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 ↑
Secret Service agent (photo:www.secretservice.gov)
In blogs, interviews and e-mails, “birthers” around the country are reporting surveillance and visits from the U.S. Secret Service, whose agents have questioned – or, as some report, intimidated – them over their insistence that Barack Obama prove his constitutional eligibility to serve as president.
As WND reported, Stephen Pidgeon, an attorney for Washington state plaintiffs challenging Obama’s eligibility, grew suspicious in March when his wife and coworkers reported being shadowed by police and three, black SUVs.
“We are definitely under surveillance and it’s coordinated with Homeland Security,” Pidgeon alleged.
“They came in regard to the criminal complaint I sent to the FBI and the fact that [Obama] is going to be in a town very close by,” Laudenslager writes. “I told them I had no violent intentions, but we do intend to remove [Obama] from office through the court system. I handed them the AGJ presentments. I told them they have been mailed or hand delivered to courts and public officials all over this country. They seemed satisfied, took a copy of the presentments, left their cards and left.”
Orly Taitz, perhaps the best known of the attorneys challenging Obama’s eligibility in several court cases around the country, told the news site Mother Jones, “A number of my supporters had visits from Secret Service, from different agencies, INS, Homeland Security. There are a whole number of people who got these visits to intimidate and harass them.”
The American Grand Jury website reports an email from Carl Swensson, one of its leaders in Georgia:
“I was paid a visit by the Secret Service today,” Swennson reportedly wrote. “They were cordial and asked questions about my motives and my basis for our actions, which I happily relayed.”
The email, however, welcomes and celebrates the visit: “This is GOOD news,” it states. “We are getting the message to the powers that be, and they are aware of our efforts. Their concerns are related to what happens if the American people are summarily ignored.”
In an interview with Mother Jones, Swennson described the demeanor of the agents who visited him:
“They said they had to make sure anyone who put forward this information wasn’t a physical threat to the president,” says Swensson. “They were doing their job. They were professional. They tried to dissuade me from what I was doing, but I wasn’t going to have anything to do with that.”
WND contacted the Secret Service and spoke with the agent Laudenslager reports visited him in Pennsylvania, but the agent explained he was not permitted to comment.
Malcolm Wiley, an official spokesperson for the agency told Mother Jones the Secret Service is not interested in the issue of the Obama’s citizenship, but could be alerted by individuals who demonstrate “an unusual direction of interest” in the sitting president.
“Our mandate is to protect the president of the United States,” he said.
WND has reported on dozens of legal challenges to Obama’s status as a “natural born citizen” brought by people who question Obama’s eligibility to serve as president for a number of reasons but who are nonetheless frequently lumped together into the group called “birthers.”
The Constitution, Article 2, Section 1, states, “No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President.”
Some of the lawsuits question whether Obama was actually born in Hawaii, as he insists. If he was born out of the country, Obama’s American mother, the suits contend, was too young at the time of his birth to confer American citizenship to her son under the law at the time.
Other challenges have focused on Obama’s citizenship through his father, a Kenyan subject to the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom at the time of his birth, thus making him a dual citizen. The cases contend the framers of the Constitution excluded dual
citizens from qualifying as natural born.
Adding fuel to the fire is Obama’s persistent refusal to release documents that could provide answers and the appointment – at a cost confirmed to be at least $1.7 million – of myriad lawyers to defend against all requests for his documentation.
“Where’s The Birth Certificate?” billboard at the Mandalay Bay resort on the Las Vegas Strip
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 such as 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.
Oddly, though congressional hearings were held to determine whether Sen. John McCain was constitutionally eligible to be president as a “natural born citizen,” no controlling legal authority ever sought to verify Obama’s claim to a Hawaiian birth.