By now if you listen to my show or read this blog or the other fine blogs and forums that follow the Birthers, you may have heard or read a lot of discussion about the Xerox evidence in relation to the President’s long form birth certificate. I thought it would be a good idea if someone would write a concise summary in layman’s terms about what all this means and why it is absolutely devastating to the claims of forgery made by Mike Zullo and the Cold Case Posse investigators. So here goes. Your comments and any corrections would be most appreciated.
“What the heck is a ‘Xerox WorkCentre’?” you ask
That’s an excellent question! A Xerox WorkCentre is an expensive, office quality, all–in-one machine that is typical of what is found in most office locations these days. They do a lot. They copy, print in color, fax, and scan documents to either email or to a network drive. They can cost $10,000 or more but they replace all the separate pieces of equipment that used to be common around offices such as copy machines, fax machines, and scanners. These machines are typically located in the mail room or some central location on an office floor. One of the nice features is that you can scan to different file formats right in the machine such as JPG, TIFF, or PDF. No computer scanning software is needed. The default is usually a PDF since it is the smallest file size and is the format of choice for exchanging documents. These machines are really modern marvels.
So what does all this have to do with the LFBC?
As I covered in a previous article blogger NBC has shown that it is likely that a Xerox WorkCentre was used by the White House to scan to email the original copy of the LFBC. It created a very compressed PDF file using patented Mixed Raster Content (MRC) compression technology. That PDF was then opened in Preview on a Mac and it was turned to the proper orientation before being resaved as a new PDF.
How do we know this? Tests have been performed by NBC and others using printed copies of the LFBC PDF, scanning them back into a Xerox WorkCentre 7655, and then opening in Preview. NBC has seen every one of the features that the CCP, in reports by Garrett Papit and Mara Zebest, used to justify Mike Zullo’s claim that the PDF posted at Whitehouse.gov is “a 100% forgery”. Some of these anomalies that are now explained include:
- The existence of one JPEG layer and multiple single color monochrome masks.
- The separation of the document into a background JPEG layer with the green security basket weave pattern, the form lines, and pieces of text.
- The separation of most of the text into another monochrome layer.
- Separate monochrome layers for the date stamp and Alvin Onaka’s seal.
- The rotation and scaling of the layers
- The creation of pixel for pixel identical letters and shapes.
- The ability to open the document in Adobe Illustrator and move around objects separately.
- Existence of a background color layer at 150 dpi resolution and monochrome layers at 300 dpi.
- The white border and the top level clipping mask.
- White holes in the background layer where text was lifted.
- The white halo compression artifacts. Update 8/12: Based on NBC’s and Kevin Vicklund’s comments I am changing this one to say that this particular experiment is not well suited to demonstrating the halo effect. However, the process halos can be neatly explained as artifacts of the process of pulling text off the background layer thus leaving a white space. The edges of that white space would get muddled and could expand during the JPEG process especially since the background is saved at half of the resolution of the monochrome layers. I know NBC is working on some new tests that are designed to demonstrate the halo effect more clearly.
There is even more evidence. NBC found that the Xerox algorithm inserts a nonfunctional comment string “YCbCr” into the JPEG layer portion of the PDF. This comment string appears to be unique to Xerox and has not been found in any other JPEG’s to date. It has been found in every scan known to have been run on a Xerox WorkCentre. NBC first found the string in a completely unrelated PDF document posted on a Danish web site that showed the Producer was a Xerox 7655. He checked the LFBC PDF and sure enough it was there. All the test scans on the Xerox WorkCentres to date contain the string. “YCbCr” isn’t just gibberish. It is actually a technical term having to do with JPEG compression. Update 8/12: Kevin Vicklund pointed out that in gray scale documents the comment is changed to “linearGray”. It apparently refers to the particular color space used for the JPEG encoding.
Note: These comment strings are not needed for decoding the JPEG files. There are other tags that do that. We do not know what purpose they serve. The might have been somehing a programmer forgot to clean up. However, we know that they seem to show up in every JPEG embedded in every Xerox WorkCentre scan reviewed so far.
If you just have to know the technical details YCbCr has its own Wikipedia article. Go read it and have fun trying to understand color spaces!
Let’s look a the results
NBC ran an experiment in which he attempted to duplicate his best guess at the work flow that was used by the White House to produce the PDF that was posted on April 27, 2011. This is what he did:
The following image is a composite created by scanning the WH LFBC using Xerox WorkCentre 7655 upside down using the automatic feeder. The resulting file was opened in Preview, the image rotated 180 degrees and printed to PDF. The resulting PDF was opened in preview, the layers unlocked and moved to the side. In addition, a close up of the signature was ‘blown up’ to show how the background layer, not surprisingly, has filled in some of the white that resulted from the separation of the background and foreground layers.
Note how for example the signature block is fully separated.
Here are the resulting screen shots from Illustrator: (Click here for a full sized image)
How do you know the exact model WorkCentre that was used?
It is an educated guess. Just a few weeks before the release of the LFBC the White House posted a copy of the President and First Lady’s 2010 income tax returns. It is logical to assume that the same office that posted the tax return would have used the same equipment for scanning the LFBC just 12 days later.
If you download a copy of this file and open the file in Adobe reader to look at the properties this is what you will see:
You too can do this at home!
Well not exactly, unless you happen to have a Xerox WorkCentre sitting in the basement. Seriously, many offices have them. After reading some of NBC’s early postings on this I noticed that one of the office machines where I work was a Xerox 7535 WorkCentre.
I did my own test scans on the Xerox WorkCentre 7535. I printed copies of the LFBC then scanned them to email. I used the default settings for scanning to email – 300 dpi, color, and with the Edge Erase feature set at 0.1” all around. I downloaded an older version of Adobe Illustrator and opened the PDF. My jaw dropped. What I saw were almost identical layers to the ones in the White House LFBC. It was astounding.
I sent my file to NBC and he ran it through Preview and saved it as a PDF. Preview added the top level clipping mask that is seen in the White House LFBC.
My office doesn’t have a Xerox but I would like do verify the results. What can I do?
If you do not have access to a Xerox WorkCentre try asking a friend if their office has one. Of course explaining what you want them to do might raise some eyebrows. Another option is to try one of the big office supply outlets like OfficeMax, Office Depot or Staples. They sometimes have these machines available to the public for copying and scanning. You could either email yourself a copy or save it to a thumb drive. You can download a limited trial version of Illustrator from Adobe.
If you do not have any access to the Xerox WorkCentre I am posting the PDF files here so that you can at least inspect them and run you own tests in Illustrator or other software.
This is the output of the Xerox 7535 scan of the printout of the LFBC:
This is the same file opened and saved in Preview:
The mysteries of the LFBC PDF have been solved. Amazing work by NBC and others before him like John Woodman and Frank Arduini has led to the remarkable discovery of the hardware and the work flow process that produced the LFBC posted at the White House web site. We do not need to invent a vast forgery conspiracy that includes hundreds of shadowy figures and two administrations in Hawaii. All we need is a simple work flow process that goes on every day in thousands of offices. We have known for some time that a compression process was the most likely explanation for the layers and other features of the LFBC PDF. Now we know exactly. Occam’s Razor rules once again.