Part 2: Allegations, Experts, and a Mystery Revealed
We learned that those claims were not able to survive the light of reality. But we were also left with a two-part Mystery, which they brought up.
Why is it possible to line up certain words — specifically, “Honolulu,” “Oahu,” and “Oahu” — from Barack Obama’s birth certificate, and Johanna Ah’Nee’s, almost perfectly? And why are the angles on the date stamps as similar as they are?
But before we solve our Mystery, let’s be sure we’ve done justice to Arpaio’s final press conference. After all, this was their Grand “Forgery” Finale.
In order to do that, there are two things we should comment on.
1. Zullo made several other allegations of “proof of forgery” during their final press conference. And,
2. Arpaio and Zullo claim to have real experts — “on two different continents” — who back up their conclusions.
So while the “9 Points of Forgery” are their major claims, they also have a couple of backup plans.
A second and third parachute, if you will, since the first one didn’t open.
Arpaio & Zullo’s Other Claims
Zullo claimed seven other things as “proof of forgery” in their Grand Finale conference. It’s easy to address these, because almost all of these claims have been debunked before.
Zullo says they acquired a Xerox office machine of the type Obama’s birth certificate was scanned on, and they were unable to exactly reproduce all of the effects in Obama’s PDF file.
That’s odd. Bloggers Reality Check and nbc were able to reproduce virtually every “anomaly” that birthers complained about just by taking a Xerox copier/ scanner, scanning an imperfect replica of Obama’s birth certificate to email using the default settings, and then opening it in Preview and rotating it 180 degrees — because someone put it on the copier upside down.
That’s it. That’s all that was needed. Scan, rotate, and save.
Aside from that, why on earth would Arpaio & Zullo ever expect to “exactly” reproduce every single effect?
In order to do that, they would have to have:
- the exact same machine
- in the same state of wear
- running the exact same software version
- with the exact same bulb brightness and color cast
- with the exact same smudges and stray debris on the copier glass
- scanning the exact same document
- in the exact same position.
The only one of these they even claim to have had is the exact same software version.
But how do they know what software version was loaded onto the White House machine?
They don’t. They can’t. Theoretically, it could’ve been the software version that was current in April 2011, or any earlier version of the same software — because software isn’t always kept up to date. Not even in the federal government.
So all of this is like an investigative team saying:
“We’re crack detectives. And we really want to believe that Mr. Boddy was shot from 15 feet across the conservatory, using the revolver. And he did indeed have a gaping bullet hole in his chest. But we stood up a crash-test dummy, and no matter how many times our guy shot the damn thing, he could never hit the exact same spot where Mr. Boddy was hit.”
“We couldn’t get the same blood splatter, either. And what’s more, we could never get the dummy to fall on the floor with its arms and legs in the exact same position as Mr. Boddy’s, and with the same grimace on its face.”
“We therefore conclude that Miss Scarlet killed Mr. Boddy in the kitchen with a candlestick.”
Aside from that, where was all of their desire to exactly reproduce every detail when they claimed that items were “copied” from Johanna Ah’Nee’s certificate onto Obama’s?
Zullo claimed that a couple of obscure grey bits hidden under a clipping mask (which was like a border or frame for the PDF image) are “pencil marks.”
These appear at the far right of the image, and Zullo correctly notes that they are not visible in the Savannah Guthrie photo.
This had been brought up long before their press conference. And it’s easily explained by smudges or stray debris on the copier glass.
Do you know of any busy office environment with a high-use scanner/ copier that’s totally free of such things? If you do, call me. I’d like to see it.
In fact, the grey areas along the edge don’t really even look like pencil marks. They look more like… smudges and/ or debris. You can see actual pencil marks — or, at least, a copy of a copy of them from the original long form — to the left. In the image above, they’re numbers used for counting statistics: 9, 9, 1.
And where on the copier glass do you most often tend to find smudges that miss getting cleaned off, and bits of debris? Right. Along the edges.
Zullo notes a “lack of metadata” in Obama’s PDF.
“Metadata” is information about the document itself. If a photo contains the date and time it was shot, for example, that’s metadata. In computer files, it can also mean things like what program was used to create the file.
And a lack of original metadata is precisely what you get when you open an image in Preview (the PDF viewing program on Mac OSX computers), rotate it, and save it again. Because Preview overwrites the original metadata.
Halos around the letters.
Blogger “Reality Check” had no difficulty reproducing halos around the letters using a Xerox scanner/ copier.
An allegation that the document started as a PDF file, was printed out, and then rescanned.
Where’s the evidence? With zero evidence, anybody can allege anything. The lack of evidence makes this a baseless accusation (more about those shortly).
I actually published a far more comprehensive (and more coherent) discussion of the PDF and the other three images in my book, months before Arpaio’s investigation began, and five years before this press conference.
