We start with the known facts: that (1) the "birth certificate" is fake, and (2) the president has said it's his birth certificate. It is up to researchers to work backward from the known facts to establish why the president was unable or unwilling to release a genuine one.On May 22, the Hawaii Department of Health sent a "Verification of Birth" for Barack Obama to Ken Bennett, Arizona secretary of state (shown in Figure VB), with sufficient information to allow the president's name to be placed on the November 2012 ballot in Arizona. It provided enough additional information, I thought, to allow me to hone in on what might be on the genuine birth certificate that the public is not allowed to see.
In addition to confirming not-previously-verified information for specific categories, the Verification of Birth also carries the following statement: "Additionally, I [Alvin T. Onaka] verify that the information in the copy of the Certificate of Live Birth for Mr. Obama that you attached with your [Bennett's] request [meaning, the White-House-issued birth-certificate forgery, as this would have been the only Obama 'Certificate of Live Birth' available to Mr. Bennett] matches the original record in our files."
Note that this carefully worded statement does not say that the Bennett copy is identical in appearance to the original record. Nor does it even say that the information in the Bennett copy is identical to the information on the original record. It says "information ... matches." This could mean matching in a generic sense, where the meaning is the same but the wording is not. Or it could indicate that the information on the Bennett copy (the forgery) is a subset of what's on the original record (the forgery has less data), or a superset (the forgery has additional data).
Figure VB. Verification of Birth sent by Hawaii to Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett.To help sort out what is known and what is unknown, I decided to break out the data on the birth certificate line by line for analysis, as detailed below. The abbreviations state where the information appears: SF for (short-form) Certification of Live Birth, the document released by the Obama campaign in 2008; LFF for the long-form PDF forgery released by the White House on April 27, 2011; and VB for the Verification of Birth dated May 22, 2012.
Certificate number (DOH File #): 151 61 10641 (SF, LFF, VB)
Line 1 (a,b,c) Child's name: Barack Hussein Obama, II (SF, LFF, VB)
Line 2 Sex: Male (SF, LFF)
Line 3 This Birth: Single (checkbox) (LFF)
Line 4 (not used)
Line 5a Birth Date: August 4, 1961 (SF, LFF)
Line 5b Hour: 7:24 P.M. (SF, LFF, VB)
Line 6a Place of Birth: Honolulu (SF, LFF, VB)
Line 6b Island: Oahu (SF, LFF, defined by 6a)
Line 6c Name of Hospital: Kapiolani Maternity & Gynecological Hospital (LFF, VB)
Line 6d Is Place of Birth Inside City or Town limits? YES (checkbox) (LFF, defined by 6c)
Lines 7a and 7b Usual Residence of Mother: Honolulu, Oahu (LFF)
Line 7c County and State: Honolulu, Hawaii (SF, LFF)
Line 7d Street Address: 6085 Kalanianaole Highway (LFF)
Line 7e Is Residence Inside City? YES (checkbox) (LFF, defined by 7c and 7d)
Line 7f (not used)
Line 7g Farm or Plantation? NO (checkbox) (LFF)
Line 8 Full Name of Father: Barack Hussein Obama (SF, LFF)
Line 9 Race of Father: African (SF, LFF)
Line 10 Age of Father: 25 (LFF, VB)
Line 11 Birthplace of Father: Kenya, East Africa (LFF, VB)
Line 12a Usual Occupation: Student (LFF)
Line 12b Kind of Business: University (LFF)
Line 13 Full Maiden Name of Mother: Stanley Ann Dunham (SF, LFF)
Line 14 Race of Mother: Caucasian (SF, LFF)
Line 15 Age of Mother: 18 (LFF, VB)
Line 16 Birthplace: Wichita, Kansas (LFF, VB)
Line 17a Type of Occupation: None (LFF)
Line 17b (not used)
Line 18a Signature of Parent: (signed) (Stanley) Ann Dunham Obama (Parent box checked) (LFF)
Line 18b Date of Signature: 8-7-61 (LFF, VB)
Line 19a Signature of Attendant: (signed) David A Sinclair (MD box checked) (LFF)
Line 19b Date of Signature: 8-8-61 (LFF, VB)
Line 20 Date Accepted by Local Reg: Aug -8 1961 (LFF, VB)
Line 21 Signature of Local Registrar: (signed) U K L Lee (LFF)
Line 22 Date Accepted by Reg. General: Aug -8 1961 (SF, LFF)
Line 23 (not used)
By examining this data, we hope to answer two questions: (1) What information was known by the forger before the real birth certificate was shipped to the White House from Hawaii, and what was not (and needed to be retrieved from the real certificate to complete the forgery)? And (2) what on the real birth certificate is so complicated that a digital scan of that certificate could not be easily fudged before release to the public, with a complete forgery instead having to be constructed in advance, waiting perhaps for only a few last-minute details?
Of course, the forger would know all of the information which appeared on the short form, given in Lines 1, 2, 5a and 5b, 6a and 6b, 7c, 8, 9, 13, 14, and 22.
