O-Busted: Selective Service Requirement Did Not Exist When Obama Says He Registered

It remains to be seen whether this turns out to be Barack Obama's "Christmas in Cambodia" untruth, his Dukakis-in-tank hilarity -- or both.

Regardless, what follows is a pretty obvious "misstatement" that would not possibly be ignored if it were uttered by a conservative or a Republican.

In his hilariously titled post ("Mighta Joined If He Coulda Capped Some Cong") on Barack Obama's interview in a barn this morning (not kidding) on This Week with George Stephanopoulos, fellow NewsBuster Mark Finkelstein reported on Obama's answer to a viewer's question about whether he ever considered military service. You can read Mark's post for his overall thoughts, but I want to focus on something the Illinois senator said that several commenters at the post took exception to (photo courtesy DayLife):

You know, I had to sign up for Selective Service when I graduated from high school. .... But keep in mind: I graduated in 1979.

There are only two "little" problems:

  1. Selective Service Registration was not possible in 1979.
  2. Bob Owens at Pajamas Media noted that Obama registered with the Selective Service with an effective date of September 4, 1980.

The Wikipedia entry on Obama's early life agrees with the candidate's memory of when he graduated (other verification will be obtained after this post goes up):

Obama returned to Honolulu to live with his maternal grandparents while attending Punahou School, a private college preparatory school, from the fifth grade until his graduation in 1979. 

Wiki's Selective Service entry says the following about the registration requirements at the time:

On March 25, 1975, Pres. Gerald Ford signed Proclamation 4360, Terminating Registration Procedures Under Military Selective Service Act, eliminating the registration requirement for all 18-25 year old male citizens. Then on July 2, 1980, President Jimmy Carter signed Proclamation 4771, Registration Under the Military Selective Service Act, retroactively re-establishing the Selective Service registration requirement for all 18-26 year old male citizens born on or after January 1, 1960. Only men born between March 29, 1957, and December 31, 1959, were completely exempt from Selective Service registration. The first registrations after Proclamation 4771 took place on Monday, July 21, 1980, for those men born in January, February and March 1960 at U.S. Post Offices. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays were reserved for men born in the later quarters of the year, and registration for men born in 1961 began the following week.

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UPDATE, 11:55 P.M. -- The full text of Gerald Ford's Proclamation 4360, dated March 29, 1975 (not March 25, as Wiki claims), is here. The full text of Jimmy Carter's Proclamation 4771, dated July 2, 1980, is here.

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Obama could not have registered "when I graduated from high school," as he claimed.

He actually registered roughly 45 days after the first post-Proclamation 4771 registrations took place in 1980.

Obama's statement, that "I had to sign up for Selective Service when I graduated from high school," is inarguably false.

Further, the correct timeline casts serious doubt on what Obama said between the ellipsed segments of the first excerpt above:

And I was growing up in Hawaii, and I had friend whose parents were in the military, there were a lot of Army, military bases there. And I always actually thought of the military as some ennobling and honorable option. 

More likely: He signed up when he did because he had to. Nothing more, nothing less.

This would appear to be yet another example of resume enhancement.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.