This past week, the birthers have been brought front and center by the national media. No doubt, most of you have encountered birthers in the comments section of any online articles that even remotely relate to President Obama or the Obama administration. I call this Birther's Law:
Birther's Law [internets] "When a news story is posted online; the closer that said story is in relation to President Obama or the Obama administration, the probability that someone will insert birther talking points into the comments section of the story approaches one."
The players in the birther game are too numerous to list here, but Kossack aarrgghh has been doing an excellent job chronicling the leaders, players and moves thus far in Birfistani.
I'll try and debunk the birther talking points. It is my opinion that birtherism has nothing to do with whether or not Barack Obama is eligible to hold the office of President of the United States. Every time you de-bunk a birther myth, they simply move the goal posts and spout the next talking point.
Birtherism is 100% about smearing and de-legitimizing Barack Obama and trying to remove him from office by means necessary.
1. President Obama was born in Kenya and his birth certificate is a forgery.
FALSE. Barack Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. A scanned copy of his Certification of Live Birth (COLB) is posted here and digital photographs of the document are here. Some alternate resolutions that more clearly show the raised seal and document border are posted here. A picture of the signature stamp on the certificate is here and the raised seal on the certificate can be seen here.
The birthers, of course, questioned the authenticity of President Obama's birth certificate. So the Director of Health for the State of Hawaii, released a statement verifying that they had President Obama's birth certificate on file.
"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," Fukino said.
An official from FactCheck.org went to the then-Obama headquarters in Chicago and had the chance to touch and hold President Obama's birth certificate.
Recently FactCheck representatives got a chance to spend some time with the birth certificate, and we can attest to the fact that it is real and three-dimensional and resides at the Obama headquarters in Chicago. We can assure readers that the certificate does bear a raised seal, and that it's stamped on the back by Hawaii state registrar Alvin T. Onaka (who uses a signature stamp rather than signing individual birth certificates).
Even Bill O'Reilly says that Barack Obama's birth certificate is legit.
Most birthers are not satisfied with the COLB and instead demand that President Obama release his long-form birth certificate. Problem with that is that the State of Hawaii no longer issues long-form birth certificates.
No, you can’t obtain a "certificate of live birth" anymore.
The state Department of Health no longer issues copies of paper birth certificates as was done in the past, said spokeswoman Janice Okubo.
The department only issues "certifications" of live births, and that is the "official birth certificate" issued by the state of Hawaii, she said.
Two Hawaiian newspapers, the Honolulu Advertiser and the Star Bulletin printed his birth announcements and both reported that he was born on August 4, 1961 as indicated on his birth certificate.
As for claims that the newspaper announcements could have been faked,
The exact same notice appeared the following day in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. The numerous birth announcements above and below the Obama listing also were identical in both papers, which were unaffiliated, competing publications.
Advertiser columnist and former Star-Bulletin managing editor Dave Shapiro was not at either paper in 1961, but he remembers how the birth notices process worked years later when both papers were jointly operated by the Hawaii Newspaper Agency — which no longer exists.
"Those were listings that came over from the state Department of Health," he said. "They would send the same thing to both papers."
Another theory floating around is that the state of Hawaii allows parents to register their foreign-born children as being born in Hawaii. Not so, according to Janice Okubo, spokeswoman for the Hawaiian Department of Health.
As for the theory that Obama's original birth certificate might show he was foreign born, Okubo said the "Certification of Live Birth" would say so. Obama's does not. Again, it says he was born in Honolulu.
Birthers also like to use an interview with President Obama's step-grandmother Sarah Obama, as evidence that he was born in Kenya. The interview was conducted by American anti-abortion activist and street preacher Ron McRae (WARNING link to Free Republic) and the birthers use a heavily edited version of the interview as their evidence. But by using a full transcript, it is much clearer exactly what Sarah Obama says. Full audio is available here.
MCRAE: OK I’m sorry. I, I thought she said she was present when he was born. I was—
TRANSLATOR OGOMBE (sounding exasperated): No, no! The, the woman was not present. She was uh not, a what–you see, she was here in Kenya, and Obama was born in America. That is, that’s obvious.
