A stunning challenge has been issued in the argument over Barack Obama's eligibility to be president, and it comes from a lead investigator for Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Maricopa County, Ariz.
Arpaio's team of volunteer professional law enforcement officers and attorneys concluded after a six-month investigation that there is probable cause that forgery and fraud were committed in the process through which Obama released a "Certificate of Live Birth" image at the White House last year.
Arpaio has assured those interested that the investigation is continuing and earlier suggested that the appropriate avenue might be for Congress to begin an investigation.
The challenge came from lead investigator Mike Zullo, who was interviewed by the CBS Channel 5 affiliate in Phoenix. Reporter Heather Moore pointed out that it was Zullo's name and face that was being attached to the investigative report, and she asked how comfortable was he making the allegations.
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"Very comfortable," he said, citing experts the investigators consulted during their 2,200 hours of work. "You can build the document. You can't do that if you scan [a document],"
NOTE: In case you missed the news conference of Sheriff Joe Arpaio's "Cold Case Posse," you can view it here.
Then she asks what he would say to "naysayers" who claim the allegations are just a bunch of "B.S."
"Prove it," he said. "We did."
He added, "We proved our point. That document's created."
Specifically, he said the image that was released by Obama never was an original hard copy that was scanned, as the White House described. It was instead, he said, an idea created in a computer.
The CBS affiliate report already has had more than half a million views, meaning that the response the station got from the White House on the issue, a reference to a year-old statement by Obama that such issues are "side shows," may not be sufficient much longer.
Arpaio, at his original news conference announcing the results, said he was not accusing Obama of any crime.
But he said the evidence uncovered shows "violations of the law. We're investigating those crimes."
At that time, the posse confirmed it has identified at least one person of interest in the alleged forgery of Obama's birth certificate.
In fact, Zullo reported, "We have identified the computer manufacturer, [and] where that document resided 20 minutes before it was uploaded onto the White House website."
The issue of Obama's birth certificate centers on his eligibility to be president, since the Constitution requires that a president be a "natural-born citizen."
The term is not defined in the Constitution, but at the time the document was written, many experts believe it referred to the offspring of two citizens of the country. Some critics say the place of birth is irrelevant, since Obama has written that Barack Obama Sr., his father, never was a U.S. citizen.
The posse also said evidence suggests the Hawaii Department of Health has engaged in a systematic effort to hide from public inspection any original 1961 birth records it may have in its possession.
Arpaio launched the investigation at the request of 250 of his constituents. He assigned it to independent volunteers so that taxpayers would bear none of the costs of the investigation.