The Congressional Research Service issued a memo to prepare members of Congress to rebut and defuse questions constituents were asking regarding Barack Obama’s presidential eligibility under the “natural born citizen” requirement of the Constitution.
CRS staff member Jerry W. Mansfield, an information research specialist in the Knowledge Services Group, confirmed to WND that he authored the June 5, 2009, CRS memo entitled “Qualifications of Barack Obama to Be President of the United States.”
WND has posted the CRS memo on Scribd.com for download.
Attached to the memo was an attack piece published by FactCheck.org to dismiss claims that Obama’s short-form Certification of Live Birth, or COLB, originally published during the 2008 presidential campaign by DailyKos.com, was a forgery.
The memo was addressed to Rep. Brian Bilbray, R-Calif., and sent to Jeffrey Post, a staff member in the congressman’s office.
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Attached to the memo were copies of four articles from the Internet aimed at debunking and dismissing arguments questioning Obama’s eligibility.
The CRS memo surfaced with a fax cover sheet sent by staffer Jeffrey Post from Bilbray’s Washington, D.C., office June 8, 2009, three days after Mansfield authored the memo and compiled the Internet attachments.
The CRS is a public policy research arm of the United States Congress that is organized as a legislative branch agency within the Library of Congress. It works exclusively for members of Congress, congressional committees and congressional staff in an advisory capacity, answering questions.
Bilbray’s office did not respond to repeated WND requests for comment. Jeffrey Post in Bilbray’s office told WND he was not authorized to speak with the press.
In the CRS memo, Mansfield writes: “Per your request we are enclosing several articles that address concerns about the birth certificate of President Obama, his place of birth and how questions surrounding it were ultimately resolved.”
In the second sentence, Mansfield suggests that questions raised about Obama’s eligibility have been conclusively dismissed as Internet falsehoods that are taking on mythical proportions: “Also included are a lengthy piece prepared by the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania [http://www.factcheck.org] and an article that points out that the Internet includes falsehoods and they can live forever.”
Mansfield told WND that he had written the memo to provide responses Bilbray could give to constituents who were peppering his congressional office for a response to eligibility challenges.
WND has reported that Bilbray is on the record saying there is no need for the president to have been born in the United States – or to have two parents who are U.S. citizens – to be a “natural born citizen” and be eligible for the Oval Office.
The controversy over Bilbray’s comments developed when a YouTube.com video was posted. In the video of a television interview on MSNBC’s “The Ed Show,” Bilbray said, “It’s just like people thinking that you gotta be born in the United States to be president. You don’t have to be. That’s a legend. We got to clarify that.”
Mansfield said he “did not conduct any investigation.”
“I merely responded to a request from a congressional office to answer a constituent,” he said.
Asked why he did not balance his memo with published articles questioning Obama’s eligibility, Mansfield responded, “I reported what Hawaii Department of Health officials said because they were official statements made by government employees. There has been nothing official said by any official of government, so far as I know, supporting questions raised about Obama’s eligibility. So, there is no issue here.”
When WND asked Mansfield if it was his job, in writing the memo, to draw a conclusion for Bilbray, he objected.
“The attachments were articles in print,” he said. “I was simply trying to pass on what is in the press.”
Mansfield was reluctant to talk to the press, and he ended the call abruptly saying, “I am getting contacted by irate people over this memo. It was meant as an advisory to a member of Congress. It was never meant to be released to the public”
The attachment from FactCheck.org was a posting on Aug. 21, 2008, entitled “The truth about Obama’s birth certificate.”
The first paragraph makes clear the piece was aimed at refuting the claim that the COLB was “fake.”
To refute the claim, FactCheck.org cited a statement by Hawaii Department of Health official Chiyome Fukino asserting she and the registrar of vital statistics, Alvin Onaka, had verified that the health department holds “Obama’s original birth certificate.”
Fukino issued a carefully worded statement on Hawaii DOH stationary Oct. 31, 2008, giving the impression that the agency possessed Obama’s “original birth certificate,” even though that is not precisely what she said.
