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Thursday, September 16, 2004

Bill Burkett and Kinko's "secret signatures"

One of my readers, who advises that he's a former Kinko's "computer services" employee, reminds me that in addition to offering document faxing and self-service photocopying, Kinko's offers self-service computers and its employees will assist customers with computerized typesetting and document creation. 

He also advises that "each individual copy machine puts its own minute signature on the document that can be detected by the FBI and Secret Service. This is part of the anti-counterfeiting measures the government has in place." 

I don't know whether that also applies to documents printed from PCs through laserjet printers, or whether private (non-governmental) document experts have the information and technology to detect these "signatures."  But assuming this is correct, it's all the more reason why it is essential that CBS News isolate, segregate, and protect from spoliation the "closest to original" photocopies and/or fax printouts in its possession.  And if indeed this information on the "signatures" is in the public domain, that's yet another reason for CBS News to make all of its "closest to original" documents available for public inspection by genuinely independent and well-credentialed document authentication experts.  Such experts must be accountable not to CBS News, but to the public — no more ignoring or selective quoting of their resulting opinions.

Meanwhile, Bandit of Bandit's Hideout and Captain Ed of Captain's Quarters have found an op-ed purportedly written by Bill Burkett on Online Journal on August 25, 2004, which says (bracketed portion and italics in original; boldface added):

George W. Bush, you may be the president [sic].  But I know that you lied.

I know from your files that we have now reassembled, the fact that you did not fulfill your oath, taken when you were commissioned to "obey the orders of the officers appointed over you."

So who's the "we"?  And what "reassembl[y]" was involved?

Posted by Beldar at 08:08 PM in Mainstream Media, Politics (2006 & earlier) | Permalink


Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to Bill Burkett and Kinko's "secret signatures" and sent a trackback ping are listed here:


(1) FrdRum made the following comment | Sep 16, 2004 8:15:44 PM | Permalink

I think I might be able to believe the "signature" thing if we're talking about color copiers (which could be used for producing copies of currency, stock and bond certificates, etc.) but I don't buy it with respect to your run-of-the-mill B&W copier.

(2) Insuffiently Sensitive made the following comment | Sep 16, 2004 8:21:50 PM | Permalink

And how could George W. Bush stay in his Presidential office until 2044? That guy really needs help.

(3) J_Crater made the following comment | Sep 16, 2004 8:34:11 PM | Permalink

I didn't go look, but do any parts of the speckle pattern of the various document match, or are the speckles an artifact of the FAX machine (only God know what resolution was used in FAX process).
One question unopened, were the FAX documents electronically or physically received at CBS. If they were phyically (on a piece of paper) there may be artifact contributions included from the printing device and the subsequent scanner CBS would have had to use to generate the PDF files which were distributed.
Each of these steps adds it's own artifact to the final product, obscuring that "minute signature" on the documents.

(4) recon made the following comment | Sep 16, 2004 8:35:47 PM | Permalink


think of date/time stamped security camera file footage

(5) FredRum made the following comment | Sep 16, 2004 8:41:04 PM | Permalink

I think recon has it right. Between security tapes and a forensic examination of the hard drives from the Kinko's PCs, it should be pretty easy to identify the source.

(6) rightwingconspirator made the following comment | Sep 16, 2004 8:50:56 PM | Permalink

Just as interesting as a Kinkos video of the orginial faxing would be video of all the people who have gone in there since to look around scoping out the place.

By now there has been too much contamination of the place, sadly.

(7) Beldar made the following comment | Sep 16, 2004 8:52:36 PM | Permalink

Frdrum, obviously I'm just passing along what my reader emailed me with. I don't know any of the details about how many or which type of machines might generate the "signature."

It's been reported on several blogs already that Burkett has an account at the Abilene, Texas, Kinko's; that, or credit card transactions, may have left some accounting trail. I have no idea whether Kinko's uses surveillance cameras or other security means, but that's of course an interesting question.

Of course, these are all the sorts of leads that could be run down definitively through civil, criminal, or congressional proceedings — but none of those has yet been initiated to my knowledge. Any federal criminal inquiry would be characterized by Burkett, his lawyer Van Os, CBS, and probably Sen. Kerry's supporters as being politically motivated. [Edited to remove reference to the wrong small Texas town, oops]

(8) Scooby made the following comment | Sep 16, 2004 8:53:14 PM | Permalink

I might like to know who the "we" are that he refers to. That would seem to indicate a conspiracy to me, which compounds the crime (forgery). Anyone remember Watergate?

Are there any other blogs carrying the link?

(9) MD made the following comment | Sep 16, 2004 9:09:10 PM | Permalink

Abilene Kinko's has security cameras; the tapes have been secured, at the request of various bloggers. The report is that Kinko's has agreed to secure the tapes. Kinko's confirmed yesterday that a Washington Post reporter had already visited them in Abilene.

(10) Runner made the following comment | Sep 16, 2004 9:27:24 PM | Permalink

I think you are correct to ask what "re-assembly" means here. Several posters have interpreted this as "creation", but to be fair, this might also describe (albeit perhaps awkwardly) laying out and understanding all the documents available from the public record.

