The facts: In June of 2008, an image of a Hawaiian Certification of Live Birth for Barack Hussein Obama II appeared on a web site called the Daily Kos. Similar images would appear at Barack Obama’s Fight the Smears web site, along with FactCheck.org and Politifact.com. The document says on its face that the Location of Barack Obama’s birth is Honolulu.
The theory: The Obama conspiracy theory states that the document’s assertion of Obama’s place of birth is meaningless for a number of possible reasons:
- The document has been amended.
- The location of birth is a clerical error.
- The location of birth is really the location of registration.
- Hawaii allows registration of any child in Hawaii over one year old as being born in Hawaii.
- Hawaii allows residents to register foreign-born children as being born in Hawaii.
- Obama was adopted from a foreign country
- Block 7(c) of the birth registration form allows the entry of a foreign country for place of birth.
- The Obama document is a “Certification”, not a “Certificate”.
- There were no laser printers when Obama was born in 1961.
- Recorded information may have been altered and a new birth certificate issued showing different information persuant to §338-17.7.
- Sun Yat-Sen the first President of China has a Hawaiian birth certificate and he was born in China.
What is the Obama Document? The document is titled “Certification of Live Birth”. It is a computer-generated document consisting of selected information from an original document that would have been filed around the time of birth, numbered and certified by the Hawaii Department of Health. The COLB is the “certified copy” form for live births currently issued by the State of Hawaii. Such forms are called a “certified copies” because the State adds a seal and signature certifying that the document is a true copy. A number of similar form certificates have been published on the Internet. Documents like this are popularly called “short forms” because they do not contain the full data set in the original filing.
The role of the birth certificate in citizenship: According to the US State Department, the Birth Certificate is considered “primary evidence” of US citizenship. The State Department describes an acceptable birth certificate as “Certified birth certificate issued by the city, county or state”. Further, the certificate must have these features:
A certified birth certificate has a registrar’s raised, embossed, impressed or multicolored seal, registrar’s signature, and the date the certificate was filed with the registrar’s office, which must be within 1 year of your birth.
Analysis of theories
- The document has been amended: The assertion is that the original birth registration said one thing, but that it was amended later and the computer-printed abstract reflects that amendment. This can be ruled out by a provision of Hawaiian Law that requires amended certificates to be “marked distinctly” with the word “altered”. §338-16 Further evidence that the birth certificate has not been amended is found in the long-form version of the certificate which includes no amendment.
- The location of birth is a clerical error: This possibility was ruled out when the Director of the Hawaii Department of Health and the Registrar of Vital Statistics announced that they had verified “original birth certificate on record in accordance with state policies and procedures” and that Barack Obama was born in Hawaii.
- Hawaii allows registration of any child in Hawaii over one year old as being born in Hawaii: This comes from misquoting a comment from the Hawaiian Homelands Act of 1911. The Hawaii Department of Health web site says: “The Certificate of Hawaiian Birth program was established in 1911, during the territorial era, to register a person born in Hawaii who was one year old or older and whose birth had not been previously registered in Hawaii.” The misquoted version leaves out “born in Hawaii”. More advanced versions of this theory take into account the Hawaiian birth requirement, suggesting that only minimal documentation was required for such a registration. Any version of this theory is, however, ruled out because Certificates of Hawaiian birth are for registrations of a one year old or older and Obama COLB shows his registration 4 days after his birth.
- Hawaii allows residents to register foreign-born infants as being born in Hawaii: Hawaiian Law §338-17.8 says:
Certificates for children born out of State. (a) Upon application of an adult or the legal parents of a minor child, the director of health shall issue a birth certificate for such adult or minor, provided that proof has been submitted to the director of health that the legal parents of such individual while living without the Territory or State of Hawaii had declared the Territory or State of Hawaii as their legal residence for at least one year immediately preceding the birth or adoption of such child… [L 1982, c 182, §1]
The law cited preceding did not exist until its passage in 1982 (the “L 1982″) , 21 years after Barack Obama’s birth registration on August 8, 1961.
Conspiracy theorists suggest that some similar law may have existed before 1982, but this is not true. When Hawaiian law is amended, the previous laws and dates are included in the citation and there is no previous law citation above. In addition, examination of the 1959 code shows no such provision.
There are a couple of insurmountable objections to this idea. The law §338-20.5 says:
“The new certificate of birth shall show the true or probable foreign country of birth, and that the certificate is not evidence of United States citizenship for the child for whom it is issued or for the adoptive parents.”
