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Strunk revisits the passport issue in a motion

Birther Report reports Chris Strunk’s latest 231 page motion to reargue Strunk et al v. United States Department of State et al (other named plaintiffs are the CIA, Eric Holder, the New York State Board of Elections, Barack Hussein Obama, II, US Copyright Office). The case was filed June 10, and dismissed June 16, 2014.

I left the following comment at Birther Report (assuming that they are correct in that somewhere in that massive filing is something about Ann Dunham’s passport records):

I find myself in the unusual position of having some sympathy with Chris Strunk on the passport question. I filed my own FOIA around the same time that Stunk filed his and was waiting for my results while his earlier lawsuit was ongoing. It appears that my response got delayed due to the lawsuit, and when I got a response, it was the same that Strunk got. I appealed and got a little more, but I still believe that there is a passport issuance card on microfilm that to date hasn’t been released. We know for a fact that Dunham had a passport that the State Department hasn’t released (either because they don’t have it or because they just haven’t released it).

GAO documents make it clear that routine passport applications were destroyed in the 1980’s to save storage space; however, the government’s argument for allowing the destruction was that a permanent record of the passports issued was retained on microfilm. There is a Dunham passport that SHOULD be on microfilm, but hasn’t been released.

I personally think that the birthers have so pissed off the State Department that any request in this area gets dumped into a black hole. They certainly gave me the runaround for over a year on a request that usually takes a couple of months at the most.

For the record, I have no reason to think that there is anything in this unreleased passport file (including the first passport issued to Ann Dunham) that helps the birthers. Indeed, I think it hurts the "born in Kenya" theory by showing that Dunham had no US Passport prior to her trip to Indonesia.

My first FOIA for Dunham’s passport records was in 2009, and I didn’t get a response until 2011. My follow-up request submitted in January of 2012 is still awaiting a response.

Obama and e-Verify: SSA sheds some light

Attempts were made to get Barack Obama’s social-security records through publicly accessible systems that are provided to individuals to check their own information, and to employers to check numbers for employees. Putting aside the fact that these attempts for other purposes were illegal, and accepting for the moment these criminals’ assertions that Barack Obama’s records could not be accessed, one is left with the question of why Barack Obama’s records were not returned by e-Verify, SSNVS or Self Check. It was also reported in the press that Obama was unable to complete his online registration with an ACA healthcare exchange due to identity verification failure.

Birthers explain all this by saying that Obama’s social-security number belongs to someone else, and that is why verification fails. The birthers’ detractors have made a couple of alternative suggestions:

  1. In the wake of the publication of Obama’s social-security number on the Internet, the President applied for a new number and the old number was deactivated.
  2. Presidential records in national databases are treated differently and are subject to tighter access restrictions than other records.

The first suggestion is easily documented as a normal process in response to identity theft, but it doesn’t explain why Obama had problems signing up for health care. Up until now, the second suggestion seemed plausible, but to my knowledge not confirmed. I submitted a FOIA request to the Social Security Administration last May specifically questioning how public records requests were handled for high government officials including the President. The question was asked in the context of understanding government operations. I used as an example a comment by the White House that Obama had a problem signing up for health care online.

I received a somewhat less than fully responsive reply today from the Social Security Administration, but one that contains the nugget of information required to confirm that suggestion 2 is plausible:

This message is in response to your May 22, 2014 inquiry about Social Security Administration database inquiries.

In addition to our rigorous safeguards designed to protect the personal information of all individuals in our databases, we have further security restrictions in place to prevent unauthorized access of Social Security records of select national figures.

We share response information only with our trusted partners who are authorized to use our verification services.

Safeguarding the public’s information has been an important issue ever since the creation of Social Security.  In 1937, the first regulation adopted by the Social Security Board outlined the rules regarding privacy and disclosure of Social Security records.  Through the years, other regulations and the Privacy Act have further defined our responsibilities to ensure the confidentiality of the information we collect and hold.

New FOIA about Obama’s social-security number

Here is the text of a FOIA request I filed online with the Social Security Administration today:

I am requesting relevant sections from SSA regulations and/or policies relating to the following questions:

1) Are SSA database inquiries through consumer-facing systems such as E-Verify, Self Check and ACA health exchange interfaces blocked for high-ranking government officials either routinely or on an as-requested basis.

