Captain Ed has a useful summary of information and links concerning the probable source of the forged 60 Minutes documents: “Burkett: I ‘reassembled’ Bush Guard files.” Is the reason that Rather refuses to disclose Burkett as the source is that the guy is such an obvious Bush-hating nutter? Or that Dan sees him as a stand-up guy, just as he sees himself?
Four experts whom CBS consulted on the documents have now been identified — Marcel Matley, Emily Will, Linda James, and James Pierce. It seems clear that Matley, Will and James did not authenticate the documents. Alone among this crew, Pierce appears to vouch for the documents. But who is James Pierce?
CBS has posted a September 14 memo prepared by Pierce after the eruption of the controversy over the documents. Pierce’s letterhead describes him as “Examiner of Questioned Documents.” Is this an area of expertise like “mender of broken hearts,” or “seer”? Or is it some kind of ironic joke intended to raise separate questions regarding his own authenticity? In the memo’s signature block, Pierce describes himself as a “forensic documents examiner” without including any indication of his professional credentials.
Pierce provides his “Professional Opinion” in three conclusory sentences that are simply ludicrous, recalling the deep thoughts of no one so much as Professor Irwin Corey (“the world’s foremost authority”). On the issue of the typewritten or word-processed origin of the documents, Pierce opines:
In regard to the balance of the type-written photo-copied questioned documents, the same type-face designs are strongly similar to corresponding samples that indicate the same type-face existed prior to the date in question on the photo-copied documents.
Folks, I grant that this sentence is a little hard to decipher. But Pierce’s description of the documents as “type-written” simply assumes the conclusion that is to be proven. It begs the question in issue. Pierce’s opinion appears to state nothing more than that the Times New Roman font existed in 1973.
In the third and final sentence of his statement, Pierce adds: “[W]ith what I know and have examined based on the photocopied questioned documents, the documents in question are authentic.” However, absent a summary of what he knows, what he has examined, and what he means by “authentic,” this sentence is simply meaningless.
CBS’s production of the “Professional Opinion” of James Pierce is the nadir — so far — of Hurricane Dan.
UPDATE: Jim Geraghty has much more on Pierce at the Kerry Spot in “Pierce tells reporters CBS gave him ‘lots more documents” (I can’t find a permalink).