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Dissecting Obama's School Record

Anti-Obama blogger and No Quarter contributor "TexasDarlin" alleges proof of such a damaging document, a January 24, 2007, Associated Press photograph of a registration document for Barack Obama at Fransiskus Assisi school in Jakarta, Indonesia, under the name Barry Soetoro.

Jack Stokes, manager of media relations for the Associated Press, confirmed the legitimacy of the photo, but what does the photo of the document actually show?

According to "TexasDarlin," the school registration document photo proves that:

  1. Barack Obama had Indonesian citizenship.
  2. Barack Obama had the legal name Barry Soetoro.
  3. Barack Obama was a Muslim, despite his "fight the smears" claim that he never has been.

"TexasDarlin" also alleges that this proves that Barack Obama

apparently lied to the Illinois Supreme Court when asked to provide former names, according to this attorney's registration record.

Let's go through these claims.

Did Barack Obama have Indonesian citizenship? We don't know anything from this picture other than that his stepfather Lolo Soetoro apparently claimed that he did. Would it impact Barack Obama's current viability as a U.S. presidential candidate if Lolo Soetoro or Obama's mother changed Obama's citizenship to Indonesian? Not according to the U.S. State Department, which states plainly, "In order to lose U.S. citizenship, the law requires that the person must apply for the foreign citizenship voluntarily, by free choice, and with the intention to give up U.S. citizenship." As Barack Obama was a child, not of legal age to surrender his citizenship, then all further discussion of this point is irrelevant.

Was Barack Obama's name actually changed to Barry Soetoro? Again, all we see is that this was what his stepfather allegedly wrote on his school registration, a document of far less formality than a birth certificate, passport, adoption form, or citizenship papers.

If documentation can be produced proving Obama legally took his stepfather's name at some point, perhaps Obama can be fairly accused of misrepresenting himself by failing to note his name was once Soetoro in the Illinois attorney's registration record, but it would most likely be viewed as a technical faux pas, not a mortal sin. The purpose of the name change form in the Illinois bar is to accurately reflect name changes associated with marriages and divorces of attorneys already registered on the roll of attorneys admitted to the practice of law in Illinois. Far from being a major offense, this charge is a perversion of the intent of why the roll of attorneys is maintained.

Was Barack Obama a Muslim? Again, just because his stepfather allegedly wrote that in the blank does not necessarily mean that he was.

This picture of a school registration page is a photo of something that is not a legal document. At best, it indicates the possibility that Lolo Soetoro considered Barack Obama his adoptive son, that Obama had Indonesian citizenship, and that Soetoro considered Obama a Muslim.

All of the claims hinge upon treating the photo of the school registration as unquestioned fact, but this is not documented proof of an official change in citizenship, an official change of his legal name, or an official determination of his religion.

It is, in and of itself, irrelevant to Barack Obama's presidential campaign.