Lt. Col. Terrence Lakin
FT. BELVOIR, Va. – A decorated military officer who is challenging – in military court – President Obama’s eligibility to be president was taken into custody and escorted under guard back to Walter Reed Army Base today after a hearing, apparently so he could not talk to the press or his attorney about his case, according to his defense attorney.
The Army held a hearing today at Ft. Belvoir, Va., for Lt. Col. Terrence Lakin, who posted a YouTube video challenging the Army to charge him after he refused to deploy to Afghanistan again this spring because of his concerns that Obama is ineligible to be president, and that orders under his chain of command then would be suspect.
The hearing was on several charges of disobeying commands and “missing movement,” and was held by Col. Denise Lind, who has been assigned to be the military judge in the case.
At the conclusion of the arraignment, Lakin was ordered not to speak with the press and was taken back to Reed under military escort, surprising and disturbing a civilian lawyer who has been working on his case.
“This was completely inappropriate. Col. Lakin was brought here and taken away from here as if he was a common criminal. He was prohibited from talking to the press for two minutes; he was prohibited from talking to anybody, even me,” Paul Rolf Jensen said.
Jensen said he was not sure how long Lakin was being detained because the Army offered no explanation as to why he needed an escort after the hearing. Jensen did say he thought it was because the Army did not want him talking to the press.
There also now are several hearings scheduled in the case, starting with an Aug. 20 event that will deal with evidence in the dispute.
According to the court, a second hearing on Aug. 27 would be for government “objections” to the evidence, and Jensen said he expects opposition from the White House at that point.
That’s because the strategy in the case will include requests for evidence that Obama is, in fact, eligible to be commander-in-chief, evidence that could come through depositions with Hawaii state records-holders – who presumably have access to Obama’s original birth documentation if he was born there as he has written.
Two other hearings are set Sept. 2 and Sept. 14 in the case before the trial date of Oct. 13.
The 18-year Army veteran, decorated multiple times, is facing court-martial where, if convicted, he could get up to four years of hard labor in prison and be dismissed from the military.
Lakin refused orders to deploy to Afghanistan in April of 2010 because he believes that President Barack Obama has failed to demonstrate that he is constitutionally eligible to be commander in chief.
The five charges brought against Lakin can be found in articles 87 and 92 of the military uniform service code of conduct. The five charges read aloud in a packed courtroom were three counts of disobeying a lawful order, one count of missing a movement and one count of dereliction of duty.
As WND reported earlier, in June of 2010, Lakin and his civilian attorney Jensen were preparing for an Article 32 pretrial hearing where they hoped to present both testimony and evidence proving that President Obama is not a citizen of the United States.
However, all evidence in the case that pertained to the president, such as academic transcripts and his birth certificate on file in Hawaii, were banned by Army hearing officer Daniel Driscoll.
Driscoll issued an opinion that said only Congress and not a United States military judicial body should decide to use the president’s credentials on file.
But that evidence dispute will come up again, Jensen has confirmed.
Lind noted that Lakin has the choice to either supply his own counsel at his own expense or be provided military counsel at the government’s expense. Lakin actually took a third option, which was retaining both military and civilian counsel, which he is entitled to do.
Lakin also has the choice of being tried by a jury of five military officers, who would vote by secret ballot on his guilt or innocence. Alternatively, he could choose to be tried by the trial judge alone, who would determine the result.
Jensen deferred that choice for the moment, but believes it would be better if Lakin is tried by a group of his peers.
After Lind requested that Lakin submit his plea of guilty or not guilty, Lakin’s attorney said “No plea.”
“A motion to dismiss must be brought before the plea is entered, and after the proceedings are commenced,” Jensen explained. “In that thirty-second period we didn’t have time to bring the motion, but we will.”
Asked how his client would plead, Jensen said, if the motion to dismiss the charges is denied, Lakin would plead not guilty.
The trial will now move to the discovery phase, where Jensen will again be making requests for President Obama’s birth certificate and other relevant documents to support Lakin’s case.
According to the Safeguard our Constitution website, which is supporting the officer, Lakin earlier released a statement that “I am not guilty of these charges, and will plead ‘not guilty’ to them because of my conviction that our commander-in-chief may be ineligible under the United States Constitution to serve in that highest of all offices.”
Lakin is board-certified in family medicine and occupational and environmental medicine. He has been recognized for his outstanding service as a flight surgeon for yearlong tours in Honduras, Bosnia and Afghanistan. He was also awarded the Bronze Star for his service in Afghanistan and recognized in 2005 as one of the Army Medical Department’s outstanding flight surgeons.
