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In the Media

article imageOp-Ed: The final word on Obama's birth certificate

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By Alexander Baron
Jun 5, 2011 in Politics
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An article about the manufactured controversy over the Obama birth certificate which explains how it is now being perpetuated by people who have a poor grasp of photography and computer graphics as much as by conspiracy theorists.
Barack Obama was elected to the Illinois Senate in 1996, prior to that he had worked as both an academic and a lawyer. He formally announced his candidacy for the Presidency in February 2007, so had obviously been giving it consideration sometime before then. So why is it only since he entered the White House that the so-called controversy over his place of birth has ignited? One would have imagined that any irregularities would have come to light a long time before that. If they were genuine.
According to one of his intimates, Obama has always wanted to be President; presumably that was his second choice. He was a fortnight shy of his 9th birthday when Neil Armstrong set foot on the Moon, but sadly, NASA has not lived up to its early promise.
Regardless of his unrealised potential as an astronaut, one must ask is Obama involved in a massive cover up, or has he been the victim of scurrilous gossip, rumour, innuendo and outright fakery?
A big article on WorldNetDaily by the author of Where’s The Birth Certificate? suggests that the forthcoming resignation of an Obama aide is a portent, the beginning of the end. Or is it?
Obama has an unusual family history, but unusual family histories are by no means...unusual. Cliff Richard, England’s answer to Elvis, was actually born in India; Tony Blair, the quintessentially English Prime Minister of Britain, was born in Scotland. John McCain, Obama’s Republican rival in the last Presidential race, was actually born in Panama, albeit in a US Navy hospital; this caused him a certain amount of trouble, though nowhere near as much as Obama has incurred.
President Obama s Long Form Birth Certificate.
White House
President Obama's Long Form Birth Certificate.
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At the end of April, the White House released a scan of the President’s long form birth certificate, which should have silenced all but the most demented of critics. Alas, the YouTube website has since been swamped with amateur videos which claim the document is a crude fake. Some of the accompanying analyses are – or appear to be – extremely detailed and technical. Alas, this is a case of a little knowledge being a dangerous thing. A little historical perspective will help.
From its inception, photography has been as much art as science, at times more so. Writing in the Journalist of May/June 1977, Ronan Quinlan of Dublin pointed out that “ONE OF THE first things I learned in a darkroom was how to put clouds in a picture with an empty sky. It was a simple process.”
One person who obviously didn’t learn this lesson is Udo Walendy, who published a book called Forged War Crimes...in which he reproduces a large number of photographs, including one of a man being shot, apparently a summary execution at the edge of a mass grave. There are at least three slightly different versions of this photograph, and a close inspection reveals that the gun in the hand of the executioner has been painted on, which indicates if not proves this photograph and all variants have been faked, right? Wrong! This is not a photograph of an execution, rather it is a photograph created from a still of a moving film. The actual film was shown in a documentary on British television a few years ago. Many similar photographs that appear in contemporary German and Russian books have been similarly doctored, and are by the same token genuine or substantially genuine.
While genuine photographs can have the appearance of being fake, fake photographs can likewise appear to be genuine. In a series of articles published from December 1982 in the British Journal Of Photography, Geoffrey Crawley explained in some depth the history of the Cottingley Fairies photographs and the problems experts had experienced with them. These articles, which are in places highly technical, demonstrate that unless the original negatives are available and their provenance is established, virtually nothing can be proved with any degree of certainty about any photograph. Even in those days it was possible to enhance photographs, and to reposition subjects in them, eg to make two people appear to be standing closer together than they actually are.
All this was before computer enhancement and digital cameras; digital photographs have no negatives of course, and even people with little or no expertise can produce passable montages, fakes and composites. One of the most infamous doctored photographs of the modern age is that of the late Diana Princess of Wales and Dodi Fayed in which they appear to be close to kissing. Again, this is a trick of the camera.
At this point, we can return to the supposedly doctored certificate published by the White House. While it is true that the Adobe Photoshop image appears to be layered, this is due to the resolution at which it was scanned. An in-depth analysis has been made by John Woodman of Springfield, Missouri. Although he is careful not to overstep the parameters of his investigation, he demonstrates clearly that the claims the certificate must have been forged because of the layering do not stand up.
It is worth mentioning that similar anomalies can be found in regular digital photographs, and unlike traditional photographs they do not require any deliberate tampering to produce. There have been numerous claims that some of the photographs and CCTV images of the 7/7 cell have been faked. These were four suicide bombers who targeted London on July 7, 2005 killing 52 innocent people as well as themselves. An example of how conspiracy theorists can be misled by digital photographs and poor quality CCTV can be found here.
Similar claims including of fake photographs and fake videos have of course been made about the atrocities of September 11, 2001, many of them bordering on the absurd.
Away from the world of Adobe Photoshop and digital photographs, the website FactCheck.Org published a detailed investigation of the Obama birth certificate claims nearly three years ago, complete with a birth notice from a Honolulu newspaper dated August 13, 1961. It remains to be seen if any of the birthers have read this analysis, or if they would take it on board if they had. It should also be pointed out that there are quite a few (genuine!) fakes in circulation, which purport to prove that Obama was born in Kenya, and so on.
In his latest rant, Jerome R. Corsi says Obama’s father misstated his date of birth during his stay in the United States; Corsi’s book, now number 14 on the New York Times list, also points out that at his birth, Obama was a dual citizen of the United Kingdom and the United States. Perhaps we could do a trade: how about the British claim Barack Obama, and in return the Americans can have David Cameron?
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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