With President Obama's release of his long-form birth certificate, WorldNetDaily lost one of the biggest cudgels it has used against the president.
While WND editor Joseph Farah was quick to hog the credit for the certificate's release -- asserting in a May 5 column that "a cursory review of the timetable the White House released to the Washington Post suggests the impending release of Jerome Corsi's "Where's the Birth Certificate? The Case That Obama Is Not Eligible to Be President" was the straw that broke the camel's back" -- WND was presumably scrambling behind the scenes for another angle, especially now that the question asked in the title of Corsi's book has been answered, rendering it obsolete before it even hit the market.
One of the things WND decided to take refuge in is a definition of "natural born citizen" that would somehow exclude Obama.
As WND reported in August 2009, the Constitution requires that the president be a "natural born citizen," but it does not define the term, and the Supreme Court has never weighed in.
One definition WND took refuge in was offered in a book called "The Law of Nations," a 1758 work by Swiss legal philosopher Emmerich de Vattel. WND has repeatedly cited Vattel's statement: "The natives, or natural-born citizens, are those born in the country, of parents who are citizens."
But as the Obama Conspiracy blog details, no direct equivalent to "natural born citizen" appears in Vattel's original French, and the phrase shows up only in English translations of the book issued after the Constitution was written; translations from 1760 and 1787 use Vattel's untranslated word "indigenes," a word that much is more directly descriptive of an indigenous population such as Native Americans than a "natural born citizen." The edition on the Constitution Society website referenced in one WND article dates from 1883 and is apparently based on translations from 1797, 1833 and 1852 -- all issued after the Constitution was ratified.
If WND was genuinely serious about original intent, it would not be relying on a translation that differs in such a key way from the original.
Embrace of a problematic translation is not the only situation in which WND has deliberately skewed the meaning of "natural born citizen." It has also repeatedly obscured or ignored court rulings and reports that conflict with its preconceived definition.
In 1898, the Supreme Court ruled in United States v. Wong Kim Ark that a child born in the U.S. to parents who were "subjects of the Emperor of China" was a U.S. citizen. Only one WND article addresses the case, an April 2010 piece by birther lawyer Leo Donofrio, who insisted that the ruling "did not state that such a citizen was 'natural born."'
But one does not have to go back to the 19th century for discussions of the term that are not biased against Obama.
The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled in 2009 in one birther lawsuit, extensively quoting from the Wong Kim Ark ruling before concluding:
Based upon the language of Article II, Section 1, Clause 4 and the guidance provided by Wong Kim Ark, we conclude that persons born within the borders of the United States are "natural born Citizens" for Article II, Section 1 purposes, regardless of the citizenship of their parents. Just as a person "born within the British dominions [was] a natural-born British subject" at the time of the framing of the U.S. Constitution, so too were those "born in the allegiance of the United States  natural-born citizens."
WND has never reported on this ruling.
Also of interest is a 2009 Congressional Research Service report that summed up the prevailing legal view on natural-born citizens:
As explained by the Supreme Court of the United States over the course of a number of years, it is well-settled from common law principles of jus soli ("law of the soil") extant in England and the Colonies at the time of Independence, as well as from subsequent constitutional provisions, as well as subsequent statutory law, that all persons born "in" the United States and subject to its jurisdiction are citizens of the United States "at birth. As such, any person physically born "in" the United States, regardless of the citizenship of one's parents (unless such parents are foreign diplomatic personnel not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States), would appear to be a "natural born" citizen eligible to be President of the United States.
The weight of scholarly legal and historical opinion appears to support the notion that "natural born Citizen" means one who is entitled under the Constitution or laws of the United States to U.S. citizenship "at birth" or "by birth," including any child born "in" the United States (other than to foreign diplomats serving their country), the children of United States citizens born abroad, and those born abroad of one citizen parent who has met U.S. residency requirements.
WND did report on this document, but not what it investigated and concluded on the "natural born citizen" issue. A Nov. 8 article by Corsi focused on the report's noting that "confirms no one - not Congress, not the states and not election officials - bothered to check Barack Obama's eligibility to be president, and that status remains undocumented to this day." Corsi referenced the report a few days later, but again, at no point did Corsi address the research cited in the document.
Despite the extensive examinations of the issue offered by CRS and the Indiana Court of Appeals, WND has apparently chosen to ignore them because they don't comport with WND's anti-Obama agenda. With a book's credibility -- and, more importantly, its sales -- to salvage, it seems WND has chosen to be a dead-ender on the issue, engaging post-certificate release in a continuous process of throwing stuff at the wall and hoping something sticks.
Shortly after the release, Farah went on a tear of self-aggrandizement and goalpost-moving:
"We're gratified that our work has begun to pay off," he said. "The certificate of live birth is an absolutely vital foundation for determining constitutional eligibility of any president. We look forward to reviewing it like so many other Americans do at this late date. But it is important to remember there are still dozens of other questions concerning this question of eligibility that need to be resolved to assure what has become a very skeptical public concerning Barack Obama's parentage, his adoption, his citizenship status throughout his life and why he continues to cultivate a culture of secrecy around his life."
