Listen, I like AJ, but when did he become the final authority on document forensics and such? Apparently, he weighed in and the big blogs that have decided his amateur analysis closes the case. Perhaps they fear looking foolish? But the more that emerges the more questions are raised.
Techdude, who is an expert by occupation, is further investigating and I will have more of his superb and detailed analysis but in case you missed Tech dude's comment:
Just a (not so) quick early evening response to directorblue who said “For one thing, you are comparing two different certificate patterns.”... Well of course, that was the point of my analysis which seems to have been lost on a few individuals.
Both certificates are printed with the OHSM 1.1 (Rev. 11/01) LASER identifier with the revision dates being identical [11/01]. If there was a new or modified certificate security pattern introduced there would also be a different revision date indicating that it had been revised after November 2001. Some people are apparently under the mistaken impression that the security border printing will just change once and a while or perhaps some folks may just never really understand the issue.
As consistency and precision are the keys to spotting forgeries it is extraordinarily unlikely – perhaps even to the point of impossibility - that the revision numbers would be the same while containing different “certificate patterns”. As anyone who has worked at a bar can even tell you there are official guide books handed out by liquor control officials that list what is and what is not found on official state issued documents – and high security documents do not vary from week to week or printer to printer.
Israel Insider has already posted on his/her blog that a Hawaiian official had already been contacted about the document and that particular Hawaiian official could not very them as authentic based on the image. I simply wanted to figure out for myself (and to humor my friend) if there was truly anything suspect. At first blush I did not believe there was.
Let’s quickly review how a paper certificate may come into existence. A Certificate of Live Birth, just like any other high security paper document, is almost always first printed on blank specialized paper stock using an offset press to create the base images. The raw paper stock itself may even contain UV reactive micro fibers or security threads. This printing process would generally include the use of special color shifting inks and micro engraved or repeating security patterns such as the ones visible on the Decosta certificate. That process is, of course, not done at the Registrar’s office but at a professional printing house. The ancillary information, such as the child’s name and date of birth, would be later printed onto the pre-printed security stock, which was received months or years earlier from the print house and kept in secure storage until needed, at the time it is requested at the Registrar’s office. This is typically done by running the pre-printed security stock through a laser or thermal wax printer and perhaps even the occasional typewriter.
Take for example commercially available yet low security blank check stock which is run through a home laser printer using an accounting application which fills in the blanks. The micro security border and color shifting background were already pre-printed by the manufacturer and the user is only using their laser printer to add the ancillary information. Now let’s get a bit silly for a moment shall we? Let’s all pretend the certificates were changed by proxy and no one bothered to modify the revision number. Stranger things have happened in government. But our dream world comes crashing down once we actually look at the structure of the images themselves and perform an error level analysis on the underlying graphics.
In the interest of fairness, and well before I even bothered to post my original comment, I also took into account that the security border may have been printed on a laser printer…perhaps even one running out of toner…and only the background security pattern existed beforehand. But then I performed an error level analysis on the KOS Obama and Decosta certificate images. [For an easy to understand paper written for general non-geek audiences on error level analysis see http://www.htcia.org.hk/artman/uploads/2_3_digital_imaging_forensic__v4_.pdf ]
Doing the error level analysis using several known error rates revealed some immediate disparities in the KOS image such as the border floating as a “layer” on top of the background. Further the border appears to consist of several distinct parts and individual sections which were pasted together. [To make your lives easier here is a link to a WIRED article which explains a bit in relation to what I am referring to -The compression and error ratio of the security border simply does not match the rest of the certificate. The same can be seen with the text. However the same analysis of the Decosta image using the same exact methodology instead verified the compression and error levels are consistent with equal distribution throughout the document. [Screen captures are also available – but the output created by the analysis are 17MB each…not really made for posting but if Pamela wants them she is always welcome to them :) ]
The bottom line is that if the document was simply scanned into a computer and was not created on, or substantially modified by, a computer there would not be as many variations in the compression and error rates as can be seen in the KOS certificate. Taking the error level analysis into account along with my other findings (such as the obvious cut and paste marks, the glaring errors in the size and count of the security diamonds, and the lack of consistent header and footer start and end point) is how I arrived at my conclusion. None of this can simply be explained away or ignored by people claiming that this is a different un-recorded revision since no one has been able to produce another real certificate that matches the security engravings of the KOS version but there have been numerous reports and sightings of real certificates matching Decosta’s. I believe the Israel Insider blog has links to a few of them. Occam's razor then forces this issue to a point – the simplest answer generally being the correct one – if there are multiple documents that appear to contain similar security engravings of the Decosta version but no others that resemble the KOS image - the KOS document is a forgery.
As others have already repeatedly asked – why would Obama’s webmaster post a fake (or even a suspected one) on the “fight the smears” website? – I have no clue and do not really have an issue with it – they may not even know it is a fake. That was not a goal nor included as an aspect in the analysis of the graphics presented. But as I said before, it is with a high degree of scientific certainty that I must conclude that the KOS Obama image is a pretty bad counterfeit. Just to touch on the remaining issues raised with the “Opendna versions”. While I am bit busy with a few cases this week and next (the rent is not going to pay itself) and I do not have time to look into their details – others may want to use a hex editor or an application such as JPEGsnoop to create a timeline of the EXIF data and time stamps for all of the known versions, including the KOS version, to create a basic event line to see if the chicken or the egg came first. Deeper analysis by comparing segmented digital signatures (such as partial MD5s) may also reveal statistically identical areas rather than just relying on the naked eye.
Just my 2 cents. And on a final quick thought (as I really must get back to the lab) the specifications for the layout and the details of the security features of a real Hawaiian Certificate of Live Birth may be obtainable with a sunshine law or FOI request. Can this entire issue be a simple "bad scan" of a real document - not likely. But as others have said it is better to look into other more important issues (but it would be nice to have him present a real document to settle the nagging resident alien question since even I have to come up with an original certified birth certificate just to renew my own driver's license next month - why should he be so special? I wonder when his license expires.)
As I previously reported, Mitchell Lambert has submitted an FOI request, we await the State of Hawaii.
Tech dude's previous analysis here. Techdude declares Obama's birth certificate a forgery