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Birth certificate forensics and general points about birth certificates

Wikileaks on the birthers

WikiLeaks logoJust on a whim, I entered this query at Google:

“birther” OR (“obama” AND “birth certificate”)

I didn’t expect 59 results. I didn’t expect any.

One, from Stratfor, looks like a joke. A new Stratfor analyst became a US citizen on April 26, 2011, and wrote in an internal email:

Do you think it is a coincidence that Obama released his birth certificate the day after I became a citizen. I don’t think so.

Virtually all of the material is from Stratfor, for example Newsmax sending Stratfor a notice of them publishing an article (and reprints from WND as well), but at least one Stratfor employee has birther tendencies, writing in a 2010 email:

ICE should check Obama’s birth certificate to determine true identity. I would bet that Stick and I could prove US PPT fraud.

That same year, another Stratfor sender wrote about an upcoming Obama trip to Indonesia:

(and maybe Obama will bust out his birth certificate and Quran while he’s there in order to develop a peace treaty with jihadists and earn his nobel peace prize)

I wouldn’t want to paint Stratfor with a birther brush in general based on this more general email excerpt from 2012:

During his presidential campaign, Obama harboured some illusions about a post-partisan America. Given that ideological distinctions between the Democrats and the Republicans have grown fuzzy over the decades, the idea may not have seemed completely fantastical to some. He ought to have known, though, that a rightwards shift in the so-called liberal centre invariably encourages conservatives to drift towards extremes.

What made such a process even more likely was the fact that a substantial proportion of American citizens were discomfited by the very idea of an African-American head of state. Small wonder, then, that the nonsense about Obama’s birth certificate gained so much traction.

It turns out that one of the WikiLeaks documents is a copy of the Honolulu Advertiser announcement of Obama’s birth, from August 13, 1961. They released it on October 28, 2008 (a couple of months after it became public). The item is unremarkable except for the talk page which has some birther-like commentary towards the end.

Another WikiLeaks area is called the Public Library of US Diplomacy, and it contains copies of US Government cables. One is titled “Daily Summary of Japanese Press 07/31/09” containing a book review of “Remove Obama’s mask” by Kazuyki Hamada. (I think that name translates into English as “Jerome Corsi.”) It’s very birther.

I went through all the results (Google first indicated over 400, but wimped out as I paged through them). A few were off topic. Nothing really exciting or new.


Birth certificate producer confesses?

So far I haven’t been persuaded to subscribe to the Post & Email web site, but on occasion one of their articles is reprinted, in this case on a Facebook page. The article quotes what Sharon Rondeau describes as an email  “threat” received in November of 2013:

Sender: Redacted [by the P&E]

Subject: Please stop what you’re doing.

Message Body: I’m an IT professional that became involved in the Obama presidential campaign, first as a staffer, then as a personal assistant in 2007-2008. I was personally requested to help with the Obama campaign’s web design and editing of documents related to that. I was on the team that converted the presidents birth certificate into digital formats. The reason I’m writing is that I’ve been getting a lot of harassing messages from so-called “birthers” regarding my involvement with Obama ..I’m not sure whether you’re the person who released my contact info but I’m sure you probably know who did it. I’m going to ask one time and one time only: Take my information down. You have no right to do what you’re doing. You can tell the people accusing me of “forging birth certificates” that the law is on MY SIDE. I don’t think you realize just who you’re messing with and the vast amount of trouble you can get into. I’ve heard serious talk of federal charges being brought on Arpaio and a few others who are messing around outside their jurisdiction regarding this matter. You’re biting off way more than you can chew and I’d seriously reconsider the path you’re on, because it’s not going to end well for anyone who proclaims to be a “birther” … We will bankrupt each and every one of you in court if you keep doing what you’re doing. You need to cease and desist. NOW. If you don’t take heed to my warning, you will certainly be compelled to do so by some very powerful judges soon. I recommend for your financial security that you back off — I highly doubt you can afford lawyers as good as we have.

P&E editor Sharon Rondeau responded that she hasn’t published any personal information about this person and cites a policy against such things about private persons in general. There are more emails in the Facebook exchange , and Rondeau says she forwarded them to her lawyer and the FBI. Since the sender name is redacted, I don’t know how much she has to go on.

The basic flaw in the story is that no one has released any contact information for this alleged White House staffer. If it had happened, we would know. It strikes me as similar to some of the prank messages received by Orly Taitz, such as the one from “Virgil Bird” claiming that Mississippi federal judge Wingate had an inappropriate conversation about her case.

