Bob Unruh joined WND in 2006 after nearly three decades with the Associated Press, as well as several Upper Midwest newspapers, where he covered everything from legislative battles and sports to tornadoes and homicidal survivalists. He is also a photographer whose scenic work has been used commercially.More ↓Less ↑
It could be that the state of Hawaii is overwhelmed by – or is just annoyed at – the number of inquiries about the birth records of President Obama.
The recent WND/Wenzel Poll indicated 32.6 percent of Americans said they do not consider Obama a “legitimate” president and another 15.8 percent said they were unsure. The poll updated a survey six months ago in which most Americans said they were aware of the dispute.
The Hawaiian records make up the core of the issue over challenges to Obama’s eligibility, since an original long-form birth certificate including the name of the doctor, the hospital and other details, presumably could document whether he qualifies to occupy the Oval Office under the U.S. Constitution’s requirement the president be a “natural born citizen.”
WND has reported on dozens of legal challenges to Obama’s status as a “natural born citizen.” 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 he 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.
Complicating the situation is Obama’s decision to spend sums estimated over $1 million to avoid releasing an original long-form state birth certificate that would put to rest the questions.
WND also has reported that among the documentation not yet available for Obama includes his kindergarten records, Punahou school records, Occidental College records, Columbia University records, Columbia thesis, Harvard Law School records, Harvard Law Review articles, scholarly articles from the University of Chicago, passport, medical records, files from his years as an Illinois state senator, his Illinois State Bar Association records, any baptism records and his adoption records.
Hawaii’s new web page states state law requires government records to be open to public inspection “unless access is restricted or closed by law.”
“The [Uniform Information Practices Act] does not require an agency to provide access to government records that state law protects from disclosure … nor does it require to respond to all questions asked of the agency.”
The Web page also issues several warnings. “Unless a request for DOH records is specific enough to be understood, the request cannot be responded to by the DOH,” it states.
Further, “The DOH may not have a record which is responsive to a request. The UIPA does not require an agency to compile or create information to respond to a request,” it says.
State officials did not respond to WND questions about the information on the page.
But it appears unlikely a website statement will defuse the controversy.
At the time of the election, the state’s director of health, Chiyome Fukino, said:
“There have been numerous requests for Sen. Barack Hussein Obama’s official birth certificate. State law (Hawaii Revised Statutes §338-18) prohibits the release of a certified birth certificate to persons who do not have a tangible interest in the vital record.
“Therefore, I as Director of Health for the State of Hawai’i, along with the Registrar of Vital Statistics who has statutory authority to oversee and maintain these type of vital records, have personally seen and verified that the Hawaii State Department of Health has Sen. Obama’s original birth certificate on record in accordance with state policies and procedures.
“No state official, including Governor Linda Lingle, has ever instructed that this vital record be handled in a manner different from any other vital record in the possession of the State of Hawaii.”
Months later she added another comment:
“I, Dr. Chiyome Fukino, Director of the Hawaii State Department of Health, have seen the original vital records maintained on file by the Hawaii State Department of Health verifying Barack Hussein Obama was born in Hawaii and is a natural-born American. I have nothing further to add to this statement or my original statement issued in October 2008 over eight months ago.”
But even those statements have since been cited as a reason that state officials owe the public more information.
At one point, Leo Donofrio, who brought one of the first legal challenges to Obama’s eligibility to be president and unsuccessfully tried to get the U.S. Supreme Court to get involved at the time of the election, said Hawaii’s laws require disclosure of information “collected and maintained for the purpose of making information available to the general public.”
He and several other Obama critics raised the suggestion that if a birth certificate was used to support Fukino’s statements, the record itself should be public.
The Hawaiian web page primarily links to the rules and regulations the state is using in defense of its decision not to release definitive information.
Under the state’s law addressing records, exceptions are made for government records that would “constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.” Also exempted are various records regarding prosecutions and certain court papers.
But the page explains any disclosure “shall not constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy if the public interest in disclosure outweighs the privacy interests of the individual.”
Department spokesman Janice Okubo previously told WND the laws have been interpreted to leave birth documentation exempted from public disclosure. But she admitted the law allows a challenge to such decisions in the courts.
In fact, the law states, “A person aggrieved by a denial of access to a government record may bring an action against the agency at any time within two years after the agency denial to compel disclosure. … The circuit court may examine the government record at issue, in camera, to assist in determining whether it, or any part of it, may be withheld.”
WND also has reported suggestions from Hawaii state Sen. Will Espero, a Democrat, that legislation could be adopted to release Obama’s birth records and satisfy critics.
Espero told WND at the time his idea would be aimed at “giving citizens access to birth records” under a standard of government transparency which would permit journalists to request in writing the public disclosure of vital birth records, including long-form birth certificates of all persons born in Hawaii.
“My decision to file the legislation was primarily a result of the fuss over President Obama’s birth records and the lingering questions,” Espero said.
Espero told WND he believes President Obama was born in Hawaii.
“My motivation is strictly to promote transparency,” he said. “When I found out that Hawaii birth records were not available to the public my first thought was, ‘Why wouldn’t they be available to the public?’ As far as I am concerned, records regarding whether a person was born here or not should be in the public domain.”
WND founder and editor Joseph Farah has offered a $15,000 donation to the hospital listed on Obama’s long-form birth certificate.
“All he or the hospital or the state of Hawaii would have to do to claim the prize is show the American public the document that should have been produced long ago to claim the presidency as a natural born citizen,” he wrote earlier this month.
“Think about it. Obama claims to have been born in Honolulu Aug. 4, 1961. His entire constitutional claim to the presidency rests on this premise. Yet, he refuses to release a copy of his long-form birth certificate – the only document that could possibly corroborate his claim. Instead, he has released to select news organizations and posted on the Internet a document that could never serve as proof he was born in the United States – a so-called ‘certification of live birth,’ a digital document that could, can and has been obtained by people who were actually born outside the country. The American people can never be certain their president is legitimate constitutionally without proof,” he continued.
WND also previously reported when several news agencies went into their archives to change their references to Obama’s birth location.
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.