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Friday, September 10, 2004

Bush and the National Guard

Jared Olar sent me a link on this subject that is quite revealing. It seems that the 60 Minutes memos were forged. The documents, which supposedly were produced in the early 70's, were created using a proportionally spaced, kerned, superscripted font with left-right apostrophe marks on 8.5x11 paper. Unfortunately for the forgers, such fonts were not available to anyone but professional typsetters in the early 70's. Also, the National Guard used 8x10 paper at that time, not 8.5x11.

The Memos
Nearly all typewriters available throughout the 1970's and early 80's were monospaced - every letter takes up as much space as every other letter. In proportionally-spaced fonts, different letters take up different amounts of pre-defined space, depending on their actual widths. So a proportionally-spaced 'i' would take up less space then a proportionally-spaced 'm'. While there were a few proportionally-spaced font balls available for very high end models, these models were never used by the National Guard. The memos are written in proportionally-spaced fonts that were unavailable to the 1970's National Guard.

Worse, the fonts in the memo were kerned. Kerning is a process of setting individual letters very close to each other - each letter is permitted to infringe on the predefined space assigned to the letter preceding it. Kerning allows words to be written in even less space than a proportionally-spaced font allows, and it eases the ability to read. Computer-based software packages automatically kern, but typewriters, even the most high-end typewriters, are completely incapable of it. The fonts in the "1970's" memos are kerned.

Likewise, no typewriter in the world has ever used left and right apostrophe marks - that feature only became available to the masses through the magic of word processors. But word processors didn't appear until long after Lt. Colonel Killian's death. Yet left apostrophes appear on the memos.

Finally, no typewriter in the world is capable of changing font size and superscripting the "th" in a number - "187th" for instance - yet exactly this kind of font size change and superscripting occurs in the memos. Why? Because Bill Gates made Microsoft Word so smart, it insists that it knows what you want to do even when you don't want to do it. It takes quite a bit of patience to fool MS Word into not automatically reducing and superscripting the "th" in the numerical example given above.

The forger was obviously not a patient (wo)man, nor was s/he someone who took the time to think through how best to commit the forgery.

The AWOL Charge
But wasn't Bush AWOL? No. One of the members of Bush's own squadron points out what today's journalists don't know: when a war ends, the US armed forces always immediately begin a draw-down. This affects everything involving personnel positioning and treatment.

First, the National Guard has an entirely different culture than the Air Force. Much more laxity is permitted because National Guard commanders realize their men have dual commitments that full-time servicemen don't. So, for example, physicals are only scheduled during an officer's birth month because the medical office is generally not open. Meetings are often missed and are made up on a catch-as-catch-can basis. Men who transfer to other units on a temporary basis due to civilian job or life situations (a common situation) are shoved into desk jobs and ignored by their temporary commanders, as the unit commanders don't see any point in unit training with someone who will only be with them a short time.

Secondly, once hundreds of pilots begin returning from war, part-time pilots are often released from what would otherwise be binding commitments. It is not at all uncommon for the armed forces to release men from commitments in order to accomplish the reduction in force (RIF) that Congress routinely requires after an armed conflict ends. Speaking from personal experience, a friend of mine who attended the Naval Academy in the late 1980's was released from virtually his entire post-graduation commitment precisely because of the post-Cold War RIF. He got four years of free Naval Academy schooling because he happened to graduate at the right time.

So, the whole George Bush/National Guard debate is based on forgeries and lack of understanding of the 1970's military situation. 60 Minutes started this conversation in order to knock down George Bush. Once the forgery news hits the airwaves, it will make Kerry look like an even bigger liar than he already is. Spread the word...

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