In his book The Manchurian President, WorldNetDaily reporter Aaron Klein writes that there is "no convincing evidence that [Barack] Obama was born in Kenya." But Klein's employer has repeatedly suggested that Obama was born in Kenya and even promoted a fraudulent "Kenyan birth certificate" for Obama.
Klein: "[N]o convincing evidence that Obama was born in Kenya"
Klein and co-author Brenda J. Elliott write in The Manchurian President:
Aside from the "natural born" debate, there is the question of whether Barack Obama has ever provided documentation that proves he was born in the United States. Understandably, given the unusual and complex story of his origin, there is ample speculation that he may have been born in Kenya. However, as of this writing, the authors find no convincing evidence that Obama was born in Kenya, nor that his birthplace was any place other than Hawaii, his declared state of birth. [page 70]
But WND touted "Kenyan birth certificate" they later conceded was "probably" fake
WND: "Is this really smoking gun of Obama's Kenyan birth?" WND reported on August 2, 2009, that "Orly Taitz, who has filed a number of lawsuits demanding proof of Barack Obama's eligibility to serve as president, has released a copy of what purports to be a Kenyan certification of birth," adding that "WND was able to obtain other birth certificates from Kenya for purposes of comparison, and the form of the documents appear to be identical."
WND made no apparent effort to confirm certificate's authenticity before reporting on it. In an August 4, 2009, column, WND editor and CEO Joseph Farah wrote, "No one at WND -- not me, not Jerome Corsi, not any columnists, not any reporters -- have defended the authenticity of the Kenyan birth certificate. No one here has made a judgment that it is real. What we did was report a fact -- that California attorney Orly Taitz has filed a motion in federal court to determine its authenticity." Farah added, "In fact, if I had to bet on its authenticity, I would wager it is not. That doesn't mean it wasn't worth reporting."
WND finally conceded certificate is "probably not authentic." In an August 6, 2009, article, WND senior writer Jerome Corsi wrote, "The Kenyan birth document released by California attorney Orly Taitz is probably not authentic, according to WND's investigative operatives in Africa, though officials in Nairobi do not rule out the possibility President Obama may indeed have been born in their country." Corsi also wrote, "WND obtained several samples of Kenyan birth certificates in use around Aug. 4, 1961, the date of Obama's birth, showing differences from the Taitz document," but did not explain how that contrasts with WND's earlier statement that "WND was able to obtain other birth certificates from Kenya for purposes of comparison, and the form of the documents appear to be identical."
WND also repeatedly bolstered claims that Obama was born in Kenya
WND: "Kenyan officials affirm" Obama born in Kenya. An April 12 WND article, carrying the headline "Kenyan officials affirm: Obama 'son of this soil,' " uncritically reported: "On the floor of the Kenyan National Assembly the day after Barack Obama was elected U.S. president, members of the African country's parliament celebrated 'a Kenyan ruling the USA,' calling Obama 'a son of the soil of this country.' " WND stated that "while none of the comments made on Nov. 5, 2008, were quite so blatant in identifying Kenya as Obama's birthplace, the declarations nonetheless claimed the president-elect as a Kenyan." The previous day, WND cited a statement by Kenyan MP James Orengo: "How could a young man born here in Kenya, who is not even a native American, become the president of America?" WND claimed that there were "no other MPs mentioning or attempting to correct Orengo's comments about Obama." Farah cited these claims in stating that "it is plainly evident even prominent officials in Kenya believe Barack Obama is foreign born."
WND portrayed Michelle Obama statements as possible evidence Barack Obama was born in Kenya. In a April 5 WND article headlined "Did Michelle say Barack born in Kenya?" senior reporter Jerome Corsi wrote that "A video of Michelle Obama telling a group of homosexual-rights activists that Kenya was her husband's 'home country' went viral over the Easter weekend," adding, "Many who circulated a link to the video clip concluded the first lady was acknowledging her husband was born in Kenya and, therefore, not eligible for the Oval Office under the requirement of Article 2, Section 1 of the Constitution that the president be a 'natural born citizen.' "
Similarly, in a May 5 article headlined "See Michelle call Barack a 'Kenyan,' " WND stated that a statement by Michelle Obama calling Barack Obama "a Kenyan, a black man, a man of great statesmanship who they believe could change the fate of the world" "adds weight to another video revealed earlier in which she describe Kenya as Barack Obama's 'home country.' "
WND compiled media references to Obama being born in Kenya. An April 8 WND article highlighted a reference in a report on the National Public Radio website to Obama as "Kenyan-born." WND then cited other references on the Internet claiming Obama was born in Kenya, stating that the NPR example and Michelle Obama's "home country" statement "are far from the only ones of their kind." When NPR corrected its article after WND reported on it, an April 14 WND article stated that NPR ombudsman Alicia Shepard "declined to explain what documentation or evidence provided the reason for the change."
