Saturday, October 25, 2008

Obama: a natural-born U.S. citizen?

I learned about this story two days ago, from a Czech online newspaper, The Invisible Dog. At the beginning, the idea that Barack Obama was not constitutionally eligible to become the U.S. president sounded completely insane to me. Hasn't anyone among 300 million people noticed for 4+ years?

However, I soon realized that people don't really want to find problems that are inconvenient for them and many others are afraid to find any problems because they could become politically incorrect or "racist" in the eyes of the first group. These are circumstances in which the classic Emperor's new clothes may emerge in megalomanic proportions.

Back to 1961

Ann Dunham, a U.S. citizen, and Barack Obama Sr, a citizen of Kenya, married in February 1961 when she determined that she was pregnant. They only divorced a few years later. Now, the rules for Acquisition of U.S. Citizenship By a Child Born Abroad say the following thing about the situation:
Birth Abroad to One Citizen and One Alien Parent in Wedlock: A child born abroad to one U.S. citizen parent and one alien parent acquires U.S. citizenship at birth under Section 301(g) INA provided the citizen parent was physically present in the U.S. for the time period required by the law applicable at the time of the child's birth. (For birth on or after November 14, 1986, a period of five years physical presence, two after the age of fourteen is required. For birth between December 24, 1952 and November 13, 1986, a period of ten years, five after the age of fourteen are required for physical presence in the U.S. to transmit U.S. citizenship to the child.)
Now, 1961 obviously fits to the 1952-1986 interval so the last sentence in the parentheses is relevant. Because Ann Dunham was less than 14+5=19 years old, she wouldn't satisfy the requirement if the birth took place in Kenya and Barack Obama Jr wouldn't be born as a U.S. citizen.

Where was he born?

Fine. So the question whether he was born in Hawaii or Kenya is constitutionally important. His black grandmother in Kenya and half-siblings apparently believe that they were physically present during the birth in Kenya. It seems that they have indirectly convinced most of Africa about this point. See e.g. these African newspapers that celebrate a Kenya-born U.S. president.

It is likely that both grandmothers, the black one in Kenya and the white one in Hawaii, know the correct answer.

Philip Berg's lawsuit

Philip Berg, a somewhat important Pennsylvanian Democratic lawyer, filed a lawsuit. See all 27 documents filed in this case so far. Replace "27" by any number between 1 and 27 (or higher, a hint for the future). Don't forget that none of these documents so far has been signed by the judge, Clinton apointee Robert Barclay Surrick, Pennsylvania's Don Quixote. Berg demands the court to eliminate Obama from the ballots. Obama's and DNC's lawyers want the lawsuit to be dismissed, claiming that Berg has no standing because he won't be personally injured by Obama's promotion.

Their belief that the judge will accept their interpretation of these technicalities was probably the only way how they can win because if the lawsuit were not dismissed, they would have already lost by default: by not replying for 30 days to the specific accusations, they legally admit that they are true.
Fresh update: Judge decided that Berg had no standing as his claims of a harm were too vague: the articles of the constitution cannot be enforced and slowly become a piece of joke in a banana-like republic; see the 34-page ruling; Berg is filing an appeal to the Supreme Court as soon as possible
Even though Philip Berg is a truther, he seems to be a very sophisticated lawyer and the exchanges between him and Obama's lawyers are clearly exchanges between peers. At any rate, this technical argument of a lack of standing is clearly unsustainable. If Obama becomes the president, he will influence the life of many people much less "vaguely" than Berg's life and the unlucky ones (e.g. the GOP people he will fire) will surely have standing to argue that their harm only occurred because the constitutional law will have been violated by his nomination.

In June, Obama has released a short-form birth certificate. There have been doubts about its veracity. For example, you can easily download a blank template for this form and people at DailyKos have been creating a lot of forgeries that are almost indistinguishable from Obama's proposed short form.

