The Whopper That Got Away

 

The Whopper That Got Away

 Last week an article entitled, “Look Here, Birthers!” drew attention to a video which showed what was claimed to be Obama’s passport. That article and video came shortly after 2 FOIA requests for the passport records of Obama’s mother had been answered with the release of some documents. While the FOIA responses and passport video were being analyzed in the blogosphere – a necessary venture – a much bigger story was being ignored: what I’ll call “The Whopper That Got Away”.

 The Whopper
Among the documents the State Department released to Chris Strunk was a 1967 amendment to a passport issued to Stanley Ann Dunham in 1965. In the official FOIA response it was explained:

 “We did not locate a I965 passport application referenced in an application for amendment of passport that is included in the released documents. Many, passport applications and other non-vital records from that period were destroyed during the 1980s in accordance with guidance from the General Services Administration.”

 Later, an affidavit was filed by Alex Galovich, the supervisor in charge of FOIA responses for the State Department. The affidavit described how Strunk’s request was processed and included a memo cryptically dated Feb 6, 1985 which claimed that

1. Sometime between the late 60’s and 1982, passport file retention requirements were changed from 100 years to 15-20 years, and 

2. A project begun in June of 1984 had resulted in the destruction of records from 125 million passport files dating through November of 1961. The 40 workers, if full-time, would each have processed about 2,170 files/hour (taking about 2 seconds apiece), sorting out records in Class A from Class B (below). I think you can see why I call this “The Whopper”:

Class A: A listing of the primary documents being retained is as follows:

  • REPORTS OF BIRTH 
  • CERTIFICATES OF WITNESS TO MARRIAGE
  • CERTIFICATES OF LOSS OF NATIONALITY (WITH  ATTACHED FILES)
  • REPORTS OF DEATH
  • APPLICATIONS WITH DELAYED BIRTH CERTIFICATES OR SPECIAL REGISTRATIONS ATTACHED
  • APPLICATIONS (NATIVE BORN) WITH SECONDARY EVIDENCE OF BIRTH/IDENTITY ATTACHED
  • APPLICATIONS OF FOREIGN BORN CITIZENS
  • APPLICATIONS INCLUDING FOREIGN BORN CITIZENS
  • APPLICATIONS OF WOMEN ACQUIRING CITIZENSHIP THROUGH MARRIAGE
  • APPLICATIONS TO RESUME CITIZENSHIP (VOTING IN ITALIAN ELECTIONS BETWEEN 1/1/46 AND 4/10/18)
  • APPLICATIONS TO TAKE OATH OF ALLEGIANCE AND
  • RENUNCIATION (SERVICE IN CANADIAN ARMY)
  • APPLICATIONS FOR REGISTRATION, INCLUDING APPLICATIONS FOR CERTIFICATES OR CARDS OF IDENTITY, OR CARDS ISSUED FOR BORDER CROSSING PURPOSES.
  • REGISTRATION APPLICATIONS
  • ALL PHILIPPINE PASSPORT RECORDS
  • LOOK-OUT CASES
  • POSSIBLE LOSS, NON-ACQUISITION, NOR-RETENTION, DENIALS, LIMITATIONS, REVOCATIONS, QUESTIONABLE CITIZENSHIP CLAIMS, ETC (WITH ATTACHED FILES)
  • FRAUDULENT CITIZENSHIP CASES OR CASES INVOLVING FRAUDULENT USE OF PASSPORT
  • OUTSTANDING LOANS
  • CLASSIFIED FILES.

Class B:  A listing of the primary documents being eliminated follows:

  •  ROUTINE PASSPORT APPLICATIONS FOR NATIVE BORN CITIZENS  (WITH OR WITHOUT BIRTH CERTIFICATES OR PHOTOSTATIC COPIES OF BIRTH CERTIFICATES ATTACHED)
  • ROUTINE RENEWAL APPLICATIONS
  • ROUTINE APPLICATIONS FOR FOR PASSPORTS FOR  NATIVE BORN CITIZENS WHERE PREVIOUS PASSPORT USED AS EVIDENCE
  • CORRESPONDENCE OF NON-CITIZENSHIP NATURE
  • CHARGE-OUT SHEETS BEFORE 1969

That Got Away
And this alleged passport retention change and destruction of records “got away” without leaving any evidence in the official records. Agencies such as the State Department are “required to schedule all their records”  – that is, to determine whether each record is to be kept, for how long, and in what form. The instructions for specific records is their “disposition”. Changing the disposition requires a formal process which is documented in the Federal Register, numbered, and posted (See 3303a here ).

A search of the Federal Register failed to locate a change from a 100-year retention to a 15-20-year retention for passport records. Further inquiries are being made.

The State Department’s listing of dispositions  includes disposition changes for passport records that took place:

 1. In 1978 when microfilming was required and paper records were allowed to be destroyed 15 years after microfilming ,

2. In 1979 when vital records were required to be kept separate from passport applications,

3. In 1982 when disposable statistics records were created (see #27 and #28 at  ) ,

4. And in 1997, when the dispositions of all the records, by years, was clarified and reiterated – with passport applications and associated records from 1925-1970 required to be retained for 100 years.

