Email contributed by an AOL user, Apr. 29, 2009:
Obama Faces More Questions on Citizenship
April 1, 2009
AP - WASHINGTON D.C. - In a move certain to fuel the debate over Obama’s qualifications for the presidency, the group "Americans for Freedom of Information" has released copies of President Obama’s college transcripts from Occidental College.
Released today, the transcript indicates that Obama, under the name Barry Soetoro, received financial aid as a foreign student from Indonesia as an undergraduate at the school. The transcript was released by Occidental College in compliance with a court order in a suit brought by the group in the Superior Court of California. The transcript shows that Obama (Soetoro) applied for financial aid and was awarded a fellowship for foreign students from the Fulbright Foundation Scholarship program. To qualify, for the scholarship, a student must claim foreign citizenship. This document would seem to provide the smoking gun that many of Obama’s detractors have been seeking.
The news has created a firestorm at the White House as the release casts increasing doubt about Obama’s legitimacy and qualification to serve as president. When reached for comment in London, where he has been in meetings with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Obama smiled but refused comment on the issue. Meanwhile, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs scoffed at the report stating that this was obviously another attempt by a right-wing conservative group to discredit the president and undermine the administration’s efforts to move the country in a new direction.
Britain's Daily Mail has also carried the story in a front-page article titled, "Obama Eligibility Questioned", leading some to speculate that the story may overshadow economic issues on Obama’s first official visit to the U.K.
In a related matter, under growing pressure from several groups, Justice Antonin Scalia announced that the Supreme Court agreed on Tuesday to hear arguments concerning Obama’s legal eligibility to serve as President in a case brought by Leo Donofrio of New Jersey. This lawsuit claims Obama's dual citizenship disqualified him from serving as president. Donofrio’s case is just one of 18 suits brought by citizens demanding proof of Obama’s citizenship or qualification to serve as president.
Gary Kreep of the United States Justice Foundation has released the results of their investigation of Obama’s campaign spending. This study estimates that Obama has spent upwards of $950,000 in campaign funds in the past year with eleven law firms in 12 states for legal resources to block disclosure of any of his personal records. Mr. Kreep indicated that the investigation is still ongoing but that the final report will be provided to the U.S. attorney general, Eric Holder. Mr. Holder has refused to comment on the matter.
Analysis: Hoax. The original April 1, 2009 posting date suggests it may have been intended as an April Fools prank, but given that the text does little else but parrot actual tenets of the so-called "Birther" movement (those who claim Barack Obama is ineligible for the presidency due to a forged or invalid birth certificate, etc.), it barely qualifies as satire.
- Is it really an AP news story?
No. The Associated Press ("AP") never published such a story. It didn't run in any real newspaper, nor on any real wire service. It can, however, be found posted and reposted on hundreds of anti-Obama blogs and websites.
- Is it true that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments on Obama's citizenship and eligibility?
No. The Supreme Court has refused to hear every case challenging Obama's Constitutional eligibility submitted to date.
- Did a group called "Americans for Freedom of Information" release Obama's Occidental College transcripts?
No. The organization doesn't exist — or didn't at the time the above message first began circulating, at any rate. A similarly-named website went up after the fact, but there's no evident connection between that website and this fake news story.
- Has anyone released Obama's Occidental College transcripts?
No, the transcripts haven't been released (federal privacy laws forbid it), nor has any court of law "ordered" them released. (Source: Occidental College)
- Did Obama attend Occidental under the name "Barry Soetoro"?
No. Soetoro was the surname of his stepfather, but there's no evidence Barack Obama used it when he attended college. Fellow alumni quoted in the press remember him as "Barry Obama." According to an Occidental spokesperson quoted on FactCheck.org, the college has no records showing Obama used his stepfather's last name.
- Did Obama attend Occidental under a Fulbright Scholarship for Foreign Students?
No. According to various news sources Obama did attend on a scholarship, but it wasn't a Fulbright scholarship, let alone a Fulbright scholarship for foreign students. The Fulbright Foreign Student Program accepts Master's Degree and Ph.D. candidates only. Obama, an undergraduate, was neither. He couldn't have been awarded a Fulbright scholarship for foreign students even if he had been born outside the U.S. (Source: Fulbright Program)
- Did the Daily Mail discuss these "revelations" in a news story entitled "Obama Eligibility Questioned"?
No. No such story turns up in a search of the London newspaper's archive.
- Did Gary Kreep of the United States Justice Foundation release research showing Obama has spent $950,000 or more "to block disclosure of his personal records"?
I've found no record of any such "research" having been published. The U.S. Justice Foundation does exist and its executive director is indeed a man named Gary Kreep, but he's on record saying the above claim is a hoax.
The fact of the matter is that specific expenditures pertaining to litigation on Obama's Constitutional legitimacy aren't a matter of public record. What are a matter of public record and what have have been continually misrepresented as moneys spent fighting citizenship lawsuits are the total year-to-year legal expenditures of Obama's campaign finance committee since 2007. Anyone purporting to know what portion of those funds were spent on legitimacy cases is purely speculating.
Lastly, it's disingenuous to characterize Obama's legal expenditures on these cases as funds dispensed "to block disclosure of his personal records." While various personal records have been requested in the filings, securing their release was never the point of the litigation, which aimed to have Obama's candidacy ruled unconstitutional on a panoply of grounds.
Sources and further reading:
Has a 'Smoking Gun' Been Found to Prove Obama Was Not Born a U.S. Citizen?
Factcheck.org, 28 May 2009
Occidental College: Obama FAQs
Occidental College website
Fulbright Program for Foreign Students
Institute of International Education
Supreme Court Declines to Hear Obama Nationality Case
Washington Post, 8 December 2008
United States Justice Foundation
Website and blog