Thursday, November 18, 2010

Birther Mythbusting: Maya Soetoro's Hawaiian COLB

Many Birther rumors are the product of creative misinterpretation. A Birther sees a false statement in an article that also includes quotes from Obama's sister, and so the Birther concludes that Obama's sister must have been the source of the author's erroneous statement.

But some rumors are just cut from whole cloth, and have absolutely no basis in reality whatsoever. They are nothing more than the fantastical creations of one person's imagination, but the Birther, always gullible for anything that supports his worldview, will blindly accept it as fact without making even a cursory effort to investigate the claim being made. Then they turn around and repeat it as fact for other gullible eyes and ears to absorb.

Take, for instance, this Birther claim:
"Obama's sister Maya was born in Jakarta, Indonesia, but Anna Dunham registered her as "born in Honolulu" shortly after her birth. Maya has a State of Hawaii Certification of Live Birth, just like Obama"
This is false. Not 'misinterpretation of a real fact' false, but 'complete and utter fiction' false. 'Hitler Diaries' false. 'The planes that flew into the WTC were holograms' false.

One reason we know this is because no one has ever actually produced a Hawaii Certification of Live Birth for Maya. A second reason we know this is because there has never been even a single instance of anyone who claims to have seen a Hawaii Certification of Live Birth for Maya. A third reason is that there has never been even a single credible instance of anyone who claims thatt a Hawaii Certification of Live Birth for Maya exists.* A fourth reason is that the Hawaii Department of Health has confirmed that they have no index data whatsoever for a birth of Maya Soetoro.**

So where, then, did this claim come from? Not from a credible source, but rather from one of Birtherdom's most infamously non-credible sources: TechDude.

TechDude first appeared in the comments section of Pam Geller's 'Atlas Shrugs' blog on July 4, 2008. His last appearance, before disappearing forever, was a month later, at the start of August. TechDude's sudden disappearance was concurrent with the revelation that all of his claimed personal details, including his entire expert resume, were stolen from a Missouri forensic analyst. TexasDarlin conceded that she had been fooled and she pulled down all of TechDude's submissions to her site, and even Israel Insider, which had repeatedly plugged TechDude over the past month, retracted their support of him and his work. Just five weeks after he showed up out of nowhere, TechDude was again gone.

But he left behind one rumor that refuses to die. Just days before he vanished, on August 4, 2008, TechDude posted some leading comments at TexasDarlin's website:
One more real fast comment before I get back to some other things here at the lab. The reason I am giving the guilty parties a few days is to see 1) if they even know their COLB was used 2) if they do know their COLB was used they can come clean and 3) to give others a chance to find the names on the COLB and post them before I do.

A 3rd party finding the same information - particularly one who does not know me from Adam (teehee) - would be the final nail in the COLB’s coffin. I am not some sort of genius and there are many others who can do a much better job at this analysis but every time I try and let others step in they just sit on the sidelines and pick their noses.

So here is a challenge to those who want the name out there ASAP. To the first person to accurately reconstruct the names and text on the COLB and also include screen shots and a description on how they did it so that others can follow (before I post my results anyplace) I will send them to Vegas for the weekend and pay for the trip myself. (why you ask?….simply put I think we need to get other’s involved and an incentive never seemed to hurt in the past – and who does not love Vegas?.)

But they better hurry since I will be posting the full info (screen shots, methods, etc) very soon. Now is the time for all good geeks to come to the aid of their country and also win a trip to Vegas.
...which was soon followed by a second TechDude comment:
"For a quick preview – the original COLB used to create the KOS COLB image belongs to a female and does not belong to Obama. Another follow up report will reveal exactly who the original underlying COLB did belong to. Trust me when I tell you it is going to be one hell of a major twist that no one would have seen coming."
A fellow commenter, "KG," responded as follows:
KG // August 4, 2008 at 8:45 pm
Holy crap. I’ve just duplicated the effort. It’s Maya’s - Maya Kassandra Soetoro. Her name fits perfectly in the artifacts.
And then, a few hours later:
techdude // August 5, 2008 at 12:06 am
Congrats KG (I really wanted to play online all night but I am exhausted and will reply more in the AM)
Later that August 5, TexasDarlin devoted an entire post to TechDude's claim that Maya's name was hidden on Obama's birth certificate. It stated that TechDude planned to release a full report detailing this discovery, but that report never materialized, because TechDude disappeared less than a week later.

