WorldNetDaily versus the State of Hawaii

Speaking of WorldNetDaily, the place has become almost a full time Birth Certificate Truther site. This morning I counted no less than eleven articles devoted to the subject at their front page.

The crux of the matter is the claim that the Hawaiian birth certificate -- which the state asserts is a legitimate record, and which states that Barack Obama was born in Honolulu -- is in fact fraudulent, and that Hawaii is lying.

The claim reveals such desperation that I'm beginning to feel sorry for the people who advance it, but once again (and I hope this is the last time), I feel obliged. After all, I'd hate to be lumped in with the cowardly sellouts condemned in this piece that WND prominently links:

Fox News: Total Silence. Did the healthy shares that Saudi Arabia bought of Fox influence the network's non-coverage of this story? After all, it's no secret which candidate the Saudis endorsed! We know that TV shows, including Fox, are on a seven-second delay, the better to bleep out offensive or inappropriate material. Doesn't it strike Fox viewers as strange that not one of their outspoken guests, even once, mentioned this story? Who warned them not to?

Rush Limbaugh: Total Silence. Why has the Excellence-in-Broadcasting's "Dr. of Democracy" - the man who eats sacred cows for breakfast - not touched this story?

Mark Levin: Total Silence. Why has this popular radio host, commonly known as "the Great One," abandoned his well-deserved reputation as a Constitutional scholar to studiously not address this Constitutional issue?

Laura Ingraham: Total Silence. Here is another radio powerhouse and former clerk to Justice Clarence Thomas taking pains not to mention this case...not a word!

Bill O'Reilly: Total Silence. Yes, the guy who claims he's "just looking out for the folks"...voiceless!

Sean Hannity: Total Silence. The iconic radio and TV host who tackles every controversial subject under the sun...missing in action!

I could go on and on, but you get the picture. The very people - the so-called loyal opposition - who should have been shouting this story from the rooftops for months on end went mute.

My friends, let it not ever be said that Classical Values went mute! Unlike Limbaugh, Levin, Ingraham, O'Reilly, and Hannity, I have devoted many long hours to this issue.

My repeated conclusion was that all they have is rumor based on alleged hearsay. Not enough even to come close to rebutting the legal presumption of legitimacy of a sovereign state's records.

Hawaii has officially certified that Barack Obama was born there, in Honolulu, Hawaii, on August 4, 1961, at 7:24 p.m.

That's not good enough for WND founder, editor and CEO Joseph Farah, who sees (presumably in the emanations from the Constitution's penumbra) some sort of constitutional right to know the exact name of the hospital where a candidate was born:

...the location of the hospital in which Barack Obama was born is something of a state secret.

It is information the American people should know, because it would be revealed on his birth certificate - if only we could see it.

The story, as told in Obama's ghostwritten autobiography, "Dreams of My Father," is that he was born in Hawaii Aug. 4, 1961. Yet, the only alleged birth certificate released by the Obama campaign lacks the significant details normally associated with such a document - like specifically where he was born.

OK, let's assume for the sake of argument that it would be nice to know the name of the hospital. (And, presumably, the name of the doctor who delivered Barack Obama.) The problem is that it does not appear on the only official form the state issues for documentation purposes, and the "long form" WND demands (and that the Truthers make much of) is not offered by Hawaii, nor is it a legal requirement anywhere. Nor are hospital records. (Quite the contrary; for passport purposes they're deemed inadequate to prove birth.) People might not like it, but that doesn't make it a conspiracy. Come to think of it, I had to get a Pennsylvania birth certificate a few years ago in order to get one of the new social security cards, and like Hawaii's, it does not have the hospital information on it. According to WND's reasoning, it's not enough for Pennsylvania to say I was born there. I can't run for president unless I somehow provide hospital records, or else make the state provide them on a "long form." (A form which the state of Hawaii does not offer.)

A novel interpretation, but once again, it will never survive legal scrutiny. These people are whistling in the wind.

