Local lawyer Phil Berg is convinced the president is an illegal alien.
Although Berg’s lawsuit was quickly dismissed, he doubled down and took it directly to the Supreme Court, demanding an injunction to stop the November 4 election, then to stop the counting of the votes, then to stop the swearing in of Obama. In the end, the Supreme Court refused to take the case and turned down all his requests for injunctions. Not to be dissuaded, Berg filed the case again with the Federal Court of Appeals. And just to hedge his bets, Berg has filed two more suits in federal court using separate legal arguments: the first is a Qui Tam or false claims suit, usually used for recovering payments for bogus Medicare claims, alleging that because Barack Obama is in fact an illegal alien, he could not legally serve as a U.S. Senator and therefore his salary and benefits—totaling nearly $1 million—should be returned to the U.S. Treasury. This case was dismissed in June, but, as ever, Berg was not to be discouraged and filed a motion for reconsideration.
The third lawsuit was filed on behalf of Gregory Hollister, a retired U.S. Air Force Colonel. Because Hollister is on lifetime recall, he could, theoretically, be pressed back into active duty and sent to Iraq or Afghanistan. Therefore, he has a right to know incontrovertibly whether or not Barack Obama is the legitimate commander in chief.
In March, the presiding judge threw the Hollister suit out, calling it “frivolous,” and threatened to financially sanction Berg’s co-counsel John Hemingway. No matter, says Berg, he has already filed an appeal. By his own estimation, all three cases will be tied up in the courts for years. The ultimate goal of all these lawsuits is to get just one judge to let the case proceed to the discovery stage which would grant Berg the power to subpoena Obama’s complete birth records, which, he is fairly certain, would prove his theory that the 44th president of the United States was born in Kenya, not Hawaii.
“I would like to see him removed from office, thrown in jail and then deported,” says Berg when asked what would happen if he were able to prove in a court of law that Obama is not a natural born citizen of the United States.
Berg may have been the first Birther to file a lawsuit against the president, but he’s no longer the only one.
If Berg is the Alpha Birther, Orly Taitz—an Orange County dentist- turned-lawyer who you may have seen melting down on a cable news outlet near you, decked out in her trademark platinum blond hair, thick black eyeliner and lowcut blouses—is the Acid Queen of the Birthers. But given Taitz’s demonstrable propensity to sue, intimidate and threaten anyone that gets in her way—she has a habit of calling those who question her “brownshirts” and routinely calls for Obama and all other enemies to be “purged”—perhaps She Wolf of the Birthers is more accurate.
Berg certainly thinks so. For the last six months Berg and Taitz have been trading insults on their respective websites. Berg thinks the combination of Taitz’s stalker-like aggressiveness (she has been known to show up at public appearances of various Supreme Court Justices and loudly demand that they hear her case), and combative incoherence during TV interviews, along with her dubious credentials (she got her law degree online) and self-sabotaging recklessness (two weeks ago Taitz caused quite a stir when she released what she claimed was Obama’s Kenyan birth certificate, but was in fact a deliberately doctored document created by an Obama supporter to punk the Birthers) only serves to hurt the cause. Although Berg is hardly blameless in this regard. His initial lawsuit included a Canadian Obama birth certificate that Berg was forced to withdraw and disavow after the anti-birthers pointed out that it was signed by DUDLEY DORIGHT.
Lisa Liberi, Berg’s paralegal, personally incurred the wrath of Taitz over perceived snubs. Taitz publicly accused Liberi of having a long criminal record (which Liberi says is ludicrous) and called for her to be “purged” and went as far as publishing Liberi’s social security number and home address online, presumably for the benefit of any of her rabid followers who might make good on her threat. Berg was in court last week asking a judge for a restraining order against Taitz.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if she was put up to this by the Obama people to make us all look foolish,” says Berg. Liberi wonders aloud if she is working for German or Russian intelligence, noting that Taitz’s blog gets flagged by most web browsers as an “attack site.”
“I’ve been told that it installs malware on your computer and sends all your files to Russia,” says Liberi.
What makes Berg notable, beyond the Alpha Birther status, is that he doesn’t fit the profile of the typical Obama hater. At 65, he’s a lifelong Democrat, having spent 31 years as a Democratic Committeeman in Philadelphia and Montgomery County, as well as serving as chairman of the Montgomery County Democratic Party back in the late ’80s. He’s a lifetime member of the NAACP. He served as a deputy attorney general during both of Milton Shapp’s two terms as governor back in the ’70s. He ran as the pro-choice candidate for governor against Bob Casey Sr. during the Democratic gubernatorial primary in 1990, and although he lost the nomination Berg did net a respectable 23 percent of the vote against a sitting governor.
