fake letter
This explains it all!

How hard can fake letters be? It’s so low tech that nobody expects it. Photocopying the letter over and over helps make it look more authentic too. By the way, if you use MS-Word and type “111th” it will superscript automatically. If you type “111 th” (with a space) then backspace later, it will not superscript: Just in case you want to do a few fake letters of your own. A great hobby!

One source of typewriter fonts is here.

Here’s a copy of the George Bush signature too.

  1. Joe Gaffney says:

    High quality computers, color printers and manipulation software have made all reproducible media suspect. If the source media cannot be definitively verified, it should always be treated as suspect. Unless a verifiable chain of custody can be traced back to the source document, I will always doubt its authenticity. Dan Rather is free to report it, and I’m just as free to discount it.

  2. Arthur McEnkill says:

    This is kinda the reverse, but the humour is the same: I wonder what sort of letters Lazlo Toth would be writing to GW Bush, were he writing letters these days: The Lazlo Letters.

  3. mike cannali says:

    this is not the first time. the howard Huges and Hitler Diaries, the Tiananmen Papers. Forgery without accountability is practically a tradition at 60 Minutes. Things are just accelerated by using computers – see:


    Likely they submitted the documents to numerous experts until they found one who would certify it as authentic – that way they can point to the expert and assert that they were “absent of malice” when attacking a public figure irresponsibly.

  4. dfayer says:

    It may have been possible to recreate this memo on the IBM Composer with proportinal fonts and all, however, what are the chances that this was done by a man whose wife says did not type. I have been using computers since 1972 and have was active in the DTP field in its nascency. If one believes a Lt. Col. would have taken the the time to read a 100 page manual in order to spiff up his memo’s, I have a certain bridge for sale.
    To get an idea of what is involved to create this memo on the typewriter go to http://shapeofdays.typepad.com/the_shape_of_days/2004/09/the_ibm_selectr.html

    Enough said, CBS was had.

  5. Dr. Pedant says:

    Gee, Mike–the Hitler Diaries were publicized in Germany by a German newsmagazine, the Howard Hughes thing was so freaking long ago I don’t remember, but I doubt 60 Minutes had much to do with it, and a cursory google search does not indicate that the Tiananmen papers were ever dis-authenticated.

    There’s also that little thing about killing the messenger—the Killian memos aside, Bush didn’t fulfill his obligations to the TANG. Now let’s see, why not? Anything to do with his famous and prominent family name? Of course not!

  6. Neil says:

    Well, the point is not wheter you can make a document that looks typewritten, the point is whether the alleged typewritten document is not typewritten, and that requires a whole other approach. Of course “it could” be fake, but, like the Niger Uranium document, we don’t know until someone actually shows why it should be considered fake. See: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1759,1644869,00.asp

  7. Neil says:

    The issue is not whether you can create a document on a computer that looks like it was typewritten (which proves nothing), the core issue is whether a given document alleged to be typewritten really was or not. Like the Niger Uranium document, that is unknown until we have a clear basis for saying one way or the other. “Innocent until proven guilty.”

    Check out http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1759,1644869,00.asp for some expert scoop. Hint: there were typewriters then that could do the job.

  8. Mean Dean says:

    I mentioned photocopies of photocopies on some other blog. It also helps to leave the document outside a couple of days. Make sure it gets plenty o sun.

  9. Mean Dean says:

    I had mentioned the photocopy of photocopies as a comment on some other blog. It also helps if you leave the document outside a couple of days and nights. Make sure it gets plenty of sun. Dewy nights help as well.

  10. leaddog2 says:

    Beldar Blog at http://www.beldar.com has PROOF of Forged documents from a creator of font technology. It is VERY READABLE.


  11. Tom says:

    Who wrote this?
    “In fact, modern copiers and computer printers are so good that they permit easy fabrication of quality forgeries. From a copy, the document examiner cannot authenticate the unseen original but may well be able to determine that the unseen original is false. Further, a definite finding of authenticity for a signature is not possible from a photocopy, while a definite finding of falsity is possible.”

    CBS’ handwriting expert in the 9/27/2002 issue of “The Practical Litigator.” Too bad CBS only gave him photocopies to work with.

  12. ed says:

    One problem with your sample, it’s obvious that the signature is cut and pasted, it’s a darker block. Otherwise it’s a much better fake than what CBS has. But then CBS wanted their’s to be true.

  13. Jim Sowder says:

    Thank you for your comment on this inept attempt to excuse CBS for its incompetence. I edited a small magazine in 1974 that was typeset with an IBM Composer. I never saw the machine, but I talked extensively with the printer about its cost and capabilities.

