janice okubo: Page 1
At the Alfred E. Smith Dinner - a political roast featuring our wonderful political establishment - Barack Obama made a joke about his middle name being "Steve" .
HI AG Mark Bennett "reviewed and approved" Fukino 7/27 statement ("natural born citizen") - 10/01/09
On July 27, Chiyome Fukino of the Hawaii Department of Health released a statement in which she said that Obama was born in Hawaii. One of the curious things about the statement (at the link) is that she claimed to have verified that "Obama... is a natural-born American citizen". She's not a legal scholar and thus wouldn't seem to be qualified to make that determination. But, now it turns out that her statement was approved by Hawaii's Attorney General, a Republican named Mark Bennett.
The statement was reviewed and approved by our Attorney General Mark Bennett. I am unable to provide further comment.
In the past, I've considered filing FOIA-style requests for information about this issue using Hawaii's Uniform Information Practices Act (UIPA, state.hi.us/oip/uipa.html). If the analysis at the link is correct, then Hawaii must release whatever they used to arrive at the determination that Obama is a "natural-born American citizen", and that may include correspondence between various parties. Of course, that doesn't mean they'll release anything or that the analysis is correct or that they won't try to claim exceptions under the 92F-13 section at the last page. The link above claims that he's making requests and others are doing the same; it would be very interesting to see what results.
Jon Klein, CNN "political researchers" were wrong: Hawaii didn't discard paper records (Dobbs, Farah) - 08/08/09
On July 23, CNN president Jon Klein sent an email to staffers of the Lou Dobbs show saying that he'd asked CNN's "political researchers" to look into the "Birthers" issue and that those "researchers" had determined that Hawaii had discarded their paper birth certificates. He was attempting to show thatBarack Obama can't release his original certificate. The email is reprinted at .
However, the claim from CNN's "political researchers" was false: as Janice Okubo later confirmed , Hawaii had not discarded any paper copies, they were simply archived when that state put their birth records into electronic form. Unfortunately for Lou Dobbs, based on Klein's urging, he repeated the false statement from CNN's "political researchers" on that evening's show .
Klein later backtracked , but he hasn't spoken out about the false claim from CNN's "researchers". Now, Joseph Farah says:
Isn't it time to apologize for your error and to Lou Dobbs for attempting to intimidate him for covering the story? ...And since your basis for not covering the story has been blown to smithereens, isn't it time for you to issue a new edict to your news team to get back on the story?
Hawaii has not authenticated the Certifications of Live Birth shown on Obama's site or on FactCheck - 08/08/09
Various sources have claimed or implied that Hawaii has verified or authenticated the pictures of a "Certification of Live Birth" ("COLB") as pictured on Obama's website. Or, they've claimed that Hawaiian officials have said that what's shown on his site matches what they have on file. Those claims are false. From this:
In response to a direct question from WND, the Hawaii Department of Health refused to authenticate either of the two versions of President Obama's short-form Certificate of Live Birth, or COLB, posted online – neither the image produced by the Obama campaign nor the images released by FactCheck.org.
Janice Okubo, the public information officer for the Hawaii DOH, also had no explanation for why Dr. Chiyome Fukino's initial press release last October and subsequent press release last week also avoided declaring the posted images to be of authentic documents.
Those falsely claiming that Hawaii has verified those pictures or who have made similar false claims include: Dave Weigel, the National Review, Media Matters, Alexandra Marks, Alex Koppelman, and many others.
[IMPORTANT UPDATE BELOW]
On June 6, June Watanabe of the Honolulu Star Bulletin offered "Born identity/Birth certificate styles adjust to fit times and regulations" (link) which some have attempted to use to claim that Barack Obama could not release his original, long-form birth certificate. In the article (excerpted below), Hawaii Department of Health spokeswoman Janice Okubo claims that all birth records were converted to electronic form and that the state of Hawaii only issues "Certifications of Live Birth", such as that shown in the picture on Obama's site.
However, nowhere in the article does she say that their paper records were destroyed and, in later statements, she clarified that no paper records were destroyed. Note also that she says that the certification shown on Obama's site is like what they currently send out. While Obama fans might try and pretend otherwise, she's just speaking generally and isn't authenticating that certificate. She's later pointed out that she can't authenticate what's shown on his site.
