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Friday, September 10, 2004

Tonight's CBS Evening News broadcast's only arguable "expert," Marcel Matley, can only opine as to handwriting and signatures

The only expert identified or quoted on Dan Rather's just-concluded "CBS Evening News" broadcast, Marcel Matley, almost certainly lacks the qualifications to address the vast majority of issues raised by those who've questioned the authenticity of the documents produced by CBS News.

I've just spent twenty minutes or so googling Mr. Matley, following each link produced by a search on his name.  The closest I found to a resume was this very brief page, which reads:

Marcel Matley studied handwriting analysis with Rose Toomey and was certified by the Paul de Ste. Colombe Center.  In 1985 he became a full time professional document examiner and has other interests in medical and psychological research, paleography, education, Western formal penmanship and Oriental calligraphy.  He is the author of several published monographs and articles, taught private classes and seminars, and presented at conferences. The American Handwriting Analysts Foundation’s library, as well as a collection of more than 4,000 forensics and handwriting articles, is located in his home in San Francisco where it is available for reference by appointment.

A couple of other pages suggest that Mr. Matley is available as an expert witness for hire on handwriting analysis — nothing wrong with that necessarily.  He apparently has spoken and/or written at various seminars for lawyers and other experts, including at least one hosted by the National Association of Document Examiners, but he is not listed by name on that organizations (perhaps non-exhaustive) page of members; nor have I seen any reference to him claiming entitlement to that association's "designation of Certified Document Examiner, or CDE."  Mr. Matley has been quoted in some press accounts of medium-to-high profile disputes — always in the context of handwriting analysis.  He's listed as a "forensic document examiner" on the semi-functional website of something called the American Handwriting Analysis Foundation, and also as its librarian; it may be that he has some sort of certification from that organization, which avers that its purpose is to "provide information and services to its members with the goal of enriching their effectiveness as handwriting analysts and to educate the public about the handwriting sciences."

I can find no references on the internet which would suggest that Mr. Matley has any qualifications whatsoever to give expert opinions on computer or typewriter fonts or typefaces, or on the authenticity of documents in general, as distinct from handwriting or perhaps signatures.

Were I, as a trial lawyer, considering hiring him as an expert witness, or were I preparing to cross-examine him as an expert hired by my opposing counsel, I'd need — and insist upon, and be able to get through court compulsion if need be — far more information about his background and qualifications, even with respect to handwriting or signature analysis.  But for present purposes, I'll stipulate that Mr. Matley is adequately qualified to talk about signatures.  And indeed, it would be appropriate for CBS to engage someone with that expertise, and some of the questions raised about the CBS documents have related to the variations of the signatures (which, at least to my inexpert eye, don't look all that similar to one another).  So I'm not saying that he's altogether the wrong kind of expert, or that everything he's told CBS or said in tonight's broadcast is entirely irrelevant.

But Marcel Matley simply can't be the guy to authenticate, or defend the authenticity of, the computer- or typewriter-generated portions of the CBS documents.  Nor did anything he said in tonight's "CBS Evening News" broadcast suggest that he even claims to have that expertise, much less that he's exercised it in this instance.  Unless he has a vast body of unrevealed credentials, in fact, I'm very confident that I could persuade any state or federal court to completely exclude Mr. Matley's testimony on any subject other than handwriting or signatures.

(Even what Mr. Matley had to say about signatures was superficial and far from unequivocal, but I'll refrain from arguing that issue at present.)

The CBS broadcast also included statements from Robert Strong, identified as "an administrative officer for the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam Years."  Dan Rather insists that Strong "knew Jerry Killian, the man credited with writing the documents ... and paper work ...  like these documents ... was his specialty."  Well, yes, Dan, in that sense, probably at least 100 million Americans have a specialty in "paper work."  I'm not going to bother rebutting the silly suggestion that Mr. Strong has been shown to have any particular technical or scientific expertise to opine on the legitimacy of these documents.  At best, I'd characterize Mr. Strong as a "soft witness" who could give contextual testimony on the likelihood, in general, that Col. Killian might have created or maintained memoranda of this sort — like other TANG personnel who may have served with Col. Killian, or his son or widow. 

