- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 15, 2004

The following are excerpts of a statement released last night by CBS News regarding questions about the authenticity of documents used in a Sept. 8 broadcast of “60 Minutes” as evidence that George W. Bush had received preferential treatment in the Texas Air National Guard:

The CBS News report was based on a preponderance of evidence: many interviews, both on- and off-camera, with individuals with direct and indirect knowledge of the situation, atmosphere and events of the period in question, as well as the procedures, character and thinking of Lt. Col. Killian, Lt. Bush’s squadron commander in the Guard, at the time.

The report also included the first television interview with Ben Barnes, a Democrat and current fund-raiser for John Kerry, who said he helped get Mr. Bush into the Texas Air National Guard at the request of a Bush family friend.

Numerous questions have been raised about the authenticity of the documents. …

In accordance with longstanding journalistic ethics, CBS News is not prepared to reveal its confidential sources or the method by which “60 Minutes” … received the documents. CBS News’ reporting determined that the source of the memos had access to the documents he provided and an opportunity to obtain copies of them. …

Four independent individuals with expertise in the authentication of documents were consulted prior to the broadcast of the story regarding the documents … document examiners Marcel B. Matley, James J. Pierce, Emily Will and Linda James. …

Two of the examiners, Mssrs. Matley and Pierce, attested and continue to attest to their belief in the documents’ authenticity. … Two others, Ms. Will and Ms. James, appeared on a competing network yesterday, where they misrepresented their conversations and communication with CBS News. In fact, they assessed only one of the four documents used in the report, and while one of them raised a question about one aspect of that one document, they did not raise substantial objections or render definitive judgment on the document. Ultimately, they played a peripheral role in the authentication process and deferred to Mr. Matley, who examined all four of the documents used. …

For now, the disagreements among “dueling experts” have not been resolved. …

Maj. Gen. Bobby Hodges … has stated to the New York Times and Los Angeles Times, among others, that he believes the documents are not real, but also told the New York Times … that the information in the CBS News report “reflected issues he and Col. Killian had discussed — namely, Mr. Bush’s failure to appear for a physical, which military records released previously by the White House show, led to a suspension from flying.” That is consistent with what he told CBS News off-camera as part of the research for this report. …

CBS News will make every effort to resolve the contradictions and answer the unanswered questions about the documents and will continue to report on all aspects of the story.

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