 That latest request, in 1997, lists the previous dispositions which were to be superseded – including #1-3 above and the agency’s records transfer orders for implementing those dispositions. Nothing on this even applies to passport files from 1925-1970, which is probably why the section on 1925-1970 is crossed out – since the instructions there are just a reiteration of the disposition still in effect and not a change at all. If there had been a change from a 100-year retention to a 15-20-year retention in the 1980’s which has since been changed back (explaining the current disposition on the Passport Office’s site – see Jacobsen Exhibit E), that is where it should be listed. It’s not.

The only trace of this alleged change is this memo submitted for Strunk’s FOIA case, to explain why the Passport Office didn’t disclose Stanley Ann Dunham’s 1965 passport application. This begs the question of why neither Galovich nor the memo he cited included either a copy, reference number , or date for the actual disposition change being claimed.

In the entire set of records dispositions for passport documents, the only retention periods less than 100 years are for:

 1. Paper records from 1983-1999 which have already been microfilmed (which are to be retained in paper form for 15 years)

2. Abandoned and expired registrations and applications

3. Surrendered passport books.

4. Passport authorization lists which have already been microfilmed (retain paper copies 50 years)

5. Disposable statistics and accounting records

6. Routine correspondence and UIPA Requests

 The only reference to a 15- or 20-year retention period is for paper copies of passport records that have already been microfilmed. Microfilming was made mandatory in 1977 for passport files.

The Evidence to Refute the Whopper
Unfortunately for the Passport Office, Phil Jacobsen requested and received his mother’s passport application from 1953 – a routine application which would have been destroyed along with Dunham’s if the records from those dates had actually been destroyed as claimed in the memo.

Alex Galovich said in his affidavit that the Passport Office searched PIERS (Passport Information Electronic Records Service), an electronic database of passports issued in 1978 and later, using Dunham’s various name combinations for the search. Although Galovich said, “The Department of State also maintains paper records of some passport applications”, he never said they searched the paper records.

In his affidavit and supporting Exhibits, Jacobsen shows that paper index records were required to be retained permanently. A search of those index cards would have revealed the status and location of the “missing” 1965 passport application as well as any other passport applications within the timeframe Strunk’s request covered (1960-1985).

Summary
1. The claim that Dunham’s pre-1967 passport records were destroyed is contradicted by the existence of Jacobsen’s mother’s passport documents from 1953.

2. Currently no record of change of retention periods has been found, and efforts to locate any such changes are continuing. Passport Services was contacted by phone  and asked if passport records before 1970 had been destroyed; they refused to state whether they had or had not been destroyed, suggesting that would have to be answered by writing to the State Department.

 3. The Passport Office’s website lists a 100-year retention requirement for passport files from 1925-1970 and has no warning or disclaimer that records before 1969 may have been destroyed as Galovich alleges. There is a charge of $50/person (or $150 for a third party) to search for passport records. If they are charging people to search for records from 1925-1970 that they falsely told people exist, and in fact have been destroyed, that appears to be a continuing fraud.

4. The claims on the memo in Galovich’s Declaration are not only unsupported by the documentation, they are physically impossible. The great probability is that this memo was totally fabricated as an excuse to keep from having to disclose Stanley Ann Dunham’s pre-1967 passport records. The State Department should either produce the required disposition change records to substantiate their claim, or refer this case to the DOJ Inspector General for an investigation of potential wrong-doing.

 5. The permanent paper index cards would show ALL passports that were issued to Dunham, allowing those passport applications to be located. Those should be released immediately.

 

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17 Comments

  1. SapphireSunday
    Posted August 26, 2010 at 9:52 pm | Permalink | Reply

    The PIERS database is exactly the database that John O. Brennan’s contract employee was working with, according to the State Dept. investigation into the illegal break-in of Obama’s passport files in March 2008, right around the time the FactCheck COLB image was created.

    The State Dept. investigation into the breach revealed that software used with this database flagged (no doubt unbeknownst to the sanitizers) any unusual patterns of access, which is how the breach was caught. And how the breachers were identified.

    PIERS was specifically mentioned. It’s been suggested that these contract employees worked to scan documents into the database, so that the paper documents could be archived. It seems that information about this project itself ought to be subject to a FOIA request.

    A reporter who spoke to an anonymous source with inside information about the investigation, specifically stated that the intent of the breach was to sanitize Obama’s files. They looked at Clinton’s and McCain’s as a smoke screen, to hide the goal of their “snooping”.

    As likely as not, Stanley Ann Dunham Obama Soetoro’s files were “sanitized” at the same time. Or at the very least, they removed the database index entry for any of her records that might prove “embarrassing.”

    Is this how FOIA is supposed to work? Employees who fulfill the request simply look at one repository of the records, take the easy way out, even when their own records indicate that other records MUST exist?