Author and TV news correspondent Jim Moore, identified as having "written two books critical of President Bush and his service in the Guard" — presumably Bush's Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential being one of them — lacks even the marginal bona fides to speak to the legitimacy of the challenged documents that Mr. Strong might have as a "soft witness" who knew Col. Killian.  Mr. Moore does, however, look great in a cowboy hat.

If Mr. Strong or Mr. Moore were among those whom CBS was counting upon among its "independent experts," they're fools, or they think we are.

Update (Fri Sep 10 @ 8:20pm):  The fine lawyer-bloggers at Power Line also have a take on CBS' disclosed experts so far that's far more succinct than my own, but generally consistent.

Update (Fri Sep 10 @ 11:35pm):  Another version of Matley's CV, which my googling missed because I didn't have his middle initial.  (Hat-tip Wizbang!.)

Update (Tue Sep 14 @ 4:20am):  I'm advised by email from "Jacqueline A. Joseph, CDE
Certification Committee Chairperson," that "Marcel Matley is a certified member of National Association of Document Examiners."

Update (Fri Sep 17 @ 2:40am): On the other hand, Fox News confirms that Matley "is not certified by the American Board of Forensic Document Examiners, has had no formal training in identifying either papers, inks, typewriters or photocopies, and has never been trained in a document lab or by any law enforcement entity."

Posted by Beldar at 07:18 PM in Mainstream Media, Politics (2006 & earlier) | Permalink


Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to Tonight's CBS Evening News broadcast's only arguable "expert," Marcel Matley, can only opine as to handwriting and signatures and sent a trackback ping are listed here:

» CBS News Stealthy Update to Document Story from Assume the Position

Tracked on Sep 10, 2004 8:26:14 PM


Tracked on Sep 10, 2004 11:56:53 PM

» The Bush question, are they forgeries or not? from JohnHays.net

Tracked on Sep 13, 2004 11:52:33 PM


(1) OhMike made the following comment | Sep 10, 2004 7:29:44 PM | Permalink

If the documents are kerned, they're fake. If Dan and CBS had done the job right, they would have asked a qualified expert, "Are these douments kerned?" I'd like to see what the experts say about that. Do they all agree?

I bet this one winds up split into factions. I'm not an expert, so I'm not qualified to comment...any more than a layman can after trying to educate himself by reading all the stuff on the web. That's why I want to see how many credible, unbiased, experts think the documents are kerned.

(2) GT made the following comment | Sep 10, 2004 7:37:23 PM | Permalink

According to one of Beldar's links to the INDC Journal the documnets are NOT kerned.

But who knows?

In terms of impact unless something else comes out this is over. Bloggers can type till their blue in the face but it makes no difference if CBS stands by their documents. The WH would need to publicly challenge these documents. And they haven't.

(3) Rachelins made the following comment | Sep 10, 2004 7:41:28 PM | Permalink

It's obvious that Marcel Matley is a legal hired gun. Having been involved in the insurance industry for many years I am very familiar with these types (as I'm sure Beldar is, also). You need an expert and you shop until you find one that will tell you what you want to hear. I wonder if the Producer shopped around much. Since through blogs we have heard from so many of the top "experts" and they believe they are forged, she probably didn't check very far. Professor Cartwright from Rice University seems to me to have some of the best credentials and he has said 100% that they are forged.

Just heard Tony Snow (in for O'Rielly on Fox) with someone representing CBS and he (the CBS rep) commented that the careful, detailed, work that CBS 60 Minutes does (and has done for over 35 years) trumps bloggers sitting around in their pajamas pulling thoughts out of the air. (This is not word for word, just as I remember it.) The MSM is so arrogant. It reminds me of the attitude of the Catholic Church when the Guttenberg Press began to publish the Bible. The people were not smart enough to be able to read and understand the Bible. The MSM thinks that the people are not smart enough to get information directly. It has to be filtered through the MSM. They are in for a rude awakening!