This is important constitutionally beyond proving mere citizenship. The Constitution requires presidents to be "natural born" Americans - meaning born within the United States. In Hawaii circa 1961, it was possible - even routine - to register foreign births.
He's fudging there, as the birth certificate clearly says on its face that Obama was born in Hawaii, and Department Of Health Director Dr. Chiyome Fukino provided additional verification by stating the certificate was accurate.

Not good enough for Farah, who says that Jerome Corsi says that Obama's relatives gave him "testimony":

If, as some evidence strongly suggests, including the testimony of two Obama relatives to WND senior staff writer Jerome Corsi who say they were present when he was born in Mombasa, Kenya, in 1961, he was born abroad and merely registered in Hawaii, that would slam-dunk disqualify him from serving - unless, like John McCain, both his parents were U.S. citizens. Since Obama's autobiography also states that his mother was a minor and his father a citizen of Kenya, only the production of actual hospital records on a long-form birth certificate can provide the necessary information.
Wrong. Unless, of course, we assume that the state of Hawaii is lying.

It all comes down to this: Hawaii says he was born there, and Corsi says that some relatives in Africa say he wasn't.

Where Corsi says that, I'm not sure; Farah does not provide a link.


The last time I looked at Corsi's claim, he cited an uncle who said he "was not sure... whether Barack Obama junior was born in Kenya or in Hawaii" along with a video of the step-grandmother which argues that when she said he was "a son of this village" she meant "a native of this village."

Anticipating the argument that he's wearing a tin-foil hat, Farah says he's only trying to dot every "i" and "t."

Does dotting every "i" and crossing every "t" when it comes to constitutional eligibility questions for the highest office in the land warrant being characterized as a "tin-foil hat conspiracist" as some of the self-proclaimed truth-detector sites on the Internet suggest?

I don't think so.

And I'm not afraid of being called derogatory names for defending the Constitution's literal meaning and clear standards for eligibility for office.

I know where George W. Bush was born - Grace-New Haven Community Hospital in Connecticut.

I know where Bill Clinton was born - the Julia Chester Hospital in Hope, Ark.

I even know Abraham Lincoln was born in a log cabin.

Not to pick nits, but which log cabin was that? The one in Kentucky, or the one in Illinois? Aren't we entitled to know? Has every "i" been dotted and every "t" crossed?

I predict that this will never go away, even if Obama happened to have in his possession and did manage to produce his "original" "hospital" "records."

After all, if the state Hawaii is lying, well, wouldn't a Hawaiian hospital lie too?

So I'm probably wasting my time. But at least no one can accuse me of being a Fox News, Limbaugh, Levin, Ingraham, O'Reilly, and Hannity sellout!

Once again, Little Green Footballs got it right:

Will this put a stop to the idiotic rumors? Of course not!

MORE: In answer to those who think I am wasting my time, I thought I should demonstrate how deadly seriously this argument is being taken at respected web sites. Just today, blogger "Joe the Farmer" at American Thinker devoted a great deal of time to the proposition "Why the Barack Obama Birth Certificate Issue Is Legitimate." Why this blogger is hesitant to put his own name on what he writes, I do not know. But he or she makes several points:

1. Under Hawaiian law, it is possible (both legally and illegally) for a person to have been born out of state, yet have a birth certificate on file in the Department of Health.
Yes, but Barack Obama's birth certificate states on its face that he was born in Honolulu, Hawaii.
2. Contrary to what you may have read, no document made available to the public, nor any statement by Hawaiian officials, evidences conclusively that Obama was born in Hawaii.
I guess the argument there is that the Certification of Live Birth is not conclusive evidence of what it says on its face that it is. Again, the argument is with the state of Hawaii.

The text that follows provides a link to an AP story headlined "State declares Obama birth certificate genuine" which says this:

HONOLULU (AP) -- State officials say there's no doubt Barack Obama was born in Hawaii.

Health Department Director Dr. Chiyome Fukino said Friday she and the registrar of vital statistics, Alvin Onaka, have personally verified that the health department holds Obama's original birth certificate.

