Jul 06 2008

The Obama “Forged Birth Certificate” Myth Is Busted

Welcome Hot Air and Little Green Footballs Readers

May I suggest much more important topics such as Our Pending Victory In Iraq, The Determination Of Our Soldiers To Succeed In Iraq, Obama’s Flip-Flops, and Nagging Problems On Flight 93 Memorial. This birth certificate myth is just not that import Addendum: I failed to note LJStrata (the computer guru behind the curtain here at that Strata-Sphere) was the one who put me onto the anti-aliasing lead. – end update

Days ago I looked into the forged Obama Birth Certificate Myth and realized it was all BS. Basically, we have a lot of people running around making mistakes and then trying to pretend revelations that destroyed their first claims are exposing other, new issues. All I see are people making wild claims, being proved wrong, and then moving onto new wild claims – to be proved wrong again. As proof of this pattern let me point to one of these ‘experts’ who did a poor job of examining the documents in the first place, a person called Polirak over at Town Hall.

Before we get into this I want to share what I discovered when I looked into these files, before I even began to look around the blogosphere.

  1. First I noted the certificate was a recent production that is made by a laser printer and is on a form put in place in 2001 (look at the lower right hand corner of any version of the certificate for this information). 
  2. I also noted a stamped date from the back which bled through on the two version (one on the DailyKos and one on the Obama campaign site) which shows this modern version was produced around Jun 6 2007
  3. I discovered 2 dots from the laser printer that can be found on all three files (some folks just recently discovered the large one next to the image of the state seal)
  4. I could detect the impression of the state seal stamp and signature area on two of the files.

There are three electronic images of birth certificates at the center of this silly controversy: (1) a BHO certificate Daily Kos posted initially [image loaded here], which Kos says he obtained electronically from the Obama campaign [image here],  (2) the version of the certificate on the Obama website, and (3) a clearly mocked up “blank” form produced by a blogger who goes by the name Opendna (aka John Mckinnon).  

In my analysis I find the Kos version to be the highest quality image file of the original document, produced in Jun of 2007 by the state of Hawaii. I find the Obama campaign site version to be a lower quality version of the original, probably because someone decided to shrink the file size to optimize download size for the web. And I find the Opendna version to be a deliberately manipulated version of the original Kos image, because the Opendna version has no evidence of bleed through from the back side, no imprinted time stamp, no weak impression of the state seal and signature area.  

This analysis took about 30-60 minutes, not days and days.

I have been putting off this posting on this matter because there has never been anything ‘discovered’ that proved a forgery, but simply proved people were running wild with their imaginations.  Polarik provides the best example of this.

On 6/20/08 the ‘expert’ Polarik claimed this certificate clearly produced a year ago was a forgery of an original from 1961, which Barack Obama claimed he had in one of his books from years ago. I have no idea if he has the original, but no ‘expert’ would jump to the initial conclusion this was a forgery, unless they did not understand how government document versions are controlled. He even noted the evidence that clearly indicates this is a modern document in his post:

At the bottom of the JPG image, reading right from left, one can see following text:

OHSM 1.1 (Rev. 11/01) Laser     This copy serves as prima facie evidence of the fact of birth in any court proceeding. [HRS 338-13(b), 338-19]

There are a lot of problems with this statement, foremost of which is that the text in this document were produced by a graphics program and not a laser print, or any other printer, for that matter.

Actually, all the text on the document is produced by a laser printer (via a graphics program).  All the text on the two complete versions (which means they have the bleed through images from the back) have a ‘haze’ around the letters. Polarik assumed this was because the text was photo shopped.  My view is this is simply standard anti-aliasing of the text, something many word processing programs do:

The above example of an anti-aliasing feature (added to the S, not on the 3) shows how programs add pixels of varying shades around the curved sections of the letters/numbers to provide a smooth font edge on display and printing. Inspection of the files shows consistent anti-aliasing across all letters and images (e.g., the state seal in the middle). Consistent anti-aliasing across the document tells me this was induced when the document was originally printed – not from later manipulation.

Polarik mistakes this anti-aliasing feature with forgery, which is completely ridiculous.  Anti-aliasing would show up on all Hawaii certificates since they are now digitally produced (and later I note this is the case).  The biggest mistake Polarik makes here is comparing a laser generated certificate to an older type from NY.  Unless your comparing apples to apples there is no way to determine a forgery.

Next he discovers, two days later, the image went through Photoshop, which is not really a revelation since someone could scan the original document and prepare if for email or web posting using photo shop. Somehow in his mind just using Photoshop is evidence of a forgery, which of course is ridiculous – as many have since noted. So I’ll just skip that mistaken jump to a conclusion for now.