    The one used for my magazine had a minicomputer attached that handled spell checking and word processing functions like justification. I believe the printer said the package cost about $40,000 dollars. It could store large documents on cassette tape for later reprinting or correction.

    But capable as it was, the output cannot match the CBS documents. The letterspacing is not the same.

  14. jackson zed says:

    Hey Neil,

    If you look at the samples at the PCMag link you posted you can tell the Selectric output immediately: no curly quotes.



  15. JLawson says:

    It’s not necessary to show that the documents are false – what is necessary is to show that they are authentic. Authenticity is a very binary thing – any single point can falsify the authenticity of a document.

    If you were to find a fair hand copy of the Consitution, using the proper inks, proper paper/parchment, proper pen nibs, spelling virtually identical all the way through – yet Button Gwinnet’s signature was replaced by Bill Gates – it would be a forgery. No matter how good a forgery it is technically – one detail invalidates it completely.

    And in this case – there’s just too many things that one has to accept for these to be real. That an ultra-luxe word processor was available on an ANG base, that just happened to be made available to a colonel who didn’t type, who just happened to have 8.5×11 paper, who just happened to use the exact same defaults and fonts and type spacing as the pre-eminent word processer 30 years later would use… and who apparently typed these things without a single mistake – no lightly struck letters, no misspellings… that he’d make rookie mistakes in date and heading formats… that he’d complain about being influenced by someone who retired 18 months before…

    Do I need to go on? All you need is one thing, and the documents are forgeries. The burden is on CBS to completely prove that these aren’t forgeries. And, unless they’ve got the originals – that’s going to be impossible.


  16. dfayer says:

    This link should absolutely refute the CBS documents. THe PCMag link was ok but this is really in depth from a guy who really knows his #$@%!!
    Read all of it and then listen for the death bell tolling for Dan Rather.

  17. Gadfly says:

    Re: your own fake, when did 2-letter state abbreviations become the convention? I’m looking through some old correspondence and am not finding it being used in 1972. Anyone know?

  18. Roundguy says:

    Dr. Pedant,

    See the following if you still don’t believe Bush served. These are from his released records:

    After training with the USAF, Bush kept flying, racking up hundreds of hours in F-102 jets. As he did, he accumulated points toward his National Guard service requirements. At the time, guardsmen were required to accumulate a minimum of 50 points to meet their yearly obligation.

    According to records released earlier this year, Bush earned 253 points in his first year, May 1968 to May 1969 (since he joined in May 1968, his service thereafter was measured on a May-to-May basis).

    Bush earned 340 points in 1969-1970. He earned 137 points in 1970-1971. And he earned 112 points in 1971-1972. . . .

    That brings the story to May 1972 — the time that has been the focus of so many news reports — when Bush “deserted” (according to anti-Bush filmmaker Michael Moore) or went “AWOL” (according to Terry McAuliffe, chairman of the Democratic National Committee).

    Bush asked for permission to go to Alabama to work on a Senate campaign. His superior officers said OK. Requests like that weren’t unusual, says retired Col. William Campenni, who flew with Bush in 1970 and 1971.

    “In 1972, there was an enormous glut of pilots,” Campenni says. “The Vietnam War was winding down, and the Air Force was putting pilots in desk jobs. In ’72 or ’73, if you were a pilot, active or Guard, and you had an obligation and wanted to get out, no problem. In fact, you were helping them solve their problem.”

    So Bush stopped flying. From May 1972 to May 1973, he earned just 56 points — not much, but enough to meet his requirement.

    Then, in 1973, as Bush made plans to leave the Guard and go to Harvard Business School, he again started showing up frequently.

    In June and July of 1973, he accumulated 56 points, enough to meet the minimum requirement for the 1973-1974 year.

    Then, at his request, he was given permission to go

  19. Jim says:

    It seems with so much expertise abroad in the land that CBS could’ve easily vetted these docs. They chose to look at the handwriting instead. Shoddy work (or intentional fraud perpetration) on their part. Wouldn’t it be fun if it turned out that CBS produced these memos themselves? Now that would be a good time.
    http://www.lietothepollsters.com — let’s take back our opinions!

  20. Jim says:

    I just read the analysis at flounder.com cited above… wow! How can CBS ignore this?
    http://www.lietothepollsters.com == let’s take back our choices!

  21. John C. Dvorak says:

    I ‘m also wondering about the use of TX as opposed to Texas and did make that mistake in the letter. I suspect it’s small blunders like this that get this stuff exposed. But it is possible that the abbrev was ok in 1972. Hopefully someone will dredge that up.

