CBS Documents Suspect In Format and Dates

This is a partial transcript of "Special Report With Brit Hume," Sept. 10, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

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JIM ANGLE, GUEST-HOST: The memos that CBS broadcast about the National Guard service of a young George W. Bush have caused a controversy of their own. There is widespread suspicion that the documents CBS used are not authentic.

One of the people who holds that view and has some doubts is retired Colonel Bill Campenni who served with George Bush in Texas and he joins us now.

Thank you, sir.


ANGLE: Appreciate you joining us.

CAMPENNI: Thank you.

ANGLE: Let's talk about the documents in general at first. There are a lot of things about these documents, about questions that have been raised. What makes you suspicious of them?

CAMPENNI: Well, I'm suspicious because of the form and content, and the presentation. That's not normally the way we would do some of these things. I can reference then some of those specific documents here in a second when you get to them.

But it just, one, wasn't the way we did business. And two, it's suspect both in the format and the dates, and the way it was phrased.

ANGLE: Well, let's talk about the format. One of the things that's been talked about is the way the report 111 and 187, first, that sort of thing. Here you see ordinarily in documents of the time, you would have had the t-h down on the bottom of the line. Here you see it raised.

And in a lot of references to the 103 — 111-Flight Squadron, you see it raised. That is called superscript. And some people claim that that was not widely available at the time, but is widely available today on things like Microsoft.

CAMPENNI: That's a pretty good accurate description. By the way, in my civilian life I did work with some of those issues at IBM. We had the Selectric typewriter, which you could buy special balls that had those fancy characters. But nobody would be buying extra balls at that time.

But more importantly, we didn't — I brought a bunch of forms with me, just for reference. But none of the forms which I had, which were written by the same typewriters in the same Ops area, my proficiency reports, some orders and all, have the superscript/subscript. We just didn't have it back in those days. We had plain old type typewriters. The best, we had an IBM Selectric.

ANGLE: And one of the documents had two of the things where it was on the bottom line and one superscript, suggesting somebody had changed in the middle of the document, which would have been difficult to do.

CAMPENNI: Well, also you notice they tend to have — the ones that are the conventional t-h not superscript/subscript, tend to have a space between them. That's how you fool the Microsoft program into putting t-h rather than 147-superscript.

ANGLE: Aha. OK. Now, let's go on to some other things here.

There is one letter that CBS makes quite a bit of. It's known as the CYA letter, because the heading on it is CYA. I think we have that for you here. CYA referring to — I think most people know what CYA means, but "cover your rear" would be a polite way of putting it.

In this particular memo, we'll look at some of the language here. It talks about "Staudt has obviously pressured Hodges more about Bush. I'm having trouble running interference and doing my job," the author says.

Now, first tell me who is Staudt?

CAMPENNI: Staudt is Walter Staudt. At the time, he was the colonel and the commander of the 147-Fighter Group when George Bush came on board. And later on, I'm not sure the year, '69 or '70, he then moved on to state headquarters and became a general. His name is Walter Staudt, nicknamed Buck Staudt. If anybody says Buck Staudt, you can say they know the guy.

ANGLE: OK. So now Colonel Killian at this point is saying that — Colonel Killian was telling him, as he says at the end there, Staudt is pushing to sugarcoat it. Clearly as you see here on that documents, clearly suggesting here in August of 1973 that Staudt is pressuring him to do something to clean up Bush's record or make him look better.

You have some suspicion about this document. What is it?

CAMPENNI: Well, my suspicion there is the fact that General Staudt's name is on it. I joined that unit for my second time in 1973, one week after this particular August 18, I believe it is, letter was supposedly written. And I'm thinking back that I didn't remember General Staudt being at state headquarters at that time. He would have been retired.

And then I checked last night with some Texas Guard friends and they said we thought he retired around '72. And I think you have since confirmed it. And there's an "L.A. Times" article about that, too.

ANGLE: There are several media reports that say he did indeed retire in 1972, suggesting he wouldn't have been there in August of '73.

CAMPENNI: That's right. I mean if he's not in the food chain, Colonel Killian should not be worried about him. And Bobby Hodges was the commander at the unit there, and I think he does reference him there in that.

The other issue on that particular letter, there's another comment farther down, OETD, that's the — I presume they're referring — OETR is referring to the Officer Efficiency Report that everybody would get annually.

But the term of art is OER at that time. Now it's OES. OETR, I went and looked in the Air Force glossary for that period, and that's Officer Education Training Repository. It's totally unrelated to that. So I don't know why someone who would be doing these things all the time would put the wrong acronym in there for that.

ANGLE: Now I want you to listen to something that Senator Harkin said. Let's listen to that.


HARKIN: We know that George Bush did not take his physical when he was ordered to do so. And that raises all kinds of questions about why didn't he take his physical at that time.


ANGLE: Now, there's been a bit of a whispering campaign among critics, alluding to what Senator Harkin just did. Alluding to something, some reason he wouldn't have taken it. The whispering campaign is that he was trying to avoid drug tests. When you took a physical in those days, was there any way to discover whether or not someone was using drugs?

CAMPENNI: I can't recall. The whole purpose of a physical in that era was to see if you were a healthy pilot, so you didn't get a dangerous pilot in an airplane where he might have a heart attack or some other problem, a kidney stone. So we did do a urinalysis testing. We did blood testing. But it was to ensure a healthy pilot. The formal Air Force drug-
testing program — and they can check this in the record, I believe began in 1981.

Now, at this time interval, in 1972, '73, the drug testing would have been command directed. That the commander would have been suspect of the individual first before he said you're going down to take a drug test or you're going to take a test for alcoholism or something.

ANGLE: OK. We just have less than a minute. I want to ask you one other thing. There's some who suggest there was a long waiting list at the time. Kent Benson, who apparently got some nod from Ben Barnes, said there was a waiting list for enlisted men but not for officers. And he didn't need any help because it was easy to get in as an officer. About 30 seconds. Is that true?

CAMPENNI: No. As you mentioned, there may have been a big 500, 150 number of changes every day lists for the other positions. The pilot pool was totally separate. People would apply for the pilot slots.

The pool probably never got more than 10, because of the educational, security clearance and physical requirements. So the pool was about 10 or so maybe, maybe a couple of more. And then from that they pick for that year the one or two people for the slots.

ANGLE: Bill, thank you very much for joining us.

CAMPENNI: You're welcome.

ANGLE: Appreciate that.

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