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WorldNetDaily's Obama Birth Certificate Lies

Numerous claims have been discredited, but WND pretends they never were, deceiving its readers and making a mockery of journalism.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 7/28/2009
Updated 8/10/2009

How craven is WorldNetDaily in its lies about Barack Obama? It's trying to cash in on them.

WND, the chief promoter of the Barack Obama birth certificate conspiracy, has an entire section of its online store dedicated to shilling various tsotchkes related to it -- yard signs, postcards, etc. It's even produced a video about the issue.

The problem is that so many of the claims WND has made about Obama and his birth are highly misleading or outright lies, meaning that WND's reporting on the birth certificate simply cannot be trusted.

(That video, by the way, features some of the lead promoters of Obama falsehoods: Jerome Corsi, Orly Taitz, Alan Keyes and Janet Porter.)

Earlier this year, ConWebWatch detailed the numerous lies WND has told about Obama, including some regarding the birth certificate. Below is a list of falsehoods WND has told on the issue of Obama's birth.

The articles cited below are instances in which WND asserted or uncritically repeated others making the claim without telling the full story.

* * *

THE LIE: Obama's "certification of live birth" does not prove he was born in Hawaii because Hawaii allows people not born in Hawaii to obtain the same form.

THE LIARS: Bob Unruh, June 18, July 3, July 9, July 13, July 16, July 24; Chelsea Schilling, July 14, July 15, July 20; Drew Zahn, July 2, July 19; Joe Kovacs and Jerome Corsi, July 7; unbylined, July 13, July 16; among numerous other instances.

THE TRUTH: This claim was debunked by none other than the Western Journalism Center, co-founded by WND editor and CEO Joseph Farah. The WJC stated in a July 21 post (emphasis added):

Under Act 182 H.B. NO. 3016-82, state policies and procedures could accommodate even “children born out of State” (this is the actual language of Act 182) with an original birth certificate on record. But though Act 182 does provide children born out of state with a birth certificate it does not provide them with birth certificates that say that these children were born in Hawaii or at a specific location in Hawaii. Consequently these birth certificates cannot engender Certifications of Live Birth which state that the subject was born in Honolulu, as the purported Obama Certification of Live Birth does. So if the Obama Certification of Live Birth was not forged, it could not have been engendered by an Act 182-authorized birth certificate for “children born out of state”. And if it was forged, the false information on it was not based on anything that could be on an Act-182 authorized birth certificate. So Orly Taitz’ assertion that “Hawaii has statute 338 that allows foreign-born children of Hawaiian residents to get Hawaiian birth certificates” is irrelevant.

WND has offered no evidence whatsoever that a person not born in Hawaii was able to obtain a Hawaii "certification of live birth" stating that they were born in Hawaii.

* * *

THE LIE: Obama's mother was too young to have conferred citizenship by birth onto her son.

THE LIARS: Joseph Farah, June 15, June 17; Bob Unruh, July 3, July 4, July 9, July 9, July 11, July 13, July 16, July 20, July 24; Drew Zahn, July 19, July 24; Joe Kovacs, July 9, July 9, July 9, July 10, July 12, July 16; Chelsea Schilling, July 14; Jerome Corsi, July 12; Chelsea Schilling and Joe Kovacs, July 15; Joe Kovacs and Bob Unruh, July 13; Joe Kovacs and Jerome Corsi, July 7; unbylined, July 9, July 16, July 25; among numerous other instances.

THE TRUTH: The argument here is that federal law at the time Obama was born was that a person could be considered a "natural born citizen" if one parent was a was a citizen who had lived at least 10 years in the U.S., including five years after the age of 14. Stanley Ann Dunham was three months short of her 19th birthday when Barack Obama was born, thus missing that timeframe.

But as the Tribune Co. Washington Bureau blog The Swamp reported -- citing conservative-leaning legal blogger Eugene Volokh -- subsequent acts of Congress relaxed the requirement to five years in the U.S., including just two years after the age of 14, meaning Dunham could have been 16 and still qualified even if Obama was born in another country. Further, Congress made the law retroactive to 1952, doubly covering Obama.

The State Department, meanwhile, points out that such a parental residency requirement is an issue if the child was born abroad -- a situation that WND has not credibly demonstrated applies to Obama.

* * *

THE LIE: Obama was "at birth" a citizen of Kenya and a subject of Great Britain -- not a U.S. citizen.

THE LIAR: Joseph Farah, June 15.

THE TRUTH: Farah cited Obama's "Fight the Smears" website (site is currently offline) as evidence for this claim. The full excerpt from Fight the Smears:

“When Barack Obama Jr. was born on Aug. 4,1961, in Honolulu, Kenya was a British colony, still part of the United Kingdom’s dwindling empire. 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.

Since Sen. Obama has neither renounced his U.S. citizenship nor sworn an oath of allegiance to Kenya, his Kenyan citizenship automatically expired on Aug. 4,1982.”

Farah failed to mention that Obama automatically lost his Kenyan citizenship when he turned 21, which completely undermines his argument.

* * *

THE LIE: Obama's grandmother, Sarah Obama, said Obama was born in Kenya.

THE LIARS: In addition to previous references documented by ConWebWatch: Joseph Farah, July 15, July 23; Joe Kovacs and Jerome Corsi, July 7; Jerome Corsi, July 6; Joe Kovacs, June 10, June 10; Bob Unruh, June 15, July 9; Chelsea Schilling, June 9; Aaron Klein, May 3; Les Kinsolving, June 16; Pat Boone, June 27; unbylined, June 7, June 8, June 22, June 25, July 8.

