The sands have been shifting underneath Barack Obama’s Hawaiian “birth certificate” for a long time.
It was as recently as April 11 that Michael Isikoff of NBC News, after a telephone interview with Dr. Chiyome Fukino, the former director of Hawaii’s Department of Health, reported Fukino stated that Obama’s
long-form birth certificate was half typed and half handwritten.
She explained she had twice viewed Obama’s long-form birth certificate, but the description fails to line up with the document released by the White House on Wednesday, where only the signatures are handwritten and all other information was typewritten onto the document.
The varying statements about the document trace back to the first appearance of the Certification of Live Birth, or COLB, during the 2008 presidential campaign, and the description of Obama’s birth records by those claiming to have seen them, including various Hawaii public officials. They simply don’t line up with what Obama released this week.
June 12, 2008: An Obama COLB Surfaces for first time
On June 12, 2008, the Obama-partisan website DailyKos proclaimed, “Here is Obama’s birth certificate,” publishing a computer-image of Obama’s purported Certification of Live Birth, a document that quickly became known as the short-form COLB.
Here is what DailyKos.com published, with the certificate number blacked-out:
DailyKos gave no explanation as to how it came up with the document. It was only in response to comments on the site that DailyKos publisher Markos Moulitsas responded, “I asked the campaign. This ‘journamalism’ (sic) thing actually works sometimes.”
Almost immediately, as if to confirm the DailyKos document was official, Obama’s presidential campaign website, FightTheSmears.com, published the identical document, once again incorrectly identified as “Barack Obama’s Official Birth Certificate.”
The COLB, in this first appearance, had the certificate number blacked out.
Within days of the COLB appearing on these two sites, a controversy flared. Janice Okubo, public information officer for the Hawaii Department of Health, told The St. Petersburg Times in Florida that the COLB published by DailyKos.com and FightTheSmears.com appeared to lack the embossed seal and signature necessary to authenticate the document.
“I don’t know that it’s possible for us to even say beyond a doubt what the image on the site represents,” she told the newspaper.
(Israel Insider Staff, “As Obama stonewalls on uncertified birth certificate, official doubts mount,” IsraeliStreams.com, June 28, 2008, at IsraelStreams.com. The original article in The St. Petersburg Times appears to have been removed from the Internet.)
In response, Amy Hollyfield, a reporter with PolitiFact.com, a left-leaning website affiliated with The St. Petersburg Times, e-mailed to Okubo an electronic copy of a COLB in PolitiFact.com’s possession. Hollyfield, reported in an article entitled “Obama’s birth certificate: Final chapter,” that Okubo told her the document was “a valid Hawaii state birth certificate.”
The Los Angeles Times on June 16, 2008, published the Obama COLB image posted by DailyKos and FightTheSmears.com.
“The Obama campaign has provided at The Ticket’s request what it says is a copy of the Illinois senator’s official birth certificate, reproduced here, showing he was born in Hawaii on August 4, 1961, at 7:24 p.m., which means he was late for dinner, just like a politician,” political commentator Andrew Malcolm wrote in the “Top of the Ticket” blog in The Los Angeles Times.
FactCheck: We ‘Have Now Seen, Touched, Examined’
In response to a growing Internet controversy that the COLB was faked, FactCheck.org released another version of the COLB on Aug. 21, 2008, this time showing the certificate number and displaying the document with folds, in the attempt to prove the document was not simply an electronic Internet creation, but an actual paper copy of “Obama’s birth certificate.”
At this point, the effort of Obama supporters was to convince the world that the COLB was an authentic Hawaii Department of Health document and the only birth record necessary to prove Obama was born in Hawaii.
Hawaii DOH weighs in
Snopes.com, a repeated defender of Obama in the birth certificate controversy, began writing in June 2008 that Obama’s Hawaiian birth was no longer in doubt because Hawaiian officials supported the COLB as proof of Obama’s birth in Hawaii.
“In October 2008 and again in July 2009, Hawaiian officials reported that they had personally verified that Barack Obama’s original birth certificate was in the Hawaii State Department’s files,” Snopes wrote.
Continuing along these lines, FactCheck.org reported, “The director of Hawaii’s Department of Health confirmed Oct. 31 that Obama was born in Honolulu.”
In an attempt to buttress the argument, FactCheck cited Associated Press reports that Chiyome Fukino, director of the Hawaii DOH, and Alvin Onaka, registrar of vital statistics, had personally verified that the health department “holds Obama’s original birth certificate.”
But, a closer look at Fukino’s statement of October 31, 2008, makes clear that it was carefully worded to give the impression that the Department of Health possessed Obama’s “original birth certificate,” even though that is not what she actually 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 tricky part is the qualification “in accordance with state policies and procedures.”