Then 8 days after his original forgery claim, Polarik finally discovers the items that bleed through from the back, providing hard evidence the two version from Kos and the BHO campaign are actually digital images of an authentically produced birth certificate, created last year. But he was all confused because the Opendna version of the file did not have any bleed through section – thus forgery was at hand again.  One day before Polarik’s post on the time stamp, Doug Ross did a great job of showing the time stamp, the stamp of the state seal and the signature area impressions coming in from the back of the Kos and BHO Campaign images, further proving their authenticity – not proving a forgery:

The date stamp from last year is clear, the stamp of the seal and signature area is less clear, but that just means someone applied little pressure – it is the ink that counts and I am sure we will see a scan of the back, when the blogosphere stop’s making themselves look foolish. All this evidence did not stop many sites from still claiming ‘forgery’, simply because they did not know how and where to look for the evidence, or because they jumped to newer, wilder conclusions to support their preconceptions. This is completely shoddy rumor mongering, in my opinion.

BTW, my analysis was backed up when someone compared another HI birth certificate from a Ms Patricia Decostas.  You can go and see the same anti-aliasing around the letters, and a much firmer date and seal stamp impression (someone was clearly getting some aggressions out that day!). Download it and zoom in on to see the anti-aliasing for yourself. Since all the same telltales are found in this second “apple”, we see confirmation – again – that the certificate at BHO and Kos are genuine.  Same state seal stamp size and shape with attached signature area, etc. People were piling on the evidence of authenticity, yet still only seeing forgery.

So that now leaves us with the black dots, which TexasDarlin noted as late as July 3rd:

There is another, smaller dot on the outside of the border, just to the right of the word “SEX” (no idea if this was part of the mysterious forgery plan or not). These dots show up on the Kos image, BHO campaign image and the Opendna hacked file – meaning something was shared between all three images. And this is the last lame bit of evidence there is to claim forgery. Doug Ross deals with the matter here, but there is a simple explanation, that is not so surprisingly proved by Polarik himself.

Before we get to it here is the conundrum which has some people scratching their heads. The Kos and BHO versions show the bleed through of the information on the back in their images. The Opendna version has no bleed through tell tales, but does have the black dots. This leads a lot of people to assume the dots came before the impressions on the back. But this is not the only answer to this puzzle.

The fact is it looks to me like Opendna photoshopped the Kos image to remove the Obama specific details (minus the island of birth and the time of birth – another bit of evidence all three versions share a common original document). Then added his infamous joke name into the field, and then he printed out his new doctored certificate TO REMOVE THE PHOTO SHOP DETAILS!

It is all so simple. If you want to remove the Photo Shop artifacts you reprint the document, rescan it and all the telltales will be gone. And so will those faint bleed through impressions. But the black dots will remain. Is there some evidence this happened? Yep – let’s go to Polarik’s last attempt to create a conspiracy out of thin air.

Here Polarik compares the resolution (again) of the images from the Kos image and Opendna faked image. Go to the post itself and note the key revelation is that the Opendna resolution is lower than the Kos resolution – which means the Kos image couldn’t have come from Opendna.  It has to be the other way around.  Therefore those dots, being clearer in the Kos image, provide proof that the Opendna image came from the Kos image. Opendna produced his mock up from the Kos image, therefore the authentic version came first.

But more than that, numerous people have called the state of Hawaii who initially claimed the document was legit, and that they did provide a new copy to Obama on the date noted on the back. Now they cannot claim 100% confidence of the images which, as Opendna quite easily demonstrated, can be manipulated. But if the state says they issued a new copy last summer, and the Kos and BHO images bear that out, where is the forgery?

The only ‘forgery’ is the clearly mocked up joke produced by Opendna.  And he (Mckinnon) showed how good he is at this document analysis when he reprinted and rescanned his mock up to delete all the tell tales of his work. But Opendna is not running for President. And after being proved wrong over and over and over again, these people who have latched onto the myth the Obama certificate is forged have done just the opposite.

Through the discovery of the bleed through images (stamp AND seal), the anti-aliasing of the letters, the resolution, even those little black dots, all the evidence points to an authentic certificate issued last year. Enough – this myth has been busted (and it was in my mind last week after less than an hour of analysis).

Update: OK, I did not address the weakest argument – the misaligned border corners. My view is the entire background image and fields is now inside a graphics program.  If you look at the Decosta’s certificate you can see it is a different version, and the background pattern is much less clear.  This is also born out with the anti-aliasing in the newer, BHO certificate (released 5 years after the Decosta’s certificate), which shows the aliasing merging with the bamboo pattern, which is crystal clear.

