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The Cold Case Posse Preliminary Report, OR

Shurff Joe's Got Nothing New Under the Arizona Sun

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Was unaware that cut-and-pasting WorldNetDaily articles
was a "government investigation." — @daveweigel 


In August 2011, members of the Surprise Arizona Tea Party petitioned Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona "expressing concern that Obama might not be eligible for Arizona’s presidential ballot." In September, the Sheriff announced that he would look into birther claims that President Obama wasn't born in the United States. He assigned one of his "Cold Case Posses" to investigate. On March 1, 2012,  Sheriff Arpaio held a press conference to release the preliminary report of his investigation.

TheFogbow.com has examined the report, the claims, and the press conference and concludes that:

  1. the "evidence" is actually old, debunked rumors with a few new spins thrown in for spice,

  2. the "investigation" was never treated as an impartial search for evidence,

  3. the press conference was effectively run by World Net Daily, and

  4. there's certainly information that an Attorney General should look into, but it's not about the President.

We'll now examine each of these conclusions in depth. 

Additional resources.



Birther Hash: Recycled Rumors

Added 3/7: We have examined "A Question of Eligibility: A Law Enforcement Investigation into Barack Obama's Birth Certificate and His Eligibility to be President" (the report of the Cold Case Posse)  that was published on February 29, 2012 by Jerome Corsi and Mark Zullo, and the Official Report by Mara Zebest that was distributed at the press conference. TheFogbow.com and others have concluded that almost the entire investigation was based on "evidence" that has been available and debunked for almost a year -- over three years in some cases. The entire investigation of President Obama's birth centered on the PDF of the Long Form Birth Certificate that the White House posted online at the end of April, 2011. There was no investigation of the Short Form Birth Certificate posted in June 2008 or any paper document. 

Added 3/7: Atlanta Attorney Loren Collins did a side-by-side comparison of the Cold Case Posse Report with Jerome Corsi's book, Where's the Birth Certificate? published May 2011, and several articles from WND.com. He concluded that most of the content was written by Corsi before the Cold Case Posse was even formed.   

Added 3/7: Doctor Conspiracy's Review of "A Question of Eligibility: A Law Enforcement Investigation into Barack Obama's Birth Certificate and His Eligibility to be President"

 

Claims from the press conference and report:

