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Indicting Sheriff Joe and the Cold Case Posse

The charge

Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Mike Zullo are charged with fraud and fabricating evidence.

The crime scene

On July 17, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio held a press conference featuring the results of an investigation by his volunteer “Cold Case Posse” presented by “lead investigator” Mike Zullo. The centerpiece of their presentation was a claim that President Obama’s birth certificate is a fake because of internal inconsistencies. The argument goes:

The race of Barack Obama’s father is shown as “African” on the birth certificate, but next to that is a penciled data entry code of “9” that should indicate “not stated.” The code is wrong, proving that the form is a fake.

In support of that very serious allegation they presented a race code table taken from what they described as a “1961 vital statistics instructions manual.” They lied. Here is a screen shot from the Cold Case Posse video of the purported 1961 manual.

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How do we know that they lied?

The US Public Health Service published Vital Statistics of the US – 1961 – Volume 1: Natality, a report of births in 1961 that’s available online.

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In that report is stated on page 5-7:

Births in the United States in 1961 are classified for vital statistics into white, Negro, American Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Aleut, Eskimo, Hawaiian and Part-Hawaiian (combined), and "other nonwhite

Only the Cold Case Posse code table doesn’t have separate codes for Aleut and Eskimo and so it could not be the code table for 1961. Later on, the Natality Report includes  footnotes to table 4-2:

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This shows unambiguously that the real coding in 1961 distinguished between Indian, Aleut and Eskimo. The Cold Case Posse codes lump them all together and so could not be what was used for federal birth reporting in 1961. Whatever codes were really used in Hawaii in 1961, they are not the ones the Cold Case Posse claimed.

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