Jul 12 2008

How 9-11 Helped Cause The Obama Birth Certificate Silliness

There 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 conspiracy theory was debunked, because it was reborn anew on the desperate wishes of those who cannot find any better arguments to oppose Barrack Obama’s presidential campaign. What has me amazed the most is that much of this conspiracy myth is tied directly to 9-11!

To recap briefly, there has been a totally irrelevant debate regarding where Obama was born, how long his mother lived in the newly minted state of Hawaii, etc. The theories all evolve around questioning Obama’s citizenship, and therefore his qualification to run for the presidency.  In an attempt to simply shut down the speculation the Obama campaign, along with the DailyKos website, released a scanned image of a Certificate of Live Birth (COLB). The fact it was an image of a scanned hard copy document led to all sorts of naive conclusions from the “COLB truthers”, building the storm of wild speculation which has morphed into a weird obsession for many.

First some claimed the image was a forgery because the image was an Adobe Photo Shop file – until some more pragmatic people with cooler heads pointed out that Photo Shop is a perfectly normal program to grab scanned images, to cover up information that someone doesn’t want public (like an identification number on the COLB) and to make web-friendly versions of the image file that would take less bandwidth to download. That should have pruned back the excitement a bit. No such luck.

Once that myth was debunked, the new theory was the image was a fake because there was no evidence of a state seal, authority signature and date stamp on the back of the document (duh!, they only distributed an image of the front). But technology came to bear and the date stamp was detected as well as impressions of a state seal and signature area (though faint). Myth two busted, but that did not dim the hopes of some!

I guess I forgot all those crazies who confused a 2007 issued COLB with a 1961 Birth Certificate, the ones who started this mess. But that is such a naive mistake I keep trying to not even think about it. You know who you are, so let’s move on.

Anyway, things got even crazier as the fringe kept grasping to save their conspiracy theory from the dustbin of history. When a poster at Kos took the image of the COLB and doctored it using MacPaint, the junior sleuths were at it again claiming this doctored image was actually the source of the Kos image (and a companion one on the Obama campaign site). I debunked that fantasy in the links above, and a forensic document expert at Atlas Shrugs confirmed my conclusions, while simultaneously creating the next myth of a clear forgery. The mock-up, known as the Opendna image, is of much lower resolution and cannot be the source of the other two images.

You can go to the last two posts above to see my conclusions, but I found the last theory at Atlas Shrugs to verge on the stupid. Sorry, but as the options for keeping the myth alive died out, the ‘logic’ to find one more way to salvage it went well into the bizarre. Techdude, the computer forensic expert at Atlas Shrugs, noted the glaringly obvious fact that a Sep 2002 COLB for one Ms Decosta was dramatically different from the Jun 2007 COLB for Barrack Obama.  And they are different, but the reason why is quite interesting.

What Techdude took as a really, really bad forgery I had always concluded represented an updated background and paper for the Hawaii COLB. It never occurred to me any serious adult would confuse two clearly different documents, separated by 5 years, as being some kind of forgery. BTW, Techdude was not the only major conspiracy theorist to jump this shark (and I will be using this link to provide other links to the documents in question).

Which brings me now to 9-11. I decided to go out and verify my conclusion that Hawaii had updated their vital records formats (Death and Birth) sometime between Sep 2002 and June 2007.  And in doing so, it is needless to say I hit pay dirt. Hopefully Techdude can fold this information into his forthcoming forensic analysis (before he comes out with another side-splitting announcement).

So here is how 9-11 has fed the Obama BC mythology:

After 9-11 the Federal and State governments started work on the Real ID Act, which became law in 2005. The Real ID act was meant to tighten up the ubiquitous state Drivers License documents and process for obtaining these IDs – which we all know are used to gain access to commercial flights across this country. Much of this act was promoted by conservatives and resisted by liberals – which underpins the ironic connection between this act and the last vestiges of the Obama BC myth.

Part of the Real ID act was efforts by states to tighten up the documents used to get the IDs – things like birth certificates. Many things were changed so as to make sure state processes could not be easily gamed by terrorists to get drivers licenses, etc. This leads us to Hawaii and the two COLBs.

Let’s begin with a look at the Sep 2002 Decosta Hawaii COLB, realizing this was issued only one year after 9-11 and 3 years prior to the Real ID Act. Use the link above to see full size of the following image:

Reviewing the document one sees what looks to be an over-zeroxed background (just look at the blurred state seal).  The border could be reproduced by cross-hatching some lines.  It appears to be printed on thin basic paper stock (as noted by the imprint depth of the state seal), and other features. This is the HI COLB of 2002.  

Now look at the Obama Colb of 2007:

Clearly a different format (again, use the link to see a larger version). We see a much crisper background, a more brilliant background pattern, possibly paper that is part cloth (since the seal imprint is very faint and can only be detected with image color processing). The border is now a pattern more reminiscent of what might be found on paper money. What we see are lots of new security features.

How anyone would claim these are “apple to apple” documents is beyond me?

