After doubts about the documents began circulating on the Internet yesterday morning, The Post contacted several independent experts who said they appeared to have been generated by a word processor. An examination of the documents by The Post shows that they are formatted differently from other Texas Air National Guard documents whose authenticity is not questioned.
William Flynn, a forensic document specialist with 35 years of experience in police crime labs and private practice, said the CBS documents raise suspicions because of their use of proportional spacing techniques. Documents generated by the kind of typewriters that were widely used in 1972 space letters evenly across the page, so that an "i" uses as much space as an "m." In the CBS documents, by contrast, each letter uses a different amount of space.
_____Documents in Dispute_____
Analyzing the Documents: Several characteristics shown in this letter call into question its authenticity.
Documents: All of the Memos in Question (PDF)
While IBM had introduced an electric typewriter that used proportional spacing by the early 1970s, it was not widely used in government. In addition, Flynn said, the CBS documents appear to use proportional spacing both across and down the page, a relatively recent innovation. Other anomalies in the documents include the use of the superscripted letters "th" in phrases such as 111th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Bush's unit.
"It would be nearly impossible for all this technology to have existed at that time," said Flynn, who runs a document-authentication company in Phoenix.
Other experts largely concurred. Phil Bouffard, a forensic document examiner from Cleveland, said the font used in the CBS documents appeared to be Times Roman, which is widely used by word-processing programs but was not common on typewriters.
CBS officials insisted that the network had done due diligence in checking out the authenticity of the documents with independent experts over six weeks. The senior CBS official said the network had talked to four typewriting and handwriting experts "who put our concerns to rest" and confirmed the authenticity of Killian's signature.
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. White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan said that officials there had not attempted to authenticate the documents but simply released copies "provided to us by CBS in the interests of openness."
The Bush administration's strategy yesterday was to let news organizations raise doubts and conduct forensic examinations, without taking an official position on whether the documents were genuine.
"It's clear in reviewing the documents that they do nothing to change the fact that the president served honorably, and was proud of his service in the Air National Guard," Bush campaign spokesman Steve Schmidt said.
Staff writer Howard Kurtz and researcher Lucy Shackelford contributed to this report.