(4) Birkel made the following comment | Sep 10, 2004 7:52:19 PM | Permalink

I heard the pajamas comments as well. I guess Dan Rather is stupid when he wakes in the morning, brilliant once he dons a tie, and stupid later when he gets into bed.

Is that not the most stupid thing ever? Or arrogant? Something...

(5) Beldar made the following comment | Sep 10, 2004 7:53:15 PM | Permalink

I do some of my very best blogging with no pajamas. CBS News seemed to think well enough of my professional abilities when I won a defamation case for them in the Fifth Circuit in 1983, but I wasn't wearing pajamas then either.

(6) Glen made the following comment | Sep 10, 2004 7:57:37 PM | Permalink

Over at Powerline there is a link to an article written by Marcel entitled The Expert Ambush: How to Hold Off Your Opponent Until the Calvary Arrives. http://expertpages.com/news/expert_ambush.htm

In this he, the expert witness for hire, is coaching attorneys on how to stall long enough to run out the clock when they get surprised by the opposition's expert witness. If you read the language of this article I think you will quickly get an insight into the level of sophistication of both the type of lawyers and the type of cases this man has been a witness in.

You're the litigator so I will leave it to you to review, but I think the language of this article reveals a great deal of the intellectual horsepower behind it. Compare it, for example to the numerous computer experts who have written regarding publishing.

(7) Basilisk made the following comment | Sep 10, 2004 7:59:58 PM | Permalink

Apart from the overwhelming technical evidence demonstrating that the documents were forged, as an attorney with a background in personnel and labor relations, I am far more convinced by the fact that the Colonel's personnel officer (with a 17 year professional relationship with him)believes that the documents are forged than by the assertion of another officer who, apparently did not have nearly as close a working relationship with him.

Further, some officers (and other supervisors) keep 'secret' personnel files on their underlings, but many don't. Killian's personnel officer is the best person to say whether it was Killian's custom and habit to do so.

(8) Birkel made the following comment | Sep 10, 2004 8:00:00 PM | Permalink

Beldar, that may be TMI, if I'm interpreting it correctly!!

/washing memory clear

(9) Todd made the following comment | Sep 10, 2004 8:08:08 PM | Permalink

CBS' defense is almost comically bad. I mean, they've got a Democratic hack saying, "Yeah, that's Bush, he's a bad man;" an unqualified expert witness who doesn't address 95% of the criticisms; and some dude who is about as credible as Mr. Magoo. Any competent trial lawyer would annihilate these clowns on cross examination, although I doubt that Matley would survive a motion to bar.

I see GT is back to his pooh-poohing the thing, the way he did yesterday. No doubt, ABC's experts who examined the documents will be swayed by the handwriting expert and now pronounce everything just fine and dandy at CBS.

Right now, Killian's son is on Hannity and Colmes and basically calling CBS' story a load of rubbish. He also added that he did talk to CBS before the story was aired and that his good comments about Bush were ignored. Hannity is setting up the story nicely as a baseless, one-sided partisan attack.

(10) Beldar made the following comment | Sep 10, 2004 8:14:44 PM | Permalink

Glen, I'm not saying, or suggesting, that Mr. Matley is a hack. I don't know enough about him to come to even a good gut hunch on that one way or another. Hired-gun expert witnesses are like the witches in The Wizard of Oz — one may be your best friend and hand you some nice ruby slippers, another may try to have you kidnapped by flying monkeys. As for his advice in that paper regarding how lawyers should handle expert cross-examinations: Most experts, good and bad, think they know more about how to be an effective witness, or even an effective lawyer, than the lawyers who retain them; most good lawyers spend a lot of time exploiting that tendency in opposing expert witnesses, and trying to repress it in their own. Some time when this has all died down, I'll blog with my war story of my cross-examination of an expert whom the jury forever after called "Dr. Chicken McNugget." (It wasn't a case about Chicken McNuggets.)