Klein also rejects claim that Obama's grandmother said he was born in Kenya
From The Manchurian President:
Speculation that Obama was born in Kenya was stirred by a taped telephone conversation with Obama's Kenyan grandmother, Sarah Obama, on October 16, 2008, in which she purportedly claims that Barack Obama, Jr., was born in the Kenyan coastal city of Mombasa. The Sarah Obama interview was conducted by American Chyristian minister Ron McRae, who describes himself in an affidavit for an Obama eligibility lawsuit as an overseer of the Anabaptist Chruches in North American and a "Presiding Elder on the African Presbytery."
As McRae testified in his sworn statement:
In the ensuing public conversation, I asked Ms. Obama specifically, "Were you present when your grandson was born in Kenya?" This was asked to her in translation twice, and both times she replied, "Yes! Yes she was! She was present when Obama was born."
During that conversation, however, Sarah Obama immediately clarifies that her illustrious grandson was born in Hawaii, not Kenya, and she was not present for Obama's birth.
So the entire ensuing controversy involves a brief few seconds of the conversation in which President Obama's proud grandmother appears to have said she was present in Kenya for Barack's birth. Critics point out many reasons to be skeptical of the claim, including the possibility that something was lost in the translation between an American minister who presupposed Obama was born in Kenya and an elderly African woman who reportedly knows no English. Amid cross-talk in a combination of English, Swahili, and the local Luo tribal dialect, could she have understood McRae simply to be asking where she was when Barack Obama Jr. was born? [Page 71]
But WND has repeatedly portrayed grandmother's claim as factual
WND uncritically promoted claim. WND first reported the claim on October 23, 2008, highlighting birther lawyer Philip Berg's discussion of it on Michael Savage's radio show. WND has repeated the assertion numerous times since then in news articles and columns, while ignoring evidence -- reported at least as early as December 5, 2008 -- that the claim was not true.
Corsi in video: Grandmother "questioned by the Anabaptist ministers under oath." In the WND-released video A Question of Eligibility: Is Obama's Presidency Constitutionally Legitimate? Corsi claimed that "we do have an affidavit from a living person in Kenya who says she was there" -- Sarah Obama -- adding that she was "questioned by the Anabaptist ministers under oath." In fact, there is no evidence that Sarah Obama ever filed such an affidavit, or that she was placed under any sort of legally binding "oath." Further, the Anabaptist ministers, McRae and Kweli Shuhubia, in their respective affidavits filed in Berg's lawsuit both cite only "common knowledge" and their conversation with Sarah Obama as evidence that Barack Obama was born in Kenya.
Corsi's "souces who listened to the tape" "confirmed" Sarah Obama"confess[ed] that Barack Obama was born in Kenya." In an August 24, 2009, article, Corsi stated that unnamed "critics" "point out many reasons to be skeptical of the claim, including the possibility something was lost in the translation between an American minister who presupposed Obama was born in Kenya and an elderly African woman who reportedly knows no English," adding, "Moreover, the critics argue, her interpreter immediately clarified that her famous grandson was born in Hawaii, not Kenya." Corsi then wrote:
Nevertheless, two members of Sarah Hussein Obama's Luo tribe who are fluent in the local Luo dialect, Swahlili and English told WND that after carefully listening to the tape they believe she declared Barack Obama Jr. was born in Mombasa, Kenya, and that she was present at the birth.
One of the WND sources who listened to the tape knows Sarah Obama and has met with her in her home village. The other holds a respected position in the Kenyan government.
The source who knows the grandmother declared: "I have keenly and attentively listened to the tape over and over again, and I can confirm from Sarah's own confession that Barack Obama was born in Kenya in her presence."
The source said that while Sarah Obama' voice is hard to hear on the recording, "she admits of actually having been there at his birth."
He said that while the people in the room with Sarah Obama "tried as much as they [could] to change the tone of the whole story ... to me it seems someone is coaching her from the background and seemingly trying to guide her on what to say."