  • CLAIM: The paper document of the birth certificate never existed.
    • FALSE. Reporters at the Press Conference where the Long Form Birth Certificate was released were able to handle the paper document and feel the raised seal. Reporter Savannah Guthrie posted a picture from her cell phone. The press conference.
    • FALSE. Factcheck.org handled and photographed the Short Form Birth Certificate. Here's their coverage.
    • FALSE. The Hawaii Department of Health says that LFBC document is authentic and 2 certified paper copies were sent to the President in April, 2011. The copies were given to the President's lawyer who hand-carried to the White House from Hawaii. One copy was scanned and posted to the White House website as well as copied and distributed to the press. One certified copy was passed around at the White House conference.
    • Added 3/3: "A representative with the Hawaii Attorney General's Office said no one from the Sheriff's Office ever requested to inspect or collect documents related to the authenticity of Obama's birth certificate." AZCentral.com
  • CLAIM: The long-form birth certificate was most likely a computer-generated forgery.
    • Computer Forensics expert Dr. Neal Krawetz, publisher of HackerFactor.com's reports. SFBC: June 2008, August 2008, LFBC: April 2011.
      • “Before I begin, I need to point out two critical items for this evaluation. First, digital document analysis can detect manipulation, but it cannot determine whether the original subject is authentic. The authenticity can only be determined by the State of Hawaii, and they already said that it is authentic.”
    • Added 3/7: According to WND Reporter Aaron Klein, they commissioned reports from three credentialed document examiners. WND never published these reports. 
      • Ivan Zatkovich of eComp Consulting has 10 years of experience as an expert witness in state and federal courts, civil and criminal litigation, doing document validation. Mr. Zatkovich has posted his report on the Internet. 
        • His conclusion on April 29, 2011: "All of the modifications to the PDF document that can be identified are consistent with someone enhancing the legibility of the document."
      • Jon Berryhill of Berryhill Computer Forensics has provided expert testimony in and been certified by California and Federal courts as an expert in the field of computer crime and computer forensic analysis. 
        • His conclusion on May 1, 2011: for a complete analysis, access to the original document would be best.
    • Added 3/7: Nathan Goulding, the Chief Technology Officer of The National Review Online said on April 27, 2011: "I’ve confirmed that scanning an image, converting it to a PDF, optimizing that PDF, and then opening it up in Illustrator, does in fact create layers similar to what is seen in the birth certificate PDF. You can try it yourself at home." 
    • Added 3/7: Jean-Claude Tremblay is an Adobe Certified Expert in Illustrator CS4/CS5 / Indesign CS4/CS5 / Photoshop CS4/CS5 / Acrobat Pro 9/X. He told Fox News on April 29, 2011: 
      • He said the layers cited by doubters are evidence of the use of common, off-the-shelf scanning software — not evidence of a forgery. “I have seen a lot of illustrator documents that come from photos and contain those kind of clippings—and it looks exactly like this,” he said.
      •  Tremblay explained that the scanner optical character recognition (OCR) software attempts to translate characters or words in a photograph into text. He said the layers cited by the doubters shows that software at work – and nothing more. 
      • “When you open it in Illustrator it looks like layers, but it doesn’t look like someone built it from scratch. If someone made a fake it wouldn’t look like this,” he said.“Some scanning software is trying to separate the background and the text and splitting element into layers and parts of layers.”
    • Added 3/7: The PDF file was created using Mac OSX 10.6.7.Quartz PDFContext. Nowhere in the report is this mentioned, and there is no evidence that any Apple products were used in their attempts to recreate the PDF. Here are the properties of the file: (Note: the PDF is stamped with UTC time, but the displayed time shown here is that UTC time in your time zone. The PDF was created early in the morning on the day it was posted, not at 1:09 pm.)

Properties

 

  • CLAIM: President Obama's Selective Service card was most likely a forgery, revealed by an examination of the postal date stamp on the document. 
    • FALSE. Extensive debunking here
    • Doc Conspiracy weighs in. 
    • Added 3/7:  We conclude that this evidence was provided to the posse by birthers. Pica Stamps
      • This document and the others in the Cold Possee Report were obtained by Mr. J. Stephen Coffman, in October 2008 under a Freedom of Information Act request.  The same document was sent to Kenneth Allen in 2009 under a FOIA request.
      • This was originally obtained before the 2008 Presidential Election, and during the Bush Administration. 
      • The documents did not come from Obama or his Campaign.
      • The comparative records shown at the press conference and in the book were available on the web in June 2011. The missing "19" was also mentioned back then. 
    • Added 3/8: The Press Conference and e-book Report repeatedtly refer to  PIKA stamps. They meant Pica Stamps, such as the ones pictured to the right. More on this (as well as where to buy them) at Doc Conspiracy's. 
  • CLAIM: Records of Immigration and Naturalization Service cards filled out by airplane passengers arriving on international flights originating outside the United States in the month of August 1961, examined at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., are missing records for the week of President Obama's birth, including the dates Aug. 1, 1961 through Aug. 7, 1961. Added 3/7: This is one of only 2 new never-before-published claims in the report. 
    • MISLEADING: The National Archives has some records online, but NOT for any of 1961. It's not just that week that's missing, it's the entire decade. Added: Corsi hasn't disclosed any evidence from the National Archives to support his claim. 

