Why did President Obama decide to skip Kenya, the homeland of his father, on his return visit this week to Africa?
Phone call to the White House
When I telephoned the White House looking for an answer, I was referred to Thomas F. Vietor, whom I was told was the White House spokesman on issues pertaining to the president’s Africa trip.
In a long series of e-mails between the White House and WND, Vietor reverted back to campaign mode in his attempt to explain why President Obama has decided to skip Kenya.
This was particularly important to me since I traveled to Kenya during the presidential campaign to track down reports that then-Sen. Obama had been born in Kenya, not Hawaii.
In researching my 2008 campaign bestselling book “The Obama Nation: Leftist Politics and the Cult of Personality,” I devoted Chapter 5, “Kenya, Odinga, Communism and Islam,” to Kenya, focusing on Sen. Obama’s extremely close relationship to Kenya’s then–presidential contender Raila Odinga, a perennial Kenyan politician whose father Odinga-Odinga, better known as “Double-O” was a professed communist.
Raila Odinga himself had been educated by his father in East Germany and had emerged from the experience to name his son “Fidel,” after Cuba’s communist dictator.
At that time, Raila Odinga was claiming his fellow Luo tribesman, Sen. Obama, was a blood cousin.
Vietor referred me to an interview President Obama gave to All Africa.
In that interview, President Obama expressed that his disappointment with the pace of democracy in Kenya was a key reason he chose not to include Kenya on his trip.
“In his most pointed comments on the country of his father’s birth, the U.S. president tore into Kenya’s leadership saying that ‘political parties do not seem to be moving into a permanent reconciliation that would allow the country to move forward,” All Africa reporters Oliver Mathenge and Kevin Kelley wrote in an article titled “Obama Scolds Kenya.”
White House reverts to campaign mode
Sen. Obama had traveled to Kenya in 2006 and made a DVD about that trip that he used extensively in his 2008 presidential campaign.
When I pointed this out to Vietor, he responded, “I don’t understand why the president’s visit there in 2006 would determine his travel in 2009, one way or the other but feel free to explain.”
I tried to explain.
“As a U.S. senator, President Obama enthusiastically visited Kenya, the homeland of his father,” WND pointed out to Vietor. “Now that he is president, President Obama is going to Ghana without any planned visit to Kenya. What as president does President Obama know about Kenya that makes him not want to go to Kenya that Sen. Obama did not know in 2006?”
Vietor’s next e-mail answered: “The president looks forward to traveling more widely in Africa in the future, but on this trip he wanted to visit Ghana. I don’t understand what a trip in 2006, during which he visited more countries than just Kenya, has to do with his itinerary this week.”
To be more specific, I then noted: “The reports from Kenya are that President Obama is disappointed in Kenya’s progress with democracy under the co-head of state relationship between President Kibaki and Prime Minister Odinga.”
I continued: “Also, we are told President Obama does not want to bring up questions sources such as WND have identified (and I myself identified in “The Obama Nation”) regarding extensive ties with Raila Odinga, including Sen. Obama’s campaigning in Kenya for Odinga in 2006 and Sen. Obama telephoning Odinga in Kenya, while Sen. Obama was in New Hampshire campaigning in the primary, after the post-election tribal violence in Kenya began.”
Vietor took this as an opportunity to attack from the White House the critical biography of Obama I wrote during the campaign, “The Obama Nation,” a book that was No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller list for a month, beginning immediately after it was published in August 2008.
“I think our thinking on your book was well documented during the campaign,” Vietor wrote from the White House.
In response, I pointed out to Vietor that I had the last word on “The Obama Nation” because the presidential campaign had not answered the rejoinder to the Obama campaign criticism of the book I wrote and published.
Vietor had no response to that point.
At that point, monitoring the exchange, WND Editor and CEO Joseph Farah jumped in to comment with an e-mail of his own: “I guess he [Vietor] is saying that the executive office of president is still in campaign mode – still thinks they are running a political campaign with my tax dollars. Perhaps he doesn’t understand the difference between a political campaign run with political contributions and under campaign law and running the executive office of the president of the United States.”
Vietor replied to Farah, arguing that Farah’s comments “don’t make any sense.”
Then, Vietor tried to explain himself.
“I’m referring you to a previous statement of a position, the same way I might refer you to what the president said about an issue like nuclear proliferation during the campaign,” Vietor wrote.
Remarkably, Farah was right, I found myself arguing with a White House employee about a debate left over from Obama’s 2008 presidential run.
The truth was that I brought back from Kenya firsthand documents I obtained from former Orange Democratic Movement Party members who had turned against Odinga.
The documents proved the points I had argued in “The Obama Nation,” namely, that Sen. Obama worked hard to try and get Odinga elected as Kenya’s president in December 2007.
Then, after Odinga lost, Obama continued working with him, telephoning Odinga in Kenya from the New Hampshire primary almost daily.
