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Birth certificate forensics and general points about birth certificates

Old News! Conservative Fact Check retracts birther claim

In a stunning reversal article in December of 2012, Conservative Fact Check, a web site on my Ugly list, said:

Over the holiday break we’ve been taking another look at all the evidence, and I’ve come to the conclusion that the claims that Obama’s birth certificate are just that — claims.

To be clear: it might be fake. And, it might be the case that scientists have genetically engineered a cat that looks, acts, and talks like a dog. Both are possible, but unlikely. If it looks, acts, and barks like a dog, it’s usually a dog.

Why the reversal? Their first reason should be obvious to anyone:

The experts… aren’t.

As for Joe Arpaio and Mike Zullo:

So perhaps TechDude is just a bad apple, right? Perhaps he meant well, and was simply operating under the misguided notion that it was acceptable to fudge here, exaggerate there in pursuit of what he saw as the greater good (as Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s posse was caught doing). There must be efforts by other experts that support the forgery theory, right?

Well… no.

The treason of images

The Treason of Images” is one of the translations of the title of a painting by the Belgian surrealist painter René Magritte. For some reason that image came to me during lunch today and I thought of its application to the blog. [If the reader is not familiar with the work, now might be a good time to follow the preceding link to the Wikipedia article to see it.] I might adapt Magritte:

The famous birth certificate. How people reproached me for it! And you, could have you gotten a passport with my birth certificate? No, it’s just a representation, is it not? So if I had written on my picture “This is a birth certificate,” I’d have been lying!

Not a birth certificate

Birthers seem confused about the difference between an object and a representation of it, a photo of it in the case of Obama’s birth certificate. No one in real life confuses the two. You cannot get wet looking at a photo of Niagara falls, but no one complains about this. They don’t curse the image for its dryness. Still birthers get all upset that Obama put a photo of his birth certificate on the White House web site, as if one could put a piece real of paper on the web somehow. (Obama’s attorney did show the actual certified copy—what one calls a birth certificate—to the press who handled it and photographed it. One could get a passport with something like that.)

Word salad

So this person under the name “Calista Dvorak” showed up on YouTube under a 2012 Mark Gillar video, the one with the false statements about race codes on Obama’s birth certificate.

She said she was an expert in digital imaging and that Obama’s birth certificate was a digital forgery. When I asked the standard questions about her qualifications:

I would just ask you simply have you ever even taken a course in electronic forensic document examination? Have you ever taught such a course? Have you ever been employed as a forensic document examiner? Have you been certified in this field by any accredited forensic accreditation organization? Have you ever been qualified by any court as an expert witness in forensic electronic document examination? Have you applied any scientifically recognized methodology in determining that Obama’s birth certificate is a forgery? If you answered yes to ANY of those questions, you would be ahead of every so-called birther expert to appear.

Her response to me (which totally dodged the questions) is one of the most painfully turgid things I have ever read (ellipses in the original):

The essential demand precludes your ancillary details.  A digitally fabricated cartoon, regardless of technical method of production, of an alleged vital record…presented through an undisclosed, undocumented chain of custody…presented through a restricted non-interactive media source controlled only by the perpetrators…lauded by ideologically corrupt accomplices in media, is not an acceptable method for providing verification of, not only the identity of the person, but the actual existence of the original paper document it purports to represent.

In this case, the vital information of an ideologically radical public figure seeking the power of public office has been proffered to that public in the form of cartoon.  Denial of these factual premises is symptomatic of a serious psychopathology.

While your need to cull a pedantic argument without addressing this crux is fascinating, I’m certain you don’t require affirmation to push extraneous explanations in defense of Obama’s lies.   Most Obots don’t.  In fact, as this lie continues to erode, along with the credibility and moral character of this illegitimate administration and the obotic horde, I truly hope that yours is one of the remaining voices among the desolate petitioners arguing in favor of immaterial trinkets like “Xerox Workcentres” and “MRC compression”.

I’ll enjoy witnessing the futility of your sophisticated gewgaw against the righteousness of subsequent wrath.  For example, your promotion of document examination, electronic or otherwise, is futile because there is no document to examine in concert with a documented chain of custody in this case.

Dr. Queiroz?  While I honor the expertise of colleagues, Dr. Queiroz is an equally respected academic who, as a fan of the Tales of Count Lucanor, admits that he has little experience or understanding of vital records management, counterintelligence or, most importantly in this matter, criminology.  Coincidentally, I am personally familiar with Dr. Q’s work through mutual membership with various committees and am pleased to say that we not only share academic and professional qualifications but also the privilege as contributors to a handful of industry standards overlapping our respective fields.  However, we are merely two of many qualified thousands.

