Obama's "Foreign Student" ID Found?

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Obama Student ID

Obama Student ID
Viral image

Circulating via email and social media, this image purports to be a scan of Barack Obama's "foreign student" ID issued by Columbia University in 1981.

Description: Viral image / Hoax
Circulating since: Feb. 2012
Status: Fake

Analysis: This is a blatant hoax aimed at convincing the gullible that Barack Obama attended college as a foreign student and therefore must not have been born in the United States. It fits into a larger conspiracy theory claiming Obama is ineligible to be president because, supposedly, he isn't a "natural born" American citizen.

The ID card image is fake. The first clue is the name, Barry Soetoro. While it's true that Soetoro was his stepfather's last name and Obama did attend grade school in Indonesia under the name Barry Soetoro (confirmed in Barack Obama: The Making of the Man by David Maraniss), there's no evidence he used any surname name other than Obama while attending college (see, for example, the byline of an essay by Obama published in Columbia University's weekly magazine, The Sundial, in 1983: "Barack Obama").

Stopped using the name "Soetoro" at age 10

Indeed, according to biographer Maraniss, Obama left the name Soetoro behind when he and his mother moved back to his birthplace, Hawaii, in 1971:

The days of being called Barry Soetoro ended when the ten-year-old boy returned to Honolulu. Using the surname of his stepfather had been a convenience during his three and a half years in Indonesia; now there was no reason for it. He was Barry Obama again.

Source of original image not hard to find

Moreover, it's as easy as doing a Google image search on the phrase "Columbia University Student ID" to locate the original image (found on this web page) from which the bogus Obama ID card was made. Issued in 1998 to someone with a completely different face and name, it bears the same identification number as the one supposedly issued to Obama above.

Type of ID card did not exist in 1981

Lastly, as noted on Snopes.com, Columbia University didn't begin issuing digitally generated ID cards such as the one pictured above until 1996. An article in the Feb. 2, 1996 edition of the campus newspaper, Columbia University Record, announces the introduction of the new cards and says they will be rolled out over the following year:

Columbia will begin a new phase of digital services next month, with the introduction of new Columbia ID cards and installation of ATM banking machines on campus. These two improvements are a step toward what University officials intend to be a one-card system on campus for banking, dining and library services, copying, vending machines, phone calls and laundry.

In case anyone wonders whether the article might be referring to some type of ID card other than the one supposedly issued to "Barry Soetoro" in 1981, the online version of it contains a link to an image of the card under discussion, which is indeed a match for the one pictured above.

More political Photoshoppery:
• Welcome to Kenya, Birthplace of Obama
Obama's Left-Handed Flag Salute
Romney Family Wearing "RMoney" T-Shirts
Gov. Sarah Palin Poses in Bikini w/Rifle
G.W. Bush Goes Fishing in Hurricane Katrina
John Kerry Shakes Hands with Satanist

See also:
Barack Obama "Praying" at a Mosque
What Happened to Obama's Law License?

Sources and further reading:

Card Trick
Snopes.com, 9 February 2012

Obama at Columbia University
FactCheck.org, 16 March 2010

Barack Obama: The Making of the Man
by David Maraniss (New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2012)