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Byron Tau misleads about Obama certificate issue (Politico)

Byron Tau is about as truthful as his Politico colleague Ben Smith, meaning not much. The latest example is provided in "Hawaii's blunders fueled birthers" (politico.com/news/stories/0411/53842_Page2.html). Why the following from the article is misleading will be explained below:

One month before the presidential election, then-state Department of Health Director Chiyome Fukino — a Republican appointee — put out a statement asserting that the state “has Sen. Obama’s original birth certificate on record in accordance with state policies and procedures.”

Upon parsing her statement closely, birthers noted that she said that the state had the certificate - not that he was a natural-born citizen. This interpretation was fueled by the false rumor that Hawaii, at the time of Obama's birth, issued birth certificates to foreign nationals.

Tau makes it sound like it would have been impossible for Obama to both have an "original birth certificate on record [in Hawaii]" and have been born outside the U.S. That's not the case [1].

In fact, Obama could have an "original birth certificate on record [in Hawaii]" and have been born outside the U.S. if he'd taken advantage of Hawaii Revised Statutes S. 338-17.8. That law allows those born in other states or other countries to get valid Hawaiian birth certificates.

Does the fact that that law was passed in 1982 exonerate Byron Tau? No, because the law was clearly meant to be retroactive. The law referred to those born in the "Territory" of Hawaii, an entity that had dissolved in 1959. It was open to use by those born before 1982, whether when Hawaii was a state or a territory.

On a minor note, it was nine months between statements by Chiyome Fukino, not eight as Tau states.

On a less minor note, Tau discusses Hawaii's "Birther bill" without knowing, disclosing, or caring that it covered all requests for state information, not just those relating to the "Birther" issue. It used to be that reporters cared about attempts to limmit government transparency, but backing up Obama is a much higher priority for them.

Contact @ByronTau with your thoughts.

[1] The above focuses on 338-17.8, but there's also a famous example of Hawaii issuing a "Certificate of Hawaii Birth" to someone who was born outside Hawaii. Sun Yat-sen was actually born in China but was able to obtain "proof" he was born in Hawaii (image: link).

Other tags: obama citizenship

Thu, 04/28/2011 - 13:32 · Importance: 4