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Archive | August, 2013

Security paper and halos

OnakaHaloSo I bought some security paper. It’s nice security paper, but it’s not quite like the Hawaiian certificate paper. That’s no surprise, but if we want to do a good job replicating the White House PDF of the President’s long form birth certificate, we’re going to need to make a good original to work from.

Despite the obviously crude birth certificate that appeared in the Garrett Papit video (now scrubbed), the Cold Case Posse originally claimed to have used real security paper. This is what Mike Zullo said in the Cold Case Posse’s first press conference:

… the President’s birth certificate released by the White House was an electronic document, we literally had the capability to go into that file and turn off the green safety paper background. Anybody that gets documents anywhere realizes that safety paper is supposed to be a source of comfort that it is an official document. We had the ability to turn it off.

We turned if off and we scanned the President’s birth certificate onto a hard copy paper document, a paper, a safety paper document we actually laid his birth certificate on top of.

As always, what Zullo said is misleading. He would lead the listener to think that that he could turn off the safety paper background and leave the rest of the document intact, but of course that’s not true (details below). If one turns off the background layer, much of the form, text and signatures goes away with it.

The halos are an interesting artifact, basically white areas around the text. You can see it here in this example around the word “Mother”.

Detail of block 15 from Obama birth certificate showing blank space around the letters

The halos (actually blank areas) appear all throughout the document, prominent when you look the background layer of the PDF by itself (click for full-sized image).Background layer of Obama birth certificate, showing security paper, signatures and form lines

Of course, birthers say that these blank spaces were places where the information from someone else was cut out to put Obama information in place it when combining certificates. That theory falls apart looking at the background layer without the text at full size. You can read the text by just the halos! So they aren’t the result of removing something else.

But what Zullo said, no matter how much nonsense it was, had a useful hint. Even though turning off the background layer would obscure much of the certificate, there would still be some black text left, and that text, printed onto security paper would make for a good test for halos.

Thanks to a suggestion from a commenter here, I’ve ordered some more security paper that may be closer to the Hawaii design. I have high hopes for a good test document to test halos ANY DAY NOW. 😈


Birther smacks headlong into real world

Sharon Rondeau is a birther who runs a subscription web site called The Post & Email. Rondeau styles herself a journalist, and in that guise, she approached the US Defense Department with a rather bizarre query1 addressed to Lt. Col Catherine Wilkinson (MPS Georgetown University, US Military Academy West Point), a media relations officer:

Hi Cathy, my newspaper has been following the Obama eligibility/identity question for the last four years since its inception in August 2009.

May I obtain a statement from the military about whether or not they are aware that the long-form birth certificate image posted on the White House website since April 27, 2011 has been declared a “computer-generated forgery” by a law enforcement investigation?

Is the military aware that a congressional investigation into the forgery might be launched as a result of the Cold Case Posse’s investigation?

Does the military have the ability to analyze the Obama birth certificate image and Selective Service registration form to determine if they are authentic?  If so, why has that not been done?

What are the ramifications if the U.S. military has been taking orders from someone who achieved the office of president and commander-in-chief by fraud?

Thank you very much.

Sharon Rondeau, Editor
The Post & Email
[address redacted]

Wow! Sounds a little like “have you stopped beating your wife?” In the real world, the Cold Case Posse is a bunch of volunteer clowns. Obama’s Selective Service application is confirmed both by FOIA from the Bush administration, and an online registration query run by a reporter in California. And most important, I think anybody in the US military ought to know that they don’t police the political process in the United States. There are laws against that sort of thing. This isn’t some third-world dictatorship, despite what birthers may think.

The Defense Department provided a succinct reply courtesy of Lt. Col. J. Todd Breasseale, Press Officer for the Department of Defense:

Photo of Todd BreassealeDear Ms. Rondeau,
We can only assume that your query is not a legitimate question and is some sort of nonsensical joke.

We are happy to consider reality-based requests, but do not entertain absurdities from the web.