The controversy stems from the Constitution, Article 2, Section 1, which 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.”
A number of challenges and lawsuits have been based on the constitutional requirement, some alleging Obama does not qualify because he was not born in Hawaii in 1961 as he claims. Others say he fails to qualify because he was a dual citizen of the U.S. and the United Kingdom when he was born, and the framers of the Constitution specifically excluded dual citizens from eligibility.
Complicating the issue is the fact that besides Obama’s actual birth documentation, he has concealed documentation including 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, Illinois State Bar Association records, baptism records and his adoption records.
Lakin is not the first officer to raise questions. Others have included Army doctor Capt. Connie Rhodes and Army reservist Maj. Stefan Cook. But Lakin is the first active-duty officer to raise the question.
In at least one of the earlier disputes, the Army simply canceled the orders rather than allow the argument to come to a head.
Lakin, who previously has served in Afghanistan, refused orders this spring to go again, “because the president refuses – even in the face of mounting evidence to the contrary – to prove his eligibility under the Constitution to hold office.”
Now Lakin is facing a court-martial and as part of his defense wants the information about Obama from the state of Hawaii.
“The records Lakin seeks have been the subject of intense interest ever since the closing days of the 2008 presidential campaign when a document appeared on the Internet purporting to be a certification that Hawaii’s Dept. of Health had records showing he had been born in Honolulu,” the foundation supporting Lakin’s case confirmed.
“Since then, Dr. Chiyome Fukino, the head of that agency, has made public statements on the subject, but has refused all requests for copies of the actual records in the department’s custody. Recently, a former Hawaii elections clerk has come forward saying that he was told that the department’s records showed Obama was NOT born in Hawaii,” the organization said.
“The United States Constitution requires that a person be a ‘natural born citizen’ to be elected to the presidency. If Mr. Obama was not born in Honolulu as he has claimed, then he is unlikely to be a ‘natural born citizen.’ An examination of the records kept by the Hawaii Dept. of Health (is) an essential first step in ascertaining Mr. Obama’s constitutional eligibility to hold the office to which he was elected in 2008,” the foundation said.
The issue of the Hawaii records has been a volatile point in the argument. The state of Hawaii has gone so far as to approve a law that allows the state to ignore repeated requests for documentation about Obama’s birth.
The state’s governor, Linda Lingle, just months ago told a New York talk-show host that it was an “odd situation.”
“This issue kept coming up so much in the campaign, and again I think it’s one of those issues that is simply a distraction from the more critical issues that are facing the country,” she said on the radio show. “So I had my health director, who is a physician by background, go personally view the birth certificate in the birth records of the Department of Health, and we issued a news release at that time saying that the president was, in fact, born at Kapi’olani Hospital in Honolulu, Hawaii. And that’s just a fact and yet people continue to call up and e-mail and want to make it an issue, and I think it’s again a horrible distraction for the country by those people who continue this.”
However, no news release from the state of Hawaii identified the birth location as Kapi’olani. And Lingle’s statement also was contradicted by Fukino, who reported, “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.”
Critics also note that while the Obama campaign posted a computer image of a “Certification of Live Birth” online during the 2008 election run-up, the procedures at the time allowed such certifications to be issued on the sworn statement of a relative for a child not born in the state.
The American Patriot Foundation said the records have been the target of many civil lawsuits over Obama’s eligibility. But the lawsuits all have been dismissed on procedural grounds, such as the “standing” of the plaintiff, and none has yet addressed the merits of the arguments.
“While no civil litigant has obtained discovery of these records, and all the civil lawsuits seeking those records have been dismissed on procedural grounds, Lakin’s case is different because he is the subject of criminal prosecution, and upon conviction stands in jeopardy of being sentenced to years at hard labor in the penitentiary,” the foundation said.
The issue of Obama’s birth “in Hawaii” also arose after he assumed the Oval Office when a letter was revealed that purported to be from the president claiming Kapi’olani as the place of his birth.
The letter, dated Jan. 24, 2009, was used by the hospital at a fundraiser but later concealed.
A photograph taken by the Kapi’olani Medical Center for WND shows a letter allegedly written by President Obama on embossed White House stationery in which he declares the Honolulu hospital to be “the place of my birth,” The hospital, after publicizing the letter then refusing to confirm it even existed, is now vouching for its authenticity, but not its content. The White House has yet to verify any aspect of the letter.
“As a beneficiary of the excellence of the Kapi’olani Medical Center – the place of my birth – I am pleased to add my voice to your chorus of supporters,” Obama purportedly wrote.
