- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 14, 2004

The memos that CBS News says were written and signed by President Bush’s National Guard commander do not follow guidelines mandated in Air Force regulations, which the officer had followed in documents that are known to be authentic.

Air Force manuals on proper memo-writing, which date back at least to 1965, say no period should be placed after an officer’s abbreviated rank. Thus, in signing a memo, the “Lt” in the rank of lieutenant colonel is not supposed to have a period at the end.

Mr. Bush’s commander, the late Lt. Col. Jerry B. Killian, followed that regulation in every signed document released by the White House in February and reviewed by The Washington Times.

But the contested CBS memos, dated 1972 and 1973, contain a period after “Lt” on both signed documents. Two other memos released by CBS were not signed by Col. Killian, but attributed to him.

A former National Guard member, who asked not to be named, said this is further evidence that the CBS documents are forgeries because the Air Force is strict on the proper style and format for official memos.

The Air Force handbook also shows that the signers’ affiliation should follow the printed rank. Col. Killian followed this style in the known memos released by the White House in February. Col. Killian would follow his title with “Tex ANG,” for Texas Air National Guard.

But in the CBS memo, there is no affiliation after the signature.

A comparison of the two sets of memos shows that Col. Killian followed Air Force style guidelines in all the documents released by the White House and that guidelines were not followed in the memos that CBS said Col. Killian wrote and signed.

The Times reviewed Air Force guidelines for memo writing dated 1965, 1972 and 1975, the year the rules were put into one Air Force handbook dubbed “Tongue and Quill.” All examples in the manuals show no period after an abbreviated rank.

An Air Force civilian employee told The Times that officers strictly adhere to memo standards and that if a new employee puts a period after an “Lt”, they are corrected.

Of the four memos that CBS said it obtained from Col. Killian’s “personal file,” the most explosive is a May 4, 1972, memo ordering Mr. Bush to take a flight physical. The implication is that 1st Lt. George Bush was refusing to take the exam.

But retired Lt. Col. Nick Pishvanov, a Vietnam War pilot, said he never heard of a pilot receiving a written order to take a physical. “I talked to 38 other pilots, and none of them heard of it, either,” he said.

Besides, Col. Pishvanov said Air Force flight physicals are done on the officer’s date of birth. The CBS memo was dated May 1972 and ordered a physical by May 14; Mr. Bush’s birth month is July.

CBS’ Dan Rather anchored the Sept. 8 “60 Minutes” report that revealed the four memos supposedly written by Col. Killian, who died in 1984.

Since then, a number of forensic-document experts have told newspapers, wire services and TV networks that they think the documents were forged. The reason: The typeface — Times New Roman — and the character spacing are identical to that on computer word processing not in use in the early 1970s.

Mr. Rather, however, stands by the report. On Friday, Mr. Rather produced Marcel Matley, a handwriting expert who attested to Col. Killian’s signature on one of the four documents. Other independent experts have told reporters that they do not think the signatures are Col. Killian’s. Mr. Matley told The Washington Post that he cannot authenticate the documents themselves because they are copies. Mr. Rather said the network does not have the originals.

Yesterday, ABC News reported that two specialists hired by CBS to verify the memos said the network ignored their questions about the papers’ authenticity.

Document examiner Emily Will said she warned a CBS producer of her doubts, but said, “I did not feel that they wanted to investigate it very deeply.”

Another specialist hired by CBS, Linda James, said, “I did not authenticate anything, and I don’t want it to be misunderstood that I did.”

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