Arrival Lists

  •  Added 3/3: According to Michael Zullo at the CCP Press conference, the National Archives provided 685 rolls of microfilm containing INS reports of air passengers flying into the USA from overseas. 
    • Jerome Corsi examined the month of August 1961, and the week containg August 1-7 was missing. The report's conclusion? 
      • "What does that translate to us? We don’t know if Stanley Ann Dunham, or Mr. Obama as an infant, was on an airplane coming into the country. We don’t know if he was, we don’t know if he isn’t, andwe cannot make that determination. As a result, we still have to entertain information now that he was possibly born abroad."
    • The CCP has not provide any further information on this data. We don't know if Corsi examined all entry ports, if other dates were missing, how complete the records are.
  • Added 3/7:We have obtained a copy of the Cold Case Posse Report, "A Question of Eligibility: A Law Enforcement Investigation into Barack Obama's Birth Certificate and His Eligibility to be President" by Jerome Corsi and Michael Zullo. 
    • From this report, we discover:
      • “Investigators” were unable to locate “relevant” 1961 flight manifests.
      • They located INS records that all international passengers completed when flying from a foreign locale into Honolulu.
      • They were NOT able to examine microfilm records for inbound passengers into New York, and did not mention any other US cities.
      • Corsi himself, not a member of the Cold Case Posse, examined the Honolulu records. According to his notes, “Two microfilm records were found for August 1961.” One reel was labeled as records from July 28, 1961 through August 7, 1961, and the second reel was labeled as records from August 8, 1961 through August 12, 1961. Those are the only two reels cited as having been examined.
    • Thus, the claim that Aug. 1-7 was the only week for 1961 missing is FALSE because:
      • Honolulu was the only city in the entire US they mention having examined at all;
      • They don’t mention looking FOR records from any months other than August, much less looking AT such records;
      • Even for August 1961, they flat-out admit that they only found reels for records through August 12. So there appear to be no records for August 13-31 either, and thus they’re lying to say only the first week of August is missing.
    • Examining only Honolulu arrivals was a useless exercise. 
      • Imigration control forms are filled out at the first USA airport where an overseas flight lands.
      • In 1961, the only foreign destinations reachable non-stop from east of Honolulu were Vancouver, Canada and a few small places in northern Mexico that would not have had air service to Hawaii. West of Honolulu, Pan-Am was flying non-stop from Tokyo to Honolulu; Quantas and Canadian Pacific were flying in from Sydney with a refueling stop in Fiji. 
      • Flying from Kenya to Honolulu via Tokyo was possible but not practical as it required a number of Asian stops. A more typical trip from Kenya would be Nairobi to Cairo to London to NY or another East Coast city, then LA or San Francisco to Hawaii. It was a grueling multi-day trip. 
    • The information at the press conference DIRECTLY CONTRADICTS what's published in the e-book report. One of the two claims is a lie. 
  • CLAIM: The Hawaii Department of Health has engaged in what Sheriff's investigators believe is a systematic effort to hide from public inspection whatever original 1961 birth records the Hawaii Department of Health may have in their possession.
    • FALSE. The Hawaii Department of Health has been following Hawaii Statutes to the letter. Hawaii law limits who can access records, who can get copies of records, and what process someone needs to go through to get copies of vital records. President Obama made a special request for his own records, and that was granted.
    • Nothing said at the Cold Case press conference indicates that the investigation ever tried to work with the Hawaii DOH. Added 3/3: The Arizona Republic contacted the Hawaii AG's office after the press conference. "A representative with the Hawaii Attorney General's Office said no one from the Sheriff's Office ever requested to inspect or collect documents related to the authenticity of Obama's birth certificate."AZCentral.com
  • Added 3/3: CLAIM: There is not a single document that proves Mr. Obama's birth in Hawaii.
    • FALSE. There are two contemporary birth announcements from local Hawaii papers. There are two versions of certified birth certificates (short form 2008 and long form 2011), each of which officials in Hawaii have separately attested as accurate and legitimate. There is the Birth Index from the Hawaii DOH listing Barack Obama's name. There is the Dunham/Obama divorce decree. There is a note in Barack Obama Sr.'s INS file stating that the child was born in Honolulu, HI (FOIA, page 46). There is the school record from Indonesia stating that Barack Obama Jr. was born in Hawaii. There is President Obama's passport
  • CLAIM: Barack Obama visited the house of Tom and Mary Ayers, parents of former Weather Underground activist turned education professor Bill Ayers, in the mid-1980s. "A Government official" is the source.
    • UNKNOWN. This claim first appeared in September, 2009. Here's the Original claim. A mail carrier claims to recall meeting Barack Obama at the Ayers home over 30 years ago. Whatever its veracity, it has nothing to do with President Obama's eligibility or the authenticity of birth certificates.
  • Added 3/3: CLAIM: "In 2000, the Inspector General issued a report about the rampant problem of birth certificate fraud. And within the opening paragraphs of his report, he states that a birth certificate’s intended purpose was only to register the event of a live birth. Not anything else. And in and of itself, is not creditable information to prove identification or citizenship. There has to be other documentation to be considered. That’s right from the government." Transcript, page 46.
    •  MISLEADING: Here's the report. The context is the use of birth certificates in ID fraud, where people get additional documents or benefits using a falsified or fraudulent birth certificate. The report correctly says that a birth certificate can't be matched to a person without other documentation. But a certified birth certificate remains proof that the information on it matches what's in the original birth record of a state -- particularly when the officials of the state confirm that the information repeatedly. It's proof that the person named was born at the loation listed, on the date listed, to the parents named.  

