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. Obama was accompanied throughout his trip by myself and two other active-duty U.S. military officers; and the U.S. ambassador attended meetings and events throughout the trip. The Obama staffer - Mark Lippert - that Mr. Hynes names is a naval reservist and Iraq War veteran whose deployment began several months before the Kenyan elections and continued well past it.
• The Obama speech that Mr. Hyman references was a widely praised effort that condemned corruption and tribalism while urging the promotion of private enterprise and accountable, transparent government.
• Mr. Obama and Mr. Odinga are not cousins, and efforts to assert otherwise have been described as “stretched to the point of ridiculousness” by an independent fact checker.
Mr. Hyman references telephone contacts that Mr. Obama had with Mr. Odinga in January. He fails to mention that those contacts were encouraged by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and were accompanied by public statements that Mr. Obama made on Voice of America, Kenyan radio, and in a Kenyan newspaper, calling for calm and a peaceful resolution of Kenya's political crisis. Repeatedly, Mr. Obama asserted, “the opposition (led by Mr. Odinga) must turn away from the path of mass protest and violence in seeking participation in government.”
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.
MAJ. GEN. J. SCOTT
Air Force (retired)
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