"Joe" complains that the statement did not verify Obama's birth in Hawaii.
That statement does not, however, verify that Obama was born in Hawaii, and as explained above, under Hawaiian policies and procedures it is quite possible that Hawaii may have a birth record of a person not born in Hawaii. Unlikely, but possible.
For that argument to be correct, the actual document which was examined by would have to be a lie or a forgery, as it states Obama was born in Honolulu. If Hawaii in fact has a birth record of a person not born in Hawaii, then the state officials are lying.
C. The document that the Obama campaign released to the public is a certified copy of Obama's birth record, which is not the best evidence since, even under Hawaiian law, the original vault copy is the better evidence. Presumably, the vault record would show whether his birth was registered by a hospital in Hawaii.
Yes, it would be better. But the problem these people face is that legally, it is not required.

Moreover, according to Hawaiian officials, it cannot be released by the state -- even with Obama's permission:

In Hawai'i, birth, death, marriage and certain divorce documents can only be released to people with a "tangible interest," such as the people themselves, their parents, spouses, grandparents or other relatives.

As a result, Fukino said she does not believe Health Department officials could release Obama's birth certificate to the public even with his permission, although she would need to get a legal ruling to be certain.

Now there's a Catch-22. If there's no way for Obama to request the "long form" that the Truthers demand, and the state cannot release it with his permission, then unless he has kept an original somewhere among his personal papers, it might be that the document is off limits to everyone -- including Barack Obama. (Nothing would surprise me.)

Under this possibly erroneous assumption that all Obama needs to do is sign a release, "Joe" looks at Obama's possible reasons for refusing to provide the "long form" birth certificate:

4. Obama has refused to disclose the vault copy of his Hawaiian birth certificate. This raises the question whether he himself has established that he is eligible to be President. To date, no state or federal election official, nor any government authority, has verified that he ever established conclusively that he meets the eligibility standard under the Constitution. If the burden of proof were on him, perhaps as it should be for the highest office of any individual in America, the more-than-dozen lawsuits challenging his eligibility would be unnecessary.
"Refused to disclose" implies that he has the "vault copy" to disclose, and that he can disclose it. If the Hawaiian officials are correct, he might be unable to "disclose" it even if he wanted to. I'd like to know how many presidents have ever provided "vault copies" of their birth certificates. Again, I don't have mine, and if someone demanded I produce it, would that obligate me legally?
...Strategically from a legal standpoint, therefore, his refusal to disclose doesn't make sense. Weighing factors such as costs, resources and complexity of disclosing versus not disclosing, he must have reason of considerable downside in disclosing, or upside in not disclosing. There may be other reasons, but one could speculate that he hasn't disclosed because:

1. He was not born in Hawaii, and may not be eligible to be President;

As even "Joe" admits, it is unlikely that he wasn't born in Hawaii. So I think it's likely that the reason (assuming he has access to the "vault copy" his critics demand) is probably one of those that follow:
2. He was born in Hawaii, but facts that may be derived from his vault copy birth certificate are inconsistent with the life story he has told (and sold);

3. He was born in Hawaii, and his refusal to provide the best evidence that he is a natural born citizen is a means by which to draw criticism of him in order to make him appear to be a "victim." This would energize his supporters. This would also make other charges about him seem suspect, including his concealment about ties to Bill Ayers and others of some infamy. Such a clever yet distasteful tactic would seem to be a Machiavelli- and Saul-Alinsky-style way to manipulate public opinion. But while this tactic may energize his supporters, it would convince those who believe him to be a manipulator that he's not only just that, but a real pro at it. This would indeed be the basest reason of all, and would have repercussions about his trustworthiness (both here and abroad), which Americans know, is a characteristic sorely lacking in its leaders.

As to reason 2, yes, it is possible the exact circumstances of Obama's birth might show that he or his mother lied about something -- perhaps his parentage. But that is not a bar to his election to office. It is simply a political matter, and no court is going to order Hawaii to release records in order to satisfy critics for that purpose.