Of the information appearing only on the forgery (and not subsequently validated by the Verification of Birth), Lines 3, 4, 6d, 7a and 7b, 7c, 7e, 7f, 7g, 16, 17b, and 23 are known or derivative facts or are irrelevant. Line 7d (mother's residence) is generally accepted as true -- Ann Dunham was residing at her parents' place on the date of birth of the baby. Lines 12a and 12b (father's occupation) show previously known information, but perhaps not using that exact wording. Line 17a (mother's occupation) is also generally known information -- Stanley Ann Dunham dropped out of college in the spring of 1961, during the latter part of her pregnancy. In Line 18a (mother's signature), the identity of the mother is known, but the fact of her placement of her signature on the genuine birth certificate was not.
Of the information appearing first on the forgery and then validated by the Verification of Birth, Line 6c (the name of the hospital) is known. Line 10 (age of the father) is generally accepted from other sources of information, although further research has shown that Barack the father was most likely born in 1934 and was age 27 in August 1961. Line 11 (the father's birthplace) is known information, but maybe not with that exact wording. Line 15 (the mother's age) is known and is accurate. (Stanley Ann Dunham was born in Wichita, Kansas on November 29, 1942 and died in Honolulu, Hawaii on November 7, 1995 [under her maiden name, which she reclaimed after her divorce from Lolo Soetoro]. Her Social Security number, 535-40-8522, was issued in the state of Washington.) Line 16 (the mother's birthplace) is known, of course. Line 18b (date of mother's signature) would not necessarily be known but could be intelligently guessed. Line 19b (date of attendant's signature) and Line 20 (date of local acceptance) could be guessed to likely be the same day the certificate was registered.
And of course the forger would know about the information appearing on the genuine long-form birth certificate that was to be kept from public view.
OK, what's left?
The identity of the doctor who delivered baby Barack (Line 19a) and the identity of the local registrar (Line 21) were not known and would have to be extracted from the genuine birth certificate. Also, though the identity of the mother in Line 18a (mother's signature) is clearly known, as to the size, shape, and placement of her signature on the paper -- the forger wouldn't have a clue.
Thus, we are dealing here with signatures (graphic images) for the unknown information -- and that answers Question #2: why the need to prepare the forgery ahead of time? It would be very difficult to alter any of the signature graphics on a digitized image of the genuine birth certificate, especially if it arrived from Hawaii with a genuine green security-paper background. (It would be almost as difficult to alter any items that weren't signatures.) It would be much easier for the forger to extract from the genuine birth certificate and digitally process the little bits of additional information needed to complete the forgery -- thus assuring that the information on the forgery would match that on the genuine birth certificate, except for the information that was to be altered.
So let's take a look at the signatures on the forgery and see if they reveal any meaningful information.
The local registrar's signature in Line 21, U K L Lee, is a single grayscale graphic (except for one stroke in the letter K), which the forger likely extracted from the genuine document and added to the forgery; digitally, in the PDF it appears in a separate layer from the layer which contains most of the text of the forgery. But its appearance in the forgery does not appear to offer any additional clues, and knowing who the registrar was is inconsequential information. (Despite the "ukulele" jokes, Mrs. Verna K. L. Lee is a real person, in 1961 a clerk in the Hawaii Department of Health; her signature does appear on genuine Hawaiian birth certificates of the era.)
The identity of the doctor who delivered the baby, Dr. David A. Sinclair, was not known prior to the release of the forgery, and this information was a pleasant surprise for his family when the long-form fake was released. His signature in Line 19a, and shown in Figure SS, is a single grayscale graphic (except for the dot over the "i" in "David," which is bitmap), also in a layer separate from most of the forgery text. Note that the characters "of A" in the descriptor "Signature of Attendant" for Line 19a are (blurrier) grayscale letters in an otherwise-bitmap line of text, likely indicating that the forger overlaid the signature snippet extracted from the real birth certificate onto the forgery, thereby replacing that portion of the descriptor on the previously prepared (bitmap) text in the fake.
The name of the doctor who brought baby Barack into the world is not politically controversial.
Figure SS. Signature of Dr. David A. Sinclair (grayscale) in Line 19a.Unlike the signatures of the local registrar and the attendant, the mother's signature in Line 18a, shown below in Figure DS, is not a single grayscale graphic, but a composite of grayscale and bitmap information (in separate layers, also).
Figure DS. Signature of (Stanley) Ann Dunham Obama (part grayscale, part bitmap) in Line 18a.The signature itself appears to be authentic when compared to known-to-be-genuine signatures of Stanley Ann Dunham Obama on her 1964 divorce papers, shown in Figure DD:
Figure DD. Genuine signatures of Stanley Ann Dunham Obama from her January 1964 divorce decree.The grayscale part of the signature is "Stanley) Ann D[,]" and the bitmap part is "unham Obama" -- along with the date, "8-7-61" and the left-parenthesis preceding "Stanley." The overall signature gives the impression that the mother first signed her name as she customarily did, then parenthetically added "Stanley" after somebody pointed out to her that it might be better if her signature corresponded to her legal maiden name as it appears in Line 13.