    Shouldn’t they make a good faith effort to fulfill the request? Shouldn’t they go back to the paper archives to retrieve what appears to be “mistakenly” missing from their database? I would think so.

    Now Strunk or someone else can take it a step further: Request the records of that PIERS database project that Brennan’s employees worked on.

    Request copies of the PAPER version of Stanley Ann Dunham’s 1965 passport. Specifically ask for them to search the paper archives, not the database, since obviously a database can contain errors or omissions. THIS database, in particular, because it has been demonstrated that it is NOT secure and Condi Rice herself admitted that the Dept. of State cannot assure anyone that records in the database were not added, changed, removed. As you suggest, they should immediately release the paper index records.

    Forgive me for adding, “Liar, liar, pants on fire.”

    This is fabulous work on your part. Applause, applause!

    • Posted August 26, 2010 at 10:03 pm | Permalink | Reply

      How would a person reference that specific project for a FOIA request?

      Sometimes it helps if I just stick out my tongue or do a big raspberry. I know, it’s very mature of me. lol. It just makes me feel better though.

      I can only imagine what Congress would have done to me if I had been in Joe Wilson’s shoes the night he said, “You lie!” lol. (Can they censure somebody for doing a big loud juicy raspberry in the middle of a supposedly serious speech? lol)

      • Posted September 7, 2010 at 12:45 am | Permalink

        I don’t see that referencing the project would be difficult. Since you have the description of the project and its time frame, that should be totally sufficient to specify what you want to know for purposes of FOIA.

        Good luck getting something before the 2012 election, though.

      • Posted September 7, 2010 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

        Thanks. They do have a way of stalling. I wonder why. ;)

  2. Barclay Price
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 4:11 am | Permalink | Reply

    Butterdezillion, you’ve claimed that Obama is using the old birth certificate of a girl who died in August of 1961. I am fascinated about this. Is the time right yet to divulge the name of this girl? If I need to wait longer, I certainly will. I know you wouldn’t lead anyone astray.
    And you’re certainly not a liar, right? Please tell me!

    • Posted August 27, 2010 at 5:34 pm | Permalink | Reply

      It’s not the right time yet. Sorry.

    • ksdb
      Posted August 28, 2010 at 7:14 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Technically, Obama is using somebody else’s birth certificate NUMBER, not their certificate.

      • Posted August 28, 2010 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

        Right. His genuine COLB probably looks just like Factcheck except for the BC#, note of the amendment, and it probably is a LATE COLB as well.

        IOW, everything except the measures showing legal validity/status would be the same.

      • AnotherBird
        Posted September 6, 2010 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

        That is a new one, but it is like giving the wrong answers a week after the test. Too bad Hawaii says your still wrong.

  3. SapphireSunday
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 5:17 pm | Permalink | Reply

    My guess is that there have to be financial records for when they hired Brennan’s firm. Requests for proposals. Requests for bids. Surely they had bids on these projects. Even if not, there must be records.

    This is what should exist, also, from whenever they computerized the Hawaiian archives. I suspect that they hired a private firm to do the work. So there ought to be records from that project, too. This is the sort of stuff that ought to be available–specifications for the fields in the database. etc. That would be revealing, wouldn’t it? Which is why they probably wouldn’t give you the information.

    PBBFFFFFTTTTTT. That’s my text raspberry. Somebody in Congress surely has uttered a raspberry by now.

    • Posted August 27, 2010 at 5:39 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I asked the HDOH for the bids and the name of the company who won the bid, as well as the specs etc. They said those records no longer exist because they’re over 20 years old.

      So you’re wondering what Brennan’s people were supposed to be doing with the passport files in the first place – that gave them access?

      My brain is sort of mush today. Maybe not enough sleep.

      I’ve always wondered how to spell a raspberry. lol.

  4. SapphireSunday
    Posted August 31, 2010 at 2:43 am | Permalink | Reply

    Brennan’s firm was supposedly there to scan documents into the PIERS system so that the paper documents could be archived. What I was wondering is whether the specs for when the PIERS database was created are available.

  5. Posted August 31, 2010 at 7:16 am | Permalink | Reply

    One more stellar blog post! I shared this one on Twitter – you really should add a “like” button to your articles. :)

    • Posted August 31, 2010 at 12:04 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Thank you. I’m technologically challenged; doing good just to find the on button for the computer. lol.

      But I’m not beyond accepting help so if somebody knows something that would help get the word out and is willing to work with a computer moron to get it done….. =)

      • Posted September 7, 2010 at 2:02 am | Permalink

        Actually, that comment by Everest Trekking is a spam advertisement. Its URL points to an ad for health insurance. I get those by the tens of thousands.

        If you want to put in a “Like” button, check out the WordPress “Comment Rating” plug in. I used it for a while, and it was a popular feature; however, I took it out in an attempt to reduce the resources my blog was using so as to accommodate more visitors. I don’t know what WordPress.com lets you do with plug-ins.

      • Posted September 7, 2010 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for the heads-up. I don’t really know much about moderating a blog. Is any harm done by leaving the comment there?

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