BLAMES “CONSPIRACY THEORY” WHILE IGNORING EVIDENCE
by Sharon Rondeau
During the presser, investigator Mike Zullo, working under the auspices of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) during the tenure of Sheriff Joseph Arpaio, revealed new evidence collected from two different forensics analysts affirming that the image could not have originated with a real, paper document based on nine points of forgery.
Made public on April 27, 2011, the image was almost immediately denounced by computer experts as fraudulent. Several months later, concerned that their votes would be disenfranchised in the upcoming 2012 presidential election, 242 constituents approached Arpaio requesting an investigation into the image’s authenticity.
At the time, Zullo headed Maricopa County’s “Cold Case Posse,” a volunteer organization and one of several dozen acting as an extension of the sheriff’s office within the community at no cost to taxpayers.
Six months into the investigation, an initial press conference on March 1, 2012 revealed that investigators had found probable cause to believe that both the long-form birth certificate image and Obama’s purported Selective Service registration form are fraudulent. Arpaio prefaced the revelations by stating that his original intent in commissioning the investigation was to “clear the president,” a statement reiterated at the December 15 presser.
A second press conference on July 17, 2012 declared that the standard of probable cause had been surpassed in the forgery of the birth certificate.
Arizona media and the U.S. media in general have maintained a virtual blackout on the investigation’s conclusions despite the serious ramifications of document forgeries belonging to a sitting President of the United States. To the public’s knowledge, neither the FBI nor the U.S. Department of Justice has launched an investigation, and Congress has remained silent on the matter.
As the investigation went forward, marginalization and ridicule were oft-used weapons against Zullo and Arpaio by the media, particularly in Arizona. In a recent telephone interview with The Post & Email, Zullo related that no media outlet ever inquired about his background as a sworn law enforcement officer and criminal investigator, but rather, chose to refer to him as a “car salesman” because of his position as vice president and General Manager of his family’s luxury new car franchise. The media represented him as a car salesman in an effort to discredit him and diminish the findings. While some invoked his time as a “former police officer,” they did not expound on his experience as a police officer, promotion to Detective, and his years spent as a private investigator.
The strategy of the media employed was to dismiss Zullo and his experience and ability to speak to the matter, in part because he had a professional life outside that of law enforcement, as if that somehow negates his ability to conduct criminal investigations and nullifies his prior training and law enforcement experience which resulted in criminal apprehensions and convictions. The media’s treatment of Zullo is in stark contrast to its portrayal of J. Keith Mularski, a former used-furniture salesman who went on to become a highly-skilled cyber-crime agent with the FBI.
In July 2014, Yahoo! News wrote an article about Mularski, whose humble beginnings as a post-college furniture salesman did not deter him from seeking and obtaining a position with the FBI because of his interest in computers. Having developed superb “sleuthing” skills to detect online crime, Mularski was lauded for having identified five Chinese cyber-criminals who heisted trade secrets from several major U.S. companies and a Russian identity thief who stole $100 million from unsuspecting account-holders around the world.
The article reported that “Mularski was making cyber waves” prior to solving the Chinese and Russian identity cases when he successfully penetrated an online identity-theft operation whose owner he convinced to allow him to migrate the “Dark Market” scheme onto servers which, unbeknownst to the criminals, were run by the FBI.
As a result of his accomplishments, Mularski is the subject of a book written by British author Misha Glenny and was a featured speaker at last year’s International Conference on Cyber Security at Fordham University.
The Pittsburgh field office which Mularski heads recently identified international “hackers” infecting hundreds of thousands of computers, including approximately 20,000 in the U.S., to include the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office.
In addition to five years of police and detective work in New Jersey, Zullo’s background includes seven years as a private detective dealing with drug cartels, organized crime, informants and other criminal activity. He additionally holds law enforcement certifications in homicide investigation, narcotics trafficking investigation, fingerprint identification, crime scene preservation and evidence collection, and domestic violence investigation. He has received commendations for his investigative work.
