WASHINGTON — The Army may be forced to court-martial a lieutenant colonel who refused to deploy to Afghanistan because he considers orders from President Barack Obama to be illegal, military officials told NBC News on Tuesday.
Army doctor Lt. Col. Terry Lakin believes Obama does not meet the constitutional requirements to be president and commander-in-chief because Lakin believes the president was not born in the United States. A video with statements from Lakin on the subject was released by the right-wing American Patriot Foundation.
Lakin refused to report to Fort Campbell, Ky., for deployment to Afghanistan, but instead went to the Pentagon. There on Monday he was confronted by his brigade commander, Col. Gordon Roberts, and informed he could face court martial, and his Pentagon building pass and government laptop computer were seized.
Roberts is the commander of the medical brigade out of Walter Reed. He is the only active-duty Medal of Honor winner in the military. He received the honor for action in Vietnam.
According to Lakin, he was read the military equivalent of his Miranda rights. No charges have been filed, but military officials believe they could include "missing a movement" or failure to report for duty, and "conduct unbecoming an officer."
One military official complained that Lakin, whom the Army describes as a "birther" because he's challenging Obama's birthplace, is being so persistent in his protest that the Army may have no choice but to order a court martial.
The Constitution states that a person must be a "natural-born citizen" to be eligible for the presidency. Birthers have contended that Obama's birth certificate is a fake, and many of them say he was actually born in Kenya, his father's homeland. They challenged his citizenship in court, and the issue became a staple of radio talk shows and conservative blogs.
Obama was born in Hawaii, and Hawaii Health Director Dr. Chiyome Fukino issued statements last year and in October 2008 saying that she's seen vital records that prove Obama is a natural-born American citizen.
The state registrar of vital statistics also has verified that the Health Department holds Obama's original birth certificate, copies of which were released by the Obama presidential campaign in 2008.
But that hasn't stopped the birther movement.
Last summer, an Army Reserve major volunteered to serve in Afghanistan, then filed suit to keep from being deployed, arguing that Obama was not a natural-born citizen. But a federal judge rejected the case, saying it was moot because the Army had already said that under rules for reserve volunteers, he didn't have to go.
This report from NBC News Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski includes information from The Associated Press.