As to reason 3, I have long thought the reason was along such lines. Whether it's a "clever yet distasteful tactic" and "basest reason of all" with "repercussions about his trustworthiness," I don't know. Barack Obama might consider the behavior of the Truthers to be beneath contempt. Considering that most of them feel the same way about him and the complete absence of any substantiation of a birth in Kenya, it strikes me as more along the lines of typical political hardball on both sides than a distasteful Machiavellian ploy. As I said back in July,

If by doing nothing Obama can engender this sort of paranoia, that's probably an excellent reason for him to continue to do nothing.

Especially if he knows he's on safe ground.

Of course, that was before all these lawsuits were filed.

Sooner or later, Obama may decide to get a court to order the State of Hawaii to release whatever they have in that vault. If he does, and if it simply proves what the short form certifies, the Truthers are going to look ridiculous.

Naturally, they'll blame Barack Obama for making them look ridiculous, and they'll say "Why did he make this hard? He could have made this easy!"

Again, the whole thing reminds me of Andrew Sullivan demanding Sarah Palin's records.

They have stated on the record that Sarah Palin is Trig's biological mother. But they refuse to provide one iota of confirming evidence.

I mean: what's the problem here? Why is this so hard?

Why is this so hard?

Because Obama is making it hard!

UPDATE: Intellectual Conservative takes a common sense look at the possibility of Obama's birth in Kenya:

For Obama to have been born in Kenya, Ann Dunham and Barack Obama Sr. would have had to fly from Honolulu to Mombasa, give birth in a substandard third world hospital, fly back and then somehow arrange for a fraudulent birth certificate to be entered by the State of Hawai`i on August 8, 1961 (at the time governed by Republican William Quinn). They would have also somehow planted the phony birth announcement in the Honolulu Advertiser (at the time edited by Republican Thurston Twigg-Smith) and the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Hawai`i's current Republican Governor Linda Lingle would also have to be complicit in the cover-up as would all of the leftist 1960s University of Hawaii friends of Ann Dunham and Barack Obama Sr - among them US Rep. Neil Abercrombie.

In 1961, the roundtrip flight to Kenya would have been a very expensive, pointless, and time consuming epic journey for two starving students. Barack Obama Sr. had only been able to come study at UH Manoa with a free ticket on a donated charter flight with other Kenyan students.

Interesting. And considering that jet travel was in its infancy in those days, I doubt there would have been any direct flights.

I think the whole operation (international travel, plus pointlessly sophisticated fraud) would have been pretty tough for a pregnant teenage mom to pull off.

posted by Eric on 11.26.08 at 03:00 PM


I hate this stupid crap.

Going after Obama for this is the same as going after Kim Jong Il for bad fashion sense.

Guilty? Maybe, but is this your biggest concern? Really?

guy   ·  November 26, 2008 3:20 PM

There is always a market for what people want to believe. I wouldn't waste my time, but I don't like seeing so many people (including people I respect) so badly mistaken.

Maybe I shouldn't care.

Eric Scheie   ·  November 26, 2008 3:56 PM

This sort of thing re-enforces my decision to never read WND, and to ignore anything WND says unless it has outside verification.

Sigivald   ·  November 26, 2008 3:58 PM

From Title 8, Section 1401:

Any one born outside the United States, if one parent is an alien and as long as the other parent is a citizen of the U.S. who lived in the U.S. for at least five years (with military and diplomatic service included in this time)

What it comes down to is; even if Barack Obama had been born in Kenya, the fact his mother was at the time a citizen of the United States of America, and had lived on American territory for five years prior to his birth, means he is a natural born American citizen. In order for him to not be a natural born American citizen she would have had to move out of the United States at the age of 13. Even if the WND crowd was right regarding his place of birth, it has absolutely no affect on his status as a natural born citizen of the United States of America.

