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Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Who is CBS News' 4th original expert, "James J. Pierce"?

CBS News' latest public statement (hat-tip to my commenter See-Dubya)  claims that

[f]our independent individuals with expertise in the authentication of documents were consulted prior to the broadcast of the story regarding the documents 60 MINUTES Wednesday obtained [sic]:  Marcel B. Matley, James J. Pierce, Emily Will and Linda James.

CBS News says that "[t]wo of the examiners, Mssrs. [sic] Matley and Pierce, attested and continue to attest to their belief in the documents' authenticity."

In my quick googling of "James J. Pierce" and "James Pierce," I can't find any likely hits.  Does anyone have any clues as to who this fellow might be?  My guess is he's another handwriting guy, from this part of the statement:  "Pierce believes that the documents in question are authentic as best he can determine, given that they are copies and not originals.  (attachment 2)"

The statement says that Ms. Will and Ms. James "appeared on a competing network yesterday, where they misrepresented their conversations and communication with CBS News."  I expect we'll hear their considered reactions to being called liars shortly.

This CBS News statement also references four "attachments" that aren't included in the .pdf file.  Does anyone have any clues to what these are or where they can be found?

One last example from this statement of how ... umm, confused is the most charitable term ... CBS is about what it actually did, and when:

The 60 MINUTES Wednesday broadcast reported that it obtained six documents from the personal files of Lt. Col. Killian, four of which were used in the broadcast.

No, guys, you didn't disclose in the original broadcast that you had two documents that you were holding back.  Nor have you explained yet why you failed to disclose that.  AllahPundit has a good post (read the updates too) with informed speculation about this.

Here's more fisking of this statement from Ernest Miller (hat-tip InstaPundit).

Update (Wed Sep 15 @ 8:53pm):  Via Politicalities, links to the four attachments (Matley, Pierce, Glennon, and Katz), which include an address for Mr. Pierce.  (I want a CV!) 

Pierce speaks first to signatures, which he says are "consistent and in basic agreement."  Ummm, excuse me, that's not quite an affirmative statement that they're genuine and authentic.  In fact, that's meaningless.  Pierce then speaks to typefaces (weakly) — yeah, this guy is a polished professional alrightee:

In regard to the balance of the typed-written [sic] photocopied questioned documents, the same typed-face [sic] designs are strongly similar to corresponding samples that indicate the same typed-face [sic] existed prior to the date in question on the photocopied documents.

Incredibly, Pierce's half-page opinion is signed yesterday!  And it looks like Mr. Pierce needs some help with his own typeding — Ms. Knox might be available!

Matley's opinion is also a single page, also dated yesterday.  I can't make sense of it — something about Col. Killian being under stress?

Dan Rather — I'll let you cut off my left pinkie with an axe on national television if you'll give me each of these guys' compete files, a fifteen-minute head start, and then let me cross-examine either of these guys under oath for fifteen minutes each.  I'll bring the axe, the court reporter/videographer, and my pajamas.

Update (Wed Sep 15 @ 10:00pm):  Fox News says CBS News told them it had contacted five experts before the broadcast:

[CBS News senior vice president Betsy] West said [document expert Linda] James told CBS News that she needed to know more about the documents before rendering any judgments. CBS contacted five document experts before the report aired and two since, and continues to report the story, the network said.

So who's number five?

Posted by Beldar at 08:32 PM in Mainstream Media, Politics (2006 & earlier) | Permalink


Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to Who is CBS News' 4th original expert, "James J. Pierce"? and sent a trackback ping are listed here:

» C BS. C BS Run. Run, C BS, Run (Part 5) from Les Jones Blog

Tracked on Sep 15, 2004 11:07:26 PM

» The Other Examiner from The Interocitor

Tracked on Sep 16, 2004 1:17:02 AM


(1) Partisan made the following comment | Sep 15, 2004 8:41:56 PM | Permalink

pdfs can be found here.

(2) prestopundit made the following comment | Sep 15, 2004 8:46:38 PM | Permalink

"james pierce" -- handwriting analyist:


(3) Voice of Reason made the following comment | Sep 15, 2004 8:49:19 PM | Permalink

Hey, Presto... did you notice that that was a reference to a case Pierce lost to a competing document analyzer? Too rich!

(4) The Raving Atheist made the following comment | Sep 15, 2004 8:50:39 PM | Permalink

Both Ms. James and Ms. Will come up in searches of the Experts.com and National Association of Document Examiners website databases; Mr. Pierce does not.

(5) Dan made the following comment | Sep 15, 2004 9:04:57 PM | Permalink

As to additional attachments, I believe they will be appearing tonight. I have to surf some but will come back and post link. I saw a reference to them earlier. Sounded like letters from some CBS sources. Also, look below for some info on who knew what when.

