My first question as I started reading A Question of Eligibility: A Law Enforcement Investigation into Barack Obama’s Birth Certificate and His Eligibility to be President by Jerome Corsi and Mark Zullo was whether or not any member of law enforcement was involved in the investigation. The book describes the lead investigator, Mike Zullo, as "Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, Chief Investigator, MSCO Cold Case Posse" which might lead someone to think that Mr. Zullo holds a law enforcement position with Maricopa County, but that would be wrong. The Cold Case Posse is a group of volunteers, not County employees. Published sources describe Mr. Zullo as a "retired detective from New Jersey" but nowhere in the book does it say whether he was a police detective or private detective or that he is a detective at all. One would expect a book about an investigation to talk about the people who participated in the investigation, their background and their credentials, but that’s completely missing in this book. All we have are the two names of this book’s authors. In an interview Sheriff Joe Arpaio states that virtually no money from the County was spent on the investigation, which means that none of his paid law enforcement staff worked on it.
My second question was whether there was any investigation. The State of Hawaii, at which Sheriff Arpaio points the finger of suspicion, told reporters that no one from the Cold Case Posse had even talked to them. Further several commenters have pointed out that most of the "investigation" in the book comes from previously-published works by WorldNetDaily’s reporter Jerome Corsi. Atlanta attorney Loren Collins has published a side-by-side comparison of Chapter 2 of this book and Jerome Corsi’s book written before the investigation, Where’s the Birth Certificate?: The Case that Barack Obama is not Eligible to be President showing big chunks of text copied word for word [links not in Amazon review to Chapter 1, Chapter 2]. The separate graphic analysis released by the Sheriff’s Office was written by Mara Zebest, who was writing articles for WorldNetDaily claiming that the birth certificate was a fraud long before this investigation. Even the videos were narrated by a far-right talk show host named Mark Gillar who has given considerable time to members of the "Birther movement" on his show. And of course, the book was published one day before the results of the "investigation" were announced. I can’t help but wonder if the "6-month investigation" ever happened, or if the 6 months were spent in slick video production and adaptation of content from Corsi and WorldNetDaily for this book.
The actual premise of the book is right out of a conspiracy theory thriller. In order for this book’s conclusions to be true a lot of people have to be in on the conspiracy including two State of Hawaii administrations, one Republican and one Democratic (including two governors, two Department of Health Directors, and one Director of Vital Statistics), the White House, the US Selective Service System under President George W. Bush and NBC News Correspondent Savannah Guthrie who said she saw, felt and photographed the paper birth certificate that the book says doesn’t exist.
The first major section of the book deals with the President’s long-form birth certificate. The book doesn’t make the claim that was made during the Maricopa County press conference that "forensic document examiners" had vetted the analysis of the certificate. Nowhere do we find the names of any of these in the book. Indeed WorldNetDaily’s own reporter Aaron Klein stated on his WABC radio show that they commissioned three credentialed document examiners to look at the certificate and that NONE of them found evidence of fraud. WorldNetDaily has not published any of these reports. One of the examiners, Ivan Zatkovich, published his report himself showing no conclusion of forgery. In addition another noted graphics detective, Dr. Neal Krawetz, also examined the document and found no evidence of fraud. So why didn’t the Cold Case Posse talk to these 4 experts, and why didn’t they include the 3 reports that WorldNetDaily itself commissioned? A volunteer computer-savvy conservative spent three months examining the same issues raised here, resulting in a fine book that basically covers all of the birth certificate issues investigated. I reviewed Is Barack Obama’s Birth Certificate a Fraud?: A Computer Guy Examines The Evidence For Forgery when it came out, and it is far superior to this one. It concludes that there’s no evidence of forgery (just as the 4 professional examiners did).
This isn’t the appropriate place for a point-by-point examination of the graphics methodology, but I will point out one more major thing missing from the book and that is the words "Quartz PDFContext." That is the Apple computer software used by the White House in creating the birth certificate they released. It appears from the available videos that the Cold Case Posse never attempted to use the same software as the White House in their experiments — which of course makes them worthless. Listening to Zullo one might think that "optimization" and "OCR" were one thing done one way in all systems and software, which anyone who knows about graphics would consider nonsense. When they ran their experiment, they didn’t even start with a real birth certificate.
A second major premise of the book is that Barack Obama’s Selective Service System registration is faked. Remarkably, there’s not one word about where the supposedly forged registration card they examined came from. I do not know if they just found it on the Internet or got it from some official source. It was claimed on the Internet that someone named Stephen Coffman obtained the form through a Freedom of Information Act request in October of 2008. The document was certainly on the Internet by November. The significance of that date is that the response came from the George W. Bush administration, not Barack Obama. Why would Bush fake a document for Obama? This hugely significant fact seems like a major oversight in the book. Maybe Corsi and Zullo didn’t even know where the image came from. Did they conclude fraud based on part of a date stamp not showing on a document they just found on the Internet? An actual law enforcement investigation would be concerned with the chain of custody of such a document, where it came from and who handled it.
The next section deals with Obama’s social-security number. One would think that real law enforcement could easily check a social-security number, but instead they just recounted a tale from a private investigator who looked at public information, long before the Cold Case Posse got involved. The statement that Barack Obama uses the social-security number issued to a person born in 1890 is patently absurd to anyone, like myself, who has ever had to straighten a SSN mismatch with the IRS.
The last section is a rather silly search in the national archives for records of international flights to Honolulu, supposedly performed by Jerome Corsi (not law enforcement). I say that it is silly because if Obama had been born in Kenya as conspiracy theorists like to say, a returning flight would have been through Los Angeles, and so the leg to Honolulu wouldn’t have been an international flight in the first place and no INS record would have been filled out. The three pages of this section may be the only thing "new" in the book.
So in conclusion, I cannot tell from the book whether any member of law enforcement participated or whether there was any investigation at all and whether anyone worked on the project who didn’t come into it fully-wedded to the conspiracy theories about President Obama. Sheriff Joe Arpaio got some publicity and perhaps some payback for the Obama administration’s accusations of endemic racial profiling in his office, and Mr. Zullo gets a split of the profits from the sale of a "sensational" book.
All I can add is unless you’re made of some pretty strong stuff, you will be dumber for having read this book.
This review is available on Amazon.com.