Gregory Hollister, plaintiff in Hollister v Soetoro, has put forward a story that pours salt on Barack Obama’s social-security number wounds.
Readers will recall that dentist cum attorney Orly Taitz, Esq. DDS sloppily redacted social-security numbers for Barack Obama and others in one of her court filings, announcing to the world Barack Obama’s number. Journalist Spencer Kornhaber verified that this is the number that President Obama used when registering with the Selective Service in 1980 through a public Selective Service verification web site.
Examiner.com reports that Hollister used the Social Security Number Verification System (SSNVS) provided for employers by the Social Security Administration to verify Obama’s published number with the SSA, and claims that the SSA system said, “SSN not in file (never issued)”. Following is an image that claims to show the verification (or lack thereof) for President Obama:
What’s wrong with this picture? Simply stated, what Hollister claims to have done is a crime:
Anyone who knowingly and willfully uses SSNVS to request or obtain information from SSA under false pretenses violates Federal law and may be punished by a fine, imprisonment or both.
The only lawful use of this system is “…solely to ensure that the records of current or former employees are correct for the purpose of completing Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Form W-2 (Wage and Tax Statement).” And don’t think for a minute that Mr. Hollister is going to get away with claiming that Barack Obama is his employee. It was against court rules for Orly Taitz to broadcast the President’s social-security number in the first place, just as it apparently is against the law to use SSNVS to verify it.
Faking an image like the one above is trivial, just edit the HTML and redisplay the page. But what does it mean if the page is accurate? To properly understand what the SSNVS is saying, one needs to look at the context of what else it could have responded. Here is the actual “fail” response list:
- SSN not in file (never issued).
Name and DOB match; gender code does not match.1
- Name and gender code match; DOB does not match.
Name matches; DOB and gender code do not match.
- Name does not match; DOB and gender code not checked.
- SSN did not verify; other reason.
Code 1 does not say that the reported Social Security was never issued to Barack Obama; it says that it was never issued anyone. That seems highly unlikely, since Taitz’s intrepid investigators found that the number before and after Obama’s has been issued. That leaves two explanations: either the SSNVS report above is a fake, or that Barack Obama has been assigned a new social-security number, invalidating the old one, and for SSNVS purposes appearing as if it had never been issued. Given that Barack Obama’s SSN has been broadcast to the world, it certainly is plausible that he has applied for a new one, as he is perfectly entitled to do.
Some years ago I worked with SSA in developing an automated verification interface between state electronic death registration systems and the SSA, now used in several states. One thing I learned is that the SSA is extremely security conscious, and that every transaction they process is logged — both content and IP address of the submitter. The person who supplied that image above blanked out the employer identification number (EIN) used to obtain the information, but the EIN and the IP address are sitting in a log file at SSA. Somebody is in deep trouble, and it does not appear to be Barack Obama.
1Effective 09/24/11 SSA dropped gender matching, and code 2 is no longer returned.