Very respectfully,

Yes folks, the Defense Department blew her off. This veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan  called her absurd. Now he could have said more about the proper role of the military in US Politics (i.e. none) but he didn’t, perhaps because he recognized that he was dealing with a nut case. Of course you cannot shut up a birther, and Rondeau sent an even longer response that she was dead serious and that it must be true because she heard it on the radio and saw it on YouTube (linking to an article on her own subscription-restricted web site was definitely not cool):

Dear Lt. Col. Breasseale:

It is absolutely not a joke.  I provided references to legitimate sources with evidence made public on numerous radio shows and in a 57-page affidavit in a current court case in Alabama, a copy of which I have received personally from its author, the lead investigator on the case:

I am stunned at your response and can obtain an interview for you with lead investigator Michael Zullo if you wish, as I have spoken with him directly on many occasions.

Here are articles and interviews which Zullo has provided:

I also interviewed him here:

Two formal press conferences were held last year announcing the findings of fraud and forgery, one on March 1 and the second on July 17, calling for a congressional investigation:

Rep. Steve Stockman has pledged to launch an investigation, and that is certainly not “nonsense.”

Here, a second congressman states his support for a bill requiring an investigation:

How can this issue possibly be ignored?

Additionally, I never received a response from you regarding the evidence I told you I possess regarding a politically-motivated court-martial which contains a fraudulent signature.  The case is well-known and has been covered up by the NCIS and the U.S. Navy for almost 24 years.  Earlier this week, I referred the matter to the House Armed Services Committee.

Late last month, Dr. George Little had promised future openness and “no spin” from the military, and I had hoped that his public affairs officers would keep that pledge.  I have always asked serious questions in my contacts with your office, and I assure you that this query is very serious.  In fact, it is a matter of national security, as Zullo has stated on many occasions that there is no evidence that Obama is even a U.S. citizen.

My father was a veteran of World War II in the China/Burma/India theater and I always had great respect for our military.  I can therefore assure you that I have no desire to engage in “absurdities” with anyone in your office.

I would be happy to speak with you by phone and provide proof of my identity should you need further assurance of my sincerity.

Sharon Rondeau, Editor
The Post & Email
[address redacted]

I would like to focus on one of the questions Rondeau raised: “How can this issue possibly be ignored?” Lt. Col. Breasseale demonstrated exactly how the issue can be ignored in his one-word reply:


You can’t argue with crazy.

I understand that Rondeau is dead serious. There are lots of kooks that are dead serious, but that doesn’t make them any less a kook. If the military had any responsibility related to the issues that Rondeau raised, perhaps a more complete response might have been warranted, but they don’t have any such role. She might as well have been demanding that they stop fluoridation of the water or stop the teaching of evolution in the schools.

Over at Obama Release Your Records, some think it’s the end of the world:

We are so desparately (sic) infiltrated by the enemy now. And, I feel within a very short time, weeks, we’re gonna’ be in some deep doodoo. I think there are many sleepers about to be activated. We’re going to have to be vigilante just to protect ourselves, family, etc… within the short term. I think you, and most of us here on the same page have fought the good fight against an enemy that has had time to assemble over a period of time. Hide your food & the other "you know whats"… I have a feeling they’re gonna’ make a move soon. If it comes to this scenario….we’ll find out just how many we have on the right side.

Read more:

1Most readers here will be familiar already with this story. I include it for posterity.

2Perhaps “nuts” would have been more appropriate, pun intended.


All about EVVE


The Electronic Verification of Vital Events (EVVE) system is a national network exchanging information between government agencies to verify birth events. It’s a hub-and-spoke architecture centered at the National Association for Public Health Statistics and Information Systems (NAPHSIS), of which I used to be a member. Let’s say that you want to get a drivers license. You show up at a DMV office with your ID and your birth certificate. In years past, that birth certificate contained security features to show the DMV that it was authentic. That’s not as important now. With EVVE, the DMV sends an electronic query to NAPHSIS who brokers it to a state vital records server, which then verifies (or not) the information and routes the reply back to the DMV. If the birth certificate is fictitious or altered, EVVE will say so. This electronic wizardry is designed to support the REAL ID Act of 2005. I had some tangential involvement with EVVE implementation early on.

