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'60 Minutes' Documents on Bush Might Be Fake

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#16    DC09



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Posted 11 September 2004 - 10:06 PM

More challenges about whether Bush documents are authentic

AUSTIN, Texas The man named in a disputed memo as exerting pressure to "sugarcoat" George W. Bush's military record left the Texas Air National Guard a year and a half before the memo supposedly was written, his service record shows.

An order obtained by The Dallas Morning News shows that Col. Walter "Buck" Staudt was honorably discharged March 1, 1972. CBS News reported this week that a memo in which Staudt was described as interfering with officers' negative evaluations of the future president's service was dated Aug. 18, 1973.

That added to mounting questions about the authenticity of documents that seem to suggest Bush sought special treatment as a pilot, failed to carry out a superior's order to undergo a physical exam and was suspended from flying for failing to meet Air National Guard standards.

Staudt, who lives in New Braunfels, Texas, did not return calls seeking comment. His discharge paper was among documents obtained by The Morning News from official sources during 1999 research into Bush's Guard record.

A CBS staffer stood by the story, suggesting Staudt could have continued to exert influence over Guard officials. But a former high-ranking Guard official disputed that, saying retirement would have left Staudt powerless.

Authenticity of the memo and three others included in Wednesday's "60 Minutes" report came in for heavy criticism yesterday, prompting an unusual, on-air defense of the original work. Experts on typography said the memos appeared to have been computer-drafted on equipment not available at the time.

And the widow and son of the officer who supposedly wrote them, Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, who died in 1984, have said it wasn't his nature to keep detailed personal notes.

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