Why didn’t Fukino just say she had seen Obama’s original birth certificate, or, even better, that she had seen Obama’s long-form hospital-generated birth certificate? Why did she need to add the qualification “in accordance with state policies and procedures?”
Note that in the third paragraph, Fukino said no state official, including Gov. Lingle, had ever instructed that Obama’s birth records be handled in a manner different from any other vital record held by the state agency.
This seems aimed at refuting WND’s claim that Lingle had sealed Obama’s birth certificate records from view. What the statement implies is that the state of Hawaii is compelled by privacy restrictions to keep birth certificate records secret from the public, possibly with the exception that some how the limited information published on the short-form COLB could yet be released without violating Hawaii statutes.
Because Fukino’s October 31, 2008, statement was so heavily qualified, questions persisted.
Eight months later, on July 27, 2009, she felt it necessary to issue a second statement.
Here it is:
This time, Fukino said she had seen “the original vital records maintained by file by the Hawaii State Department of Health verifying Barack Hussein Obama was born in Hawaii and is a natural-born citizen.”
What she did not say was what documents precisely Hawaii has in the vault. Fukino’s two statements amount to little more than, “Trust me.”
The controversy continued, without any suggestion by the Hawaii Department of Health that a long-form, hospital-generated birth certificate for Obama existed in the department’s vault records.
Enter Gov. Abercrombie
Upon taking office earlier this year, Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie asserted he would end the “birther” controversy by using the power of his office to find and make public definitive Obama birth records.
Then, in an interview with the Star Advertiser published on Jan. 18, Abercrombie said the only Obama birth records he could find was a line recording Obama’s birth on a log book held in the Department of Health vault archives.
WND reported at the time that Abercrombie’s statement implied that a long-form, hospital generated birth certificate for Obama, listing the hospital where he was born and the physician who attended the birth, did not exist.
The controversy for the Hawaiian governor deepened when radio personality Michael Evans gave repeated radio interviews claiming he had spoken with Abercrombie and the governor had admitted to him that he was unable to find in Hawaii’s vital records Obama’s long-form, hospital-generated birth certificate.
Within hours of WND’s report of the radio interviews, Evans retracted his statement, claiming he had only spoken with Abercrombie’s office, not Abercrombie himself.
Still, no long-form, hospital-generated birth certificate emerged or was acknowledged to exist by the Hawaii Department of Health.
Hawaii changes the rules
Then, as recently as last weekend, the Associated Press reported that Obama’s birth was recorded on page 1,218 of a vital records log book held by the Hawaii Department of Health, in an alphabetized last name list of children born in-state between 1960 and 1964, in an apparent attempt to document Abercrombie’s claim.
The Associated Press further reported that state privacy rules prevented the Hawaii Department of Health from releasing birth records to anyone except those with a tangible interest, such as the person named by the birth record or a close family member.
The Associated Press claimed the COLB had been released to the Obama campaign in 2008, and quoted Fukino as saying, “It is absolutely clear to me that Obama was born in Hawaii.”
By Monday and Tuesday of this week, the Hawaii Department of Health appeared to have changed rules such that only short-form COLBs would be issued, even to the person named or close family members requesting Hawaii birth records.
Hawaii officials appeared close to asserting that a long-form, hospital-generated birth certificate would not even be released to Obama himself, provided such a document existed.
Then, on Wednesday, the White House in a surprise announcement released what was represented as long-form, hospital-generated birth certificate.
No explanation was given as to why the document had been withheld by President Obama since the controversy began three years ago.
Nor was there an explanation why the online short form “Certification of Live Birth” for more than two years has been identified by the White House and a multitude of supporters as Obama’s “birth certificate,” when it clearly wasn’t, as the White House’s latest statements confirm, or the reason for the sudden abandonment of that definition now.
The obvious answer to the question “Why now?” is that pressure from Donald Trump and the much anticipated May 17 publication of WND’s book, “Where’s the Birth Certificate? The Case Barack Obama Is Not Eligible To Be President,” had begun swaying public opinion against the president to an extent that White House no longer considered tolerable.
What the record suggests is that the first real assertion by Hawaii officials that a long-form, hospital-generated birth certificate for Obama existed, with a description of the document, can be traced back to the Isikoff April 11 interview.
Yet, the document released by the White House appears to add to the information contained in the COLB only by the addition of the name of the hospital and the attending physician.
Leaving observers to wonder why would Barack Obama have fought for three years, with the assistance of expensive outside legal counsel, to prevent the release of a document containing additional information this apparently innocuous?
With the White House claiming now that the release of the new birth document ends the “birther” controversy, why wasn’t this document released in 2008 instead of the COLB?