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Who Will Protect Obama's Kenyan Grandmother?

Oct. 27 2008, Published 7:07 a.m. ET

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SAFE AT HOME? Barack, Sarah (inset) (Photo: Getty Images)

Tuesday, CNN treated viewers to adorable footage of Sarah Onyango Obama, Barack Obama's 83-year-old granny, feeding chickens in the backyard of the Obama homestead in Nyangoma-Kogelo, Kenya. It was a vivid reminder of the Democratic presidential candidate's "son-of-a-goat-herder" heritage and the fact that he would, if he runs the table, become America's first black president.

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It was also a reminder that Obama would be the first sitting U.S. president with a granny living in Kenya, which presents some vexing security issues. If Obama were elected, couldn't granny, shudder to think, become an abduction or assassination target? The prospect of a loved one of the president of the United States potentially sitting unprotected in a sparsely populated region of an unstable country would have the 24 writers slobbering over their keyboards (if they weren't on strike). It doesn't take much to imagine local thugs hatching a plot to make some quick ransom money, or jihadis trying to snatch "Mama Sarah" to negotiate the release of Guantánamo prisoners.

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"The price on her head would be quite high from a kidnapping perspective," says Joseph Lasorsa, a 20-year veteran of the Secret Service who worked on Ronald Reagan's protective detail.

So how would granny be protected?



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