April 24, 2010

You've no doubt heard about the latest Birther cause celebre: the soldier who's refusing deployment orders until he can see President Obama's "real" birth certificate.

Well, now he's being court-martialed:

The Army filed formal changes against Lt. Col. Terry Lakin, a military physician who refused to deploy to Afghanistan because he believes President Barack Obama hasn't proven that he was born in the U.S.

The decision to initiate potential court-martial proceedings against Col. Lakin represents a line in the sand for the Army, which declined to discipline a pair of officers who raised similar questions last year about Mr. Obama's constitutional eligibility to serve as commander in chief.

Chuck Dasey, a spokesman for Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, said Col. Lakin was being charged with three counts of disobeying a lawful order and one count of dereliction of duty. If found guilty, Col. Lakin could be kicked out of the Army, forced to give up his retirement benefits and jailed for up to four years.

Col. Lakin and his attorney didn't respond to phone messages or emails seeking comment. In a statement released through the foundation raising money for his legal-defense fund, the officer said he was prepared to press his case in court.

"I invited my court martial, and today I stand ready to answer these charges," Col. Lakin said. "I was prepared to deploy if only the president would authorize the release of the proof of his eligibility. He refused, and now the court will determine the issue, and my fate."

As the WSJ story explains, this is all about using the discovery process to force Obama to release his "real" birth certficate:

The officer and his attorney, Paul Jensen, have hinted that they will use the discovery process to seek to compel Mr. Obama to release a more detailed birth certificate. That could turn his eventual military trial into a pivotal moment for the "birther" movement, which believes Mr. Obama was born in Kenya rather than Hawaii despite voluminous evidence to the contrary.

Col. Lakin went public with his doubts about Mr. Obama last month in a YouTube video that detailed the officer's decision to disobey what he described as "illegal orders" that he deploy for a second tour in Afghanistan.

"Any reasonable person looking critically at the evidence currently in the public domain would have questions about President Obama's claim to be a natural-born citizen," Col. Lakin said in the short video, which has been viewed more than 181,000 times.

And as Dave Weigel explains, this is really all about gaining publicity for the lawyers who want to make a career out of selling the birther snake oil:

The thing of it is -- it's not worth covering this like a real case with an uncertain outcome. Lakin, who launched his crusade with a YouTube video, is becoming a fringe celebrity. WorldNetDaily, the ground zero for coverage of this stuff, recounts a chat between Lakin, his attorney Paul Jensen, and G. Gordon Liddy, where the game was given away.

"I'm not going to say what we are going to do other than we are going to do what you would want us to do," Jensen said... "Every criminal defendant has to be allowed the benefit of doubt to discover information relevant or which may even lead to the discovery of relevant information that could support his case," he said.

"It would shocking to me that a defendant ... would not be permitted to discover information that would lend itself to proving his [case]," he said.

The discovery issue previously was raised in court by attorney John Hemenway, who was threatened by a federal judge with sanctions for bringing a court challenge to Obama's presidency.

Hemenway is serving in emeritus status with the Safeguard Our Constitution website, which is working to raise support for Lakin.

Safeguard Our Constitution is the site collecting the newest info on the case -- that's where I grabbed this charging document. But we've now seen a number of soldiers do this, and last year we saw Capt. Connie Rhodes try a similar thing, get punished, and make a celebrity out of her lawyer -- none other than Orly Taitz. Larkin's case isn't going to change anything more important than the pecking order of birther attorneys and the destination for birthers' donation checks.

You've gotta wonder how these soldiers will feel when they wake up and realize they're destroying their lives for the sake of helping enrich the charlatans who talked them into it.

Mind you, they won't get much of my sympathy.

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