That discussion was 18 pages long, and it showed that the AP and Guthrie images all but ruled out any theory that the image in Obama’s PDF had been significantly tampered with.
Why? Because they’re clearly different images of the same object, because these other images can’t possibly have come from the PDF, and because they all show the same thing.
Zullo says Hawaii validated the information, rather than the PDF file.
For the love of Mike.
The Hawaii Department of Health people are not public PDF examiners, provided at the courtesy of the State.
When they validate the information, that’s an official statement of, “Our official records confirm that Barack Obama was born in Honolulu on August 4, 1961.”
And of course, that’s exactly what they’re supposed to do.
That’s their job, and it’s exactly what they did. They’ve said again and again that they have the original birth documentation that confirms that Barack Obama was born in Honolulu.
All of that said, they did go further than that, by posting a link to the White House PDF, and noting, “On April 27, 2011 President Barack Obama posted a certified copy of his original Certificate of Live Birth.”
So they said it about every way possible. But according to Arpaio and Zullo, if they didn’t say, “Cross my heart and hope to die,” it doesn’t count.
So much for Zullo’s seven other claims.
In review, the “9 Points of Forgery” parachute has failed. The second, “But All This Other Stuff…” parachute has now failed as well. They only have one parachute left.
What About The Hired Experts That Arpaio & Zullo Quoted?
Here’s the strange thing about that:
Experts produce reports that detail and illustrate their findings. Those reports also explain exactly what they did, the results they got, and their conclusions — in detail.
Obviously, if those reports are well done and solidly back up your claims, then you’re going to want to release them to the public so that some actual proof — not just from a short video produced by Mark Gillar, but straight from your experts — is out there and people can see for themselves.
And when you’re making a big, BIG allegation — such as claiming that the birth certificate of the President of the United States is “100% a forgery” — people are really going to want to see those expert reports.
So where are the reports?
One of the two experts they quote, Reed Hayes, was hired by Arpaio way back in 2012. More than seven years later, Arpaio & Zullo have refused to ever let his report see the light of day.
Hayes has at least made a few public comments that amount to — my paraphrase, not a quote — “I produced an extensive report for Mike Zullo. Because he paid for it and owns it, I can’t say very much. Please ask Mr. Zullo instead. I will say that the PDF file looks really, really suspicious to me. However, I have never seen any original paper document, and I’m not able to declare anything with absolute, 100% certainty.”
Well, that would seem a bit less clear cut than the dramatic retelling by Zullo.
As for FORLAB, the group way over in Italy that Arpaio and Zullo hired? Here’s all the direct information we’ve ever been able to hear from those guys:
This lack of expert reports is not what you put forth when you have the experts really backing you up.
Could it be that those buried reports aren’t as strong as what Arpaio and Zullo were claiming?
A second issue here — at least in the case of Reed Hayes — is whether he was the right expert for this particular job.
I’ve actually spoken to Mr. Hayes on the phone. He sounds like an honest and professional individual. I have no doubt that he knows his business when it comes to handwriting analysis, which is his main specialty. He has decades of experience and has written at least half a dozen books on the topic.
However, he did confirm to me that the internal workings of computer graphics files are outside of his specialty. He has no experience with them.
And that would seem to be rather important in this case.
So… What About the Many Careful Analysts that Arpaio & Zullo Didn’t Quote?
All of the above caused me to wonder, in fact, whether Mike Zullo could possibly have set out to deliberately find an expert in a related field just distant enough that he perhaps wouldn’t look at some of the computer-related things in Obama’s birth certificate and say, “Well, that’s due to computer image optimization.”
Why might I ever suspect Zullo of expert-shopping like this? Well, in spite of Arpaio & Zullo’s repeated insistence that they only ever wanted to “clear the document” and find it genuine, they’ve made an entire career of dismissing and ignoring literally everyone who could have helped them do just that.
Instead, they have found and promoted just about anyone they could who would declare the birth certificate a “forgery.”
I was one of those that they brushed off and ignored, but I was far from the only one.
When Sheriff Arpaio first announced an investigation into Obama’s birth certificate, I contacted the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office. I offered them my assistance as the only person in the world ever to spend more than 500 hours carefully and meticulously examining every aspect of Obama’s birth certificate, honestly exploring every available theory of forgery, and writing a 221-page book about it.
Almost 9 years later, I’m still waiting to hear back from Sheriff Joe and his “Cold Case Posse.”
They did, however, mention me in their second press conference — just in passing, and in such a way as to sound as if they had considered everything I had to say and were able to safely dismiss it.
All without ever talking to me, even once.
Who else did they brush off? Well, for starters, up to and during their first two press conferences, Jerome Corsi was an integral part of Arpaio’s team. And World Net Daily, the publication Corsi works for, had already hired the following three experts to examine Obama’s PDF file.
