For months, I have been bombarded by e-mails claiming Barack Obama was born in Kenya and therefore does not meet the constitutional requirements to be president. I have also received hundreds of e-mails from readers asking why I do not expose the truth about his birth.
The truth is that Obama was born in Hawaii. Hawaii, by law, does not make original birth certificates public, and this has enabled conspiracy theorists to claim that there is something nefarious about the circumstances of Obama's birth.
Instead, it provides those born in Hawaii with a so-called certification of their birth — also known as a short-form birth certificate — that lists the name of the baby and the date and place of birth but not additional details like the birth weight and the parents' hometowns.
As claims of a cover-up mounted on the Internet prior to the election, Obama posted a digitally scanned image of his original short-form birth certificate. But that enabled conspiracy theorists to say the image had been created by Photoshop. Obama then let FactCheck.org, a nonprofit project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, view, handle, and photograph the short-form birth certificate at Obama campaign headquarters in Chicago.
The certificate has all the elements the State Department requires for proving citizenship to obtain a U.S. passport," FactCheck.org, headed by respected former Wall Street Journal reporter Brooks Jackson, concluded.
According to the State Department, that includes "your full name, the full name of your parent(s), date and place of birth, sex, date the birth record was filed, and the seal or other certification of the official custodian of such records."
That led to claims by conspiracy theorists that the document shown to FactCheck.org was fake. However, on Oct. 31, the Hawaii Department of Health issued a press release saying that Chiyome Fukino, director of Hawaii's Department of Health, along with Alvin Onaka, the registrar of vital statistics, had "personally seen and verified that Hawaii's State Department of Public Health has Sen. Obama's original birth certificate on record in accordance with state policies and procedures."
Fukino told the Honolulu Advertiser that her department issued the press release after being barraged by calls about the issue, including some received by state officials at home in the middle of the night.
This has gotten ridiculous," said Fukino, a medical doctor.
Aside from that official verification of Obama's birth in Hawaii, back on Aug. 31, 1961, the Honolulu Advertiser ran an announcement of his birth.
Mr. and Mrs. Barack H. Obama, 6085 Kalaniaaole Hwy., son, Aug. 4," the announcement said.
What about claims that Obama’s paternal grandmother has said he was born in Kenya? At a dinner at the Ritz Carlton given by a conservative group, I happened to sit next to Philip Berg. Berg is the Philadelphia lawyer who is suing to have Obama disqualified as president because he is allegedly not a citizen of the United States.
A former deputy attorney general of Pennsylvania, Berg has claimed that he has a tape recording of a phone conversation in which Obama’s paternal grandmother says she was in the delivery room in Kenya when he was born Aug. 4, 1961.
On Oct. 23, Berg told talk-radio host Michael Savage that he would release the tape “in a day or two.” To date, he has not done so.
At the dinner, I asked Berg how he knows that the voice on the tape is that of Obama’s grandmother. Berg was vague: He said he knows someone who vouches for the fact that the tape is authentic.
"Tape recordings" are never fool-proof evidence. For example, I remember a dinner my wife and I once had in Paris with a reporter for the National Enquirer while I was writing a book on arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi. Actor Richard Burton had just died, and the reporter said he was going to meet up later with other National Enquirer reporters at a bar so they could make up stories about Burton to run in the paper.
I knew a Williams & Connolly lawyer who reviewed the paper’s stories for libel before they were published. He had told me that he insisted on listening to any taped interviews that support sensitive stories.
“How do you get around that?” I asked the Enquirer reporter.
“Oh, that’s easy,” the reporter explained. “I get in a cab and pay the driver to say what I tell him to say into a tape recorder.”
On the radio show, Berg told Savage that he believes the birth certificate Obama showed FactCheck.org was forged.
“This has been a real sham he’s pulled off for the last 20 months," Berg told Savage.
Berg said he believes Obama's mother was near the end of her pregnancy and was unable to travel by plane, so Obama was born in Kenya. According to Berg, the family then traveled to Hawaii and registered the birth and submitted the birth announcement to the local newspaper.
Why would they do that? To any conspiracy theorist, the answer would be obvious: They knew that Obama would some day run for president. After all, Berg also believes that President Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, George Tenet, and other government officials had “adequate foreknowledge” of the 9/11 attack and “failed to warn the country or attempt to prevent it and have been covering up the truth of that day ever since,” according to another lawsuit he filed.
“I think that there is no question that President Bush knew about it [and] was very complicit in the events of 9/11,” Berg told Joe Scarborough on MSNBC on Jan. 28, 2004.
In response to Berg’s complaint about Obama’s citizenship, Obama and the Democratic National Committee asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit. They said that Berg’s claims were “ridiculous” and “patently false” and that Berg had “no standing” to challenge the qualifications of a candidate for president, because he had not shown the requisite harm to himself.
On Oct. 24, U.S. District Judge R. Barclay Surrick in Philadelphia dismissed Berg’s lawsuit. In a 34-page memorandum and opinion, the judge said Berg’s allegations of harm were “too vague and too attenuated” to confer standing on him or on any other voters.
Berg has appealed to the Supreme Court. A virulent Internet rumor claims that the court has agreed to take the case. In fact, as it does with all cases, the court has merely agreed to decide whether to take the case. Berg's petition is on the justices’ private conference list for today, Dec. 8.
Meanwhile, Berg has been collecting money through his Web site to support his case. When I asked him how much he has collected, he would not say.
If there were any basis for Berg’s claims, one would think that the John McCain campaign and the Republican National Committee would have supported the lawsuit or at least blasted out e-mails touting the case. In fact, a McCain campaign aide told me that McCain campaign lawyers had looked into the allegations about Obama’s birth and found them to be bogus.
You would also think that Berg would be happy to be interviewed about the case by a journalist like me. But although he agreed to an interview at the conservative dinner, he has since failed to respond to my voicemails and e-mails asking for him to call.
Ever since President Bush toppled a man who killed 300,000 people, he has been the subject of vicious attacks and conspiracy theories from the left. Now is the time for the right to show that it will not tarnish itself by going down that road and that it will extend to the new president the fair play and respect Bush never received.
Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. View his previous reports and get his dispatches sent to you free via
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