THE TRUTH: Sarah Obama has made no such claim. According to David Wiegel at Slate:

On Oct. 16 [2008], 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.
If this lie has been so thoroughly debunked, why does WND persist in telling it? Apparently because, as Corsi detailed in a July 6 article, WND claims to have "affidavits" by McRae and one of the translators, Rev. Kweli Shuhubia, "an Anabaptist minister in Kenya, who is the official Swahili translator for the annual Anabaptist Conference in Kenya," making the claim. But those appear to fly in the face of the full interview, as conducted by another translator, Vitalis Akech Ogombe -- which McRae was present at. A transcript of that segment of the conversation, as reported by Alex Koppelman of Salon:
MCRAE: When I come in December. I would like to come by the place, the hospital, where he was born. Could you tell me where he was born? Was he born in Mombasa?

OGOMBE: No, Obama was not born in Mombasa. He was born in America.

MCRAE: Whereabouts was he born? I thought he was born in Kenya.

OGOMBE: No, he was born in America, not in Mombasa.

MCRAE: Do you know where he was born? I thought he was born in Kenya. I was going to go by and see where he was born.

OGOMBE: Hawaii. Hawaii. Sir, she says he was born in Hawaii. In the state of Hawaii, where his father was also learning, there. The state of Hawaii.

WND has never reported this part of the McRae interview on its website, nor has it ever mentioned Ogombe.

* * *

THE LIE: The birth certificate released by the Obama campaign is a forgery or otherwise not authentic.

THE LIARS: In addition to previous references documented by ConWebWatch: Bob Unruh, July 20; Pat Boone, June 27.

THE TRUTH: An August 23, 2008, WND article got it right: "A separate WND investigation into Obama's birth certificate utilizing forgery experts also found the document to be authentic." Further, reported that it has "seen, touched, examined and photographed the original birth certificate. We conclude that it meets all of the requirements from the State Department for proving U.S. citizenship. Claims that the document lacks a raised seal or a signature are false. ... Our conclusion: Obama was born in the U.S.A. just as he has always said."

Unruh's July 20 article cites the research of "Ron Polarik" in promoting the claim that the certificate is a forgery, but doesn't mention that it's a pseudonym (though Unruh has previously noted that fact) or that Polarik's research has been called into question.

* * *

THE LIE: Obama's visit to Pakistan in 1981 raises questions about whether he's an American citizen because Americans could not visit Pakistan at that time.

THE LIARS: In addition to those previously identified by ConWebWatch: Aaron Klein, July 7; Bob Unruh, April 28, May 19, May 21, May 28, May 29, June 12, June 26; Joe Kovacs, June 10, June 10; Chelsea Schilling, June 9; Joseph Farah, June 3, June 6; unbylined, June 8, June 10.

THE TRUTH: As ConWebWatch previously detailed, contrary to claims that Americans could not visit Pakistan in 1981 (and, therefore, Obama must have visited via another country's passport), a June 1981 New York Times article states that "Tourists can obtain a free, 30-day visa (necessary for Americans) at border crossings and airports," and an August 1981 State Department travel advisory explains how Americans can obtain visas for visiting Pakistan.

* * *

THE LIE: Both parents must be citizens in order for a child to be born a "natural born citizen." Obama is disqualified because his father was a British and Kenyan subject.

THE LIARS: Joseph Farah, June 16; Bob Unruh, July 11, July 20; Chelsea Schilling and Joe Kovacs, July 14, July 15; unbylined, June 7; flyer, July 24.

THE TRUTH: As has detailed, the Supreme Court has never ruled directly on the question of what "natural born citizen" means. However, the court ruled in 1898, in the case U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark, that a non-citizen's mere presence in the U.S. is enough to make their child, if born here, a natural-born citizen. WND has never told its readers about the Wong Kim Ark case.

Further, there is precedent for a president to have a non-citizen parent: Chester A. Arthur, for one. WND has never told its readers about Arthur's parentage, nor has it advocated overturning laws passed in the Arthur administration, as various WND columnists have suggested should be done if Obama is determined not to be a "natural born citizen."

WND finally admitted in an Aug. 10 article by Drew Zahn that there are "arguments over just exactly what is a 'natural born' citizen" and that "a consensus on the correct definition of 'natural born citizen' has eluded lawyers and scholars for more than 200 years." Zahn did not mention the Wong case.

* * *

While WND has proven itself to be a serial liar, it deserves credit for finally backing off one birth certificate-related lie.

In its enthusiasm to smear Obama, WND has ignored the fact, and Farah has actively denied, that it originally reported about the birth certificate in August 2008 that a "WND investigation into Obama's birth certificate utilizing forgery experts also found the document to be authentic."

But in a July 17 column -- done as an letter to Rep. Jay Inslee, who had cited that WND article in telling a constituent that Obama was, in fact, eligible to be president -- Farah finally conceded the truth, admitting for the first time to his readers: "Yes, it is true that I do not believe that document to be a forgery and WND has reported that."

On the other hand, Farah lied to Inslee in his letter: "Are you not aware that the only living person in the world claiming to be present at his birth swears it took place in Mombasa, Kenya?"

And Farah wonders why he's not taken seriously as a journalist.

(8/10/2009 Update: Added section on the claim that both parents must be citizens for a child to be a "natural born citizen.")

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