So, my claim is these differences are explained because HI did something to their COLB in response to the Real ID act of 2005 before Jun 2007 – when Obama received the COLB he posted and shared with DailyKos. What I found should put a stake in the heart of this mess. As reported in April 2007:

REAL ID is one of the only 9/11 Commission recommendations that relies heavily on the states for implementation. REAL ID might have curtailed 9/11. REAL ID can make a difference to our national security, our economic security and our public safety – but only if fully implemented and adequately funded. To make REAL ID a reality, however, requires more than either the federal government or the states can do on their own. It requires a partnership. It also requires an acknowledgement that securing our nation’s physical and economic integrity is not just a federal responsibility; it is everyone’s responsibility. It requires a further acknowledgement that the ability to verify an individual’s true identity is one of the cornerstones of national and economic security.

The Driver License/ID Security Framework that emerged from the AAMVA Special Task Force was detailed and comprehensive; that Framework became the backbone for REAL ID. The outline of the task force responsibilities is worth repeating as it shows how AAMVA – and thus the state DMVs – were well aware and desirous of fixing the multiple vulnerabilities in state ID issuances systems. 

Importantly, states are already in significant compliance with many aspects of REAL ID’s identity and eligibility verification requirements under REAL ID. All states are checking commercial driver and problem driver databases as required under prior federal law. All but two states are checking SSNs. Twenty states are checking for lawful presence. Vital effects (birth and death) records are in pilot within and between North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa and five additional states have completed digitization of their vital effect records, including Hawaii, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri and Montana. Colorado and Minnesota are scheduled to join the pilot in 2007.

Emphasis mine. There you have it folks, that is how 9-11 caused HI to overhaul their vital records system, which led them to upgrade to a new COLB format and impose tighter processes surrounding it.  These new processes include restrictions on how this information is distributed to third parties – another factor conspiracy nuts claim is evidence of a cover up. In reality it is evidence of this nation taking measures to protect itself from another 9-11.  

To read more on Real ID and state efforts you can find some good information here and here.

OK, this myth is so busted. You want to know why Team Obama is not rushing out to debunk this silliness? My guess is they are laughing so hard they haven’t had time enough to catch their breaths. Besides, why would they stop their opponents from making fools of themselves?

Update: For those hung up on the format version numbers on the lower left hand corner it is clear they do not have to change if the background pattern changed. That versioning control may only apply to the content of the information and layout of the fields. It clearly does not apply to the background. Really folks, let it go.

48 responses so far

48 Responses to “How 9-11 Helped Cause The Obama Birth Certificate Silliness”

  1. AJStrata says:


    Dale acquiesced already!

  2. Dc says:

    Sorry, didn’t see it before I posted it.

  3. […] is the man is comparing to different version of  COLB and claiming the differences in the formats (as I noted here were due to the Real ID Act). He is looking at a 2002 COLB from a Ms Decosta and the 2007 COLB from […]

  4. […] of Health has been performing a lot of upgrades to their vital records systems, as I claimed a few posts back. Just check out the images of all these COLBS from […]

  5. […] a fake as more and more people compared the 2002 COLB to the newer 2007 COLB – all of which proved nothing more than we already knew, Hawaii was updating their vital records and COLBS in response to 9-11 and the Real ID Act of 2005, […]

  6. polarik says:

    AJ, you rerally need to see an optometrist ormaybe q

  7. […] that the reason there were different backgrounds was Hawaii was upgrading the vital records systems in accordance to Real ID and 9-11. Techdud had not, up until I helped set him on the right path, ever considered this reality. But he […]

  8. LetsGetReal says:

    After having read all these comments and seen several videos of images I must conclude that there is something missing here.
    1. Our next president needs to be a “natural born citizen” as is so stated in Article II of our constitution.
    2. The framers of the U.S. constitution included that verbage in the constitution in order to avoid divided loyalties.
    3. When Barack Obama Jr. was born on Aug. 4,1961, in Honolulu, Kenya was a British colony, still part of the United Kingdom’s dwindling empire. As a Kenyan native, Barack Obama Sr. was a British subject whose citizenship status was governed by The British Nationality Act of 1948. That same act governed the status of Obama Sr.’s children.
    4. Since Sen. Obama has neither renounced his U.S. citizenship nor sworn an oath of allegiance to Kenya, his Kenyan citizenship automatically expired on Aug. 4,1982.
    You see, the problem is not his birth certificate or COLB, wether he was born in Hawaii or not. The problem is his status as either a U.S. Citizen or a “natural born citizen,” if Obama Sr. by virtue of his own Kenyan citizenship afforded Obama Jr. a “dual” citizenship, then IN FACT the latter would not be eligible to hold the office of POTUS.
    We really need to think about that, is the constitution important enough to uphold or should we simply follow as blind sheep without truly investigating this matter thoroughly? I for one do not view this matter as “silly” and apparently neither does the Supreme Court, even know, as I write this, there are currently trhee cases up for review within the SC. Remember, “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”.