Just suggesting a little caution on this particular point.

(11) FredRum made the following comment | Sep 16, 2004 9:35:37 PM | Permalink

Of course I never assumed otherwise, Beldar :-) I just wanted to speak up at the top of the comments before anyone speculated about running the CBS PDFs thrugh some secret software which would spit out "BURKETT, BILL - ABILENE KINKOS" after a few minutes. As I understand it, the primary purpose of this technology is to trace color copies of currency, and I've never heard any serious discussion of similar technology existing in the black&white copier world. Not that we can't hope, of course!

Some interesting reading on the subject:

http://tinyurl.com/5fkyb (<--points to Xerox's web site)

(12) Al made the following comment | Sep 16, 2004 9:35:46 PM | Permalink

USAToday has the documents _independently_.
There was a high resolution PDF made of the USAT documents (that I don't have) which might possibly be enough for an investigator.

If the source has burned you, you owe them nothing. Or less. USAT wasn't _as_ burned, but their documents are just as fake... so if there's anyone over there looking for a major scoop, they're in a good position for it. Or perhaps the USAT documents could be bought. USAT doesn't have nearly as much stake in this, and might be willing to let someone else do the tracking just to get out of the crossfire.

Fox has misdated documents, it hasn't been cleared up to me if they got them independently or tweaked the PDF on a computer with a bad date. Or what. That's another avenue.

Neither of those two sets necessarily involve Abilene TX at all, but they are other lines of attack that _might_ tie in.

(13) rdeat made the following comment | Sep 16, 2004 9:38:13 PM | Permalink

"I know that you lied".

This is the information from the trash can? I think the guy is delusional and so obsessed with hatred for GW that he's seriously compromised his rationale. Reminds me of an old STTNG episode.

The "we" IMHO, is Mapes,(remember how she had looked for five years for the info that miraculously appeared)Burkett (the man who witnessed the loosely thrown away or disassembled documents)and I'm working on others with an iron in the fire. Maybe Burkett has worked with Knox? Something smacks of conspiracy to commit fraud and influence an election.

(14) JuanB made the following comment | Sep 16, 2004 9:44:34 PM | Permalink

I'm guessing that Burkett did not type the documents. He would not have used OETR (rather than OER) or grp (rather than gp). Assuming that he was involved, and the "we" was meaningful, that leaves someone else as the typist.

If Burkett is the forger, that's good news for Kerry and company. If another person is the forger, who knows where it may lead.

Also, CBS probably had no idea that copies of the docs would be sent to USAToday. Otherwise, they would not have altered their copies (blacked out address and underlining) and they would not have concealed two of the six. I'm guess the forgers were unhappy that CBS did not show all six docs, so they set a second set to USAToday.

Watch for USAToday, not CBS, to declare the documents a forgery. They may then reveal their source.

Stay tuned.

(15) Glen made the following comment | Sep 16, 2004 9:51:00 PM | Permalink

Not that they need the publicity, or certainly not any more money, but the unsung heroes of this whole story are the Google guys whose software allows one to find an atom in a haystack.

(16) ed made the following comment | Sep 16, 2004 10:01:21 PM | Permalink


Ok here's a question that I hadn't thought of before.

The Washington Post filed an FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) to get Kerry's miltiary files. However since Kerry didn't sign Standard Form 180 the military cannot release any files not authorized by Kerry.

A federal judge just ordered the Pentagon to release all of President Bush's files as a result of a filing of an FOIA on President Bush.

Ok. So how come a federal judge can force the Pentagon to release President Bush's files but we all have to dance around the issue of Kerry's permission for *his* files?

President Bush hasn't signed Standard Form 180. Neither has Kerry.

President Bush has verbally authorized the Pentagon to release his files. So has Kerry.

What gives?

Am I missing something?

(17) ed made the following comment | Sep 16, 2004 10:17:38 PM | Permalink


Just watched O'Reilly. He is still thinking that Rather's innocent of any complicity.

Dan Rather was born in the early 1930's. He was in his 50's before word processing was commercially available. He's had at least 30+ years of reading and using typewriters.

I was born in the 1960's. I graduated highschool around the same time that word processing was commercially available. I learned how to type using an IBM Selectric.

It took me about 5 minutes to realize that the first of those 4 documents wasn't ever written on a typewriter.


Either Dan Rather is completely incompetent, in which case he is innocent.

Or Dan Rather is competent, in which case he is guilty.

Anything else would be ridiculous.

(18) Birkel made the following comment | Sep 16, 2004 11:15:31 PM | Permalink

INDCjournal has contacted the Kinko's. He (she?) reports the manager has agreed to keep the video in tact. Just passing along what I read over there tonight.

(19) recon made the following comment | Sep 16, 2004 11:24:30 PM | Permalink

Ed, from patterico.com ---------

Double Standard?

So U.S. District Judge Harold Baer Jr., a Clinton appointee, has ordered the Pentagon to release any unreleased files about President Bush's National Guard service, to resolve a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the AP.