However, unfortunately, as proficient as he may be with a scanner, confirmation of arcane theories, provided by foreign galleries, outside appropriate adjudication in this matter (YouTube comments do not qualify) remain subordinate to the need to confront its domestic criminal genesis.   For, I am confident, if prosecution were undertaken and the case brought to the appropriate venue, there are far more qualified experts able to provide essential rationale to the acts, motives and methods for this forgery and deception, than you or Dr. Q.

Unlike most you inaccurately identify and mischaracterize, I am one of few who genuinely desires that Obama not be removed from his current place despite his counterfeit identity.  On the contrary, I would that he to remains perched upon his precarious illegitimacy…as high and as publicly viewable as possible.  The blood-ransomed sovereignty of the office of the U.S. President has been proven strong enough to withstand the assault of such an amateur, as we continue to witness.  Moreover, I am of the rare opinion there is no better place for reconciliation than the seat designated for the most powerful leadership position in the world.  Only upon that prolific mantel can equal action against of the most prolific lie in human history be brought.

For the time being, I will enjoy weighing “feet of clay” arguments promoting office implements and discredited paper Dicks against the emerging truth revealing Obama’s fraudulent identity, and his sociopathic agenda, to the electorate.  Perhaps then, after the eradication of ill-elected overbenders and fake internet doctors from our ranks, we can impress upon a righteous majority, the descendants of those worthier, to address this hideous aberration with the vigor and intellect it demands.

There really is a Calista Dvorak, a neurologist in North Carolina. The same? Not a clue.

Light fuse and run away: Paul Irey finds another “anomaly”

Paul Irey once more proffers a bogus argument that Obama’s birth certificate is a forgery, and then leaves the country.

In what he calls an “incomplete study,” Paul Irey, amateur birther image sleuth,  professional typewriter user, and newly minted American expatriate1, has pointed out yet another “anomaly” in Obama’s long form birth certificate that he thinks may be the “best yet.” Irey says:

… I feel that this particular evidence is impossible to refute.

Irey’s argument, in a nutshell, is that comparing Obama’s birth certificate to another example seems to indicate that the security paper pattern on one is a different size than the security paper pattern on the other. For your reference, here is the image Irey made to show his observation (click to enlarge):

The Hawaii Department of Health does not routinely issue birth certificates like the long form supplied to President Obama any more. It requires a special waiver. The “Alan” certificate was reportedly printed in 1998, and it was almost certainly made prior to the Department of Health adopting its 2001 policy to stop issuing photocopied certificates. That means 13 years elapsed between the creation of the two certificates, which hardly qualifies as “from the same period” as Irey describes it. I am not suggesting that the security paper changed in those 13 years because while possible, it is to my mind unlikely; however, the method of photocopying the book onto the paper, the copy machine and its settings are very likely to have changed.

Irey doesn’t actually explain his reasons, why he thinks the security paper in the two images should be the same. It looks like Irey did what I would have done for a first pass, “calibrate” by resizing the images to match up the printed text. If one does that (and I tested it myself), the Obama security paper basket weave pattern does appear smaller than that on the Alan certificate, and I get a result just like what Irey presents. That calibration method is valid if and only if the text used for calibration is the same size on both certificates. It turns out that it isn’t.

Doug Vogt states in Point 5 of his Washington State lawsuit affidavit, that the Obama certificate was reduced to 87.5% size before printing onto the security paper. The Alan certificate was also reduced before printing. I discovered this by taking a sheet of Simpson Design Secure™ paper, the paper that I believe is used by Hawaii to print birth certificates, and simply typing on it. I then scanned that text and adjusted the Alan certificate’s text to the same size. The pattern on the security paper in the Alan certificate appeared much larger than the real typewritten example, showing that the Alan certificate printing was reduced. How much? To get a number, I took the size of the clip of the Alan certificate I was using to match text. The width of the clip was 2774 pixels. Next, I reduced the size of the clip so that its security paper background matched that of the real typewriting on security paper scan, and the clip width became 1926. That is, the Alan image by my calculation was reduced to roughly 70% size before it was printed on security paper.

So naturally when you shrink Obama’s certificate down to match the smaller text of the Alan certificate. the pattern on the security paper background gets shrunk too—what we see in the Irey figure.

