© 2012 jbjd
Until the brouhaha over the release of President Obama’s long form birth certificate on April 27, 2011, I had never considered the differences between a document that appeared on the computer screen as a PDF versus a JPEG. (Note, I write here that the President released a long form birth certificate omitting the qualifier that it is only an image of a mock-up of a political campaign advertisement since, as I have made clear for some time now, I have determined, that’s what it is. See, for example, DE-CODER RINGS (1 of 2) and DE-CODER RINGS (2 of 2) and WHY PRESIDENT OBAMA WAITED until APRIL 27, 2011 to RELEASE a FACSIMILE of his LONG FORM BIRTH CERTIFICATE) Indeed, I hadn’t bothered to read any of the myriad narratives dissecting that image, offered by ‘investigators’ whose (stated) intent was to buttress opinions it is both genuine and fake, insofar as it purports to establish Mr. Obama’s Hawaiian birth. Because I know the release of that image, both over the internet and, via hard copy (of that same internet image) to reporters are only part of a real political ad campaign.
But then, I accepted the invitation to appear on Reality Check Radio on March 13, 2012, to discuss what RC wrote is my work as a ‘Birther.’ Having done my homework by listening to past shows; I learned about John Woodman, computer-specialist-cum-author, who had previously appeared on RC to discuss both his analysis of the President’s long-form birth certificate as well as his conclusion, it was real. During his presentation of authenticity on September 1, 2011; Mr. Woodman was asked to explain why (he thought) the President’s long form birth certificate had been released in PDF versus JPEG. Mr. Woodman posited his opinion, which was not surprisingly aided and abetted by the host.
Here is that exchange, which begins at around the 56 minute mark.
RC: One question was asked in the chat room, I want to… I think needs to be addressed is, why did Obama put out such a squirrelly image? But I think you addressed that in the book. You found, you went through Google documents and found equally squirrelly PDFs, didn’t you, that demonstrate the same characteristics with the layering, so is it really a squirrelly image, I guess is my question?
JW: It’s squirrelly in the sense that, it raised a lot of questions, and so I think from that point of view perhaps not a lot of thought went into, at some level, ah, with whoever was responsible for, ah, the technical end of doing things or maybe there was, you know, maybe there was not really … at some level it seems to me there wasn’t necessarily a lot of thought as to, are there potential consequences of the exact kind of image that we present to the public here. Um, so, whoever … it seems to me that whoever put out the image there was perhaps a typical protocol for dealing with documents and it was regarded as a document. PDF is a format that’s used for documents. Um, and I think, you know, I think they may have thought, well, you know, this image, it’s a big deal, this image is going to be downloaded a bunch of times, ah, let’s optimize it, save some bandwidth, but I don’t think they realized or maybe thought through the implications of having an image out there that was not really in the format that people were typically expecting for a web image. Ah, when it comes to something that is just a simple image on the web, there’s what’s typically used is just a simple JPEG file and it’s the same that’s the same kind of image that you get with a digital camera and you take a photograph. And I can see that, um, the immediate thought would be well, you know, JPEG file, it may not be clear enough for people. Um, it turns out, in this case, that treating it as an image or as…treating it as a typical scanned more photographic image probably would have been a better choice than treating it as a document and making it a PDF and then optimizing the PDF to the degree that they did.
RC: Yeah, one theory that, you know, on this PDF versus JPEG discussion – and I don’t remember whether this was on the fogbow or on the Dr. Conspiracy site – is that PDFs render a lot better across multiple platforms. It’s..sometimes there are problems with JPEGS on web pages. And I don’t wanna also… I think you also can’t underestimate the importance of the file size because I believe the WH probably understood that this document was going to be downloaded tens of millions of times, um, so compressing it to a file size of 300+k versus 2 or 3 megs for a JPEG of the same, you know, of an uncompressed file was a… would have been a big deal as far as bandwidth. Now I don’t know whether anyone consciously thought about them, but there might have been some protocol that says, ‘hey, for, you know, these things we put on our web, for documents that go on our web site, they shall be PDFs, done this way. It could have been that someone was just following a standard protocol for the WH web site or it could have just been someone said, ‘hey, let’s, ah, these are the options I chose when I did it.’ I don’t know whether we’ll ever know or not.
JW: In the government you have rules and procedures for doing things a particular way. Somebody may have simply been following the procedures that somebody had set up. I think they probably could have come up with a JPEG file that would have been just as clear that would have been about the same size as the PDF file, ah, and I think in this case it would have been… for all the hoopla that it caused I think it would have been a better choice for them.
