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By Terrence Lakin, MD
April 8, 2010
Last week, I entered Walter Reed Army Hospital to notify the Department of Defense that I would refuse to obey any orders from my commanding officers -- including President Obama -- until the president produces his original birth certificate. After nearly eighteen years of wearing the military uniform of the country I have proudly served, including overseas assignments in imminent danger/combat areas in Bosnia and Afghanistan, I felt compelled to take this step.
I made this decision from much deliberation, after lengthy consultations with many friends, family members, and colleagues, and I firmly believe that all servicemen and women, and the American public, have the right to know the truth about President Obama's constitutional eligibility to serve as Commander-in-Chief.
As military officers, we all take a solemn oath upon commissioning into the Uniformed Services. In this oath, we swear to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Upholding the law is an essential part of our role as citizens; in the military, we are the ultimate protectors of that law. The Constitution is our social compact, which safeguards all of us and ensures the "equal rights" that we are entitled to as American citizens.
Since Nuremberg, My Lai, and even Abu Ghraib more recently, the military has been taught the hard lessons of following illegal orders. Any reasonable person looking critically at the information and evidence currently in the public domain about Obama's birthplace would have questions about President Obama's claim to be a natural born citizen. I made the decision to disobey all military orders, including my deployment order to Afghanistan, in pursuit of the truth of whether President Obama can legally occupy the high post that he holds today and which entitles him to send servicemembers into harm's way.
The United States serves an example to the rest of the world of a stable, civilized, democratic government, where all men are equal under the law and the rule of law is cherished and obeyed. The U.S. military teaches and promotes the rule of law and civilian control of the military to many other nations and military forces around the world. Every soldier learns what constitutes a lawful order and is encouraged to stand up and object to unlawful orders. This is called the "duty to disobey."
My deployment orders for a second tour in Afghanistan included a requirement to bring copies of my birth certificate. I would be glad to obey this order and provide a certified copy of my original birth certificate with common, standard identifiers, including the name of an attending physician and a hospital. Every day in transactions across the country, American citizens are required to prove their identity; standards for identification have become stricter since the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
Since fall 2008, I have been troubled by reports that the president's original birth certificate remains concealed from public view along with other records which, if released, would quickly end questions surrounding his place of birth and "natural born" status. Many people mistook the online Certification of Live Birth for an original birth certificate. Until the summer of 2009, the Hawaiian Department of Homelands would not accept this Certification of Live Birth to determine native Hawaiian identity -- the Department insisted upon also reviewing an original birth certificate.
Many do not understand that the online document was from 2007, generated by computer, laser-printed, and merely a certification that there is something on file which may or may not be sufficient proof of a birth in Hawaii. An original birth certificate could be the underlying document that presumably includes a hospital and attending physician's or midwife's name. Such a document should lay to rest the "natural born" dispute. This controversy was further escalated by media reports that gave two different hospital names for Obama's birthplace -- even today, the public does not know what doctor delivered the then-future president or which hospital was the site of his birth. No eyewitnesses have stepped forward to affirm that he was born in Hawaii in 1961. Under immigration laws in force at the time, if born in Kenya to a father who was not a U.S. citizen, Barack Obama had no right to American citizenship of any kind, and he could never qualify as "natural born." This is why determining his actual birthplace is crucial.
In 2008, after pressure from news media, President Obama's rival, candidate McCain, produced an original birth certificate from the Panama Canal Zone; a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing examined and affirmed his "natural born" status and constitutional eligibility to serve as president. The U.S. Senate was strangely silent about President Obama's eligibility despite statements from Kenyan citizens that he was born there, evidently including his paternal grandmother and the Ambassador from Kenya to the U.S. during a November 2008 radio interview. Hawaiian state officials claim that they cannot release an original birth certificate without Obama's consent, declaring that the public has no "tangible interest" in seeing this vital birth record.