(11) Todd made the following comment | Sep 10, 2004 8:16:58 PM | Permalink

I should add that I saw Rather's 4 1/2 minute interview with CNN today. He appeared exactly like a guy who was very ill at ease but trying to appear very much at ease.

I found his comments about how much he supported the President but was just doing his duty to be particularly astonishing, especially given that he felt that Bush's alleged failure to obey orders was important. I mean, there are several Swiftees who claim that Kerry failed to obey orders, plus his complete military record hasn't been released, plus there is overwhelming evidence of his manufacturing at least one medal, and yet Rather won't touch it. Hmm . . .

(12) Hube made the following comment | Sep 10, 2004 8:21:40 PM | Permalink

The more I think about it, the more this looks to me like a joke gone horribly wrong. I have this picture of a couple of low level staffers in the Kerry org coming up with something they would like to see. The completely pathetic nature of the forgery would certainly keep it from ever being taken seriously, right?
The 23 year old says to the 22 year old. "let's run it up the flagpole and see if anyone salutes." Little did they know...

All I know for certain is that someone is sitting with a mess in their pants now, just waiting to be found out.

(13) YouGottaBeKidding made the following comment | Sep 10, 2004 8:34:12 PM | Permalink

I don't think the signatures are real. Sonar5 has done a nice graphic with three legit signatures and three from the forgeries. I'm not a handwriting expert, but the signatures don't look at all alike to me.

(14) jonkendall made the following comment | Sep 10, 2004 8:38:08 PM | Permalink

assume the documents are forged; what now? if dan sits on them, he won't be able to press bush to answer the questions he poses. but what else? what about dan? all this truth and no where to put it. maddening.

(15) Al made the following comment | Sep 10, 2004 8:43:19 PM | Permalink

From listening to talkshow host John Carlson at KVI 570 AM, Seattle (kvi.com), I'll relate some other info that might be interesting.

Killian's son was contacted by a Mary Mapes, a producer at 60 minutes. (Google lists her here: link near the bottom under 'Producers' )

Mary Mapes gained a reputation here in Seattle as a person for whom facts were only useful when they happen to fit the picture. She contacted the wife & the son... but Dan Rather didn't mention that both had claimed fraud _prior_ to the airing of 60 minutes 2.

(16) George made the following comment | Sep 10, 2004 9:24:15 PM | Permalink

The documents were made on a word processor. Period.

(17) vnjagvet made the following comment | Sep 10, 2004 9:41:45 PM | Permalink

Check out Roger Simon's site and comments. GT is going to be as effective here on this issue as he was on the SBVT stuff.

They have raised 6.7 MM since the first ad.

Combat veteran demographic went from 50/50 to (at least) 65/35 and probably more like 80/20. VFW and American Legion have endorsed Bush. Not even neutral.

Here's a clue. This is not going to move that demographic one iota.

You heard it here first, GT.

(18) Todd made the following comment | Sep 10, 2004 10:21:48 PM | Permalink

GT has a perfect track record - he's always wrong. If he predicts that Kerry will win, we can all go home early. Maybe his echo Chris can drop by and supply some comedic relief as well.

Apparently, though, the AP and CNN, among others, didn't get the memo from GT that the CBS forgery story is over, because they're fisking the hell out of it and all over it like a bunch of jackals. A report on CNN just listed about 6 problems with CBS' story, and AP has an expert who's willing to testify in court that the documents are forgeries.

I hope Dan is getting his affairs in order.

(19) andrei made the following comment | Sep 10, 2004 10:27:09 PM | Permalink

Dan Rather just blustered! However unless there is a new twist to this story that will end the matter.

I don't think the MSM is interested in the fake documents angle at all, to the contrary in fact and will not push the story along!!!

AP has kept the guard story alive with 'new' revelations every week or so which allow them to re-iterate the same old charges.

But when a story doesn't meet the MSMs agenda it disappears very quickly remember Sandy Berger.

