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Galloway papers deemed forgeries

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The second to examine the papers was Gerald Richards, a forensics document examiner. A former chief of the document operations and research unit at the FBI, Mr. Richards is now an independent consultant based in Laurel, Md.

Mr. Richards scanned the Galloway papers under ultraviolet and infrared light for obvious physical signs of forgery.

In his tests, Richards found nothing untoward. Pen usage in the papers was consistent with standard bureaucratic procedure, he noted. For example, the pen used to sign the documents was different from the one that was used to write the date. That might indicate that an official signed the document, while an aide dated them.

"There is nothing that would indicate to me they are forgeries," says Richards. "If they are, it's somebody who knows what he's doing."

Richards cautioned that his type of examination is just one aspect of document forensics. Another, of equal or greater importance, is textual analysis.

For that, Bruce Fudge directed the Monitor to Hassan Mneimneh. As head of the Iraq Research and Documentation Project in Washington, Mr. Mneimneh has custody of some 3.2 million Iraqi government documents captured by the US or its allies in the 1991 Gulf War. He and his analysts have been poring over this trove for years in an effort to learn more about Iraq's intelligence services, military, and bureaucratic operations.

Mneimneh's first instinct was that something was not quite right about the Monitor's documents.

"I have literally reviewed hundreds of thousands of documents, and these [are] by far the neatest, tidiest I have ever seen," he says.

There is, for instance, the matter of the papers' handwritten dates. Purportedly, the documents as a whole cover a period starting in 1992 and ending in 2003. Yet the dates are written in nearly identical fashion - as if the same person were dashing them off all at once.

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