An Argument That the 60 Minutes Memo Was Written With a Typewiter
An article by David E. Hailey, Jr., Ph.D., Associate Professor and Director Interactive Media Research Laboratory
The following evidence from a forensic examination of the Bush memos indicates that they were typed on a typewriter:
1. The specific font used is from a typewriter family in common use since 1905 and a typewriter capable of producing the spacing has been available since 1944.
2. The characters "e," "t," "s," and "a" show indications of physical damage and/or wear consistent with a well used typewriter.
3. The characters that are seldom used show no signs of damage or wear.
4. The quality of individual characters is inconsistent throughout the memos beyond expectations from photocopying and/or digitizing but quality is consistent with worn platen and variations in paper quality.
5. Overlapping characters occasionally indicate paper deformation consistent with hammered impressions.
6. Critical indicators of digital production or cut and paste production are missing.
Implications are that there is nothing in this evidence that would indicate the memos are inauthentic. Furthermore, from the point of view of the physical evidence in the documents (excluding any rhetorical evidence or external evidence, which is not examined in this study) no amount of additional research on the part of CBS would have lead them to exclude the documents from their 60 Minutes report.
There are a number of reasons for identifying the physical source for the recently released memos indicating that President George Bush failed to meet his obligation to the Air National Guard and disobeyed both written and spoken orders to take a flight physical.
A careful forensic examination of even the worst copies may provide some evidence of the documents' authenticity or disprove their authenticity. For example, if the evidence demonstrates that the documents were originally digitally produced, it would disprove their authenticity.
On the other hand, if evidence indicates they were typewritten, it lends support to the credibility of CBS in general and to Dan Rather and his producers in particular. If evidence demonstrates that the memos were typewritten using a font usually available in the military, but less common among civilians, at least on this evidence they were right to air the memos.
Given the current extent of political animosity, the voice of indisputable evidence can be useful. In short, there is justification for a qualified, independent lab to examine the documents and make the results publicly available.
Qualifications of the Lab
Interactive Media Research Laboratory is a small university lab that does scholarly studies and writes about issues involving the impact of technology on communications. Among other things, it is investigates archival and authentication problems. As the principal investigator and lab director I have researched and written on these topics since 1991, with more than 50 peer reviewed publications.
In addition, I served in the U.S. military (Army) from 1963 to 1972. For five of those seven years I was an Army illustrator responsible for short run publications including memos such as those in question. Ultimately, I have a total of almost 35 years experience examining document production, including analyzing and spec'ing type. I have an archive that includes military documents produced between 1963 and 1984 and have access to a repository of military documents here at the university. Finally, I have extensive experience using computers to manage and manipulate images, including type.
The article continues with many illustrations
Posted by: Mike Sylwester 2004-10-02