Layer upon layer: Opening Obama's birth certificate in Adobe Illustrator
I haven't commented previously about the Obama birth certificate issue. My problems with the president involve his policies, not his place of birth. My guess was that there was something embarrassing on the long-form birth certificate that didn't appear on the certification of live birth that he released earlier.
And now the White House has posted on its website a PDF containing what purports to be a scan of a certified copy of the birth certificate of Barack Hussein Obama, II.
I say "purports" because there are some weird things about it. It's not strange that it's a PDF, rather than an image file, like a JPEG, BMP, PNG, or TIFF. Many scanners generate a PDF by default.
A tweet from Jim Hoft of Gateway Pundit alerted me to some oddities with the document. I downloaded a copy of the PDF directly from the White House website, at this URL:
The metadata in the file is strange: It indicates that it had been processed in some way by Adobe Illustrator.
I happen to have Illustrator, so I opened the birth certificate PDF in Illustrator and followed the process outlined by Mara Zebest, coauthor of a book on Photoshop:
1. Select the entire document (Ctrl-A)
2. Object | Clipping Mask | Release
3. Repeat step 2 until Release is no longer an option.
When I did it, I could only do step 2 once after which Release was grayed out. But the result was the same: Boxes outlining eight parts of the document as separate objects and one box surrounding it all.
Reopening the original file again, I found that all I had to do was open the file in Illustrator and click using the Selection tool, and I could see all the box elements. In the layers box, there is one layer, composed of one group, which in turn is composed of 9 groups and a clipping mask. Each of those 9 groups is composed of an image and a clipping mask.
After following the above steps 1 and 2, all the clipping masks were converted to paths and the layer was composed of 9 groups and a path, with no intermediate path. Each individual component image could then be made invisible, using the layer dialog.
The nine components:
- Tiny fragments the same color as the safety paper pattern on the top edge just left of center
- Tiny fragments the same color as the safety paper pattern on the top edge just above the certification date
- The letters "Non" from the word None in box 17a.
- "AUG - 8 196" - part of a stamped date in box 20.
- "AUG - 8" and the digit 6 in 1961in box 22.
- "APR 25 2011" at the bottom left of the page.
- The certification stamp of the state registrar at the bottom right.
- Most of the remaining typed letters on the form, the handwritten dates, and the last half of Ann Dunham Obama's name.
- Everything else -- the safety paper pattern, with white ghosts or haloes around the letters were first half of Ann Stanley Obama's signature, the signature of the Physician, all but one letter of the original registrar's signature, the form grid, and scattered letters -- the R in Barack, the K in Kenya, the S in Stanley, the last digit of the sequence number in the upper left of the page, and the handwritten numbers (which look like coding for statistical purposes)
Here's the ninth image -- what's left after the top 8 images are turned off (click the half-size thumbnail to view 997 KB full-size PNG -- I exported it from Illustrator at the same 72dpi resolution as the White House PDF):
I have no idea whether this is evidence of tampering, but it certainly looks different than other scanned PDFs in my possession. For example, here's a scanof ethics filings by Tulsans for Better Government (earlier incarnation of the rule-or-ruin bunch now known as Save Our Tulsa). Like the birth certificate, it's a form -- a mixture of pre-printed text and handwritten text. Opening that file in Illustrator shows what you'd expect -- one image (the entire form) in one group in one layer. Metadata reveals the model of scanner that produced the image (Toshiba e-STUDIO 353).
There's one other odd thing about this birth certificate: There is a sequence number in the upper left corner, which appears to have been produced by a hand stamp, perhaps the sort that automatically advances. The number on Obama's certificate is 61 10641. The sequence number on the certificate of Susan Elizabeth Nordyke, born at the same hospital the following day, is 61 10637. Obama's certificate was accepted by the Registrar General on August 8; Nordyke's was accepted on August 11. How can a certificate processed three days later have a lower sequence number? I'm making an assumption that the sequence number was applied when the certificate was received by the registrar; that assumption could be incorrect.
Does this mean I think President Obama was born in Kenya or is ineligible to be president? No. But I don't understand why Obama would release an image that appears to have been edited or processed in some way, especially given the long-standing controversy over the document which began three years ago during his bitter primary struggle with Hillary Clinton.
MORE: KRMG reports that Tulsa IT professional Scott Grizzle notes that several aspects of the document "don't pass the smell test." KRMG has audio of a conversation with Grizzle and pictures of the various digital pieces of which the document appears to be composed. I've known Scott for several years, and he's as far from an extremist in temperament and ideology as you can get.
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