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.