This story will suffer the same fate. To the MSM Dan has saved face and that is that!!!

What is needed is a new attack on the credibility of Dan Rather and the Documents but I cannot see where or how this will happen

(20) Todd made the following comment | Sep 10, 2004 10:32:42 PM | Permalink

CBS' story continues to fall apart. ABC is reporting that Hodges, who allegedly authenticated the documents, now said he was misled into thinking the documents were handwritten. He never saw them and has now said the whole thing is a fraud. Amy Barnes says that her father is a liar.

Maybe Dan Rather can bring in Terry McAuliffe to testify as to the chain of command of the documents?

(21) Hitest made the following comment | Sep 10, 2004 10:33:12 PM | Permalink

You need to check out the Note on abc's site. The principal "authenticator" (Hodges) used in their piece has said that ABC misled him. They told him docs were handwritten and read him excerpts. His response to them was that if he wrote them it must be his opinion. He believes the documents are "fake"

(22) Molon Labe made the following comment | Sep 10, 2004 10:53:13 PM | Permalink

The handwritten signature is not a valid means of authenticating the documents at all. It would have been trvially easy to copy and paste a scanned authentic signature onto a forged document. I mean, for crying out loud, that is the *only* way to do it.

(23) Al made the following comment | Sep 10, 2004 11:32:35 PM | Permalink

Ok, I think I have some evidence on the kerning or lack thereof. Quick recap for coherence.

Kerning is where the spacing between two letters is not only proportional, but variably proportional depending on what the letter's neightbors are. so 'Wd' would have a different width than 'dW'. So, if there is _no_ kerning, then a proportionally printed line of text would be exactly the same length if you scrambled the letters. 'Quick brown fox' should be _exactly_ the same length as 'kciuQ nworb xof'.

In a line of kerned text, this is NOT true.

In Word X for Mac, retyping just the first line of the infamous CYA memo:

1. Staudt has obviously pressured Hodges more about Bush. I’m having trouble running

Then type exactly the same letters... in a different order. (I did alphabetical, but moved the spaces to every other character)

. a a a a Bb b b d d d eeeeegggHhhhliiillmmnnnnooooooprrrrrSssssssttttuuuuuuuvvy’

The period and the S line up... and the ending apostrophe on the second line is substantially to the left. So some 'kerning' (call it variable proportional type if you like) _is_ happening in the Word mockups.

And getting such a match between two documents where one is making such fine distinctions & the other is presumed to not be possible outside of a printer's office seems... not plausible.

Can this be duplicated outside of the 'lab'?

(24) GT made the following comment | Sep 11, 2004 7:55:07 AM | Permalink

Has an expert changed his mind?

Philip D. Bouffard, a forensic document examiner in Ohio who has analyzed typewritten samples for 30 years, had expressed suspicions about the documents in an interview with the New York Times published Thursday, one in a wave of similar media reports. But Bouffard told the Globe yesterday that after further study, he now believes the documents could have been prepared on an IBM Selectric Composer typewriter available at the time.
Bouffard, the Ohio document specialist, said that he had dismissed the Bush documents in an interview with The New York Times because the letters and formatting of the Bush memos did not match any of the 4,000 samples in his database. But Bouffard yesterday said that he had not considered one of the machines whose type is not logged in his database: the IBM Selectric Composer. Once he compared the Bush memos to Selectric Composer samples obtained from Interpol, the international police agency, Bouffard said his view shifted.

In the Times interview, Bouffard had also questioned whether the military would have used the Composer, a large machine. But Bouffard yesterday provided a document indicating that as early as April 1969 -- three years before the dates of the CBS memos -- the Air Force had completed service testing for the Composer, possibly in preparation for purchasing the typewriters.

As for the raised ''th" that appears in the Bush memos -- to refer, for example, to units such as the 111th Fighter Interceptor Squadron -- Bouffard said that custom characters on the Composer's metal typehead ball were available in the 1970s, and that the military could have ordered such custom balls from IBM.

