Just Because It's Trending Doesn't Mean It's True
Hoax Alert

Fake News: Federal Court Did NOT Rule Obama Can Be Charged as a Terrorist

  • by: Maarten Schenk
  • (Tue, 24 Sep 2019 13:28:48 Z)

Did a Federal court rule former President Barack Obama can be charged as a terrorist? No, that's not true. The story was published by a liberal satire website set up to mislead Trump supporters and Republicans into sharing made up stories that are clearly marked as satire when you actually click them. Articles from the site are frequently copied by foreign-run fake news websites, including this story. The people liking and sharing these stories are enriching foreign website operators (or a liberal from Maine) via the ad revenue generated with the content which is probably not what they expected or wanted.

The story originated from an article (archived here) where it was published by Obamawatcher.com on July 29, 2019 under the title "Federal Court Rules Obama Can Be Charged as a Terrorist". It opened:

The 13th Federal Court of Writs and Warrants has cleared the path for Barack Hussein Obama to be tried for treason. According to the unanimous three-judge ruling, if private citizen Barack Obama committed crimes, he can be prosecuted, regardless of his position when he held them.

That means no more hiding behind "Executive Privilege" or claiming you can't press charges against a President. You're not a President anymore. The court agrees.

It will now be up to the Justice Department to see to any charges. According to department spokesman, Art Tubolls:

"Obama can now be charged with treason on 7 counts, including offering foreign aid to the Musselman Brotherhood and sanctioning Islam in the White House. His high crimes and misdemeanors also include saluting with an object in hand, forced servitude of an officer when he made a Marine hold his umbrella, and the wearing of tan after Labor Day before Labor Day."

Screenshot of https://obamawatcher.com/2019/07/federal-court-rules-obama-can-be-charged-as-a-terrorist/

This particular story was posted under a category named "Barack Obama Fan Fiction, Hot Potato", to indicate the story was fiction. And the "13th Federal Court of Writs and Warrants" does not exist. The name of the spokesman in the story is a further hint the story is baloney: "Art Tubolls" is an anagram for "Busta Troll", the owner of the site.

The site is part of the "America's Last Line of Defense" network of satire websites run byself-professed liberal troll Christopher Blair from Maine along with a loose confederation of friends and allies. Blair has been in a feud with fact checking website Snopes for some time now and has also criticized other fact checkers in the past who labeled his work "fake news" instead of satire. In reaction to this he has recently rebranded all his active websites and Facebook pages so they carry extremely visible disclaimers everywhere.

Every site in the network has an about page that reads (in part):

About Satire
Before you complain and decide satire is synonymous with "comedy":

sat·ire
ˈsaˌtī(ə)r
noun
The use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people's stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.

Everything on this website is fiction. It is not a lie and it is not fake news because it is not real. If you believe that it is real, you should have your head examined. Any similarities between this site's pure fantasy and actual people, places, and events are purely coincidental and all images should be considered altered and satirical. See above if you're still having an issue with that satire thing.

Articles from Blair's sites frequently get copied by "real" fake news sites who often omit the satire disclaimer and any other hints the stories are fake. Blair has tried to get these sites shut down in the past but new ones keep cropping up. This particular story ended up being lifted by a site named "usanetwork" (archived here):

Federal Court Rules Obama Can Be Charged as a Terrorist

The 13th Federal Court of Writs and Warrants has cleared the path for Barack Hussein Obama to be tried for treason. According to the unanimous three-judge ruling, if private citizen Barack Obama committed crimes, he can be prosecuted, regardless of his position when he held them.

Here is a video of Blair explaining how his process works:

If you are interested in learning more about Blair and the history of his sites, here is something to get you started:

The Ultimate Christopher Blair and America's Last Line of Defense Reading List | Lead Stories

STORY UPDATED: check for updates below. Yesterday Eli Saslow at the Washington Post wrote a fantastic article about Christopher Blair, a man from Maine who has been trolling conservatives and Trump supporters online for years and occasionally even made a living out of it.

If you see one of his stories on a site that does not contain a satire disclaimer, assume it is fake news. If you do see the satire disclaimer it is of course also fake news.

NewsGuard, a company that uses trained journalist to rank the reliability of websites, describes obamawatcher.com as:

A site that publishes false stories and hoaxes that are often mistaken for real news, part of a network named America's Last Line of Defense run by hoax perpetrator Christopher Blair.

According to NewsGuard the site does not maintain basic standards of accuracy and accountability. Read their full assessment here.

We wrote about obamawatcher.com before, here are our most recent articles that mention the site:

About the author:

Maarten Schenk is our resident expert on fake news and hoax websites. He likes to go beyond just debunking trending fake news stories and is endlessly fascinated by the dazzling variety of psychological and technical tricks used by the people and networks who intentionally spread made-up things on the internet.  He can often be found at conferences and events about fake news, disinformation and fact checking when he is not in his office in Belgium monitoring and tracking the latest fake article to go viral.

Read more about or contact Maarten Schenk

About Lead Stories

Lead Stories uses the Trendolizer™ engine to detect the most trending stories from known fake news, satire and prank websites and tries to debunk them as fast as possible. Read more about how we work and how we select stories to check here.

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