But I became kind of convinced that FactCheck.ORG is right and the short form is authentic. Note that this short form was printed a year ago or so: it is surely not the original historical document. Moreover, the races of the parents in this form, Caucasian and African, sound very bizarre. In the early 1960s, the correct names of the races were almost certainly White and Negro. Check any other birth certificate from the early 1960s. The postmodern, geographic, uncolorful, politically correct terminology exploded later, in the late 1960s.

However, there also exists a long form (and its copies) birth certificate which looks like this one and which has much more information in it. In his own book, "Dreams of My Father" (1995, page 26), Obama says that he used to entertain himself by reading his own birth certificate when he was a teenager. He refuses to publish it or even to show it to authorities. No one knows why because this would be a trivial way to stop this bubbling problem for his campaign.

And yes, I am also surprised by his recent visit to Hawaii that he delayed by several days even though it was justified by his grave-ill grandmother. It is bizarre. There are many important papers such as the birth certificate in Hawaii and his relatives probably know too many things about the circumstances of Obama's birth - and they don't know what Barack Obama wants them to say to the journalists and others.

Berg's scenario

Philip Berg claims that Ann Dunham visited Kenya in 1961 but in the late stages of pregnancy, she was no longer allowed to fly back to Hawaii - which sounds rather plausible to me. So she gave the birth in Kenya - a place she disliked for its sexism and racism. A few days later, the family could fly to Hawaii and register the baby over there. This sounds plausible to me, too, because there are clear advantages of being born as a U.S. citizen that pretty much all fresh cosmopolitan parents realize. (The baby was surely registered in Hawaii and local newspapers listed him, too. But that doesn't mean he was really born there.)

I vehemently disagree that it is an unlikely conspiracy theory to think that Ann Dunham tried to do her best to assure that Barack would be born as a U.S. citizen "on paper": she didn't even have to know that Barack would run for president in order to know that it is better for him to be a U.S. citizen. Millions of parents in a similar situation realize it, too.

The short-form certificate may only show some registration information about the birth. But there should still exist the full, long form that shows the actual birth place. I find it obvious that with a dozen of lawsuits about this topic, a responsible authority should check this long form that surely exists.

FactCheck.ORG claims that as a kid, Obama had both Kenyan and U.S. citizenship - and briefly became the U.K. citizen before Kenya gained independence. This subtlety is controversial by itself because the spirit of the U.S. constitution is that the president should feel no other affiliation or obligation to a foreign country. But there's no direct, sharp contradiction here.


After some time, Ann Dunhan married again. It seems plausible to me that the stepfather had to adopt Barack Obama (as Barry Soetoro) who therefore became an Indonesian citizen. At that time, U.S./Indonesian dual citizenship was not possible so Barack had to lose the U.S. citizenship even if he had one before.

Afterwards, he either had to go through INS and become a naturalized U.S. citizen or he would currently be an illegal alien in the U.S. Now, I am not quite sure whether the categories of "naturalized U.S. citizen" and "natural-born U.S. citizen" are mutually exclusive. If he were born in Honolulu, he could have become a natural-born U.S. citizen but the later naturalization could change him into a naturalized citizen. Not sure about the priority here. But I think he would still have to go through naturalization after his Indonesian adventures.

There seem to be no traces of this naturalization either. I suspect that when Ann Dunham - an apparent American - returned to the U.S., no one was even investigating the question whether she was a U.S. citizen. Of course she was, they thought. And the kid was automatically treated in the same way.

Even if you believe Obama's official explanations, there are still way too many questions that he hasn't even tried to address here and I suspect that he must have a damn good reason to avoid them. He also hides the documents from the college etc. Now, the population may be insufficiently mature to swallow some additional problematic things written in all these documents. But if there is nothing genuinely morally bad about them, Obama should realize that he is the person most vigorously protected by the media and others - in the history of America - and he should release all these documents, at least to some authorities.

For example, if the real father of Barack Obama is Frank Marshall Davis, a communist poet who was Barack Obama's spiritual father at the age of 10 or so, Obama shouldn't be afraid to publish this fact. Because of Davis' U.S. citizenship, it would also guarantee that Barack was natural-born regardless of the place of birth. And yes, I do think that Davis is more similar to Barack Obama Jr than Obama Sr. What do you think?

