Conspiracy Watch: Did Obama Give American Islands to Russia?

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/whitehouse/7180302887/sizes/z/in/photostream/">White House</a>/Flickr

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One of the big takeaways from the first three-and-a-half years of the Obama administration is that some people are crazy. I don’t mean to suggest that this is an entirely new phenomenon—in the 1990s, a sitting member of Congress tried to prove that President Clinton murdered Vince Foster by blowing up a pumpkin—but it certainly seems to have picked up steam. As proof, I present the latest conspiracy theory from the fever swamps: President Obama secretly gave away seven American Arctic Ocean and Bering Sea islands to Russia. Russia! He transmitted them to Vladimir!

The theory is being promoted by Texas House candidate Wes Riddle, who argued, in a Facebook note last week, that Obama’s supposed Russian giveaway was grounds for impeachment:

The reasoning for President Obama’s impeachment begins with the fact that the State Department is giving away seven strategic, resource-laden Alaskan islands to Russia. These seven islands in the Arctic Ocean and Bering Sea include one the size of Rhode Island and Delaware combined. The Russians will also receive tens of thousands of square miles of oil-rich seabeds surrounding the islands. The Department of Interior estimates billions of barrels of oil are at stake.

The State Department has undertaken the giveaway in the guise of a maritime boundary agreement between Alaska and Siberia. Our own federal government drew the line to put these seven Alaskan islands on the Russian side. But as an executive agreement, it could be reversed with the stroke of a pen by President Obama or Secretary Clinton. The agreement was negotiated in total secrecy, not allowing the state of Alaska to participate in the negotiations, and was the public was not given any opportunity to comment. All resolutions of opposition passed by the Alaska have been disregarded by the State Department.

Treason! But wait, maybe there’s more to this story. Factcheck.org looked into this claim back in March and concluded that the the islands had actually been forked over by President George H.W. Bush in 1991, when he signed a treaty with Russia permanently establishing the maritime boundary. All of the islands are squarely on the other side, and most of them are pretty close to the mainland; it’d be like Spain claiming Nantucket. Also: Both of Alaska’s senators voted for the treaty. (The call was coming from inside Alaska!) In other words, case closed.

Anyway, Riddle is hardly the first conservative activist to condemn the island giveaway. Noted conspiracy theorist Jim Hoft of Gateway Pundit sounded the alarm back in February. And he, in turn, was only repeating an argument he’d read somewhere else. As Hoft wrote, in a moment of flickering genius that will live long in the history of the English language: “Former senatorial candidate Joe Miller broke this story at World Net Daily.”

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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