(6) mcg made the following comment | Sep 15, 2004 9:14:12 PM | Permalink

OK, so let's see. They trot out four experts.

Two of them have gone on record saying that they have serious problems with the documents.

One of them (Matley) has greatly downplayed the role that he has had. He is a handwriting expert, not a document expert, so he has no credibility to certify the latter aspect of the documents. What is more, he has specifically stated on record in the past, and now for other papers, that he cannot conclusively authenticate the signatures because they are copies.

So that leaves one of the original experts, who they conveniently have chosen never to talk about before, who has said that the documents are real.

Then they trot out two other so-called experts that they brought in after the fact to support their story. In at least one case (Glennon), the expert was a sure thing because he had already broadcast his beliefs on the Daily Kos. CBS couldn't be bothered with any of the wealth of experts challenging the authenticity. But the more important point is that neither of these experts justify their initial release of the story because they arrived on scene after the fact.

So again: one expert who hasn't said anything publicly, against one expert who is far from conclusive and two other who voiced serious concerns.

I love the smell of fraud in the morning.

(7) Dan made the following comment | Sep 15, 2004 9:15:14 PM | Permalink

I think CBS sent a very slightly different release to affiliates. See it here.


(8) Dan made the following comment | Sep 15, 2004 9:17:17 PM | Permalink

As referenced from lgf

September 15, 2004



Marion Carr Knox, the secretary of Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, whose personal memos were part of a report on last Wednesday’s (8) 60 MINUTES broadcast regarding questions about President Bush’s service at the Texas Air National Guard, will appear in a report on 60 MINUTES tonight (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.

In the interview, Ms. Knox states that she does not believe the memos are genuine. However, she confirms that the content of the memos does reflect the feelings of Lt. Col. Killian at the time and accurately portrays events that were taking place in connection with then-Lt. Bush’s Texas Air National Guard service.

“I know that I didn’t type ‘em. However, the information in those is correct,” Ms. Knox told CBS News for tonight’s broadcast.

In light of the questions about that original 60 MINUTES Wednesday report, CBS News states that it will redouble its efforts to continue reporting aggressively on all aspects of the story, in an effort to resolve those questions. Tonight’s 60 MINUTES interview with Ms. Knox is part of that effort.

The CBS News report was based on a preponderance of evidence: many interviews, both on- and off-camera, with individuals with direct and indirect knowledge of the situation, atmosphere and events of the period in question, as well as the procedures, character and thinking of Lt. Col. Killian, Lt. Bush’s squadron commander in the Guard, at the time.

The report also included the first television interview with Ben Barnes, a Democrat and current fundraiser for John Kerry, who said he helped get Mr. Bush into the Texas Air National Guard at the request of a Bush family friend.

Numerous questions have been raised about the authenticity of the documents. CBS News believes it is important for the news media to be accountable and address legitimate questions.

Procurement of The Documents

The 60 MINUTES Wednesday broadcast reported that it obtained six documents from the personal files of Lt. Col. Killian, four of which were used in the broadcast. In accordance with longstanding journalistic ethics, CBS News is not prepared to reveal its confidential sources or the method by which 60 MINUTES Wednesday received the documents. CBS News’ reporting determined that the source of the memos had access to the documents he provided and an opportunity to obtain copies of them. Our sources included individuals who had first-hand knowledge of the events in question.

Additionally, Mary Mapes, the producer of the report and a well-respected, veteran journalist whose credibility has never been questioned, has been following this story for more than five years. She has a vast and detailed knowledge of the issues surrounding President Bush’s service in the Guard and of the individuals involved in the story. Before the report was broadcast, it was vetted and screened in accordance with CBS News standards by several veteran 60 MINUTES Wednesday senior producers and CBS News executives.

Authentication of the Documents

Four independent individuals with expertise in the authentication of documents were consulted prior to the broadcast of the story regarding the documents 60 MINUTES Wednesday obtained: document examiners Marcel B. Matley, James J. Pierce, Emily Will and Linda James.

As CBS News has publicly stated, the documents used in the report were photocopies of originals.

Two of the examiners, Mssrs. Matley and Pierce, attested and continue to attest to their belief in the documents’ authenticity. (see attachments 1 and 2) Two others, Ms. Will and Ms. James, appeared on a competing network yesterday, where they misrepresented their conversations and communication with CBS News. In fact, they assessed only one of the four documents used in the report, and while one of them raised a question about one aspect of that one document, they did not raise substantial objections or render definitive judgment on the document. Ultimately, they played a peripheral role in the authentication process and deferred to Mr. Matley, who examined all four of the documents used.