- Jim Pex of International Forensic Experts LLC
- Jon Berryhill, of Berryhill Computer Forensics
- Ivan Zatkovich, of eComputer Consultants (report here)
None of them found it to be a “forgery.”
Aaron Klein of World Net Daily (“WND”) described these men as “some of the nation’s foremost forensic graphic analysts” when he revealed their names on his radio show on May 1, 2011 (sound clip below, edited to condense Klein’s comments).
To Klein’s credit, he also publicly admits that even though they noted the image had been changed in some way — “very likely enhanced so that we can better read it” — none of them found any evidence of forgery. Klein adds, “I believe that this document is absolutely real. There is no evidence that it is not.”
Arpaio and his team were clearly monitoring the extensive online debate. They therefore could not have missed the other highly-credentialed experts who had given opinions that there was, in fact, nothing particularly suspicious about the “anomalies” in Obama’s birth certificate.
- Dr. Neal Krawetz, security expert, expert on faked images, and forensic software author (see here and here)
- Ken Colburn, of Data Doctors Computer Services & Data Forensics Labs
- Professor Ricardo de Queiroz, former research scientist for Xerox and multiple patent holder for methods of compression technology similar to that which produced most if not all of the “anomalies” in Obama’s PDF
- Nathan Goulding, Chief Technology Officer for National Review
- Jean Claude Tremblay, an expert in Adobe’s PDF technology
And there were others, perhaps a bit less recognized, who had done careful, irrefutable and often very extensive work as well:
- Kevin Davidson, who spent an entire career working “for and with local, state and federal government agencies, primarily dealing with health care and vital records data systems.”
- “Reality Check,” a blogger and internet talk radio host who chose not to reveal his real name in order to avoid interference with his day job. He verified that a Xerox WorkCentre produces a file virtually identical to Obama’s PDF if you simply scan a similar document to email using the default settings.
- Frank Arduini, an IT executive who refuted Mara Zebest’s first report.
The list of such people is long.
Arpaio and Zullo never made any of these a part of their investigative team, or produced any of their reports.
Based on the actions of Arpaio and Zullo, I personally can’t find any way to conclude anything other than that they ignored or dismissed every possible expert who might “clear the document,” and latched on to every possible expert they could find who might declare it a forgery, or even “suspicious.”
They did this even when they had to use people who didn’t have especially relevant expertise or credentials.
- Mara Zebest was one of their quoted experts — but her main skills were in Photoshop. However, Photoshop wasn’t used to produce the birth certificate. And Zebest demonstrated an ability to come up with the wrong answers, even in dealing with basic computer graphics — as in this rather stunning case. She did, however, produce artistic, beautifully formatted reports.
- Garrett Papit was a genuine computer professional, but one who went beyond the bounds of his knowledge. How do we know this? It was illustrated when he proclaimed that the kind of image optimization used in Obama’s birth certificate only ever produces a single 1-bit transparent text layer. That idea was quickly shot down by world-class expert Professor Ricardo de Queiroz, who actually invented a lot of the technology in question, and who holds at least half a dozen patents on it.
- Tim Selaty, Jr. was another of Arpaio’s experts — when he was approximately 22 years old. (As I said at the time, you might easily wonder: Why, exactly, was Arpaio’s Posse relying on a 22 year old for an “expert opinion” regarding the birth certificate of the President of the United States?)
By the way, they selectively quoted Selaty, but never showed his report, which seemed in conflict with some of their other claims… such as the claim that the birth certificate was hand-constructed.
So the testimony of those they quoted wasn’t even consistent. And yet it was those they relied on, and not on others.
Does anybody see any kind of pattern here?
And guess what? As far as I can tell, every claim of “proof of forgery” from every report that Arpaio’s “Cold Case Posse” officially published or promoted, and from all three of their press conferences, has been shown to be baseless or false by at least one of the analysts whose work they never, ever presented.
And the work of those critics runs into the hundreds of pages.
Their third parachute — the “Experts Back Us Up” parachute — has therefore failed, and all of their claims come crashing to the ground.
Oddly, Arpaio and Zullo refused to take even one single question at the end of their final press conference.
So it was really less of a press conference, and more of a press-invited information dump. Regardless, I’m sure all of us can agree with the now-former Sheriff Arpaio in his closing point:
Presidents should be vented.
Okay, I Promised You a Second Jaw-Dropper.
Here it is.
The day after the press conference, Mike Zullo admitted in an internet radio interview (at 1:35:38) that — instead of the Obama PDF being simply a hand-created forgery, as they had previously so loudly claimed — the image was created by a Xerox WorkCentre 7655, just as their critics had said:
“We took the tax returns from President Obama in 2011, we took the birth certificate that was released in 2011, and I had the forensics team over in Italy decipher the metadata that was actually in the tax return — that does have metadata — and we compared the quantization tables in both documents, and they actually did determine that it was indeed a 7655 copier that created both of those images. So now we knew there was a 7655 involved.”
