Capitol Hill (CNSNews.com) - U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), who Thursday led the Democratic attack on President Bush's National Guard service, said Friday he wasn't backing down from his criticism despite suspicions that a handful of military records might be fake.
"We know he did not take his flight physical when he was ordered to do so," Harkin told CNSNews.com about Bush. "The documents that came out [Wednesday] sort of lend credence to that."
But those documents, published by CBS News, have since come under scrutiny as possible forgeries because they contain modern-day characteristics native to word processing programs, not 1970s-era typewriters.
CNSNews.com was the first news organization to report that the documents at the center of a CBS News "60 Minutes" segment about Bush might be forgeries.
Harkin said he had no way of knowing whether the documents were fake, and even if they turn out to be a sham, the Iowa senator said he had no reason to apologize to Bush.
"Absolutely not," Harkin said. "We know that the president said in the Oval Office, 'I did my duty.' The president is the one who needs to apologize to the American people for not telling the truth."
Questions about the documents' authenticity didn't stop the Democratic National Committee from releasing a blistering attack on Bush in an e-mail message Friday morning to its supporters.
"New investigations from multiple media sources have revealed the truth about President Bush's service," the unsigned DNC e-mail stated. "New military documents show that Bush disobeyed a direct order from his commander to take a flight physical and 'failed to perform to U.S. Air Force/Texas Air National Guard standards' - and was grounded as a result."
Democrats recruited Harkin for a Thursday press briefing, at which time he cited the CBS News documents as additional evidence of the alleged gaps in Bush's service in the early 1970s. He spoke to reporters at DNC headquarters in Washington and via a telephone conference call.
"The documentation shows that the president was not being truthful," Harkin said Thursday. "The president lied to the American people in the Oval Office."
Harkin reiterated his message Friday in an interview with CNSNews.com following a Senate hearing. He accused Bush of receiving special privileges to gain entrance in the Texas Air National Guard, claimed Bush didn't fulfill his duty and refused to follow a commander's order.
A memo dated May 4, 1972, purportedly shows that Bush refused a military order to undertake a medical examination. It was one of four documents that allegedly came from the "personal file" of the late Lt. Col. Jerry B. Killian, who served as Bush's squadron commander.
Both Killian's widow and his son have cast doubt on the authenticity of the memos. News organizations have also asked forensic document experts, typographers and former military officers for their analysis, and most have raised suspicions.
Since initial questions about the documents surfaced Thursday, CBS News has stood by its story. The network reportedly spent six weeks examining the documents and asked four experts to offer their analysis. CBS News has refused to disclose the source of the documents or the names of their experts.
See Earlier Story:
More Problems Surface With '60 Minutes' Documents (Sept. 10, 2004)
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