Thursday, February 23, 2012

Conspiracy Thursday: a presidential mystery

President’s Day was Monday, so I thought it would be appropriate to talk about a presidential conspiracy: President Obama’s birth certificate!

In a nutshell, conspiracy theory enthusiasts claim that Barack Obama is not a natural-born U.S. citizen, and therefore, ineligible to be president according the U.S. Constitution. In 2010, at least 25% of U.S. citizens questioned whether Obama was born in the U.S.

Despite having released copies of the birth certificate, the controversy continued to rear its annoying head. Theories include:

• he was born in Kenya, not Hawaii;

• his Hawaiian birth certificate is a forgery;

• he is actually a citizen of Indonesia;

• his father held dual citizenship, which means the son is not a natural-born U.S. citizen.

In 2008, Obama released a copy of his Hawaiian birth certificate. Conspiracy supporters noted that it lacked the official seal, and that this type of birth certificate could easily have been produced with photo editing software (like Photoshop).  In 2011, Obama released a pdf copy of the “long-form” birth certificate. Conspiracy theorists immediately noticed there were layers created by scanning and deemed the certificate to be forged; also other inconsistencies, like errant X’s in the box that denotes single or multiple births, unexplained smudges, and the fact that the doctor who signed the form conveniently died eight years earlier. Also, the registrar’s name appears to be U. K. Ulele (ukulele???).

It has also been stated by conspiracy buffs that Hawaii will issue a “Certificate of Live Birth” to anyone who registers a birth, no matter where the child was born, and that it’s not the same as a birth certificate issued because a child’s birth is witnessed at home or in a hospital. The hospital where Obama’s certificate says he was born, claims that the law prevents them from confirming or denying he was born there.

Obama's parents did put birth notices in two Honolulu newspapers, but of course, the conspiracy fans note that those could have been Photoshopped, too.

One of the more damaging bits of evidence was when Obama’s paternal step-grandmother stated in one interview that that she was present at his birth in Kenya. She later retracted or clarified that what she MEANT was that SHE was at home in Kenya when she was notified of his birth in Hawaii. (Hey, she’s an old lady, cut her some slack if she got confused about what she meant.)

Another theory states that Obama was adopted by an Indonesian family and became a citizen of Indonesia when he lived there, so even if he had been born in the U.S., he had given up his U.S. citizenship to become an Indonesian citizen. They point to his visit to Pakistan as proof that he held a passport other than a U.S. passport, since U.S. citizens could not visit Pakistan at that time.

Many of these allegations have been checked and refuted by sites like and But many conspiracy theory buffs still believe it's all a plot.  It’s a free country, and among the rights guaranteed by the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the Bill of Rights are the pursuit of happiness and the right to free speech.  Even if the guy sitting in the White House isn’t a natural-born U.S. citizen.

Tomorrow: Miscellaneous Friday

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