There are some birthers who believe that President Obama was born in Kenya and his posted birth certificate is forged because the race listed on the certificate for his father is "African". Per the instructions for filling out a birth certificate, race of a parent is determined by what the parent believes their race to be. Barack Obama Sr. would most likely not consider himself an African American because he was not an American citizen, so he likely checked the box for other and wrote in "African".
2. Barack Obama lost his citizenship when he and his mother moved to Indonesia.
FALSE. President Obama and his mother moved to Indonesia when he was six years old after his mother married Lolo Soetero.
Obama's mother remarried a man from Indonesia who worked in the oil industry, and when Obama was six they moved there. The family lived near the capital of Jakarta, where his half-sister Maya was born. At the age of ten, Obama returned to Hawaii and lived with his maternal grandparents; later his mother and sister returned as well.
The birther tall tale is that President Obama lost his US citizenship when he was adopted by his step-father in Indonesia. There is no credible evidence that Obama was formally adopted by his step-father; as no adoption records exist.
Birthers also rely on a school registration form filled out by Barack Obama's step father, Lolo Soetero, as proof that President Obama was once an Indonesian citizen. On line three, Lolo stated that Barack Obama was an Indonesian citizen. However, the document also states on line two that President Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. In addition, the school document would be deemed hearsay and could not be used as evidence in a court of law, per the Federal Rules of Evidence, Rule 902.
Indonesian law does not permit children to become citizens if they would, at the time, have dual citizenship.
(1)A child outside a marriage of a mother who is a citizen of the Republic of Indonesia or a child out of a legal marriage, but who has in a case of divorce been assigned to the care of its mother, a citizen of the Republic of Indonesia, who follows the nationality of the father, a foreigner, may present a petition to the Minister of Justice in order to acquire the citizenship of the Republic of Indonesia,
The country in question here would be the United States of America. According to The Immigration and Nationality Act, minor children may not have their US citizenship renounced. So, President Obama never lost his US citizenship during his time in Indonesia.
Parents cannot renounce U.S. citizenship on behalf of their minor children. Before an oath of renunciation will be administered under Section 349(a)(5) of the INA, a person under the age of eighteen must convince a U.S. diplomatic or consular officer that he/she fully understands the nature and consequences of the oath of renunciation, is not subject to duress or undue influence, and is voluntarily seeking to renounce his/her U.S. citizenship.
3. Barack Obama is not eligible to be President of the United States because he is a British/Kenyan citizen.
FALSE. Some birthers also contend that because Barack Obama Sr. was a native of Kenya, that President Obama is a British citizen. In 1961 when Barack Obama II was born, Kenya was a colony that fell under British rule. It is true that at birth, President Obama held both United States and Kenyan citizenship. Barack Obama Sr.'s citizenship was governed by The British Nationality Act of 1948. The status of Barack Obama Sr.'s children, including Barack Obama II, was also governed by the same act.
Subject to the provisions of this section, a person born after the commencement of this Act shall be a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies by descent if his father is a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies at the time of the birth.
When Kenya became it's own country in 1963, all people who had been defined as British citizens under The British Nationality Act ceased to be British citizens and became citizens of Kenya instead. This is according to the Kenyan Constitution.
- Every person who, having been born in Kenya, is on 11th December, 1963 a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies or a British protected person shall become a citizen of Kenya on 12th December, 1963...
- Every person who, having been born outside Kenya, is on 11th December, 1963 a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies or a British protected person shall, if his father becomes, or would but for his death have become, a citizen of Kenya by virtue of subsection (1), become a citizen of Kenya on 12th December, 1963.
Years later, the section of The British Nationality Act of 1948 which gave President Obama his British citizenship in the first place was repealed with The British Nationality Act of 1981.
In addition, because President Obama never renounced his US citizenship nor swore an oath of allegiance to Kenya, his Kenyan citizenship automatically ended on August 4, 1982 when he was twenty one years old. President Obama's loss of Kenyan citizenship is in accordance with the Kenyan Constitution.