2) If the answer to the first question is "yes," what response codes and response text would be returned by these systems in response to a blocked inquiry?

3) A 2013 news story stated that President Obama had difficulty signing up for health insurance through the ACA health exchange online because of identity verification. I am interested in SSA regulations and procedures that might be pertinent to understanding this news item as it relates to blocked database entries for government officials.

Unlike some birther FOIA requests, I intentionally designed this one to ask for information that they can legally give me. I filed it because I am interested in deciding between two competing theories of why Obama’s SSN fails E-Verify: The database inquiry is blocked, or Obama changed his number.

Helpful Maryland judge nurtures Taitz suit

Taitz v. Colvin is the subject of much excitement among the birthers. Taitz is attempting to obtain, through FOIA, the social security application for someone she thinks rightfully owns the social-security number that Barack Obama used on his tax returns in years past. Birthers think that proof is just over the horizon—SSA says it doesn’t have any such records.

Taitz was able to file the suit because the Social Security Administration did not respond to the FOIA request in the time allowed by statute. Eventually the government responded, saying they didn’t have any records matching one Taitz request, for Harrison (Harry) J. Bounel and a birth year of 1890, immigrant from Russia who received a Social Security number in the state of Connecticut in and around March 28, 1977. The judge dismissed the complaint because once the government responds to the FOIA request, the grounds for the lawsuit evaporate. However, helpful Federal District Judge Ellen Hollander told Taitz that should she allege that the search was inadequate, she might be allowed to continue, and the court said it would entertain an amended complaint. That amended complaint was filed. The government moved to dismiss again, or in the alternate for summary judgment. The motion to dismiss details the search performed:

SSA also conducted alternate searches [beyond the SSN] of the Numident using Mr. Bounel’s name (the following variations were searched: Harrison Bounel, Harrison J. Bounel, Harry Bounel, and Harry J. Bounel) and year of birth (i.e., 1890). Because Plaintiff did not provide a full date of birth, SSA performed a date range search for any Numident records with dates of birth between January 1, 1890 and January 1, 1894.

Our helpful judge, not assuming that Taitz knows that she has to respond to the motion to dismiss, has sent Taitz a letter (or rather the clerk of court did), explaining that Taitz must respond and the consequences if she doesn’t (having her complaint dismissed 😯 ) . There’s even an attached copy of the rules!

Taitz’ response is due Tuesday (18 Feb 2014). And please, no more than 50 pages, including attachments (the 2nd amended complaint was 181).

Taitz gets busy

Here it is, only January 3 and Orly Taitz has already posted 17 articles on her blog for the year and announced a number of legal moves. I could change the byline for this blog to “I read Orly Taitz so you don’t have to,” but I’ll stick with tradition. In any case, here are the legal lowlights:

  1. Taitz filed a FOIA request with the District of Columbia Health Benefit Exchange Authority. They replied today saying that disclosure of information about Obama’s enrollment in the exchange is prohibited by law, D. C. Official Code § 20534(a)(2). They also respond that they have no records of any court order to scrub Obama’s records from their database, no regulations requiring them to check for fraudulent social-security numbers, nor any documents relating to a requirement to report identity theft to a court. Taitz sees reports that Obama had difficulty signing up because his federal records are in some way not available to the exchange software a “sign from God.”
  2. The second amended complaint is filed in the case of Taitz v. Colvin, a FOIA lawsuit over the social-security number of a Mr. Bounel born in 1890. In rejecting her previous complaints, the Court explained to Taitz that the response by the government to her request ends the court action unless she alleges that the government’s search is inadequate. Taitz comes back claiming that individuals at the Social Security Administration are attempting to defraud the Court. Rather than explain why she considers the search inadequate, she says that the search was inadequate because the SSA didn’t provide evidence of its adequacy, shifting the burden of proof to the SSA.
  3. Taitz further requests in Taitz v. Colvin that the court refer her evidence of the FOIA officer “acting with malice” to a grand jury, or let Taitz step in for the US Attorney and present it herself (Taitz not even being admitted to the Bar in Maryland), and then she dumps a moldy list of birther talking points about claimed anomalies in various statements and documents. She wants to prosecute basically everything she ever thought was wrong with Barack Obama. This runaround the US Attorney is what I call the “Vogt gambit”, which we know is a loser.
  4. Taitz has filed a motion in opposition to the defense motion for summary judgment by the Postal Service in Taitz v. Donahoe. Taitz is protesting because the judge, Royce C. Lamberth “previously covered up all evidence of fraud and forgery in Barack Obama’s ID in related cases.” The judge is gonna love that. Despite the judge explaining it to her in Taitz v. Colvin, Orly doesn’t get the fact that FOIA lawsuits become moot once the government provides a response, whether timely or late.

