November 21, 2005

We are all "Document Experts"

Via PowerLine, I see that "Buckhead," the person who first noticed that the Dan Rather memos were fabrications, has come forward with his name, and with a very interesting (if you like such things) account of how he came to be extremely aware of typography, which made the forgery obvious. (He points out that millions of other people have the same knowledge, and that someone else would have caught it in minutes if he hadn't.) He is disgusted that Mary Mapes is now selling a book and appearing on TV peddling the same damn forgeries, and the same shit-stupid lies about the President...Go here, then click on "Explanation and Comment:"

...In any case, the other side objected to the brief on the grounds that it did not comply with the local court rule specifying that there could be no more than 10 printed characters per inch - a rule of which I was not aware at the time. I filed a brief in response to the objection. Trust me, the prospect of losing a contingency case over a font rule when you have invested years of work in the case will galvanize your attention on the subject of fonts. A pdf scan of a certified copy of that brief is available here at the link above to "1999 Brief." Compare what I said about typewriters, monospaced fonts and proportionally spaced fonts in the brief filed in 1999 with what I said in post # 47, on 9/8/04. I knew what I knew a long time ago, and the brief proves it definitively. So long, conspiracy theory...

We are ALL experts in some sort of document. There is some type of paperwork we handle so frequently that a crude forgery would be blatantly obvious to us. "Document examiners" are widely knowledgeable, but every one of us is more knowledgeable than them on something. For instance, even without the typographic problems, the fabrications were obvious to those familiar with 1970's Air Force documents. The military services are very fussy about the layout, abbreviations, punctuation etc of their paperwork. And each service is different. The use of Army stylistic details in a supposed Air National Guard memo is as conclusive as the typography. Especially since the forger-presumptive had served in the National Guard.

And Col. Killian's family were experts. They knew he never created such things, and that he didn't even know how to type.

I myself am a "document expert" of sorts, because I've tried to reproduce old decorative writing with a graphics program. It's hugely difficult, even just trying to manipulate scanned artwork a little. The different technologies yield a different look. Pixels want to line up neatly, and trying to recreate the slight irregularities of hand-drawn lines (or typewriter key hitting ribbon and paper) is maddening. I even created a font--there are programs that let you do that. (I discovered that I just didn't have the time to do the job right. Designing fonts is a very painstaking process. Alas, when I was young I had heaps of time but no computer. Now the reverse is true).

So anyway, when I saw how the Microsoft Word version lined up perfectly with the supposed typewritten one, I knew the odds against that being an accident were probably greater than the number of protons in the universe.

Posted by John Weidner at November 21, 2005 8:35 AM
Weblog by John Weidner