The Facebook writer heads this whole thing with “This is how BARRY AND HIS FRIENDS WORK~~~.” I have my doubts that this is an Obot prank, and think it more likely to be a birther creation based on this caricature of an Obama supporter in the second email:

We support our president 100% and will do anything we have to to protect him. (and I mean ANYTHING).

Whatever the source, what we have here provides no information about anything beyond the existence of Internet pranksters.


The six document experts

This is an adaptation of a comment I made at Birther Report.

First, there is no truth whatever in the oft-repeated comment that the so-called anomalies in the President’s PDF birth certificate file pointed out by birthers cannot be recreated in controlled repeatable experiments on real documents with real scanners. It was true at one time, but not any more. These experiments were published by the scientist who did them, and subjected to review. You can read all that here (and other articles on that site):

The blogger Reality Check also made some videos and a series of popular articles on the findings.

Papit, Papa, Zebest, Vogt and the rest have been made irrelevant.

I do have 6 experts, all of whom have the credentials to testify in court. Here is what WorldNet Daily writer Aaron Klein said about 3 of them:

I decided to go to actual, to some of the nation’s foremost forensic graphic analysts, and I don’t mind naming their names: Jim Pex at International Forensic Experts, also John Berryhill the President and COO of Berryhill Computer Forensics, I[v]an Zatkovich at eComputer Consultants, all with years of expert in criminal and civil testimony. They have consulted for graphics forensic expertise for such companies as Citicorp, McGraw Hill, other major publishing firms, online, others. So, they’re incredibly qualified.

Klein went on to say that none of them found fakery. WorldNetDaily refused to release any of these reports, and recently when I tried to mention them in comments on their site, they BANNED me. Here is the transcript of what Aaron Klein said on his WABC radio program:

WorldNetDaily talked about the Zatkovich report, misrepresenting it, forcing Zatkovich to publish it himself. You can read that here:

The 4th expert is Dr. Neal Krawetz, noted security expert, expert on faked images, forensic software author (see his site) and frequent speaker at conferences. You can read his comments here:

The 5th is Ken Colburn founder and CEO of Data Doctors Computer Services & Data Forensics Labs appearing in an interview on a Phoenix TV station. Here is what he said after looking at the Cold Case Posse presentation:

When I first saw it it was very convincing until we did our test and saw that, wait a minute, our scanner does the same thing.

Here is a link to the video at USA Today.

My prior 5 experts are good, but the 6th expert is the one that I put the most faith in, because he is an expert in exactly the subject under discussion. Dr. Ricardo de Queiroz was a former research scientist for Xerox, and a patent holder in the very compression technology that has so confused the birthers. He is the author of an academic paper on mixed raster content compression (one that discusses why there are halos, for example), and he informally looked at the Obama PDF and responded that it looked like MRC compression to him. Of all the people commenting, he is the one most qualified to look at the PDF and say what it is. Here’s a copy of his paper in the Journal of Electronic Imaging mentioning halos:

His comments on the Obama PDF are informal, made in an email.

One final remark on Reed Hayes. Being an expert in one thing doesn’t make someone an expert in everything. The reason that I cannot accept any opinion from Reed Hayes as an expert opinion without first reading his report is that I cannot know whether his report is about something he is an expert in, or whether its conclusions are based on something he is not an expert in. Depending on what Hayes says, he may be an expert, or he may not.


Berg Book

imageFinally Phil Berg’s Obama book is out. It’s called ObamaScare, and available both in paperback and Kindle formats. The book has 32 chapters plus an appendix and index for 266 pages.

I have a moral objection to giving money to bad guys, specifically buying their books, so I look for used copies. In this case Amazon lets me read the book for free through their Kindle Unlimited program. One immediately notes that there is a big difference between the paperback edition and the Kindle edition (as seen by previews on the Amazon web site)—the Kindle edition has no table of contents.

What I wanted to look at was the chapter titled “Malaysia MH17 – Obama could have Avoided the Destruction.” Berg blames the conflict in the Ukraine, and the air disaster, on Obama’s foreign policy. He doesn’t develop the idea or present specifics, but it happened, and it must be Obama’s fault, and this at a hasty glance, appears to be most of what the book is about. Oh, and Benghazi.

Berg both denies Obama is a US citizen, and asserts that he is guilty of treason. He also makes a case for impeachment. He says that ObamaCare and Benghazi will “bring him down.”

Yes, there are standard birther talking points in the book such as:

And Obama has spent over Three Million [$3] Dollars to keep his records sealed.

You’d think someone like Berg would know better. And Berg says following a paragraph on the “grandmother tape”:

When New York Times bestseller author Jerome Corsi traveled to Kenya to investigate the claims, he was almost immediately kicked out of the country by Kenyan officials.

