Drew Zahn is a WND news editor who cut his journalist teeth as a member of the award-winning staff of Leadership, Christianity Today's professional journal for church leaders. A former pastor, he is the editor of seven books, including Movie-Based Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching, which sparked his ongoing love affair with film and his weekly WND column, "Popcorn and a (world)view."More ↓Less ↑
When it comes to evaluating and discussing transparency in government, one issue – and one issue alone – has been deemed out of bounds by a White House website: President Obama’s continued concealment of his birth record.
As part of the forum’s rules and guidelines, posts that are obscene or reveal personal information, like Social Security numbers, are scrubbed completely, while those that are deemed off-topic are removed to a separate archive.
One user, Jason Roberts, expressed his concerns on the forum about the White House hosting a “transparency” discussion without properly addressing the eligibility topic.
“The fact that the birth certificate issue hasn’t been resolved, precludes any possible discussion of government transparency,” Roberts wrote. “It is a farce to sit with hands folded and pretend to have some self-righteous discussion about government transparency when Mr. Obama is refusing to be transparent about his birth certificate, passport records, and school records. If his presidency started with his being sworn in, then the transparency must start with him willingly releasing his long-form birth certificate.”
Roberts continued, “This issue will never go away. It will be there, stoked and kept fresh daily, for 8 years if necessary, until it is addressed. And the one to blame is Obama.”
Comments not scrubbed from the site for being off-topic include the following:
A man’s detailing of his full-body rash and medical problems – prompting four additional comments on Lyme disease – on a thread devoted to the proper qualifications for presidential appointees to science posts
A claim on the thread dedicated to scientific integrity within the OSTP that Americans are being “covertly assaulted” with secret energy weapons and then accused of being paranoid or mentally ill
A pair of posts advocating more widespread use of marijuana in a discussion thread on government whistleblowers.
Despite the removal and archiving of posts related to Obama’s birth certificate, however, the discussion continues to be dominated by questions of Obama’s qualifications to serve as president.
One commenter, Dave Jamieson, wrote this afternoon that “in order to assure the people who are participating on this site that true honesty and transparency will be the highest goal,” three things need to be done.
Jamieson demanded the website first, “Be truthful in declaring that the highest-rated number of posts and votes in the idea gathering phase of this project were in regards to Obama’s eligibility;” second, “Send a verifiable message to the White House declaring the results of phase 1 as shown above;” and third, “Ask the White House to release all applicable documents proving Obama’s eligibility.”
He concluded, “Then and only then will you garner respect from all the participants of this website for the truthfulness of what you have said you are trying to do.”
Jamieson’s comments may have reflected a statement WND reported earlier made by Beth Noveck, White House deputy chief technology officer for open government, on the White House website:
“We read and considered all the proposals,” Noveck said in the statement. “We took the voting into account when assessing your enthusiasm for a submission, but only somewhat in evaluating relevance.”
She continued, “The ideas that received the most organized support were not necessarily the most viable suggestions.”
In addition to WND’s consistent coverage of the still unanswered questions surrounding Obama’s eligibility, the topic has also hit Twitter, with numerous tweeters encouraging readers to keep the issue alive at the open government website.
In his questioning of White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, WND White House correspondent Les Kinsolving specifically made reference to the WND petition.
“Are you looking for the president’s birth certificate?” he asked incredulously. “Lester, this question in many ways continues to astound me. The state of Hawaii provided a copy with the seal of the president’s birth. I know there are apparently at least 400,000 people – (laughter) – that continue to doubt the existence of and the certification by the state of Hawaii of the president’s birth there, but it’s on the Internet because we put it on the Internet for each of those 400,000 to download. I certainly hope by the fourth year of our administration that we’ll have dealt with this burgeoning birth controversy.”
It was the first time any member of the press corps has publicly asked a member of the administration a question directly related to Obama’s constitutional eligibility for office as a “natural born citizen.”
