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 ↑
The original accusation and the retraction both came from one of the “experts” CNN offered on the case of Lt. Col. Terrence Lakin, who faces a court-martial in a few weeks for refusing to deploy because the president refused to document his eligibility to be commander in chief.
An initial combative interview with Lakin was done by CNN’s Anderson Cooper, who portrayed Lakin negatively. It was a followup shortly later by CNN’s Jeffrey Toobin in which the problems arose.
Cooper mentioned Lakin had served “honorably” in his 18-year career.
Toobin then launched a rant.
“You know, these people are bigots, they’re racists, they’re freaks, they’re lunatics, these are not rational players in American politics,” he said on air.
“Mr. Toobin’s statement is patently false,” Jensen’s letter said. “LTC Lakin is neither irrational, a racist, a bigot, a freak, or a lunatic. Nor is there any rational basis to conclude he is any of these things, which of course was Mr. Cooper’s point. Mr. Toobin, unlike Mr. Cooper, made this statement without ever speaking with LTC Lakin (or likely anyone that knows him.) Mr. Toobin’s statement was understood to pertain to LTC Lakin and appears to have been made with actual malice, and particularly in the context given, which is Mr. Toobin contradicting Mr. Cooper saying LTC Lakin’s professional service was honorable, attacks my client’s professional character and standing.”
The attorney continued, “For these reasons, Mr. Toobin’s statement constitutes per se defamation, and is unconscionable, and LTC Lakin demands it be immediately retracted, on air during the ‘Anderson Cooper 360′ program. Your failure to make such a retraction will leave us no choice but to sue for defamation.”
The American Patriot Foundation said CNN “completely caved in to Jensen’s demand and soon thereafter, CNN required Toobin to broadcast a complete retraction on the same show.”
Toobin then, on a subsequent program, said, “A couple of weeks ago, we did a story about Lieutenant Colonel Terrence Lakin. He is the officer who has tried to get out of military service because he believes that President Obama was not born in the United States. He’s one of the so-called birthers. In the course of that report, I made the statement that a lot of the birthers are bigots and racists and there was a picture of Lakin behind me. I didn’t mean to suggest that he was a bigot and a racist. I was just talking more generally. And I also should correct myself. He wasn’t trying to get out of military service. He is the subject of a court martial, that’s why we were doing the story. But I didn’t mean to imply that about him.”
The foundation reported that while Cooper’s original interview with Lakin was “needlessly rude, hostile and domineering,” it did end up being “one of CNN’s most watched programs of the year.”
The foundation said Lakin “put his very freedom on the line by inviting his own court martial in order to expose the corruption in our political system which has allowed our Constitution to be ignored, debased and disrespected.”
Lakin, who has almost 18 years of unblemished service to the Army, including six tours of Bosnia, Afghanistan and other overseas locations, has earned the Bronze Star.
The foundation says the Army’s opinion of Lakin was made clear in an evaluation just before Lakin raised the issue of eligibility.
From Col. Dale Block, “Dr. Lakin is an extremely talented, highly knowledgeable senior Army clinician … he can always be counted on to provide me with expert advice. … LTC Lakin is clearly one of the top clinicians in the Northern Regional Medical Command. He has superb clinical skills, rapport with patients and staff. … Terry is the best choice for tough assignments. … Already on the promotion list to colonel, he should be groomed for positions of greater responsibility.”
But Lakin, the foundation says, has been compelled to act because Obama swore an oath to support and defend the U.S. Constitution. Obama’s eligibility to be president has been questioned, he argues, and he has refused all efforts to obtain documents that could determine his eligibility.
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 declined to follow deployment orders after he tried through military channels to affirm the validity of orders under Obama’s command and was rebuffed. He had been scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan again.
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’s attorneys have said they now are demanding “discovery” of Obama’s records, and that in such a dispute that information is critical. The multitude of civil cases that have been brought over the Obama eligibility dispute all have failed to reach that process because of federal judges who have ruled on issues generally involving “standing.” The judges have concluded that damages from an ineligible president suffered by the plaintiffs would not be more for them than any other member of the public, so there is not a specific damage or danger.
Jensen has explained that the Lakin case is different, since his client is being processed on criminal charges over the issue – a status that puts him in imminent danger of specific and personal “damages.”
The courts already have shown a weakness on the subject of Obama’s records. 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, which is generating support for Lakin. Hemenway brought a previous court challenge, now on appeal, on behalf of a retired military officer, Gregory S. Hollister, who questioned Obama’s eligibility.
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.
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. The court quickly backed off, however, when Apuzzo 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.