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Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Corsi Finally Coughs Up Affidavits, But Grandmother Story Remains Shaky
Topic: WorldNetDaily

We've detailed how, in promulgating the apparently false claim that Barack Obama's grandmother claimed in a radio interview that Obama was born in Kenya, WorldNetDaily has repeatedly cited the existence of affidavits by the interviewer and a translator backing the claim -- but refused to publish those affidavits.

Now, an Aug. 24 WND article by Jerome Corsi links to the affidavits for the first. But in trying to bolster the case for the authenticity of the claim by Obama's grandmother, Corsi ends up demonstrating just how shaky it is.

Corsi cites only unnamed "critics" as pointing out that versions of the phone call between Anabaptist minister Ron McRae and Sarah Obama "leave out the section in which the interpreter insists she actually meant the birth took place in the U.S." -- even though people like David Wiegel at Slate are on record as debunking the claim. Nevertheless, Corsi attempts to discredit that claim by citing the affidavits of McRae and Kweli Shuhubia, a Kenyan Anabaptist minister. The affidavits were not obtained by WND, as Corsi has previously suggested, but were filed in a lawsuit by birther Philip Berg over Obama's birth certificate.

But McRae's affidavit asserts other things that are questionable and even directly contradictory to known facts, for instance asserting that "contrary to news media propagandas here in the United States, US Senator Barack Hussein Obama is a Muslim and not a Christian."

McRae also repeats claims propagated by Corsi last fall, suggesting that he was a source for them: that Obama "sent his foreign policy advisor Mr. Mark Lippert, to Kenya at least three times to advise Mr. [Raila] Odinga on his campaign strategies," and that "everyone in Kenya is well aware that Senator Obama donated over one million American dollars ($1,000,000.00) to his cousin's Mr. Odinga's campaign."

We've detailed how the documents Corsi cited as supporting those claims are discredited. Further, the October 2008 Washington Times op-ed by Mark Hyman that McRae cited for the Lippert claim doesn't support what McRae says; Hyman writes only that "Obama sent his foreign policy adviser Mark Lippert to Kenya in early 2006 to coordinate his summer visit." Further, Hyman's op-ed has been criticized as being "filled with lies and innuendo."

In other words, McRae appears to be a guy who's overly eager to smear Obama and who is too anti-Obama to be trusted. Indeed, McRae stated in his affadavit that his interview was something of a "gotcha" in order to undermine Obama: "With Senator Obama being born in Kenya and not in the United States ... I felt it very important to obtain the testimony of his grandmother as a first hand witness, since it is commonly known throughout Kenya, and especially around the Kisumu area, that Sarah Obama was president when Barack Obama, Jr. was born in Kenya."

Shuhubia (which Corsi claims is "a pseudonym chosen to protect his safety") similarly claims in his affidavit that "It is common knowledge throughout the Christian and Muslim communities in Kenya" that Obama "was born in Mombosa Kenya."

Note that both McRae and Shuhubia cite "common knowledge" for their claims and not actual, substantiated facts. That's another thing that discredits these affidavits.

The "gotcha" factor of McRae's phone conversation with Sarah Obama seems even more clear with Corsi's noting of a report that she is "illiterate and doesn't know when she was born." Corsi goes on to cite another report claiming that Sarah Obama's husband was said to have been angered by the news of Barack Obama Sr.'s marriage to Stanley Ann Dunham, addding that the "Kenyan patriarch's anger over the marriage makes it even more unlikely Ann Dunham would have traveled to Kenya during her pregnancy."

Yet Corsi decides to cling to the story. Why? He cites "two members of Sarah Hussein Obama's Luo tribe who are fluent in the local Luo dialect, Swahlili and English" who allegedly "told WND that after carefully listening to the tape they believe she declared Barack Obama Jr. was born in Mombasa, Kenya, and that she was present at the birth." At no point does Corsi name who these people are, thus making this yet more anonymous sources WND has used to attack Obama.

As for the claim by "critics" that a second interpreter involved in the conversation,Vitalis Akech Ogombe, "clarified that her famous grandson was born in Hawaii, not Kenya," Corsi explains that away by quoting McRae baselessly claiming that Ogombe had "obviously been versed to counter such facts with the purported information from the American news media that Obama was born in Hawaii."

Corsi made no apparent attempt to contact Ogombe for this story.

We knew that Corsi's anti-Obama motivations are nakedly partisan. Now we know that Ron McRae's motivations are just as partisan. Instead of clearing up the issue, Corsi exposes the shaky foundations on which the grandmother story rests -- and that it cannot be considered to be reliable, let alone true.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:51 PM EDT

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