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Saturday, January 07, 2012

Obama's parents and the CIA

As many of you know, this blog ran a series a few years back on Obama's possible family connections to the CIA. Wayne Madsen -- a writer untrusted by many -- took up my research leads (without crediting me) and came up with new material. Some of his finds are genuinely intriguing, while other parts...well, I don't know what to make of it all. That's Madsen for you.

Yesterday, a friend to this blog directed my attention to this review of two new books: Sally Jacobs' biography of our president's father, titled The Other Barack, and A Singular Woman, Janny Scott's biography of Stanley Ann Dunham. As it happens, I have both books. (Well, sort of: Library card + scanner = free pdfs. Is a poor person allowed to do this?)

Neither book addresses the CIA allegations directly, but both are worth reading. So is the afore-linked piece from the London Review of Books, which offers a good summary of both volumes.

Sally Jacobs' work left me with a genuine admiration for Barack Obama Sr. -- in fact, I probably like him better than Jacobs does. True, Obama had serious problems with alcohol, and he mistreated the women in his life. Many readers will, on those grounds, consider the man beyond redemption.

I disagree.

The elder Obama simultaneously justified and ruined his life when he took a principled stand. To be specific: He wrote an influential article which called for African economic independence. In that piece, Obama clearly hoped to set the economic course for all of post-colonial Africa, not just for Kenya.

Alas, his recipe was NOT what the Americans wanted to hear. His insistence on Africa-for-the-Africans helped to insure that the CIA would eventually choose the autocratic and corrupt Jomo Kenyatta over Tom Mboya, Obama's patron. Up until 1968 (or thereabouts), the Agency preferred Mboya, who was more stable and more popular; Kenyatta was considered erratic.

After that fateful article came out, BO Sr. was -- not to put too fine a point on it -- fucked. He lost his huge-paying job, his big car and his impressive home. In short: He made a headlong plunge into schlub-hood. He always remained an arrogant schlub, to be sure, but he became a schlub nonetheless. Although he had started drinking heavily in college, the problem became much worse as his prospects dimmed.

The above-linked reviewer does not see fit to mention that Barack Obama Sr. witnessed the assassination of Mboya. Had Obama identified the killer, he probably would have been killed himself. The man was brave but not stupid.

There are still those in Kenya who insist that the elder Obama was murdered. True, he had previously established a record of drunk driving incidents, a couple of which which had put him in the hospital. Not long before that final, fatal one-car accident -- a collision with a tree -- he gave his wife a rather morbid harangue on how best to raise the children in the event of his death. Make of that what you will.

We can interpret the elder Obama's life as a lesson in what happens when you play along versus what happens when you rock the boat. I think that our president learned this lesson pretty well.

Did the CIA ever directly approach Barack Obama Sr.? Probably not -- at least, not in any noticeable way. I don't think there was ever an occasion when someone in a crisp dark suit sidled up to the barstool next to Obama and said: "Hi, I represent Certain Interested Americans. We want to pay you X amount of money to perform the following services..."

Nevertheless, there are plenty of indications that, early on, the Company kept tabs on him. They would have been idiots not to. Obama was, arguably, the most brilliant economist in post-colonial Africa, and he came very close to charting a course for the entire continent. Though not a communist, he had a degree of guarded sympathy for the USSR; he even studied Russian. Of course the CIA would have opened a file on a guy like that; that's what the taxpayers paid the Agency to do.

Although Obama gave himself the title "Doctor" on his return to Africa, the State Department had (unfairly) kicked him out just before he could complete his PhD. Harvard never allowed him to acquire that degree. There's an argument to be made that The Powers That Be gave him the bum's rush when they realized that this impulsive, brash and domineering young man had an independent streak beyond their ability to tame.

Janny Scott's book about Stanley Ann Dunham is more difficult to assess. To be candid, a small part of me suspects that it was written in bad faith, or at least with one eye blind. The allegations that the CIA recruited our president's mother have, by this point, received sufficient publicity to justify at least some sort of response, if only a sneering one. Yet Scott never mentions those allegations.