No wonder we’ve never seen the report from FORLAB over in Italy.
That wasn’t misspoken. Just a month ago, over 3 years after their final press conference, their team member and video guy Mark Gillar admitted on Twitter:
I really couldn’t put it much better than a commenter to this blog:
“So the layers came from a Xerox 7655 except for the ones that were copied from the Ah’Nee certificate? Really? That’s ridiculous.”
Yes. It is.
They had previously claimed — through Mara Zebest’s “expert report” — that “this computer generated image never started out as a paper source document and was never scanned in as described by the White House—it was digitally created and manufactured.”
“We could get really close, within one layer of the Obama certificate, but we could never get it to pull over the same information that it did off the Obama certificate. And the other thing that we couldn’t do is the haloing around the letters. The 7655 does have an ability to create haloing, but it’s not the same haloing that’s around the Obama certificate.”
That’s how close even they got to duplicating Mr. Boddy’s murder using their crash-test dummy (see the previous analogy above).
Now compare this very quiet admission with what Zullo had said publicly the day before, that they were motivated and committed to do (time stamp: 34:38 in the press conference video):
“This is about the truth. And there were a couple of times, I went to the sheriff and I said, ‘You know, Sheriff, we may find out that we’re wrong on this.’ First thing out of his mouth — ‘Well, we’re holding a press conference, we’re gonna tell the world we were wrong.’ You’re right we are.”
And yet here they were, holding their big press conference, and they never said one single word about having been wrong about their previous claims.
Their Theory Is Baseless.
If you want to go down their rabbit-hole, here’s the theory: That someone – and it would have to have been somebody inside the Hawaii Department of Health – went through and took a bunch of different 1961 birth certificates, including Johanna Ah’Nee’s, and copied elements from those to create Obama’s birth certificate.
It’s a nice theory. And like all such theories, it has the benefit of being something that is very difficult to thoroughly, absolutely, 100% disprove.
The problem is: There’s no real evidence for it whatsoever, and every bit of credible evidence in existence contradicts it.
This is what’s known as a baseless allegation.
Here are a couple of others.
“Mike Zullo is secretly a Communist. This is well known, and he has never bothered to deny it. He’s made many trips to Cuba in the 1990s, and had a romance with a niece of Ricardo Alarcón, the third most powerful Cuban official, until she threw him out of her apartment.”
Now this might not be true – but it’s been alleged… and can Zullo disprove it? Hmm?
And if he isn’t a Communist… well, why doesn’t he publicly come right out and say so?
As a lot of the birthers were fond of saying: “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire!”
Let’s try another one:
“Joe Arpaio is the Zodiac Killer, who was never caught. It’s pretty obvious… Arizona is right next door to California, and Arpaio understands police procedures, so he knows how to get away. AND he was the absolute right age – around 35 years old at the time of the Zodiac killings.”
We even have REAL photographic proof for this one!!
Just take away the wrinkles and imagine a younger Arpaio. Thirty-five years old, and on the prowl…
Look. Those same eyes. Those glasses. And he even has the exact same expression on his face!
All of this is nonsense, of course.
And that’s the entire point.
Just like they have zero credible evidence of a forgery, I have no good evidence whatsoever that Mike Zullo is a Communist, or that he dated Ricardo Alcarón’s niece, or that Joe Arpaio was the Zodiac killer.
Of course, unlike them, I haven’t yet conducted a five-year investigation into the matter, so I certainly can’t say with absolute, 100% certainty that such evidence doesn’t exist…
And it does make you wonder, doesn’t it?
Especially those glasses…
Anyway, I wonder how Arpaio would feel if some sheriff somewhere launched a nationally-promoted five-year-long investigation into whether he was the Zodiac killer…
I’m guessing not quite as great as he feels about the birth certificate investigation?
If you make your baseless accusations sensational, so as to catch the imagination, and especially if some people really dislike the person who’s the object of the accusation, they can really catch fire. And they’re hard to 100% disprove. “Was Joe Arpaio really the Zodiac killer? We may never know…”
But they’re nonsense. They’re BS. And we do nobody, and certainly not ourselves, any favors by believing them.
Even if we don’t like the accused or want to try and harm them politically. And it doesn’t really matter whether the baseless accusations are made against Barack Obama or Joe Arpaio.
Because every time we entertain such a baseless accusation, and every time we spread it, every time we hit the “Share” button on Facebook and pass such nonsense on, we degrade our public discourse.
Because baseless, 99% of the time, is really just another word for false.
And every time we personally believe baseless accusations, we show ourselves to be gullible. And we also reward those who are well-meaning but incompetent with the truth, as well as all of the shady little grifters who deliberately push such rumors for their own unscrupulous gain.