I attempted without success through my chain of command for over a year to get answers to the questions surrounding the president's eligibility. I was told that I have no standing to make this inquiry, and moreover, that no one in DoD could answer this question. I made inquiries, unsuccessfully, through my congressional delegation, which simply referred my questions back to DoD. No one I spoke to was able to offer any evidence that the president is "natural born." The burden of proof, it seems, must rest with the White House-- with president Obama himself, as these records are his, and he has chosen to conceal them at considerable legal expense. Remarkably, there is no enforcement mechanism for the Constitution's Article II, Section 1 requirement that the president be a "natural born" citizen -- voters have largely relied on an honor system and a free press to vet candidates for the highest political office in the nation.
While President Obama's records remain hidden, public consternation is growing. The American people have the right to know that their president is constitutionally eligible to serve as Commander-in-Chief and thereby may lawfully direct servicemembers into harm's way. I will be proud to deploy to Afghanistan to further serve my country and my fellow soldiers, but I should do so only with the knowledge that this important requirement of our Constitution is respected and obeyed. Those in uniform who continue to risk their lives and give the ultimate sacrifice to the service of our country deserve to know that they do so upholding their vows to the oath of office and to the Constitution.
Until an original birth certificate is brought forward that will validate the Commander-in-Chief's constitutional eligibility and put to rest the reasonable questions surrounding it, I cannot in good conscience obey any of my military orders. Unless it is established (sufficient proof that should be easily within the president's power to provide) that he is constitutionally eligible to serve as president and Commander-in-Chief, I and all other military officers are at risk of following illegal orders.
There is no legitimate privacy right to information necessary to prove that President Obama is legally eligible to serve as Commander-in-Chief.
I remain at risk of arrest and court-martial, but am mindful always that my oath of office is to the Constitution. It fills me with great sadness that on 31 March, I declined a direct order from my Medical Brigade Commander. This is a man I honor and wished to meet in order to thank him for his unquestionable valor and courage, and yet I could not obey his order. Now, he could order my arrest at any time.
I hope that President Obama will demonstrate his respect for the U.S. Constitution and release his original birth certificate. My bags are packed, and I look forward to joining my fellow soldiers in Afghanistan, but I will deploy only with the knowledge that I am following legal orders under a lawful Commander-in-Chief.
For those readers wanting to follow my ongoing story, the American Patriot Foundation has set up a legal defense fund to help me, and they tell me that they will be posting up-to-date information about my case. Their website is safeguardourconstitution.com.
Dr. Terrence Lakin is an active duty Lieutenant Colonel who serves as Chief of Primary Care at the Pentagon's TRICARE health clinic; he has been selected for promotion to Colonel.
At www.safeguardourconstitution.com/news/18.html, there is this story about what the Army is "suggesting" for Dr. Lakin, posted April 4, 2010:
Alert- Eligibility challenger: Don't touch my brain!
BORN IN THE USA?
Flight surgeon questioning Obama rejects Army's suggestion of 'help'
By Bob Unruh © 2010 WorldNetDaily
Posted: April 04, 2010
A U.S. Army flight surgeon who posted a video indicating his complete rejection of all orders from the military unless Barack Obama documents his eligibility to occupy the Oval Office is now refusing an "unofficial" suggestion from the Army for a medical evaluation.
Lt. Col. Terry Lakin is the highest-ranking and first active-duty officer to refuse to obey orders based on President Obama's eligibility.
WND reported this week the Army was hinting that Lt. Col Terry Lakin should undergo a brain scan and medical review.
A spokeswoman involved with the developing case said the recommendation was delivered to Lakin by an unnamed officer who implied those higher up the chain of command thought it was a good idea.
The suggestion was described to WND by spokeswoman Margaret Calhoun Hemenway, a veteran Washington appointee and now volunteer spokeswoman, as being presented in a "solicitous" manner.
Officially, the U.S. Army says it has no plans for formal action at this point against the officer. But Calhoun Hemenway told WND that Lakin's "no" meant "no."
"He is not taking any suggested medical evaluation or brain scan. He is refusing to obey all orders including deployment orders," she confirmed.
"It is interesting this suggestion of a medical exam should arise now given he was only a couple of weeks from deployment and obviously judged to be fit for deployment with his bags packed," she said.