During the 2000 Presidential election’s contentious Florida recount, Berg flew down to the panhandle to serve as one of Al Gore’s watchdogs, eventually filing a petition demanding the disbarment of U.S. Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O’Connor, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas for not recusing themselves from Bush v. Gore.
But some time after 9/11 Phil Berg went off the reservation. “I just felt that we were lied to and I still feel that way,” says Berg. “There is no way that 9/11 could’ve happened without government help.”
In October 2004, Berg filed Rodriguez v. Bush, a civil lawsuit in federal court that named 156 defendants—including the United States Of America, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Homeland Security, George Herbert Walker Bush, George Walker Bush, Richard Cheney and Donald H. Rumsfeld. The 237-page suit was an epic medley of jaw-dropping allegations, including: The Twin Towers were brought down via “controlled demolitions;” FEMA is creating an “American Gulag,” a network of concentration camps which it will run after martial law is declared; some or all of the 156 defendants named in the suit engaged in treason, murder, conspiracy, kidnapping, arson, trafficking in narcotics, blackmail, embezzlement, insider trading, securities fraud, identity and credit card theft, trafficking in humans, and the abduction and sale of women and children for sex.
In the end, the case went nowhere but it did get Berg a lot of media attention. Speaking engagement offers poured in from around the country. A wealthy sympathetic benefactor even bankrolled a press junket across Europe that lasted more than three weeks. All of which was great cloak-and- dagger fun for Berg, who loved the attention and the VIP status the case conferred on him in the more paranoid sectors of the public.
“I remember we had a police escort the whole time we were in Kansas,” he says with pride. But Berg spent so much time on the 9/11 suit that he neglected his once-thriving multi-lawyer practice, which shriveled and eventually died, forcing Berg to declare bankruptcy in 2005. Berg pretty much lost everything, including ownership of the spacious, 9,000 square foot, 200-year-old farmhouse that once housed his lucrative practice. Today he works out of a cramped, one-room office on the ground floor of a Lafayette Hill apartment complex. The space is crammed with boxes full of files and lawbooks stacked floor to ceiling, leaving just a narrow pathway around the perimeter of his cluttered desk. And though he was once, by his friends’ estimates, a millionaire several times over, Berg remains unrepentant. “Even my family has questioned what I have done,” he says, adding that the bankruptcy proceedings are still ongoing some four years later. “But I feel I was put on this earth to fight the good fight.”
Besides, he’s too excited about his impending guest appearance on paleo-conservative talk show host Michael Savage’s radio show. “He’s got 10 million weekly listeners!” Berg enthuses, certain this appearance will trigger a healthy uptick of contributions on his website ObamaCrimes.com. Turns out filing multiple lawsuits questioning the eligibility of the president of the United States is expensive—it cost $6,000 just to make the requisite copies of his lawsuit for the Supreme Court’s consideration—and the pay stinks. He refuses to disclose exactly how much he has collected in web donations, but you get the distinct impression that they barely keep up with his costs, and that’s not even factoring in a year’s worth of 24/7 billable hours he and others have put into the case, pro bono.
“Hello to everyone in the Savage Nation,” says Berg when the show’s producer calls and puts him on the air. Despite his long track record with the Democratic party, he is, not surprisingly, persona non-grata in blue state circles these days. The person who answered the phone at the Montgomery County Democratic Party headquarters—where Berg served as chairman back in the late ’80s—declined to comment for this story and refused even to give his name. “They pretty much all hate me,” says Berg with a shrug. (See more videos of Philip Berg interviews on Barack Obama and 9/11.)
In today’s Washington Examiner, David Freddoso responds to outrage against the birthers by noting that Democrats have their own conspiracy wackos: But before liberals begin to smirk, here’s a poll from 2007, in which 35 percent of Democrats said that President Bush knew in advance about the 9/11 attacks, and 26 percent were not sure. [...]
But not everybody thinks so. Why is that? That’s the question Ben and I take on in this week’s Scripps Howard column. My take: First, some praise for mainstream Republicans: They’ve been as vigorous as anybody in smacking down the false rumors about Barack Obama’s origins. National Review, the conservative bible, emphatically denounced the “birther” allegations [...]
PW's 2015 Philly Spring Guide