Additionally, two more individuals with specific expertise relative to the documents - Bill Glennon, a technology consultant and long-time IBM typewriter service technician, and Richard Katz, a computer software expert - were asked to examine the documents after the broadcast for a report in the Sept. 13 CBS EVENING NEWS. They, too, found nothing to lead them to believe that the documents did not date back to the early 1970s. They strongly refuted the claim made by some critics that there were no typewriters in existence in the early 1970s that could have produced such documents. (see attachments 3 and 4)

CBS News Experts’ Conclusions About the Documents

- Katz believes the documents were written on a typewriter and not a computer. (attachment 3)

- Glennon confirms that the superscript “th” and proportional spacing of the typeface of the four documents were definitely available on typewriters as early as the late 1960s. (attachment 4)

- Pierce believes that the documents in question are authentic as best as he can determine, given that they are copies and not originals. (attachment 2)

- Matley says the signatures are, indeed, Killian’s. (attachment 1)

Again, the documents used for the 60 MINUTES Wednesday report were copies, and most of the analysis fueling the current controversy is based on scanned, downloaded, faxed or re-copied copies. For now, the disagreements among “dueling experts” have not been resolved.

Other Issues

Maj. Gen. Bobby Hodges, who was group commander of Lt. Bush’s squadron, has stated to The New York Times and Los Angeles Times, among others, that he believes the documents are not real, but also told The New York Times, in an article that appeared on Sept. 12, that the information in the CBS News report “...reflected issues he and Col. Killian had discussed-namely Mr. Bush’s failure to appear for a physical, which military records released previously by the White House show, led to a suspension from flying.” That is consistent with what he told CBS News off-camera as part of the research for this report.

A reference in one memo to Gen. Buck Staudt applying pressure on behalf of Lt. Bush raised questions because Staudt had left his job 18 months before the memo was written. But CBS News’ background reporting determined that Staudt remained a powerful figure in the Guard for years after his retirement, a fact that is confirmed by Ms. Knox in a newspaper interview. More importantly, the same memo referred to unhappiness in Austin, an obvious reference to Staudt’s successor at the Austin, Texas, headquarters of the Texas Air National Guard.


The editorial content of the report was not based solely on the physical documents, but also on numerous credible sources who supported what the documents said.

Through all of the frenzied debate of the past week, the basic content of the 60 MINUTES Wednesday report - that President Bush received preferential treatment to gain entrance to the Texas Air National Guard and that he may not have fulfilled all of the requirements — has not been substantially challenged.

CBS News will make every effort to resolve the contradictions and answer the unanswered questions about the documents and will continue to report on all aspects of the story.

(9) Dave made the following comment | Sep 15, 2004 9:29:36 PM | Permalink

"James J. Pierce - Examiner of Questioned Documents" looks like a 1-man operation out of his house.

The letterhead address on the James Pierce opinion is a residence. Google cache of a realtors picture of a $2 million home directly across the street is here.

(10) mcg made the following comment | Sep 15, 2004 9:31:53 PM | Permalink

There's really nothing surprising about this kind of business structure for someone like Mr. Pierce. I mean, I imagine that most of these doc examiners are self-employed.

(11) mike s made the following comment | Sep 15, 2004 9:33:28 PM | Permalink

Sweet. I'm reporting for duty as 2d chair if needed.

(12) Todd made the following comment | Sep 15, 2004 9:39:53 PM | Permalink

I read Pierce's "analysis." Beldar, you're going to have to arm wrestle me for the right to cross exam these clowns. If this pitiful attempt is the best that CBS can do, then the whole news organization needs to go down the tubes.

What has become increasingly clear is that CBS did a piss-poor job of investigating the story, and has only begun a serious - and still far incomplete - investigation since their story blew up. Their story is supported by:

1) Fraudulent documents;
2) Unqualified experts;


3) The Little Old Lady from Pasadena.

Any counter evidence is deemed "not credible."

If I screwed up a case this bad, I'd be pounding the pavement. Rather must have pictures of Heyward in bed with another man or something.

CBS' "defense" is stunningly silly.

(13) The Drill SGT made the following comment | Sep 15, 2004 9:40:24 PM | Permalink

part of my misspent youth was on Lido Island. The are a lot of shacks sitting on 500k postage stamp lots inhabited by 10 students.

(14) Lisa made the following comment | Sep 15, 2004 9:41:53 PM | Permalink

I suggest a new name:


(15) Glen made the following comment | Sep 15, 2004 9:46:20 PM | Permalink

Lido Isle is a community in Newport Beach with widely varying house prices. The more expensive ones ($1,000,000+) are new houses in which older beach cottages have been torn down. There are many of the original ones which are owned by retirees. I suspect that Mr. Pierce is one of the latter.

