By Andrew Emett
Released a day before Thanksgiving, the U.S. Department of State disclosed its annual list of gifts from foreign governments to federal employees. Although the State Department publicly condemned Saudi Arabia for numerous human rights violations, the Saudi king gave President Obama and his family roughly $1.35 million in gifts last year.
According to the Office of the Federal Register, many world leaders offered the president and multiple other federal employees lavish gifts throughout 2014. While British Prime Minister David Cameron gave Obama a photograph and facsimile telegram from Winston Churchill estimated at $440, Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud offered First Lady Michelle Obama $1.13 million in jewelry sets. As Prince William pompously gave the president a signed photographic portrait of Prince William valued at $888, the Saudi King sent $80,000 jewelry sets to Obama’s daughters.
The Saudi government also gave the president two gold wristwatches valued at $85,240. Leading the international community in attempting to whore out our commander-in-chief, the Saudi king also presented Obama with a gold-plated brass replica of the Makkah Clock Tower on marble base estimated at $57,000.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered a $440 photograph of the first American consulate in Jerusalem circa 1888, while Palestinian President Dr. Mahmoud Abbas gave Obama an ornate metallic disc plaque valued at $625. The Iraqi government sent a vase worth $430.
Instead of giving alms to the poor, Pope Francis presented Obama with a bronze medal valued at $1,015. His Eminence Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State of the Holy See, gave the president a folio of lithographs worth $1,707.
On January 5, 2014, the Saudi king gave a $19,628 silver wristwatch to White House Staff Member Prem Kumar. He also sent $8,170 gold wristwatches to White House Staff Members Philip Gordon, Rob Malley, and Ben Rhodes. With no sense of dignity or integrity, the Saudi government also gave Dr. Susan Rice a gold wristwatch and figurine valued at $6,340.
Before passing away earlier this year, King Abdullah reportedly spent over $9.8 million on U.S. lobbyists in 2013. According to the State Department’s 2014 human rights report, the Saudi government physically abuses detainees, holds political prisoners, denies due process, commits arbitrary arrests, and restricts freedom of expression. While allowing corrupt government officials to operate with impunity, the Saudis also beheaded Mohammad bin Bakr al-Alawi, a Saudi national, for practicing sorcery.
Although the State Department listed several gifts to CIA Director John Brennan and multiple anonymous agency employees, the donors’ names have been redacted because “such information could adversely affect United States intelligence sources or methods.” Besides receiving a $10,000 Omega men’s watch, Brennan was also given a $7,500 decorative rug. While world leaders openly gave the president books, a CIA employee received an unidentified series of children’s books valued at $832.13. For some reason, the kids books were “retained for official use.”
Fortunately, the First Family cannot keep any of these gifts without paying market value for them when Obama leaves office. According to U.S. law, the president must pay for the gifts/bribes or turn them over to the National Archives or other organizations for storage or display. According to the State Department, non-acceptance of the gifts “would cause embarrassment to the donor and U.S. Government.”
Andrew Emett writes for TheFreeThoughtProject.com