  22. Larry R Duncan says:

    I secured an early release from active duty in the US Army to return to college in 1960 just as the Army was in need of people with my PMOS (111.10 at the time, light weapons infrantryman) or so I was told by my company commander. Do you really think that all of us who got “early outs” failed to fulfill our obligations? The Army apparently didn’t think so – you see they later gave me an honorable discharge. Never sent anybody looking for me either.

    Larry R Duncan
    Mission, Texas and places South in case the Army has changed its mind since September 1960

  23. AHC says:

    Rather pedantic of you Dr. Pedant,

    In addition to the above rebuttals, on page 25 of the FOIA packet on Bush, you will see the name Bentsen, Lloyd C III. Care to venture a guess who that may be? Wouldn’t happen to be another senator’s son, would it? Also, if you look thru the other pages, you will see a number of names of people that are obviously not rich good ole white boys, i.e. Ruth (a boy called Ruth?), Karen, Avianantos or Pasquarella.

    Also curious, on page 13, Bush certifies that he is not conscientious objector, nor dodging a draft induction. Anyone know what Selective Service category II-S means?

    And on page 14, he admits to being arrested for disorderly conduct for which charges were dropped. Ah, the bane of reckless youth. Seems to me that a lot of young men chose to join the military in exchange for dropping relatively minor charges in those days–maybe that’s how & why he got in.

    In the end, when Bush enrolled in Harvard Business School, he was granted an early out, instead of pursuing 3 dubious purple hearts.

    If, according to urban myths, getting a slot in the reserve componet is “reserved” for priviliged folks, then how did young Kerry get into the Navy Reserves? This after being rejected for a deferment to study in Paris. Had he done his homework like Slick, he should have gotten himself enrolled before asking for the deferment, instead of “promising” to attend if excused.

    Kerry volunteered for safe Stateside shore duty and his twice-bad karma landed him in Nam. He never volunteered for Nam, his reserve unit was ordered there after he joined. Observing the easy job of the Swift Boats, a lightbulb goes off: JFK=combat boat=hero=POTUS, but after transferring, the Swifties were moved from safe coastal patrol to dangerous brown-water patrols.

    Alternatively, when Bush joined, his unit was already in Nam and only during pilot training did the unit get sent back home. Interceptors weren’t of much use in SE Asia, taking up limited ramp space and resources, better suited to intercepting Soviet Bears (recce plans) off the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Furthermore, the F102s were in the hi-risk category for accidents — sounds like a job for a shirker (look up the annual stats).

    Last point, if Bush lied when he said he was both Air Force and Guard, then Kerry lied in saying he was Navy, when he should be claiming strictly to be a Reservist. Or are we supposed to forget that he was an activated reservist?

    Anyhoo, this is OT, since the question concerns forgeries. Speaking of which, why would Kerry have 3 citations for the same Silver Star, all signed by different people, and denied by one?

    BTW, isn’t it a federal felony to forge official government documents?

    John Dvorak; in answer to your question about the TX vs Texas, I was in both the MI & TX ANG.

    In my ten years, IIRC I have seen “Michigan ANG”, “MichANG”, “MIANG” but never “MANG”, which conceiveably could have gained common usage after my time (circa 1980 – 1984). And I’ve seen “Texas ANG”, “TXANG” & “TANG”, but never “TexANG” which obviously was before my time (1984 – 1990. I believe using “TANG” is something used internally within Texas or Tennessee since the mid-80s, while using other abbreviations before the “ANG” differeniciated States with the same initial. I suspect the two character abbreviation followed the postal addressing format as that gained popularity.

    I’ve kept most of my paperwork, unfortunately they’re in storage half-way accross the country, I’d love to dig it up and see how the earlier stuff was formatted. However, I’ve posted a couple samples that I once used as part of my online resume, including the NGB Form 22.

    Back to the aforementioned FOIA package, while Bush’s NGB 22 version is older (Page 8) than mine, there is enough information in it, and in his DD Form 214 (page 9), to adequately demonstrate that time spent in training and other certain types of TDY is considered Active Duty and credited as Air Force service, not ANG. When compared, it would appear that my 22 is a blend of both Bush’s 22 & 214.

    All in all, methinks that this event will go down in history as the dethroning of the 4th estate by the pajama-pundits — ironic that the VC “won” Nam in their PJs.

    This is good, as all of the mainstream media should devote more resources to fact checking each other and calling their rivals on their shortcomings and maybe winning aPulitzer pajama prize or two.



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