Irey doesn’t say how he calibrated his images, but it is clear that the text size ended up being the same for both. Since the Alan certificate was printed smaller than the Obama certificate, we should not expect the background security paper to match when shrunk to make the text the same size.

I haven’t done all the work there is to do on this, specifically trying to use the difference in printing size to see if the security paper background enlargement exactly matches what it should be based on my calculations. I only showed that it changed in the right direction. A thorough job would also verify Vogt’s number for Obama’s certificate.

1For more on Irey leaving the country, see my article: “Disgusted birther leaves country.”

Is making a fake PDF image of a birth certificate a crime? Mike Zullo answers!

Here’s what Mike Zullo said:

Let me say something Carl. You know we have been focused on this issue and, you know, your listeners, everybody is so intently focused on the birth certificate. And I just really want to make it clear. The birth certificate as it’s, in the form that it is now, a PDF file is absolutely of no evidentiary value. It’s useless. And it doesn’t really matter to an extent other than from a conspiratorial standpoint in the commission of felonies. It doesn’t matter about all these anomalies because this thing has no evidentiary value. It is nothing. It is absolutely nothing, and the American people were shown absolutely nothing.

So, no, creating a fake PDF of a birth certificate in and of itself is not a crime.

Mike Zullo also said:

We are here looking at a fraudulent document1. This document should never have been perpetrated, should never have been proffered in the manner it does. As a matter of fact, to merely create this document is a federal offense.

So yes, creating a fake birth certificate PDF is very definitely a federal crime.

I hope that clears it up.

1Some birther apologists may argue that the “document” referred in the second quote is not the PDF (an abbreviation for “portable document format”), but that cannot be for two reasons. First Zullo and the rest of the birthers claim that there was no paper Obama birth certificate to start with, and that the PDF was assembled electronically from bits and pieces. Second, the only thing the President posted for the general public, and the only thing Zullo could possibly be “looking at,” is the PDF.

BR v. BR

GerbilReportBirther Report (BR) has a new article up consisting of an email exchange involving Brian Reilly (BR). In an article titled “Cold Case Posse Initiator Reverses Course,” author George Miller exhibits an email exchange between Kevin “Pixel Patriot” Powell (is a pixel patriot like a keyboard warrior, only a lot smaller?) and Brian Reilly. I wanted to take a bit of what Powell wrote as an example of how confused birthers are about the facts and how they raise bogus objections.

The first item refers to the verification received by Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett from the State of Hawaii, one reason Reilly considers the Obama identity issue closed. Here’s what Powell said:

Dr. Onaka’s verification letter on May 22nd, 2012 did undermine the investigation to some extent but if you look at the circumstances in their entirety, it did not and should not have shut down the investigation which proceeded on many fronts beyond what you are privy to.

The first issue is the implication that Brian Reilly was not privy to the entire scope of the Cold Case Posse investigation; however, since there were only two people (Reilly being one of them) working on the investigation, it hardly seems credible for someone who wasn’t part of any of it (Powell) to make a claim that there were material things Reilly was not privy to. How could Powell know such a thing? If he could not know it, he must have made that claim up. Powell continues:

In reality, the so-called verification letter is missing two fundamental elements such as the name of the parents and the date of birth.

Without these, everything is suspect…

The article, to its credit, links to that verification. Powell claims that the parent’s name and date of birth, items which Powell calls “fundamental” elements, are not part of the itemized list of data elements that Dr. Onaka verified. How are they “fundamental”? Parents are irrelevant to presidential eligibility (no one ever alleged Obama’s father was an ambassador), and no one has ever suggested that Barack Obama was not at least 35 years old when he became president. So Powell is attempting to spin the non-critical items into something important. It is true that the itemized list doesn’t contain the two elements, but the verification also says:

Additionally, I verify that the information in the copy of the Certificate of Live Birth for Mr. Obama that you attached with your request matches the original record in our files.

Since the White House copy of the certificate includes the date of birth and parents’ names, the verification’s general matching statement verifies them too. For more on the verifications, see my 2012 article “Reverse engineering Dr. Onaka” and my 2013 article, “Onaka’s verification wording.” Further, the Bennett verification is not the only one.

Powell goes on to say:

…An honest evaluation undoubtedly demands full disclosure by the known liar waging war against the Constitution and the citizens of this Republic….

