“Most presidents have given their college records,” Donald Trump recently told Greta Van Susteren on the subject of transparency. “All presidents have given, to the best of my knowledge, their passport records.”
Newt Gingrich made a similar appeal. As he told the Daily Caller, “I think every Obama request for transparency should be met with ‘do we get to see your senior paper at Columbia?’”
The question that needs to be asked, of course, is: Why has Obama sealed all of his transcripts, his theses and his test scores? David Maraniss had the opportunity to find out when he interviewed the president for his half-baked biography, “Barack Obama: The Story.” He failed to do so.
Instead of checking his college records, or even asking why they have been sealed, Maraniss simply took Obama’s word on his grade point average. Obama claimed a 3.7 (out of 4) at Columbia. This is unlikely. Although Obama did graduate from Columbia, he did not graduate with honors. This much we know from the graduation program.
In “The Bridge,” Obama-friendly biographer David Remnick concedes that Obama was an “unspectacular” student at Columbia and at every stop before that. A professor who wrote a letter of reference for Obama reinforces the point, telling Remnick, “I don’t think [Obama] did too well in college.”
How such an indifferent student got into a law school whose applicants’ LSAT scores typically track between the 98th and 99th percentile and whose GPAs range between 3.8 and 4.0 is a subject neither Maraniss nor Remnick chose to explore.
Yet it seems unlikely that mediocre grades or LSAT scores would have led to this complete an informational shutdown. It seems unlikely, too, that Obama would have deemed a college thesis too radical for exposure. That he could have written off to youthful indiscretion.
Trump’s linking of passports and transcripts, however, suggests a potential secret that would demand concealment: passage through Occidental and possibly Harvard as a foreign student.
We know now that Obama was willing to claim foreign birth when it suited his purposes. In 1991, he famously described himself in his literary agent’s publicity brochure as having been “born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia and Hawaii.”
We know, too, that Obama’s mother, Ann Dunham, and stepfather, Lolo Soetoro, claimed Indonesian citizenship (and “Islam” as religion) for their son “Barry Soetoro” when they enrolled him as a first grader in an Indonesian school in 1968.
Soetoro married Dunham in 1964 when Obama was 2. Whether Soetoro formally adopted young Barry is not known to me. Maraniss, like previous biographers, never raised the question.
In 1972, Dunham and Soetoro and their daughter Maya left Indonesia and returned to Hawaii. Barry had returned a year earlier. Soetoro, according to the INS, was “admitted as a lawful permanent resident.”
When he filed his 1973 tax form, however, Soetoro falsely claimed the more favorable “nonresident status” and so was denied re-entry to Hawaii after a subsequent business trip to Indonesia.
The documentation surrounding Soetoro’s re-entry is maddeningly scrubbed from the record. It appears, however, that the INS relented and allowed Soetoro back into Hawaii a few months after he left.
Obama biographers prefer the “son of a single mom,” riff, so they usually write Soetoro out of the Hawaiian picture. But it appears that he remained in Hawaii with daughter and stepson for the remainder of the time Dunham was there.
A review of Soetoro’s INS files shows a young couple fully willing to game the system to keep Soetoro in Hawaii. To do this, they employed any number of scams from claiming nonresident tax status to faking stomach surgery for Dunham.
Dunham returned to Indonesia for fieldwork in 1975. She and Soetoro would not divorce until 1980, a year after Barry left Hawaii for the mainland and Occidental College.
Although he went by “Barack Obama” after leaving Indonesia, Obama had Soetoro as stepfather from the time he was 2 until he was 18. If his scam-artist parents thought it improved his life chances, they may well have claimed Indonesian or dual citizenship for Obama during this period.
This is where the passport comes into play. In the 13th paragraph of a March 2008 Washington Post article, the reader learns that of one of the three contract employees caught in the act of breaching Obama’s passport files at the State Department worked for the Analysis Corporation, the CEO of which was John Brennan, a 25-year CIA veteran.
The Post does report that Brennan donated $2,300 to the Obama campaign but suggests no deeper tie. In fact, Brennan was no casual donor. To its credit, CNN Politics saw the real news angle in the passport scandal: “Chief of firm involved in breach is Obama adviser.” As CNN reported, also on March 22, Brennan “advises the Illinois Democrat on foreign policy and intelligence issues.”
After its initial article, the Post said not a single word about the incident or Brennan’s connection to it. Today, Brennan is Obama’s deputy national security adviser.
A month later, at an April 2008 fundraiser in San Francisco, Obama countered Hillary Clinton’s boast of having met leaders from 80 foreign countries with his real-world experience.
“I traveled to Pakistan when I was in college,” said Obama in the way of illustration. “I knew what Sunni and Shia was [sic – Obama has always had problems with noun-verb agreement] before I joined the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.”
This declaration took ABC reporter Jake Tapper by surprise. He thought it odd that he had not heard of this trip – no one had – especially “given all the talk of Pakistan during this campaign.”
Had Tapper inquired further, he would have learned that Obama did not mention the Pakistan visit in either of his books, the 1995 “Dreams From My Father” or the 2006 “Audacity of Hope.”
The very real possibility remains that Obama traveled to Pakistan the same way to traveled to Occidental – on the Indonesian citizenship he claimed as a boy. The passport breach may have allowed Obama to open up about Pakistan.
It is a shame we have to speculate about such matters eight years after Obama first descended onto our planet. If we had a legitimate media, we would not have to.