POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Dec 13, 2013
LAST UPDATED: 7:34 a.m. HST, Dec 13, 2013
When President Barack Obama marched into the White House briefing room with his Hawaii birth certificate in April 2011, he said, "I know that there's going to be a segment of people for which, no matter what we put out, this issue will not be put to rest."
How right he was. The release of his long-form birth certificate did not eliminate the "birther" movement, which contends that Obama was born in Kenya and is therefore ineligible to be president.
Birthers now have seized on Wednesday's plane crash that killed Hawaii Health Director Loretta Fuddy, the woman who verified the authenticity of Obama's birth certificate.
Skeptics turned to social media Thursday to suggest that Obama had played some role in Fuddy's death. Twitter posts included: "The WH tying up loose ends?" "What did she really know?" and "R.I.P. Loretta Fuddy — we'll know the truth about Barack Hussein Obama, regardless."
Donald Trump, a longtime doubter of Obama's birthplace, tweeted, "How amazing, the State Health Director who verified copies of Obama's ‘birth certificate' died in plane crash today. All others lived."
Mark Fenster, University of Florida law professor who wrote a book on conspiracy theories, said adherents will search for evidence to support their beliefs, and each piece of news can give their theory new life.
"The theories themselves are a process of stitching together individual facts to form a larger narrative, and this is just one more fact that gets linked to the chain," Fenster said.
Fuddy had been the state's public health director since March 2011. She approved the release of Obama's long-form birth certificate, which is not a public document in Hawaii, at his lawyers' request.
For Orly Taitz, the leading birther litigator who has argued in several federal courts that Obama isn't a natural-born American, the sole fatality was too much of a coincidence.
"Attorney Taitz calls on 8 courts and judges who received her cases to rule expeditiously on the merits and review the evidence of forgery and theft in Obama's IDs before more people die in strange accidents," she said on her website. Taitz has yet to win a case in the matter.
Soumya Karlamangla, Los Angeles Times