Associated Press
Tuesday, December 14, 2010

FORT MEADE, Md. (AP) — A military court was set to hear the case Tuesday of an Army doctor charged with refusing to deploy to Afghanistan because he says he doubts that President Obama was born in the United States and therefore questions his eligibility to be commander in chief.

Lt. Col. Terrence Lakin, an 18-year-Army veteran, disobeyed orders to report earlier this year to Fort Campbell, Ky., to prepare for deployment, saying he believed the orders were illegal.

In videos posted on YouTube, Col. Lakin aligned himself with so-called “birthers,” who question whether Mr. Obama is a natural-born citizen, as the U.S. Constitution requires for presidents.

Col Lakin says in the videos that any reasonable person looking at available evidence would have questions about Mr. Obama’s eligibility to be president and that he had “no choice” but to disobey orders. Col. Lakin, a native of Greeley, Colo., said he would “gladly deploy” if Mr. Obama’s original birth certificate were released and proved authentic.

Officials in Hawaii say they have seen and verified Mr. Obama’s original 1961 birth certificate, which is on record with that state. But birthers have not been satisfied with that assurance or the “Certification of Live Birth” that Mr. Obama has released, a digital document that is a record of a person’s birth in the state but that does not list the name of the hospital where his mother gave birth or the physician who delivered him.

Hawaii law long has barred the release of a certified birth certificate to anyone who does not have a tangible interest.

In September, a military judge ruled the president’s birth certificate is irrelevant in Col. Lakin’s case. His lawyer, therefore, will not be able to raise the issue as a defense for why Col. Lakin, a flight surgeon, did not report for what would have been a second tour of duty in Afghanistan.

As a result, his civilian defense attorney, Neal Puckett, said he is not optimistic about Col. Lakin’s prospects of being acquitted. He is “probably going to be convicted of something,” Mr. Puckett said. If convicted of all the charges against him, Col. Lakin faces dismissal from the Army and more than 3½ years in prison.

Col. Lakin’s trial and a sentencing phase are expected to last two or three days.

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