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The inability to find any record of Harrison J. Bounel means he must be a real person!

The American Thinker published an article, “Barack Hussein Obama and Harrison J. Bounel,” by criminologist Jason Kissner today that argues that the association between the name Harrison J. Bounel and Barack Obama in some unspecified transaction in a public database is much more than coincidence or an attempt at identity fraud. While the argument is couched in the language of probability, no math is used.1

Detractors of the birther Social Security fraud theory point out that no one has been able to locate this Harrison J. Bounel who birthers claim is a real person to whom the social security number used by Barack Obama was originally assigned. If such a person existed, debunkers say, then one ought to be able to find some independent record of him.

Kissner turns the tables and says that the inability to find other records of Bounel is proof that he is a real person (are you confused yet?).  Kissner’s argument is that the database record could not be fraudulent because it would have been too difficult to actually find someone with no other record in order to perpetrate the fraud.

Kissner’s claim is inserted in a straw man argument refuting the idea that some anti-Obama person created the fake record for Bounel. I suppose someone might have speculated on the possibility that the public record for Bounel with Obama’s SSN was created for the purpose of creating an anomaly in Obama’s record (I might have even done it), but I think it is more likely to be an error or an attempt at identity theft. The straw man context is not important because Kissner’s argument fits the real argument of random error or fraud as well as it does the straw man.

Kissner’s fallacy, however, is the ad hoc assignment of probability to something that’s already happened. It’s like looking at the winning lottery number and saying “what are the chances this number would come up?” and then arguing that the lottery must be rigged. In order to make the probability argument, one has to set the criteria in advance, or they have to be necessary. The fact that the name “Harrison J Bounel” doesn’t belong to anybody is not necessary to the hypothesis and so it’s not significant, no matter how improbable it is.

But the probability of coming up with a name belonging to nobody isn’t that low; in fact, it’s easy. I took the names “Kissner” and “Bounel” and used them with the first and middle names of the members of my immediate family (6 total). I got only one hit on Google for the 12 names I tried.

And finally Kissner’s argument works equally well against Obama fraudulently using an SSN belonging to Bounel: How could Obama have found someone so totally devoid of any record?

What Kissner won’t address is: assuming Harrison J Bounel is a real person (birther hypothesis), what are the chances that there is no record of him anywhere, not birth announcement, obituary, immigration record, census, city directory, grave, genealogy nor criminal record?

Read more:


1Kissner did some math in another article. The math was right, but the assumptions he made were unreasonable.

I think his derisive comments about me stem from envy, that I grabbed Dr. Conspiracy before he did. Kissner is involved in a range of crank conspiracy theories including the Boston Marathon bombing, Loretta Fuddy’s death, Obama’s SSN, Obama publicist brochure and MH370 Plane Conspiracy Theories.

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When did Greg Hollister check Obama’s SSN?

On February 9, 2011, Greg Hollister (litigant in the Hollister v. Soetoro lawsuit) sent a private email to Orly Taitz, and copied John Hemenway (Hollister’s attorney in the lawsuit), Larry Elgin (Hollister appellate attorney), Susan Daniels (a private investigator assisting Orly Taitz) and Linda Bent (a writer) stating that he had  a web printout from the Social Security Administration indicating that Barack Obama’s social-security number did not pass the Social Security Number Verification System (SSNVS). For background on what that meant, see my March, 2011 article, “More social-security troubles for the President?

Taitz recently published an image of Hollister’s email, but rather than redacting the addresses, I’ll just present the text, making it accessible to search engines at the same time:

Dear Ms. Taitz.

I have been monitoring your efforts at a distance reference the eligibility of Barack Obama to serve as POTUS. I see that you are now filing suit reference his many SSNs.

I have a copy of Obama’s selective service card with the SSN affixed. I, as a small business owner have access to the Social Security Number Verification System. As a result, I checked the SSNVS for the SSN Obama used for registering with Selective Service. The SSNVS search resulted in a report sheet that states that number Obama used to register for Selective Service was never issued.

Let me be direct – i have not agreed with many of your tactics in this endeavor. However, I have continued to follow your efforts to see where there may be synergy and this is one.

Therefore if you think the documents will be helpful, please let me know and I will send you the PDF files for both the Selective Service Card and the SSNVS report that states that SSN was never issued.1

Sincerely
Greg Hollister

Gregory S. Hollister, Colonel, USAF, Retired
President, Hollister Enterprises, LLC2

Hollister doesn’t say when he ran the SSNVS check, but the letter suggests a sequence of events.

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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 :shock: ) . 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).

Breaking news: Taitz SSN gambit crashes and burns

Orly Taitz has been living and breathing conspiracy theories against the Social Security Administration for years now, filing countless lawsuits and FOIA requests. Just as she’s imagining that she’s about to close in on the elusive Social Security SS-5 application for Harrison J. Bounel that she believes is the real owner of Barack Obama’s social-security number, the rug has been well and truly pulled out from under her, so says private detective and blog commenter Rickey. Here’s what he has learned:

A couple of days ago I mentioned that I had ordered a copy of Harry Boymel’s SS-5 and the SSA sent me a notice that I should receive it within 30 days. Well, it arrived today.