So We’ve Seen Some Incompetence on the Part of Arpaio’s Team. But Is There Also Anything That They Might Have to Gain from Baseless Claims of “Forgery?”
Is there any reason Joe Arpaio might have to push a false narrative?
Well, yes, it appears that there are millions of potential reasons.
At one point in the film, Arpaio is discussing the Obama birth certificate “investigation” with his 2012 reelection campaign manager, Chad Willems, who tells him it makes him look like a nut.
“There ain’t gonna be no damage control,” Arpaio responds. “You’ll get more money [in campaign contributions] than you’ll know what to do with.”
Later in the documentary, Willems confirms this:
“Now, with Arpaio going to battle with Barack Obama, it’s meant literally millions of dollars for his campaign.”
How did Arpaio “go to battle with Barack Obama?” Partly on immigration, but perhaps most famously by accusing Mr. Obama of having a fake birth certificate.
Both of those things helped popularize him. His 2008 campaign cost $610,000, which is a lot of money to raise.
But in 2012, he raised and spent $8.2 million.
So what changed between 2008 and 2012, to give him an extra $7.6 million in donations? Undoubtedly, he gained some additional fame for his illegal immigration stance.
But he also launched his baseless crusade about President Obama’s birth certificate, holding two high-profile press conferences in March and July of that election year.
In 2016, he raised a whopping $12.8 million.
And as much as 80% of his 2012 campaign funds came from out of state.
It was the same story in 2016.
If you do just a little math — going from $610,000 per election cycle to what he raised later — you’ll see that during the 2012 and 2016 cycles, he raised in total nearly $20 million more than you might have expected based on his earlier total.
And most of this has come from people not just outside of Maricopa County, but outside of Arizona.
How much of this $20 million or so is due to publicity from his bogus investigation of Barack Obama’s birth certificate? It’s difficult to say, but however you cut it, it has to add up to millions.
And I haven’t even counted the money Arpaio’s raised for his legal defense fund — when he was on trial for criminal contempt of court — or for his failed 2018 Senate bid. Nor have I attempted to count money raised and spent on his behalf by outside political action committees (PACs).
This year — 2020 — Arpaio is running to try and recapture his old office as Sheriff of Maricopa County. To date, he’s raised far more than the current Sheriff who replaced him in 2016 — and once again, with about 7 out of every 8 of his larger donations coming from out of state.
This bogus investigation hasn’t just been a cash cow for Arpaio.
It’s been a whole damn dairy.
And that, I think, is all we need to say about Arpaio, his Cold Case Posse, and their “forgery” claims.
But before we conclude, I promised we would solve the final puzzle that they raised.
The Mystery Solved; the Murderer Revealed At Last!
The detective has gathered all of the suspects in the drawing room.
He twirls his mustache, and begins.
The Mystery before us, my friends, is: Why do certain words line up almost perfectly when you do a transparent overlay of Obama’s birth certificate, and Johanna Ah’Nee’s — if they were not copied from one certificate to the other?
Ah, but a closer look shows that it is not so simple at all. If that were the solution, then all of the other fields on both certificates — or at least almost all of them — would have lined up as well. And as you can see from an inspection of the above image, they do not.
We can therefore eliminate our first suspect: It was not due to tab stops.
I spoke about this the other day with a friend who has followed the birth certificate debates closely. He put forth the theory that only those three fields had been typed using tab stops. But again, if you examine the overlay, this makes no sense at all. Why those fields only? If the typist used tab stops for those fields, then why not the other “Honolulu” and the “Honolulu, Hawaii” as well?
No, this will never do. We can therefore eliminate this second suspect, that of only three tab stops, as well.
“But surely,” my friend protested, “those words were often used — they were preprinted on the form!”
Ah, but no. For there was only one form for the birth certificates in Hawaii. It would have been expensive and unnecessary to print up a special one for just those births in Honolulu. And in any event, we have already seen that those particular words, on both certificates, have in fact been typewritten — and when you overlay them, one over the other, the specific letters do not exactly match.
Our third suspect — preprinted forms — had not the opportunity, and is not the murderer.
It is here that we begin to feel that sense of being stumped that any good Mystery provides. If none of our three suspects killed our Mr. Boddy, then who did?
And it was here that I realized that I needed to approach this problem in a more careful and systematic way.
It may be useful, for comparison, to have all of our known Hawaii birth certificates of the era available to us. Of these, there are nine. They include the certificates (in order below) of Obama, Ah’Nee, the two Nordyke twins, Edith Coats, Bruce Henderson, a boy named Alan, an anonymous boy from 1959, and the ragged but quite readable certificate of James Gravely, Jr. You may click on any of these for a large view.
Who Prepared the Birth Forms?