One more comment. I must tell you that I am pretty upset that after 10 years of constant harassment with the (four) U.S. visas I had to get during the time, each of which required half a year of uncertainty and insanely recurrent bureaucracy, no one seems to ask a top presidential candidate about his very place of birth - one of only three conditions dictated by the constitution - just because he became a kind of Führer, especially among the far-left people. This is about double standards of unprecedented proportions.


  1. Handled right, the Fed District Court throwing out Berg for lack of standing can present a political check-mate “win” on appeal for the anti-Obama side (if not in law, in the Court of Public Opinion). Here’s how: SIMPLY SPREAD AROUND OBAMA’S APPELLATE BRIEF HAVING TO ARGUE AGAINST AN AMERICAN VOTER’S RIGHT TO RAISE THE QUESTION UNDER THE CONSTITUTION. Should be a PR disaster for the Dems and Obama!!!

  2. Reposted from another site:


    See david gilmore

    Barack Obama was born in Hawaii on August 4, 1961, making him a natural-born citizen of the United States. Hawaii’s certification of live birth proves this,

    Wouldn’t it be nice if we had a contemporaneous corroboration of Obama’s Hawaii birth? As it happens, we do — provided by another PUMA who wanted to find ways to disqualify Obama. Lori Starfelt found this in the archives of the Honolulu Advertiser in a print copy from August 1961:

    It reads;

    Mr and Mrs Barack H. Obama 6085 Klanianele Hw. son Aug.4.

    Unless people want to start claiming that the conspiracy to have Barack Obama infiltrate the political system started at the moment of his birth, that’s pretty conclusive evidence that Obama was born in the US and is a natural-born citizen.

    I already know some of the rebuttals that will fly through the comments, so let me address them here:

    A court is hearing this case, so it must be serious — Any fool with a lawyer and a couple of hundred dollars can file a lawsuit. That’s one of the reasons why tort reform is so badly needed. Frivolous lawsuits cost consumers billions of dollars. Conservatives used to make that argument, at least until Phillip Berg filed this lawsuit.

    Why isn’t Obama answering the lawsuit? — Maybe because it’s ridiculous, and Berg has no standing to file it anyway.

    Why not produce the birth certificate? — Obama has … twice now, once on his website and once to Fact Check.

    Well, then, why didn’t he produce it sooner, smart guy? — Sooner than what? This came up at the end of the primaries, and the Obama campaign produced it within a couple of weeks. So far, that hasn’t done much to quell the conspiracy theories.

    Why not produce the original birth certificate? — Most people, I’d wager, don’t have their own original birth certificate. If you applied to get your records, in most states you’d get what Obama has - a certification of live birth spit out from a computer system. I doubt Hawaii has the original record any longer, either. The certification proves citizenship well enough to get a passport.
    “It’s a valid Hawaii state birth certificate,” spokesman Janice Okubo for the Hawaii State Department of Health

    Why don't you write or call her yourself/

    Communications Office

    Director: Janice Okubo
    Phone:(808) 586-4442,
    Fax:(808) 586-4444
    1250 Punchbowl Street Room 326
    Honolulu, HI 96813

    Most people, I’d wager, don’t have their own original birth certificate. If you applied to get your records, in most states you’d get what Obama has - a certification of live birth spit out from a computer system. I doubt Hawaii has the original record any longer, either. The certification proves citizenship well enough to get a passport

  3. The sample certificate you posted uses "Caucasian"....

  4. Fine, agreed. Still, the key word is "African". Also, the official "Caucasian" certificate is 1963. I challenge you to find a certificate from 1961 or earlier with an "African race".

  5. As can be read in this site

    an American citizen does not automatically loses his/her US citizenship upon acquiring citizenship from another country. Basically the State Dept's presumption is that the US citizen intends to remain a US citizen. For loss of citizenship the citizen in question must declare his/her intention of renouncing US citizenship. This is independent of any dual citizenship agreements between the USA and the other country.


