Barack Obama, His Mother, and the CIA

So Why the Omission?

William Blum

barack1In his autobiography, Dreams From My Fathers, Barack Obama writes of taking a job at some point after graduating from Columbia University in 1983. He describes his employer as "a consulting house to multinational corporations" in New York City, and his functions as a "research assistant" and "financial writer".

Oddly, Obama doesn't mention the name of his employer. However, a New York Times story of October 30, 2007 identifies the company as Business International Corporation. Equally odd is that the Times did not remind its readers that the newspaper itself had disclosed in 1977 that Business International had provided cover for four CIA employees in various countries between 1955 and 1960.10

The British journal, Lobster — which, despite its incongruous name, is a venerable international publication on intelligence matters — has reported that Business International was active in the 1980s promoting the candidacy of Washington-favored candidates in Australia and Fiji.11 In 1987, the CIA overthrew the Fiji government after but one month in office because of its policy of maintaining the island as a nuclear-free zone, meaning that American nuclear-powered or nuclear-weapons-carrying ships could not make port calls.12 After the Fiji coup, the candidate supported by Business International, who was much more amenable to Washington's nuclear desires, was reinstated to power — R.S.K. Mara was Prime Minister or President of Fiji from 1970 to 2000, except for the one-month break in 1987.

In his book, not only doesn't Obama mention his employer's name; he fails to say exactly when he worked there, or why he left the job. There may well be no significance to these omissions, but inasmuch as Business International has a long association with the world of intelligence, covert actions, and attempts to penetrate the radical left — including Students for a Democratic Society (SDS)13 — it's reasonable to wonder if the inscrutable Mr. Obama is concealing something about his own association with this world.

Adding to the wonder is the fact that his mother, Ann Dunham, had been associated during the 1970s and 80s — as employee, consultant, grantee, or student — with at least five organizations with intimate CIA connections during the Cold War: The Ford Foundation, Agency for International Development (AID), the Asia Foundation, Development Alternatives, Inc., and the East-West Center of Hawaii.14 Much of this time she worked as an anthropologist in Indonesia and Hawaii, being in good position to gather intelligence about local communities.

As one example of the CIA connections of these organizations, consider the disclosure by John Gilligan, Director of AID during the Carter administration (1977-81). "At one time, many AID field offices were infiltrated from top to bottom with CIA people. The idea was to plant operatives in every kind of activity we had overseas, government, volunteer, religious, every kind."15 And Development Alternatives, Inc. is the organization for whom Alan Gross was working when arrested in Cuba and charged with being part of the ongoing American operation to destabilize the Cuban government.

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William Blum is an American, historian and critic of United States foreign policy. He is the author of Killing Hope: U.S. Military & CIA Interventions Since World War II. He has described his life's mission as: "If not ending, at least slowing down the American Empire. At least injuring the beast. It's causing so much suffering around the world."Mr. Blum can be reached through his website .

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  1. jschoneboom says:

    Definitely worthy of being filed under “Things That Make You Go Hmmmmmm….” It certainly would explain a lot. I’ve often suspected Obama of “infiltrating” the left. What better explanation could there be of the disconnect between his rhetoric and his actions?

    However, as tempting as the conclusion is, some of these “CIA connections” can get pretty tenuous. If being associated with the Ford Foundation is enough to cast someone as a likely CIA asset, it’s time to take a deep breath, roll your hat back onto the aluminum foil tube, and enjoy some moderate exercise in the healthy outdoors.

    Not denying Ford’s CIA ties, or USAID’s, or anybody’s. CIA has ties all over the place, but that’s not the same as saying that every institution with CIA ties is a CIA front and all the employees are automatically tainted. Most people at Ford and USAID etc. will just be ordinary workers, so the odds are, even if somebody worked at two or three or four agencies with “CIA ties”, the person is probably still a goody-two-shoes type trying to do straight-up development work — or anthropology.

    (On the other hand, Obama’s mother has worked with “at least five” so hey, she could be a spy!) Full disclosure: I’ve worked for organizations that received both Ford and USAID funding…and Rockefeller too, and other foundations. Possibly I’m a spy as well and I don’t even know it! They could issue a code word at any moment that would trigger a brainwashed reflex in me that I’d be powerless to resist!

    But seriously, this is good and interesting information, and many thanks to Mr. Blum for bringing it to our attention.

  2. At the risk of threatening all things holy [preview:pp3], and in the spirit of interesting information,Wayne Madsen;jsessionid=396829DC11F453BF1EDB8D037374A738

    page 11 of the preview offers some.

  3. jschoneboom says:

    Hmmmm, the plot thickens! Thanks remo.

  4. U welcome.

  5. I tend to suspect that the CIA plants agents wherever it can monitor *policy thinking*, report it back and even try to influence it at times. There seem to be plenty of right wing *think tanks* so it’s not as if there are no policy wonks on the right getting lots of media attention and influencing policy… Hudson Institute, The American Enterprise Institute and so on. All these tanks are probably spying on each other and all of them trying to drive government policy. They do!

    Obama is a odd one and clearly not what anyone thought he was. He’s as good a snake oil salesman as there is. I think he fooled the left right AND center… and none are too pleased. But the alternates? Worse and worser.

  6. I’m mid-way through Madsen’s book – it is meticulously researched, and the case he makes is solid that Ann Dunham played a role in “anthropological” reconnaissance for the targeting of Indonesians who were communists or otherwise perceived as a threat to the CIA backed Suharto regime – the result was a genocide of up to an estimated half-a-million to a million Indonesians. – Whether she was witting or unwitting is perhaps open for question, but “need to know” compartmentalization within clandestine programs aside, it begs the imagination to see how she could not have noticed…

  7. IS there any doubt at this date that the CIA plants its spies everywhere… especially into the media and of course the diplomatic core? These may be bother listeners as well as in policy making positions (doing their bidding so to speak). It appears that the CIA… part of the executive branch… has become (or was intended to be) a sort of policy tool of the executive branch of government… a tool which operates in secret, with little to no oversight of congress, acts above and beyond the law and is unaccountable to the laws and the justice system. The CIA and the powers it has… has turned the executive into a monarchy of sorts… Congress is left to chatter away and support policies the executive has enacted after the fact.

    We need to get rid of the CIA or render it to a listening and information gathering operation.

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