We might start by asking: Where were the Obama and Ah’Nee certificates prepared? The information on them tells us that these two certificates were processed in the same Registrar’s office — and by the same Registrar — Ms. Verna K L Lee.
But were they typed there? It is not likely. No, they had to have been typed earlier, and by someone with the birth information – else they could not have been signed on a previous date. Another certificate bears a signature nine days before the Registrar’s stamp.
The original long form contains the signatures of both a parent (in both cases, the mother) and of the birth attendant.
In Ah’Nee’s case, this was Dr. Noboru Ogami, who died at age 87 some five days before Obama’s birth certificate PDF was uploaded to the White House web site. And so, he missed this drama entirely. The birthers would undoubtedly have made something of his death — but in any situation with a large number of facts, there are a few things that simply, by sheer chance, coincide. It is mathematically inevitable. Perhaps the greater miracle is that he almost lived to see it. But he was not Obama’s birth doctor, in any event, although he was at the same hospital.
In Obama’s case, the physician was Dr. David Sinclair, who passed away in 2003, at the slightly younger age of 81.
But here is what is significant: In all nine birth certificates from the era, the certificate appears to have been signed first by the parent, then by the birth attendant, and then processed by the Registrar.
Five births took place at Kapiolani. These include Obama’s and Ah’Nee’s. And in every instance of a Kapiolani birth, the birth certificate was processed by the Registrar the same day it was signed by the birth attendant.
I do not know precisely where the Registrar’s office was in 1961 and 1962. I do know that Kapiolani was in the same place it is now. And today, it is only about five minutes from one to the other.
But no matter. Obviously, they were close. Perhaps someone at Kapiolani made it a standard practice to obtain signatures from all the available birth attendants in the morning, and then took all signed and ready certificates to the Registrar, where they were processed in the afternoon.
But before each certificate was signed by the birth attendant, it was signed by the parent. In every instance but two, this took place on an earlier day. In the case of Edith Coats, born at Wahiawa, some 20 miles away from Honolulu, and in the case of Alan, born at Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu, the parent and birth attendant signed on the same day.
Two or three parents of the eight in total — the Nordyke sisters were twins, remember? — signed their certificates on the day of birth. Those were perhaps easy births, and one of those was Johanna Ah’Nee. One parent is known to have signed a day later. For Eleanor Nordyke, mother of the twins, it was two days. And in Obama’s case, and two others, the parent signed three days after birth.
But before the parent signed the certificate, there had to be something to sign.
And we have another clue as to how these certificates were processed. The “g” in the word “August” is quite different on Bruce Henderson’s certificate, processed by the Registrar less than a month after Obama’s, and only a week after Ah’Nee’s. This indicates a different typewriter was used.
We may reasonably conclude, therefore, that the original, long birth forms were prepared — typed up — by a nurse or administrator at the hospital of birth.
In all of 1961, a total of 14,874 children were born in Honolulu, or about 40 per day. We know from our certificates that some babies were born at the Kaiser, Kuakini and Tripler medical centers, and a quick Google search turns up a book on the Queen’s Medical Center written by a man who was born there in 1961. So expectant mothers had at least five hospitals to choose from.
Kapiolani seems to have been the most popular hospital in Honolulu. But even if they had 20 births per day, they would not have required a terribly large department to process. If entering the information takes 15 minutes — perhaps a generous estimate — even 20 births per day would represent five person-hours of work at the typewriter.
Possibly there was a single typewriter on which all Kapiolani birth certificates were typed. It seems more likely, however, that there were two or three machines of the same model. At a minimum, there ought to have been at least two, in case one broke down.
In either case — whether the same machine, or the same model — both the spacing and the font would have been the same.
This, of course, is why you can overlay a word such as “Honolulu” from both certificates, and the images fit.
And “Honolulu” and “Oahu” on both certificates can be lined up if they happen to be the same number of spaces apart.
The Mystery, then is why these words — and not others — happen to be the same number of spaces apart.
If you overlay either the Obama certificate, or the Ah’Nee certificate, with one from the Nordyke twins — or in fact, with any of the other seven birth certificates — you will not see this effect.
What is it that is so different — in a sense, so special — about Barack Obama’s birth certificate, and Johanna Ah’Nee’s?
It is almost as if these two particular certificates of birth, prepared some 16 days apart, have some secret… connection… one with the other.
You see it in the words “Honolulu”… “Oahu”… “Oahu.” But oddly, you also see it in the date stamps. Oddly, because the date stamps had to have been applied in a different office from where it was typed.
To explore the possibility of this mysterious connection, I knew I had to dig deeper. I started by lining up the typing on both certificates — and I also created a grid that would further inform me about the relative placement of each letter. Note that I have lined the two forms up as close as they can get — while still snapping the letters into place.
And just as before, Honolulu, Oahu, and Oahu line up.
