're fakes, and I smell a familiar rat.

UPDATE: It's Friday morning and everyone in creation is on this story -- The Washington Post, ABC, USA Today, take your pick.

The Washington Post says,

The doubts about the documents left the White House and the Bush campaign in a state of suspended animation, with Bush aides encouraging doubts about the documents but conceding that the possibility that they were forged seemed too good to be true.

Yeah, I'll bet.

Put that together with this:

Presidential spokesperson Scott McClellan said, "I think you absolutely are seeing a co-ordinated attack by John Kerry and his surrogates on the president."

Now you know that the forgery is going to be hung around Kerry's neck -- a forgery I still suspect was the work of Karl Rove.

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