Jul 06 2008
Welcome Hot Air and Little Green Footballs Readers
May I suggest much more important topics such as Our Pending Victory In Iraq, The Determination Of Our Soldiers To Succeed In Iraq, Obama’s Flip-Flops, and Nagging Problems On Flight 93 Memorial. This birth certificate myth is just not that import Addendum: I failed to note LJStrata (the computer guru behind the curtain here at that Strata-Sphere) was the one who put me onto the anti-aliasing lead. – end update
Days ago I looked into the forged Obama Birth Certificate Myth and realized it was all BS. Basically, we have a lot of people running around making mistakes and then trying to pretend revelations that destroyed their first claims are exposing other, new issues. All I see are people making wild claims, being proved wrong, and then moving onto new wild claims – to be proved wrong again. As proof of this pattern let me point to one of these ‘experts’ who did a poor job of examining the documents in the first place, a person called Polirak over at Town Hall.
Before we get into this I want to share what I discovered when I looked into these files, before I even began to look around the blogosphere.
- First I noted the certificate was a recent production that is made by a laser printer and is on a form put in place in 2001 (look at the lower right hand corner of any version of the certificate for this information).Â
- I also noted a stamped date from the back which bled through on the two version (one on the DailyKos and one on the Obama campaign site) which shows this modern version was produced around Jun 6 2007
- I discovered 2 dots from the laser printer that can be found on all three files (some folks just recently discovered the large one next to the image of the state seal)
- I could detect the impression of the state seal stamp and signature area on two of the files.
There are three electronic images of birth certificates at the center of this silly controversy: (1) a BHO certificate Daily Kos posted initially [image loaded here],Â which Kos says he obtained electronically from the Obama campaign [image here], Â (2) the version of the certificate on the Obama website, and (3) a clearly mocked up “blank” form produced by a blogger who goes by the name Opendna (aka John Mckinnon). Â
In my analysis I find the Kos version to be the highest quality image file of the original document, produced in Jun of 2007 by the state of Hawaii. I find the Obama campaign site version to be a lower quality version of the original, probably because someone decided to shrink the file size to optimize download size for the web. And I find the Opendna version to be a deliberately manipulated version of the original Kos image, because the Opendna version has no evidence of bleed through from the back side, no imprinted time stamp, no weak impression of the state seal and signature area. Â
This analysis took about 30-60 minutes, not days and days.
I have been putting off this posting on this matter because there has never been anything ‘discovered’ that proved a forgery, but simply proved people were running wild with their imaginations. Â Polarik provides the best example of this.
On 6/20/08 the ‘expert’ Polarik claimed this certificate clearly produced a year ago was a forgery of an original from 1961, which Barack Obama claimed he had in one of his books from years ago. I have no idea if he has the original, but no ‘expert’ would jump to the initial conclusion this was a forgery, unless they did not understand how government document versions are controlled. He even noted the evidence that clearly indicates this is a modern document in his post:
At the bottom of the JPG image, reading right from left, one can see following text:
OHSM 1.1 (Rev. 11/01) LaserÂ Â Â Â This copy serves as prima facie evidence of the fact of birth in any court proceeding. [HRS 338-13(b), 338-19]
There are a lot of problems with this statement, foremost of which is that the text in this document were produced by a graphics program and not a laser print, or any other printer, for that matter.
Actually, all the text on the document is produced by a laser printer (via a graphics program). Â All the text on the two complete versions (which means they have the bleed through images from the back) have a ‘haze’ around the letters. Polarik assumed this was because the text was photo shopped. Â My view is this is simply standard anti-aliasing of the text, something many word processing programs do:
The above example of an anti-aliasing feature (added to the S, not on the 3) shows how programs add pixels of varying shades around the curved sections of the letters/numbers to provide a smooth font edge on display and printing. Inspection of the files shows consistent anti-aliasing across all letters and images (e.g., the state seal in the middle). Consistent anti-aliasing across the document tells me this was induced when the document was originally printed – not from later manipulation.
Polarik mistakes this anti-aliasing feature with forgery, which is completely ridiculous. Â Anti-aliasing would show up on all Hawaii certificates since they are now digitally produced (and later I note this is the case). Â The biggest mistake Polarik makes here is comparing a laser generated certificate to an older type from NY. Â Unless your comparing apples to apples there is no way to determine aÂ forgery.
Next he discovers, two days later,Â the image went through Photoshop, which is not really a revelation since someone could scan the original document and prepare if for email or web posting using photo shop. Somehow in his mind just using Photoshop is evidence of a forgery, which of course is ridiculous – as many have since noted. So I’ll just skip that mistaken jump to a conclusion for now.
Then 8 days after his original forgery claim, Polarik finally discovers the items that bleed through from the back, providing hard evidence the two version from Kos and the BHO campaign are actually digital images of an authentically produced birth certificate, created last year. But he was all confused because the Opendna version of the file did not have any bleed through section – thus forgery was at hand again. Â One day before Polarik’s post on the time stamp, Doug Ross did a great job of showing the time stamp, the stamp of the state seal and the signature area impressions coming in from the back of the Kos and BHO Campaign images, further proving their authenticity – not proving a forgery:
The date stamp from last year is clear, the stamp of the seal and signature area is less clear, but that just means someone applied little pressure – it is the ink that counts and I am sure we will see a scan of the back, when the blogosphere stop’s making themselves look foolish. All this evidence did not stop many sites from still claiming ‘forgery’, simply because they did not know how and where to look for the evidence, or because they jumped to newer, wilder conclusions to support their preconceptions. This is completely shoddy rumor mongering, in my opinion.