''You can't just say that this is definitively the mark of a computer," Bouffard said.

(25) GT made the following comment | Sep 11, 2004 8:18:31 AM | Permalink

Oh, and BTW, before someone posts the 'explanation' offered at InDC Journal I've already read it.

It doesn't help much.

I don't know if the documents are forgeries or not. But what seems clear now is that the idea that there was no typewriter capable of producing these documents is wrong.

That doesn't prove they are real of course.

(26) Todd made the following comment | Sep 11, 2004 8:26:34 AM | Permalink

Keep trying, GT. When you convince yourself let us know.

(27) Al made the following comment | Sep 11, 2004 11:59:25 AM | Permalink

GT, what he said doesn't translate to 'typewriters are quite possible'. It translates to 'there were things that could do this that are not computers'.

It looks like the Selectric Composer could do this all perfectly. It is a typesetting/linotype style device.

More on the Selectric Composer (_not_ a typewriter): link

And, surprise surprise, the Boston Globe takes Dr. Bouffard's quotes out of context. If you'd like to read more, read here:

(28) Polaris made the following comment | Sep 11, 2004 2:41:48 PM | Permalink


Indeed. if you read the latest comment from Dr. Bouffard at INDC, you find that he is more convinced than every that the documents are probably phony. The fact that CBS won't reveal the source docs or release their first generation copies for examination is extemely suspicious. I also note that the Globe is notorious for quoting people out of context and generaly dishonesty (ask Cdr Elliot of the SBVT!)


(29) David S. Lott made the following comment | Sep 11, 2004 5:25:31 PM | Permalink

According to news reports, the following is true:

1. CBS has asked its only named document forensic expert not to give interviews to anyone else, and the expert is complying.
2. CBS will not reveal how it obtained these documents, who they were obtained from or where they were located.
3. CBS has refused to reveal the names of any other persons it relied upon to authenticate these documents.

If CBS were reporting on anyone else who did this with respect to a controversial document, they would be calling it a coverup. Or stonewalling.

Their story is being overwhelmed by the sheer volume of questions.

CBS can not, as Mr. Rather attempted, dismiss these questions by denigrating their origins. The questions are too many, too specific and from too many sources.

Even if the documents are authentic, CBS silence is letting the Bushies win the day.

If they are fraudulent, CBS is letting a phony issue fill up the news, to the detriment of the electorate. Or ignoring a real issue, if the Kerry campaign has any ties to the fraud.

It's not an exaggeration to say that Fox News has called them out on this issue, and even the Washington Post took a step in that direction. CBS credibility as a news organization is at stake here, not just their story.

They owe it to their audience and themselves to explain in detail why they stand by their reporting.

Surely there are many people at CBS who believe this, but just as surely it must take a lot of courage (or even foolhardiness) to say so.

(30) David Ross made the following comment | Sep 12, 2004 9:37:32 PM | Permalink

Rachelins - I'm a former student of Dr Cartwright, and I can attest that he is what he claims to be: a Rice prof of the highest ethical standing. Also if I had to guess his politics, from what I saw, he was a Democrat.

Who wrote these memos anyway, the Piltdown Man?

(31) Scott Forbus made the following comment | Sep 14, 2004 12:46:32 PM | Permalink

Who wrote these memos anyway, the Piltdown Man?

No, the guys who found the Cardiff Giant.

(32) Chris made the following comment | Sep 14, 2004 1:09:59 PM | Permalink

If anyone wants to send a fax to CBS News calling for Rather's resignation, the fax number is (212) 975-1998

(33) AnneSilver made the following comment | Sep 21, 2004 10:13:45 AM | Permalink

Mr. Matley giggles on the witness stand, writes gossipy tales about other examiners and would be my very last referral if I were too busy. In my experience, experts who do not have an adequate income slather at the mouth in hopes of getting publicity. I turned down the OJ case three times because I couldn't handle more business and shun publicity. The media chooses these experts, I think, because they get work done gratis. When I am paid, it is for examination - not for my opinion.

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