Hawaii officials confirm Obama's original birth certificate still exists
By Dan Nakaso
Advertiser Staff Writers
Hawai'i's Health Department confirmed yesterday that it has President Obama's original Aug. 4, 1961, birth certificate in storage, but the announcement is unlikely to satisfy conspiracy theorists who insist Obama was born in Kenya.
"We don't destroy vital records," Health Department spokeswoman Janice Okubo said. "That's our whole job, to maintain and retain vital records."
The Health Department's director reiterated yesterday that she has seen Obama's birth records.
"I, Dr. Chiyome Fukino, director of the Hawai'i State Department of Health, have seen the original vital records maintained on file by the Hawai'i State Department of Health verifying Barack Hussein Obama was born in Hawai'i and is a natural-born American citizen," Fukino said in a statement. "I have nothing further to add to this statement or my original statement issued in October 2008, over eight months ago."
Fukino tried on Oct. 31 to put an end to the belief among so-called "birthers" that Obama was not born in Honolulu's Kapiolani Maternity & Gynecological Hospital. The birthers insist that Obama was not born in the U.S. and is therefore ineligible to be president.
Despite Fukino's statement yesterday — and several court rulings and statements by Hawai'i's Republican governor, Linda Lingle, the issue continued to resonate from Capitol Hill to the blogosphere.
A congressional resolution introduced yesterday by Rep. Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawai'i, commemorating the 50th anniversary of Island statehood was temporarily postponed because birthers objected to a clause noting Obama was born in Hawai'i, said Dave Helfert, an Abercrombie spokesman.
The line "Whereas the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, was born in Hawaii on August 4, 1961;" appeared to be construed by birthers as a thinly veiled attempt to get Congress to affirm Obama's U.S. citizenship, Helfert said.
As the issue came to a vote yesterday, Minnesota Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann rose to object, saying there was not a quorum present.
The House later voted unanimously 378-0 to approve the resolution. Bachmann voted in favor of the resolution.
original form exists
Mainland media has also continued to focus attention on the birthers. CNN's Lou Dobbs last week demanded Obama's original birth certificate. That was followed by CNN/U.S. President Jon Klein telling staffers of "Lou Dobbs Tonight" that the issue is a "dead" story, according to a Los Angeles Times report.
In an e-mail, according to the Times, Klein wrote that CNN researchers had determined that Obama's 1961 birth certificate no longer exists because Hawai'i officials had discarded paper documents in 2001 — a claim denied yesterday by Isle health officials.
In 2001, Hawai'i's paper documents were reproduced in electronic format but "any paper data prior to that still exists," Health Department spokeswoman Okubo said.
Okubo would not say where Obama's original birth certificate is, but said "we have backups for all of our backups."
"Our Certificate of Live Birth is the standard form, which was modeled after national standards that are acceptable by federal agencies and organizations," Okubo said. "With that form, you can get your passport or your soccer registration or your driver's license."
One thing that remains unclear is whether Obama has a copy of the original 1961 Certificate of Live Birth, or if he would even be allowed to see it if he asked.
Hawai'i's disclosure law (Hawai'i Revised Statutes 338-18) states that "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 on any such record ... "
The law further states that the Health Department "shall not permit inspection of public health statistics records, or issue a certified copy of any such record or part thereof, unless it is satisfied that the applicant has a direct and tangible interest in the record."
Those who have "direct and tangible interest" are generally limited to the person named in the record, the spouse, parent, descendant, or personal representative, or by someone who is involved in marital, parental or death litigation involving the named person's vital record or other legal reason established by a court order, and various official agency or organization representatives, including the state director of health, according to the law.
The standard "Certification of Live Birth" that Hawai'i health officials now issue — and was posted on Obama's campaign Web site — has less information than was required on the "Certificate of Live Birth" that Eleanor Nordyke was issued for each of her twin daughters on Aug. 5, 1961.
Nordyke was in labor at Kapiolani Maternity & Gynecological Hospital the same time as Obama's late mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, Nordyke said. She gave birth to twins the day after Obama was born, Nordyke said, and her daughters later attended Punahou School with Obama.
The modern-day birth certificates issued to anyone seeking their Hawai'i birth records have spaces for the names and races of the parents, as well as information such as the time of birth.
Nordyke's 1961 birth certificates required much more information, such as the ages, occupations and birthplaces of the babies' parents.
There was a box to determine whether the mother's address was "on a Farm or Plantation," and the signature — but not the name — of the "attendant" was required, as well as boxes to determine whether the attendant was an "M.D.," "D.O.," "midwife" or "other."
Birthers have failed to get state and federal courts in Hawai'i, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, California, Georgia and Mississippi to force Hawai'i officials to produce a copy of Obama's birth certificate, with many of the courts agreeing with Lingle's administration that birth records are confidential.
In October, the Hawai'i Supreme Court denied a writ of mandamus on behalf of Internet columnist Andy Martin. The court ruled that Martin did not have a "direct tangible interest" in seeking Obama's birth certificate.
In December, the U.S. Supreme Court — without comment — declined to hear arguments in another case alleging Obama did not meet the Constitution's citizenship requirements.
In November 2008, The Advertiser reported that the first published mention of the future president appeared in a Sunday Advertiser birth announcement that ran on Aug. 13, 1961:
"Mr. and Mrs. Barack H. Obama, 6085 Kalanianaole Hwy., son, Aug. 4."
The identical announce- ment ran the following day in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin.
Birthers wave off those birth announcements, saying that Obama family members 48 years ago could have phoned in false information to both newspapers.
Such vital statistics, however, were not sent to the newspapers by the general public but by the Health Department, which received the information directly from hospitals, Okubo said.
Birth announcements from the public ran elsewhere in both papers and usually included information such as the newborn's name, weight and time of birth.
"Take a second and think about that," wrote Robert Farley of the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times' Pulitzer Prize winning Web site PoliticFact.com on July 1. "In order to phony those notices up, it would have required the complicity of the state Health Department and two independent newspapers — on the off chance this unnamed child might want to one day be president of the United States."
Last week, Jon Stewart of "The Daily Show" had fun with the topic of Obama's birth certificate, suggesting that it's part of a much larger conspiracy.
"Not only is Barack Obama our first black president," Stewart said. "But he's our first non-American president."
Reach Dan Nakaso at dnakaso @ honoluluadvertiser.com.