Allegations are flying about tampering with Supreme Court records on a popular law resources website. The records relate to precedents established on US citizenship. The citizenship issue is being raised in some quarters as President Barack Obama seeks reelection.
Ahead of the 2008 elections, I researched then Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) as thoroughly as possible. During that time and after, I read both his books and combed Internet archives. I remember thinking to myself that there was less information available on this candidate who is now our president than any public figure I’d ever done research on.
Although there was a furor in some sectors of the blogosphere about Obama’s eligibility for the presidency—the same applied to his challenger, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)—I could only reach one conclusion about the charismatic junior senator. A scarcity of information prohibited my coming to any conclusion other than his liberal leanings on spending (his earmarks in particular) and war (the 2002 speech).
Later—I don’t remember when—I received emails about Obama’s social security number allegedly issued with a number some viewed as suspicious.
Suspicious or not, the social security number drew a defensive response from populist fact check site Snopes. The explanations Snopes provided are nothing short of bizarre—Snopes actually suggests a typo could have been made. Regarding other matters related to Obama, Snopes uses the president’s memoir as a source for fact-checking. Strange, that.
I received an article submission about Obama’s citizenship issues; I rejected it. By then he was president and I saw no benefit in questioning it. I believed the continuing controversy was divisive—America had elected a president and that was the end of it.
Throughout the years, however, I admit ongoing curiosity about the president’s past. My curiosity is justified and is not grounded in conspiracy theories. The absence of information and hold on records justifies curiosity.
Even the left-leaning NPR substantiated my concerns, although not intentionally. In March, 2008, an article at NPR surfaced about a war speech Obama made:
“Even in this era of YouTube and camera phones, a recording of Obama's speech is all but impossible to find. The Obama campaign has gone so far as to re-create portions of the speech for a television ad, with the candidate re-reading the text, with audience sound effects.”
Adding to the mystery, the Occidental College website has a statement about Obama’s records: “Neither Obama’s image or name appear in any Occidental yearbooks or the weekly student newspaper for the years he attended.” Occidental said Obama attended from fall, 1979 through spring, 1981.
The president has, as of the date of this column, chosen to keep his Occidental records private.
Further clouding the political waters, the name ‘Barry Soetero,’was allegedly used on a school registration from filed by one of Obama’s mother’s husbands in Indonesia.
The most recent controversy involves the legal records and possible changes, allegedly documented by a researcher who has questioned the validity of Obama’s citizenship in the past. Dianna Cotter, who covers Portland Civil Rights at Examiner.com, explains the very complicated situation regarding Supreme Court cases relevant to citizenship qualifications for US president, and she provides links to a site with screen shots of the reportedly altered pages.
What will come of this latest controversy? No one can really say. However, it is obvious that mysteries remain about the president’s past. If the legal records were tampered with, that situation would suggest an investigation is warranted.
Recently I discovered that a 2007 article at The Chicago Sun Times about Obama’s law firm experience could no longer be accessed online. Whether the paper archived the article behind a paywall or simply chose to remove it is something I don’t know. The article related to Obama’s dealings with a slum lord; at the moment, that article is available at the Internet Archive.
It would be ideal if every presidential candidate released his past records. The US public, regardless of political party affiliation, deserves to know the truth about any politician setting his sights on the most powerful position in the free world even if 2012 will be the second time Obama has set his sights on that office.
Disinformation in politics is nothing new—numerous Wikileaks releases document that claim.
Meanwhile, Republicans are savagely vetted, and in some cases, smeared on the basis of false claims. Big media falls squarely in the Democrats' camp.
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(Commentary by Kay B. Day/Oct. 24, 2011)