Farah announced the billboard campaign to raise public awareness of the fact that Obama has never released the standard, “long-form” birth certificate that would show which hospital he was born in, the attending physician and establish that he truly was born in Hawaii, as his autobiography maintains.
The “Certification of Live Birth” posted online and widely touted as “Obama’s birth certificate” does not in any way prove he was born in Hawaii, since the same “short-form” document is easily obtainable for children not born in Hawaii. The true “long-form” birth certificate – which includes information like the name of the birth hospital and attending physician – is the only document that can prove Obama was born in Hawaii, but to date he has not permitted its release for public or press scrutiny.
Congressional hearings were held to determine whether Sen. John McCain was constitutionally eligible to be president as a “natural born citizen,” but no controlling legal authority ever sought to verify Obama’s claim to a Hawaiian birth.
Both the petition and the billboard campaign are part of what Farah calls an independent “truth and transparency campaign.”
Presidential spokesman Robert Gibbs bends over laughing at a question over Obama’s eligibility
The first sign to be posted under the week-old campaign, a digital, electronic one, is up and online on Highway 165 in Ball, La. In addition, based on the heavy volume of financial donations in the first two days of the campaign, WND was able to commit to leasing two more standard billboards – one in Los Angeles and the other in Pennsylvania. It will take several weeks to get those billboards up because of the vinyl printing and shipping involved. Yesterday, WND agreed to lease another electronic billboard in Orange County, Calif.
While the campaign is off to a robust start, many viewers have asked why Obama’s name is not included in the billboard. Farah said the matter was carefully considered.
“There are several reasons we chose the message: ‘Where’s the birth certificate?’” he explained. “There is only one birth certificate controversy in this country today – despite the near-total absence of this issue from coverage in the non-WND media. This is a grass-roots issue that resonates around the country, as our own online petition with nearly 400,000 signers suggests. In addition, I like the simplicity of the message. I like the fact that the message will cause some people to ask themselves or others about the meaning of the message. It will stir curiosity. It will create a buzz. I’m assuming when these billboards are springing up all over the country, it might even make some in the news media curious. And there’s one more factor that persuaded me this was the way to go.
Birth certificate question being raised in Ball, La.
“Come 2012, campaign laws will pose restrictions on political advertising mentioning the names of presidential candidates. This one clearly doesn’t. I would like to see the federal government make the case that this is somehow a political ad,” he said.
Farah said the campaign was born of frustration with timid elected officials in Washington, corrupt judges around the country and a news media that show a stunning lack of curiosity about the most basic facts of Obama’s background – especially how it relates to constitutional eligibility for the highest office in the land.
“As Obama transforms this country from self-governing constitutional republic to one governed by a central ruling elite, the simple fact remains that no controlling legal authority has established that he is indeed a ‘natural born citizen’ as the Constitution requires,” Farah said. “Obama’s promises of transparency have become a bad joke as he continues to hide simple, innocuous documents like his birth certificate and his student records.”
The idea behind the billboard campaign is to make sure Obama cannot avoid this question any longer. He must be asked to produce it at every turn, Farah says. Billboard space is currently being hunted in Houston, Dallas, Sacramento, San Francisco, Seattle and other metro areas.
“Is it unusual for a news agency to launch such a campaign?” asks Farah. “Yes it is. But we live in very unusual times. The founding fathers built special protections into the First Amendment for the free press. The reason they did that is because they understood a vibrant ‘Fourth Estate’ was necessary as an independent watchdog on government. It is in that tradition that WND assumes this role – since nobody else in the press will do it.”
“I wish such a campaign were not absolutely necessary,” said Farah. “I wish there were checks and balances in our political and electoral systems to ensure that constitutional eligibility of presidential candidates was established before politicians could assume the highest office in the land. I wish my colleagues in the news media believed the Constitution really means what it says and pressed this issue as hard as we have pressed it at WND. I wish radio talk-show hosts were bold enough to ask this question. But wishing is not enough. It’s time to raise the visibility of this issue vital to the rule of law in America. I ask everyone to pitch in and help WND make a simple yet profound statement: The Constitution still matters.”