The grid will allow us to look at the relative placement of every single item of information on these two certificates. (You can get a greatly enlarged view of the image below by clicking to open the full image in another window, and then clicking again to maximize the image.)
There are 30 pieces of information on the form that are filled in that aren’t check boxes. Check boxes, of course, have to be marked in the same place, so there is no need for us to consider their alignment.
Of these, I previously discovered that the Sex, Month, and Day items on Obama’s form had to have been filled in as a separate line on Obama’s form. After that, the form had been either removed entirely and fed back into the typewriter, or the platen was released and the form readjusted. The giveaway is that these fields — all on one line — do not line up with anything else. (For a full discussion of this, see pages 193-200 of my book.)
So — as with the check boxes — we can’t compare the alignment of those as apples to apples.
And it’s obvious that the typist had to make a special adjustment to cram in the mixed-race descriptions of Johanna’s Ah’Nee’s parents. Johanna also has three middle names, not one, which required a big adjustment as well.
This leaves us with 24 remaining apples-to-apples fields that we can compare as to their placement.
At this point, I made a list — of where the beginning of the word for the newborn Obama child falls, in relation to the corresponding word on Ah’Nee’s certificate:
First name – 2 spaces past
Last Name – 2 spaces before
Year – 1 space before
Time – 1 space before
Honolulu – aligned
Oahu – aligned
Kapiolani – 1 space past
Honolulu – 1 space before
Oahu – aligned
Honolulu, Hawaii – 1 space past
Street address – 1 space before
Father first name – aligned
Father middle name – 1 space past
Father last name – 1 space past
Age of Father – 1 space past
Father birthplace – 4 spaces before
Usual Occupation – aligned
Kind of Business or Industry – aligned
Mother First Name – 1 space past
Mother Middle Name – 3 spaces past
Mother Maiden Name – 2 spaces before
Age of Mother – aligned
Mother Birthplace – 1 space before
Occupation – 2 spaces past
When we total these, we see:
4 spaces before: *
3 spaces before:
2 spaces before: **
1 space before: *****
1 space past: ******
2 spaces past: **
3 spaces past: *
And now let’s turn this sideways for a comparison (with the “aligned” events in red):
And now the picture emerges.
It is striking. Do you see what I see? There’s a very clear and definite pattern here.
This is what in statistics is called a “normal distribution.” (Well, technically, it’s a binomial distribution — but for practical purposes, the two are almost the same.)
I’m sure you’ve seen the same kind of curve before in a chart.
This type of distribution is precisely what you get when events cluster around the same point — but with a certain degree of random chance.
The most common event of all is that the same items on both certificates landed in the same space. They align. This is true not only of “Honolulu,” “Oahu,” and “Oahu,” but of other fields as well.
The times of birth. The first name of the father. His occupation and type of business. The age of the mother.
We do not notice them because — unlike “Honolulu,” “Oahu,” and “Oahu,” they contain different information. And yet, they are just as much aligned.
The second most common event is that the fields landed within one space of each other. Five times, Obama’s came first, and six times, Ah’Nee’s came first.
In the third most common case, they landed within two spaces of each other.
And in only a couple of instances, they landed 3 or 4 spaces apart.
Always, Obama’s was just about as likely to come first as Ah’Nee’s.
The only item that even seems to be an outlier — a full four spaces early — is Obama’s father’s place of birth.
But is it, really? Or is it simply that the typist allowed extra room for “Kenya, East Africa,” not quite knowing how much room it was going to take?
In this normal curve, we see the element of random chance. But we also noted that random chance has to cluster around the same point. The typed fields on the two certificates had to be aimed at the precise same place.
And why would they have been aimed at the precise same place?
Because both certificates were typed by the same person.
A person who had typed many of these certificates before.
And this person knew that if she — whether administrative assistant or maternity nurse, the typist would surely have been female — started the word “Honolulu” near the end of the word “Rural” on the form, it would be almost perfectly centered in the box.
She knew that beginning the word “Oahu” under the tail-end of “Year,” and the second “Honolulu” approximately under the colon in the line above, and “Oahu” near the end of “Island” would produce the same centering effect.
And she was a stickler for detail. She wanted her certificates to look just right.
And so we see on both certificates, the touch of an artist — who would no doubt be gratified to know that one of those carefully-typed, meticulously-centered newborn-baby birth certificates that she had prepared on an August day of 1961 would one day belong…
To the President of the United States.
Is it possible to be wrong about this? Of course. We do not have a video camera that will allow us to go back in time and see for sure.
But what are the chances? In order for our theory to be wrong, it would require two different people, on a very small staff of individuals who typed up long-form birth certificates at Kapiolani, to have prepared them in almost precisely the same way.
And this would require both of those persons to have had enough experience in doing so to get the items of information well-centered in almost every field.
