I’ve been around vital statistics since 1977 when I worked with a vital statistics office in Greenville County, South Carolina, that issued birth certificates and I wrote computer software that printed them. More recently, I served for two years on the National Association for Public Information Statistics and Information Systems (NAPHSIS) Fraud Prevention Committee, and participated in numerous conference calls on fraud prevention, and attended national presentations on vital records fraud and identity theft. I’ve looked over the shoulders of vital records staffers as they process births. I have discussed security features with representatives from the American Banknote Company, and I have had conversations at the state and local level with registrars on security and fraud issues. I have been inside the secure vaults where actual birth certificates are stored. I know the controls on vital records systems to prevent fraud. I know what a “six pack” is. I am also familiar with the Inspector General’s report on Vital Records fraud. Even today I still do a little occasional contract work on state vital records systems. I consider myself much more expert in the field than the average person and certainly more than any birther.
Birther notions of how Obama’s certificate might be a fake are total nonsense, and utterly disconnected from the real world and actual fraud scenarios. They know nothing about vital records, and just make up fantastic and impossible stories. If you could go to the Hawaii Department of Health today and look at the bound volume (reportedly in the Director’s office safe), and could you look at the microfilm records from 1961, you would unquestionably find Barack Obama’s certificate right there amongst all the others from that time. If Barack Obama’s birth certificate is a fake, it was faked in 1961 and there are no other remotely-possible alternatives.
The usual fraud scenario involves a delayed report1, a report of a birth made long after the fact. Fraud in hospital births like Obama’s, reported timely, is virtually unheard of. However, there is the always-possible human factor. I knew about the New Jersey case when it happened in 2004: A deputy county registrar named Jean Anderson in the Hudson County Office of Vital Statistics was bribed to insert records into the County files and then issued birth certificates from the fake records. Even today, some county systems are vulnerable. This particular scenario involved the insertion of birth records for adults. Having personally worked on the New Jersey state vital records system (I worked with state registrar Joe Komosinski long before he became state registrar), I know that this scenario would be impossible at the state level due to controls in place (counties were not using the state system in New Jersey in 2004). Now certificates are automatically numbered and insertions are logged and time-stamped, but in pre-computer days it would be possible for a corrupt state or hospital staffer to insert a false record into the stream of incoming paper documents.
To forge Obama’s birth certificate, it would be necessary to create a fake certificate in early August of 1961, filled out to look like it came from Kapi’olani Hospital, with a fake signature from Dr. Sinclair (or an authentic one if he were the forger). Once inserted into the work flow at the State Department of Health, the certificate would have been registered, numbered, filed and reported to the newspapers just like certificates for all the rest born that month. Since the certificate must have come either from the hospital or the state vital records bureau, it would appear authentic in every way.
All this stuff about typewriters from Irey, about scanners from Vogt, about Onaka’s smiley face, about race codes from Crosby, about Smith’s foot-print inked certificate, about PDF layers from Zullo’s “experts” and all the rest of the ignorant speculation from the birthers is so much horse manure. If Obama’s record was faked, look to Verna K. Lee or David A. Sinclair, not some imaginary genius/idiot forger in the White House named Mike. (I hasten to add that I am firmly convinced that no forger exists.) And guess what, birthers? Looking at the original document or microfilm in Hawaii isn’t going to resolve anything. What you will find is perfect in every regard; it’s a dead end. You might as well pick up the goal posts now and plant them on Uranus.
Birthers have no evidence whatsoever that will stand up to scrutiny that Barack Obama wasn’t born in Honolulu, and they never will. Despite my remotely-possible scenario, there is no reason to doubt the Encyclopedia Britannica when it says Barack Obama was born in Honolulu.2 The truth is out there, but the birthers are determined not to believe it. Birtherism is a story about birthers, not about Obama.
1The only known case of vital records fraud from Hawaii (before it became a state) was a delayed registration. Actually the most common fraud scenario involves someone using an authentic certificate that doesn’t belong to them.
2INS records show that Barack Obama’s father did not leave the US in 1961, and an INS statistical report proves his mother didn’t travel from Kenya. Barack Obama might have been born in Topeka, but not Mombasa.