Claims From After the Press Conference:

  • Added 3/8: From WND.com: “During our investigation, we actually were told [that media] had been threatened with FTC investigations. Commentators [had been] threatened with their jobs,” (posse leader Mike) Zullo said. The threats were so intimidating that some individuals quit their positions over safety concerns for their families, he said.”
    • The FTC is the Federal Trade Commission. We believe that Zullo meant FCC, Federal Communications Commission -- at least that's what the original rumor in 2008 said. 
    • The original rumors were started by conspiracy specialists Douglas Hagmann, founder of the Northeast Intelligence Network and Judi McLeod, managing editor of Canada Free Press, on the Dr. Laurie Roth Show on August 7th, 2009. The events allegedly took place after the election but before the inauguration -- in other words, during the Bush Administration.  
      • "A major TV talk-show host reported that he was ordered not to raise the birth certificate issue or risk losing his job."
      • "FCC officials threatened to yank broadcasting licenses, break up conglomerates, and make the enactment of the Fairness Doctrine “look mild” in comparison to other consequences."
      • "In at least one corporate TV headquarters, memos were circulated to all on-air employees not to mention the birth certificate issue, as well as other specific subjects like Obama’s Illinois lawyer’s license, his college records, etc., under both implied and explicit threats."
    • These rumors have been repeated in this precise form for the past 2.5 years, with no other information surfacing. 

 


Searching For What We Already Know About The "Usurper"

Added 3/7: The two most vocal proponents of the claim that Obama's LFBC is a forgery are Jerome Corsi and Mara Zebest. The vast majority of the claims and analysis made by the Cold Case Posse were directly copied from work these two individuals published BEFORE the Posse was even formed. Both wrote the majority of the final reports, and both published them under their own names. Both were avidly anti-Obama even before the birth certificate controversy began. If they were that closely involved, how unbiased can the investigation have been? 

