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Rather, CBS Back Bush Piece

9/10/2004 07:15:00 AM Eastern

Dan Rather and CBS stood by disputed National Guard documents Friday, with Rather saying "the story is true," and that "no retraction has been discussed, nor should it be."

Questions arose after document experts contacted by The Washington Post, called into question the authenticity of the letters, which suggest President Bush tried to avoid service and that strings were pulled to help him.

The documents were featured in a piece Sept. 6 on 60 Minutes II.

CBS was strong in its defense as well, disputing reports it was conducting an internal investigation. " For the record, CBS News stands by the thoroughness and accuracy of the 60 Minutes report this Wednesday on President Bush's service in the Texas Air National Guard," the network said in a statement. "This report was not based solely on recovered documents, but rather on a preponderance of evidence, including documents that were provided by unimpeachable sources, interviews with former Texas National Guard officials and individuals who worked closely back in the early 1970s with Colonel Jerry Killian....  In addition, the documents are backed up not only by independent handwriting and forensic document experts but by sources familiar with their content. Contrary to some rumors, no internal investigation is underway at CBS News nor is one planned. We have complete confidence in our reporting and will continue to pursue the story."

Then late Friday it added: "CBS News states with absolute certainty that the ability to produce the "th" superscript mentioned in reports about the documents did exist on typewriters as early as 1968, and in fact is in President Bush's official military records released by the White House."

The network planned to lay out that and other information in a follow-up story on the controversy in the CBS Evening News Friday.

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