New Questions About How Obama Got Into Harvard

According to a newspaper column released in 1979 by Vernon Jarrett, father-in-law of Obama confidente Valerie Jarrett, President Barack Obama might owe his success to a very controversial benefactor.

Early Obama critics will remember the particularly bizarre case of Percy Sutton, a leading African-American Civil Rights leader and entrepreneur who, while being interviewed on a New York area news program, dropped something of a bomb. Specifically, Sutton claimed that then-candidate Obama had earned his admission to Harvard thanks to the intervention of a mysterious lawyer named Khalid al-Mansour, who Sutton fingered as working for one of the wealthiest men on earth. According to Sutton, Mansour had asked him to write a letter of recommendation for Obama, and was in the process of “raising money” for Obama, though what this money could be for, he didn’t specify.

Khalid Al-Mansour (Photo Credit: African Leadership Academy)

The story, coming as it did from the then-octogenarian Sutton, and lacking any other evidence to substantiate it, was dismissed by Politico’s Ben Smith in a lengthy piece around the same time. Mansour, for his part, studiously denied that he had ever met Obama, let alone that he had interceded on his behalf at Harvard, or that he had raised money for Obama. Considering that Obama graduated with over $40,000 in student debt, the “raising money” accusation was dismissed, and with it, the rest of the story. Subsequent information after the death of Sutton that revealed that he had suffered from dementia seemed to drive a stake through the heart of the story.

Which is a good thing for Obama, considering that if the connection had existed, it could have easily done permanent damage to his campaign. Why? Because along with his position advising Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulazziz, the former Black Panther al-Mansour (originally known as Donald Warden) has made some public statements which, if linked to Obama, would have devastating repercussions. Here is al-Mansour talking about Jews:

And here he is discussing Christianity:

Needless to say, it was fortunate in the extreme for Obama that there was no “there” there.

But now, thanks to some unexpected information, the story is back in the news, and this time, Mansour’s disavowals may be less easy to take. Reporter Frank Miele of Montana’s Daily InterLake newspaper unearthed the following 1979-era newspaper column by Jarrett discussing a plan by several influential African-American businessmen with ties to the Arab world to funnel their cash toward promising young African-American students. Among those businessmen was Mansour himself.

The hitch? Mansour himself is quoted in the article. “The first indications of Arab help to American blacks may be announced in December,” he is quoted as saying.

Now, as this column was written 9 years before Obama’s admission to Harvard Law School, it’s scarcely demonstrative proof of any involvement by Mansour with Obama’s education, if indeed such involvement ever occurred.

However, the reaction of Mansour himself to the revelation of the column, as recorded by Ben Smith, may spark more suspicion than his original inclusion:

Jarrett writes that Mansour approached Ortiz with “a proposed special aid program.” Mansour is quoted saying, “The idea was fully endorsed by Ortiz and other OPEC administrators.”

Mansour, who lives in San Antonio, said the story was “definitely not true.”

“It’s not true, it’s not accurate,” Mansour said. He said that he had represented OPEC in a lawsuit in Los Angeles, but that this was the extent of his involvement with the organization.

As for the column, “I’ve never heard of it. I have no idea what the motivation of Mr. Jarrett was.”

Mansour said that he “absolutely not” had had anything to do with Obama’s education.

Now, in order for Mansour’s denial to be true, Jarrett would have had to make up his direct quote out of whole cloth. Given Jarrett’s status as a columnist and community leader, this may strike many as unlikely, which raises the question of whether there really is something Mansour is hiding, and if so, why he’s hiding it. Is he simply seeking to terminate all references to a connection that didn’t exist, however distant those references might be?

And if so, then why is Mansour allowing other outlets to include his connection to Obama in his biography, as though that connection is settled fact? That’s certainly the case in this press release from the Jamaican University of Technology (emphasis added):

Renowned global speaker, Muslim Lawyer, black nationalist and author, Dr. Khalid Abdullah Tariq Al-Mansour is scheduled to deliver the UTech Distinguished Lecture on Thursday, September 27, 2012 at 5:30 pm at the Wyndham Kingston Hotel. He will speak on the intriguing topic: “World Opportunities for Wealthcreation – WOW!”

Al-Mansour who made news in 2008 when it was revealed that he had  been a patron of Barack Obama and had recommended him for admission to Harvard Law School in 1998, is co-founder of the International law firm of Al-Waleed, Al-Talal and Al-Mansour and Special Advisor to Saudi Arabian Prince, His Royal Highness Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulazziz.

Al-Mansour has delivered lectures across the globe on issues related to globalization; international economics in the 21st century; Islamic economics; The Caribbean and Latin America in Transition and Peace in the Middle East.  He holds several professional and board memberships on various international electronic, housing, banking and financial companies and has received a number of prestigious honors and citations including “Who’s Who in the World (National Social Register, USA), Who’s Who in American Law, Who’s Who in the West, International Who’s Who of the Arab World and World’s Who in Finance and Industry.

TheBlaze reached out to the Jamaican University of Technology about this press release to find out whether Mansour had okayed the language. No response has been forthcoming, so it’s possible that Mansour was unaware of this descriptor. However, virtually the same language was used to introduce Mansour when he appeared on the National and International Roundtable Podcast. Listen below:

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Mansour’s bio, as used on the show:

Dr. Khalid Abdullah Tariq Al-Mansour who made news in 2008 when it was revealed that he had been a patron of Barack Obama and had recommended him for admission to Harvard Law School in 1998, is co-founder of the International law firm of Al-Waleed, Al-Talal and Al-Mansour and Special Advisor to Saudi Arabian Prince, His Royal Highness Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulazziz.

Now, Mansour does not appear to have been on the air when this bio was read, but presumably could have asked that the part about Obama be edited out. The wording is also ambiguous – it “was revealed” that he was a patron of Obama’s, but at no point does the host say that this is necessarily true, simply that the press “revealed” it. It is also possible that Mansour is using this supposed “revelation” to heighten his own profile, while knowing perfectly well that it’s not true, and denying it whenever the question gets raised seriously.

In any case, regardless of whether Mansour himself was one of Obama’s “patrons,” his inconsistent approach to information linking him to the President raises questions.