Douglas Vogt, believing that Barack Obama and others are guilty of felony and treason, submitted an affidavit in federal court in Seattle, asking a judge to forward it to a grand jury for investigation. In this affidavit, Vogt lists 20 proofs that Obama’s birth documentation is faked.
I invited commenters here to critique Vogt’s work, and I am compiling them into this article. Initially it will be presented in draft form so that additional commentary and critique may be added. Thanks to all who have or will participate.
Note: all images posted here are at the resolution at which I found them, and are not enlarged or enhanced unless so stated.
The first proof of forgery is a forged Registrar’s stamp on the Obama Certification of Live Birth (the short form or abstract) created on or before June 12, 2008;
Obama released his official birth certificate issued in 2007 to some web sites in the summer of 2008; however, only the front side of the form was shown in a high-resolution scan of the document in JPG format. The certifying elements, specifically the registrar’s stamp, appeared on the back of the form remained unavailable, and not until staffers from FactCheck.org got hold of the document and photographed it, did we see the stamp. Here’s what it looks like:
Vogt argues that this image is of a faked stamp. To support that contention, Vogt raises 4 objections to it. Vogt bases his argument on the FactCheck image above. Vogt’s affidavit is scanned for the Court record, so it’s likely not as good as what Vogt used originally. Here is the Court version:
Vogt’s 4 arguments are actually the same argument 4 times, essentially noting that the Obama registrar stamp looks like a rubber stamp pressed much harder on the right side than the left (and giving 4 indications that such is true) but then claiming that real registrar stamps are metal and wouldn’t display such distortion. Vogt writes:
…they are created with a metal embossing stamp that recesses the type. The machine that presses the stamp applies even pressure the length of the stamp and the inking is created by a carbon ribbon.
There are some generic problems with that argument. First, Vogt isn’t an expert on stamps, and indeed he never gives any reason to assume that the real stamp is metal except to say that he looked at some examples of authentic certificates and came to that conclusion. The stamp exemplars he presents in the Court affidavit are barely legible, much less allowing independent analysis of how they were applied. Here they are:
But let’s assume for sake of argument that Vogt’s samples in their original form are clear enough for him to determine that there was a metal stamp as he describes. The problem with his conclusion is that all of Vogt’s samples are from 2011 and Obama’s certificate is from 2007. What difference does that make? It turns out that it makes a lot of difference.
One of the birthers, using the screen name of Danae, had a Certification of Live Birth issued in 2007, the same year that Obama’s COLB was issued. She posted it at the Free Republic forum. Here’s what her registrar stamp looks like:
It is quite plain that the registrar stamp is clearly darker on the right side than on the left, just as is the case with the Obama registrar stamp. They both look like rubber stamps. That is, Vogt’s examples from 2011 appear one way and two examples from 2007 look entirely different. Obama’s stamp is consistent with the other known example from the same year.
Vogt used the FactCheck.org photo as it exists on their web site today, apparently unaware that these are not all of the photos that FactCheck originally released. There is another much-higher resolution image of the stamp and I’ll present that now, reduced and cropped to fit the page. (Click on the image for the original FactCheck version.) It is clear that the right side is heavily smashed down, and that all of the letters on the right appear bigger than the letters on the left. It’s a rubber stamp.
The second proof of forgery is the fact that the registration date on the COLB cannot be August 8, 1961 but must be August 11, 1961;
The third point of forgery is the Birth Certificate number on the COLB is out of sequence for a registration date of August 8, 1961;
Points 2 and 3 are actually the same thing, looked at from a different angle, so I’ll cover them both together. Accepting the argument in Point 2 requires rejecting the argument in Point 3 and vice-versa. One could rephrase what Vogt is saying with something like: “either the certificate number or the date is wrong.” I fault Vogt with claiming 20 points of forgery. It’s really 19.
Vogt makes an assumption, that birth certificates in Hawaii in 1961 were numbered on the date that the certificate is registered. Under that assumption Obama’s birth certificate, which bears a registration date of August 8 should have a lower certificate number than that of the Nordyke twins whose certificates bear a registration date of August 11. In fact, Obama’s certificate number is a little higher than the Nordyke numbers.
This is a topic of particular interest to me because I spent a significant part of my career developing the specifications for and implementing vital records software at the state level. I wrote code and managed software developers over three decades. I am familiar with numbering systems and state procedures for numbering birth certificates. I was at the table when specifications were developed.
Let’s start out by what Judge Malihi, an administrative law judge in Atlanta ruled about the “expert witnesses” called by Orly Taitz in the Farrar v. Obama case, including Douglas Vogt:
The Court finds the testimony of the witnesses, as well as the exhibits tendered, to be of little, if any, probative value, and thus wholly insufficient to support Plaintiffs’ allegations.3 Ms. Taitz attempted to solicit expert testimony from several of the witnesses without qualifying or tendering the witnesses as experts. See Stephens v. State, 219 Ga. App. 881 (1996) (the unqualified testimony of the witness was not competent evidence). For example, two of Plaintiffs’ witnesses testified that Mr. Obama’s birth certificate was forged, but neither witness was properly qualified or tendered as an expert in birth records, forged documents or document manipulation.
