Main Menu

Archive | FOIA

Selective Service confirms Obama registration

Sometimes I get burned taking thing for granted. The other day I realized that the Obama Selective Service form formerly published in 2008 that has been criticized by the Cold Case Posse as a fake has never to my knowledge appeared from any reputable source. Was the published image completely authentic? I also wondered, would the best available copy of the selective service form possibly show more detail?

The short answers to those two issues are “yes” and “no.”

I filed my FOIA with the Selective Service System on September 2, and just 10 days later, I had my answer. I asked specifically of the images available were color, black and white or grey scale. They said:

A Xerox 😯 copy in black and white color is enclosed; it is the best copy available to us.

The image I received appears to me to be of about the same quality as what has been published before, and in particular large portions of the postmark are missing–not just the “19”, but  other text and parts of the year number as well. It is obvious on this image that the postmark didn’t reproduce well. There is just a tiny bit from the bottom of another form on my image, suggesting that it derives from a microfilm copy.

What was marginally interesting, from which this article’s title comes, was a sentence in their response letter to me, saying:

Mr. Obama did indeed register with Selective Service and was assigned Selective Service Number 61-1125539-1 on September 4, 1980.

So the President’s registration is confirmed by the agency in charge of selective service registrations, just as his birth in Hawaii is confirmed by the agency in charge of birth registrations in Hawaii.

I’m satisfied. Birthers, of course, have a different view.

Obama Selective Service Registration, FOIA, 9/10/1013

Department of State FOIA delay

I have very little sympathy for what birthers do, and for what they are trying to prove. Nevertheless, there is one thing that I share with them, and that is frustration over government foot-dragging when it comes to FOIA and Obama.

In January of 2012, I submitted a very narrow FOIA request to the US Department of State for specific information from the microfilm passport issuance cards that are kept, according to published sources, by the Department. The request was for the records of a known deceased person, and there has never been the slightest objection to the request by the government. They just aren’t responding. Having waited 18 months for a reply, I decided to ask for status. I did this by email to a special status email address at the Department. I sent the question on July 4 and today, I got this response:

Thank you for inquiring on your assigned case number [redacted1].  I apologize for our delayed response.  The Statutory Compliance and Research Division initiated a search with the Central Foreign Policy Records (the principal records system of the Department of State) and the Office of Passport Services (PPT).  The both searches are pending.  I have asked for an estimated completion date (ECD) and the information may take a day or two (2) for a response.  You may contact our FOIA Hotline by telephone or e-mail us with-in 48hrs or I will send you an e-mail for our response.

Anybody want to bet me that the response won’t be either (a) not in a day or two, or (b) we cannot tell you when to expect a response, or  both?

1I redacted the FOIA case number just to prevent anyone else from using it to impersonate me while the request is ongoing. I’ll show it with the response if I’m still alive and blogging by then.

Anonymity and Freedom of Speech

I support the right of anonymous speech, and that’s a longstanding policy on this blog. It’s an application of the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you—that particular formulation is from Jesus, but all of the worlds’ major religions include s similar principle.1 Before I retired, I was very concerned about my blogging here bleeding over into my job because several of my former company’s customers were state vital statistics agencies. And while I never had anything bad to say about those agencies (for whom I had high regard), it is still easy for something to be misunderstood or misrepresented. I want for people on both sides of the birther question to be able to speak their minds freely without having to look over their shoulders at work, or with family and friends. Sometimes the ability to freely express an opinion requires doing it anonymously. In my way of thinking, personal privacy usually outweighs telling every detail of a story.

Some don’t share my values

Both birthers and Obots have engaged in exposés of the other. I even got a shout out from Jerome Corsi in a 2011 article at World Net Daily. Certainly there is some aspect of revenge or intimidation in some of it. For some of the birthers, outing Obots is a contribution to the complexity of their conspiracy narrative. Some think that knowing the real name of the “demon” gives power over it.

