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How The UK Times Found Obama’s Aunt

Actual real life journalism from the UK Times:

How The Times followed a trail to find Barack Obama’s aunt

Ben Macintyre and James Bone in Boston

November 3, 2008

The trail that led to “Aunt Zeituni”, the relative of Barack Obama who was traced by The Times last week, started with Mr Obama’s memoir, one of the most widely read political autobiographies of all time.

The Democrat campaign has implied that the story might have come from Republican sources – “the American people are … pretty suspicious of things that are dumped in the marketplace 72 hours before a campaign,” said Mr Obama’s chief strategist David Axelrod yesterday.

In fact, the story came from a book that has been read by millions, including just about everyone connected to the Obama campaign.

Dreams From My Father was first published in 1995, and the story of how Mr Obama returned to Kenya in 1988 to trace his roots has become the cornerstone of his political biography. Yet the US media appears to have overlooked the passage indicating that at least one relative of Mr Obama’s had moved to America and might still be there.

Two thirds of the way through the book Mr Obama’s half-sister talked about Africans who had emigrated to the West and were never heard of again, “like our Uncle Omar, in Boston . . . They’ve been lost, you see”.

A few pages later Mr Obama meets his step-grandmother, Sarah, for the first time in the village of Kogelo. On the walls of her hut are photographs of Omar, “the uncle who had left for America 25 years ago and never came back”. Touchingly, she asks the future presidential candidate if he has any news of Omar, her son and Mr Obama’s half-uncle.

“She asked if I had seen him, and I had to say no,” Mr Obama wrote. “She grunted something in Luo, then started to gather up our cups. ‘She says when you see him, you should tell him she wants nothing from him,’ Auma [Mr Obama’s half-sister] whispered. ‘Only that he should come visit his mother’.”

These brief references appeared to indicate that Omar Obama might have moved to the US in the mid-1960s, at about the same time that his half-brother, Barack Hussein Obama Senior, went to Hawaii, where he met Ann Dunham, the mother of Mr Obama.

Those intriguing passages in Mr Obama’s book were first investigated by The Times during a visit to Kenya in September to interview members of the family, including “Granny Sarah”. Inquiries as to the current whereabouts of Omar elicited only vague responses – and even the suggestion, from a full brother of the missing man, that no such person existed.

This triggered a six-week search, one that would lead eventually to Boston and to Aunt Zeituni. Public record searches found traces of O. Onyango Obama, Uncle Omar’s real name, in Boston. A friend and a former landlady said that he now uses the name Obama Onyango.

In the course of searching for Uncle Omar The Times found a Zeituni Onyango, who also played a prominent part in Mr Obama’s book.

In the memoir Auntie Zeituni, Uncle Omar’s sister, explained the family’s complex family tree to the future presidential candidate, introduced him to other relatives and fed him a herbal remedy for an upset stomach.

At that time Auntie Zeituni had been working at Kenya Breweries. Inquiries about her whereabouts also met a blank response from the family, however.

The Times called the Zeituni Onyango in Boston three times. The first time a woman said that she “went to California”. The second time a woman said: “She died last summer.” The third time a woman said in French that she did not know her at that address.

On visiting the housing estate, however, neighbours confirmed that she was indeed the “Auntie Zeituni” in Mr Obama’s book – as she eventually confirmed herself.

Uncle Omar has still not been found.

It was not until Wednesday evening that The Times obtained a formal identification of Ms Onyango by George Hussein, Mr Obama’s half-brother who had known her throughout his childhood.

Whatever the Democrat campaign may imply, there is nothing suspicious about the story or its timing. The only mystery, perhaps, is how so many people read Mr Obama’s book in the US without wondering what might have happened to the mysterious relative, lost in America.

It’s what used to be called journalism.

The Times called the Zeituni Onyango in Boston three times. The first time a woman said that she “went to California”. The second time a woman said: “She died last summer.” The third time a woman said in French that she did not know her at that address.

Hilarious.

Honesty is obviously the outstanding virtue of the Obama klan.

This article was posted by Steve on Monday, November 3rd, 2008. Comments are currently closed.

12 Responses to “How The UK Times Found Obama’s Aunt”

  1. Anonymoose says:

    Ah….I see. His aunt went to California, died last summer, and came back speaking French. Makes perfect sense.

    Seriously, I was wondering when someone in Obamaland would make the connection that a British newspaper wouldn’t really have the evil Republicans behind it to find his aunt and “out” her just before election day. Who knows, maybe there’s still some real reporters left in the UK.

  2. BillK says:

    Of course if there was someone who claimed to have once “partied” with Sarah Palin they’d be on the front page of the NY Times tomorrow.

  3. artboyusa says:

    He didn’t know Tony Rezko was a crook, he didn’t know Jeremiah Wright was a bigot, he didn’t know Bill Ayres hated America and he “wasn’t aware” his aunt was an illegal alien…I wonder about all the other things TheOne was/isn’t aware of.

    I mean, I come from a big family too but I know where all my relatives are, yes? Even the ones who’ve “died” or “gone to California” and if anyone asks about them I usually reply in English but hey, that’s just me, n’est pas?

  4. brad says:

    Ever notice that no matter what things the liberal news media throws out there, they hide behind the claim, “We cannot identify the source to secure our journalistic integrity.” But when it comes to everyone else, there is nothing but suspicion?

    Where is the integrity in tracking down these stories with the same equal zest you do for everyone else?

  5. RightWinger says:

    The Democrat campaign has implied that the story might have come from Republican sources – “the American people are … pretty suspicious of things that are dumped in the marketplace 72 hours before a campaign,” said Mr Obama’s chief strategist David Axelrod yesterday.