And indeed nothing in Vogt’s resume suggests he has ever worked on a vital records system. So how does Vogt justify his assumption? He wrote:
I went ahead and read all 50 states and the District of Columbia’s, statutes and administrative code regarding the filing and acceptance of birth certificates.
That’s impressive if true. Vogt goes on to cite Hawaiian law, and we may infer his chain of reasoning from his selection of particular portions of the statute and administrative rules to appear in bold face type. However, there’s nothing there that explains when a certificate is numbered. He points out that many states have regulations requiring certificate numbers to be “sequential” which is explained to mean that the first certificate is number 1. Sequential numbering simply means “no gaps” when assigning numbers, not which certificate gets which number. Let me point out the gap in Vogt’s logic that appears on Page 10 of the Affidavit [emphasis mine].
The Model State Vital Statistics Act and Regulations of 1977 and 1992 defines the terms as such:
Section 1. Definitions:
(c) "File" means the presentation and acceptance of a vital record or report provided for in this Act for registration by the (Office of Vital Statistics [the state department of Health].
(d) "Filing, date of” means the date a vital record is accepted for registration by the (Office of Vital Statistics).
(j) "Registration" means the acceptance by the (Office of Vital Statistics) and the incorporation of vital records provided for in this Act into its official records.
That means the act of filing and registration happens at one time the same day by the State Registrar or deputy Registrar. They will check the form for completeness and then accept it by dating, signing and numbering the Certificate of Live Birth. That process is called filing and registration. This irrefutably means that the date of acceptance by the State Registrar correlates to the certificate number because it is a sequential number starting with the number one at 12:01 a.m. on January 1st.
Beyond pointing out that the Model Vital Statistics Act and Regulations is a product of 1977, 16 years after Obama was born and hardly applicable, the more important problem is that the phrase “numbering the Certificate of Live Birth” is not in the Model Act. Vogt just made it up. Again Vogt writes:
By Hawaiian state law a birth must be reported to the State registrar no later than seven days after birth. When a birth certificate comes in from a hospital or clinic, the registrar much check that there are no cross outs, all the fields have been filled out, the mother and doctor have both signed and dated the form using black indelible ink. The registrar then stamps the certificate with a date stamp and then uses a Bates numbering machine to print the unique certificate number on the upper right hand comer of the form. Finally the registrar signs the form.
There is simply nothing in any statute or regulation that mandates the processing order that Vogt describes. He just made that up too.
So if Vogt had no evidence to support his procedure, could it be true anyway? Well no, it can’t. Vogt says that the certificate is numbered before it is signed by the registrar and that’s wrong. Vogt, having no experience with vital records systems probably doesn’t appreciate the role of the local registrar, someone typically not be located at the state vital records office. Note on any of the 1961 certificates that the registrar signature is titled “Signature of Local Registrar.” There are date stamps for both Local Registrar and Registrar General but only the first signs the form. Typically we see on Hawaii forms that the Local Registrar Date and the Registrar General Date are the same (and state employee Verna Lee signs); however, this need not be the case. The 1963 “Alan Certificate” (reduced image below) came from the U. S. Army Tripler General Hospital and bears a Local Registrar date of 6 Sept 1963 and a Registrar General date of Sept. 10 1963, so the form was not processed at the state level until 4 days after the Local registrar signed it. Because certificates must be numbered sequentially, which in 1961 implied that they had to be numbered centrally, the certificate number could not have been applied until 4 days after the local registrar signed it. While this paragraph doesn’t invalidate Vogt’s whole argument, it points out that Vogt doesn’t know what he is talking about and that he makes stuff up.
Could Vogt fix his theory by saying that the certificate is numbered before the Registrar General’s date stamp is applied instead of before the Local Registrar signs? No, the evidence shows that’s wrong too. (I will add from my own experience with such systems, records are numbered last in the processing sequence because maintaining sequential numbers requires that all approvals must be done before assigning the number, otherwise a record could theoretically get numbered and not approved and ultimately create a gap in the numbering. Technically speaking, the certificate number, or state file number, is not a part of the facts of birth and so the registration of the birth doesn’t include the number. One way to put this is “the certificate number is metadata.”) But back to the evidence.
Certificate numbers are known for a few births around the time of Obama’s and we find that the certificate numbers do not run in the same order as the registration dates.
|Child||Registrar General Date||Certificate Number|
|Ah’nee, Johanna||August 24||09945|
|Nordyke, Susan||August 11||10637|
|Obama, Barack||August 8||10641|
|Waidelich, Stig||August 8||10920|
Glancing at the list, it looks more like the completed certificates were sorted alphabetically by last name and numbered in a batch at the end of the month.
Vogt makes the claim in his filing that various fake certificates have been put forward on the Internet to obscure the problems with Obama’s certificate (that is, he knows that his theory doesn’t fit the evidence); however, the first certificate listed above is the one that really throws a monkey wrench in Vogt’s theory, and it was published by no less a birther than Jerome Corsi who vouched for its authenticity. Mr. Waidelich’s certificate was published by CNN who went with him to the State Department of Health to get it.
