Ignoring evidence to the contrary, Wash. Times uncritically quoted claim that Obama's birth certificate has "clearly been altered"

››› ››› TOM ALLISON

The Washington Times uncritically reported a claim by Pennsylvania attorney Philip J. Berg, as stated in an ad Berg placed in the newspaper, that the birth certificate released by Barack Obama's campaign has "clearly been altered." The Times did not note that FactCheck.org reported that it has "seen, touched, examined and photographed the original birth certificate," concluding that it "meets all of the requirements from the State Department for proving U.S. citizenship," nor did it note a statement by Health Department director Chiyome Fukino that "the Hawai'i State Department of Health has Sen. Obama's original birth certificate on record in accordance with state policies and procedures."

In its December 5 article on the Supreme Court's decision to hear a lawsuit challenging Barack Obama's "right to be President based on his citizenship at birth," The Washington Times reported that Obama "tried to resolve questions over his citizenship during his campaign by circulating a copy of a 'Certification of Live Birth' from the state of Hawaii showing he was born Aug. 4, 1961, in Honolulu." The Times then wrote: " 'It's clearly been altered,' said Pennsylvania attorney Philip J. Berg in published ads that he sponsored nationwide, including in The Washington Times." However, the article's author, Tom Ramstack, did not note that, in fact, the Obama campaign reportedly provided the original document to FactCheck.org, whose staff reported in an August 21 article that they "have now seen, touched, examined and photographed the original birth certificate" and wrote that it "meets all of the requirements from the State Department for proving U.S. citizenship." Nor did Ramstack note, as Media Matters for America has noted, that the Hawaii Department of Health released a statement on October 31 by Health Department director Chiyome Fukino, in which Fukino confirmed that "the Hawai'i State Department of Health has Sen. Obama's original birth certificate on record in accordance with state policies and procedures." In addition, a Hawaii Health Department official also reportedly confirmed to PolitiFact.com that the birth certificate Obama's campaign posted on the Fight the Smears website is valid, proving he was born in the state of Hawaii.

Media Matters has also noted that the right-wing website WorldNetDaily reported in an August 23 article that a "WND investigation into Obama's birth certificate utilizing forgery experts also found the document to be authentic." The WND article further stated that "at least part of Berg's lawsuit" claiming Obama is not a natural-born citizen and, therefore, is not eligible to be president "relies on discredited claims."

Further, Ramstack reported that "Mr. Berg claims there is a tape recording from Mr. Obama's paternal grandmother in Kenya saying she attended the birth of her grandson in Mombasa," referring to an unverified audio recording of a phone conversation purportedly between Anabaptist minister Ron McRae and Sarah Hussein Obama, Barack Obama's step-grandmother, who is communicating through two translators.

David Weigel reported in a December 4 article for the online magazine Slate that McRae gave the a portion of the transcript of the call to Berg and "opted not to include the rest of the call, in which he asks the question more directly -- 'Was he born in Mombassa?' -- and the translators, finally understanding him, tell him repeatedly that the president-elect was born in Hawaii." The Chicago Tribune reported December 3: "The translator said he was one of two interpreters conducting the interview in a crowded hut during a celebration, over a speaker phone that dropped the call three times."

From the December 5 Washington Times article:

Mr. Obama tried to resolve questions over his citizenship during his campaign by circulating a copy of a "Certification of Live Birth" from the state of Hawaii showing he was born Aug. 4, 1961, in Honolulu.

"It's clearly been altered," said Pennsylvania attorney Philip J. Berg in published ads that he sponsored nationwide, including in The Washington Times. He filed one of the lawsuits to block Mr. Obama's presidency.

Mr. Berg claims there is a tape recording from Mr. Obama's paternal grandmother in Kenya saying she attended the birth of her grandson in Mombasa.

Mr. Berg also says Mr. Obama later enrolled as a student at an Indonesian school at a time only Indonesians could attend it. Mr. Obama's stepfather was Indonesian.

In October, a federal judge dismissed Mr. Berg's lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia, saying Mr. Berg lacked standing.

From the December 4 Slate article:

None of that stopped Berg from stoking the conspiracy theorists. On Oct. 16, an Anabaptist minister named Ron McRae called Sarah Hussein Obama, the president-elect's 86-year-old paternal step-grandmother, at her home in Kenya. Two translators were on the line when McRae asked if the elder Obama was "present" when the president-elect was born. One of the translators says "yes." McRae contacted Berg and gave him a partial transcript of the call with a signed affidavit. He opted not to include the rest of the call, in which he asks the question more directly-"Was he born in Mombassa?"-and the translators, finally understanding him, tell him repeatedly that the president-elect was born in Hawaii.

The Hawaiian documentation, the 1961 newspaper announcement, the phony evidence from Sarah Obama -- all of that aside, the idea that Obama wasn't born in Honolulu goes against everything we know about his rather well-documented life. Barack Obama Sr. came to America as part of a 1959 program for Kenyan students -- he did not return home until 1965, years after he left his wife and son. Ann Dunham was three months pregnant when she married Obama Sr. and 18 years old when she gave birth. There is no record of Dunham ever traveling to Kenya, much less the year after the Mau Mau rebellion ended, when she was pregnant and when she had no disposable income to speak of. "Ann's mother would have gone ballistic if her daughter had even mentioned traveling to Kenya in the final stages of pregnancy," says David Mendell, author of the biography Obama: From Promise to Power.

Reached by phone, Ron McRae doesn't claim to know when or how Dunham got to Kenya, only that she gave birth in a Third World country because "she didn't want to take a chance on that flight back" and that "everyone in Kenya" knows this. If so, they've kept it a pretty solid secret from the international reporters who've visited the country since Obama rose to prominence. But the story is good enough for Gary Kreep, the conservative head of the United States Justice Foundation, who filed suit against Obama on behalf of Alan Keyes, the unstoppable fringe candidate who was on the ballot in California on the American Independent Party ticket. "If he's got nothing to hide," says Kreep, "why not give us access?"

Network/Outlet
The Washington Times
Person
Tom Ramstack
Stories/Interests
Attacks on Barack Obama, Propaganda/Noise Machine
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