And, while the rules she outlines might apply to you and me, one would have to have fallen off the turnip tractor-trailer bound for Palookaville to think that their rules apply to the president of the United States. They apparently still have his original documents on file, and if he wanted them to release those documents they could and would. Anyone who says different is either covered in turnipseeds or thinks you are.
The state Department of Health no longer issues copies of paper birth certificates as was done in the past, said spokeswoman Janice Okubo.
The department only issues "certifications" of live births, and that is the "official birth certificate" issued by the state of Hawaii, she said.
And, it's only available in electronic form.
Okubo explained that the Health Department went paperless in 2001.
"At that time, all information for births from 1908 (on) was put into electronic files for consistent reporting," she said.
Information about births is transferred electronically from hospitals to the department.
"The electronic record of the birth is what (the Health Department) now keeps on file in order to provide same-day certified copies at our help window for most requests," Okubo said.
Asked for more information about the short-form versus long-form birth documents, Okubo said the Health Department "does not have a short-form or long-form certificate."
"The birth certificate form has been modified over the years and decades to conform to national standards and models," she said.
Okubo also emphasized the certification form "contains all the information needed by all federal government agencies for transactions requiring a birth certificate."
She added that the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized the state's current certification of live birth "as an official birth certificate meeting all federal and other requirements."
The issue of what constitutes an official Hawaii birth certificate received national attention during last year's presidential campaign. Those who doubted Barack Obama's American citizenship called the copy of the Hawaii birth document posted on his campaign Web site a fake.
Asked about that document, Okubo said, "This is the same certified copy everyone receives when they request a birth certificate."
UPDATE: From this:
(Aaron Klein) also asked (Hawaii state senator Sam Slom) about recent statements made by former Hawaii Health Director Dr. Chiyome Fukino to MSNBC, in which she claimed Hawaii law prevents Obama's long-form birth certificate from being disclosed, even to Obama himself.
"I didn't hear the statements on MSNBC," Slom admitted, "but I do not believe that part is true."
4/28/11 UPDATE: Looks like I was right all along. See the PDF here where the current director of Hawaii's Department of Health, Loretta Fuddy accedes to a request from Obama for an exception to their rules regarding releasing long-form certificates. Here's the main page about Obama releasing his supposed long-form birth certificate.
As part of his long-running campaign to mislead people about the Obama citizenship issue, Dave Weigel of the Washington Independent offers "'Birther' Movement Dogs Republicans" . I just got off the phone with one of his sources for the article, and she refused to verify the impression that Weigel's article is trying to make. Weigel is trying to mislead people into believing that the state of Hawaii has verified that the certification of live birth ("COLB") shown on Barack Obama's site and others. Yet, his quote source (Janice Okubo of the state of Hawaii's Department of Health) repeatedly refused to confirm that she had verified that they match and several times indicated that she wasn't qualified to verify that they match.
Here's that section of Weigel's article:
“It’s crazy,” said Janice Okubo, director of communications for the Hawaii Department of Health. “I don’t think anything is ever going to satisfy them.”
Okubo, who said that she gets weekly questions from Obama ‘Birthers’ that are “more like threats,” explained that the certificate of live birth reproduced by Obama’s campaign should have debunked the conspiracy theories. “If you were born in Bali, for example,” Okubo explained, “you could get a certificate from the state of Hawaii saying you were born in Bali. You could not get a certificate saying you were born in Honolulu. The state has to verify a fact like that for it to appear on the certificate. But it’s become very clear that it doesn’t matter what I say. The people who are questioning this bring up all these implausible scenarios. What if the physician lied? What if the state lied? It’s just become an urban legend at this point.”
I repeatedly asked Okubo to confirm that she had verified that what's on file matches what's shown on Obama's sites and others. She repeatedly refused to confirm that, saying that she will leave the interpretation of her remarks (which I read to her) to those reading her remarks. I repeatedly asked her to respond with a "yes" or a "no" as to whether she had verified that there's a match, and she repeatedly responded by noting that she is not the registrar, and that she does not have the authority to verify certificates. Weigel is simply using her quote in order to mislead people into thinking that Hawaii has verified that what's shown on Obama's site matches what Hawaii has on file, when that's not true.