Obama strategized with Odinga, former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and then–Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to find a way to get Odinga to be co-head of state in Kenya, despite a disclosed letter of agreement Odinga had signed with radical Muslims in Kenya to extend Islamic law in Kenya if he could defeat President Mwai Kibaki and take over leadership of the country.
Obama shuns Odinga
During the 2008 presidential campaign, then-Sen. Obama did not meet with Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga when Odinga traveled to Washington in June.
At that time, Kevin Kelley reported in All Africa that: “The Kenyan-American presidential candidate may wish to avoid meeting with the PM due to concerns that such contact would be used to stoke rumors intended to wound Senator Obama politically.”
After being elected president, Obama also snubbed Prime Minister Odinga by refusing to host a meeting with him at the White House when Odinga visited the United States in May 2009.
Vietor confirmed that Obama declined to meet with Odinga both times.
Obama’s history with Odinga
Obama’s unwillingness to meet with Odinga or travel to Kenya as president differs sharply with his activity as a U.S. senator, when Obama traveled in 2006 to Kenya, involving himself directly in Odinga’s 2007 presidential campaign.
During the 2008 presidential campaign, WND reported that then-Sen. Obama in his 2006 trip to Kenya had been warned by President Kibaki’s press office in a televised interview that his repeated appearances with Odinga, who was then running against Kibaki for president in Kenya’s December 2007 elections, constituted undue interference in Kenya’s internal politics.
The following is a television report by Chicago’s WBBM news team, which covered Obama in Kenya in 2006:
The WBBM report shows Obama in Kenya making critical comments of the Kibaki government and a Kibaki government spokesman who objected to what were interpreted in Kenya as Obama appearances supporting Odinga’s presidential candidacy.
WND also published the photocopy of an internal document obtained in Kenya from Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement Party. “Friends” of then-Sen. Obama, with a donation of nearly $1 million, and Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi were among the biggest contributors to Odinga’s 2007 presidential campaign in Kenya.
WND further reported then-Sen. Obama continued to support Odinga’s failed presidential bid, even after Odinga was blamed for inciting tribal violence that ended up slaughtering Christians, as Odinga and Obama’s fellow Luo tribesman rioted, killing some 1,300 Kikuyu tribesmen and displaced hundreds of thousands more.
Moreover, WND has documented that Odinga signed a secret agreement with radical Muslim leaders prior to the December 2007 presidential election.
I was able to validate with government officials in Kenya that Odinga signed a memorandum of understanding with Sheik Abdullah Abdi, chairman of the National Muslim Leaders Forum, or NAMLEF, on Aug. 29, 2007, in which Sheik Abdullah agreed to swing Islamic voters to Odinga in Kenya and Odinga agreed to expand Islamic law in the Muslim-controlled areas of Kenya should he become president.
By appearing with Raila Odinga during his 2006 visit to Kenya, Obama positioned himself to be seen by Kenyans as an important U.S. senator who was joining forces with his Luo tribal kinsman. This positioning further sided Obama with Odinga as he ran against President Mwai Kibaki in the December 2007 presidential election in Kenya.
So, why did President Obama decide to skip Kenya this week?
My main guess is that President Obama did not want to take the chance that his history with Odinga might be examined by the U.S. press, including WorldNetDaily.
While President Obama’s supporters on the far Left will undoubtedly try to claim the arguments made here have already been “debunked” and “discredited,” I invite careful readers to look at the links provided here and judge the evidence for themselves.
Never deported from Kenya
Throughout my time in Kenya, the government was aware of my presence. Upon entering the country, my publicist and I disclosed on the immigration forms that we were there to conduct further research for “The Obama Nation.”
We did not travel to Kenya to sell the book. It was already a No. 1 New York Times best-seller in the United States, and there were only 25 copies of “The Obama Nation” in Kenya when we arrived. I bought all 25 copies to hand out in my meetings, including the meeting I had with Kenyan Vice President Stephene Kalonzo Musyoka.
Immigration officials made clear my publicist and I had violated no Kenyan laws and were never under arrest.
The detention was entirely politically motivated, as Prime Minister Raila Odinga did not want me holding a press conference in Kenya to release the documents I obtained there.
Those documents have been published in a series of WND news articles, several of which are linked in this column.
The evening of the press conference, Tim Bueler, my press secretary, and I left on the same British Airlines flight to London we had originally scheduled before we left the United States for Kenya.
I decided to hold the Nairobi press conference the last day I was scheduled to be in Kenya because I anticipated Odinga would send immigration officials to stop us.
The Kenyan government neither scheduled nor paid for our flight out of the country. Even after returning to the United States, I have been assured by the Kenyan government that I am welcome to return, despite the hard feelings of several security officers when the door to the British Airways flight to London was closed before takeoff.