(16) ieddyi made the following comment | Sep 15, 2004 10:01:18 PM | Permalink

The incredible thing is that Pierce, Glennon and Katz were only brought in AFTER the fact. That means that CBS' asertion that they proceeded based on the opinions of numerous experts was a total fabrication. According to their info, the only experst that rendered opinion beforehand were Will, James and matley. Will and James wouldn't authenticate and Matley's opinion is moot because the docs were copied.
That means they proceeded in what they thought (hoped) was a matter of critical importance to a presidential election with no verification. And this was a story that Mapes has been working on for 3 years
heads have to roll

(17) Glen made the following comment | Sep 15, 2004 10:02:38 PM | Permalink

Can you imagine these guys testifying to congress coming after someone like Dr. Newcomer? Yet, the media cites guys like this all the time with the same qualifier -- "According to experts, ....." This is bad and common enough when the reporter is not biased.

As I watch this, I am thinking that I knew I was eating sausage and I know how sausage is made, yet to see it so blatant with such overwhelming clear cut evidence is simply remarkable. I know one thing, reading the book about this will be no substitute for the experience. Anyone who has watched this emerge will have a perspective on the threat toward us that others will not possess. I can clearly see now how Hitler did it. It was child's play.

(18) Todd made the following comment | Sep 15, 2004 10:08:42 PM | Permalink

Basically, what happened is that CBS did hardly any investigation, and after the fact has seized on the testimony of anyone it can find who will support its story (especially the famous typewriter repairman - lol). Look for CBS to "find" another national guard guy tomorrow to say that he didn't like the way that Bush looked at him and, therefore, Bush was a slacker who should have been horsewhipped.

Meanwhile, CBS continues to "painstakingly" research its article on John Kerry's military service, but will need another 6-8 years to make sure that the report is backed by solid reporting and investigation.

(19) The Raving Atheist made the following comment | Sep 15, 2004 10:10:33 PM | Permalink

Matley told Chris Matthews on Hardball tonight that the signature "was consistent not only with a man under great stress, but under intense pressure from retired officer, possibly with a last name beginning with the letters "St" . . . this is a phenomenon commonly associated with the particular sort of loop that appears on the letter 'y'"

Am I making that up? Isn't that allowed now? Isn't it enough that it's consistent with what he would have said?

(20) Todd made the following comment | Sep 15, 2004 10:34:56 PM | Permalink

Atheist, when you are dealing with a man of the mythic stature of Staudt, it's really quite possible.

(21) Karl made the following comment | Sep 15, 2004 11:42:12 PM | Permalink

Read Pierce's letter, specifically the poorly-spelled excerpt Beldar quoted.

Translation: The documents are genuine because a similar typeface existed in the early 1970s.

What is NOT in Pierce's letter:

There is no assertion that any particular typewriter could have produced these docs.

No response to the numerous problems identified by Bouffard, et al., such as the superscript, the quasi-kerning produced by TrueType fonts, the 13 point line spacing, the autocentered text. No rebuttal to the pantographic examples showing the IBM Composer could not have produced this document. No rebuttal to the pantographic examples showing the docs can be reproduced with the default settings of MS Word.

That's why so many inside CBS are getting as squirmy as... well, Rather is on a good day.

(22) Calliope made the following comment | Sep 16, 2004 6:33:27 AM | Permalink

Beldar - got linked here from Hewitt a few days ago, I like your site.

I wonder if some of the leading bloggers on this subject, you, Hewitt, the Pwerline guys, could assemble a group of legitimate document experts - people that are qualified to judge the doc's provenance and willing to do so, as well as having no axe to grind - say 6-8 people, that would declare themselves willing to study the docs and render judgement on their authenticity and report it to the public?

I realize CBS probably wouldn't agree to give them access to the docs, but if this got publicity then it would create pressure on CBS to do the same.

Just a suggestion. Keep it up your site is very informative.

(23) J Mann made the following comment | Sep 16, 2004 9:24:28 AM | Permalink

I read Matley's latest point as being that the signature in the "pressure" memo was different from Killian's other signatures, but different in ways that indicate that:

1) It's still his signature, and

2) Killian was under stress.

If Matley was right, then he would have some good evidence that, photocopy or not, Killian's signature (1) was not copied from an existing Killian memo (because it didn't match any of the publicly available signatures exactly), but (2) was still his signature (because Matley says so.)

Since we haven't seen any competing handwriting analysts, I can't speak to whether Matley's argument is plausible or not.

(24) Clay made the following comment | Sep 16, 2004 11:52:00 AM | Permalink

can someone point me to a transcript where Matley makes the claim about stress? I can't find it in the Hardball transcripts.

(25) J Mann made the following comment | Sep 16, 2004 1:58:05 PM | Permalink

It's in the attachments to the last CBS News release on this issue. You can get it here.

(26) CERDIP made the following comment | Sep 16, 2004 3:42:46 PM | Permalink

Pierce is listed here, on this California expert's list: link

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