New York (AP)-CBS admitted Monday that it had been lied to by a former officer about documents purportedly showing that Bush was suspended from duty while serving in the Texas Air National Guard.
Bill Burkett, an ex-lieutenant colonel in the Texas Guard, supplied the network with a series of memos showing that Bush had been suspended "for failure to perform to USAF/TexANG standards and failure to meet a physical flight examination." The memos were aired on an 8 September 60 minutes broadcast, along with an interview of Burkett by CBS anchorman Dan Rather.
But forensics experts immediately questioned the authenticity of the memos. "It was apparent to me that these documents were most likely forged," says manuscript examiner Emily Will. Will points to subtle details such as the signature of the author and typeface used.
"But the most damning evidence is the fact that at least one of these memos was written on what appears to be Hello Kitty' stationary," Will says.
The adorable icon loved by millions of little girls the world over first debuted on November 1, 1974, over two years after the purported date that the memos were written.
In a written statement, CBS Anchorman Dan Rather said, "After extensive additional interviews, I no longer have the confidence in these documents that would allow us to continue vouching for them journalistically."
Rather also claimed to be ignorant of the birthday of the lovable Hello Kitty. "If I knew then what I know now--I would not have gone ahead with the story as it was aired, and I certainly would not have used the documents in question," he wrote.
Rather says that CBS is still trying to identify the source of the memo. One suspect is Burkett's 11-year-old daughter who has reportedly contributed over $2,000 to the Democratic National Committee and has been seen carrying a cute little Hello Kitty backpack.
Reached for comment Bush campaign spokesman Danny Diaz told reporters that he was "disappointed" by CBS's handling of the documents. "You would think a major network would have more important issues to discuss in an election year," Diaz says. "Like whether John Kerry was really in Cambodia on Christmas Day those many years ago."