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| Guest Columnist | Harry M. Covert | Jason Miller | Ken Kellar | Patricia A. Kelly | Cindy A. Rose |


As Long as We Remember...

September 15, 2004

The Wonders of Cut and Paste

Norman M. Covert

The leftist opposition to President George W. Bush has now become a joke of unparalleled proportions - they can't even make a good forgery!

The so-called Bush National Guard memoranda contain so many obvious errors in fact (a journalism school grading standard) that I'm surprised even the acerbic James Carville (see CNN) hasn't cut and run.

You would think Democrat Howard Dean's explosion in Iowa, the unhinged oratorical efforts of former Vice President Al Gore and Presidential Candidate John Kerry's midnight diatribe in Ohio following the Republican National Convention would cause red-faced embarrassment among hardcore Democrats. It obviously doesn't!

Regardless, the impact of the universally questioned memoranda unveiled on "60 Minutes II" last Wednesday night is devastating to a news organization that once was the standard of excellence in broadcast journalism. CBS News and Managing Editor Dan Rather, the on-air reporter for the piece, are now the laughingstock of journalism. You've really screwed up when The New York Times, a self-professed plagiarizer, points out your journalistic failures (see William Safire, Monday Sept. 13, 2004)!

It is equally disturbing that so many of the nation's once respected centers of journalism excellence, including the Associated Press, seem to be worshiping at the altar of the leftists. These and our own local "news" outlets publish - without question - the Democratic Party's latest anti-Bush line on a day-to-day basis.

The same "news" purveyors shamefully helped the leftists celebrate with great glee - and big headlines - the reports of the 1,000th soldier's death in Iraq (just over 700 from combat injuries, the balance from illness and/or accident). At the same time, they simultaneously dismiss with prejudice the questions of such groups as the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth. So far, nearly all of the latter group's charges have proved valid, while Senator Kerry has kept moot testimony of his guilt.

Mr. Rather and CBS News may have been unwitting dupes in the game played by Democratic Party strategists to "get Bush." He should have been smarter! Mr. Rather actually made his way to New York City and CBS News in the late 1960s after his gripping live national reporting of a hurricane that struck Corpus Christi, TX. He was working for a Houston affiliate television station at the time.

He and CBS apparently accepted several documents, which appear to be such blatant forgeries that anyone who ever served or had anything to do with official military documentation would know immediately. The story being told early this week was that CBS News didn't have the originals; couldn't recall from whom they received them; nor would they accept any other verdict but that they are genuine. It is stonewalling worthy of H. R. Halderman.

There is documentation in my personal files (dating from 1967-73, the time period in question) to attest that I am an expert on military correspondence - from the Disposition Form (DF) to the MFR and formal correspondence.

In addition, this writer is a graduate of the famous Army School of Administration, located in the 3rd Brigade area of Fort Dix, N.J. (November 1968). A gruff buck sergeant taught us how to write official military correspondence, which differs only slightly from service to service. Three years after separation, I became a civilian employee at U.S. Army Recruiting Command (USAREC) in October 1972.

I've written and received more military missives typed on the GI issue typewriters than I really care to remember. My training and experience, however, qualify me as an "expert."

First of all, there were no IBM Selectric typewriters in my office in June 1969 when I rotated "back to the World." We were at the bottom of the supply food chain. We had no photocopiers! Everything was done in triplicate using carbon paper. High technology was having carbon paper that was already attached to the onion skin paper.

At Recruiting Command in 1973, we were at the top of the supply food chain, and we had beautiful IBM SelectricsT with three different type balls, none of them in Times New RomanT typeface. We had "CourierT" for just about everything, in two different sizes and everything had to be perfect - no strikeovers; no erasures. The clerks had to start over when an error was made. Commanders didn't have time to do their own typing.

The Texas Air National Guard (TexANG), like the Maryland Air National Guard (MdANG), was at the very bottom of the supply food chain. Maybe the commanding general's secretary had one of the expensive new IBMs in 1972. When I arrived at Fort Detrick in 1977, I inherited a Royal electric typewriter from Mac Magaha. My secretary, Janet Michael, was one of the lucky ones to have a SelectricT.

As a challenge, I downloaded the memos from and attempted to make duplicates. I was successful, but I had to alter the margins and make changes (errors) in the strict military style, such as not putting in two spaces after periods and reducing the number of line spaces between the top matter and text. I also duplicated exactly the date location by tabbing the default spacing. No military clerk would have made such errors and would have edited the copy to the strict military style.

The memos in question would have been written on official letterhead, bearing the imprint of the U.S. Air Force Seal in the upper left hand corner. The name of the unit would be in a san serif typeface much like today's ArialT on Microsoft WordT. A carbon copy would not show the Air Force logo, but the date would be centered underneath the location on the original.

The letter spacing is typical of a word processing program like WordT, because manual typewriters and Selectrics had letter spacing that was uniform - viz. the letter "i" would have the same height and width as an "m." You may see in this copy how the computer alters letter spacing.

A commander would have referred in correspondence to "lLT Bush," not "lst Lt. Bush." More likely he would not have named him in the text, rather citing "subject individual." The commander would have abbreviated the higher headquarters as "147th (without the space between 147 and 'th') FIG" for Fighter Interceptor Group. The latest versions of Microsoft WordT automatically make the "th" a superscript, reducing them in size and raising them to the top of the line. Adding a space after "147" defeats this default function. The same error exists in the reference to the "9921_st" Air Reserve Squadron and subsequent reference to the "147_th."

The forger wasn't aware that the Officer Efficiency Report (OER) is not abbreviated "OTER" and one need not spell out "no later than" and follow that with "(NLT)." Everyone in the military knew what FNG (a replacement), NLT and IAW meant.

When seeking transfer to Alabama, "Lt. Bush" (AP Stylebook 1972) would have sought a "billet in non-flying status" rather than a "non-flying billet." Another memo cites his desire to work on "another campaign for his father," which is bogus.

Each of the memos has a different signature block for Lt. Col. Killian. A valid signature block would have had his name in upper case, as it depicts on the memo, but underneath it would be the abbreviation "LTC, Commanding." The abbreviation used for rank by the forger probably came from the Government Printing Office Style Guide, not the official military style manual.

Oh, in case you cite the handwriting, I scanned the signature block, saved it, copied and pasted it perfectly on my forgery. If necessary I could have manipulated it in PhotoshopT and even redone it to clean it up. By the way, we didn't have copiers in 1972, even at USAREC. It is interesting that the flag officer allegedly applying pressure had retired 18 months before the memo; Lt. Col. Killian didn't type and didn't keep personal files ("Oops," he said)!

This clumsy example of apparent forgery probably explains how Senator Kerry got so many versions of certificates (four at last count) for awards and decorations he didn't throw away in 1972.

Now if I had no sense of honor, I could use my computer to print out a convincing award certificate awarding me the Purple Heart for the injury I suffered at the Kornwestheim Campaign and Beer Fest. Boy did I bleed a lot - almost as much as CBS News is now!

(Editor's Note: To better understand exactly what Mr. Covert is discussing here, please access the URL's below to see the copies of the actual documents. )

Yellow Cab
The Morning News Express with Bob Miller
The Covert Letter

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