And, obviously, Okubo isn't helping with this matter by giving statements that can be misconstrued and that can be used to mislead people.
UPDATE: In response to the claims that Obama has publicly released his certificate, see thisUPDATE 2: Also, what Weigel refers to above is a "Certification of Live Birth", not a "certificate" as he states.
[IMPORTANT UPDATE BELOW]
The following is the full text of the October 31, 2008 press release from the director of the Hawaii Department of Health, Dr. Chiyome Fukino. Nowhere in this press release does she verify that Barack Obama was born in Hawaii. The PDF is available at hawaii.gov/health/about/pr/2008/08-93.pdf.
Obama's October surprise-ish: State of Hawaii says his birth certificate is genuine (but...) - 10/31/08
The Associated Press offers an article perhaps misleadingly titled "State declares Obama birth certificate genuine" (link). There are some problems with the article, as will be discussed below.
State officials say there's no doubt Barack Obama was born in Hawaii.First, Obama could have been born somewhere else and still have a Hawaii birth certificate; see the provision of their state law linked from here. The AP's first sentence above could be an accurate representative of what those state officials explicitly said, or it could be simply the AP's assumption or spin that if they have his birth certificate that means he was born there.
Health Department Director Dr. Chiyome Fukino said Friday she and the registrar of vital statistics, Alvin Onaka, have personally verified that the health department holds Obama's original birth certificate.
Fukino says that no state official, including Republican Gov. Linda Lingle, ever instructed that Obama's certificate be handled differently.
She says state law bars release of a certified birth certificate to anyone who does not have a tangible interest.
And, what exactly is the "original birth certificate"? Are they talking about the Certification of Live Birth ("COLB"), information provided by the hospital, or something else? Why aren't there more details? While there's a good chance we can trust they're telling the truth about something, it would be foolish to completely trust them, especially because they aren't providing enough details to tell what they're referring to.
And, why was this announced four days before the election, and shortly after Obama making a special trip to that state?
As always, I don't suggest spending a lot of time on this and instead concentrating on things that will actually have an impact. However, some of the things about this just don't add up.
12/05/08 UPDATE: A longer article is in November 1, 2008's "Obama's certificate of birth OK, state says" from Dan Nakaso of the Honolulu Advertiser. The article is here, which is reprinted in full below (retrieved 12/05/08).
The Hawaii officials do not verify that Obama was born in Hawaii, nor do they verify that the COLB as shown at FactCheck matches the one on file. All they say is that Obama has a valid certificate on file.
And, it would be illegal under Hawaiian law for them to have done that. In fact, the article references §338-18 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes, which is here (bolding added):
Disclosure of records. (a) To protect the integrity of vital statistics records, to ensure their proper use, and to ensure the efficient and proper administration of the vital statistics system, it shall be unlawful for any person to permit inspection of, or to disclose information contained in vital statistics records, or to copy or issue a copy of all or part of any such record, except as authorized by this part or by rules adopted by the department of health.Once again: under Hawaiian law, it would be illegal for them to verify what's on Obama's certificate. However, the penalties are small; see §338-30 here.
Note also §338-17.8 (link), under which Obama could have been born outside of Hawaii and still have a Hawaiian birth certificate on file:
Certificates for children born out of State. (a) Upon application of an adult or the legal parents of a minor child, the director of health shall issue a birth certificate for such adult or minor, provided that proof has been submitted to the director of health that the legal parents of such individual while living without the Territory or State of Hawaii had declared the Territory or State of Hawaii as their legal residence for at least one year immediately preceding the birth or adoption of such child.Here's the full text of the 11/01/08 Honolulu Advertiser article linked above:
(b) Proof of legal residency shall be submitted to the director of health in any manner that the director shall deem appropriate. The director of health may also adopt any rules pursuant to chapter 91 that he or she may deem necessary or proper to prevent fraudulent applications for birth certificates and to require any further information or proof of events necessary for completion of a birth certificate.
