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74 of 118 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Can I Prove the Memos Didn't Happen?, June 22, 2006
This review is from: Truth and Duty: The Press, the President, and the Privilege of Power (Hardcover)
I have been through chapter one of Marry Mapes' book; I also have been through the Thornburgh-Boccardi report. There are so many misrepresntations of fact in Chapter One, I will not waste my time with the rest of the book.

Free Republic web logger "Buckhead" is not the only person with decades of computer publishing experience who spotted the CBS memos as not 1970s typewritten documents. Mapes sets "Freeper blogger Buckhead" up as a demonized strawman to distract attention away from the documents themselves.

I worked at Kingsport Press for thirty-four years in computer assisted typesetting, starting with IBM 1130 punching paper tape to drive Linotype linecasters, through the VideoComp and Linotron typesetters, ending with various Mac and Win PCs producing PostScript.

When I followed Joseph Newcomer's demonstration on the Web that the CBS memos were typeset recently and were not typewritten in the 1970s, it was like Composition 101. I followed along with PDFs of the four CBS memos downloaded from their website. Plus a PDF of an authenticated Lt Col Killian memo promoting Lt Bush in Nov 1970. Plus my experience typesetting hundreds of books and quarterly journals, and creating dozens of fonts for the VideoComp, Linotron, and Postscript typesetters.

The fact that another typesetter "Buckhead" found the same flaws confirms my observations.

The bottom line is: those memos could not have been created on TexANG clerk-typist Knox's Olympia typewriter; although Knox did receive an IBM Selectric (after Bush left the TexANG) she did not receive the "Executive" or the "Composer" models; even with those models, she could not have done the kerning of letter pairs, like "fr", which is shown in the CBS memos. At the time those memos were allegedly written, Lt Col Killian's office used an Olympia and did not use any model of IBM Selectric until 1975.

In the 1970s I had access to a RCA GSD VideoComp 830 with Times-Roman font; I could with great difficulty have produced copies of the CBS memos on a machine that cost the Press $500,000. Sept 2004 I was able to make a mirror-image of one of the CBS memos in minutes by just typing the text into Microsoft Word default settings for Truetype Times New Roman on my son's old PC.

I went a step further: I captured Killian's signature off the validated Nov 1970 memo. I tweaked pointsize and setwidth of Postscript Courier Bold to match the Olympia typewriter font and offset the Courier figures 35679 to mimic Olympia Old Style figures. Following the Nov 1970 memo TexANG document style, I created my own "Killian" memo placing FDR guiding the Pearl Harbor attack and Harry S Truman shooting the UFO aliens at Roswell NM. I pasted in Killian's signature and printed the memo. I then crumpled the printed document, rubbed it on the floor to get random dust specks, scanned it slightly off center, and violin! I had my own 60 Minutes quality documentation, that "meshed" with the official record: FDR was president 7 Dec 1941 and HST was president in 1947.

Mary Mapes has the documentation standards of Criswell in Plan Nine From Outer Space: "Can you prove it didn't happen?"

Problems with the CBS memos are not limited to the style or form.

May 4, 1972 Lt Col Killian orders Lt Bush to report for a physical examination no later than May 14, 1972.
- In TexANG squadron officers did not write orders for flight physical exams.
- Physical exams were routinely scheduled based on officer's birth date.
- There is no record of Lt Col Killian writing orders for physical exams.
- Officialy Bush could take his exam as late as 31 Jul 72.

May 19, 1972 File memorandum, Lt Col Killian discusses Lt Bush transfer request to Alabama for personal reasons
- This does mesh well with Bush's efforts to transfer to non-flying status so he could live and do political work in Alabama.

August 1, 1972 Lt Col Killian verbally orders Lt Bush suspended from flight status.
- Bush's suspension from flying status was actually handled by Col Harris, and the tone of Harris' memo is routine and not at all like this memo attributed to Killian.
- Standard Texas Air National Guard abbrv. was 'TexANG' not 'USAF/TexANG'.
- Lt Col Killian abbreviated 'lieutenant' as 'Lt' not 'Lt.' period.
- There was a 'flight evaluation board' but NO 'flight review board.'
- Lt Col Killian and Tex Air NG did not use the Army term 'billet.'

There are many clues that the author was not Lt Col Killian TexANG.

June 24, 1973 Lt. Colonel Killian authors a Memorandum to 'Sir,' about Bush not receiving a TexANG annual evaluation while stationed in Alabama.
- Again, the real Lt Col Killian did not put a period after 'Lt' or 'Lt Col'
- Killian abbreviated Fighter Interceptor Squadron as 'FIS' not as 'F. I. S.'
- Lt Col Killian never addressed memos to 'Sir' and was very strict about addressing people by their rank and name, another clue that the author was not Killian.
- Otherwise, this meshes with Bush's transfer to non-flying status in Alabama.