    John Conyers federal investigation into this heinous invasion of privacy will do it all it can to prove that Mr. Axelgrease Axelrod is correct.

  6. Helena says:

    The Boston Herald’s Laura Crimaldi points out that applicants for public housing must prove that they are citizens or candidates for citizenship. Auntie applied in 2003, but only got the apartment in January of 2008, by which time her application for “asylum” from Kenya must have already been rejected. So, either the housing authority is extremely lax in checking this stuff out (depressingly likely) or Auntie Onyango LIED about her status when she accepted the apartment. Or both. Wouldn’t you think there’d be a “please let us know if your immigration status has changed” thing applicants would have to sign off on before they moved in?

    Here’s the link. And BTW, check out how much money you can make and still gets subsidized housing.

    Boston Housing Authority: Aunt Zeituni OK by federal rules – BostonHerald.com
    http://www.bostonherald.com/news/politics/2008/view.bg?articleid=1129421&srvc=home&position=rated

  7. Steve says:

    From that Boston Herald article:

    Boston Housing Authority: Aunt Zeituni OK by federal rules

    Barack Obama kin part of law loophole

    By Laura Crimaldi
    Sunday, November 2, 2008

    A Boston Housing Authority official said yesterday the agency was never notified of a deportation order issued for Barack Obama’s aunt, who has been living in federal- and state-funded public housing in South Boston since 2003.

    BHA Deputy Director William McGonagle said Zeituni Onyango, 56, a native of Kenya, met the criteria to live in federally funded housing when she applied in 2003. The Associated Press reported yesterday that an immigration judge instructed Onyango to leave the country in 2004 after her asylum request was denied.

    “The deportation order, based on my understanding, based on what I’ve read in the newspaper, was issued after she moved into public housing in Boston and we would have no way of knowing if there was an order or not,” McGonagle said.

    “We check with the applicant about their citizenship status at the time of application. We have no affirmative responsibility I am aware of to further check on their status after they are initially deemed to be eligible.”

    Onyango, who is the half-sister of Obama’s late father, lived at the federally subsidized Old Colony development in South Boston from 2003 to 2007. She moved to her current residence, the state-funded West Broadway development on Flaherty Way in South Boston, in January, McGonagle said.

    To qualify for federally funded public housing, tenants must prove that at least one household member is a citizen or an “eligible noncitizen.” Eligible noncitizens include immigrants with a resident alien card, temporary resident card, employment authorization card or proof of refugee or asylee status, according to the BHA’s Admissions and Continued Occupancy Policies.

    Unlike the case with federal public housing, tenants moving into state-funded housing in Massachusetts do not have to prove their citizenship or immigration status. According to the state Department of Housing and Community Development, “As a result of a consent decree in federal court in 1977, the state cannot deny state-subsidized public housing to undocumented immigrants.”

    The U.S. Department of Homeland Security screens all noncitizen applicants for eligibility, the BHA said. McGonagle said he did not know which immigration class Onyango fell into when she was approved in 2003.

    “When she applied and throughout the screening process, we applied all of the neccesary rules and followed all the necessary rules and she was determined eligible,” McGonagle said.

    A one-person household must earn less than $43,600 annually to qualify for a state or federal public housing unit managed by the BHA. Rents at Onyango’s West Broadway residence are calculated at 32 percent of a resident’s income.

    Since 2006, state Sen. Robert L. Hedlund Jr. (R-Weymouth) has tried three times to close the loophole that makes state-funded public housing available to illegal immigrants. All those efforts failed in legislative conference committees, Hedlund said yesterday.

    “It is a massive, absurd loophole that we can fix very easily,” Hedlund said. “We’ve got some people in the Legislature that think it’s acceptable because these people are vulnerable and need housing, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of some of the 100,000 people who are on the waiting list here in the commonwealth.”

    No one answered the door yesterday at Onyango’s apartment at 111 Flaherty Way. One neighbor said Obama’s aunt had not been home since Thursday.

    http://tinyurl.com/5r3vhg

  8. JohnMG says:

    If it seems strange that no one of these people is available for interviewing or questioning one day before the election, what are the odds they will even be remembered, much less questioned, one day afterward?

    Obama isn’t even elected, yet he has already established a double standard, and no one has the ‘nads to challenge the status quo.

    Distressing!!

  9. Helena says:

    This is the woman who said “I can’t say anything until after Tuesday.” I guess she’s hoping that Obama will win on Tuesday and in his kingly way he will immediately rescind her deportation order, pardon her and grant her immediate citizenship based on her need for “asylum” from Kenya.

  10. BitterTN says:

    How much does anyone want to bet that she is registered to vote and gets bussed into vote for her favorite nephew tomorrow?

  11. curvyred says:

    “We check with the applicant about their citizenship status at the time of application. We have no affirmative responsibility I am aware of to further check on their status after they are initially deemed to be eligible.”

    Sounds like they need a new policy, why not run checks of status periodically, especially for the people who are given “temporary” status.

    Or better why allow aliens to stay at taxpayer’s expense, in the first place?

  12. Liberals Demise says:

    Why not run status peroidically……..Are you nuts? That would entail someone doing their job properly and thats just not done anymore! You can bet your bazooka that there will be more bean counters in D.C. if King Oscumba gets the nod. They will report to him directly and he will find out who isn’t Patriotic with their hard earned money. This way his illegal family can …..oh……uh…….never mind. Big Brother IS watching us now. ALLAH OSCUMBA AKBAR!!!


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