We all know about that poll where 20% of US students thought Sudan was located in Asia, and 63% couldn’t find Iraq on a map.

But one expects a little more knowledge of history and Geography at the New York Times.

Today’s paper has a story questioning if McCain was eligible to be president, because he was born outside the United States.

McCain’s Canal Zone Birth Prompts Queries About Whether That Rules Him Out

screams the headline.

McCain’s father was in the Navy, and McCain was born on a military installation in the Panama Canal Zone.

Now, legally military installations, just like US Embassies, are considered US soil. So although one might question the child of a diplomat born in a civilian hospital overseas as being “a natural born” citizen, it’s hard to stretch such thinking to imply that those born on military installations to military personnel are also considered the same as those born overseas to any traveling American parent.

But in the case of McCain, he was also born in a US territory, not on a Naval base located on foreign soil. And this fact is ignored in the NYTimes article.
Under a 1903 treaty, the US was granted sovereignty over the Canal Zone. It was not a “foreign country” but legally a US territory.
That is why many Americans became upset when President Carter turned over the canal AND the Canal Zone to Panamanian sovereignty: It was not merely giving away a military base or a US facility, but was giving back US territory to another country.
And at least one legal brief implies that both Guantanamo and the Canal Zone although geographically located in other sovereign nations, is not foreign territory, but have the status of US territory. (Lawyers might want to debate where this leaves the Gitmo prisoners).
So there you have it: Born by two US parents, working for the US government, born in a military hospital on a military installation that is considered US soil, in a US Territory.

Does this cover the term “natural born citizen”?

So why question it?
So where does all the disinformation come from?

A couple far right wing web sites, including those pushing Mike Huckabee. And the NYTimes admits toward the end of the story that they found the story there:

But whether he qualifies as natural-born has been a topic of Internet buzz for months, with some declaring him ineligible while others assert that he meets all the basic constitutional qualifications — a natural-born citizen at least 35 years of age with 14 years of residence.

Well, yes. Like the bimbo story of last week, the NYTimes is digging the dirt from dubious sources and starting to resemble the National Enquirer rather than the Newspaper of Record.
Luckily, Obama was not born in Hawaii until 1961, two years after that territory became a state, or we’d be hearing the same nonsense about him. 

Yes, legal minds that will hinge questions of perjury as “depending on what the definition of ‘is’ is…” but for the rest of us, we wonder how far the legalistic deconstruction of the term “natural born” will go…for example, does it include those
“not born of woman but from (their) mother’s womb untimely ripped”?


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her webpage is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket.

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