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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.

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.


Continue Reading →

“It’s an insult to his mother”

Stanley Ann Dunham

Stanley Ann Dunham

The utter lack of disrespect that some birthers show towards the president’s deceased mother appalls me, particularly the frequent claims that she is a “liar”. I was raised not to disrespect anyone’s mother, and particularly not a departed one, and I was taught not to call anyone a liar unless I was pretty damned sure it was true. What compounds the insult is that there is no evidence whatever to support the nasty speculation.

The New York Times article earlier this month, carried comments from Congressman Neil Abercrombie.

… Mr. Abercrombie, who has represented Hawaii for nearly two decades in Congress, was a close friend of Mr. Obama’s parents, who were students at the University of Hawaii in 1961. The president’s father, Barack H. Obama Sr., was from Kenya, but Mr. Abercrombie said the suggestion that the Obama baby was born in Africa is an absurd impossibility.

“He was born in Kapiolani Hospital, right down the street from where I lived,” Mr. Abercrombie said. “They had no money. I can’t imagine how they would get to Kenya. It makes no sense at all. It’s an insult to his mother.”

I agree.

Obama Birth Announcement False

…says Mississippi PI in a signed, but not notarized “affidavit.

Mississippi investigator Jorge L. Baro says that he swore (although the notary’s signature is blank) that some unnamed people he hired told him that they had talked to Beatrice Arakaki in Hawaii and that she told them that 47 years ago in 1961 there was no black baby living next door to her at the address in the Sunday Advertiser announcement of Obama’s birth.

6085 <em>circa</em> 1961 - Honolulu Advertiser

#6085 Kalanianaole circa 1961 – Honolulu Advertiser

According to the Honolulu Advertiser, it was practice to get birth announcements from the Health Department via a news service, not from private submissions, as evidenced by that fact that two independent newspapers had the same announcement with the same announcements for other infants before and after. The announcement had to come from the Health Department, via the birth registration. So what gives?  Did they live there or not? It all becomes clear with careful reading and examination of the evidence.

Option A

Let’s assume for a moment that everything that Baro says about the interview is true (but not perhaps complete). Continue Reading →

What does Strunk know, and when did he know it?

US Passport

US Passport

Strunk v. United States Department of State is a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)  lawsuit filed late last year. Christopher Earl Strunk since amended his complaint to include the Department of Homeland Security. (The amended complaint file is rather large, so I haven’t uploaded it here.)

The essence of the matter is that Strunk had requested on November 22, 2008 passport and travel records for Stanley Ann Dunham and Barack Obama. The Department of State (DOS) informed Strunk that the travel records were lodged with the Department of Homeland Security providing him with contact information there, and that all records for Barack Obama were exempted from FOIA. DOS further accepted Strunk’s request for information on passport records for Stanley Ann Dunham and assigned him a case number. Continue Reading →