Take a man who joins the U.S. Navy, and is assigned as the U.S. Navy liaison to a Russian scientific expedition to the Chukchi Penninsula (across the Bering Strait from Alaska). He is assigned as the U.S. Navy liaison to the expedition for 40 years. Near the end of that forty years he meets and marries a young Chuckchi woman. At the end of the 40 years he retires from the Navy and stays on with the expedition. Three years later he and his wife have a son. Four years after his retirement the expedition comes to an end and husband, wife, and year old son move to America. Forty years later the son decides to run for the office of President of the United States of America. Is he a natural born citizen of the United States?

Yes. Because his father was for 40 years in the service of the United States of America, and so in effect living on U.S. territory for all that his place of residence was also foreign territory. Title 8 Section 1401 when it comes to people serving their country in foreign lands has no statue of limitations. That five year "statue of limitations" only applies to civilians. And let me remind people that Obama's mother was living in America at the most just months before his birth.

President-elect Barack Hussein Obama is, by Federal law, a natural born citizen regardless of where he was born.

Alan Kellogg   ·  November 26, 2008 5:58 PM

Here's what the applicable portion of the law says now:

(g) a person born outside the geographical limits of the United States and its outlying possessions of parents one of whom is an alien, and the other a citizen of the United States who, prior to the birth of such person, was physically present in the United States or its outlying possessions for a period or periods totaling not less than five years, at least two of which were after attaining the age of fourteen years: Provided, That any periods of honorable service in the Armed Forces of the United States, or periods of employment with the United States Government or with an international organization as that term is defined in section 1 of the International Organizations Immunities Act (59 Stat. 669; 22 U.S.C. 288) by such citizen parent, or any periods during which such citizen parent is physically present abroad as the dependent unmarried son or daughter and a member of the household of a person (A) honorably serving with the Armed Forces of the United States, or (B) employed by the United States Government or an international organization as defined in section 1 of the International Organizations Immunities Act, may be included in order to satisfy the physical-presence requirement of this paragraph. This proviso shall be applicable to persons born on or after December 24, 1952, to the same extent as if it had become effective in its present form on that date...


But there was an earlier version of the law which was in effect at the time of Obama's birth. It said this:


(7) "a person born outside the geographical limits of the United States and its outlying possessions of parents one of whom is an alien, and the other a citizen of the United States who, prior to the birth of such person, was physically present in the United States or its outlying possessions for a period or periods totaling not less than ten years, at least five of which were after attaining the age of fourteen years: Provided that any periods of honorable service in the Armed Forces of the United States by such citizen parent may be included in computing the physical presence requirements of this paragraph."


The Truthers assert that the previous law governs, and therefore that Obama would NOT be a citizen by birth if he was born in Africa (because his mother was not 19).

However, the new law states that it is to be applied retrospectively:


This proviso shall be applicable to persons born on or after December 24, 1952, to the same extent as if it had become effective in its present form on that date...


What that might mean (if Obama was born in Kenya) is that he was not an automatic citizen at birth until the new law made him one retroactively.

That would be a question of interpretation for the courts.

However, a Freeper claims that the retroactive date "applies only to the "periods of honorable service" clause and has no application to the Obama issue." He may be right, because it is preceded by the language which follows the word "Provided."

The problem with this type of analysis is that it puts the cart before the horse. There is no showing to overcome the State of Hawaii's claim that Obama was born there.

Eric Scheie   ·  November 26, 2008 6:34 PM

I don't think there's really any doubt that Obama was born in Hawaii, but I think there is still a remote possibility that there is something peculiar about his original certificate--for instance, that his actual birth name is "Barry" instead of Barack, or something similarly inconsequential. I would have liked to have seen that during the election, but now, even if there were something odd about his birth certificate, it's completely moot.