State Health Department employees continue to be barraged by requests from people demanding to see Barack Obama's birth certificate, including some who have called the department's registrar of vital statistics at home — in the middle of the night.UPDATE: To be precise, it's a "Certification of Live Birth", not a "Certificate of Live Birth".
"This has gotten ridiculous," state health director Dr. Chiyome Fukino said yesterday. "There are plenty of other, important things to focus on, like the economy, taxes, energy."
So, in what likely will be a vain attempt to halt the inquiries, Fukino yesterday issued a statement saying that she and the registrar of vital statistics personally inspected Obama's birth certificate and found it to be valid.
Will this be enough to quiet the doubters?
"I hope so," Fukino said. "We need to get some work done."
Fukino issued her statement to try to stomp out persistent rumors that Obama was not born in Honolulu — and is therefore not a U.S. citizen and thus ineligible to run for president.
Fukino, however, repeated the Health Department's position that state law prohibits her or any other officials from actually releasing the birth certificate, which Obama's campaign says shows he was born in Honolulu on Aug. 4, 1961.
"There have been numerous requests for Sen. Barack Hussein Obama's official birth certificate," Fukino said in the statement. "State law (Hawai'i Revised Statutes ¤338-18) prohibits the release of a certified birth certificate to persons who do not have a tangible interest in the vital record. ... No state official, including Gov. Linda Lingle, has ever instructed that this vital record be handled in a manner different from any other vital record in the possession of the State of Hawai'i."
The issue has generated attention from around the world — and court challenges across the country.
Obama critics in Ohio, Seattle and Philadelphia have tried to get their state officials to remove Obama's name from their election ballots until his birthplace could be confirmed. Judges, so far, have dismissed all of the suits.
A New York Internet author named Andy Martin has a Circuit Court hearing date set for Friday in Honolulu — three days after Tuesday's presidential election — on his lawsuit to get a certified copy of Obama's birth certificate. Hawai'i's Supreme Court denied Martin's request on Oct. 22 to expedite the hearing.
In Hawai'i, birth, death, marriage and certain divorce documents can only be released to people with a "tangible interest," such as the people themselves, their parents, spouses, grandparents or other relatives.
As a result, Fukino said she does not believe Health Department officials could release Obama's birth certificate to the public even with his permission, although she would need to get a legal ruling to be certain.
Bloggers and Obama critics allege that Obama actually was born in Kenya, but have provided no documentation. Obama supporters and satirists, such as Jon Stewart of "The Daily Show" on Comedy Central, counter that he actually was born on Superman's home planet of Krypton.
Obama's campaign has posted a copy of the Honolulu birth certificate on its Web site at www.fightthesmears.com/articles/5/birthcertificate. The nonpartisan Web site www.Factcheck.org says the document appears to be authentic.
But the Web site documentation has only generated more fuel for skeptics.
They point to the lack of an official state seal on the document, although Health Department officials say seals often are placed on the backs of birth certificates.
Bloggers and other skeptics also wonder why a large black rectangle appears next to the words "CERTIFICATE NO."
Health Department spokeswoman Janice Okubo said the blackened portion is a department file number that was redacted to prevent hackers from breaking into the Health Department's system.
Was Barack Obama born in Hawaii, or Kenya, or somewhere else? He claims to have been born in Hawaii, but no definitive proof has been provided. It is a false statement to definitively state that he was born in Hawaii, as some media sources have done. The most they should state is that there's a very strong possibility that he was born in Hawaii and he claims to have been born there, but some reporters and other sources cross the line into pretending that the matter has been settled.
The matter has not been settled, and in fact attorney Philip Berg is currently suing Obama and the DNC, trying to get them to release his records. It's also apparently possible for a Hawaii resident who was born out of state or out of the country to obtain a birth certificate (link). The copies of the Certification of Live Birth ("COLB") discussed below do list Honolulu as his place of birth, but that could have been the result of fraud or a mix-up of some kind.