The Kenyan government source agreed.
"I have listened to the tape," he said. "The preacher asked whether Barack Obama was born in Mombasa, and the translator asked the same. When she said Mombasa, it was like a surprise, and those there thought she could not have meant to say Mombasa."
The source said that at that point "they began insisting Hawaii was where Barack Obama was born."
Sarah Obama can be heard uttering "Mombasa" in response to McRae's question about where Obama was born.
Corsi also claimed that Shuhubia's affidavit "agrees with McRae's and the interpretation of the interview by WND's sources in Kenya."
Nevertheless, WND's Farah has denied he or WND ever suggested Obama was born in Kenya
Farah: "I am not making accusations about where Obama was born." In his August 6, 2009, column, Farah asserted: "Once again, I am not making accusations about where Obama was born." In fact, in columns on July 15 and July 23, 2009, Farah wrote that "the only living person in the world who claims to have been present for Obama's birth is his paternal grandmother, Sarah Obama, who says it took place in Mombasa, Kenya."
Farah: "[N]o one at WND to my knowledge has ever said Obama wasn't born in the U.S. or suggested he was born in Kenya." In a November 21, 2009, column, Farah wrote, "Of course, no one at WND to my knowledge has ever said Obama wasn't born in the U.S. or suggested he was born in Kenya."
Despite other WND divergences, Klein embraces its birther arguments about "eligibility"
Klein repeated "natural born citizen" arguments first pushed by birther lawyers. While Klein's book contradicts his employer on the issue of the country of Obama's birth, it follows the lead of WorldNetDaily and other activists by raising questions about Obama's "eligibility" to be president. As Media Matters has documented, Klein repeated arguments referenced by attorneys who have filed lawsuits questioning Obama's eligibility to be president to claim that there are "legitimate questions about Barack Obama's eligibility for the presidency, given that Obama's father was not an American citizen." In doing so, Klein ignored legal rulings and views of legal experts contradicting that view.
Klein presented Obama visit to Pakistan as possible evidence of Indonesian citizenship. In his book, Klein noted that Obama "had traveled as a college student to Pakistan in 1981, adding: "Pakistan in 1981 was under military rule, and it was difficult for U.S. citizens to obtain a visa to enter the country. At that time it would have been easier for someone to enter Pakistan on an Indonesian passport" [Page 79].
In fact, NY Times, State Dept. gave instructions in 1981 on how to enter Pakistan. A June 1981 New York Times article stated that "Tourists can obtain a free, 30-day visa (necessary for Americans)" to enter Pakistan "at border crossings and airports." Further, an August 1981 State Department travel advisory explained how Americans could obtain visas for visiting Pakistan.
Klein claimed birth certificate released by Obama campaign is not sufficient proof of Hawaiian birth. Klein wrote regarding the "certification of live birth" (COLB) released by the Obama campaign in 2008: "Some might be inclined to accept Obama's COLB as proof of his birthplace since it is a state-generated document specifying the president's place of birth as Hawaii. The fact is, however, that in 1961, the year of Obama's birth, there were multiple ways to obtain a Hawaiian COLB that would leave open the possibility of the child being born outside the state" [Page 73].
Klein: 1961 newspaper birth announcements aren't sufficient proof of Hawaiian birth. Klein wrote regarding contemporaneous birth announcements appearing in Hawaiian newspapers shortly after Obama's birth:
Two Hawaiian newspaper announcements from 1961 support the assertion of Obama's Hawaiian birth. However, both the newspapers in question, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin and the Honolulu Advertiser, simply reprint birth information they receive from Hawaii's Department of Health, meaning Obama's parents did not have to place the announcements in the papers. The only legitimate conclusion that can be gleaned from those newspaper announcements is that the State of Hawaii issued a COLB documenting Obama's birth. This we already know. Regardless, newspaper announcements, even if they had been placed at the time by Obama's parents, are hardly official proof of birth. [Page 76]
COLB, newspaper announcement, passport claims promoted by WND. In addition to contradicting his earlier claim that "no convincing evidence that Obama was born in Kenya, nor that his birthplace was any place other than Hawaii," Klein's assertions about the COLB and newspaper announcements providing insufficient proof about Obama's Hawaiian birth have both been promoted at WorldNetDaily. WND has also uncritically promoted accusations that the COLB is "criminally fraudulent." Further, the notion that Obama did not travel to Pakistan on an American passport has been promoted by WND as well.