Harry applied for his Social Security Number on July 11, 1941. Although the SS-5 form which was in use then had a space for entering the name and address of the applicant’s employer, Harry noted that he was unemployed at the time. He was living at 915 Elsmere Place, Bronx, N.Y., the same address where he was living at the time of the 1940 census. 915 Elsmere Place is near the corner of Daly Avenue, and many of us mistakenly believed that the census erroneously showed Harry living at 915 Daly Avenue. We knew that the Daly Avenue address was wrong because 915 Daly Avenue is a non-existent address, and one of the posters at The Fogbow finally figured out that the census actually had Harry at 915 Elsmere Place, although the enumerator misspelled his surname as “Bounel.”

Harry was born in Russia on September 15, 1886 to Isaak Boymel and Pearl Boymel. Harry did not know (or had forgotten) his mother’s maiden name. He checked off that he was married and he noted that his last full employment, as the proprietor of his own fruit & vegetable business, had ended ten days earlier.

Above his address he wrote “540,” which may have been his apartment number (the census page does not include apartment numbers).

His SSN was 080-18-6078, which of course bears no resemblance to Barack Obama’s SSN. It is likely that he did not apply for a Social Security Number earlier because he was self-employed and therefore not covered by Social Security. The fact that he applied for a number in 1941, ten days after his business shut down, suggests that he was anticipating going to work for someone else.

Well done Rickey, well done!

Here’s the Social Security Death Index record from Ancestry.com:

image

Here’s his naturalization record (click to see really big):

Update:

Orly Taitz, I think, has seen this article because she wrote an enigmatic article title on her blog:

Obama’s operatives are getting nervous, making up things, my data was crosschecked by different investigators in different countries, using different databases. Nice try boys, but it is time to end the charade, you will pull others down as well and will take them to prison with you

As far as I can tell, the entire Taitz conspiracy theory hinges on a single unidentified entry in a public database linking the name “Harrison J. Bounel” to Obama’s former social-security number. In an another entry a defective-looking date of birth “1890″ appears (I say defective because it lacks the month and day). Taitz put 2 + cucumber together and got Harrison S. Bounel born 1890 as the rightful holder of Obama’s SSN; however, no one has been able to find that such a person exists, and the best Orly was able to do was a “Harry Bounel” (wrong first name and missing initial) entry in the 1940 census whose age is consistent with an 1890 birth date. The problem is that the name is wrong, and now as Rickey has shown, the social-security number is wrong too. My calculation is 2 – 1 – 1 = o.

Update 2:

Here is the Boymel SS-5 application.

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.”

An open letter to Jack Kelly

Jack Kelly is a writer for the Pittsburgh Press, and not a very good one. Yesterday he published one of those misinformation-laden smear pieces against Barack Obama that we more often see on tabloid internet sites and blogs. This one appeared at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, titled “Barack Obama’s past as murky as his word.”

I sent the author this letter and posted it as a reply to the article:

I was referred to your article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette titled "Barack Obama’s past as murky as his word" in which you say:
"Genuine documents confirm Mr. Obama was born in Honolulu on Aug. 4, 1961, said document expert Nick Chase. But the “long form” birth certificate the White House posted on the Internet April 27, 2011, is an obvious forgery, he said. Other document experts agree."

As written, the last sentence is yours, and it is false. No document expert has ever said that Obama’s birth certificate is a forgery. Some birther cranks with no background in document analysis have made easily debunked objections to the certificate, but no one qualified. On the other hand, half a dozen real professional document and imaging experts have found nothing wrong with it, including Krawetz, de Queiroz, Pex, Zatkovich, Broyhill and Colburn.

And if there were any further doubts, the Hawaii Department of Health says on it’s web site today: "On April 27, 2011 President Barack Obama posted a certified copy of his original Certificate of Live Birth" and links to what you’re calling a forgery. (http://health.hawaii.gov/vitalrecords/faq-obama/)

The second nonsense in your article is the adoption thing. Beyond the fact that the Hawaii Department of Health backs the certificate, the US State Department in the case of Strunk v. Department of State specifically denied that Obama had been adopted by his stepfather, and Obama’s attorney also denied this in a more recent case.

Finally, you make a total fabrication when you say "Unlike other recent presidential candidates, Mr. Obama has refused to permit release of his academic records from Occidental College, Columbia University, and Harvard Law School." In fact I don’t know of ANY recent presidential candidate who released his college record. The records of George W. Bush were accidentally released without permission.

So in answer to your innuendo-laden questions:

  1. Obama didn’t release his college record for the same reason most other candidates don’t.
  2. Obama’s birth certificate isn’t a forgery except in the minds of nut-case conspiracy theorists
  3. It is not unusual for people to have social-security numbers from the wrong state series. The Social Security web site says that the "area number" was never intended to be a reliable geographic indicator. When Obama’s number was issued, the numbers were assigned centrally in the US based on the return address on the application. Mistaking a "0" for a "9" turns a Hawaii zip code into one for Connecticut.

Sincerely,
Kevin Davidson