A later post will offer a fuller reaction to A Singular Woman. For now, let me simply state that nothing in this volume has quelled my suspicions that Stanley Ann Dunham was spookier than Caspar.

Both of the men she married turned out to be people whom the CIA would have wanted watched and, if at all possible, brought on board. Happenstance? Well...maybe. But how often does such a thing happen in your family?

Dunham took lessons in Russian at a time and in a school where intelligence recruits often studied that language. She worked for AID and the Ford Foundation, both notorious for offering CIA cover. She became an anthropologist and a world traveler, always visiting political hot spots. No one can deny that the CIA made a special effort to enlist the aid of anthropologists. (Google the words CIA and anthropology. All sorts of interesting stuff will turn up.)

Some researchers (Madsen in particular) have even linked Ann Dunham's parents to the intelligence services. Of particular interest is the photo above, which shows Barack Obama Sr. receiving the traditional lei upon his entry into Hawaii. Also in the photo: Stanley Ann's father, Stanley Armour Dunham -- very recognizable from other images. He allegedly served in an intelligence capacity during his military service, which, I admit, does not mean a whole lot. At the time this photo was taken, he was supposed to be on the mainland, selling furniture. Yet here he is in Hawaii, standing next to his future son-in-law, well before Stanley Ann met the young African up-and-comer.

Yeah, that is intriguing. Don't pretend otherwise.

Madsen and others have alleged that our president's grandmother -- the woman who actually raised our president -- had some connection to the Rewald scandal. If you don't know about Rewald -- well, it's a very long story which I once knew in detail but now can recall only hazily. Short version: It was a CIA money thing. Alas, the allegations tying Madelyn Dunham to Rewald are iffy and vague. If Madsen has evidence, he has been very coy about making it public.

Unfortunately, most of the websites discussing CIA ties to the Dunham clan are wacky right-wing "birther" joints. Not for the first or last time, conspiracy-crazed sickos have worked hard to decredibilize legitimate research into the intelligence community.

These reactionary pseudoresearchers seem convinced that the elder Obama was brought into the United States by a cabal of Marxist fifth columnists masterminded by -- get this! -- the Unitarian Church. And how do they know that the Unitarians were in league with Moscow? Because the Unitarian Church decried racism in the 1950s and '60s. (That's why the Birchers never liked the Unitarians.) Yes, folks, we're dealing with the dreaded Unitarian conspiracy!

I'm not kidding: That's their argument.

They also think that Barack Obama's mother is still alive.

And there you have it. Whenever someone tries to look into what the intelligence agencies may or may not be up to, the audience soon divides into two camps:

1. The nothing-to-see-here camp. These are the insufferably arrogant and dull conformists who insist that you must never bring up such topics, lest they regale you with ever-so-clever references to tin foil chapeaus.

2. The raving loony camp. These are the frothing-at-the-mouth paranoids who never shut up about birth certificates, controlled demolitions, flying saucers at Roswell, the third secret of Fatima, the Illuminati, and god-knows-what-else.

I think that -- on occasion -- the truth lies in a no-man's land situated between those two camps. Only a few dare to explore that territory.

Wanna come with...?
No. It was the Unitarian Universalists. They are FAR MORE sneaky and dangerous. They played an instrumental role in starting the anti-nuke movement and openly hug trees and stuff.

Does any more need to be said????
All that cloak-and-dagger stuff is intellectual candy, aka; empty calories.
That traditional Hawaiian greeting of flowers is a "lei" not "lay".

Instead of "decredibilize" why not say "discredit"?