I don't know whether Judge Baer's ruling is correct. But I will remind you that Judge Baer is the nutcase judge who ruled in 1996 that police lacked probable cause to search a car based (in part) on the fact that four men had fled when they saw the police. Baer listed several examples of alleged police corruption, and explained in a written ruling that

residents in this neighborhood tended to regard police officers as corrupt, abusive and violent. After the attendant publicity surrounding the above events, had the men not run when the cops began to stare at them, it would have been unusual.

Based on this reasoning, Baer suppressed 34 kilograms of cocaine and 2 kilograms of heroin -- about 80 pounds of narcotics altogether, worth about $4 million. (Baer later reversed himself.)

Meanwhile, Judicial Watch has a lawsuit seeking John Kerry's military records, and the Navy has announced that Kerry's campaign has not released all its records -- despite a claim by John Kerry to the contrary.

Can't Judicial Watch find a partisan, brain-addled judge who can issue an order for the release of Kerry's records? Sheesh, even a decent judge might do it.

P.S. I'll admit that I'm looking at the big picture here, and that there may be procedural subtleties involved that would explain the disparate treatment. Let me know if you can enlighten me.

P.S. 3 big cheers for those who are seeking to preserve potential evidence, like the video footage at Kinko's.

I hate to say it, but I'd almost bet that Burkett's the fall guy because he's TOO obvious and easy, and we haven't found this particular grassy knoll just yet.

(20) Al made the following comment | Sep 16, 2004 11:51:18 PM | Permalink

I heard that Know was saying 'those are Army or Navy terms, not AF terms' last week... I don't see that now. But... _if_ true, why'd she change her story?

(21) MaDr made the following comment | Sep 17, 2004 12:04:16 AM | Permalink

I think we can forget the "minute signature". We're dealing with faxes, not copiers. Unless you believe Burkett was stupid enough to take his freshly forged docs to Kinko's where he made copies before he faxed them. The video might show Burkett working at another time on one of the PCs. My understanding is that the previous video tape is already destroyed so it won't be possible to stroll back thru time looking for all his visits and what equipment he was using.

He is a member and writes for an org called Veterans for Peace (St Louis). I believe the simplest explanation for "we" is this group.


Does he compose these by hand and mail them in? Does he compose them at home on a typewriter or PC? Or is it Kinko's?

(22) AMac made the following comment | Sep 17, 2004 9:40:46 AM | Permalink

Beldar, a correction. Burkitt wrote in "Online Journal," a fairly obscure online publication, not "Opinion Journal," which is composed of content that the Wall Street Journal puts on the web.

Unless "Online Journal" is run by that editor from Harper's, I doubt that its publication date is Aug. 25, 2004.

(23) Stephen made the following comment | Sep 17, 2004 12:23:58 PM | Permalink

Just a thought on the Kinko fax.

If these forged docs were faxed wouldn't there have to be a telephone record of the long distance call from Kinko's? If the number for CBS New York (or Washington, or CBS anywhere) showed up it would be fairly conclusive evidence that B. Burkett did the deed.

(24) Beldar made the following comment | Sep 17, 2004 3:12:30 PM | Permalink

Oops x 2 ... thanks for the catch, AMac, fixed those errors.

(25) Todd made the following comment | Sep 17, 2004 4:52:35 PM | Permalink

I believe that Judicial Watch didn't file a lawsuit, but a request that is administrative in nature. IIRC, the AP filed a lawsuit for the President's records. So, if I'm correct (anyone feel free to jump all over me if I'm not), the difference is that no lawsuit has been filed over Kerry's records, nor will it likely be if the MSM have their way. Thus, no judge can "order" the release of Kerry's records.

(26) old guy made the following comment | Sep 17, 2004 6:59:06 PM | Permalink

Just for the sake of argument, which is worse: Bush not taking his physical or Kerry talking with the North Vietnamese in Paris while they were still the enemy and he was still in the Navy Reserve?

(27) Maggie made the following comment | Sep 19, 2004 11:10:41 AM | Permalink

For what it may or may not be worth…. In response to one of your readers:
He also advises that "each individual copy machine puts its own minute signature on the document that can be detected by the FBI and Secret Service. This is part of the anti-counterfeiting measures the government has in place."
This is a false accusation. I have been in the copier service business for over 20 years… the last ten as a service manager. We service copiers at Kinkos, Staples ect... there are no “minute signatures” on black and white or color copiers. There are counterfeit protection systems built into color copiers that detect attempts to copy currency. These systems change the color of the output rendering any copy of cash useless.
Perhaps these comments were designed to keep the heat on anyone involved with the documents in question?

(28) kinkoMGR made the following comment | Sep 25, 2004 12:39:11 AM | Permalink

The bit about Kinko's copiers putting IDs on copies is insane! I have managed with Kinko's for over 7 years, and this guy is WHACKED. I work closely with Xerox, Cannon, and Ikon - no such thing. As a matter of fact, we move machines around constantly (store to store, city to city, state to state). In addition, check out these copiers' connections in the back (even inside). Go ahead and open them up next time you're in -- I invite you! There are no network connections, and no cards inside. THEY ARE COPIERS. This guy is probably a "former kinkoid" because he is delusional, and fired for smoking crack in his car on his breaks - or other similar freak-out episodes. This is freaking hilarious!

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