  • Jerome Corsi published "Where's the Birth Certificate" on May 17, 2011 -- weeks after the President released his Long Form Birth Certificate. Added 3/3: Corsi's book was published by WND Books.  
  • Jerome Corsi orchestrated the petition to Sheriff Arpaio and actively solicited signatures from Sunrise Tea Party in an Aug 17, 2011 meeting. His expressed intention was to use Sheriff Arpaio's report to spark a Congressional investigation. Video of the meeting.
    • Corsi said in that meeting: "Every single one of the 20 experts that we presented in WND wrote to me first ... said I want to show you why the document's a forgery ..."
  • September 16, 2011 -- Arpaio agreed to commission the Cold Case Posse, and Corsi "reports" on it for WND. Corsi makes no mention of his involvement with the Suprise Tea Party or their petition. "The group also gave to Arpaio a binder containing the published reports of 20 experts with established credentials who conducted a forensic examination of the computer PDF file published on the White House website and the photocopies of the Obama birth certificate handed out by the White House to the press during the April 27 press conference."  
  • As reported in WND, Corsi spent 18 hours over a two-day period in October 2011 briefing the Cold Case Posse on a wide-range of evidence regarding Obama's eligibility. Story.
  • Jerome Corsi investigated passenger lists INS records at the National Archives, and reported his findings to the Cold Case Posse.
  • Jerome Corsi appeared at the Cold Case Posse press conference on March 1, 2012 to present the findings of the investigation.
  • John Woodman, author of "Is Barack Obama’s Birth Certificate a Fraud?" sent two messages to the Cold Case Posse offering his expertise and analysis of the Long Form Birth Certificate. He was never contacted. Updated 3/7: Mara Zebest, who authored the report, debated Woodman in January 21, 2012 so was well aware of his work. The debate included Jerome Corsi and was broadcast on Mark Gillar's radio show. 
  • The official report of the Cold Case Posse was prepared by Mara Zebest, who also prepared an "exclusive" analysis for World News Daily in June 2011. The two are remarkably similar. A Question of Eligibility
  • Mara Zebest is a long-time Birther and PUMA supporter. Examples of her early anti-Obama posts. More examples: 
    • Added 3/7: If we formulate a viral email… let’s have credible information such as a link to the YouTube of the report on how Obama became Senator… that is the seed of doubt that exposes his corruption at the roots. Next the video of how he copies his speeches from others. 7/25/2008 mzebest
    • Added 3/7: LOL! It’s what I live for… my goal to make him a mockery of the very crowd he seeks for adulation. 7/25/2008 mzebest
    • Added 3/19: Obama wouldn’t even be allowed to TOUR the White House much less run it... This is NOT ABOUT A BIRTH CERTIFICATE — this is about BEING A NATURAL BORN CITIZEN. There’s a huge difference between these two concepts. The importance of the Donofrio case is that even if Obama DOES PROVIDE A BIRTH CERTIFICATE — he is NOT A NATURAL BORN CITIZEN.  11/22/2008 mzebest
  • Added 3/3: Corsi and Mark Zullo have published the results of the Cold Case Posse's investigation as an e-book: "A Question of Eligibility: A Law Enforcement Investigation into Barack Obama's Birth Certificate and His Eligibility to be President." 
  • Added 3/3: The videos presented at the press conference are hosted by the Tea Party Power Hour. They appear to be narrated by Mark Gillar, host of a Tea Party internet-radio show which frequently features Birthers as guests, whose website has a banner ad for the Birther Summit, and who has previously posted a YouTube video claiming Obama is mentally ill. 

 


The Maricopa County News Daily

Added 3/7: The entire investigation was the brainchild of Jerome Corsi in conjunction with World News Daily. Was this merely an elaborate book launch? As Doctor Conspiracy put it:

"The obvious point is that if the Cold Case Posse had come up something not sensational, there would be no book, and if it hadn’t been decided six months ago at the outset of the investigation that the results would attack Obama, WND wouldn’t have told Arpaio about their financial interest."

  • The official report of the Cold Case Posse was prepared by Mara Zebest, who also prepared an "exclusive" analysis for World News Daily (WND) in June 2011.
  • WND was privy to the information to be reported at the press conference long before the event. They sent an email linking to an 1100 word article about the press conference at 3:11 EST (1:11 MST), eleven minutes into the event. They extensively quoted Mike Zullo who hadn't yet been introduced when the article was posted.
  • WND provided live-streaming for the event.
  • Jerome Corsi, WND reporter, presented a portion of the findings of the investigation. 
  • Added 3/3: The Circle of Hype: "It’s been an amazing journey unraveling this story against all odds,” said Joseph Farah, founder of WND and WND Books, which published both the best-selling hardcover and the e-book followup. “Most all the details of the fraudulent birth certificate are in these books. Arpaio’s team has done an amazing public service corroborating what Corsi and the WND team found long ago against all odds.” Story at WND.
  • Added 3/7: According to AZfamily.com, "Corsi said he informed Arpaio of his plans to sell the investigation's findings six months ago, at the start of the investigation."