Zullo has also acquired training from the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office over his 12-year affiliation with that office in cold case homicide investigation, criminal surveillance and counter-surveillance, high-risk vehicle stops, DNA evidence collection, police interviewing and body language techniques, and high-risk felony warrant apprehension/criminal activity detection and suppression, among other areas of expertise. In 2009 Zullo received the MCSO Sheriff’s Commendation for his participation resulting in the apprehension of over 250 wanted individuals in Maricopa County.
On Tuesday, retired Phoenix Police Department Lieutenant Steve Soha provided The Post & Email with a glimpse into his work with Zullo over a five-year period in the 1980s, after which they remained in touch through the present day. Soha is a former New Jersey police officer, decorated combat Marine veteran, and 20-year veteran of the Phoenix PD, retiring in 2015.
Soha related that between 1980 and 1985, Zullo was a police officer in Demarest, NJ, while he was an officer in nearby Haworth. “They were adjoining towns. We would work together on quite a few things, actually,” Soha told us. “When it started out, we were the only ones on duty on the night shift. I was the only police officer on duty in Haworth, and he was the only one in Demarest. We backed each other up. If he got a call, I would assist him, and vice-versa.
“As we got a little bit more experience, Michael was promoted to the Detective Bureau. We worked a couple of cases together, as the bad guys didn’t stop at the town borders. Michael and I worked a lot on investigations. I was not in the Detective Bureau, but I was conducting investigations in my town, and Michael and I worked together there.”
Of Zullo’s expertise, Soha told us, “Michael was always a cut above. He was really bright investigative-wise.”
When we asked about any significant events which stood out in his mind from the time period, Soha responded, “There was a burglar that was really tearing up all the towns in northern New Jersey. Michael and I worked on that together, which trickled into New York City. Then there were a couple of armed robberies that were happening, and because of an informant that Michael developed, he and I worked on and solved that case and ended up arresting two people. It was a pretty high-profile case, because these guys were carrying out violent armed robberies not just in our towns, but also in larger communities. Because of Michael’s investigative experience and developing a confidential informant, we solved that case.”
Soha told The Post & Email that he was aware of Zullo’s investigation into the long-form birth certificate from its inception. “I can’t say I followed every word. It was of interest to me, and also because Michael was involved with it,” he said. However, he said that he watched all three press conferences.
When we asked, “What were your conclusions from the last one on December 15?” Soha responded, “It is frustrating to watch; I feel that the evidence is significant and that this is not Obama’s original birth certificate. It’s frustrating that it’s being glossed over. They tried to make it sound like a crackpot investigation. I think they just want it to go away.”
“In your mind, what should happen with the evidence Mr. Zullo and Arpaio reportedly gave to federal authorities and Congress?” we asked, to which he replied, “I think they need to follow up on it and determine the truth. That’s what needs to be told. Explain why…I’d like to see the truth come out.”
We asked Soha what his reaction would be if nothing were done with the evidence Arpaio provided. “I think it’s disappointing because you expect to hear the truth from your public officials. I look at it that he’s part of history, and they can’t make that go away. They can do their best and try to change history, which they’re trying to do, but I’m proud of Michael for sticking with it and following through with it.”
“It’s become glaringly apparent from the very first press conference to the conclusion in December over five years that not only Arizona media outlets, but media outlets across the nation, have made a concerted effort to keep this investigation and its findings from the public. Going back to 2012, there was a media blackout, and that blackout has continued for five years,” Zullo said.
“The local media attempts to characterize this as some kind of crackpot investigation and tried to use it politically against Sheriff Arpaio. At its conclusion in 2016, the media never truly reported the findings; they just called it as being done or over or a ‘debunked‘ investigation.
“But here’s the problem with that: Who debunked what? How can you debunk the conclusions of an investigation when it was only reported to the public 24 hours before the first article was written? How can you debunk something like that?
“The media was standing before me with recorders. There were reporters sitting on the floor. There was a group of reporters I had not seen before, except for one; they were all young, and the initial reports I heard coming from the live stream were all accurate. It wasn’t until they went back to their respective stations that the story became clouded. That is very telling, and it was done to provide political cover.