With the assumption that Hawaii births were numbered in the order that they were accepted for registration disproven, Vogt’s entire argument for Points 2 and 3 collapses for lack of support.
The forth point of forgery is that there was no evidence of an embossed Hawaiian Department of Health (DOH) seal on the COLB and that NBC journalist Savannah Guthrie publicly misrepresented that fact to advance her carrier;
Note: Usually when a birther uses the term COLB, it refers to the President’s short-form birth certificate released in 2008; however, in context this appears to refer to the long-form certificate released in 2011.
At this point, Vogt invokes his massive conspiracy theory to explain why people who have seen and handled the birth certificate contradict what he claims. Vogt claims that the conspiracy and cover up involves (at least) 18 people:
- Barack Obama, President
- Robert Bauer, Attorney
- Daniel Pfeiffer, White House Director of Communications
- Judith Corley, Attorney
- Chiyome Fukino, Republican Director of the Hawaii Department of Health
- Neil Abercrombie, Governor of Hawaii
- Loretta Fuddy, Democratic Director of the Hawaii Department of Health
- Savannah Guthrie, NBC White House Correspondent
- John Does 1-8
- Jane Does 1-2
By making this claim of conspiracy involving the Governor of Hawaii, Hawaii Department of Health Officials, reporters, media executives and attorneys, Vogt gives himself a license to discount any testimony from those who have direct knowledge of the facts. Vogt engages in circular reasoning, essentially saying: my theory is true in spite of the testimony of these people because they are in on the conspiracy; I know they are in on the conspiracy because their testimony goes against my theory. Making the conspiracy bigger is a typical way conspiracy theorists respond to evidence contradicting their theories, and we see that process here quite plainly.
Vogt invokes his “opinion” to explain why Guthrie lied, a tenuous string of connecting motives between General Electric, NBC, Guthrie and the White House. There is no actual evidence that anyone in the White House influenced Guthrie to lie, so we must consider Guthrie’s evidence on its own. In a Tweet, Guthrie said that she had seen the President’s long-form birth certificate and “felt the raised seal,” thereby contradicting Vogt. She saw it—Vogt didn’t.
When the White House Director of Communications Daniel Pfeiffer held up the birth certificate before the Press on April 27, 2011, Vogt says that the seal couldn’t be seen, invoking this bit of the transcript of the Press Gaggle:
Q You showed us a photocopy of one.
MR. PFEIFFER: No, I showed you –
Q Does that have a stamp?
MR. PFEIFFER: It has a seal on it.
At a distance the embossed seal, which is just indentations on paper, was not visible, but this was to be expected. (I can’t see the seal on my own birth certificate from two feet away unless it’s held at the right angle in the light.) However, when handled the seal was visible and could be felt, by Guthrie. Guthrie also snapped two photographs of the birth certificate and Tweeted them. That evening Guthrie reported the event for NBC News and repeated into the camera that she had “felt the raised seal.”
Now here’s where it gets strange. Recall Vogt said “there was no evidence of an embossed Hawaiian Department of Health (DOH) seal.” But then he himself says that he used photo enhancement techniques on both the PDF version from the White House and the Guthrie photo, saying:
The PDF copy and Savannah Guthrie’s copy after the enhanced color adjustment had been made so the “seal” becomes visible on both.
So rather than being “no evidence” there was indeed evidence, and Vogt found it. His problem is to explain away the evidence, and even though he has no expertise in imaging whatever, he expresses an opinion that because image enhancements were needed to see the seal, that it was “not really there,” but again that’s not true. Here’s an enlarged, but unenhanced crop of the Guthrie photo. While the seal isn’t bold and sharp, you can see it definitely:
Vogt presents scans of real birth certificates from Hawaii, and notes that with “minimal adjustment of brightness and contrast” that the seals “can be clearly seen.” Some of them are clear and some aren’t. I scanned my own birth certificate, and the seal was sometimes visible, and sometimes not.
Here’s a photograph showing the seal on my own birth certificate. It’s bold and clear.
Here’s an iPhone photo of it taken straight on in even lighting:
The image is there but faint, just like with the photo Guthrie took of Obama’s certificate. Do you think you could see the seal if it were just held up at a distance? I couldn’t.
Here’s a scan of the same certificate using an HP desktop scanner. The seal is not all that sharp, but it is still visible.
Finally, here’s a scan of the same certificate done with a Canon scanner:
You may notice a little bit of gray smudge, but that isn’t the seal; that’s the VOID mark built into the safety paper. There’s not a hint of a seal. And in fact, depending on the lighting you can’t even see the seal looking at the original certificate.
This simple experiment shows that birth certificates seals come and go depending on the equipment used to scan or photograph them. Douglas Vogt as a self-professed expert on scanners should have known this.
The elephant in the room, however, is the question of why even a forgery wouldn’t have a convincing seal on it. If the State of Hawaii is in collusion in a forgery as Vogt claims, then why wouldn’t that forgery have the State seal on it? The answer is that Vogt’s “mark of forgery” is reasonably considered a mark of authenticity because if someone were trying to fool people, they would have taken care to make the authenticating marks more visible.