Men in Black Suits

DocInBlackThe essay preceding didn’t come out of thin air; it was prompted by the recent publication by Orly Taitz of a FOIA request to the IRS about several things, one a lawyer working for the IRS who went to see one of Orly Taitz’ court appearances (there was a sign-in sheet that Orly got from the court in spite of objections, and then published). Taitz is demanding under FOIA the time cards for this attorney to see if that person was being paid by the government for the time spent attending the hearing and saying critical things about Taitz on the Internet. Of course Orly is much more specific about the identity of this person on her web site than I. Now I don’t think that Orly Taitz is trying to intimidate the attorney—Orly doesn’t have enough comprehension of other peoples’ feelings to come up with that. I think revenge against the Obots is probably the motivation, or perhaps a twisted idea of self defense.

Continue Reading →

Be careful what you pray for

Orly Taitz is thanking God [link to Taitz web site] for a ruling by DC Chief Judge Royce C. Lamberth that allows her to file 74 pages of motions and exhibits in the 2011 case, Taitz v. Astrue. I thought this case, a FOIA lawsuit to get at Obama’s Social Security records, was long-gone in October 2011 when Judge Lamberth denied Taitz’ motion for reconsideration of its summary judgment in defendant’s favor.

When the Court considers a motion for reconsideration, a party must show that there has been an intervening change of controlling law, that new evidence is available, or that granting the motion is necessary to correct a clear error or to prevent manifest injustice. Taitz is going for “new evidence” here, arguing speciously that she has proof that Obama is using the social-security number of one Harrison J. Bounel, born in 1890, and who has never been shown to even have a social-security number in the first place.

In his June 7 2013 order, Judge Lamberth notes:

Taitz has now, for at least the sixth time, failed to comply with her obligation in violation of Rule 5.2 [in regards to redaction of social-security numbers].

According to Taitz, she has now worked out a procedure for redacting the SSN, and has re-filed her motion for reconsideration. She didn’t get it 100%, but the judge must have given her points for effort (or more likely attempted to conserve judicial resources), saying in his June 17 Minute Order:

MINUTE ORDER. Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 5.2, the Court made minor additional redactions to plaintiff’s Motion [45]. Only the last four digits of the taxpayer-identification number and the year of an individual’s birth may be included in court filings. Signed by Chief Judge Royce C. Lamberth on 06/14/2013. (lcrcl3)

Without going back through all the paperwork in the case, at least in Taitz’ mind the issue today is whether or not SSA will release the Social Security application of Harrison J. Bounel. What Taitz and other birthers did was to ask for his name, a birth date of 1890, and Obama’s social-security number. That was rejected, of course, because their policies don’t allow the release of Obama’s records, records pointed to by his SSN. However, there is a slim chance that this suit will elicit Bounel’s records, since he is past the 120 years of age criteria for release of the records. The smart money says that if she gets the record (or a statement that no number was ever issued to Bounel) it will show conclusively that President Obama never used a social-security number belonging to Bounel, making Orly Taitz look like a fool

Be careful what you pray for.

The birther contribution to American jurisprudence

Dealing with frivolous litigation, whether filed by a seasoned attorney or a novice pro se litigant, is a bit like wrangling cats.

Robert J. Davis

Where's the Birth Certificate? billboardWhile one doesn’t usually combine “birther” and “contribution” in the same sentence, the birther phenomenon has left its mark on the US justice system through educational examples, black letter law, and a bit of humor to spice up otherwise dull legal briefs. This article details ways in which the birthers in general, and Orly Taitz in particular, have contributed to the law.

A good example of bad behavior

I don’t know whether they teach this at the William Howard Taft online law school, but there are certain standard reference works that attorneys rely on to inform their practice and to find the citations that they need to make legal arguments. One source is the Practicing Law Institute whose mission is:

To enhance the professionalism of attorneys and other qualified persons by providing, in a cost effective manner, the highest quality and most innovative programs, publications and other services to enable them to practice law competently and ethically, and to fulfill pro bono responsibilities.