“There is no way those reporters left that room thinking this was nonsense. I could tell by their faces. At the first two press conferences, there were rolling eyes, but that didn’t happen here.
“As I said in the press conference, this had nothing to do with politics for me, and we have presented it in a way that we believe is irrefutable and hardly a ‘debunked’ investigation.
“With all of those reporters in that room, the story has yet to be told. They know how damaging it is, and they do not want to report the findings to the public.”
“This is no longer a free press,” Zullo continued. “The ‘fake news’ allegations coming out now are the most incredible thing to witness in real time. The very people who create the fake news are the people trying to allege that fake news is being reported when it is adversarial to their position.”
Since the final press conference, the media has peripherally invoked but misrepresented the investigation’s conclusions to the public. On January 11, in a series of exaggerations gleaned from “conspiracy theories,” Fox News Channel’s Greg Gutfeld jokingly said that Obama’s birth certificate was discovered to be “a fake.” However, in a previous broadcast, he had said, perhaps half-seriously, that Obama was “Kenyan-born,” a claim supported by a number of credible reports released long before Obama sought the office of the presidency.
In a July 2015 interview with Arpaio, CNN’s Jake Tapper insisted that Obama was “born in Hawaii” despite Arpaio’s declaration of the investigational findings that the long-form birth certificate is fraudulent and that the place of birth was not a subject of the investigation.
The Huffington Post characterized the investigation as continued “persecution of the president.”
When in May 2012 Breitbart News discovered a pamphlet distributed by Obama’s former literary agent in 1991 stating that he was “born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia and Hawaii,” the press accepted the agent’s hastily-proffered explanation that she had made a “fact checking error” before allowing the brochure to go to print.
Breitbart has stated that its founder, the late Andrew Breitbart, was “never a ‘birther'” in an apparent attempt to distance itself from the media-fueled stigma attached to anyone questioning Obama’s inconsistent life narrative.
Several days before the release of the long-form birth certificate image, multiple media outlets published articles stating that the sole type of birth record anyone born in Hawaii could obtain was a “short-form” “Certification of Live Birth,” a claim also made by White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs in 2009.
In December 2007, MSNBC’S Chris Matthews claimed that Obama was “born in Indonesia,” yet he became angry at a former congressman less than two years later for proposing a bill which would have required all presidential candidates to present their original, paper birth certificates to prove their eligibility. Matthews excoriated then-Rep. John Campbell for allegedly targeting Obama with his bill proposal.
Article II, Section 1, clause 5 of the U.S. Constitution requires the president to be a “natural born Citizen,” which most Americans understand to mean “born in the United States.” However, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz claimed “natural born” status although born in Canada, as has Arizona Sen. John McCain, born in the Panama Canal Zone.
Questions have arisen as to the constitutional eligibility of former Connecticut Gov. Lowell P. Weicker, who was born in France to two U.S.-citizen parents; former governor of Michigan George Romney, born in Mexico to American citizens; and Sen. Barry Goldwater, born in Arizona while it was still a U.S. territory.
In an article covering the December 15 press conference, the Associated Press was quick to say that Arpaio had “closed” the investigation, although Arpaio had said that the investigation was “concluded” and that the evidence gathered would be turned over to federal authorities. Associated Press reports are reproduced in mainstream outlets throughout the United States.
“We’re not stopping,” Zullo said in a December 19 radio interview with Alex Jones in which Arpaio participated.
Despite Obama’s apparent rising concern over the proliferation of “fake news,” the White House remained silent on the investigation into his long-form birth certificate until last Wednesday, when Press Secretary Josh Earnest unexpectedly stated that the “piece of paper” the White House had posted was proof against “conspiracy theories that somehow the president was not born in the United States.”
However, the White House never released a “piece of paper.” The only item proffered was a PDF image on its website, while papers distributed to reporters afterward were revealed to be simply reproductions of a jpeg image photographed by the Associated Press.
As Donald Trump’s “legitimacy” is debated by various news outlets, talk shows and by opposition members of Congress, apparently fueled by the U.S. “intelligence community,” the question of Obama’s legitimacy in the wake of the forgery of his documents remains an issue which no one in the media dares to address.