The letter was referenced by then-Rep. Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawaii, during the Jan. 24, 2009, hospital dinner. Kapi’olani has said officials “know” the letter is real, but hospital spokeswoman Keala Peters refused to corroborate the content.
As WND reported, Lakin posted the video of his challenge to Obama to document his eligibility March 30.
In his latest video, Lakin said the issue of evidence is important:
Lakin said Driscoll’s decision made it impossible for him to present a defense at the proposed Article 32 hearing, so he was waiving the hearing and instead will use the time to prepare for a trial.
He cited a long list of “reasonable arguments” raising questions about whether Obama was born on American soil. He also pointed out how the “documentation” provided by Obama during his campaign, a computer-generated Certification of Live Birth, until last year wasn’t even recognized by the state of Hawaii itself for a number of uses. Also, officials in the state have refused to confirm its authenticity.
“Americans deserve answers, not a coverup,” he said.
Lakin’s attorney, Jensen, told WND that of the dozens of cases that have been brought to various courts over the issue of Obama’s eligibility, Lakin’s probably is the strongest.
Jensen expressed confidence that the necessary information will be obtained for the defense.
“This is a criminal case,” he noted, with a possible punishment of several years in jail. “In order for a criminal defendant to defend himself in a criminal court he has to be given the opportunity to put on a defense.
“The records are relevant.”
Jensen, in an earlier interview on the G. Gordon Liddy radio program, confirmed, “Every criminal defendant has to be allowed the benefit of doubt to discover information relevant or which may even lead to the discovery of relevant information that could support his case.
“It would be shocking to me that a defendant … would not be permitted to discover information that would lend itself to proving his [case],” he said at the time.
The discovery-of-evidence issue previously was raised in court by attorney John Hemenway, who was threatened by a federal judge with sanctions for bringing a court challenge to Obama’s presidency.
Hemenway is serving in emeritus status with the SafeguardOurConstitution website. He brought a previous court challenge, now on appeal, on behalf of a retired military officer, Gregory S. Hollister, who questioned Obama’s eligibility.
The Hollister case ultimately was dismissed by Judge James Robertson, who notably ruled during the 2008 election campaign that the federal legal dispute had been “twittered” and, therefore, resolved.
Robertson sarcastically wrote: “The plaintiff says that he is a retired Air Force colonel who continues to owe fealty to his commander in chief (because he might possibly be recalled to duty) and who is tortured by uncertainty as to whether he would have to obey orders from Barack Obama because it has not been proven – to the colonel’s satisfaction – that Mr. Obama is a native-born American citizen, qualified under the Constitution to be president.
“The issue of the president’s citizenship was raised, vetted, blogged, texted, twittered and otherwise massaged by America’s vigilant citizenry during Mr. Obama’s two-year campaign for the presidency, but this plaintiff wants it resolved by a court,” Robertson wrote.
Then the judge suggested sanctions against Hemenway for bringing the case. Hemenway responded that the process then would provide him with a right to a discovery hearing to see documentation regarding the judge’s statements – not supported by any evidence introduced into the case – that Obama was properly “vetted.”
Hemenway warned at the time, “If the court persists in pressing Rule 11 procedures against Hemenway, then Hemenway should be allowed all of the discovery pertinent to the procedures as court precedents have permitted in the past.
“The court has referred to a number of facts outside of the record of this particular case and, therefore, the undersigned is particularly entitled to a hearing to get the truth of those matters into the record. This may require the court to authorize some discovery,” Hemenway said.
The court ultimately backed off its threat of sanctions.
In a separate case, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals threatened sanctions against attorney Mario Apuzzo, but quickly backed off when he noted that under the rules of court procedure, being subjected to sanctions and penalties would give him the right to discovery in the case, possibly including Obama’s birth certificate.
The Constitution requires a president to be a “natural born citizen,” and, while the term is not defined in the Constitution, many legal analysts believe at the time it was written it meant a person born in the U.S. of two U.S. citizen parents. Critics say Obama clearly does not qualify under that definition, since he has admitted in his book his father never was a U.S. citizen. Some legal challenges have argued he wasn’t even born in Hawaii.
Tim Adams, a former senior elections clerk for Honolulu, has said there “definitely” are problems with Obama’s Hawaii birth story.
“As of the time I was in Hawaii working in the elections office we had many people who were asking about the eligibility of Senator Obama to be president. I was told at the time there is no long-form birth record, which would have been the case if President Obama was born in [a] hospital in Honolulu. There is no such form in Hawaii,” he said.
Note: A legal-defense fund has been set up for Lt. Col. Terry Lakin.