Is Dr. Conspiracy an accomplice?
Geologist, Biblical archaeologist and scanner salesman Doug Vogt has filed a new complaint against Barack Obama and others (with affidavit, attachment and exhibits) in US District Court for the Western District of Washington. Just when I was about to mulch and cover all the legal stuff for the winter, this new sprout appeared October 18. The brief was assigned to the Honorable James L. Robart, graduate of Georgetown University Law Center, nominated to the Court by President George W. Bush in 2003.
We’ve seen a range of legal theories put forward by birthers—quo warranto, qui tam, election challenges and plain old redress of grievances—and none of them has gone anywhere. This one, number 206 by my count, takes on a form I haven’t seen as the sole basis of an action before: “Notice of Commission of a Felony.”
So what is the legal theory behind this action? It goes back to one of the birther shiny objects, “18 USC § 4 – Misprision of felony,” usually directed at third parties. The law literally says that if you have knowledge of a felony, you have to report it. Vogt is reporting it. The courts have ruled that violation of this statute requires intentional concealment (United States v. Johnson (1977) “The mere failure to report a felony is not sufficient to constitute a violation of 18 U.S.C.A. § 4”), and certainly just having common knowledge gained from trolling the Internet or sifting the bits of documents on the White House web site doesn’t count. Vogt also invokes “18 USC § 2382 – Misprision of treason” in like manner. (If everybody did this, the courts would be overflowing with wacko conspiracy theorists.) Even if the statute required uninvolved folks to report a felony, and Vogt actually knew something, he admits that he already did this on multiple occasions:
I already notified the FBI in Hawaii and the FBI Director in Washington D.C. three times…but with no action or response…
So rather than just notifying authorities to CYA, Vogt is actually making a nuisance of himself by trying to prosecute the imagined offenses, trying to present them to a federal grand jury through a federal judge, since no real law enforcement give him the time of day.
Vogt puts forward 20 points that he says prove forgery of both the long and short form certificates, the usual long-discredited stuff. He brings forward one new claim I hadn’t seen, that an authentic birth certificate for Obama must be dated August 11 instead of August 8. The rest deal with the raised seal (or lack thereof) and lot of Paul Irey’s typography stuff. Vogt, a copier and scanner expert, seems not to be aware that you can reduce an image while photocopying it, which appears to be the case with the President’s long form certificate. He also seems to be unaware of the PDF generation characteristics of certain Xerox office machines when he claims that the halo effect seen in the President’s long form PDF is proof of manipulation by a forger. He’s also completely mistaken when he said, “Savannah, MSNBC White House reporter at that time who was the only one allowed to see one of the forged Birth Certificates from Hawaii….” The Press Gaggle transcript clearly shows that the entire White House press corps was shown the certificate including the seal, held up by Obama attorney Robert Bauer.
In the action (“lawsuit” is really not the right term for this), In Re: Douglas Vogt, Vogt names Barack Obama, Robert Bauer, Daniel Pfeiffer, Judith Corley, Chiyome Fukino, Neil Abercrombie, Loretta Fuddy, John Doe and Savannah Guthrie. He claims that the President’s birth certificate is a forgery, and he claims that he knows who forged it! The names of the forger and two accomplices are disclosed in documents he is attempting to file under seal. The others named are attorneys for Barack Obama, White House Officials, Hawaii government officials, and a reporter for NBC news. One John Doe is some unnamed person at the Hawaii Department of Health who had access to the DOH embossed seal, but who according to the complaint didn’t do anything with it (that one left me scratching my head); others are unnamed broadcast news executives. In true conspiracy theorist fashion, we have the mysterious unnamed foreign agent who financed the caper and the one in charge of an “organized campaign of disinformation.” Finally we have the Jane Does, one who was a spy for the Obama Administration who put out other forged birth certificates so as to obscure the certificate number and date anomalies (that is, Vogt has no evidence that the certificate numbers are out of order, so he invents someone who created the considerable evidence contradicting that theory).
Finally we have the central character, Jane Doe #2, the forger whose name is in the document Vogt wants to seal. Why under seal? See if you can follow this justification for the seal:
If this person’s identity is made public prior to an investigation by a grand jury and/or executing of search warrants to secure easily destroyed computer evidence, proof beyond a reasonable doubt of the forger’s complicity in perpetrating the worst fraud on the electorate of these United States, may well be lost. The other reason is that the main principles in this forgery case may have this person murdered as well as the spouse.
If there were a real forgery (which there isn’t) then the persons involved know the identity of the forger as does the forger. So Vogt is broadcasting his information to the ones he wants to conceal it from, while hiding it from everybody else. If he really wanted to preserve the evidence, he would have filed the whole thing under seal. Douggie is apparently not the sharpest knife in the drawer.
I wondered whether or not I could be one of the John Does in the complaint, and the best fit I could come up with is:
John Doe #8, (identified in the Sealed Affidavit) the person who did the research for the information that would go in each form box of the Obama COLB forgeries.
The President’s birth certificate is not forged, so I could not have helped forge it, but Vogt might have latched onto my 2009 reconstruction of Obama’s long form and spun his conspiracy from that.
If any of the legal wonks reading this would comment, I have some of questions:
- If someone is named in an action under seal, can the person named request this information from the court? [commenters seem to lean towards “no”]
- Is it possible to defame someone by what is written in a legal complaint (I was thinking of someone like Savannah Guthrie)? [Commenter answer: “no”]
- Can federal judges refer matters to a grand jury? [Reply from commenter: “yes”]
This action is
One commenter suggests that Judge Robart will dismiss the thing for “failure to state a claim.” However, since it’s not a lawsuit, I’m not sure it can be dismissed. We can only hope that whatever results, it comes with a little lecture on why such actions are inappropriate.