A person who, upon the attainment of the age of twenty-one years, is a citizen of Kenya and also a citizen of some country other than Kenya shall, subject to subsection (7), cease to be a citizen of Kenya upon the specified date unless he has renounced his citizenship of that other country, taken the oath of allegiance and, in the case of a person who was born outside Kenya. made and registered such declaration of his intentions concerning residence as may be prescribed by or under an Act of Parliament.
4. Barack Obama could not have traveled on a US passport to Pakistan when he was in college, because there was a travel ban to Pakistan.
FALSE. As mentioned at a California fundraiser in 2008, Barack Obama traveled to Pakistan with his college friend in 1981. The story told by birthers is that it would have been impossible for Obama to travel to Pakistan on a US passport because of a State Department travel ban for that country. Therefore, Obama must have held and traveled to Pakistan on a passport from another nation that he was a citizen of, such as Indonesia or Kenya.
According to the official document from the State Department, there was merely a travel advisory for Pakistan, not a travel ban. Thirty day visas were available to US citizens at Pakistani airports.
5. Even if Barack Obama was born in Hawaii, he is not eligible to be President of the Unites States because he only had one citizen parent.
FALSE. According to Article II, Section I of the United States Constitution,
No person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty-five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.
The 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution gives us a framework for what constitutes a United States citizen.
- All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
President Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii on August 4, 1961. Under the Hawaii Admission Act, Hawaii was declared to be a state of the union on March 18, 1959; two entire years before Barack Obama was born. Therefore, he was born in the United States and was subject to its jurisdiction at birth; making him a citizen.
Birthers, however, have determined that since Barack Obama's father was not a United States citizen that President Obama is not a citizen of the United States because he only has one citizen parent. However, the United States Supreme Court has defined United States citizenship more broadly than the birthers, as shown in United States v Wong Kim Ark.
This was the first case in which the Court interpreted Section I of the Fourteenth Amendment, in which all persons born in the United States are defined as citizens.
Expanding on the 14th Amendment, in Wong the court ruled that all persons born in the United States are citizens regardless of the citizenship status of their parents. This is also known as jus solis.
6. If President Obama would just call the State of Hawaii and have them release his long-form birth certificate it would clear all of this up.
FALSE. First off, as noted above the State of Hawaii does not issue long-form birth certificates.
Secondly, President Obama is a defendant in numerous eligibility lawsuits; a list of which can be found here. When you are a party in a legal suit, it is NEVER a good idea to have outside communications with parties that could be named as witnesses in your case (such as employees of the State of Hawaii).
Also, we have seen over the past one year and one month since the President's COLB was first scanned and posted online how much this conspiracy has grown. The birther conspiracy nuts have, as noted above, several theories; some of which cannot be debunked using a birth certificate. Releasing any more documents will not help to put this situation to bed, it will only deepen the conspiracy.
As Loren from Barackryphal writes (emphasis mine),
RP: "So you want to know why Obama won't take the simple measure of releasing his birth certificate, when you already have at least eight consecutive fall-back arguments you'll make if he does so, whereby you'll continue to insist that he's ineligible for the Presidency even after he proves that he was born in Hawaii?"
RP: "Y'know, if I were Obama, I think I'd save my ten dollars too."
In addition to the facts and evidence cited above, in response to the FOIA lawsuit Strunk v U.S. Department of State, the Departments of State and Homeland Security answered in a document that debunks almost all of the birther lies.
To the extent this paragraph alleges that President Obama is not a natural-born citizen of the United States or is otherwise ineligible to serve as President of the United States, that allegation is denied.
Specifically, Defendants deny that President Obama was born in Kenya or anywhere outside the state of Hawaii.
To the extent this paragraph alleges that Lolo Soetoro is or ever was President Obama’s father by birth or adoption, that allegation is denied. To the extent this paragraph alleges that President Obama is or ever was a practicing Muslim, that allegation is denied.
Major props to these awesome researchers for the quotes cited above
Doc at Obama Conspiracy Theories
nbc at Native and Natural Born Citizenship Explored
Pat Gund at Bad Fiction
my fellow Obots from The FogBow
updated on January 4, 2011