August 18, 1973 Lt. Colonel Killian authors a CYA File Memorandum stating as follows:

1. Staudt has obviously pressured Hodges more about Bush. I'm having trouble running interference and doing my job. Harris gave me a message today from Grp regarding Bush's OETR and Staudt is pushing to sugar coat it: Bush wasn't here during rating period and I don't have any feedback from 187th in Alabama. I will not rate. Austin is not happy today either.
2. Harris took the call from Grp today. I'll back date but won't rate. Harris agrees.

- General Staudt had been retired for at least 17 months by the date ascribed to this memo and by all TexANG sources had no involvement with TexANG internal affairs after his retirement.
- Group is abbreviated as "Gp" in all other TexANG memos, not "Grp".
- 'OETR' is not the correct TexANG abbreviation for Officer Efficiency/Training Report (OER), another clue that the author was NOT TexANG.

Well before the segment aired, the four document examiners hired by CBS tried to warn CBS that there were problems with authenticating the documents. Mapes in her five year crusade against Bush refused to listen. When the "holy grail" the obviously faked documents were posted in PDF format on the CBS website, people with font and type composition experience got to see them and raised questions. Mapes and Rather dismissed critics with the sign-off "FTA" F--- Them All. Mapes and Rather both were arrogant and full of themselves to the bursting point.

Mary, Dan and fans: I hope you live long, learn the error of your ways, and repent.

Before writing this, I downloaded and read fifty-nine Amazon revoews of "Truth and Duty." Quite frankly, the blindness of the Bush-haters and Mapes-idolizers does not speak well for the future of America's left wing.

ADDED 16 Aug 2014: A few months after I posted this review (based on the Look Ahead! preview chapter), I got a remaindered copy of "Truth and Duty" HB at the 99 Cent store for, well, 99 cents. There are factual details in the Thornburgh-Boccardi Report (available at the CBS website here: [...] ) are glossed over or omitted from Mary Mapes' account.

Mapes claimed: p.7 "I was told the first posting claiming the documents were fakes had gone up on Free Republic before our broadcast was even off the air! How had the website even gotten copies of the documents?" The "Buckhead" postings (by attorney Harry W. MacDougald) were dated and timestamped after CBS posted the PDFs on-line for download and over three hours after the report was aired. p.200 "What made MacDougald such an instant authority on typography and its history? Who knew? Who cared?" Among other things, one of attorney MacDougald specializations was document authentification, that's what. Mapes didn't know, didn't care. He wasn't an instant authority; it took years.

And her insistence that the Bill Burkett documents meshed with the official records overlooks one thing: the official records had been a political football in 1999-2000 and were available in the public domain. It was no great feat for "Lucy Ramirez" or Texas Army National Guardsman Burkett or anyone for that matter to concoct fake documents with "new revelations" that "meshed" in other ways. With Burkett's use of army national guard lingo in alleged air national guard memos it was a poor mesh at that.
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Showing 1-8 of 8 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 14, 2008 8:16:43 AM PST
I have no idea about the background of this reviewer but Bush's record of service in the Guard is spotty at best so I would characterize the review as rationalization.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 5, 2008 6:31:37 AM PDT
Mr. Schaffer:

You're missing the point. The point is not whether someone is rationalizing a pro-Bush stance. It's whether Mary Mapes used fake documents to try to bring down a president. The answer to that last one is yes, she did.

Posted on Nov 19, 2008 3:59:14 PM PST
Sue says:
The person writing this does not lack in the area of self-esteem ! With his superior knowledge in all areas of typesetting, typewriters, etc. he must be a foremost authority ? ... or a pseudo formost authorit... methinks the latter.

Posted on May 25, 2011 9:06:00 PM PDT
So I guess Killian's secretary was lying when she said what was in the memo was right.

Where are all those people who served with Bush who will step forward to say no, he was right there next to me, reporting for duty?


Posted on May 26, 2011 9:11:05 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 29, 2011 8:55:03 AM PDT
myself says:
CBS's own press release notes that:
September 15, 2004
"Marion Carr Knox, the secretary of Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, whose
personal memos were part of a report on last Wednesday's (8) 60
MINUTES broadcast regarding questions about President Bush's
service at the Texas Air National Guard, will appear in a report
on 60 MINUTES tonight (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television
"In the interview, Ms. Knox states that she does not believe the
memos are genuine. However, she confirms that the content of the
memos does reflect the feelings of Lt. Col. Killian at the time
and accurately portrays events that were taking place in
connection with then-Lt. Bush's Texas Air National Guard service.
"I know that I didn't type 'em. However, the information in those
is correct," Ms. Knox told CBS News for tonight's broadcast......"

