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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.

"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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