But as WND reported, the controversy raises the prospect that the government may be unwilling to pursue a prosecution because of the possible ramifications – which could include a defense lawyer's demand for a court-ordered discovery process that would target Obama's historical documentation
Even participants in a forum on the left-leaning Huffington Post website seemed to agree in part."Freakin' Brilliant!" said one. "They can't court-martial him [without] the defense getting the judge to order the the (sic) birth-certificate be produced! Either Obama will have to produce or they can't prosecute. Genius."
Another forum page poster on the same site said the military of days gone by never would have allowed such statements.
"During my military service within the Army (in the 1970s, 80s and 90s) before retirement, this type of behavior would NEVER have been tolerated and most of all, would never have made the MSM news cycle. That's because Larkin (sic) would be immediately remanded for a general court-martial and would likely face pretrial confinement by the first general officer within his chain-of-command."
"It's troubling that the Army has not prosecuted this man immediately instead of making an MSM event out of it."
Army Dr. Terry Lakin, the flight surgeon for 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, examines the partially amputated finger of an Afghan man who assists in collecting unexploded ordnance at Kandahar Airfield. Lakin was selected as the Army Medical Department's Flight Surgeon of the Year for 2004.
As WND reported, Lakin is an active-duty flight surgeon charged with caring for Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey's pilots and air crew.
He said he's refusing all orders until Obama releases his long-form, hospital-generated birth certificate to prove his eligibility to serve as commander in chief.
"I feel I have no choice but the distasteful one of inviting my own court martial," Lakin said in a statement. "The Constitution matters. The truth matters."
He continued, "For the first time in all my years of service to our great nation, and at great peril to my career and future, I am choosing to disobey what I believe are illegal orders, including an order to deploy to Afghanistan for my second tour of duty there. I will disobey my orders to deploy because I – and I believe all servicemen and women and the American people – deserve the truth about President Obama's constitutional eligibility to the office of the presidency and the commander in chief.
"If he is ineligible, then my orders – and indeed all orders – are illegal because all orders have their origin with the commander in chief as handed down through the chain of command."
Lakin is not the first active-duty officer to raise the challenge. Others have included Army doctor Capt. Connie Rhodes and Army reservist Maj. Stefan Cook. But Lakin is the highest-ranking officer to raise the question.
In a statement yesterday to WND, George Wright of Army Public Affairs said the Army has "no reaction" to Lakin's statements, and "at this point, the Army will take no formal action."
He said, "Lt. Col. Lakin has stated his intent to violate Articles 87 and 92 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, but has not done so. Whether his actions to date violate any law or policy is for his chain of command to determine."
Wright said the Army had no information on in-channel concerns Lakin reported raising twice during 2009. There was "no comment" on whether Obama needs to document his eligibility to serve as president under the U.S. Constitution's requirement that the commander in chief be a "natural born citizen."
Although a "natural born citizen" is undefined in the Constitution, many legal analysts believe the requirement was put there to prevent dual allegiances on the part of the president. Some believe those with dual citizenship would be ineligible. Obama wrote in his book his father was a subject to the United Kingdom, making Obama likely a dual citizen.
"Lt. Col Lakin is free to express his personal views. The Army has no comment on his concerns, nor the views that he espoused," Wright told WND.
But the background already has been assembled in the case, should there be a prosecution, for the defense to come to court with specific demands for proof of the validity of the chain of command, up to the commander in chief.
Support for Lakin is being generated at the Safeguard Our Constitution.com website, established by the American Patriot Foundation.
One of the organizers behind the group, serving in emeritus status, is John Hemenway, an attorney who previously fought in the U.S. court system on behalf of a retired military officer, Gregory S. Hollister, who also questioned Obama's eligibility.
The case ultimately was dismissed by Judge James Robertson who ruled that the dispute had been "twittered" during the 2008 election campaign.
In that opinion, Robertson sarcastically wrote: "The plaintiff says that he is a retired Air Force colonel who continues to owe fealty to his commander in chief (because he might possibly be recalled to duty) and who is tortured by uncertainty as to whether he would have to obey orders from Barack Obama because it has not been proven – to the colonel's satisfaction – that Mr. Obama is a native-born American citizen, qualified under the Constitution to be president.
