Sept. 15, 2004, 9:32AM
Ex-staffer: Bush records are fake
Secretary to military officer says she never typed the memos
By ROBERT CROWE and JULIE MASON
Copyright 2004 Houston Chronicle
A former secretary at Ellington Air Force Base is challenging the legitimacy of documents used to discredit President Bush's service in the Texas Air National Guard, saying the records are probably fake because she never typed them.
Marian Carr Knox, 86, former secretary to Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, worked at the Houston air base from 1956 to 1979. She is now retired.
"They're forgeries as far as I'm concerned because I didn't type them," Knox said Tuesday at her southwest Houston home.
She said she typed all of Killian's memoranda and office letters during the time Bush served under him in the early 1970s.
Knox said the subject matter in the documents does, however, reflect sentiments Killian expressed to her at the time.
"I did not type those, no, but the information in them is correct," she said.
A longtime Democratic primary voter, Knox said she is not a Bush political supporter.
Hers are the latest claims against the documents, which for several days have been at the center of a tantalizing political mystery within the presidential campaign.
CBS News used documents purportedly written and signed by Killian, Bush's former superior at Ellington, as the basis for a critical report on Bush's guard service in the early 1970s.
Specifically, the documents allege that Bush failed to take a required physical examination and lost his flying privileges. The papers indicate Killian was pressured to "sugarcoat" Bush's record.
Though Bush never took his physical and was honorably discharged, Knox said it was rare for pilots like him to not take physicals under similar circumstances.
"Darn right it was a big issue," she said. "That was one of the things the pilots had to do."
Questions about the president's Guard service surfaced during his first campaign for president and again this year, particularly in contrast to Democrat John Kerry's service in the Navy during the Vietnam War.
With regard to the specific allegations surrounding Bush's failure to take the required physical, White House officials have said the requirement was waived when Bush was transferred to non-flying status in Alabama.
Knox said she decided to report her recollection of the time period to the media after hearing White House press officials say the information in the memos was false.
She said the military jargon in the documents would be used in the Navy or Army and not the Air Force. Also, she said the font used for the documents did not match fonts used on either the manual Olympia or IBM Selectric typewriters she used while working there.
Though some have challenged the use of superscript typeface in the documents, Knox said the IBM Selectric typewriter she used when Bush was in the 111th Fighter Interceptor Squadron did have the capability to type in superscript.
Last week, Knox said she had no firsthand knowledge of Bush's time with the Texas Air National Guard, although she did recall a culture of special treatment for the sons of prominent people, such as Bush and others.
Bush's father, former President Bush, was a member of Congress when his son was a Guard pilot.
Generally, Knox said Killian was anxious about creating a paper trail at the Guard base, and kept copies of his correspondence, which he would write out longhand and give her to type.
Killian died in 1984.
In recent days, questions have been raised by members of Killian's family and others, who challenged the authenticity of documents, in part by saying Killian did not keep copies of his letters.
Knox disputed that claim, saying Killian kept copies to protect himself, although she said she did not retain any copies herself.
CBS has declined to identify the source of the documents. The network, which originally aired the claims on the venerable 60 Minutes news magazine, has stood by its reporting.
Knox said last week she had not seen the disputed documents obtained by CBS, butwas reacting to news reports challenging their authenticity, primarily by countering claims that Killian did not keep copies.