If either one of those had a tendency to place items a bit off center, either to the left or the right, we would see a tendency for one of the certificates — either Obama’s, or Ah’Nee’s — to have its items come first. And this, we do not see.
So we would have to have two typists who consistently place things in almost exactly the same place.
That this does not seem likely is shown by the other seven certificates we have. Not one of them shows the same kind of skill at centering, or the same consistency, as the Obama and Ah’Nee certificates do.
Most of the typists — those who typed for Edith Coats, Bruce Henderson, and the ragged 1961 certificate — placed the majority of items at the beginning of the box. The typist who did the two Nordyke certificates, and the typist for the 1959 one, were rather random.
And what leads me to believe that the same typist typed both of the twins’ certificates?
If you will examine the six instances of the word “Honolulu” on the twins’ certificates, you will see that in at least two out of the three occurrences on each one, the second “o” appears to be lightly struck — an effect which you will see nowhere on any other certificate. And all nine certificates contain the word “Honolulu.”
We are left now with only the second and much smaller part of the Mystery.
The Angles of the Date Stamps
We have seen that the date stamps in the Obama and Ah’Nee certificates are similarly — though not quite identically — angled.
If we look at all of our certificates, we will see that the birth certificate person at Kapiolani wasn’t the only person who showed some consistency. Six of our nine certificates are signed by Registrar Verna K. L. Lee.
And of the 12 date stamps on these certificates, the most leftward tilted stamp of all doesn’t vary from the most rightward-tilted stamp by more than some five degrees in total. Most of the stamps, of course, are closer than that.
Not one of them transgresses the words at the top of the box or the line at bottom by very much, and seven out of the twelve don’t touch either the words or the line.
This was consistency, and especially in the angle, which in every instance is within just two or three degrees of level with the line of the form.
It is possible that a seventh certificate — Alan’s, with the Local Registrar signature blacked out, but the Local Registrar was obviously a military officer — may have been stamped by Ms. Lee as the Registrar General as well. The Registrar General date stamp is almost perfectly level, and is cleanly within the box. Of course, we cannot say for sure.
In all cases except for Alan’s, it appears that the Local Registrar and the Registrar General were the same. The similarity of the stamps is a clue. Not only are they always the same date; they always even seem to have about the same level of ink, and the stamping style on each certificate is similar.
Compare the stamps with the Lee signature with the ones placed on the Nordyke twins’ certificates, signed by Deputy Registrar Beatrice L. Ygnacio, shown at bottom above. Of the four Ygnacio stamps, three are either more sharply angled, or cross the bottom line. The Lee stamps are careful; the Ygnacio ones are haphazard.
And so, Johanna — it appears that you have something else in common with President Obama, besides being born in the same hospital, only 19 days apart.
Not only does it appear that the same hand that prepared the President’s birth certificate also prepared yours, both yours and his were also processed — as were most Hawaii birth certificates, it seems — by Verna K. Lee as Registrar.
And now you know.
A Final Word
Before beginning this article, I had thought that probably everything that might be known about Barack Obama’s birth certificate had been discovered. It turns out there was one more little hidden gem buried in the mists of history.
When I began my own personal investigation of Obama’s birth certificate in April of 2011, I was under the belief that while it was possible to show that allegations of forgery were baseless or false, it would probably never be possible to look at a few images of the certificate from the internet and render a judgment that the original was real.
While strictly speaking, this still must be the case, I will go on record as saying publicly, for the first time, that I personally am completely convinced that Barack Obama was born in Honolulu on August 4, 1961, and that the long-form birth certificate whose secondhand images we have seen is entirely and absolutely authentic.
My reasons for this are that not only do we have the testimony of the State of Hawaii — including officials from both major parties — and not only do we have a great mountain of other evidence that Obama was indeed born in Hawaii, but it is inconceivable to me that this document could pass all of the scrutiny it has gone through if it were not utterly genuine.
When you consider the large numbers of people who have spent so many hours considering its contents, it is undoubtedly, by far, the most-examined one-page document in human history.
And there are so many little things that point toward authenticity.
When this document was uploaded to the White House web site, for example, it already contained every subtle clue that would eventually lead us, nine years later, to conclude that it had almost certainly been typed by the same person who typed the birth certificate of Johanna Ah’Nee.
And yet, that certificate, in April of 2011, was safely locked in Johanna’s filing cabinet, and would not become known to the public, through the chance of a friend who happened to know an interested writer, for almost another five months.
So many times in the past, when I investigated something that someone claimed to be a problem, I ended up finding one or more other little details that whispered instead, “I am genuine.”
And this time also — this last time — that has turned out to be the case.
Update: After writing this, I acquired images of two new certificates: those of Vince Ebata and Brian Hoekstra. All evidence in these certificates is fully in harmony with, and further supports, the conclusions reached in this article. A brief discussion is here.