BTW, my analysis was backed up when someone compared another HI birth certificate from a Ms Patricia Decostas. Â You can go and see the same anti-aliasing around the letters, and a much firmer date and seal stamp impression (someone was clearly getting some aggressions out that day!). Download it and zoom in on to see the anti-aliasing for yourself. Since all the same telltales are found in this second “apple”, we see confirmation – again – that the certificate at BHO and Kos are genuine. Â Same state seal stamp size and shape with attached signature area, etc. People were piling on the evidence of authenticity, yet still only seeing forgery.
So that now leaves us with the black dots, which TexasDarlin noted as late as July 3rd:
There is another, smaller dot on the outside of the border, just to the right of the word “SEX” (no idea if this was part of the mysterious forgery plan or not). These dots show up on the Kos image, BHO campaign image and the Opendna hacked file – meaning something was shared between all three images. And this is the last lame bit of evidence there is to claim forgery. Doug Ross deals with the matter here, but there is a simple explanation, that is not so surprisingly proved by Polarik himself.
Before we get to it here is the conundrum which has some people scratching their heads. The Kos and BHO versions show the bleed through of the information on the back in their images. The Opendna version has no bleed through tell tales, but does have the black dots. This leads a lot of people to assume the dots came before the impressions on the back. But this is not the only answer to this puzzle.
The fact is it looks to me like Opendna photoshopped the Kos image to remove the Obama specific details (minus the island of birth and the time of birth – another bit of evidence all three versions share a common original document). Then added his infamous joke name into the field, and then he printed out his new doctored certificate TO REMOVE THE PHOTO SHOP DETAILS!
It is all so simple. If you want to remove the Photo Shop artifacts you reprint the document, rescan it and all the telltales will be gone. And so will those faint bleed through impressions. But the black dots will remain. Is there some evidence this happened? Yep – let’s go to Polarik’s last attempt to create a conspiracy out of thin air.
Here Polarik compares the resolution (again) of the images from the Kos image and Opendna faked image. Go to the post itself and note the key revelation is that the Opendna resolution is lower than the Kos resolution – which means the Kos image couldn’t have come from Opendna. Â It has to be the other way around. Â Therefore those dots, being clearer in the Kos image, provide proof that the Opendna image came from the Kos image. Opendna produced his mock up from the Kos image, therefore the authentic version came first.
But more than that, numerous people have called the state of Hawaii who initially claimed the document was legit, and that they did provide a new copy to Obama on the date noted on the back. Now they cannot claim 100% confidence of the images which, as Opendna quite easily demonstrated, can be manipulated. But if the state says they issued a new copy last summer, and the Kos and BHO images bear that out, where is the forgery?
The only ‘forgery’ is the clearly mocked up joke produced by Opendna. Â And he (Mckinnon) showed how good he is at this document analysis when he reprinted and rescanned his mock up to delete all the tell tales of his work. But Opendna is not running for President. And after being proved wrong over and over and over again, these people who have latched onto the myth the Obama certificate is forged have done just the opposite.
Through the discovery of the bleed through images (stamp AND seal), the anti-aliasing of the letters, the resolution, even those little black dots, all the evidence points to an authentic certificate issued last year. Enough – this myth has been busted (and it was in my mind last week after less than an hour of analysis).
Update: OK, I did not address the weakest argument – the misaligned border corners. My view is the entire background image and fields is now inside a graphics program. Â If you look at the Decosta’s certificate you can see it is a different version, and the background pattern is much less clear. Â This is also born out with the anti-aliasing in the newer, BHO certificate (released 5 years after the Decosta’s certificate), which shows the aliasing merging with the bamboo pattern, which is crystal clear.
I have had to create so many NASA logos for so many years prior to the web taking off I am going to bet these misalignments (which are actually hinted at in the Decosta corners as well) may have been the result of a final resizing of a group of independent rectangles in a graphics program that threw off the alignment a bit. Â Or it could be a deliberate effect in the original. When government organizations do this kind of transition to digital, you find they hand this off to new hires out of school, which leads to some minor imperfections.
No matter, the corners do not negate all the other evidence and all the other false claims I dealt with above. Myth still busted. Â
Update: BTW, I did once help uncover the Downing Street Forgeries, so while I am not a professional I am also not at a novice. Â C Johnson at LGF is correct, I spent more time on this than it deserved, which is why I hesitated so long to do anything on it in the first place. Â How about that victory in Iraq folks?
Update: Yesterday Opendna posted an interview with is alter ego Jay Mckinnon at Kos, confirming the order of the images I determined, though he used MacPaint to redo the background and wipe out all telltales (which in the digital world is akin to a print and rescan of MacPaint imports they way I think it does). Case closed.