Here is the press release in question:
What Fukino said was that she had “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.”
The key phrase was the qualification “in accordance with state policies and procedures.”
Fukino did not explicitly say she had seen Obama’s original birth certificate or his long-form hospital-generated birth certificate.
WND has reported that the Hawaii Department of Health in 1961 would issue a Certification of Live Birth on the basis of family testimony, without any additional proof the child was actually born in Hawaii.
WND has also reported that the Hawaii Department of Health has refused to substantiate the claim made by FactCheck.org and other Obama supporters that the short-form COLB is an authentic document issued by the Hawaii DOH.
The FactCheck.org article, updated Nov. 1, 2008, included a mention of Fukino’s carefully worded statement issued Oct. 31, 2008, claiming the statement “confirmed … Obama was born in Honolulu,” even though Fukino made no such direct claim.
Nor did Mansfield point out in his CRS memo to Bilbray that the Annenberg Public Policy Center that finances FactCheck.org also financed Barack Obama who served as the Chairman of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge in 1995. At that time the CAC made a $482,662 grant to a workshop project headed by Mike Klonsky, a former top communist activist who is an associate of former Weather Underground terrorist leader William Ayers, as documented by WND reporter Aaron Klein.
The three other Internet pieces Mansfield attached to his CRS memo to Bilbray were:
- A story from the Honolulu Star-Bulletin Nov. 1, 2008, entitled “Officials verify birth certificate of Obama,” reporting on Fukino’s Oct. 31, 2008, press release;
- An editorial published in the McClatchy-Tribune Business News Dec. 9, 2008, entitled “Obama birth certificate gets a pass from the Supreme Court,” in which the litigation brought by Leo Donofrio in the case Donofrio v. Wells was described by the newspaper as “wacky” and “specious”;
- A story by Tim Jones published in the McClatchy-Tribune Business News Dec. 8, 2008, entitled “Internet drives Barack Obama birth-certificate battle: Web allows opinions to ‘live forever,’ expert says,” in which WND was characterized as “a popular, political right-leaning site” that has chronicled “the campaign challenging the legitimacy of Obama’s 1961 birth certificate or the legality of his taking office.”
Mansfield attached to his CRS memo to Bilbray no articles published on the Internet by WND or any other source examining critically the Obama eligibility issue.
As WND reported a CRS memorandum authored by Jack Maskell, the Legislative Attorney in the American Law Division, April 3, 2008, admits openly that no one – not Congress, not the states and not election officials – ever bothered to check Obama’s eligibility to be president.
But WND has reported statements from members of Congress that are based on arguments presented in the material provided by CRS.
Among the statements from members of Congress that have appeared:
- Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz.: “Thank you for your recent e-mail. Senator Obama meets the constitutional requirements for presidential office. Rumors pertaining to his citizenship status have been circulating on the Internet, and this information has been debunked by Snopes.com, which investigates the truth behind Internet rumors.”
- Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Fla.: “Presidential candidates are vetted by voters at least twice – first in the
primary elections and again in the general election. President-Elect Obama
won the Democratic Party’s nomination after one of the most fiercely
contested presidential primaries in American history. And, he has now been
duly elected by the majority of voters in the United States. Throughout both
the primary and general election, concerns about Mr. Obama’s birthplace were
raised. The voters have made clear their view that Mr. Obama meets the
qualifications to hold the office of president.”
- Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio: “President Obama has provided several news organizations with a copy of his
birth certificate, showing he was born in Honolulu, Hawaii on August 4,
1961. Hawaii became a state in 1959, and all individuals born in Hawaii
after its admission are considered natural-born United States citizens. In
addition, the Hawaii State Health Department recently issued a public
statement verifying the authenticity of President Obama’s birth certificate.”
- U.S. Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, R-Fla.: “The claim that Barack Obama is not a citizen of the U.S. is false. This rumor is simply election year politics.” She referred questioners to Snopes for documentation.
- Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.: “The courts have held that President Obama is a natural-born American citizen. Moreover, in December 2008, the Supreme Court declined to hear a lawsuit challenging Mr. Obama’s eligibility to serve as president, concurring with three other federal courts in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Washington. The courts have confirmed the determination of state officials in Hawaii that health department records prove that Barack Obama was born a U.S. citizen in Honolulu.”
- Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga.: “President Obama demonstrated his citizenship during his campaign by circulating copies of his birth certificate, which showed he was born in Hawaii on August 4, 1961.”
- Sen. Robert Casey, D-Pa.: “I am
confident that Mr. Obama meets all the constitutional requirements to be our 44th
president. Mr. Obama has posted a copy of his birth certificate on his campaign
website and submitted an additional copy to the independent website
FactCheck.org. The birth certificate demonstrates that he was born in Honolulu,
Hawaii in 1961, thereby making him a natural-born citizen eligible to be
- U.S. Rep. Wally Herger, R-Calif.: “As you know, some questions were raised about whether President Obama is a
natural born citizen. There was a recent lawsuit arguing that he is not
eligible for the Presidency for this reason. I understand that the Supreme
Court considered hearing this lawsuit, but it ultimately turned down the
request to have the case considered before the full court. I further
understand that the director of Hawaii’s Department of Health recently
confirmed that President Obama was born in Honolulu and has personally
verified that her agency has his original birth certificate on record. As
you know, the U.S. Congress certified his election on January 8, and he was
sworn into office on January 20, 2009. While I may disagree with President Obama on a multitude of issues, he has
been elected as President of the United States through a fair process and
has shown sufficient documentation, via a state birth certificate, that has
been verified as being authentic. In short, therefore, I do not believe
sufficient evidence was brought to light to conclude that President Obama
was ineligible for the office.”
- U.S. Rep. Paul Hodes, D-N.H.: “President Obama publicly posted his
birth certificate on his campaign website which confirms that he was born in
Hawaii in 1961. This birth certificate confirms that President Obama is a
natural born citizen of the United States, above the age of 35, and is
therefore qualified to be President of the United States of America. If you
would like to view President Obama’s birth certificate, I encourage you to
go to the website http://fightthesmears.com/articles/5/birthcertificate.”
- “Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, “The Constitution and federal law require that, among other things, only
native-born U.S. citizens (or those born abroad, but only to parents who
were both American citizens) may be President of the United States. In
President Obama’s case, some individuals have filed lawsuits in state and
federal courts alleging that he has not proven that he is an American
citizen, but each of those lawsuits have been dismissed. This includes a
recent decision by the United States Supreme Court to not review an
“application for emergency stay” filed by a New Jersey resident claiming
that the President is not a natural born citizen because his father was born
in Kenya. Furthermore, both the Director of Hawaii’s Department of Health
and the state’s Registrar of Vital Statistics recently confirmed that Mr.
Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii on August 4, 1961 and, as such, meets the
constitutional citizenship requirements for the presidency. If contrary
documentation is produced and verified, this matter will necessarily be
resolved by the judicial branch of our government under the Constitution.”
- “Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa.: “On June 13, 2008, the Obama campaign released a copy of his birth
certificate after numerous claims were made about his eligibility to hold the office of
President. The released copy created additional questions, because it
contained a blacked out department file number and was apparently missing a seal,
and it was impossible to detect raised text, a common characteristic of
official documents. There were satisfactory answers to such questions, however: the
department file number had been blacked out to prevent hackers from breaking
into the Health Department’s system, and the State places the seal on the
back of the certificate. The website Factcheck.org investigated the matter and
provided high-resolution photos taken at multiple angles that revealed the
raised text and the seal on the back of the document. … Accordingly, it
has been concluded that President Obama has met the constitutional
qualifications to be President of the United States.”
- U.S. Rep Vic Snyder, D-Ark.: “According to State of Hawai’i officials, the Hawai’i State Department of Health has President-elect Obama’s original birth certificate on record in accordance with that state’s policies and procedures.
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