Killian memos/Bush TANG summary

The documents might or might not be bogus. George W. Bush’s written commitment to make flying “a lifetime pursuit” certainly was.

1. The typographical case against authenticity remains unproven, as far as I can tell: the small raised “th,” proportional spacing, and Times New Roman were all available on mass-market IBM machines of the period. (Note that you didn’t need a typewriter with a special “th” key; platen inserts were available.) That MS Word turns out to reproduce what an IBM typewriter would have done merely suggests that MS Word was designed properly.

2. That the documents might be genuine doesn’t show that they are genuine. So far, we don’t even know that they could be genuine, in the sense that we don’t know that they could have been produced on a machine that Col. Killian’s staff would likely have had access to.

3. CBS went with copies of copies of documents, and did so without establishing their provenance in a way that CBS is willing to share with the public. The typogaphical challenge, though it no longer seems like a lay-down, was obvious enough so that someone should have vetted the documents before publication, for example by reproducing them on contemporary equipment. Getting access to such equipment isn’t trivial, but it ought to be well within the capability of CBS News.

4. Going with such iffy documents seems journalistically questionable, though it’s still possible that the source is solid in a way that CBS knows but promised not to tell. If I were running CBS News, I’d have some questions to ask.

5. George W. Bush knows whether or not he was issued a direct order to take a flight physical by May 14, 1972. So far, neither he nor his spokesmen have done so. Why not?

6. Even if the documents are bogus, the questions about why 1LT Bush ignored the general regulation requiring an annual flight physical, and why no Flight Inquiry Board was convened as a result, remain. The explanations proffered by the White House don’t add up.

7. Also remaining in question: whether 1LT Bush ever showed up in Alabama, whether 1LT Bush actually accumulated enough points to constitute a full year of service for 1972 and 1973, whether 1LT Bush collected pay he wasn’t entitled to, and whether 1LT Bush was required to report for duty in Massachusetts and failed to do so.

8. Not in question: the fact that to get out of Vietnam George W. Bush signed a piece of paper asserting that “I have applied for pilot training with the goal of making flying a lifetime pursuit,” and that he then, having accepted $1 million worth of training, walked away from flying after 22 months.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

4 thoughts on “Killian memos/Bush TANG summary”

  1. A Question For The President

    Mark A. R. Kleiman has an 8 point post about the CBS Memo controversy. Personally, I really don't give a hot damn about the memos, if they're real or not, and if CBS got snookered. However, as Mark notes……. George…

  2. Argument from ignorance

    The Killian memos are blogger crack. I keep saying "just one more hit…" Here's Mark Kleiman's latest Killian Memos/Bush TANG Summary. Kleiman agrees that the major typographical objections have been debunked. Then he goes on to say: 2. That the

  3. Argument from ignorance

    The Killian memos are blogger crack. I keep saying “just one more hit…” Here’s Mark Kleiman’s latest Killian Memos/Bush TANG Summary. Kleiman agrees that the major typographical objections have been debunked. Then he goes on to say: 2. That the

  4. WaPo's Analysis Not Good for CBS's Position

    Expert Cited by CBS Says He Didn't Authenticate Papers:The lead expert retained by CBS News to examine disputed memos from President Bush's former squadron commander in the National Guard said yesterday that he examined only the late officer's signa…

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