A careful forensic examination of even the worst copies may provide some evidence of the documentsâ authenticity or disprove their authenticity. For example, if the evidence demonstrates that the documents were originally digitally produced, it would disprove their authenticity.
On the other hand, if evidence indicates they were typewritten, it lends support to the credibility of CBS in general and to Dan Rather and his producers in particular. If evidence demonstrates that the memos were typewritten using a font usually available in the military, but less common among civilians, at least on this evidence they were right to air the memos.
Given the current extent of political animosity, the voice of indisputable evidence can be useful. In short, there is justification for a qualified, independent lab to examine the documents and make the results publicly available.
Qualifications of the Lab
Interactive Media Research Laboratory is a small university lab that does scholarly studies and writes about issues involving the impact of technology on communications. Among other things, it is investigates archival and authentication problems. As the principal investigator and lab director I have researched and written on these topics since 1991, with more than 50 peer reviewed publications.
Furthermore, the mechanical process seems to be consistent with typewriters used in the military at the time in question.
If I had been one of the experts advising CBS, I would have advised them that there is nothing physical in the memos implying they are not authentic. All indicators imply they are authentic. I would have told them that from my point of view, the memos are worthy of presenting to the public."
David E. Hailey, Jr., Ph.D. (CURRICULUM VITAE: http://imrl.usu.edu/Hailey/content/topic01.html)
Associate Professor and Director
Interactive Media Research Laboratory