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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 actual math was harmed in the writing of the article.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.

Taitz punked again? Fake SSA letter?

Orly Taitz is all excited, and has released a press release [link to Taitz web site], writing that:

Investigator, Mr. Brewer , working with attorney Taitz, finally received a confirmation from the SSA that they indeed have records of Harry Bounel, whose SSN 042-68-4425 Obama is using. It is interesting that they released without problems records of other deceased individuals, such as Thomas Wood, whose SSN 042-68-4424 is just one before Bouel’s, (sic) but they stated that the Bounel’s social Security application is with the Office of Earnings Operations.

Of course one’s initial response is that Taitz is reading something that isn’t there, which she well may be. She has a document on SSA letterhead that says:

This letter is in response to your February 3, 2014 inquiry to Acting Commissioner Colvin concerning your request for the late Mr. Harrison J. Bounel’s Social Security records. The records you requested are under the jurisdiction of our Office of Earnings Operations. We are referring your inquiry to that office. The officials there will look into the situation you described and reply directly to you. You should hear from them soon.

Signed? “Social Security Administration.” imageYeah, right. I have several letters from agencies responding to FOIA matters and they are universally signed by some individual. I think Taitz has been punked again. However, if the letter is legitimate, it actually doesn’t confirm that Bounel has any records with Social Security, but rather all Social Security records are handled by the Office of Earnings Operations. What it says is that records, not Bounel’s records, are under the Office of Earnings Operations.


Based on discussions on this article, I think the letter is probably authentic, but misunderstood. It’s not saying that the records exist, but that the described request was being forwarded to another office.

1The file referenced  is an optimized version of the original Taitz.

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


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


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.

Unclean hands

The Wikipedia says:

Unclean hands, sometimes called the clean hands doctrine or the dirty hands doctrine is an equitable defense in which the defendant argues that the plaintiff is not entitled to obtain an equitable remedy because the plaintiff is acting unethically or has acted in bad faith with respect to the subject of the complaint—that is, with “unclean hands”. The defendant has the burden of proof to show the plaintiff is not acting in good faith. The doctrine is often stated as “those seeking equity must do equity” or “equity must come with clean hands”.

The Bible has Jesus approach this from another direction:

Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.

John 8:7b ESV

copyrightSo where are my stones aimed? They’re aimed at Orly Taitz for copyright violation. I try to stick to fair use of copyrighted text on this site, but I am not as careful about images (such as the one at the right). What I wouldn’t do is just insert somebody else’s copyrighted article like Orly Taitz often does, and did yesterday [link to Taitz web site] with an article and photo from the New York Times about a shooting in the Bronx in August, 2011. (I ratted her out to the Times. 👿 )

But why is Taitz interested in a two-year-old random act of gun violence? It appears that she’s interested because the article mentions Daly Avenue, and that’s the street where Harry S. Bounel (or some variation thereof) lived way back in 1940. Do you see the connection? Let me explain it to you. If one submits “Daly Avenue” “New York” to a search engine, this article pops up, and pasting the whole article found is a low-cost way to produce well-written web content, albeit not ethically.

“How far is corner of 181 Str. and Daly Ave  from 915 Daly were Bounel lived?” Taitz asks, and in monumental understatement adds: “This is probably not related to Bounel case,” which begs the question of why she bothered to post the article in the first place.

Ah, but the plot thickens. One commenter on the Taitz site opined that the census address for Bounel is wrong, that it really should be “1915” instead of “915.” Taitz has one other piece of “information” from an undisclosed source, Bounel was Jewish.

The investigation continues.

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.”

Who, or why, or which, or what is Harrison J. Bounel?

Somewhere in this world, there is a database record created in November of 2009, encoded in bits and bytes, that has contains the name “Harrison J. Bounel,” the address of President Obama’s house in Chicago and the social-security number President Obama used on his 2009 Income Tax return and his 1980 Selective Service System registration. In another record in some database there is an entry for Barack Obama with the date of birth “1890” (and others with his correct date of birth, and one or more with the month and day switched).

From this, the birthers have spun the theory that Harrison J. Bounel was a real person, born in 1890, who got a social-security number in the 1970’s in Connecticut, immediately moved into a Hawaiian nursing home, and died. Barack Obama, so they say, then started using that social-security number for some unexplained reason.

Despite efforts by the birthers who are real private detectives, none of the details of the theory have been verified. For example, no other trace of anyone named Harrison J. Bounel has ever been found, living or dead, in Hawaii or Connecticut, or anywhere else. He’s not in the US Census records. He’s not in the Social Security Death Index. He’s nowhere except that one singular database entry. Bounel is not associated with the date “1890” in any record, but the birthers nevertheless adamantly insist that’s when he was born.

I wouldn’t even mention this loony theory except that I’ve been bombarded with it in comments over at WorldNetDaily from people who firmly believe it’s true. Let me bring up some objections to the theory:

  1. If Harrison J. Bounel were a real person, he should have left more records behind. If he died in Hawaii, he’d be in the public Hawaiian death index.
  2. The Bounel database record was created in November, of 2009, when someone born in 1890 would have been 119 years old.
  3. It’s a notable coincidence that Bounel appeared in a record with Obama’s social-security number just one month after Orly Taitz published the President’s social-security number on the Internet (meaning that anyone could have learned of it, along with Obama’s name and public home address).
  4. Obama used the social-security number for 30 years, filing income taxes with the IRS (who verify numbers with names and dates of birth) without any problem.
  5. The Social Security Administration has said in court filings that they don’t have any records for a Harrison J. Bounel born in 1890.

What is more amazing about this birther theory is that the theory itself doesn’t account for its central evidence, the database record. The database record itself doesn’t provide so much as a clue as to what it is a record of, nor where it came from, and the birthers don’t even have a speculation that explains it. If Bounel actually existed and was born in 1890, he was most certainly dead in 2009 and not creating database records. Obama would never use Bounel’s name. So if Obama didn’t do it, and Bounel didn’t do it, there really only remains two options: the record is a mistake or it is fraudulent and from some third party, and if that is the case why are we even having this discussion?

So I offer the birthers two challenges:

  1. Prove that Harrison J. Bounel, born 1890, existed.
  2. Provide some scenario, plausible even by birther standards, that explains the database record.

Put up or shut up.