ERICE, Sicily – A certain bogus birth certificate was quietly discussed this week in the Marsala cellar under the arcades of the San Rocco Monastery here on the lofty mountaintop of Erice, overlooking the Sicilian sea, where the World Federation of Scientists is holding its annual meeting on planetary emergencies.
The feeling among the non-Americans enjoying a sip of the local hooch after a hard day in the lecture halls was that the constitutional requirement that the president should be a natural born citizen did not matter very much in the eye of eternity.
But all were agreed that having a bogus document on the White House website – whatever the reason and whoever was guilty – was in-your-face corruption. And that was not acceptable.
Dr. Richard Garwin is an old friend with a brain the size of Jupiter. He invented the typewriter golf ball for IBM and remains a Thomas J. Watson research fellow to this day. He is also the deputy president of the World Federation of Scientists, meeting here in Erice, Sicily, and he reads everything.
At dinner overlooking the plain of Trapani, he told me of a resolution of the 85th Congress that established a noble Code of Ethics for Government Service. Now, Dick Garwin, who was not with us in the Marsala Room, is no Republican, and I have not asked him what he thinks about Mr Obama’s “birth certificate.”
But Dick, like many of us, is worried about the growing corruption in public life in the U.S. and worldwide. Indeed, he thinks it is one of the greatest planetary emergencies we face.
He told me of a truly remarkable resolution made by the House and concurred in by the Senate during the second session of the 85th Congress, in 1958, requiring all government employees, including officeholders, to adhere to the following Code of Ethics.
CODE OF ETHICS FOR GOVERNMENT SERVICE
“Any person in Government service should:
“1. Put loyalty to the highest moral principles and to the country above loyalty to persons, party, or Government department.
“2. Uphold the Constitution, laws, and legal regulations of the United States and of all governments therein and never to be a party to their evasion.
“3. Give a full day’s labor for a full day’s pay; giving to the performance of his duties his earnest effort and best thought.
“4. Seek to find and employ more efficient and economical ways of getting tasks accomplished.
“5. Never discriminate unfairly by the dispensing of special favors or privileges to anyone, whether for remuneration or not; and never accept, for himself or his family, favors or benefits under circumstances which might be construed by reasonable persons as influencing the performance of his governmental duties.
“6. Make no private promises of any kind binding upon the duties of office, since a Government employee has no private word which can be binding on public duty.
“7. Engage in no business with the Government, either directly or indirectly, which is inconsistent with the conscientious performance of his governmental duties.
“8. Never use any information coming to him confidentially in the performance of governmental duties as a means for making private profit.
“9. Expose corruption wherever discovered.
“10. Uphold these principles, ever conscious that public office is a public trust.”
Apply that to the shenanigans about Mr Obama’s personal documentation. Under that resolution of both Houses, all members of Congress are bound to “Expose corruption wherever discovered.”
Whatever one may think about where Mr Obama was born – and I remain agnostic on that subject – it is blindingly obvious that his “birth certificate,” as displayed on the White House website, is a maladroit forgery.
Whatever one may think about whether Mr Obama is a wonderful president and a caring person and an excellent manager of the nation’s finances, his failure to get that bogus document investigated stinks. The failure of his staff, of all the relevant investigatory agencies, of all members of both Houses stinks. It is putrid.
And it is unwise. Governments cannot command respect if they are themselves visibly corrupt. They cannot compel compliance with the law that they so openly flout. What Cicero will come forward to fight this sad corruption of a once-great nation?
Will anyone get in touch? Does anyone still think American values of honesty and public trust are worth fighting for?
I can supply all necessary information to enable a state’s attorney general to apply to the Federal District Court for orders requiring the original documentation in Hawaii to be released to forensic investigators. Once that happens, the scam will be over. All it will take is just one public-spirited and determined citizen.
Forgive me if I don’t hold my breath and sit by the phone.