Most states have EVVE implemented today [link to Microsoft PowerPoint file], although not every implementation has all of their records in electronic form. Hawaii has birth records back to 1909 online for EVVE (well done, Hawaii, well done) while Connecticut only has records since 1993—tough luck to George W. Bush if he wants to get a drivers license verified through EVVE. 😈 New York isn’t online yet.

This electronic system and the REAL ID Act might have been the reason Doug Vogt imagined that federal law required all states to store electronic images of their birth certificates. EVVE, however, doesn’t work with images; it works with text.

Security paper

Most vital records fraud involves real certificates carried by someone other than their owner. That’s why a photo ID is necessary in addition to a birth certificate to get a passport. EVVE pretty much eliminates fictitious and altered certificates, but for records not in the EVVE system, there’s still the fall back security built into certificates, specifically, security paper and seals.

Security paper isn’t designed to copy well (or be easily altered). This means that anyone trying to do scanning experiments with President Obama’s long form birth certificate is at a severe disadvantage without some real security paper to test with and this is why it came as such a shock to me when I saw Cold Case Posse document darling Garrett Papit testing with a sample birth certificate clearly NOT on real security paper. Not that the Cold Case Posse results had any validity to to begin with, but at least they could have forked out $25.90 for a pack of off-the-shelf basket weave security paper. So where are all those PayPal donations going?


I’m no expert on security paper, but I know a lot more than the average guy. When I worked on vital records projects for the State of South Carolina, I became familiar with the security features on their certificate. If you showed me anything less than a spy-grade fake for a 1977 SC certificate, I could spot the fake in a second–and without even a magnifying glass. I don’t know if my technique is public knowledge or not, so I won’t say anything more about that except to note that intaglio printing with machine engraving was used on the certificate and the pale colored background rubs off if you try to erase it. Following is a wallet-sized specimen certificate from South Carolina used by county offices in 1977, intentionally scanned at a low-enough resolution to obscure details.

I had a conversation with a vital records official who showed me some of the publicly-known security features in that state’s certificate. They included tonal gradations, micro printing and thermal ink. She said that if she showed me the other security features, she would have to kill me. (By mutual agreement, I was not shown the other security features.) If you’ve ever received a pay check from ADP, an out-sourcing payroll company, you’ve seen the three features I mentioned (the thermal ink is on the back). I attended a seminar by a fellow who helped design the ADP payroll check who talked about its features. Finally, I sat for hours on end in a trade show booth, next to the booth of the American Bank Note Company who was pitching their portfolio of security features to state officials. Some banknote certificate paper can cost upwards of a dollar a sheet.

It has always puzzled me how simple a Hawaiian certificate is, compared to the specimen above, an ADP check, or the the Indiana certificate that I received a tour of. There are Hawaiian birth certificates on banknote security paper for some years that I have seen (but don’t have a handy link to). On the other hand, I have never actually seen an actual certified copy of a Hawaiian Birth Certificate. There may be security features not picked up on any scan. Somebody said that there was UV ink on it. Perhaps it relates to how far back Hawaii has their records available for verification online.


Since this article was originally published, I have obtained some Simpson DesignSecure™ Basketweave Pattern security paper that appears to be very much like the paper used by the State of Hawaii.


Arpaio should disown the Cold Case Posse

When I started to write this article, the title was going to be, “Arpaio should dissolve the Cold Case Posse,” but then I realized that the Cold Case Posse is an independent non-profit corporation not run by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office: The MCSO didn’t charter it; they don’t fund it; they don’t oversee it; they can’t make it go away. They can, however, sever all ties with it.

In all of this birther stuff, the reason for the Cold Case Posse gets lost. They were chartered to look into unsolved homicides in Maricopa County, Arizona. Here’s what the Cold Case Posse web site says:

In October of 2006, Sheriff Arpaio ordered the creation of the MCSO Cold Case Posse (CCP). The purpose of the CCP was to assist in the investigation of Cold Case Homicides. Since its inception, the CCP has been placed under the guidance and control of The General Investigation Division’s Homicide Squad (GID).

Nothing on the CCP web site suggests that they have ever actually assisted any homicide investigation, much less solved any cold cases. It’s 100% Obama birth certificate. So if they aren’t doing what they are supposed to do, then they shouldn’t exist.

