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.
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
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
. 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...?