In 2010, the PLI published a paper by Koral and Price titled: “Trying the Court’s patience instead of the case: common litigation mistakes” to draw the line between “zealous advocacy” and “impermissible or injudicious tactics.” One way of brightening the line is to give examples of what constitutes “impermissible or injudicious tactics” and the birthers, in the person of Orly Taitz, provide a featured example of being on the wrong side of the line. Writing about Rhodes v. MacDonald, where Judge Clay D. Land sanctioned Taitz:

Attorney Orly Taitz provides a notorious recent example of an attorney’s conduct succeeding more at irritating the judge than at advancing the interests of her client. A member of the “birther” movement, which challenges President Obama’s citizenship on the grounds that he had failed to adequately prove that he was born in the United States, Ms. Taitz filed a motion in connection with this litigation on behalf of a Captain in the United States Army to enjoin her deployment to Iraq. District Judge Clay D. Land held that the motion was frivolous, and further found that “Plaintiff’s motion is being presented for the improper purpose of using the federal judiciary as a platform to espouse controversial political beliefs rather than as a legitimate forum for hearing legal claims.”

Taitz was sanctioned for her conduct in the case because, as Judge Land said:

[t]his pattern of conduct reveals that it will be difficult to get counsel’s attention [and so a] significant sanction is necessary to deter such conduct.

The PLI article was written in 2010, before Orly Taitz brought a federal lawsuit against Judge Land. I wonder what the article would say if it were written today!

Black letter law

The Wikipedia article on Precedent says:

gavelIn common law legal systems, a precedent or authority is a principle or rule established in a previous legal case that is either binding on or persuasive for a court or other tribunal when deciding subsequent cases with similar issues or facts.

Black letter law is the body of cases that attorneys and courts look to for established precedent. If you have ever read a birther legal decision that involves dismissal for lack of standing, you will almost invariably see Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife cited. Once the body of birther lawsuits built, one began to see citations on standing to decided birther cases, notably Hollander v. McCain and Berg v. Obama. More recently we see extensive citations to Ankeny v. Governor of Indiana alongside US v. Wong on the question of whether Obama is a natural born citizen and Robinson v. Bowen on ripeness of election challenges.

The precedential value of birther lawsuits now extends beyond the backwaters of birtherism; they have become mainstream precedent in several areas of the law and now appear in the standard reference resources used by attorneys.

Continue Reading →

Amazing fact found in the National Archives: birthers will believe anything

Assuming that you are a rational person and that you haven’t been off-planet for the past few years, you know that Barack Obama was born in Hawaii in 1961, and it might come as a shock to you that his father Barack Obama Sr. had an “unnamed son” born in Kenya in 1961.

Nevertheless, that compendium of all things birther, Obama Release Your Records, reported that just such a “fact” had been found in the British National Archives in an article by “Dr. Eowyn.” ORYR later removed their article and replaced it with one containing a disclaimer:

Two very credible sources informed us that records regarding “an unnamed son of Obama Sr. was born in Kenya in 1961” cannot be confirmed as being at the British National Archives. We can’t say anything more until the sources publish their research.

So ORYR admits that they publish unconfirmed rumors — that’s hardly anything new. One need not wait for these unnamed sources because unlike unconfirmed stories about the British National Archives, the United States has archives too, and we know what’s in there.

Archive v. Archive

First, FOIA documents from the US Department of State show that Barack Obama Sr. did not leave the United States at any time between his arrival in 1959 and 1964. That means that if he fathered a son born in 1961, he did it in the United States.

If he did father a son in the United States and that son was born in Kenya, the child is certainly not sitting in the White House, because the US immigration reports also show that no US citizen (e.g. President Obama’s mother) traveled from Kenya to the United States by air for the entire period between July 1, 1961 to June 30, 1962 (boat travel would have taken too long).

The Kenyan government looked into the matter in 2009 and called birther claims “baseless.”

The fools at ORYR should have known better to than publish the story in the first place. It reeks of fakery because it lacks verifiable details, and it no doubt sprung from the story that Jerome Corsi had gone to England to look for something – perhaps the Olympics. This little trip to the archives does, however, give us a little insight into the birther mind. They will believe anything.