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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.

Trump drops other shoe

It really wasn’t with Donald Trump in mind that I named the latest occasional open thread, “Waiting for the other shoe to drop;” nevertheless, it seems appropriate now, as there has been so much antwitterpation of Donald Trump’s “October Surprise” revelation about Barack Obama.

Big Bird holding sign "Will work for food"It turns out that birther concern troll Trump isn’t revealing anything about Obama beyond an offer to donate $5 million to charity if Obama releases his college and passport records. Big Bird could probably use the money right now. Trump is reported to have a net worth somewhere around $3 billion, so his offer amounts to .1% of his riches. I think Obama should hold out for a lot more money plus Romney’s tax returns.

So what is the reaction on Twitter? Samples from #trump:

  • Somewhere right now, Barack Obama is laughing so hard milk is coming out of his nose.
  • Donald #Trump is a national treasure. Do you know how hard it is to be the village idiot in a place as big as New York?
  • Hey Democrats, let’s do it #Trump style and put out a reward for anyone willing to turn in Mitt Romney’s missing tax returns.
  • Obama asks James Bond for help with Trump’s offer:
  • Obligatory Donald Trump mockery: Hey, #trump , I’ll donate $500 to the charity of your choice if you let me yank on your head ferret.
  • That’s a Clown October Surprise, bro
  • Willard Mitt Romney: October surprise: I’m a member of cult that wears robes behind closed doors and worships men on other planets
  • I will donate $5 million to charity if Donald Trump will disclose what that thing is on his head
  • #pointless and #trump are trending
  • Remember that time when Geraldo opened up Al Capone’s vault and found nothing but some dusty bottles? That’s what this feels like.
  • #Trump I’m mostly offended that you’d dangle $5mil over the heads of helpless people! As if their plight is a game!
  • Exactly. Treating money like it is nothing when you could do tons of charitable works with it.
  • Only a billionaire megalomaniac would attempt 2 bribe a President by withholding donations to charities #trump
  • Donald Trump is the Honey Boo Boo of rich people #trump
  • Donald Trump gets caught on tape pretending he has $5,000,000 dollars. His accountant demands answers… #trump
  • Remember: It only counts as a letdown if you were expecting more.
  • Someone should make a Kickstarter to offer #Trump 5 million to shut up about #Obama already.
  • Donald Trump to announce plans to leap off Empire State Building, using his hair as a parachute #trump

You might ask about positive comments, but there weren’t any.

What is the Akond of Soebarkah?

Who, or why, or which, or what,

Is the Akond of SWAT?

Edward Lear from “The Akond of Swat”

Let me show you something that Orly Taitz talks about, most recently before the Indiana Elections Commission (click to enlarge):


This image is a section from a passport renewal application signed by Stanley Ann Dunham Soetoro on August 13, 1968, while she resided at Djakarta, Indonesia. The document was obtained by me from the the US Department of State through the Freedom of Information Act.

Orly Taitz says that this passport renewal application is proof that Barack Obama’s surname at the time was “Soebarkah.” This leads me to the question that titles this article: What is “Soebarkah?” The short answer is that I don’t know.

I did a Google search on Indonesian web sites:

soebarkah site:id

and I got a number hits where Soebarkah was an individual’s name and didn’t see hits that looked otherwise. I tried Google Translate on the word (Indonesian to English) and it left it as is. From this, I concluded that it  is a personal name.

While I am not a qualified handwriting expert, I feel pretty confident that the handwriting on this part of the form is the same as the handwriting on the first page of the form, which in context appears to be that of Stanley Ann Dunham. (If someone has expertise and wants to render an opinion, the full document is pages 2-3 embedded in my article on the Strunk FOIA.)

So we know what it is, a name, and we know who wrote it, but what does it mean?

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FOIA 2.0

I talked to Chris Strunk in Atlanta last week about his FOIA request for Stanley Ann Dunham’s passport records. He was disgusted with the process and had given up. I don’t blame him. Trying to get a timely and responsive answer through the FOIA to the basic question, “when did she have US passports?” has been a very frustrating experience for me too.

It’s been three years since my original FOIA inquiry. On at least two occasions the US Department of State has violated the statute by failing to respond within the time mandated by Congress. I’ve had to appeal, and my appeal proved valid since it netted me an additional (but uninteresting) document.

Today I received a letter from the appeals officer stating:

The Department has no basis for believing that we have any additional records and all responsive records have been produced at this time.

That is a very troubling response because if it is true, the Department of State has not only destroyed the 1965 passport application of Stanley Ann Dunham (which is plausible) but also the microfilm copy of the issuance card for it and that is very implausible, since documentation exists to show that cards from that period were microfilmed and to destroy it would be a violation of retention policy.

Frankly I don’t believe that they have released all the records they have. That said, I already decided that, unlike Mr. Strunk, I am not going to take the federal lawsuit option. No less than Jesus Christ himself advised his followers (of which I am one) not to get tangled up in lawsuits.

However, what I am going to do is to submit another FOIA request, this time in written in such an iron-clad manner that they can’t squirm out of it with squirrely language and cannot use the ploy that one person deny what another person knows is true.

The Department of State has 20 working days in which to respond as to whether they will perform the search.

So check back in a couple of years to see what happens.

More Dunham passport documents

More is not necessarily better

Central to the conspiracy theories and crank beliefs about President Barack Obama is the claim that he was born, not in Hawaii as the Encyclopedia Britannica says, but rather in Mombasa, Kenya. Despite the extreme implausibility of the Obamas traveling to Kenya for the birth of their son, and the wealth of official documentation proving the President was born in Honolulu, theories of a Kenyan birth persist to this day.

In January of 2009 I resolved to find even more proof that Barack Obama was not born in Kenya, evidence beyond the Hawaiian Certification of Live Birth available at the time, and in addition to the newspaper birth reports from the Health Bureau. I reasoned that if President Obama had been born in Kenya, his mother must have been there with him at the time, and travel to a foreign country requires a passport. No passport, no travel to Kenya. To answer the passport question, I filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the United States Department of State on January 27, 2009, asking for records of any passports issued to Stanley Ann Dunham (Obama or Soetoro).

I did not imagine back in 2009 that this simple FOIA request would still be kicking around 32 months later, but it is. In the interim I have written several articles about the request and its frustrating ups and downs. Things were complicated by the fact that routine passport applications for records in the time period of interest were destroyed in the 1980’s to reduce record storage costs.


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