"The issue of the president's citizenship was raised, vetted, blogged, texted, twittered, and otherwise massaged by America's vigilant citizenry during Mr. Obama's two-year-campaign for the presidency, but this plaintiff wants it resolved by a court," Robertson wrote.
The judge also suggested sanctions against Hemenway for bringing the case, and Hemenway responded that process then would provide him with a right to a discovery hearing to see documentation regarding the judge's statements – not supported by any evidence introduced into the case – that Obama was properly "vetted."
Hemenway warned at the time, "If the court persists in pressing Rule 11 procedures against Hemenway, then Hemenway should be allowed all of the discovery pertinent to the procedures as court precedents have permitted in the past.
"The court has referred to a number of facts outside of the record of this particular case and, therefore, the undersigned is particularly entitled to a hearing to get the truth of those matters into the record. This may require the court to authorize some discovery," Hemenway said.
WND columnist Vox Day earlier wrote about this very scenario, calling it a "Get out of war" free card.
The comments followed the case of Cook, the reservist who challenged his deployment orders over questions about their legality under Obama.
"Rather than contesting the suit," Day wrote, "the Army took the highly peculiar step of revoking the major's deployment order, suggesting that the Pentagon generals are not entirely confident that they can demonstrate the legitimacy of their purported commander in chief.
"The Pentagon's decision to back down rather than risk exposing Obama's birth records to the public means that every single American soldier, sailor, pilot and Marine now holds a 'get out of war free' card. Not only every deployment order, but every order issued from an officer in the line of command can now be challenged in the knowledge that the top brass are afraid to respond for fear that their commander could be exposed for a fraud.," he wrote at the time.
"It is one thing for Obama to deny the curiosity of the American public by hiding behind the courts. It is very much another for him to deny the right of the men and women of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines, who are sworn to risk their lives upholding the Constitution of the United States of America, to be certain their orders are legitimate," he said.
Calhoun Hemenway, who separately writes for FamilySecurityMatters.org, told WND she is an unofficial spokeswoman for the case and that Lakin's legal counselors have suggested he not comment a great deal at this point while he is on leave and before he returns to his duties.
Calhoun Hemenway, a former White House appointee serving in the Department of Defense and at NASA, said the Lakin case presents a problem for the Army, since it cannot simply "rescind" orders as it has in previous military disputes over orders under Obama's chain of command. That's because Lakin has indicated plans to reject all orders.
In his video message now posted on YouTube, Lakin, an 18-year veteran, personally pleads with the president to stop withholding the key document which would put to rest many of the doubts that continue to linger more than a year into Obama's term.
"President Obama, I ask you to respect and uphold the Constitution. Be transparent and show your honesty and integrity. Release your original, signed birth certificate, if you have one, thus proving your birth on American soil, and thus assure the American people that you are lawfully eligible to hold the office of the presidency and serve as commander in chief of the Armed Forces."
Obama's actual response to those who question his eligibility to be president under the Constitution's requirement that the U.S. president be a "natural born citizen" has been to dispatch both private and tax-funded attorneys to prevent anyone from gaining access to his documentation.
Besides Obama's actual birth documentation, the still-concealed documentation for him includes kindergarten records, Punahou school records, Occidental College records, Columbia University records, Columbia thesis, Harvard Law School records, Harvard Law Review articles, scholarly articles from the University of Chicago, passport, medical records, his files from his years as an Illinois state senator, his Illinois State Bar Association records, any baptism records, and his adoption records.
WND has reported on a multitude of cases that have been brought over the issue of Obama's eligibility. Some are by critics who have doubts about whether he was born in Hawaii in 1961 as he has written, and others are from those who question whether the framers of the Constitution specifically excluded dual citizens – Obama's father was a subject of the British crown at Obama's birth – from being eligible for the office.
The issue has prompted a number of state legislatures to work on proposals that would require presidential candidates to submit proof of their eligibility. And a similar proposal has been introduced in Congress by Rep. Bill Posey, R-Fla.
The Constitution, Article 2, Section 1, states, "No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President."
However, none of the cases filed to date has been successful in reaching the plateau of legal discovery, so that information about Obama's birth could be obtained.
The White House has not replied to numerous requests for comment.