Only Corsi was detained in Kenya on October 7, 2008, and subsequently deported. The “grandmother tape” was recorded October 16, 2008. Corsi could have hardly gone to Kenya to investigate the grandmother tape, as the interview had not occurred.

Berg seems to be stuck in time, including very little discussion about Obama’s long-form birth certificate in 2011, and what there is appears amidst a chapter on Berg’s 2009 lawsuit.

He also talks quite a lot about Orly Taitz, concluding:

There are so many other appearances by Orly Taitz that has (sic) undermined the efforts of others and yes, my efforts to expose the real fraud of Soetoro/Obama.

The book is a mess.

WND blocks Doc from debunking nutty article

Lord Monckton is back at WorldNetDaily with a classic example of he blind leading the blind in a rehash of a similar story from 2012. I’d like to refute the nonsense there, but WND banned me a while back.


The comment I couldn’t post (from the preceding image) says:

With all due respect, Monckton doesn’t have a clue what real scanning and PDF generation software does. He relies on what he is told, and the people telling him aren’t qualified. It is the blind leading the blind. The paper largely relies on the false claim that normal PDF generation software does not create multiple one-bit non-black layers. Well it does. Ask any Xerox WorkCenter 7655 machine.

This is in response to a central theme in the Monckton report (repeating over and over “I am told”) that says, among other things:

Monckton: "I am told that no optimization software generates any non-black layers of 1-bit quality, yet all of the 1-bit-quality layers in the White House document are non-black" and "Multiple layers of 1-bit quality each representing a distinct color other than black can only be created by an operator deliberately."

As readers here know, the Xerox WorkCentre 7655 that the White House owns automatically does exactly what Monckton was told optimization software can not do.

Then Monckton goes on to do some math which is both wrong, and inappropriate:

Multiple layers of 1-bit quality, no 1-bit-quality layer represents black and one 8-bit-quality color layer: 1 in 60 (combined)
Registrar’s signature-stamp on its own layer: 1 in 100 (actually impossible)
Registrar’s date-stamp on its own layer: 1 in 100 (actually impossible)
Line spacing irregularities: 1 in 10
Letter spacing irregularities: 1 in 20
White halo effect around black text: 1 in 10
Chromatic aberration absent: 1 in 100 (actually impossible)
Certificate number out of sequence: 1 in 25
Father’s birth date two years out: 1 in 40
Use of “African” against written rules: 1 in 25
Miscoding of federal statistical data: 1 in 25
Probability that all errors were inadvertent: 1 in 75 quadrillion

First, let’s correct the mistakes:

Multiple layers of 1-bit quality, no 1-bit-quality layer represents black and one 8-bit-quality color layer: Normal for Xerox machine
Registrar’s signature-stamp on its own layer: Always happens with Xerox
Registrar’s date-stamp on its own layer: Always happens with Xerox
Line spacing irregularities: Why is this unusual?
Letter spacing irregularities: Why is this unusual?
White halo effect around black text: Always happens with Xerox
Chromatic aberration absent: Normal for Xerox
Certificate number out of sequence: Not out of sequence
Father’s birth date two years out: Matches other documents
Use of “African” against written rules: No such rule
Miscoding of federal statistical data: No such code applicable

The a priori statistical fallacy involved (reference, see Note 4) is to conclude that something that that has already happened is improbable. He might just as well have argued that the name Barack is very unusual, and the name Obama is also unusual, and that only a relatively small number of babies were born in Hawaii on August 4, 1961, and then conclude that someone named “Barack Obama” being born on August 4, 1961 in Hawaii was very unlikely.

Sibley’s “Grand Jury Kit”

Scrounging for something to write about lead me to Montgomery Blair Sibley’s blog, and a February 27th article titled, “Request for Grand Jury Investigation into the Legitimacy of Obama’s Identity Documents.” In the brief article, Sibley says that he is done with the courts on this topic; however, he refers to his Open Letter, and in that letter he urges readers to download a 32-page document, print it in color, and send it to “your local county Grand Jury.” I guess we will have to add Sibley’s “Grand Jury Kit” to Mike Volin’s Sheriff’s kit.

The document itself (apparently from Douglas Vogt and Paul Irey) is mostly about typewriting, expressing the opinions of people who are not a qualified experts on the subject, based on no recognized methodology. Certainly Vogt, who is in the scanner business, ought to know that some scanners crate halos. In essence the grand jury document argues that ignorance on the writers’ part implies forgery on Obama’s part.