McCarthy's book promotes false claim that Obama campaigned for Kenyan candidate

Chapter 13 of Andrew McCarthy's book The Grand Jihad is built around the debunked claim that then-Sen. Barack Obama, during a 2006 visit to Kenya, campaigned for presidential candidate Raila Odinga. In fact, Obama did not campaign for Odinga.

McCarthy attacks Obama for purportedly campaigning for “communist Luo” Odinga

McCarthy accuses Obama of “dangerous, destabilizing, disgraceful” campaigning for “candidate running in opposition to Nairobi's pro-American government.” From McCarthy's book The Grand Jihad:

Barack Hussein Obama Jr. spent very little time in the United States Senate after his 2004 election. In a flash, he was eyeing the White House. All told, he spent about 140 days in attendance at congressional sessions -- at times, even seemingly confused about his committee assignments.

But he did make times to spend six days in Kenya. They were six days spent campaigning for the candidate running in opposition to Nairobi's pro-American government -- in outrageous contravention of U.S. policy and, probably, federal law. That opposition candidate was Raila Odinga, the communist Luo who was seeking the presidency, who agreed to impose sharia law in Kenya in order to win the support of Islamists, and who threw the country into murderous mayhem when his bid fell short. It was one of the most dangerous, destabilizing, disgraceful performances in the history of the U.S. Senate -- but you've probably never heard about it, because the Obamedia chose not to report it.


In the Washington Times, Mark Hyman reported that Odinga had visited Obama in the U.S. in 2004, 2005, and 2006, and that Obama had sent an adviser, Mark Lippert, to Kenya in early 2006 to plan a trip by the senator that summer, timed to coincide with Orange Democratic Party campaign activities. Obama followed through in August. For six days, he was nearly inseparable from Odinga as they barnstormed the countryside. [pages 213-214, 214-215]

PolitiFact: “No evidence” to campaign claim

Campaigning claim taken from Mark Hyman column described as “lies and innuendo.” The source for McCarthy's claim that Obama campaigned with Odinga is an October 12, 2008, Washington Times column by Mark Hyman in which he asserted: “Mr. Odinga and Mr. Obama were nearly inseparable throughout Mr. Obama's six-day stay. The two traveled together throughout Kenya and Mr. Obama spoke on behalf of Mr. Odinga at numerous rallies.” In an October 17, 2008, letter to the editor, J. Scott Gration, a retired Air Force major general who accompanied Obama on his trip, responded:

Mark Hyman's “Obama's Kenya ghosts,” (Commentary, Sunday), was a disgraceful smear on Sen. Barack Obama. Because I accompanied Mr. Obama on his trip to Kenya, I can say unequivocally that Mr. Hyman's piece was filled with lies and innuendo.

  • Mr. Obama's 2006 trip to Kenya was authorized by the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who congratulated Mr. Obama on a successful trip when he returned.
  • Mr. Obama did not “campaign” on behalf of Raila Odinga, has never endorsed him, and was not “nearly inseparable” from Mr. Odinga during his time in Kenya. Mr. Obama met with a wide range of Kenyan and American officials, including a Nobel Prize winner, human-rights defenders, and President Mwai Kibaki. He did not have a single scheduled meeting with Mr. Odinga.


Mr. Hyman's piece concludes with an astonishing attempt to tie Mr. Odinga, the sitting prime minister of Kenya, and, by absurd association, Mr. Obama to acts of terrorism committed against the United States of America. This false and outrageous charge says a lot more about Mark Hyman than it says about Barack Obama.

PolitiFact: “no evidence to indicate that Obama 'openly supported' Odinga.” After Jerome Corsi made a similar assertion in his Obama smear book The Obama Nation that Obama “openly supported” Odinga during his visit, examined the claim:

What we can confirm is that Obama has remained neutral in Kenyan politics, and did not support Odinga during his trip. Odinga attended some of Obama's events while Obama was in Kenya, and clearly wanted to associate himself with Obama, but there is no evidence to indicate that Obama “openly supported” Odinga.


For this statement, we decided to scour the public record for evidence that Obama supported Odinga. We looked to contemporary accounts of the 2006 trip and found a transcript from an interview Obama gave to a Kenyan newspaper that directly contradicts Corsi's allegation.

Question: “As you prepared to travel to Kenya you were obviously conscious of two things. One was about being drawn into local politics. The other was the high expectations of what you could do for Kenya now that you are a senator. How did you handle both?”

Obama: “One of the things we try to do is meet with all parties. I met President Kibaki, I met Uhuru Kenyatta, I was with Raila Odinga. We met the government, met the opposition and met other groups such as human rights activists. What I try to do is give a consistent message on what I think U.S.-Kenya relations should be, but not to suggest somehow that I think one party is better than the other. That's for the Kenyan people to decide.”


Corsi states that Obama “openly supported” Raila Odinga. We found public statements from Obama during the trip saying the exact opposite. We found no other evidence to support Corsi's statement, so we rate his statement False.

McCarthy baselessly accuses Obama of violating federal law

McCarthy: Obama's purported campaigning and criticism of Kenyan corruption violated Logan Act. McCarthy wrote that during his visit, “Obama pointedly criticized the [Mwai] Kibaki government for denying Kenyans' basic rights” and “accused the Kibaki government of rampant corruption,” citing in particular “an interminable speech at the University of Nairobi that he provocatively entitled 'An Honest Government, A Hopeful Future' ” [page 215]. McCarthy later added:

For Senator Obama -- he of the Tony Rezko real estate deal -- to scold such an ally as incorrigibly corrupt and to interfere in its internal politics was more than reckless. It was borderline criminal (and that's being generous). The Logan Act, which has been the law of the United States for two centuries, bars American who are “without authority of the United States” from conducting relations “with any foreign government ... in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States.” Under our Constitution, the power to conduct foreign policy belongs to the president, not to individual members of Congress. Obama plainly did not have the “authority of the United States” to undermine our government's relations with an ally in a region where we badly need friends. [Page 216]

In 200 years, no prosecutions under Logan Act, which is intended to “prohibit unauthorized persons from intervening in disputes between the United States and foreign governments.” The Logan Act, 18 U.S.C. § 953, states:

Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

This section shall not abridge the right of a citizen to apply, himself or his agent, to any foreign government or the agents thereof for redress of any injury which he may have sustained from such government or any of its agents or subjects.

A 2006 Congressional Research Service report on the history of the Logan Act states that it was enacted after a private citizen attempted to settle disputes between the U.S. and France without U.S. authorization. The CRS added, “There appear to have been no prosecutions under the Act in its more than 200 year history.” CRS also noted that, regarding a 1975 instance of two senators visiting Cuba, a State Department statement found: “The clear intent of this provision ... is to prohibit unauthorized persons from intervening in disputes between the United States and foreign governments. Nothing in [the Logan Act], however, would appear to restrict members of the Congress from engaging in discussions with foreign officials in pursuance of their legislative duties under the Constitution.”

McCarthy's accusations repeated by WorldNetDaily

In a July 15 article on McCarthy's book, WorldNetDaily repeated his assertion that “Obama campaigned for a pro-communist candidate running against Nairobi's pro-American government -- 'in outrageous contravention of U.S. policy and, probably, federal law.' ” WND has claimed in other articles that Obama campaigned for Odinga, most recently in a July 19 article by Jerome Corsi.