Renewed Debate Over Obama's Birth Certificate
Rumors questioning President Barack Obama's citizenship have been circulating since the first part of 2008, when opponents of the Democratic nominee -- including many supporters of Democratic primary candidate and now Secretary of State Hillary Clinton -- floated rumors that Obama did not meet the citizenship requirements to become president of the United States as set forth in the Constitution.
These opponents claim Obama is ineligible because he was -- they allege -- not born in the United States.
Various theories of where President Obama's birth may have occurred have failed to produce any documentation that suggests he was born overseas. An alleged Kenyan birth figures prominently in one popular theory; a lesser known theory places his birth in Vancouver, British Columbia. Another theory accepts that he was born in Hawaii as a natural born citizen, but then argues that the Indonesian citizenship he gained as a child after moving to be with his mother and stepfather in Indonesia stripped him of his U.S. citizenship because Indonesia does not recognize dual citizenship (Indonesian law regarding dual citizenship is irrelevant in the United States).
Last week, a lawsuit filed by a U.S. Army Reserve major questioning Barack Obama's eligibility to serve as president gained notoriety for several days when the Army canceled his deployment, prompting his attorney to declare victory in the case. The "victory" was short-lived.
The legal case was subsequently dismissed as the result of his deployment being canceled, and the plaintiff who brought the suit, Major Stefan Frederick Cook, was allegedly terminated from his job at a defense contractor in retaliation for bringing the suit.
If you think that Cook's dismissal and termination will quell those questioning Barack Obama's citizenship, however, you haven't been paying attention.
Orly Taitz, Cook's lawyer, has already filed another case and added two more plaintiffs (one of which is disputing his involvement) and has at her disposal claims from an immigration lawyer in Hawaii that have been floating around in various forms in the backwaters of the internet previously, but that so far have not seen widespread notice.
The contention is that Barack Obama could indeed have obtained an "official birth certificate" in Hawaii under laws applicable at the time of his birth in 1961, but that not all original birth certificates in the new state were created equal. There were four ways to obtain an official birth certificate under laws passed in 1955 and active in the 1960s, and three of the four ways this document could be obtained may not have required enough proof to satisfactorily prove President Obama is a natural born citizen.
Far-fetched? Perhaps. But it does make for a fascinating read.
It all begins with the statement issued by Dr. Chiyome Fukino, the director of the Hawaii Department of Health, released on October 31, 2008, and affirming the existence of Barack Obama's official birth certificate:
There have been numerous requests for Sen. Barack Hussein Obama’s official birth certificate. State law (Hawai‘i Revised Statutes §338-18) prohibits the release of a certified birth certificate to persons who do not have a tangible interest in the vital record. Therefore, I as Director of Health for the State of Hawai‘i, along with the Registrar of Vital Statistics who has statutory authority to oversee and maintain these type of vital records, have personally seen and verified that the Hawai‘i State Department of Health has Sen. Obama’s original birth certificate on record in accordance with state policies and procedures.
The attorney claims that the statement was very much hedged in legalese, and that while Fukino verified there was an official birth certificate, she never claimed that the document they have provides evidence that Barack Obama was a natural born citizen.
There were four different ways to get an "original birth certificate" on record in 1961, and they varied greatly in their reliability as evidence. We'll refer to these as BC1, BC2, BC3, and BC4.
BC1: The original birth certificate could be issued by the attending medical professional at the birth, typically a physician or midwife. They were required to certify to the Department of Health the infant's name, birth date, identity of the parents if known, and other information. This is how most births were and are recorded, and by far the most likely way Barack Obama's birth was documented.
BC2: In 1961, if a person was born in Hawaii but not attended by a physician or midwife, then all that was required was that one of the parents send in a birth certificate to be filed. The birth certificate could be filed by mail. It would obviously be very unreliable and easy to falsify.
The attorney asked the Department of Health what they currently ask for (in 2008) to back up a parent’s claim that a child was born in Hawaii. He was told that all that was required was a proof of residence in Hawaii and pre-natal and post-natal certification by a physician. On follow-up the employee suggested that the pre-natal and post-natal certifications had probably not been in force in the 1960s. Quite literally, Obama's "official birth certificate" could have been mailed in from anywhere on the planet if this was true.
BC3: In 1961, if a person was born in Hawaii but not attended by a physician or midwife, then, up to the first birthday of the child, a “Delayed Certificate” could be filed. It apparently required no more than a statement before a government bureaucrat by one of the parents within the first year of the child's life.
BC4: If methods BC1, BC2, and BC3 were not used, and the child surpassed the age of one without a certificate, then a original certificate of Hawaiian birth could be issued upon testimony of an adult -- including the adult child himself -- if the office of the lieutenant governor was satisfied that a person was born in Hawaii.
If the four ways "official birth certificates" could be issued under 1955 isn't arbitrary and confusing enough, a fifth way to claim an official birth certificate for a child that claims to have been born in Hawaii who is now an adult was added in 1982, at the time a young Barry Obama was in college.
BC5: Under Act 182 H.B. NO. 3016-82, "Upon application of an adult or the legal parents of a minor child, the director of health shall issue a birth certificate for such adult or minor, provided that the proof has been submitted to the director of health that the legal parents of such individual while living without the Territory or State of Hawaii had declared the Territory or State of Hawaii as their legal residence for at least one year immediately preceding the birth or adoption of such child." In this way "state policies and procedures" accommodate even "children born out of State" (this is the actual language of Act 182) with an "original birth certificate on record."
There are five ways to get an "official" birth certificate in Hawaii, a cadre of hardcore believers that are convinced that the president is not eligible to hold the office he occupies, and an executive that doesn't seem to mind fighting these accusations in court, even as they seem to be winning some converts who are no doubt looking for a scapegoat to the problems facing America today.
These may not be the best theories, or the most tenable, but they are the theories on the rise, and there is little reason to suspect we'll see the last of them any time soon.