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DID JOSHUA WISCH ISSUE A PUBLIC STATEMENT FOLLOWING ARPAIO’S PRESSER, OR IS IT ALL A “CHARADE?”
by Sharon Rondeau
(Jul. 20, 2012) — On Tuesday, July 17, 2012, the Associated Press released a report on Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s press conference held earlier that day in Maricopa County, AZ. Arpaio and his lead investigator had announced that their investigation into Obama’s long-form birth certificate led them to conclude that the image was “definitely fraudulent.”
At the time, the second-to-the-last sentence of the AP article read:
Obama released a copy of his long-form birth certificate in an attempt to quell citizenship questions.
In apparent updates released on Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning, the AP article, which had been widely distributed by various local and national news media, was amended to include a statement allegedly from Joshua Wisch, Special Assistant to Hawaii Attorney General David Louie in the location where the above-quoted sentence had been, with that sentence moved to the approximate middle of the article.
A third version of the article appeared which contained Wisch’s statement but not the above-quoted sentence. A fourth version contained Wisch’s added statement but retained the sentence quoted above in its original place. A fifth version reported that “Hawaii officials have repeatedly confirmed Obama’s citizenship, and state officials did again Tuesday.”
According to state law HRS 338-18, the contents of a vital record maintained at the Hawaii Department of Health cannot be divulged to a member of the public unless the person demonstrates “a direct and tangible interest in the record.” The “statement” attributed to Wisch does not contend that he has seen Obama’s birth record.
Former Hawaii Department of Health Director Dr. Chiyome Fukino also made public statements about Obama’s alleged birth records both while holding the position and after the administration had changed. On April 11, 2011, Fukino claimed that Obama’s long-form birth certificate was “half typed and half handwritten,” but the image released 16 days later on April 27, 2011 did not meet that description.
A lengthier version of Wisch’s statement to the press is contained in an Arizona publication decrying Arpaio’s investigation as a waste of taxpayer dollars. Wisch’s statement is first identified as having come from “officials from Hawaii.”
Not only did Wisch reportedly make a longer statement than that which was first quoted by the AP, but he evidently wrote an entire article published in The Hawaii Reporter on July 19, 2012:
In the article, Wisch does not state that the Hawaii Department of Health has released both the short-form and long-form birth certificates for Barack Hussein Obama II; rather, he points to The Washington Post having “noted” it.
At the conclusion of the article, it is stated that “Joshua A. Wisch is the Special Assistant to the Attorney General for the State of Hawaii.” However, at the top, he is listed as a “guest contributor.”
An editorial is not the same as an official statement on government letterhead.
On July 19, The Post & Email contacted the editor of The Hawaii Reporter, the newspaper in which the full op-ed allegedly written by Wisch appeared, to ask in what format the letter was submitted: via email or on official state stationery. As of this writing, no response has been received.
Update, July 23, 2012, 1:33 p.m. EDT: The Post & Email has received a response from Malia Zimmerman, Editor of The Hawaii Reporter, in which she stated that she contacted the Department of Health for comment following Arpaio’s press conference on July 17. She then received the statement from Wisch. “It is common for Joshua, who is a spokesperson for the AG, to send us statements,…” she told us. She also stated that the letter arrived via email “with the AG logo included on the email.”
Wisch had reportedly given a statement to the press on May 23, 2012, after Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett had requested a verification letter vouching for the information contained in Obama’s long-form birth certificate as allowed by Hawaii law. It was reported that “Hawaii…didn’t bow to the request easily.” During the press conference, Zullo made it clear that he did not accept the state of Hawaii’s purported verification letter, remarking that it lacked a birth date. “If he [Ken Bennett] wants to accept it, that’s gonna be on him,” Zullo said (43:58, video courtesy of the Tea Party Tribune).
It has been suggested to The Post & Email that the verification letter is also a forgery not issued on real government stationery. Bennett’s Communications Director, Matthew Roberts, refused to release a copy of the envelope in which a hard copy of the verification letter was allegedly received from the Hawaii Department of Health. Rather, he told us that “we’ve accepted the envelope as authentic.”
The Post & Email therefore sent an open records request under ARS 39.121.03 within the last week, including the quoted cost of copying and/or mailing, regarding the verification letter.
Zullo has had threats of physical harm made against him on at least one website carrying portions of the Wisch letter.
Beginning on or about June 12, 2008, a short-form birth certificate image titled “Certification of Live Birth” had been posted at The Daily KOS, Factcheck.org and Politifact.com after public concern began to rise that Obama might not be a “natural born Citizen” as required by Article II, Section 1, clause 5 of the U.S. Constitution. Throughout 2008 and 2009, the Health Department had refused to confirm that the “Certification of Live Birth,” the only birth “record” available at the time for Obama, originated in their office.
On May 29, 2009, then-White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs had claimed during a daily press conference that “The state of Hawaii provided a copy with the seal of the president’s birth.” However, Communications Director Janice Okubo had stated on June 28, 2008 that she didn’t “know that it’s possible for us to even say beyond a doubt what the image on the site represents.”
After the short-form image was posted bearing Obama’s name, contrary to statements attributed to Okubo, several people born in Hawaii were able to obtain documents which were titled “Certificate of Live Birth” rather than “Certification of Live Birth” which contained a raised seal in the center. Obama’s had lacked the seal until another “version” allegedly containing a seal was published by Factcheck in August. Factcheck failed to answer any of The Post & Email’s questions about the document, including whether or not we could send a photographer to examine and photograph it.
A photography expert stated that there were two different versions of the “Certification of Live Birth,” one of which was displayed by Factcheck.org and the other by Politifact and Daily KOS.
Another AP article focuses on a trial in which Arpaio is the defendant against charges of racial profiling brought by the U.S. Department of Justice but also includes the quote from Wisch.
The Post & Email contacted Wisch by email on July 18 and his office at 808-586-1284 on July 19 to ask in what format and when the short statement appearing in the AP articles was issued and received no response to either inquiry.
Mr. Wisch’s statements, or those attributed to him, have been proven inaccurate in the past. While he reportedly told MSNBC that the birth index book at the Hawaii Department of Health lists “Obama II, Barack Hussein” as having been born in Hawaii, he did not say that just above Obama’s name is the unusual entry “duplicate” and that the book contains an anomaly not found in the other index books available for inspection.
At 40:04, Zullo said that Deputy Attorney General Jill T. Nagamine was “hiding behind state statutes” when he and the deputy who visited the Health Department in May to avoid answering their questions about Obama’s birth certificate. If she was unable to say whether or not Zullo was holding a copy of the original long-form birth certificate, who authorized Wisch to do so?
At present no one from the Hawaii Department of Health is making any statements about Obama’s birth records, but rather, the Hawaii Attorney General’s office appears to have assumed the authority to issue “statements,” whether formal or informal, on the subject.
If Hawaii birth records are “some of the best managed,” why does the name “Virginia Sunahara” appear in the Birth and Death Indexes but the Health Department told a requester of a verification letter that “there were no records responsive” to her request?
What happened to her birth certificate number?
Of the image the White House released, Zullo said, “It’s time for the charade to stop” (42:50). “There’s no evidence that the document is authentic.”