Killian's widow and son have both said that they believe the records are fake. On Friday, CBS News anchor Dan Rather named one of Killian's superiors, Hodges, as a key source in CBS's authentication of the documents. He said that Hodges -- whom he described as "an avid Bush supporter" -- had told CBS that he was "familiar" with the documents.
"It took a lot for him to speak the truth," Rather said.
But in an interview yesterday from his Texas home, Hodges contested Rather's account. He said that he was called on Monday night by a CBS reporter who read him extracts from documents purportedly written by Killian. Hodges said that he may have told CBS that he had conversations with Killian about Bush, but he denied confirming the authenticity of the documents in any way.
"Now that I have had a chance to see them, I think they are fake," Hodges said.
A CBS spokeswoman, Sandy Genelius, said the network "believed General Hodges the first time we talked to him." She said CBS continued to "stand by its story" and a statement it issued on Thursday saying that "60 Minutes" reporters had talked to "individuals who had seen the documents at the time they were written." She declined to name the "individuals," describing them as sources.
Another problem with the CBS documents, cited by Hodges and others, is that Staudt was no longer serving with the Texas Air National Guard when one of the memos was allegedly written.
"Staudt has obviously pressured Hodges more about Bush," the document, dated Aug. 18, 1973, reads. "I'm having trouble running interference and doing my job."
Records show that Staudt retired from the guard in March 1972.
Genelius described Staudt as "a mythic figure" in the guard, who was still "wielding influence" behind the scenes in 1973.
But according to Hodges, Staudt had no influence over guard personnel policy after his retirement. "I met him socially after he retired, but I can't recall having a conversation about Bush," he said.