Bush memos called fake but indicative of actual documents

Killian's ex-secretary says CBS reporting reflects views of Guard colonel

September 15, 2004|By DALLAS MORNING NEWS

HOUSTON - The former secretary for the Texas Air National Guard colonel who supposedly wrote memos critical of President Bush's Guard service said yesterday that the documents are fake, but that they reflect real documents that once existed.

Marian Carr Knox, who worked from 1956 to 1979 at Ellington Air Force Base in Houston, said she prided herself on meticulous typing, and the memos first disclosed by CBS News last week were not her work.

"These are not real," she told The Dallas Morning News after examining copies of the disputed memos for the first time. "They're not what I typed, and I would have typed them for him."

Knox, 86, who spoke with precise recollection about dates, people and events, said she is not a supporter of Bush, whom she deemed "unfit for office" and "selected, not elected."

"I remember very vividly when Bush was there and all the yak-yak that was going on about it," she said.

But, she said, telltale signs of forgery abounded in the four memos, which contained the supposed writings of her ex-boss, Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, who died in 1984.

She said the typeface on the documents did not match either of the two typewriters that she used during her time at the Guard. She identified those machines as a mechanical Olympia, which was replaced by an IBM Selectric in the early 1970s.

She spoke fondly of the Olympia machine, which she said had a key with the "th" superscript character that was the focus of much debate in the CBS memos. Experts have said that the Selectric, and mechanical typewriters such as the Olympia, could not produce proportional spacing, found in the disputed documents.

CBS officials have defended their report. They have declined to say who provided 60 Minutes with the documents, other than that it was an "unimpeachable source" - or exactly where they came from, other than Killian's "personal file."

The memos, if real, would show that as a pilot, Bush defied a direct order to obtain a flight physical, enjoyed the benefit of pressure from high officials to "sugar coat" his record, and was grounded for failing to meet military performance standards.

Knox said she did all of Killian's typing, including memos for a personal "cover his back" file he kept in a locked drawer of his desk.

She said she did not recall typing the memos reported by CBS News, though she said they accurately reflect the viewpoints of Killian and documents that would have been in the personal file. Also, she could not say whether the CBS documents corresponded memo for memo with that file.

"The information in here was correct, but it was picked up from the real ones," she said.

She said that the culture of the time was that men didn't type office-related documents, and she expressed doubt that Killian would have typed the memos. She said she would usually type his memos from his handwritten notes, which she would then destroy.

Knox, who left the Guard before Killian died, said she was not sure of the disposition of his personal files when he died while still serving at Ellington. But, she said, it would have been logical that a master sergeant who worked in the squadron headquarters would have destroyed any such nonofficial documents after Killian's death.

That man, reached Tuesday, declined to comment.

She also said the memos might have been constructed from memory by someone who had seen Killian's private file but were not transcriptions because the language and terminology did not match what he would have used.

For instance, she said, the use of the words "billets" and a reference to the "administrative officer" of Bush's squadron reflect Army terminology rather than the Air National Guard. Some news reports attribute the CBS reports to a former Army National Guard officer who has a long-standing dispute with the Guard and has previously maintained that the president's record was sanitized.

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