Birthers took this unevidenced 'discovery' of Maya's name on Obama's Hawaiian birth certificate to mean that Maya had a Hawaiian birth certificate. How else could her name appear? Obama certainly wouldn't have forged a birth certificate from another forged birth certificate. So, by Birther logic, Maya had a COLB. And since Maya was actually born in Indonesia, her possession of a COLB was evidence that Hawaii gave out COLBs to people born outside Hawaii. It's a very circular, self-serving logic which, conveniently, relies on absolutely no actual facts whatsoever.

And so, despite the lack of any supporting evidence, the Birther lie that Maya Soetoro has a Hawaiian Certification of Live Birth was created, and its zombie-like corpse continues to haunt the internet, refusing to die. It shuffles on thanks to the stubborn fact-blindness of gullible fools like the one quoted above, who just prefer repeating rumor to taking a moment to ask themselves "Is this outrageous fact I'm repeating actually true?"


* Credibility is important. Anyone can just say it exists. I can say I have an original Monet hanging on my wall. I asked the Birther who made the original claim above what his source was for the claim that Maya has a COLB. He cited an online post by some random Birther in Florida, who in turn cited no source at all.

** I link here to two different sites, one pro-Birther and one anti-Birther, because the page they both quote at Leo Donofrio's blog was deleted by Leo.


  1. Loren, another good one...however, are you absolutely sure that Tech Dude was not Adam Fink?

    Adam's old Yahoo profiles made it clear he was a big fan of Ayn Rand.

    I've never known for sure one way or another; perhaps you've nailed this, as you've nailed so many other things.


  2. I just noticed this posting. Techdude actually is Adam Fink. I established this back in August 2008. I spent a lot of time chasing Techdude's identity down. Turns out that Adam Fink had used the e-mail address for years. This was confirmed to me by clients of his (in New York) that knew him personally and for whom he'd provided webmaster services (a business he'd started before moving to Missouri). There was also a perfect linguistic match between writings by Adam Fink and the Techdude postings - including perfectly identical partial sentences with highly distinctive technical content (discussing computer/document forensics). There was also additional information (further evidencing the identity) that someone provided me in private (i.e. only on the condition that it not be divulged). Shortly after Neal Krawetz initially discovered the match in supposed credentials between Fink and Techdude (and noted this online), Fink contacted him claiming that it was a case of identity theft, and Neal gave him benefit of the doubt. But it turned out that Fink actually was Techdude.


  3. Part 4

    "I know that one well"??? There isn't "one" such type of malware – there are hundreds of different malware programs that masquerade as anti-malware "virus scanners". The "Sadly there is no fix..just a reformat/reinstall." (which is what he apparently actually did when hired to deal with malware problems at an office – he reformatted all their computers) also indicates ignorance. I’ve removed fake "virus scanner" malware (multiple different forms) from many computers – a reformat is essentially never required if you know what you’re doing.

    This past year, a client who hired him to deal with cyberstalking was murdered, apparently by her ex-husband. Fink told the local newspaper that he had communicated information about the cyberstalking to the DA's office, which set off a bit of a brouhaha when the DA's office noted that he had never actually communicated such information to them (and they also noted that if he actually had such information to report at the time, he should have contacted the police rather than the DA's office).

  4. Hi Loren,

    I just posted a set of comments discussing the Techdude affair. The commentary was long, so I broke it into four parts - but once I posted the fourth segment, the earlier ones vanished. I was just wondering whether this was due a technical problem with blogger (on the other hand, if you chose to remove it given its extreme length - so as not to have your blog overrun - that's entirely understandable).


  5. It must have been a technical problem with Blogger. I'm not seeing the comments displayed, and they're not showing up in Blogger's comment editor either.

  6. Loren,

    I sent a full copy of the commentary to your yahoo e-mail account. I'll try reposting the first of the segments again (to see if reposting works, or if the same problem recurs).

  7. Well, I've come up with a kludge workaround for posting this info. The full text of my Techdude comment can be found here.

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