The other problem with this theory is that birth registration for foreign-born adoption was a new procedure introduced in Hawaii in 1979, when Barack Obama was already 18 years old. It was introduced as a result of the 1977 recommendation of the National Center for Health Statistics. See US Vital Statistics History 1950-1995.
The Hawaii Department of Health has stated on numerous occasions that Barack Obama was born in Hawaii.
This one traces back at least as far as Alan Keyes lawsuit in California. See Page 11, lines 19-20:
Box 7C of the vault Certificate of Live Birth contains a question, whether the birth was in Hawaii or another State or Country.
Here’s what Keyes is talking about:
And indeed it says right there “Foreign Country”. The problem with this is that Block 7c is the Mother’s Usual Residence, not the birth place of the baby, which is in block 6a, and has no place for a foreign country.
- The Obama document is a “Certification”, not a “Certificate”: The relevance of this distinction is unclear. Websters says of certification: a certified statement, and of certificate: a document containing a certified statement. Whatever it is called, Hawaiian Law states that it is prima facie evidence in court of what it says. If you fill out the form requesting a “Certified Copy of Birth Record” at the Hawaii Department of Health web site, this is what you get.
Hawaii has in recent history produced two kinds of birth certificates. One is a photocopy of a document filed at the time of birth; the other is a computer-printed abstract copy of the facts of birth. Both are “certified copies”. I use these words because if one fills out the “Request for certified copy of birth record” at the Hawaii Department of Health web site, what they will receive is a certified copy of the computer-printed version. According to Hawaiian law, however, the older format should be available through some administrative process, although what it is does not appear on the Department of Health web site.
Hawaiian Law states that for legal purposes, all certified copies are equally valid, including those by computer printout. §338-13
(b) Copies of the contents of any certificate on file in the department, certified by the department shall be considered for all purposes the same as the original, subject to the requirements of sections 338-16, 338-17, and 338-18. (c) Copies may be made by photography, dry copy reproduction, typing, computer printout or other process approved by the director of health.
See also the article here: When is a Certificate not a Certificate?
The Hawaii Department recently stated:
In June 2008, President Obama released his Certification of Live Birth, which is sometimes referred to in the media as a “short form” birth certificate. Both documents are legally sufficient evidence of birth in the State of Hawai’i, and both provide the same fundamental information: President Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawai’i at 7:24 p.m. on August 4, 1961, to mother Stanley Ann Dunham and father Barack Hussein Obama.
- There were no laser printers when Obama was born in 1961: This is a basic misunderstanding of what the document is. The document is a “certified copy,” a copy created by a computer printout, then stamped and sealed by the State. The document itself was produced in 2007 (See stamp image above) when laser printers were ubiquitous.
- Recorded information may have been altered and a new birth certificate issued showing different information pursuant to §338-17.7. The law says:
Upon request of a law enforcement agency certifying that a new birth certificate showing different information would provide for the safety of the birth registrant; provided that the new birth certificate shall contain information requested by the law enforcement agency, shall be assigned a new number and filed accordingly, and shall not substitute for the birth registrant’s original birth certificate, which shall remain in place.”
This is what we call the “witness protection program”. Since Stanley Ann Dunham has a history prior to Barack’s birth, it is evident that she was not in the witness protection program, and hence that her son wasn’t either. There is one other small problem with this theory: the law cited was not passed until 1973, when Barack Obama was 12 years old. Barack Obama’s long form birth certificate provides further evidence that the certificate has not been altered.
“This is to certify that Sun Yat Sen now residing at Kula Maui, TH [Territory of Hawaii], whose signature is attached has made application No. 25 for a Certificate of Birth. And it appears from his affidavit and the evidence submitted witnesses that he was born in the Hawaiian Islands on the 24th day of November, AD 1870.”
Sun Yat-Sen had a “Certificate of Hawaiian Birth” from a special program which Obama did not qualify for and received a different type of birth certificate. Sun Yat-Sen produced an affidavit and two witnesses of his Hawaiian birth to get the certificate. Biographies say Sun Yat-Sen was born in China, which suggests that his Certificate of Hawaiian Birth was obtained through fraud and the two witnesses lied, and probably because he had a price on his head.
What was done 50 years before Obama’s birth is hardly relevant. Hawaii wasn’t even a state when that was issued. Different program, different people.
Conclusion: The Obama document says on its face that he was born in Hawaii.
Does this mean that Barack Obama was born in Hawaii? There are two remaining possibilities that allow Obama to be born somewhere else, one is that the birth registration was fraudulent, or that the birth certificate is a fake.