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September 09, 2004

DID CBS PRESENT FORGED DOCUMENTS LAST NIGHT? I don't know, but it looks as if there's reason for further inquiry. The Command Post has a roundup on the subject. Power Line seems to have raised this first. INDC Journal has a report from a forensic document examiner. And Hugh Hewitt has an expert on his radio show (I just heard him say he doesn't think the documents came from a typewriter, as they should have in 1972/73, when word processors were, ahem, scarce), and a roundup on his blog. Here's a news story on the subject.

I'm not up to expanding on this inquiry, but I feel certain that other people will be looking into it. And CBS -- which I heard Hugh Hewitt say wouldn't answer questions -- needs to step up and explain what's going on.

Meanwhile, Scott Ott will taunt them some more: "Mr. Rather said the authenticity of the 32-year-old email has been confirmed by several Nigerian officials who specialize in electronic funds transfer by email."

UPDATE: More here, here, and here. Plus this: "The authenticity of newly unearthed memos stating that George W. Bush failed to meet standards of the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War was questioned Thursday by the son of the late officer who reportedly wrote the memos."

Plus this:"Very likely forgeries." And these forensics experts, unlike CBS's, have names.

Roger Simon is already talking Jayson Blair. Are these things forgeries? And if so, by whom? I don't know. But the evidence that they're bogus is stronger than the evidence that Bush didn't fulfil his National Guard service.

ANOTHER UPDATE: A media contact emails: "ABC'S NIGHTLINE DOING THE forgeries tonight, and their experts say most likely forgeries. CBS had serious meetings this evening over this."

I'll bet they did. . . . Meanwhile the widow is questioning the documents, too:

"The wording in these documents is very suspect to me," she told ABC News Radio in an exclusive phone interview from her Texas home. She added that she "just can't believe these are his words."

Much more in this story, which probably prefigures what's coming on Nightline:

More than half a dozen document experts contacted by ABC News said they had doubts about the memos' authenticity.

"These documents do not appear to have been the result of technology that was available in 1972 and 1973," said Bill Flynn, one of country's top authorities on document authentication. "The cumulative evidence that's available indicates that these documents were produced on a computer, not a typewriter:"

Read the whole thing. We can't yet say for certain that it's a forgery, I suppose -- but it looks that way. And we can say for certain that CBS was unforgivably sloppy, at the very most charitable, to bring documents like this forward and present them as genuine without noticing, and answering, these questions beforehand.

Speculations on whodunit, and why, here.

MORE: The forgery story is on page A1 of the Washington Post for tomorrow.