An examination of rumors alleging that Barack Obama's birth certificate is either a forgery or an invalid 'short-form' computer print-out which fails to establish his status as a U.S. citizen.
- Update: On April 27, 2011, the White House released a certified copy of Obama's original ("long-form") birth record.
THE SAGA OF Barack Obama's birth certificate is tortuous and ironic. It began with the June 2008 release of a scanned image of candidate Obama's state-issued Certification of Live Birth to quell rumors speculating that his religious affiliation and/or country of origin might be other than what he claimed. Partisan scuttlebutt had it that Obama's middle name was really "Mohammed," for example — which, if true, would lend support to rumblings that he had grown up a Muslim — and that he was actually born in Kenya, not the United States — which of course would mean he's not a natural-born citizen and therefore ineligible for the presidency.
The scanned Certification of Live Birth refuted both of those claims, yet somehow only managed to ignite further controversy.
First, it was labeled a forgery. Anonymous Internet "experts" claimed they were able to detect anomalies in the image that proved it couldn't possibly be authentic.
When that failed to fly, the document was assailed for being a "short-form" computer print-out as opposed to an original, hospital-issued "long-form" birth record. A cry went up for the release of Obama's "real" birth certificate, which conspiracy theorists now claimed was being "suppressed" (or "sealed") by the state of Hawaii because of potentially explosive information it might contain.
Six months into his presidency and fully a year after the Certification of Live Birth was first posted online, a small but increasingly vocal minority was still demanding to know why President Obama "refuses" to show his birth certificate.
The appropriate response is that he has already done so. The document released in 2008 is a valid Hawaii birth certificate, vetted by multiple sources including state officials, and constitutes legally sufficient proof that Barack Hussein Obama was born on U.S. soil on August 4, 1961.
Let's examine some of the arguments to the contrary:
CLAIM: The scanned Certification of Live Birth released by Obama is a forgery.
Personal message from a reader dated Dec. 10, 2008:
I am part of a citizen action group against LIES, BIAS and DISCRIMINATION in the media reporting, We will be taking part in lawsuits against biased media or those who fail to report the truth and evidence on matters involving the FACT that Obama is NOT eligible for office based on the FACTS that he FORGED his birth record and was NOT born the the United States!STATUS: FALSE. "It's a valid Hawaii state birth certificate," stated Hawaii Department of Health spokesperson Janice Okubo when queried by the St. Petersburg Times' PolitiFact.com website in June 2008. In addition, the actual physical document was scrutinized and photographed by researchers at FactCheck.org (see hi-res images), who determined that it was in fact duly signed, sealed, and certified by the Hawaii state registrar, and "meets all of the requirements from the State Department for proving U.S. citizenship."
• Obama's Birth Certificate: Final Chapter. Politifact.com, July 2009
• Born in the U.S.A. FactCheck.org, 1 Nov 2008
CLAIM: As distinguished from a "long-form" Certificate of Live Birth, the "short-form" Certification of Live Birth issued by Hawaii and posted online by the Obama campaign isn't a "real" or "valid" birth certificate.
Personal message from a reader dated Oct. 28, 2008:
[T]he Obama campaign did finally present a document which they claimed validated his eligibility (per the Constitution of the United States, Article II, Section I) as a "Natural born citizen" to have his name on the ballot in contention for the office of the President of the United States of America. However, contrary to what the few media outlets who are giving this outrageous claim any attention at all have concurred, what the Obama campaign supplied was not, in fact, a "birth certificate". What they supplied was actually a "Certificate of Live Birth." There is a major difference between a "birth certificate" and a "Certificate of Live Birth." Aside from the level of detail differentiating the documents (hospital of record, doctor, height, weight, etc) - in the state of Hawaii, one authenticates natural born citizenship, and the other doesn't.STATUS: FALSE. According to both the Hawaii state government website and a June 6, 2009 article in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, the computer-generated Certification of Live Birth is the only kind of birth record now issued by the state (original records are stored electronically), so the distinction between "short-form" and "long-form" is moot. When a citizen of Hawaii requests a certified copy of his or her birth certificate from the state, a Certification of Live Birth — what people are calling the "short-form," and what Obama released to the public — is what they get. According to Hawaii Health Department spokesperson Janice Okubo, a COLB contains "all the information needed by all federal government agencies for transactions requiring a birth certificate."
• Born Identity. Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 6 June 2009
• HI Officials Confirm Obama's Original Birth Certificate Still Exists. Honolulu Advertiser, 28 July 2009
• Applying for Hawaiian Home Lands. Hawaii.gov, 2009