Dallas Morning News shortly thereafter:
"HOUSTON -- The former secretary for the Texas Air National Guard
colonel who supposedly authored memos critical of President
Bush's Guard service said Tuesday that the documents are fake,
but that they reflect real documents that once existed.
Marian Carr Knox, who worked from 1956 to 1979 at Ellington Air
Force Base in Houston, said she prided herself on meticulous
typing, and the memos first disclosed by CBS News last week were
not her work.
""These are not real," she told The Dallas Morning News after
examining copies of the disputed memos for the first time.
""They're not what I typed, and I would have typed them for him."
Mrs. Knox, 86, who spoke with precise recollection about dates,
people and events, said she is not a supporter of Mr. Bush, who
she deemed "unfit for office" and "selected, not elected."
""I remember very vividly when Bush was there and all the yak-yak
that was going on about it," she said.
"But, she said, telltale signs of forgery abounded in the four
memos, which contained the supposed writings of her ex-boss, Lt.
Col. Jerry Killian, who died in 1984.
"She said the typeface on the documents did not match either of
the two typewriters that she used during her time at the Guard.
She identified those machines as a mechanical Olympia, which was
replaced by an IBM Selectric in the early 1970s....."

The memos contain names, dates places that ring true in part because
Bush's Guard Service had been publicly discussed from 1999 onwards
and the source of the six memos given to Mapes was Bill Burkett,
a disgruntled Army National Guardsman who had access to national
guard archives. The six memoes however depart from the authenticated

For further reading on what Knox said about the memos, one can read
CBS's own Thornburgh-Boccardi Report commissioned in the aftermath:

"The Panel spoke with Knox on two occasions, and she stated that she did not have any personal knowledge about the content of any of the Killian documents, aside from the fact that she knew Lieutenant Bush had sough to transfer to Alabama so that he could run a political campaign. She informed the Panel that she answered Rather's questions on the assumption that the content was accurate. She made clear in her Panel interviews that she did not have any personal knowledge about the thrust or contents of the documents."


"Knox, an outspoken critic of President Bush and admirer of Rather, told the panel:
"o She did not remember Lt Bush's being ordered to take a physical by Lt Col Killian.
"o She did not remember Lt Bush's being suspended from flying status by Lt Col Killian.
"o She did not remember typing any documents like the four Killian documents that appeared in the Sept 8 Segment.
"o She did not recall that Lt Bush ever tried to get out of drill.
"o She did not recall that Lt Bush ever failed to show up for drill. She did remember that Lt Bush was trying to secure a transfer to Alabama, but she never knew the outcome of the transfer. She did not recall Lt Col Killian's being upset regarding the transfer."

The additions to the record in the "Killian" documents supplied by Bill Burkett to Mary Mapes were not recalled at all by Marian Carr Knox.

Posted on Aug 1, 2015 5:37:57 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 1, 2015 5:40:06 PM PDT
Thank you for an incisive review of the book and the facts.

I have just one question about this whole incident. What serious investigations regarding the provenance of the fake documents have been done, and where did the investigations lead?

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 2, 2015 8:48:30 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 2, 2015 8:56:23 AM PDT
myself says:
Aside from CBS's commissioned Thornburgh-Boccardi Report (5 Jan 2005) the subject appears to have been dropped. The previous comment on this review was 2011. The Wikipedia articles on "Killian documents controversy", "Bill Burkett" and "Mary Mapes" have been stable since about 2009.

The link to CBS's investigation is still live:
Dick Thornburgh and Louis D. Boccardi, "Report of the Independent Review Panel", CBS News, 5 Jan 2005.
short title "Thornburgh-Boccardi Report"
long title "Report of the Independent Review Panel, Dick Thornburgh and Louis D. Boccadi, on the September 8, 2004 ''60 Minutes Wednesday'' Segment"
I think that is about as close as you will get to a final investigation.

Donning my skeptic hat, the upcoming movie version "Truth" Oct 2015 promises to be an exercise in historical revision like Oliver Stone's "JFK": Robert Redford as Rather, Cate Blanchett as Mapes, no one as Bill Burkett, so I suspect Mary Mapes will receive the memos from YHWH on Mt Sinai to silence cynical doubters like myself.

Posted on Nov 6, 2015 8:34:53 AM PST
Tim Smith says:
One thing to note. If you have not read it, in the new preface to the 2015 edition, Mapes entirely misrepresents the conclusions of the Thornburgh-Boccardi report. She now claims that the report entirely vindicated her on the matter of on typefaces, fonts and so on. She calls all the questioning of the documents a "false story".

In her new view, the only criticism in the entire report of her is that she "rushed" the story. As well she doubles down on her accusations that anyone in the national guard who didn't support her story was either bribed or intimidated into doing so.

The thing about the book and everything else she wrote after the scandal is that she made the case herself as to why she should not be in journalism. She is entirely lacking in any sort of basic journalism ethics and is too attached to a conspiracy mindset. She still doesn't understand at all what she did wrong.
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