Given that Sheriff Arpaio has been sued by Obama’s Justice Department for abuses in his department, Arpaio is hardly the one to provide an unbiased evaluation, nor is Mike Zullo who has no specialization in law enforcement, beyond a short stint as a policeman in a small town 20 years ago, in any way qualified to lead, much less solely comprise the investigation.  Mike Zullo himself is a known liar, presenting a false race code table to the public and assuring his listeners that he had the original manual containing the codes. (He either lied about the content of the manual, or he lied about having it.) If an honest evaluation is to be done, Arpaio and his Cold Case Posse is one of the last places where it could be found.

Powell then states:

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie vowed to find Obama’s Birth Certificate but couldn’t produce it. Then, Gov. Abercrombie gave Dr. Onaka an award for modernizing the national vital statistics model law. Onaka also helped Hawaii implement EVVE as a Pilot state. The system can verify within 7 seconds whether a birth record is valid or fraudulent. Both AZ and Hawaii were early adopters of the EVVE System, yet Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett spent weeks exchanging emails with that same state registrar just so he could ask the question in the right way to get the “correct answer” while completely ignoring an official investigation by a sheriff that had declared it to be a forgery created by an act of fraud. The answer Sec. Bennett agreed to receive from Dr. Onaka did not include the date of birth, a critical component which was recommended to remain unchanged (p.59) in the national vital statistics model law because of the legal implications by the work group Dr. Onaka chaired for which he was given said award.

The claim that Abercrombie couldn’t find Obama’s birth certificate is bogus. Abercrombie was looking for some document he could release, and was told that by law he couldn’t release what they had.

Abercrombie giving Onaka an award is news to me. Did it happen? I couldn’t find such a thing. The Department of Health received an award from the Center for Digital Government (finalist in the Best of the Web contest), but that’s not from Abercrombie. The DoH received another award in 2007 (before Abercrombie became governor) from the same organization for its Electronic Death Registration System. Onaka received the Halbert L. Dunn award in 2008 from the National Association for Public Health Statistics and Information Systems, and another NAPHSIS award in 2011 for his work as chair of the committee that produced recommendations for updates to the Model State Vital Statistics Act. None of these awards has anything whatever to do with Governor Abercrombie.

Powell alleges that Bennett could have simply used EVVE (Electronic Verification of Vital Events), an electronic system used by participating government agencies to check the validity of birth certificates under the Real ID Act. Powell correctly states that EVVE implementation was complete in Hawaii and Arizona (as of January of 2011). The technical specifications for EVVE are not public, and I didn’t take stuff home with me from my prior job in vital records. What I can say from the research that I have been able to do, is that it is within the realm of possibility that Ken Bennett might have been able to call some office in some Arizona state agency and after a long discussion of whether there was authority for what he was asking, been able to verify some limited set of information on Obama’s birth certificate electronically.

The problem with that approach, assuming it was permissible, is that the results are not certified by anybody. Can you imagine a Secretary of State certifying a candidate for president based on a screen print of some terminal at the DMV? :roll: EVVE verifications are nothing more than a computer-to-computer data match, not an official record. Further, it is highly unlikely that such data elements as the name of the hospital are included in the EVVE transaction. One paper on electronic birth registration systems in the EVVE context listed the following data items as “birth identification data”:

  • registrant’s name
  • date of birth
  • city, county, and State of the place of birth
  • gender
  • mother’s maiden name
  • father’s name
  • mother’s address
  • birth certificate number
  • mother’s Social Security number
  • father’s Social Security number
  • date filed

If that is the correct list, then EVVE could not have verified the following elements that Bennett asked of Onaka:

  • Time of birth
  • Name of Hospital
  • Age of Father
  • Birthplace of father
  • Age of mother
  • Birthplace of Mother
  • Date of Signature of Parent
  • Date of Signature of Attendant
  • Date Accepted by Local Registrar

That means that only 3 of the 12 items Bennett requested for verification might have been verifiable by EVVE. Powell’s entire complaint is bogus from start to finish.

Now, about the gerbils. Gerbil Report (as I now prefer to call Birther Report) trots out the gerbils, in this gratuitous image, courtesy of Barry Soetoro, Esq.:


In an email Brian Reilly responds:

Birther Report has published selected communications between myself and individuals who embrace the position that President Obama’s birth certificate is a forgery.  My goal was to tell the numerous people who were open copied in Gary Wilmott’s recent email that former MCSO Chief Brian Sands’ new exposé entitled "Arpaio, DeFacto Lawman" is available from as an e-book for $4.99. I hit the Jackpot when Birther Report chose to advertise the book for all to see.  In the memorable words of President George Bush:  "Mission Accomplished!"

Brian Reilly