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“Deleted or Cropped Content” in Obama Birth Certificate

April 28, 2011

To the dismay of many in the political arena, the “birther” controversy has been given new, vigorous life by the release of a document purported to be President Barack Obama’s “long-form” birth certificate.

A quick review of the “Certificate of Live Birth” using Adobe Acrobat Professional or Adobe Illustrator reveals that the image of the certificate is a composite created using computer software. An image of the document as provided is shown below.

In Acrobat Professional 9.0, opening the document and selecting Document > Examine Document… produces an interesting result. The program reports that there is “deleted or cropped content” in the PDF. Removing this “deleted or cropped content” results in the image below. (The same result can be found by right-clicking the document and selecting “Release Clipping Mask” in Illustrator.)

It is unclear in exactly what ways this document was compromised, but it does not appear to be a scan of a real-life document. If it were, the file would not have mixed forms of content. It would be a flat image like a photograph, and neither Acrobat nor Illustrator would detect any evidence of composition—just a series of pixels on a single layer.

Here’s a tip for next time: print out and rescan the document after it’s been hacked together, and the seams should become less obvious.

UPDATE (4/28, 3:09 PM): In Acrobat, opening the document and selecting Advanced > Document Processing > Export All Images… produces the images below, which are a bit easier to examine.

Note that the “APRIL 25 2011” date stamp in the lower-left of the PDF does not get exported as a black-and-white image, as is the case with the other text that appears “whited out” in the green image.

Looking at these images, it seems a reasonable hypothesis that the document is in fact a genuine birth certificate, but that whoever scanned it did so in an unusual way that included composing the PDF from multiple images. However, it’s not unreasonable to wonder whether it is genuine. The long-awaited release of this “long form” does not resolve anything definitively.

Unfortunately, the question of the specifics of Obama’s birth seems to only lead to more questions. It would behoove the Hawai’i Department of Health to provide more compelling evidence than a PDF that has the appearance of not being a pure scan of a single document. While performing cosmetic touches like the green background and multi-image composition may have some purpose, doing so raises doubts about the authenticity of the information.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. drfalken permalink
    April 28, 2011 08:33

    Are you an archivist?

    • April 28, 2011 12:57

      If you mean to ask if I professionally archive documents, no. But I have archived documents in the past as part of my job, as well as for personal matters.

  2. April 28, 2011 09:10

    The circle within which Obama has been able to confide in this fraud is likely quite small. The ability within that circle to produce convincing forgeries is limited, especially when compared to the interest and depth of knowledge on the Internet.

    It was pointed out yesterday by the inimical alternative media source, Michael Rivero, “Kenya” (like Zimbabwe) did not exist in name in 1961. And the hospital is misnamed, using a name not in use until the then entirely differently named hospital was bought out by another hospital system with the name used on this forgery. As far as forgeries go, this one is as crude as the last.

    Birth certificates have the newborn child’s footprints on them. I was born more than a decade before Obama, and my birth certificate on file in Detroit has my small feet printed on it -just like fingerprints.

    This foot-printing is done to remove the possibility of mix-ups, to identify the child in the case of some mishap, and as a permanent record. Everyone’s footprints are on their birth certificate after the Second World War. The military-driven bureaucracy in Hawaii would have long-since required this precedure. It is still a procedure in practice today.

    If the “silliness” Barack Obama has conjured up, is really something he were concerned with, he would have provided a copy of his birth certificate with his footprints on it long ago.

    He would have provided such a certificate, only though, if he was born in the U.S.

    As he has not provided such a certificate, it’s time to arrest and charge him with fraud. Maybe then he will fess-up to the truth of the matter. This fraud can be proved against him now.

    Failing this immediate action by the proper federal policing authorities, it is time for a military response against those policing authorities who are quite obviously NOT upholding the Constitution of the United States of America.

    Obama is a lying impostor.

    Don Robertson
    Limestone, Maine

    • April 28, 2011 13:02

      I don’t take the apparent birth-certificate tampering as definitive proof that Obama was not born in the United States. However, I certainly don’t regard him as an honest man, and this looks like just another piece of evidence along those lines.

    • April 28, 2011 20:40

      I hate how non-issues get so much coverage, and I hate even worse the fact that I’m even responding to this. But sometimes you have to point out absolute absurdities.

      Birth certificates issued with “footprints” are souvenirs issued by the individual hospital, and aren’t even recognized as legal documents.

      I was born 15 years after Obama and I have both forms of birth certificates. They wouldn’t even accept my tiny footprints form when I went to go get my drivers license transfered from CA to NY. I had to have my actual birth certificate, (which I’m sure shockingly to you, doesn’t have my footprints on it) sent to me from the county I was born in in Illinois.

