Inspector general: Even certificates in doubt because of fraud potential
By Bob Unruh
© 2010 WorldNetDaily
Birth documents such as the “Certification of Live Birth” President Obama’s campaign posted online to rebut questions about his constitutional eligibility prove very little other than that a birth happened, according to a federal report uncovered by WND.
The review of birth-certification procedures and documentation said there are too many open doors through which fraud can enter the system to rely significantly on the document. And even an original birth certificate isn’t always sufficient, the report said, because much of the fraud committed at the time of the report was by imposters using genuine documentation.
This short-form Certification of Live Birth image, which is not the same as a long-form, hospital-generated Certificate of Live Birth, was released by the Obama campaign June 2008.
The report predates by several years the controversy over Obama’s birth. The document, titled “Birth Certificate Fraud,” was done in 2000 by Inspector General June Gibbs Brown for the Department of Health and Human Services in response to questions about the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996.
However, officials with several federal agencies, including Health and Human Services and the Department of Homeland Security, told WND it appeared to be the most recent assessment of birth-certificate records and procedures available.
“A certified copy of a birth certificate is proof only that a birth occurred and was recorded,” the study reports. “For that purpose, it may be desirable that the public be allowed easy access to them.
“However, the agencies and organizations that use birth certificates as proof of identification for employment purposes, to obtain benefits or other documents (e.g., driver’s licenses, Social Security cards and passports) and to assist them in determining eligibility for public assistance and other benefits, may have concerns with how easily certified copies of birth certificates can be obtained.”
The report documents that there are more than 6,400 different jurisdictions now issuing more than 14,000 different versions of birth-certificate documents, and security features vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.
“This large number of state, county, city, township and other entities that issue birth certificates increases opportunities for fraud, theft, bribery and other methods of illegally obtaining birth certificates,” the report said.
At the same time, “technological advances” in the Internet, scanners, color printers and copiers “make it easier to obtain genuine birth certificates and create counterfeit ones.”
Further, various agencies issue “113 different types of certified copies of birth records. … Fifty-one of the 53 primary vital-records offices issue certified photocopies of actual birth records, 27 issue certified copies of computerized abstracts of birth records, 17 issue wallet-sized birth certificates/cards and 8 issue commemorative birth certificates, each with their own unique security features and signatures.
“In addition, survey respondents report that, in 20 states, local entities issue full photocopies of actual birth records, 16 states’ local entities issue certified copies from computerized abstracts, 17 states’ local entities issue wallet-sized certificates, and 4 states’ local entities can issue commemorative birth certificates.
“Agencies who rely on birth certificates as a means of establishing identity must understand the limitations of accepting a birth certificate as proof of age, citizenship or identity,” the report warned.
“For example, genuine documents obtained with counterfeit birth certificates can be used to obtain genuine birth certificates. Thus, it is inherently illogical to require someone to prove their identity using potentially fraudulent identity documents spawned by false birth certificates in order to obtain a birth certificate.”
The report also suggested that in addition to birth certificates, agencies may want to fall back on other identifying procedures, such as fingerprints or the testimony of relatives to determine identity.
The inspector-general report, which also reviewed previous studies and discovered similar concerns, documented stories of the use of fraudulent birth certificates by criminals, terrorists, drug traffickers and illegal aliens.
The report said while birth certificates originally were only proof of a birth, they now are used to document age, place of birth and identity.
“They are also used extensively for employment purposes, to obtain benefits or other documents … to assist in determining eligibility for public assistance and other benefits, to enroll children in school and as proof of age eligibility for sports and other age-restricted activities.
“However, because they were never designed to provide sole proof of identity, and because a birth certificate cannot be positively linked with an individual, their use for that purpose is questionable,” the report said.
A separate report by WND in 2009 showed birth-certificate fraud is not an anomaly.
The report documented that in 2004, following a long investigation by the FBI and State Department, Jean Anderson, the former deputy registrar of the Hudson County, N.J., Office of Vital Statistics, pleaded guilty to taking money for falsifying county records.
According to a Department of Justice news release, Anderson was paid to insert phony birth records for illegal aliens into the files at her county office. The immigrants, in turn, approached county window clerks and requested copies of their birth certificates, after which the clerks looked to the files and, upon seeing the records Anderson had inserted, issued fraudulent birth certificates unknowingly.
The recipients of the phony birth certificates weren’t seeking to become president; they were merely seeking status as American citizens.
The New Jersey case, however, has been referenced in blogs as reason for Obama to release his full, long-form birth certificate, rather than insisting the nation trust only his Hawaii Certification of Live Birth, a document that merely refers to the presence of another, unreleased document in Hawaii’s files.
