Obama birth certificate requests on rise in Hawaii
WASHINGTON // It's the conspiracy story that just won't go away. On Saturday, Hawaii health officials revealed that more people are requesting proof that Barack Obama, the US president, was born in Honolulu and not outside the United States.
While the numbers remain slight - 27 requests in December compared to 16 in November - such inquiries take up significant amounts of local officials' time, according to the Honolulu Star Advertiser, a local newspaper. Neil Abercrombie, the newly elected governor of Hawaii, has now pledged to end the speculation once and for all.
Mr Abercrombie, a friend of Mr Obama's parents, says he saw Mr Obama days after his birth in hospital.
"What bothers me is that some people who should know better are trying to use this for political reasons," Mr Abercrombie told the Chicago Tribune.
"Maybe I'm the only one in the country that could look you right in the eye right now and tell you, 'I was here when that baby was born.'"
It is not clear, however, what Mr Abercrombie intends to present as proof that Mr Obama was born on the island. Under local regulation, birth certificates are protected under privacy laws. Those who believe otherwise, moreover, are unlikely to be dissuaded easily.
The claim that Mr Obama, the first black US president, was not born in the US and therefore should have been ineligible to run for highest office, was first made during Mr Obama's campaign for presidency in 2008.
In response, Mr Obama's campaign released a `certificate of live birth', an official document from the Hawaii Health Department certifying the facts of his birth. That document, dated 2007, and requested by the campaign, was authenticated by independent organisations but did not persuade conspiracy theorists, who continue to demand that the president's original certificate be released.
This small but dedicated group, collectively known as "birthers", remains unrepentant in its belief that Mr Obama, whose father was a Kenyan Muslim, is a foreign element intent on subverting the US from within. Birther scepticism has had very real consequences. Several bills have been proposed (and defeated) in Congress that would make it mandatory for future presidential candidate to produce their birth certificates.
Earlier this month, Lt Col Terrence Lakin, an army doctor, was sentenced to six months in prison and thrown out of the military after he failed to turn up for a tour of duty in Afghanistan. Mr Lakin had argued that Mr Obama's orders as commander-in-chief carried no validity if he was not born in the US.
Birthers are now planning to turn Mr Larkin's story into a musical.
Updated: December 28, 2010 04:00 AM