      Believe what you want about Obama’s character, politics, race, creed, birth place, etc.. But your lack of investigation on this simple matter isn’t helping your case.

      • April 28, 2011 21:10

        I was leaning toward rejecting Don’s comment because it’s too long, but I tend to let things slide when the commenter shows a sincere interest in the subject.

        That said, what some hospital in Detroit does is not necessarily indicative of what other hospitals do. Lack of forthcomingness about the matter doesn’t mean that all the assertions of the “birthers” are correct. And I would not take this document as a green light to arrest Obama or anyone else unless it is proven to a reasonable legal standard that a real, arrestable crime was committed.

        I am covering the birth-certificate issue only because this newly released document does appear to have some oddities. I’ve taken it about as far as I can on my own, and I’m consulting someone else right now (whose expertise in this area exceeds mine by a great deal). Hopefully, I can scrape up a valid explanation with which to conclude this post, or at least narrow down the possibilities.

    • Timothy of New York permalink
      May 6, 2011 09:20

      Don, why do people post things without checking their validity at all?

      Yes, Kenya DID exist prior to 1961. Most people called it “Kenya” back as far as the early 1900s, in fact. There’s a famous book called “The Stone Age Races of Keyna” from 1935. Then, there is “A plan to intensify the development of African agriculture in Kenya” written in 1955. So, clearly — there was a Kenya, and it was usually called Kenya.

      Yes, the hospital did exist, and was actually called by precisely that name at that time.

      Look at the research journals indices and you will see it mentioned rather frequently. Try this one :
      A 1955 study mentioning specifics in a footnote on the very first page (583) “From theKapiolani Maternity and Gynecological Hospital, Honolulu, T.H.L.G.P, formerly chief of staff, T. N. assistant chief of staff” Referring to Lyle G. Phillips and Toru Nishigaya.

      It took me less than two minutes to find those, so surely you can’t have even tried.

  3. Aaron J Spetner permalink
    April 28, 2011 12:32

    As cool as it would be were this to be really fake, I do not believe it is. The “signs” people are pointing to are common when a document is scanned to PDF using an OCR scanning program. Try scanning any text-heavy document directly to PDF. Acrobat will then report that there is cropped and hidden content, just like with this document. Correct me if I’m wrong, but in my experience, this is normal.

    • April 28, 2011 13:32

      I’d have to test your theory, but I do know that scanning using OCR also produces some amount of selectable/searchable text (the content the scanner could actually “read”). The “Certificate of Live Birth” PDF contains no such text, and the portions that go white when the deleted/cropped content is removed don’t seem to show any relevance to whether the text should be readable by OCR.

      Also, it’s not a necessary default that a document being scanned would undergo the OCR treatment. The more basic setting for scanners is to simply lift the image like a fax machine does.

      I’m not a “birther,” and I’m a bit wary of the whole drama. I hope this document turns out to be genuine. There are much more pressing matters to address than determining the president’s correct time and place of birth. I’ll be a happy guy if I can update this post with a solid explanation of why and how the deleted/cropped content is present. In the meantime, though, the document looks fishy, and only fools and sycophants should be willing to dismiss these questions without seriously considering them.

      • Aaron J Spetner permalink
        April 29, 2011 05:43

        It all depends on the software. I have a Samsung MFP and if you use the software to initiate the scan to PDF (as opposed to pushing the scan button on the machine), it will automatically perform OCR on the file (which I almost never use, as I alweys flatten, clean up and compress the files in order to shrink them). If you like, I can scan a document and send it to you and you can compare the two (I no longer have Acrobat Professional or Illustrator – only Photoshop). Also, something to keep in mind is that the copy originally received from the Hawaii health board was a white-on-black negative. For some reason, they decided to reverse it and stick it on a green security-paper background. Why? My guess is to fan the flames of the conspiracy theories and in turn make the right look silly (probably the same reason he has withheld the BC until now).

  4. April 29, 2011 14:48

    @Aaron: See my update. I also poked around last night and found the negative images you mentioned (the “Nordyke sample”).

    The logical explanation rolling around in my head is this: they scanned the negative, inverted the colors in a graphics program, and then touched up the text/handwriting/stamps that weren’t pure white (and thus didn’t turn black during the invert). Then they “magic wanded” the white areas sloppily, hence the white within the loops in some letters, and applied a feather effect to the selection, hence the white “outlines” on nearly everything.

    I hope that this sloppy, theory-inspiring job was done by accident rather than to mess with people’s heads. I’d like to see this issue put to rest so more energy can go toward legitimate criticism of Obama. Barring any extreme developments, this will probably be the only time I address the birth-certificate issue on this site.

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