  6. All this has now been ruled on by a court in Virginia, which found no evidence that Obama was born in Kenya and good evidence that he was born in Hawaii. (See:

    After Berg, several other cases against Obama on the natural born citizen issue were brought in other states.

    While most of them just did what the Berg case did, which was to rule that Berg had no standing to sue, some of the others looked at the “evidence” - and concluded that the stuff was absurd.

    In Ohio, for example the judge (magistrate) said:

    “(Neal) presented no witnesses but himself. From that testimony, it is abundantly clear that the allegations in [Neal]’s complaint concerning “questions” about Senator Obama’s status as a “natural born citizen” are derived from Internet sources, the accuracy of which has not been demonstrated to either Defendant Brunner or this Magistrate … Given the paucity of evidence… this Magistrate cannot conclude that Defendant Brunner has abused her discretion in failing to launch an investigation into Senator Obama’s qualifications to hold the office of President of the United States. ” See:

    In Virginia, which was just ruled on Monday, the judge went further and said that the certificate of live birth was good proof that Obama was born in Hawaii, and there was NO proof presented that he was born anywhere else.

    Here is a report from a web posting that is not official, of course, but it seems accurate mainly because the fellow who posted it was AGAINST Obama. He is disappointed, but accepts the ruling. You can find this post at : (

    (Note that sometimes the author correctly puts COLB correctly and sometimes he types it as CLOB, but he means certificate of live birth throughout.)


    The Court made the following findings:

    1. The Certification of Live Birth presented to the court is unquestionably authentic.

    The court noted that the certification had a raised seal from the state of Hawaii, had a stamp bearing the signature of the registrar of vital statistics. The court found “wholly unpersuasive” any of the internet claims that the birth certificate was altered in any way. Furthermore, the document itself was accompanied by an affidavit from the State Health Director (of Hawaii) verifying that the document is an authentic certification of live birth. The court held that there could be no doubt that the document was authentic unless one believed that the state of Hawaii’s health department were in on an elaborate and complex conspiracy – and that there is not a shred of evidence that this is the case.

    2. The Certification of Live Birth establishes that Mr. Obama is a natural born citizen.

    The affidavit of the State Health Director states that the information on the CLOB is identical to the information on the “vault” copy of the birth certificate, and that both documents establish that Mr. Obama was born in Honolulu. The Court noted that the CLOB is valid for all citizenship purposes. The court noted our argument that the COLB is not valid for determining citizenship, but referred us to Hawaiian law that states otherwise. “There is no difference between a certificate and a certification of live birth in the eyes of the state. For instance, either can be used to confirm U.S. citizenship to obtain a passport or state ID.” The court found that Hawaiian law makes the COLB valid for all purposes with the exception of determining native Hawaiian heritage for certain state and federal benefits. The court held that if Mr. Obama were born elsewhere and the birth registered in Hawaii, the “place of birth” line on the COLB would reflect that fact. The court stated that there could be no doubt that Mr. Obama was born in Hawaii and that any argument to the contrary was fanciful and relied on completely unsubstantiated internet rumors.

    3. For that reason, 8 U.S.C. §1401(g), which at the relevant time provided as follows:

    “The following shall be nationals and citizens of the United States at birth: ***(g) a person born outside the geographical limits of the United States and its outlying possessions of parents one of whom is an alien, and the other a citizen of the United States who, prior to the birth of such person, was physically present in the United States or its outlying possessions for a period or periods totaling not less than ten years, at least five of which were after attaining the age of fourteen years:…..
    is irrelevant to this matter, as Mr. Obama was conclusively born in Hawaii.

