Still Pissed Off About the Hawley-Smoot Tariff

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Two Points about the Forgeries

Gen Gap asks for clarification on two points of Dan Rather's defense.

1. The first point, regarding a superscripted "th" in an identical manner, is covered by Ace in a couple of places. Here are a few key quotes:

"To type out that superscripted small-font "th," Shape of Days' expert actually had to switch out the ball -- the thing that actually does the character-striking -- in the middle of typing to a smaller 8-point font, then type the "th" after raising it by turning the cylinder a half-click, then switch back to te ball with the regular sized font to complete the letter.
Just to produce that small-font superscripted "th," mind you."

In other words, we're looking at the realm of possibility, but extreme improbability.

And the New York Post comments on the specific document Rather referenced:

"Rather last night pointed to an undisputed document from Bush's National Guard files and claimed it has a superscript, so they were available by 1968. But that document is in a different typeface and experts say it was made on a different type of machine without proportional spacing so it proves nothing. "It could be a superscript, it could be a correction with a letter showing through white-out, but in any case it's absolutely irrelevant . . . It doesn't prove a thing," said document expert Bill Flynn."

And the NYPost printed that after Ace himself linked the document in question, and observed that "that character is not clearly anything. Look closely. It's a badly-distorted character. What it actually looks like is a square with a vertical line through it."

So while it's possible that we're looking at a small-font, superscripted "th," it's also possible that we're looking at partial characters showing through white-out. Look for yourself. It's on the third page, on the second line, which begins with 4Sep68. It's a .pdf document, which comes with a zoom function so you can get a really close look. Is this simply a question of bad copying? Possibly, but usually photocopiers add more black spots, and for this to be a real "th," some of the "t" would have to be missing. Photocopiers don't white stuff out.

2. Regarding the handwriting expert, let me make three points. Again from the NYPost, Rather's expert Marcel Matley relies on signatures for authentication of all the documents, but there are only signatures on two of the four. Second, it is a fairly easy maneuver to cut and paste an authentic Killian signature with Microsoft Word, so we could in fact be looking at a Killian signature - even though he never signed the paper on which his signature now appears. Finally, Rather himself complained that it's unfair to criticize the documents because of the poor quality of the transmissions, but if that is true for the typed text, how is it less true for the signature, which is arguably in much worse shape?

So Rather's expert is not without his weaknesses.