Reading on the lines

I’ve noticed a few stories appearing on various sites today that follow a theme, reading things that are not there. One of them involves Ted Cruz and a headline at Birther Report:

Shock Claim: Ted Cruz Said Obama Not Eligible To Be President; Citizen Parents?

In fact, Ted Cruz didn’t say anything. Some guy named J. B. Williams wrote an open letter to Cruz that said Cruz would be a real hero if he said:

I am honored that so many Americans want me to run for the office of President. However, my moral convictions require that I state clearly for the record that I am not eligible for the office of president or vice president according to Article II – Section I – Clause V of the U.S. Constitution, which requires that only a Natural Born Citizen of the United States, born of an American Citizen Father, seek or hold these offices. As I was born the son of a Cuban Citizen living in Canada at the time, I am not a Natural Born Citizen of the United States. On this Constitutional ground, I hereby state that Barack Hussein Obama, the son of a Kenyan Citizen Father, is also not a Natural Born Citizen of the United States…I hereby call for the immediate investigation and resignation of Barack Hussein Obama and all who were involved in the greatest fraud ever perpetrated on the world, as well as all who have engaged in the greatest political cover-up in the history of politics.

The text preceding is widely repeated on various low-level web sites. This thing is easy to mistakenly attribute to Cruz, either because of misleading headlines such as the one at BR, or carelessly missing the context.

Williams goes on to make a stronger assertion, based on the memory of an unnamed source:

Now, a close personal friend, a Texas RNC precinct chair-person, supported Ted’s senate campaign in Texas. He shared with me a conversation he had with Ted during the early days of the campaign. In that conversation, he asked Ted – “What is your understanding of how one becomes a natural born citizen?” – to which Ted answered, “Two citizen parents and born on the soil…” – “That understanding is incorrect, and I don’t have time to explain the real definition right now.” Stated my friend…

“Based on your understanding, do you agree that Obama is not a natural born Citizen, and is therefore ineligible?” – to which Ted correctly answered, “YES!”

The second misreading story I’ve already written about in my article “What’s really going on in Taitz v. Colvin” where an order that Orly Taitz must submit an amended complaint within 21 days, gets turned into “the government has to supply some Social Security records within 21 days.” Somehow Taitz read into the order an assurance that the government would be ordered to surrender some documents that they say they don’t have. Others skipped from “assurance” to an “order to produce.”

A third example involves an old news affidavit by Al Hendershot. A selection was quoted to me in comments on some site where I was arguing about something. I went to Scribd for the (correctly quoted) original with context. Here’s the text:

Exhibit 2 attached herein is the (FOIA) Freedom of Information Act request which was completed for numident 042-68-4425 with Harry Bounel as the name associated with said numident 042-68-4425. Exhibit 2 clearly states that the aforementioned numident belongs to Harry Bounel and not Barack H. Obama as detailed in the response from the Social Security Administration dated November 2012.

What Hendershot appears to have done is to file a Freedom of Information Act request with the Social Security Administration for records of Harry Bounel with the social-security number of President Obama. The response he got back was that the records could not be released due to the Privacy Act of 1974. That implies that what could not be released was a record of a living person. Harry Bounel born around 1890 is not alive, so the record found could not have been his. The alternative is that Obama’s SSN led to President Obama, who is alive. Hendershot is reading between the lines rather than on them. He’s reading into the SSA letter the search methodology they used.

What I learned in this last item is that Hendershot is saying that the unidentified database entry through which he originally linked the President’s social-security number to the name “Harrison J. Bounel” is no longer there. He says “scrubbed,” but I offer the alternative, “corrected.”