The following have been offered as proof, even though they aren't:
1. An announcement that appeared in the Honolulu Advertiser on Sunday, Aug. 13, 1961, nine days after his birthdate (picture here). According to that link, those listings came directly from the hospitals. However, neither that nor the listing itself have been confirmed. And, the listing doesn't say where he was born, only providing the address of his parents. There's certainly the possibility that he was born elsewhere and the listing was somehow placed by, for instance, his grandparents. The usual argument against that mockingly asks whether his grandparents planted the announcement thinking that one day he would run for president (used by FactCheck, #3 below). However, there are other explanations. They could have wanted it to confer U.S. citizenship rather than the less valuable Kenyan (or other) citizenship. Or, they could have wanted it in the case of divorce and a resulting custody battle. The announcement alone is not proof.
2. Obama's own statements, such as those made at his site: fightthesmears.com/articles/5/birthcertificate. One would have to be quite gullible to take that page at face value, as all it contains is a picture of his COLB and two links. The first is to the FactCheck article (#3) below. The second is even worse: a link to what is actually merely the opinion of Eli Saslow of the Washington Post: "The truth: Sen. Barack Obama, born in Hawaii, is a Christian family man with a track record of public service." As pointed out in this post, it's false to definitively state that Obama was born in Hawaii, and that article - the one upon which the Obama campaign is relying - contains a series of other lies. The bottom line is that Obama's own statements are not proof. He could be lying. Or, he might not even know for sure, and could simply be relying on a falsified family history.
3. FactCheck was allowed to take photographs of the COLB (factcheck.org/elections-2008/born_in_the_usa.html), however, there are several problems that their supposed proof:
A. FactCheck doesn't indicate that they showed it to document experts.
B. They were able to contact representatives of the state of Hawaii about some related issues, but they weren't able to verify it with that state.
C. Their mocking tone - including the use of the phrase "tinfoil hat" - doesn't speak to their commitment to determine the truth.
D. Their photos show the certificate was issued on June 6, 2007. This may contradict a statement from Politfact (#4 below): "[Janice Okubo of HI's health department] said a copy of the birth certificate was requested in June 2008, but she wouldn't specify by whom." Were there two requests, is that a typo, did Okubo make a mistake, or what?
E. FactCheck is "funded primarily by the Annenberg Foundation" (factcheck.org/about), the same foundation that started the Chicago Annenberg Challenge which was headed up by Barack Obama.
F. While FactCheck for the most part gets things right, they've also gotten several things wrong (link, link) or shown bias (factcheck.org/elections-2008/wrong_paul.html).
G. The EXIF data shown in original photos had a date months before they were supposedly taken, and that EXIF data was removed when they recompressed the photos.
H. FactCheck hasn't exactly pursued this case to the ends of the Earth. For instance, it was a week after the posting of their "definitive" proof that they finally informed us that "[Obama] held both U.S. and Kenyan citizenship as a child, but lost his Kenyan citizenship automatically on his 21st birthday" (http://www.factcheck.org/askfactcheck/does_barack_obama_have_kenyan_citizenship.html).
Bottom line: what FactCheck says is not proof.
12/28/09 UPDATE: For a point of reference, see this post from celebrity gossip site TMZ about their attempts to authenticate a photo of JFK: peekURL.com/zvmdpck
TMZ brought in named document experts to examine the original; FactCheck just used their staffers. FactCheck can't even rise to the level of Harvey Levin. (And, as if to prove my point, it later turned out that the photo was a hoax and was actually from an old magazine having nothing to do with JFK: peekURL.com/ztuvznb Once again: FactCheck didn't even rise to the TMZ level.)
4. The Politfact article (politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2008/jun/27/obamas-birth-certificate-part-ii), which is even less reliable than the one from FactCheck. They attempted to obtain Obama's birth certificate without luck, but eventually they received a picture of the COLB from the Obama campaign (politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2008/jun/13/obamas-birth-certificate), which is presumably the same picture as at Obama's "Fight the Smears" site. However, because such information is only available to direct family members, they were unable to confirm the certificate with the state of Hawaii. The best they could do is interview a spokeswoman for the state of Hawaii's health department (Janice Okubo):
Okubo says she got a copy of her own birth certificate last year and it is identical to the Obama one we received.Then, after bringing in someone to discuss conspiracy theories, they punt. Their statement that Obama was born in Hawaii is completely based on the assumption that he couldn't have gotten as far as he has without providing proof to others, such as colleges. However, those colleges could have said the same thing and might not have seen his birth certificate or might have seen a forged document. An article based completely on such assumptions is not proof.
