On the O’Reilly Factor show last night hosted by Tony Snow, former CBS executive Jonathan Klein admitted that CBS does not have the originals of the fake memos. He acknowledged that it is desirable to have originals of documents, but if you can’t get originals, you settle for the best you can do. I’m going from memory here, and haven’t been able to locate a transcript of the program, but I’m pretty sure he added that what CBS has are “first generation copies.”
This is a very fundamental and important point. A lot of energy has been expended, and rightly so, on debating fonts, etc., to try to determine whether these memos could really be more than thirty years old. But there is a much simpler way to find out. Test the paper.
I’m quite sure that a paper expert could easily and definitively distinguish between paper that is thirty years old and paper that was produced recently. So let’s get the originals, and test the paper. I’ll hazard a wager: no one will ever turn up with thirty-year-old originals.
The next question is, how old are the “first-generation” copies that CBS has? If those copies, based on testing the paper, are themselves twenty or thirty years old, it would add considerable plausibility to the claim that there were, in fact, authentic originals, even if those originals cannot now be recovered. But I’ll bet they’re not. I’ll bet that if tested, the CBS copies would be very, very recent. (I don’t know how precise dating of paper can be. If any readers are experts in this, let us know.) So, here is the bottom line: if the CBS copies are recent, then the alleged originals were recently in existence. So where are they? Were they recently destroyed? If so, why and by whom?
If CBS would make its purported first-generation copies available for testing, it could go a long way toward verifying their authenticity, or–much more likely–proving that they are recently-created fakes.
One loophole in this approach: a clever forger could obtain thirty-year old paper, and use it to create the fake memos. So if the originals (or CBS’ copies) are on old paper, it wouldn’t necessarily prove they are authentic (they could, of course, have been forged long ago, but it’s hard to see why anyone would have done that). But if CBS’s copies are new, and they can’t explain what happened to the originals, it would be the last nail in Dan Rather’s coffin.
So let’s get CBS’s copies and test the paper.
DEACON adds: Reader Robert Andrews provides another reason to get the original copies of the purported Bush memos: to measure them. Mr. Andrews explains: “Military stationery in the 70s–Air Force, Army, Navy, etc.–was of different dimensions than civilian business stationery. Whereas the civilian standard sheet was–and is–8.5″ x 11″, the military paper of the time was half an inch smaller in both directions, i.e., 8.0″ x 10.5″. Moreover, most paper contracted for by the military was watermarked with an eagle, wings extended.”
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