Saturday, September 11, 2004


SEPT 11 -- I can’t believe I’m having so much trouble getting to a discussion of policy here but something demands clarification. I imagine some of you watched 60 Minutes this past Wednesday after I mentioned it in my last newsletter. And I imagine most of you heard that 60 Minutes revealed that a) Bush did indeed get a sweetheart invitation into the Texas Air National Guard to avoid Vietnam service; and b) that his superiors were getting serious pressure from above to "sugarcoat" his dishonorable record of service in 1972 and 1973. That record, as has been widely reported in the last week, *should* have gotten him either 6 months in the stockade or a ticket to Vietnam. Instead Bush got a trip to Alabama and an honorable discharge.

This second revelation was backed by memos written by Bush’s commanding officer Jerry Killian. Within minutes of CBS’s airing of their expose, a number of right wing groups (especially the juvenile lunatics who run a site called "Little Green Footballs" and Matt Drudge’s Drudge Report) began to question the authenticity of the memos, suggesting they were forgeries and really bad forgeries at that. They made a huge number of claims about the font and layout of the memos, suggesting that they were made on Microsoft Word. Despite the fact that this seemed illogical (you would have to be a total idiot to make a forgery of a 1972 document in Microsoft Word when a million typewriters from that era are readily available) they made these claims forcefully and with audacious confidence. Not surprisingly, every major conservative media outlet repeated these claims, with Rush Limbaugh leading the way. What *was* incredibly surprising though was that media outlets that pride themselves on factual analysis and cautious journalism (such as the New York Times and Washington Post) also reported that these documents might be forgeries.

I call this surprising because – and I can’t stress this enough – EVERY SINGLE point of argument suggesting these documents are forgeries has now been answered. It is now absolutely clear that 1) the memos obtained by CBS are consistent with ALL the type characteristics of an IBM Selectric Composer; and 2) that the Air Force purchased large numbers of such devices as early as 1969. Instead of waiting a few minutes for this to be made clear, the mainstream media entered the political echo chamber and sowed the seeds of doubt for no reason. It now seems rather obvious that a number of groups on the Right *knew* this would happen – that if they could just make the public doubt the authenticity of the memos for a few minutes it would take the emphasis off the facts *behind* the memos (facts, by the way, that are backed up by official documents released by the White House and several eye witnesses.) But if the media does its job and reports that these memos now appear to be indeed quite authentic, then these Right Wing bloggers and radio men have done Bush a real disservice by giving this story more legs than it probably would have had otherwise.

If you want an extremely detailed analysis of the memos’ authenticity, go here:

and here:

For the simple journalistic report on why these documents apppear to be authentic, see:


I hope to finally report on Bush’s abysmal record fighting terrorism later this week. Stay tuned!


Post a Comment

<< Home