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Update: Birther colonel gets six months

Sun colleague Andrea Siegel reports:

An Army doctor convicted of disobeying orders to deploy to Afghanistan because he questioned whether Barack Obama was eligible to be president was sentenced today to six months in a military prison.

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He also will be dismissed from the military, meaning he will forfeit a nearly $90,000 annual salary and a pension.

In closing arguments at the court-martial at Ft. George G. Meade, government prosecutors said Lt. Col. Terrence Lakin had created "a spectacle that has embarrassed the Army" with his website and YouTube video. In both, Lakin said he wouldn't deploy until his questions about whether the president is a natural born U.S. citizen were answered.

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Capt. Philip J. O'Beirne asked the eight-member panel to sentence Lakin to between 24 and 36 months in a military jail and dismiss him from the army after almost 18 years of service. The maximum sentence was reduced from 3 1/2 years to 3 years this morning.

Lakin's civilian lawyer argued against jail time.

"Does the Army or society need protection against Dr. Lakin?" attorney Neal Puckett asked the panel.

He suggested that the panel "make [Lakin] work his debt off" and reprimand Lakin.

He described his client as obsessed and remorseful, and said he had followed bad advice from an outside lawyer on pushing his issue within the army.Lakin's stance, first made public when he refused to report to Ft. Campbell, Ky., in April, has made him a hero to the "birther" movement. Supporters say Obama, the first black president, was not born in Honolulu in August 1961, and so fails to meet the constitutional requirement that the president be a "natural born citizen."

While such conspiracy theories have largely been squelched, Lakin's refusal of a deployment earlier this year generated fresh attention for the cause.

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