John S.   ·  November 27, 2008 12:35 AM

Best explanation (following 2 you tube videos) I've seen for the total media blackout of what is the single greatest news event and domestic threat -- let's call it OBAMAGATE -- since the outbreak of the American Civil War and for the sincere prayers of the American people that the United States Supreme Court -- let's call it OUR LAST HOPE -- now to have the courage to save our great nation as we have come to know it:

Ted   ·  November 27, 2008 1:04 AM

Best explanation (following 2 you tube videos) I've seen for the total media blackout of what is the single greatest news event and domestic threat -- let's call it OBAMAGATE -- since the outbreak of the American Civil War and for the sincere prayers of the American people that the United States Supreme Court -- let's call it OUR LAST HOPE -- now to have the courage to save our great nation as we have come to know it:

Ted   ·  November 27, 2008 1:04 AM

Best explanation (following 2 you tube videos) I've seen for the total media blackout of what is the single greatest news event and domestic threat -- let's call it OBAMAGATE -- since the outbreak of the American Civil War and for the sincere prayers of the American people that the United States Supreme Court -- let's call it OUR LAST HOPE -- now to have the courage to save our great nation as we have come to know it:

Ted   ·  November 27, 2008 1:05 AM

When WND starts to get serious about Obama hate they will expose him as a gay cross dresser who likes to have his flesh flayed by whippings from his wife and Bernadine Dhorn while Billy Ayers takes notes.

They will announce that he plans to convert the White House bowling alley into a dungeon called "The Gutter - Its a Ball".

The CIA will be delivering him all the cocaine it used to drop off in the Black community and he will pay for it with his personal stimulus package.

M. Simon   ·  November 27, 2008 1:40 AM

Ted, I find Rev. Manning amusing, but you only have to comment once.

Eric Scheie   ·  November 27, 2008 2:11 AM

I am pleased that you have objectively taken on this subject for whatever it is worth.

I notice that you have referenced LGF, where if one even mentions this subject will be promptly banned!

Banned at LGF   ·  November 27, 2008 3:13 AM

Well, if the Palins with their measly $200k per year can intimidate a hospital into covering up Trig's birth by Bristol Palin (possibly fathered by Todd) - pace Andrew Sullivan, then imagine how much more capable of bullying the State of Hawaii the Obamas are, with their four million last year.

So as Andrew Sullivan would have it, just pose the questions and ask for answers. Why the cover up?

Like Eric, I do think it's possible that something in the birth certificate might be embarrasing to Obama. Possibly his birth name is "Barry" or his mother's status is listed as single. And that would provide some small amusement, but not in any way make him a non citizen.

And at least Birth Certificate Truthers give me a chuckle, unlike their 9/11 ilk, who make me want to distribute punches.

Steve Skubinna   ·  November 27, 2008 5:38 AM

The time for this to issue to have been raised was during the primaries at the very latest.

Even if WND was really onto something here, that doesn't change the fact that Barack Obama, native-born or not, and for better or worse, won the g****mn presidential election. It seems to me a foregone conclusion that any court presented even with clear, irrefutable evidence that Obama is not native-born would bend over backwards to rule the man eligible for the office anyway. To do otherwise would be, in effect, to nullify the vote of the majority of Americans, and of the Electoral College, and I doubt any judge in the country wants to put himself in that kind of position.

Besides, I don't understand why WND is so hell-bent on making Joseph Biden the 44th President of the United States.

On that note, happy Thanksgiving, all...

Joshua   ·  November 27, 2008 9:45 AM

Here is what we know for sure. We will never know for sure where Obama was born. Never.

So what is the real concern here? It is that there exists a double standard between Democrats and Republicans. If this controversy involved a Republican it would be huge.

If a Republican presidential candidate were claiming to be born in Hawaii and there were people making even a lame argument that he might have been born out of the USA, the State of Hawaii would be saying that it could not verify his birth in Hawaii. Every last bit of pressure would be brought to bear upon that candidate until the last scrap of paper and testimony of his place of birth had been thoroughly examined.

And through it all, the burden of proof would be on that Republican, not on the accusers.

Whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, you are not an honorable person if you think this is just fine.

Flash Gordon   ·  November 27, 2008 11:51 AM

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