"The news media and the political establishment were quick to rush to judgment regarding Obama's eligibility in 2008, without any basis. It would be a big mistake for everyone to jump to a conclusion now based on the release of this document, which raises as many questions as it answers," Farah added.
I predicted last year that Farah would do exactly this, which is why he has been trying to move the argument from birth to "eligibility." No amount of evidence will satisfy him.
WND even trotted out Tim Adams, who seemed more than a little angry about the whole thing, ranting that "Obama's controversy is just a symptom of the overall filth that is Washington" and asserting that "the so-called COLBs (Certifications of Live Birth) that were posted online over the last three years are in fact forgeries and not State of Hawaii issued documents." Why is Adams so angry? Presumably because his WND-proffered affidavit claiming he was told no long-form birth certificate for Obama existed -- as well as other claims of which Adams has no firsthand knowledge -- was decimated by the certificate's actual release.
Needless to say, article author Joe Kovacs makes no mention of the fact that WND created the affidavit Adams signed, nor did he mention Adams' history of racially charged statements and associations.
WND tossed one Hail Mary pass by tossing the idea of adoption. An April 28 article by Bob Unruh treats with great significance a statement by Obama's half-sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, that Obama was "adopted" by his mother's second husband, Lolo Soetoro. If Obama was formally adopted, Unruh writes, "the mother and father can be changed on an original long-form birth certificate during the adoption process."
WND editor Joseph Farah took that supposed ambiguity and ran with it:
We can hypothesize, of course, since no member of the media has bothered to ask the question. Let's guess that the adoption took place in Indonesia and Hawaii authorities were never notified. Does that change the reality of the adoption itself? Of course not. But it does invalidate the document we all saw this week for the first time. It is not an accurate reflection of the most basic facts needed to determine Obama's eligibility for the presidency. That document should list Indonesian citizen Lolo Soetoro as his father - not Kenyan Obama.
So here we have a man sitting in the White House who has two fathers - neither of which is able to confer U.S. citizenship on their son.
That's right -- after years of concern over who Obama's real father is, Farah is upset that Obama's real father is actually listed on his birth certificate.
WND's next conspiracy stab focused on the layers in the PDF document of the long-form birth certificate released by the White House, despite the fact that it debunked the idea shortly after it was released, declaring in an April 28 article that "While there may be other challenges to the document's authenticity that bear further scrutiny, it appears that the 'layer argument' can be easily explained."
A May 1 WND article by Bob Unruh quotes "computer document expert" Ivan Zatkovich claiming there are "anomalies inconsistent with a simple scanning process, and there is evidence it has been manipulated, but there's no way to determine exactly what may have been modified." But buried in Unruh's article is the evidence that destroys the big conspiracy: Zatkovich's statement that "This was done through an explicit operation to edit and/or enhance the printing in the document. ... Mostly like to enhance the legibility, but still an explicit action none the less."
In other words, the Obama administration is engaging in a conspiracy to make the document easier to read. Imagine that.
At this point, WND started getting really desperate. A May 8 article by Corsi cited a "private investigator" who "claims employees of the state Department of Health forged three Hawaiian birth certificates for Barack Obama to 'screw the birthers.'" But Corsi ended up discrediting the guy by pointing out that he got involved in the birther stuff because he thought it "would provide a financial windfall." In a separate May 8 article, Corsi cited the supposedly expert "analysis posted on Facebook by GoodTryBarry."
Aaron Klein joined the fun with a May 9 article hyperventilating that the "U.S. government is on record questioning President Obama's citizenship status as early as when he was 5 years old, stating it lacked documentation to determine his citizenship." But it wasn't until the second-to-last paragraph of his 36-paragraph article that Klein got around to telling the full truth about what the government concluded: "The person in question is a United States citizen by virtue of his birth in Honolulu, Hawaii, Aug. 4, 1961."
Separately, Klein wrote that "Evidence continues to mount that President Obama was adopted by his Indonesian stepfather, Lolo Soetoro, raising concerns over his presidential eligibility." But he contradicted himself in the 26th paragraph of that article, stating that "no records of such an adoption have emerged." The only "evidence" Klein had cited up to that point is anecdotal, such as a statement by Obama's half-sister on a Facebook page, as Unruh had done earlier -- hardly ironclad stuff.
An honest journalist would not have buried those crucial nuggets. But Klein is not an honest journalist. Nor is Corsi or the rest of the WND crew.
All they care about is trying to destroy Obama and the possibility of making a little money in the process, and they don't care about how much they have to lie and deceive in order to achieve that goal.
They're not journalists -- they're amoral opportunists who are so blinded with hate that work cannot and should not be trusted.
(A version of this post appears at ConWebWatch.)