Spelling counts in life because it makes the difference between someone whose writing is taken seriously and someone who appears to be a kook. In an article on conspiracy theories, I think you will appear less kooky if you spell things right. Attention to one kind of detail is correlated with attention to another kind (e.g., facts).
Unitarians? Hmmm...
Ya knows, after a bit of contemplation, I realized you can take out "CIA" and put in "UFO" and you are left with the same conundrum. Huh.
A Freerepublic repost of an American Thinker article has the photo likely being taken in 1962 as Obama Sr. was leaving for Harvard. Is there any documentary evidence that dates it accurately?
The only thing that misspelling lei proves is that Joseph doesn't fill out the New York Times crossword puzzle.
Anon: If you'll compare this blog to others -- including those written for major organizations capable of hiring proofreaders -- you'll find that I make fewer errors of spelling, grammar and usage than do most other writers. (Take, for example, the use of the word "do" in the previous sentence. Most other bloggers would have left it out. And I suspect that most bloggers would have said "less" instead of "fewer.")

That said, your quibbles about my writing would have more force if you displayed an ability to read. Did you see the Rules for Comments at the top of the page, Mr. Anonymous?

I note that you sneer at my post without countering anything I have to say. If argumentum ad hominem is the best you can do, I'll presume that my logic is sound.

That said, I did hit the "publish" button without giving the piece a second read-through. "Lei" was a foolish typo; thank you for that.

A long time ago, a friend pointed out to me that "decredibilize" is a neologism without a berth in the dictionary. I told him that I like the word because no other word conveys the same intended meaning -- "Render foolish and unbelievable." "Discredit," in my opinion, does not connote unfair ridicule. So I'll keep using "decredibilize" and will encourage others to do so.

That's how useful words get into the dictionary.
By the way...

"Spelling counts in life because it makes the difference..."

Life makes the difference?

An indefinite reference always refers to the closest antecedent. At least, that's what Mr. Matheson said in English class. Don't schools teach this stuff any more?
And yes, I'm aware that I slyly bent the rule while stating it. That's called humor.
This comment has been removed by the author.
Blogger Joseph said...

Eric: I was previously under the impression that the lei thing happened only on arrival. I've been looking around -- seems that there is also a departure lei ceremony, although it is usually run by a hotel.

I still can't understand what Father Dunham would be doing there. Note that Ann is not there. Barack and Ann had pretty much broken up before the child had come to term.

By the way -- the theory outlined on that American Thinker page is silly. If another man had fathered our current president, then Barack Obama senior would not have told close associates in Africa that he had a son back in the states. There's also the matter of the trip BO Sr. made to Hawaii when the younger Obama was a youngster. All of our information about that visit clearly indicates that the elder Obama, humbled and resentful, made himself disliked by over-insisting on his parental authority. Obviously, he was still trying to act like the "big man" he once had been.
"Wanna come with...?"

Yes, that is why I come here every day.
Anon 8:15 -- the cloak and dagger stuff may not be empty calories. One could argue that the Jill Dalton piece at the other end of the link buttresses my point.
Joe, I would come with. I have plenty to add since I have averaged 6 hrs. per day since 8/08 researching. I spend that much time because I do understand that you cannot believe everything you read. Can we even believe a published newspaper report? or a magazine article, or an NPR radio clip.

I will tell you with certainty, Baracks mother Stanly has gone by so many names, with so many different spellings that one HAS to ask "why". And we are talking about legal documents.

I will tell you that many things have been scrubbed from the internet. I was smart enough to print out a few of them.

I will tell you that even Barack, Srs. immigration papers (available on pdf) show that he lied as well. Guess he didn't know what year he was born, whether he was married, had any kids, etc.

There is a letter in Barack, Srs. immigration file from the Unitarian Universalists.

Joe, I like reading your blog. You are quite capable of doing this research. The more you dig, the more lies will be discovered.

Good luck, and carry on.
Ahem--ad hominem should be in italics, as all foreign language phrases should be.
Well, as far as Unitarian and Universalists go--the marriage between the two occurred right about 1962 so prior to Obama's birth it would have been Unitarians only, after that Universalists get tacked on. Primitive way to monitor forgeries and such like.

As for Ann Dunham, I covered her name and showed a brief discussion of her work history to my husband, a foreign national, and asked him what this person did and he said, "CIA, of course. Who is it?' He laughed when I told him it was Obama's mama.

Oh and poor spellers of the world, UNTIE!
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