I have had to create so many NASA logos for so many years prior to the web taking off I am going to bet these misalignments (which are actually hinted at in the Decosta corners as well) may have been the result of a final resizing of a group of independent rectangles in a graphics program that threw off the alignment a bit.  Or it could be a deliberate effect in the original. When government organizations do this kind of transition to digital, you find they hand this off to new hires out of school, which leads to some minor imperfections.

No matter, the corners do not negate all the other evidence and all the other false claims I dealt with above. Myth still busted.  

Update: BTW, I did once help uncover the Downing Street Forgeries, so while I am not a professional I am also not at a novice.  C Johnson at LGF is correct, I spent more time on this than it deserved, which is why I hesitated so long to do anything on it in the first place.  How about that victory in Iraq folks?

Update: Yesterday Opendna posted an interview with is alter ego Jay Mckinnon at Kos, confirming the order of the images I determined, though he used MacPaint to redo the background and wipe out all telltales (which in the digital world is akin to a print and rescan of MacPaint imports they way I think it does). Case closed.

58 responses so far

58 Responses to “The Obama “Forged Birth Certificate” Myth Is Busted”

  1. dave m says:

    The Fat Lady has So not sung yet.

    Creator of fake BC on Daily Kos has come forwards,
    admits no proof exists of Obsama’s real birth certificate.
    Analysis of his fake just shows what a decent job he did.

    Here’s the link:


    This story is wide open.

  2. AJStrata says:

    Dave M,

    The story is dead. HI has said it issued a new BC last year, this from those sites that contacted it to ask about the authenticity. The same sites found all the telltales of a legitimately issued BC.

    Obama’s mother was American, therefore he is a US Citizen (by federal law which supersedes state law). Obama’s father probably requested his ‘race’ be entered as African, which back in ’61 was probably allowed since he was a foreign national and they did not have modern reporting requirements.

    This is a fool’s errand. Don’t be a fool, your smarter than that.


  3. […] at the Strata-Sphere has posted an analysis of the image file being promulgated by the Obama campaign and via Daily Kos as the document […]

  4. clarice says:

    I’m posting this for jmh who had difficulty doing so herself:

    JM Hanes Says:
    July 7th, 2008 at 6:05 pm
    AJ: You’ve assumed wrong. Janice Okubo, a spokesman for Hawaii’s Dept. of Health, specifically stated that she could not, in fact, confirm that they had issued a certification, nor could she confirm the information in any of the putative copies that had been emailed to her. She could confirm that requests had been made, but she could not confirm either who made them or whether those requests were filled. Providing any or all of the information above would require a specific release from the certificate holder, or in some instances immediate family members.

    The only quote I’ve seen from Ms. Okuba which sounds definitive was originally provided by Amy Hollyfield, in St. Pertersburg, on June 18th:

    To verify we did have the correct document, we contacted the Hawaii Department of Health, which maintains such records.

    “It’s a valid Hawaii state birth certificate,” spokesman Janice Okubo said after we e-mailed her our copy.

    Okubo said a copy of the birth certificate was requested this month, but she wouldn’t specify by whom. But as we know from our attempts to get one in April, Hawaii law states that only family members can access such records.

    On June 27th, however, when Ms. Hollyfield wrote up a subsequent contact regarding the seal. Ms. Okuba was apparently not prepared to confirm much of anything. Indeed, contra your assumption, the only record she apparently consulted the first time was a copy of her own “birth certificate” (Hollyfield’s term):

    The Hawaii Department of Health receives about a dozen e-mail inquiries a day about Obama’s birth certificate, spokesman Okubo said.

    “I guess the big issue that’s being raised is the lack of an embossed seal and a signature,” Okubo said, pointing out that in Hawaii, both those things are on the back of the document. “Because they scanned the front … you wouldn’t see those things.”

    Okubo says she got a copy of her own birth certificate last year and it is identical to the Obama one we received.

    And about the copy we e-mailed her for verification? “When we looked at that image you guys sent us, our registrar, he thought he could see pieces of the embossed image through it.”

    Still, she acknowledges: “I don’t know that it’s possible for us to even say beyond a doubt what the image on the site represents.”

    Among the “numerous people” contacting HI, we have Israel Insider, on June 24th:

    Israel Insider contacted Okubo several days. She could not refer to Obama’s specific case, she said, because no one but an authorized family member can do so. But she did confirm that a valid “certification of live birth” would need to have an embossed seal and signature and that it can only be printed and mailed. There is no such thing as an electronic only certification.