The "Stanley" part bleeds into the descriptor for Line 18a, "Signature of Parent or Other Informant." The blurred letters "igna," "of," and "nt" are part of the grayscale graphic, replacing the same letters in an otherwise-bitmap legend.
Figure SP. Close-up of "Stanley" overlaying the instructions in Line 18a, and demonstrating that (the grayscale) part of the signature was extracted from a genuine birth certificate.If you look closely at the bleed-in of "Stanley" into the descriptor for Line 18a, as shown in Figure SP, you can see that the letters "igna" and "nt" are slightly smaller than the remaining (bitmap) letters of the legend -- a very strong indication of material taken from two different sources, the grayscale graphic from a genuine birth certificate and the remainder from unknown sources used to construct the bulk of the forgery -- as the forger had a little trouble getting the sizes of the letters to be the same.
Now look at the (bitmap) portion of the signature in Figure DS that reads "unham Obama." Does it seem to you that "Obama" was written with broader strokes than "unham"? It looks that way to me, though it could be a sizing problem -- the forger made the word "Obama" larger in scaling it to fit into the forgery, giving the impression that a fatter pen point was used. Next, look at the handwritten date (bitmap graphic) "8-7-61" in Line 18b, and note that its strokes are considerably thinner than the strokes of the signature in 18a.
When somebody signs and dates a legal document, customarily a single pen is used throughout -- not three different pens.
What we are able to do here is make a very strong case that the signature and date in Lines 18a and 18b were assembled by the forger from four different sources -- the first part of the signature, "Stanley) Ann D," extracted from the genuine birth certificate, and "unham," "Obama," and "8-7-61" from three unknown sources.
If the mother had indeed signed "(Stanley) Ann Dunham Obama," then the forger could have extracted the entire signature from the genuine birth certificate as a single graphic, as was done for the doctor, David A. Sinclair, and for the local registrar, Mrs. Lee. This was not done. Why?
The logical answer is that the mother signed her name another way. Since she clearly was Stanley Ann Dunham, that leaves "Obama" as the outlier. In other words, my conclusion is that Stanley Ann Dunham signed the birth certificate using her maiden name.
This does not mean that she and Barack Obama the father were not married; it means only that the real birth certificate gives no evidence of their marriage, leaving the 1964 divorce decree as the only known documentary evidence that a marriage ever took place.
About this wedding, not much is known. In Obama's composite "autobiography" Dreams from My Father, ghostwriter Bill Ayers eloquently elucidates wedding details that weren't. The 1964 divorce decree identifies the marriage as taking place on February 2, 1961 (a Thursday) in Wailuku, Maui. (Other accounts give the marriage date as February 21, 1961, a Tuesday.)
Wailuku is a half-hour plane ride from Honolulu; in the early 1960s, it was a quaint resort town. Getting married in a removed location on a weekday, when student friends are attending classes and older friends and family are supposed to be at work, does not seem to me to indicate a wedding ceremony where the happy couple tied the knot surrounded by beaming friends and family. Rather, these details indicate a clandestine wedding, one meant to be kept secret from friends (which it was; the couple's friends didn't even know that Dunham and Obama were engaged, much less married) and perhaps, for a while, from Ann's parents.
What if I am wrong about this? In that case, there are two possibilities: (1) there is no substantive difference in information between the forgery and the real birth certificate in the Hawaii Department of Health file cabinet, and the White House released the forgery to "screw with the birthers"; or (2) the scam is a wider conspiracy involving more people than just employees of the White House -- likely including compromised Hawaii Department of Health employees -- and we can't be at all sure what really is on the genuine birth certificate.
In my research I have tried as much as possible to stick to the documents -- to study them carefully and extract their secrets -- and not rely on what people have said about them, thus forcing me to decide who was telling the truth and who wasn't. But eventually, I had to make some reasonable assumptions if I was to make any progress.
In my article "What Did Savannah Guthrie Really See?," I satisfied myself that the paper document "birth certificate" that Savannah Guthrie viewed and captured with her cell-phone camera was actually a color laser printout of the digital PDF forgery. This led me to reasonably assume that the forgery was entirely a bait-and-switch operation inside the White House, an operation not involving Hawaiian officials in the forgery's manufacture. That in turn led me to reasonably assume that the information grudgingly provided by Hawaii, including weasel-worded statements, could be relied on, though it might not be the whole truth. From that point, I could narrow my focus to the parts of the birth certificate most likely have fraudulent information. But if my assumptions are incorrect, my case falls apart.
If I am correct, further research might best be done by graphologists, to analyze the authenticity of the mother's signature in Line 18a, and by others who are more skilled than I at analyzing the nature of the Dunham/Obama marriage, if indeed there was a marriage.