For reasons spelled out below; I dismissed outright any explanations suggesting an official reason for the PDF versus the JPEG on WhiteHouse.gov. Nevertheless, the discussion was useful in that it signaled to me; for some reason not explored by either man, releasing the long form BC in PDF but not JPEG was a distinction with a seminal difference. And, if asked on the show, I wanted to be prepared to comment on this aspect of the release. So, I asked a graphic artist to explain, in simple lay terms, the difference between a document reproduced in PDF versus JPEG. What I took away from her explanation is this: a JPEG of a document is one-dimensional picture, whereas a PDF is easily de-constructed into its component parts. Instantly, I told her why the Obama campaign had released the long form image of his Hawaiian birth certificate as a PDF and not a JPEG.
Before I reveal my answer, I want to show you this comment from elana, a regular poster on Democratic Underground. (At that time, she was credited with 626 posts.) (My emphasis appears in orange.)
elana i am
Yes, elena, to use your words, Obama does have some “real geniuses” working exclusively for him. And, unlike you, I am not being sarcastic. Because while you see the release of this obviously doctorable document as evidence of ineptitude, I see it for what it is: a guarantor of sorts against criminal sanctions. I mean, God forbid some well-meaning SoS in some state beleaguered by hordes of citizen challenges to the ballot decided to download the ‘document’ and officially pronounce, ‘See, I told you, he is qualified for the job and, therefore, may appear on our ballot,’ entering the downloaded JPEG image into the official records of that office. (Or worse, what if a court of law hearing any one of the several infirm ballot challenges downloaded the JPEG document, sua sponte, so as to dispense with the case.) Under the U.S. Code, passing off a false identification document in this way is a serious crime. Id. But by fashioning a document in PDF, thus making it so easily manipulated that even people with minimal computer savvy can play with the image; its creators can sustain a defense to the crime of document fraud by pointing out that, it is such an obvious fake; no one in his right might could think this wasn’t just the focal point of a paid political ad. And, it is precisely the intent to avoid having the image we created misconstrued as ‘real’ which resulted in our choosing to release it as a PDF and not a JPEG!’
Now, here’s how I knew the explanations posited by RC and Woodman as to why the ‘WH’ released the long form birth certificate were absurd.
White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer, who ‘released’ the long-form birth certificate document and posted its launch on WhiteHouse.gov, actually ‘works’ for the President(‘s campaign), and not the American people. Id. Said another way, his position cannot be found in the Constitution, nor does his appointment by the President require Senate confirmation. https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:9ouvu8Sk2XwJ:www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R41872.pdf+white+house+senate+confirmation+of+appointments&hl=en&gl=us&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEEShLRa8AEal5i5UWgewcw66P0BihTu7regRkGFRdlsWA28hxdZpr79yCtJ2GAHWg9B4gvvc_NJlDl6LgYytEDS3P-TG5rf_ffhBmSaFTXAgAyvjY2KEgXt3NJkmqMyOzK0en3_xM&sig=AHIEtbRX-0wna9T6QqlA8HbPlFS7nt_xmA
And, serving at the pleasure of the President; he can be fired, at any time. http://www.chcoc.gov/Transmittals/Attachments/trans1300.pdf
(I think I have never cited Wikipedia at any time before now; but this article provides a good jumping off point for further investigation of the office of Communications Director, which was only ‘founded’ in 1969. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_House_Communications_Director)
Additionally, the WhiteHouse.gov web site, which is actually a blog; is not an official government portal, either. (Contrast, for example, USA.gov, which can be accessed from a tiny link in the footer of the WhiteHouse.gov blog.) Here is a section of an email I received after consultation with that same graphic artist referenced above.
Then, I dug a little deeper…. here’s where it get’s interesting!
According to another “whois” search, I found a name in Cambridge, MA! The whitehouse.gov website is hosted on a server belonging to “Akamai” which, according to their web site, also services other government agencies.
On this above link, as you scroll down, you’ll notice a name, “Martin Hannigan”, with Akamai. It even lists a phone number: 617-444-2535
According to their “about” page, Akamai handles tens of billions of daily Web interactions for companies like Audi, NBC, and Fujitsu, and organizations like the U.S. Department of Defense and NASDAQ — powering brand new business models that serve the changing online economy.
This is all I have been able to dig up so far, but it’s enough to give you something to chew on, for sure!
UPDATE: I wrote this article back in March 2012 but just recently received this reply from John Woodman, a self-described “computer guy” who authored a book purporting to establish, Barack Obama’s birth certificate is not a fraud. (Of course, as I have pointed out both in this article and in numerous other articles; by itself, neither the electronic image nor the hard copy mock-up of Obama’s birth documents is accurately described as a fraud. Rather, both constitute bona fide authentic political campaign advertisements, legally governed by specific requirements contained in the U.S. Code.) Mr. Woodman is featured in the present article as a prime example of ‘anti-Birthers’ whose narrative appears to me to be ideologically driven, in the absence of factual support for their claims. Mr. Woodman’s comment is worth reading because as you will see; on becoming aware of my historical criticism of his work, he attempted to rehabilitate that work only by offering new spin on the challenged pronouncements, and not by offering any new facts which would tend to prove me wrong.