If Obama was born out of the country, some skeptics of the president’s eligibility contend, his parents might have wanted to ensure his American citizenship. A payoff in Obama’s birth year of 1961 could have generated fraudulent Certifications of Live Birth ever since.
“It is deadly serious in this day and age when we have people like Anderson and her co-conspirators making it possible for anyone to present themselves as lawful U.S. citizens when they are not,” said Chris Christie in 2004, then–U.S. attorney and current New Jersey governor. “The possibilities run from the benign to the horrific.”
Officials in the White House have laughed at suggestions that the online Certification of Live Birth may not be the definitive proof of Obama’s birthplace.
More than a year ago, Les Kinsolving, WND’s correspondent at the White House, raised the question to press secretary Robert Gibbs.
“Just one question concerning what the president said in his speech on Thursday, and I quote, ‘I ran for president promising transparency, and I meant what I said. This is why, whenever possible, we will make information available to the American people so they can make informed judgments and hold us accountable.’ End of quote. Do you remember that statement?” Kinsolving said at the time.
Gibbs: “I can confirm that he said that.”
Kinsolving: “Good. In consideration of this very good promise of transparency, why can’t the president respond to the petition to requests of 400,000 American citizens by releasing a certified copy of his long-form birth certificate listing hospital … 400,000. …”
Gibbs: “Are you looking for the president’s birth certificate?”
Gibbs: “It’s on the Internet, Lester.”
Kinsolving: “No, no, no — the long form listing his hospital and physician.”
“Lester, this question in many ways continues to astound me. The state of Hawaii provided a copy with the seal of the president’s birth. I know there are apparently at least 400,000 people … that continue to doubt the existence of and the certification by the state of Hawaii of the president’s birth there, but it’s on the Internet because we put it on the Internet for each of those 400,000 to download. I certainly hope by the fourth year of our administration that we’ll have dealt with this burgeoning birth controversy,” Gibbs said.
He may not get his wish. Recent multiple polls show a growing number of people have questions about the president’s eligibility. A recent CBS–New York Times poll revealed that only 58 percent of Americans even “think” that Obama was born in this country.
And WND has reported how Hawaii law at the time of Obama’s birth would have allowed a Hawaii birth document to be issued on the application of a relative, irrespective of where Obama actually was born.
WND also has reported on dozens of legal challenges to Obama’s status as a “natural born citizen.” The Constitution, Article 2, Section 1, 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.”
Some of the lawsuits question whether he was actually born in Hawaii, as he insists. If he was born out of the country, Obama’s American mother, the suits contend, was too young at the time of his birth to confer American citizenship to her son under the law at the time.
Other challenges have focused on Obama’s citizenship through his father, a Kenyan subject to the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom at the time of his birth, thus making him a dual citizen. The cases contend the framers of the Constitution excluded dual citizens from qualifying as natural born.
A key to the defenses presented by Obama supporters always has been the “Certification of Live Birth:”
The document contrasts with an actual Hawaii birth certificate from 1963 (the same era as Obama’s birth), which while redacted includes detailed information documenting a birth, including the name of the birth hospital and the attending physician.
Long-form birth certificate from state of Hawaii (Image courtesy Philip Berg)
To date, Obama has not revealed his original long-form, hospital-generated “Certificate of Live Birth” that includes details such as the name of the medical facility and the doctor who delivered him.
Obama’s birth certificate also is not the only document at issue. WND has reported that among the documentation not yet available for Obama includes his kindergarten records, his Punahou school records, his Occidental College records, his Columbia University records, his Columbia thesis, his Harvard Law School records, his Harvard Law Review articles, his scholarly articles from the University of Chicago, his passport, his medical records, his files from his years as an Illinois state senator, his Illinois State Bar Association records, any baptism records, and his adoption records.
WND has reported no controlling legal authority ever directly addressed the question of whether Obama met the U.S. Constitution’s requirements to be president. The Constitution requires that the president be 35 years of age, a resident for at least 14 years and a “natural born citizen.”
There also have been multiple attempts at legislation that simply would require candidates to document their eligibility for the office they seek.
At the federal level is a plan by Rep. Bill Posey, R-Fla.
Posey’s H.R. 1503 states:
“To amend the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to require the principal campaign committee of a candidate for election to the office of President to include with the committee’s statement of organization a copy of the candidate’s birth certificate, together with such other documentation as may be necessary to establish that the candidate meets the qualifications for eligibility to the Office of President under the Constitution.”
The bill also provides:
“Congress finds that under … the Constitution of the United States, in order to be eligible to serve as President, an individual must be a natural born citizen of the United States who has attained the age of 35 years and has been a resident within the United States for at least 14 years.”
The sponsors’ goal is for the bill to become effective for the 2012 presidential election. The legislation now is pending in a House committee and has more than a dozen co-sponsors.