The signer of Orly’s latest affidavit sounds a little more expert than the usual birther volunteer document examiner, 20 years as a special agent with Homeland Security and 20 years as an investigator with the Coast Guard. For some reason, though, Coffman has had a thing about investigating Barack Obama dating back at least to his Senate days in February of 2008.
I have to start off by saying that I don’t know if this Jeffrey Stephen Coffman has the qualifications listed on his affidavit. For the purposes of discussion, however, I will assume that he does. As with any expert testimony, a report is presented and the methodology is described, and it is the methodology that I will treat below.
Here’s the affidavit:
The first point that Mr. Coffman raises is that he was unable to verify Obama’s selective service record using the Selective Service’s “Check a Registration Function.” That would be a red flag except that the Selective Service told him that Obama was in their database. Other more recent attempts to verify the registration were successful. Spencer Kornhaber of the OC Weekly found Obama in the Selective Service database and reported it May 27, 2010, and I found it a few minutes ago:
Indeed FOIA requests dating back to 2008, before Barack Obama took office, show that Obama was listed in the Selective Service System database, and Selective Service confirmed to Coffman that the record was there, and no one has explained why George Bush’s Selective Service System would be covering up for Obama in the first place before he was even the Democratic nominee. Coffman provides screen shots of his FOIA results, the computer screen print from September 2008, and the application form, but he does not provide a screen print of his alleged check of Obama’s registration. This is significant because the registration check facility requires entry of a social-security number, and Obama’s number wasn’t published in 2008, and Coffman makes no claim to have had it, much less explained how he knew it. Did he use the correct number? He doesn’t say.
Coffman’s second point is that the postal stamp on the registration form that he received by FOIA is dated the day before the form itself is dated, and that the “NO ID” block was checked. It is not clear how these items lead to Coffman’s ultimate conclusion that the form had been altered. A postal clerk not advancing the date on a hand canceling device is not hard to imagine and it’s hardly a mistake a forger would make. A simple error of omission is certainly more likely than fraud!
Coffman’s third point is that the postal cancellation shows only two digits of the year, not four. Coffman goes to lengths to argue that regulations call for a 4 digit date, and he will get no argument from me on this point. However, a forgery that looks so very much like other registrations from the period, would certainly have the correct 4-digit date. The more likely conclusion is that the century portion was just a little lighter than the rest and was rendered as white in the black and white scan. Experimentation I did confirms that this happened with postal cancellation examples I had around the house. Coffman never bothers to explain how the “19” being missing is different from part of the number “8” in the rest of the year also being missing.
While Coffman says that the 2-digit date was the “most outstanding aspect” still he had that document to look at since September of 2008, and writing for Debbie Schlussel in November of 2008 he still hadn’t noticed it!
Coffman makes one claim that is very troubling, and let me quote him:
Using my training and experiences, I analyzed the image of the postal cancellation stamp on the copy of the registration. It is my conclusion that a four digit year insert ending in “08″ was modified by cutting off the first two digits and reinserting the “08″ upside down into the postal cancellation to indicate a year of “80″
One obviously notes that the substance of this speculation is copied right out of the book by Jerome Corsi and Mike Zullo about the Cold Case Posse investigation. What is troubling, though, is that it cannot be true. Because the lower loop of an “8” is larger than the top in the Pica font, it’s easy to detect when it is inverted, and obviously not the case with the Obama registration. Here the honesty of Mr. Coffman’s affidavit meets a challenge. I have screen shots showing the inverted dates in my article, “Canceling the Cold Case Posse.” My speculation is that Coffman simply copied the Cold Case Posse report and added his own claim of “expert opinion” without actually examining anything beyond Corsi’s book.
One final anomaly that Coffman presents as an argument that the document had been modified is to note a difference between the number on the registration form and the number in the Selective Service database. An “8” as added to the “Document Locator Number” (DLN). This is an old argument that appeared in the Debbie Schlussel report from 2008. I never wrote about this myself, but it was debunked, and the debunking appears on the Birther Debunker’s Wiki.
It is interesting to note that our “expert” Coffman said some things back in 2008 that he doesn’t say in the current affidavit. From the Schlussel site:
The new Postal Service [USPS] officially began operations on July 1, 1971. Why was an old, obsolete [USPO] postmark round dater stamp used almost ten (10) years after the fact to validate a legal document . . . that just happened to be Barack Obama’s suspicious Selective Service registration form?
Coffman had to abandon that bit of expert testimony when examples, lots of them, appeared from 1980 showing USPO date stamps still in use.
Essentially, we have an old birther report, long ago debunked, fortified with some obviously false material from the Cold Case Posse. We have an expert that makes mistakes, does sloppy work, and draws conclusions not supported by the evidence. He would be a defense attorney’s nice dream.