And about the copy we e-mailed her for verification? “When we looked at that image you guys sent us, our registrar, he thought he could see pieces of the embossed image through it."
Still, she acknowledges: 'I don’t know that it's possible for us to even say beyond a doubt what the image on the site represents."
5. Snopes says the claim that the COLB is a forgery is "false" (snopes.com/politics/obama/birthcertificate.asp). However, they add no new facts, but simply rely on claims from FactCheck and the suppositions of Politifact. They link to presumably the same JPEG of the COLB as FactCheck as well as the Honolulu Advertiser announcement mentioned in #1. They also say:
Aside from the inherent absurdity of such claims (i.e., that a major party presidential nominee would risk his entire candidacy on a fraud that could be uncovered simply by a check of state health records), the supposedly incriminating details don't pan out...The problem, of course, is that no such "check" is allowed; if it were, Obama's opponents would have already performed such a check and there would be no issue. As one could have assumed, Snopes cannot be trusted.
Until Obama releases an official copy of his birth certificate to some reliable authority - such as a respected judge - and that certificate is verified with the issuing agency there will always be doubts about his birthplace. Even showing some form of his birth certificate to a group of reporters will not be proof because reporters are not document experts and a very large number of reporters have shown themselves willing to lie on his behalf.
There's certainly the possibility that Obama is playing a game by not releasing documentation. He could be trying to give his opponents false hope that he'd be knocked out of the race at the last moment or even after being elected. Or, he could just be trying to distract his opponents from pursuing an unrelated line of attack that would actually work. Or, there could be something else in his records that he doesn't want his potential voters to see, such as the birth certificate showing some detail that would be damaging, or something similar in a college application.
I don't recommend being distracted by or counting on this issue. However, if anyone definitively says that Obama was born in Hawaii, please direct them to this page. It is false to definitively say that he was born in Hawaii.
UPDATE: I added the Snopes section. Also, shortly before the election, the state of Hawaii issued a statement concerning the issue. Despite what some - including the Associated Press have said, they did not confirm the COLB as pictured at FactCheck, nor did they confirm that he was born in Hawaii. All they confirmed is that he has a certificate on file. And, as discussed at the last link, those born in other states or foreign countries can obtain Hawaii birth certificates if their parents are residents of that state. Further, it would be illegal for those officials to have discussed any of the contents of the certificate without Obama's permission, something that he clearly has not given.
UPDATE 2: All of this information has been collated on this page. UPDATE 3: To be precise, it's a "Certification of Live Birth", not a "Certificate of Live Birth".
The twists and turns surrounding Barack Obama's birth certificate appear to have ended with FactCheck.org claiming that they've seen and handled the real certificate, complete with an official stamp and everything. They've even got pictures here. Well, that ends that!
Except, all they have is the "Certification of Live Birth" (known in the trade as a "COLB"), and not the original birth certificate or a "long form" certificate containing things like parents' cities, etc. And, for some strange reason - as pointed out in a comment here - the EXIF information on their photos shows that at least the one I looked at was taken March 12 of this year at 10:42pm. That could be a battery-related problem, a setup problem, or it could be something else.
And, needless to say, "Texas Darlin'" has more questions, such as:
Why did Janice Okubo tell a reporter that the COLB was ordered "this month" (June 2008 ) if it was ordered in June 2007?
She also points out that FactCheck is part of the Annenberg Foundation; their primary funding is from that organization. Earlier in the day she claimed they, Obama, and ACORN were colluding in some way.
Fact Check also has some fun with an announcement that appeared in a Honolulu newspaper a weak after BHO's birth, mocking the idea that it could have been part of a conspiracy. Another possibility is that it was planted, in case of divorce (link).
UPDATE: Since precision is necessary in this case, it's a "Certification of Live Birth", not a "Certificate of Live Birth" as previously stated.