    4. Mr. Obama did hold dual citizenship in the U.S. and Kenya until he became an adult. When Barack Obama Jr. was born Kenya was a British colony. As a Kenyan native, Barack Obama Sr. was a British subject whose citizenship status was governed by The British Nationality Act of 1948. That same act governed the status of Obama Sr.’s children: “British Nationality Act of 1948 (Part II, Section 5): Subject to the provisions of this section, a person born after the commencement of this Act shall be a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies by descent if his father is a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies at the time of the birth.” In other words, at the time of his birth, Barack Obama Jr. was both a U.S. citizen (by virtue of being born in Hawaii) and a citizen of the United Kingdom by virtue of being born to a father who was a citizen of the UK. Obama’s UK citizenship became an Kenyan citizenship on Dec. 12, 1963, when Kenya formally gained its independence from the United Kingdom. The court noted that Chapter VI, Section 87 of the Kenyan Constitution specifies that:

    1. Every person who, having been born in Kenya, is on 11th December, 1963 a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies or a British protected person shall become a citizen of Kenya on 12th December, 1963…

    2. Every person who, having been born outside Kenya, is on 11th December, 1963 a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies or a British protected person shall, if his father becomes, or would but for his death have become, a citizen of Kenya by virtue of subsection (1), become a citizen of Kenya on 12th December, 1963.
    Thus the court held that as a citizen of the UK who was born in Kenya, Obama’s father automatically received Kenyan citizenship via subsection (1). So given that Obama qualified for citizen of the UK status at birth and given that Obama’s father became a Kenyan citizen via subsection (1), thus Obama did in fact have Kenyan citizenship in 1963.

    However, the court further held that the Kenyan Constitution prohibits dual citizenship for adults. Kenya recognizes dual citizenship for children, but Kenya’s Constitution specifies that at age 21, Kenyan citizens who possesses citizenship in more than one country automatically lose their Kenyan citizenship unless they formally renounce any non-Kenyan citizenship and swear an oath of allegiance to Kenya. The court held that there was no evidence that Mr. Obama has ever renounced his U.S. citizenship or sworn an oath of allegiance to Kenya, his Kenyan citizenship automatically expired on Aug. 4, 1982.

    The court held that there was no legal requirement that Mr. Obama renounce his Kenyan citizenship or affirm his U.S. citizenship in order to maintain his status as a natural born citizen.

    5. Mr. Obama did not lose his U.S. Citizenship based on the acts of his parents, including adoption by an Indonesian citizen. The Court held that no action taken by the parents of an American child can strip that child of his citizenship. The court cited to the 1952 Immigration & Nationality Act, Title III, Chapter 3, Sections 349 and 355, which was in effect in the late 1960s when Obama went to Indonesia, and which stated that a minor does not lose his US citizenship upon the naturalization of his parents or any other actions of his parents, so long as the minor returns to the US and establishes permanent US residency before the age of 21. Thus the adoption of Obama did not serve to strip him of his U.S. citizenship. The fact that Indonesian law does not allow dual citizenship is irrelevant, as U.S. law controls. Furthermore, the Court held that traveling on a foreign passport does not strip an American of his citizenship. The Court noted first that there was no evidence that Mr. Obama traveled on an Indonesian passport (Mr. Berg and others we reached out to for evidence never provided any evidence of this claim or any other of the claims we could have used some proof of.) Nonetheless, the court held that such travel does not divest an American of his citizenship.

    The Court makes other holdings and findings that I won’t bother you with here. Needless to say, the decision is wholly against us. The court finds the claims against Mr. Obama’s citizenship “wholly unpersuasive and bordering on the frivolous, especially in light of the complete absence of any first-hand evidence on any critical issue” and further classifies it as “conspiracy theory of the lowest sort, fueled by nothing than internet rumor and those who truly want to believe egging each other on.”

    I like the part about “conspiracy theory of the lowest sort.”

    Repeat: “The court held that if Mr. Obama were born elsewhere and the birth registered in Hawaii, the “place of birth” line on the COLB would reflect that fact. The court stated that there could be no doubt that Mr. Obama was born in Hawaii and that any argument to the contrary was fanciful and relied on completely unsubstantiated internet rumors.”

  7. If my almost 80 year old father can get a copy of his long form birth certificate showing what hospital he was born in then I'm sure someone half his age should have no problems. Where there's this much smoke there's bound to be a fire.