'Birther' Dismissed from Army for Refusing Deployment, Sentenced to Six Months in Prison

Terry Lakin disobeyed orders because he wants to see proof of Obama's birth.

December 16, 2010, 3:09 PM

Dec. 16, 2010— -- Lt. Col. Terry Lakin, a doctor who refused deployment to Afghanistan because he questioned whether President Obama was born in the United States, was dismissed from the Army today and sentenced to six months in military prison for refusing to obey orders.

Lakin, who could've been imprisoned for up to three years, was sentenced by a military jury at the end of his three-day court martial hearing in Fort Meade, Md.

The 18-year Army veteran is among so-called "birthers," who continue to question whether Obama was born in the United States and thereby eligible for the presidency.

Lakin pleaded guilty for failing to obey orders. Lakin was set to deploy from Fort Campbell, Ky., in April, for his second tour of duty, but he never showed up.

During the trial, the Colorado native acknowledged that he should have followed orders despite his concerns about Obama's citizenship. Arguing for a lenient sentence, Lakin's lawyer called the case unique and argued that Lakin made one bad decision but was also given bad advice by his previous attorney.

Prosecutors came down hard on Lakin, saying that he knew what he was doing and he had "invited and earned" the sentence.

Birthers say they want to see more proof that the president was indeed born in Hawaii, and that the copy of his birth certificate that Obama released during his campaign isn't sufficient because it doesn't show the name of his doctor or the hospital where he was born.

Orly Taitz, a California dentist and lawyer who has become the de facto head of the birther movement, says Lakin's case is still a win for the movement because it will provide more exposure to the issue, and keep the pressure on the president to prove he was born in the United States.

"If they find him [Lakin] guilty, then he will become a martyr, a political dissident who asked something very simple," Taitz, who attended the first two days of the hearing, told ABC News. "There's going to be an outcry."

"This fight will continue regardless of what will be the decision today," she added.

Appearing in a YouTube video, Lakin admitted that he invited his own court martial because he won't obey what he believes are "illegal orders" from a president who hasn't presented proof that he is a natural born U.S. citizen.

"I will disobey my orders to deploy because I believe all servicemen and servicewomen and the American people deserve the truth about President Obama's constitutional eligibility to the office of the presidency and the commander in chief," Lakin said. "If he is ineligible, then my order and indeed all orders are illegal, because all orders have the origin with the commander in chief as handed down through the chain of command."

"The minimal invasion to any politician's privacy from having to show an original signed birth certificate is far less than the harms to our country caused by someone not qualified whose election would thus subvert the law and the truth," he said.

Birther Terry Lakin Sentenced to Six Months in Military Prison

Obama was born in Kapiolani Maternity and Gynecological Hospital in Honolulu on Aug. 4, 1961.

In June 2008, Obama's campaign released a scanned copy of his birth certificate, but birthers say they want to see the original document that shows the hospital where Obama was born and the name of the doctor who delivered him.

The state of Hawaii doesn't allow the release of official birth certificates "to persons who do not have a tangible interest in the vital record." But state officials have said they have documents proving that the president was born in Hawaii, and the Honolulu Advertiser and the Star Bulletin each published announcements of Obama's birth in 1961.

In July, a federal judge in Georgia fined Taitz $20,000 for misusing the federal courts to push a political agenda in bringing a lawsuit on behalf of Army Capt. Connie Rhodes, who refused deployment to Iraq because he doesn't believe Obama is a natural born citizen.

A federal appeals court upheld the decision in August, and has gone to the Supreme Court for consideration.

Republican lawmakers have continued to add fuel to the fire over the years.

Earlier this year, Sen. David Vitter, R-La., became the latest to challenge Obama's birthplace, saying at a campaign event that he supported "conservative legal organizations and others who would bring that to court."

In April, Arizona lawmakers introduced a proposal that would force candidates to produce birth certificates to appear on the ballot in 2012, a clear rebuke to Obama's citizenship claim. Taitz said at least 10 other states are considering a similar statute, including Pennsylvania, Georgia and Missouri.

Sarah Palin, a potential 2012 presidential contender, said on a conservative radio talk show late last year that the public was "rightfully still making it an issue."