 


Somebody Needs to Watch Their Back: Attorneys General on Lines 2, 3, and 4

  • Has Corsi violated journalistic ethics by writing about an investigation he not only instigated but participated in?
  • Did the Cold Case Posse investigate the Social Security information illegaly obtained via E-Verify? Or the Selective Service information illegally obtained by changing President Obama's address through the SS website?
  • Did Sheriff Arpaio offer to drop the Cold Posse investigation in return for the DOJ dropping their investigation of Arpaio's office?
  • Is Sheriff Arpaio trying to smear President Obama in retaliation for multiple investigations of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office?
  • Did Jerome Corsi write articles smearing enemies of Sheriff Arpaio in return for the Cold Case Posse investigation?
  • Did WND provide their own funds to the Cold Case Posse for the investigation?
  • Was WND's campaign to raise contributions for the investigation a form of bribery? 
    • "WorldNetDaily has done its best to buy its preferred result from Arpaio and his "cold case posse." The only question is whether anyone can explain why that's not attempted bribery." Story, Huffington Post
  • Added 3/3: "Are Corsi and WND also trying to buy a favorable result by writing fawning articles about Arpaio and even erasing him from a story about a lawsuit against his department?" Conwebwatch.com 
  • Added 3/3: Did anyone other than birther conspiracists testify before the posse? 
  • Added 3/3: Where are the proceeds for Corsi and Zullo's e-book going? Updated 3/7: Corsi and Zullo are splitting the proceeds. Neither Arpaio nor the Cold Case Posse are profiting.  
  • Added 3/7: Where did the Selective Service Record come from? Was it legally obtained? Aren't personal records of living persons exempt from FOIA requests? Did they use images or photocopies for their analysis?
  • Added 3/7: Certain information in the e-book and the Press Conference (such as the search in the INS records for entry into the US) directly contradicts each other. Which is the lie? 
  • Added 3/8: The Cold Case Posse is a 501(c)(3) organization, so contributions are tax-exempt and the CCP is exempt from taxes. Did Zullo and Corsi direct the resources of the Posse to come up with the result they needed in order to profit from the book they intended to write? WND collected contributions on their website for the CCP and kept part of each donation. Are these violations of the 501(c)(3) regulations?
    • "The organization must not be organized or operated for the benefit of private interests, and no part of a section 501(c)(3) organization's net earnings may inure to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual." IRS Rules. 
  • Added 3/15: Did Jerome Corsi and Mike Zullo violate Arizona's Private Investigator Law? Detailed analysis here
    • Zullo and Corsi participated in an investigation into the alleged forgery of a government document attesting to the birthplace of President Obama – with Zullo as the lead, no less – under the auspices of a registered non-profit organization that is (apparently) certified by the IRS as an arm of local government.
    • Zullo and Corsi published a book based on and including information gathered through that investigation, for which they are receiving a monetary return.
    • Neither Corsi nor Zullo are licensed private investigators in Arizona.
    • Arizona state law requires such a license for anyone who conducts investigations into “crime or wrongs against the United States” for “any consideration.”

 

Additional Resources:

Video from the press conference

Official Report

Press Release

Unofficial Transcript (Warning -- contains nuts.)

Obama Conspiracy Theories Blog launches investigation into Sheriff Joe’s “Cold Case Posse”

Press Coverage, from Doc Conspiracy 

Press Coverage, from Patrick McKinnon at Bad Fiction

Document Forensics: Physical and Digital, The Difference and Varied Methodologies by Everalm