September 10, 2004

Okay, now we can officially stick a fork in this one

The latest argument that the forged Bush memos are genuine: they could have been done on a 1970s IBM desktop typesetter!

PC Magazine (after successfully reproducing a 1970s typeset document in a word processor): "Of course, none of this demonstrates that the documents dated from the early 1970s are in fact genuine. It only demonstrates that the fact that the disputed documents can be reproduced in Microsoft Word is not convincing evidence that they are inauthentic."

From PC Magazine's own link for what the user of a typesetter had to do back then to get such modern looking copy:

"Since it has no memory, the user was required to type everything twice. While typing the text the first time, the machine would measure the length of the line and count the number of spaces. When the user finished typing a line of text, they would record special measurements into the right margin of the paper. Once the entire column of text was typed and measured, it would then be retyped, however before typing each line, the operator would set the special justification dial (on the right side) to the proper settings, then type the line. The machine would automatically insert the appropriate amount of space between words so that all of the text would be justified."

All this for a memo. By a National Guard officer. For a file only he would ever see. Yah-huh.

Posted by BruceR at 11:34 PM

More on memos

The curved apostrophes gave the game away for me, as soon as I heard, but out of idle curiosity I typed in the other three Bush memo forgeries that LGF didn't parse, and tried to see if they, too, matched line breaks and line spacing exactly.

As anyone older than 35 will remember, line breaks were, if nothing else, kind of random... determinant upon the individual typist's decision to either carriage return at the ding, hyphenate, or try to get in another word. The chances of one typewritten memo matching what Microsoft Word's standard algorithm produces would be near zero: matching all four would be astronomical, I suspect.

And as you no doubt didn't feel like wasting time confirming yourself, all four memos can in fact be reproduced nearly exactly by typing them out in Microsoft Word and running them through a fax machine/XEROX/scanner a few times. The two signed memos were composed in 11 pt Times New Roman. The other two were done in 12 pt. All the line breaks and line spacings match exactly, in all four memos.

No, I'm not going to do screenshots. Every computer owner in the world can do this for themselves and verify my statement in about two minutes. Art forgery works because only a few people can pick up the subtleties between a painting and an imitation. But literally anyone could reproduce this. Worst. Forgery. Ever? Or: it was meant to be caught. What that means as far as its provenance is the real question now.

Posted by BruceR at 02:05 PM