    On June 26th, responding to Israel Insider’s piece above, Jim Geraghty reported:

    I spoke to Ms. Okubo late Wednesday afternoon, and she said she had seen the version of Obama’s certificate of live birth posted on the sites. While her office cannot verify the information on a form without the permission of the certificate holder (Obama), she said “the form is exactly the same” and it has “all the components of a birth certificate” record issued by the state. In other words, she sees no reason to think the version posted on Obama’s web site and Daily Kos is not genuine.

    Although you appear to be modifying your original claim in your response above, “all those who called the HI state office” clearly did not make the claim being challenged by Sue. Unless you can cite someone in actual support of your contention, it appears that no one asserted the HI Health Dept confirmed “that they did provide a new copy to Obama on the date noted on the back.” All we’ve really gotten from HI is that whatever they’ve been emailed looks like it could be an image of a legitimate certification. But then, that’s what it’s supposed to look like, isn’t it?

  5. AJStrata says:


    Thanks, but all meaningless. The point I made was the fact HI is not investigating a fraud. Their willingness to discuss it without raising alarm bells means they KNOW they provided a copy to Obama.

    This is the biggest joke I have ever seen. There were multiple reasons why the scan was a solid image of a real BC. The tell tales of the seal, signature area (which match the size and shape of other HI BCs) and the data stamp all bleeding through from the back show it to be a authentic scan.

    Finally, Opendna’s ‘blank original’ is of much lower resolution – as those nut cases showed on their websites. You CANNOT recover lost resolution from jpeg images. There is no way to create the Kos image from the Opendna file – end of story.

    There are ways for Opendna to lose the faint telltales though – which means this progression only goes one way, from the Kos/BHO scans to the Opendna mockup.

    Sorry, but this myth has been busted. If you can’t believe me and Charles Johnson on technical matters, then it is like some layman telling you how to do law.

    Cheers, AJStrata

  6. […] is just embarrassing – and I mean cringing, hide-your-head-in-shame embarrassing. Especially after I thought explained why the conspiracists were all […]

  7. […] I do want to note he has confirmed something I pointed out back in my original post on this matter, which was the fact that the Opendna mock-up, due to its much lower resolution, […]

  8. […] blogger, AJ Strata last week posted results of his own research that the Obama’s BC was legit and the controversy […]

  9. […] is a lot of silliness out there regarding Barrack Obama’s Birth Certificate (as I posted here, here and here). Folks can review my posts and see how the silliness grew at each step the […]

  10. […] Techdude coming out and confirming my positions. Folks can reference my posts on this matter here, here, here and here. I have some questions and comments posted at Pam’s site regarding the […]

  11. […] It looks like he might keep after this too, since he gives the memorial another mention amidst his debunking of recent claims that Obama’s birth certificate scan shows signs of […]

  12. […] It looks like he might keep after this, too, since he gives the memorial another mention amidst his debunking of recent claims that Obama’s birth certificate scan shows signs of […]

  13. […] Update: Odds rise to nearly two million percent. […]

  14. K.L says:

    Ladies and Gentlemen, there is a very simple way to settle this instead of wrangling back and forth about it. Let everyone who has the slightest bit of doubt about this issue, write to their Senator and demand a Senate investigation into it, the same as Senator McCain went through. This is not persecutory, it is not about whether he is black or white, right, center or left, Muslim or Christian. It is about a very basic and very important constitutional issue regarding eligibility that can ONLY be settled by the Senate. Not by the media, not by the bloggers and certainly not by arguing about it.

    This issue fundamentally affects ALL AMERICANS across the board. Our country cannot take another huge fiasco like this right now. Not with all the other issues we are having to presently contend with. The potential scenarios are chilling if he gets elected and it turns out that he was not eligible. What Chaos! I for one do not want to go there.

    It is your’s and my right as citizens, to demand this of our Senate. This issue needs to be definitively settled before the upcoming DNC convention in August and most certainly before the election!!!

    So get off your hands, look up your Senator and write your letter as a concerned citizen, if indeed you have doubts at all! I have already written.

  15. […] AJ Strata wrote extensively here that the above birth certificate is not a […]

  16. […] (and others’) claims have been debunked by AJ Strata. The authenticity of the document has been verified by Snopes and by FactCheck. Hawaiian officials […]

  17. […] Ted, I thank you for your comments below. Let’s address them a bit here. The whole issue of Barack Obama’s citizenship has been put to rest. Here is a pretty good analysis of the entire issue. […]

  18. […] The Strata-Sphere:The Obama “Forged Birth Certificate” Myth Is Busted […]