More importantly, the Cold Case Posse with their wild accusations, fabricated evidence, crazy conspiracy theories, lack of proper law enforcement procedures, grandstanding, and use of unqualified experts puts a permanent taint on anything they might do in the future. That is, any evidence they developed in an attempt to solve a cold case could be impeached by the fact that they faked evidence, lied, and didn’t know what they are talking about in the past when they “investigated” President Obama’s birth certificate. Using the Cold Case Posse to develop evidence in a cold case homicide investigation would be like giving a murderer a

Get out of jail free card from Monopoly board game.


Klayman loses initiative in media injury lawsuit


This is a follow-up to an article I wrote last February. After allegations surfaced in court documents that birther attorney Larry Klayman had “inappropriately touched” his children, Klayman sued media outlets who covered the story, including The Phoenix New Times, for defamation. One headline read: “Bradlee Dean’s attorney, Larry Klayman, Allegedly Sexually Abused His Own Children.” The Phoenix New Times said: “Birther Lawyer Fighting Joe Arpaio Recall Was Found to Have ‘Inappropriately Touched’ Kids.”

The lawsuit

The lawsuit, Klayman v. City Pages et al, was filed in March. Klayman makes an aggressive ad hominem argument against the defendants in his complaint, basically saying that the defendants are pursuing a “radical homosexual agenda” that is harmful to children. In addition to the inappropriate touching issue, Klayman also says that the stories misrepresented a disciplinary action against him.

Losing the initiative

A number of items appear on the docket including an amended complaint and motions to dismiss. Yesterday US District Judge Anne C. Conway ordered Klayman to show cause why the case should not be dismissed for lack of prosecution—Klayman didn’t file the required Case Management Report within the deadline. A motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim is also pending.


Phoenix media attacks birther investigation

imageThe Phoenix New Times, a metropolitan newsweekly in Phoenix, Arizona, has a circulation of around 79,000. Their web site has a ranking in the top 6,000 web sites in the US according to, which is better than the Arizona Daily Star newspaper web site. They have had a long-running feud with Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. At one time two newspaper founders were arrested (charges quickly dropped) in the wake of Sheriff Arpaio’s home address being published on the paper’s web site. A subpoena was issued demanding the names of everyone who had read the article on the web site. 😯 Pretty crazy stuff. The Wikipedia has more on that story.

Thanks to The New Times, we get extensive local coverage of Sheriff Arpaio and local birther goings on. (I’m always appreciative of local news coverage of the birthers.) This brings to a new article at the New Times: “Joe Arpaio’s Sham ‘Investigation’ Into Obama’s Birth Certificate Exposed (Yet Again).”

The article itself is not especially informative—it just points out that a Xerox machine was responsible for what the Cold Case Posse thought were the unmistakable marks of forgery. The reason that I bring up the story is that we have a prominent news source letting the people of Phoenix know (again) what idiots they have in the Sheriff’s office.

Embedded in the article is the odd YouTube video of Garrett Papit unsuccessfully trying to scan a document to email using a Xerox machine. They wrote:

Now, this expert is the guy who is so technologically savvy that he uncovered all of these small details in the “forgery.” He uploaded the video to YouTube, which shows him unable to figure out how to scan a document on the copier and send it to his e-mail.

Papit himself told me in email that the reason he couldn’t email the scan was that the machine was defective, and that a “card” had to be replaced. Papit says that he just made the video to show someone how the machine was failing. That’s plausible.

I hadn’t watched the video before today, and I was somewhat surprised by what I saw. The video swings right to reveal Papit’s sample birth certificate, presumably the one he tested with. It’s not on safety paper! You can tell by the white border around it. The Cold Case Posse wasn’t even using real safety paper! Oh my!


One comment to the article mentions a public document scanned by a Xerox 7530 that has some of the same “forgery” marks that the Cold Case Posse clings to. At the top of the first page the “g” in “Agenda” is on the background layer and appears “fuzzy” at higher magnification compared to the rest of the word.


The Garrett Papit YouTube video has been removed.