President Obama's maternal half-sister shared her strategies Aug. 14 for educating communities to promote peace and resist oppression.
In a rare speech for her in the nation's capital, Dr. Maya Soetoro-Ng delivered an eloquent and otherwise effective discourse to a receptive audience at the Democratic-oriented Center for American Progress. She is shown at right in my photo after her lecture while she signed Ladder to the Moon, a children's book she wrote in 2011.
She was introduced as a "world-renowned peace advocate." She is a native of Indonesia born to the same mother as the president. She now teaches as an assistant professor of education at the University of Hawaii's campus at Manoa.
During her lecture the day before her 43rd birthday, she focused first on strategies to fight sex trafficking in India and in other Asian nations. She closed by suggesting more general tips to keep projects sustainable.
"An important part of service is not just to get kids to do good things," she said, "but to make them think how they have been transformed." That kind of self-awareness, she said, instills long-term commitment to civic projects.
Her talk provides a change from our usual fare here at Justice Integrity Project and in my book this summer scrutinizing her brother, among other politicians. That work has resulted in such recent columns as President's Spy Study Plan Prompts Protest and the book Presidential Puppetry: Obama, Romney and Their Masters. I am not alone. The New York Daily News ran a story Aug. 14 headlined, Oliver Stone blasts Obama as a 'snake,' throws support behind Edward Snowden.
The investigator's task is partly to expose what's hidden. But we should also explore the overall environment, with an appreciation of the world that most people see and enjoy. Otherwise any findings of potential irregularities may prove disconnected from the public's interest.
In this instance, Soetoro-Ng connected effectively with her audience, much like then-Sen. Barack Obama did when I attended his first presidential campaign event in the Washington capital region. That introduction to the future president occurred in March 2007 at the home of my friend Reed Hundt, the first Federal Communications Commission chairman during the Clinton administration. Obama gave remarks well-suited to that occasion. Understandably enough, the candidate was somewhat formal in tone (more so than his sister this week) as he started his long journey to the White House.
His sister is a decade younger. She is pursuing a career that resembles parts of those of her brother and their mother, who is best known by her maiden name, Stanley Ann Dunham. The scholarly and spiritual Dunham met and married her two husbands, Barack Obama, Sr., and Lolo Soetoro, in the 1960s at the University of Hawaii. The university awarded her undergraduate, master's, and doctoral degrees in the field of cultural anthropology.
Ann Dunham, right, and Barack Jr. followed Soetoro to Indonesia after a coup overthrew the nationalist leader Sukarno, who was a socialist who infuriated some United States officials during the Cold War by nationalizing industries and leading the world's "non-aligned" nations.
Maya Soetoro was born in 1970, and named for the poet Maya Angelou. She lived briefly in Indonesia with her brother, Barack, who returned to Hawaii in 1971 to live primarily with his grandparents while attending the exclusive prep school Punahou School.
Maya Soetoro later reunited with her brother when their mother returned to Hawaii following separation from Lolo Soetoro, who later divorced, remarried and died at a young age.
Maya Soetoro returned to Indonesia with her mother, was home-schooled, and attended Jakarta International School from 1981 to 1984 before returning to Hawaii to attended Punahou.
She went on to graduate from Barnard College in 1993, obtain a doctorate in comparative international education from the University of Hawaii, teach in New York, Indonesian, and Hawaiian schools, and marry in 2003 a fellow academic, Dr. Konrad Ng, a Canadian-born U.S. citizen who is an assistant professor at the University of Hawaii's Academy of Creative Media.
In early 2007, Maya Soetoro-Ng, mother of two daughters, wrote a novelistic children's book, Ladder to the Moon, which presents some of her mother's spiritual ideas in storybook form. The book title is from the 1958 Georgia O'Keeffe painting, which was depicted on a postcard the author received from her mother, who died in 1995. She wrote the book while living in her brother's Chicago home and assisting during the early stages of his presidential campaign.
Also, she assisted her mother's thesis advisor, Alice G. Dewey and co-editor Nancy I. Cooper, in publishing her mother's dissertation under the book title Surviving Against the Odds: Village Industry in Indonesia (Duke University Press, 2009), shown at left. She kindly autographed my copy of the book I bought several years ago with the inscription, "In celebration of peoples and stories that bridge worlds."
Her first major writing aside from her degree work thus appears to be the kind of family-focused topic that helped her older brother define himself in his first major writing effort, Dreams From My Father (Crown/Random House, 1995), an episodic, unfootnoted autobiography that cited composite characters in part. Soetoro-Ng similarly draws on autobiographical and novelization techniques.
In 2009, she lived briefly with her husband in Washington following her brother's election. She has maintained a relatively low public profile aside from her teaching, books, and occasional speaking roles during her brother's 2008 and 2012 election campaigns. She and her husband have each worked at the University of Hawaii, where she has been an education specialist at the East-West Center and an assistant professor in the College of Education.
"Soetoro-Ng has often spoken warmly about her relationship with her older half-brother, which she says has remained strong even though they have often lived far apart," according to a New York Times profile. "As adults, they have often celebrated Christmas in Hawaii, and savor the time they spend with their families together."
Her talk Aug. 14 was a noon lunch at the Center for American Progress (CAP), located roughly four blocks from the White House in downtown Washington. It was in the same building where I ran a communications trade association as president/CEO until resuming journalism in 2008. The building houses the Washington offices of Reuters and several other news outlets or policy groups.
The center's prominence under the Obama presidency guarantees a steady flow of high-profile speakers and cutting-edge events.
This program began with a passionate, entertaining rap song by Omékongo Dibinga, a spoken-word artist who used his gifts to advocate against sex trafficking and abuse of women.
CAP Senior Vice President Daniella Gibbs Leger introduced the topic: An estimated three million children are currently exploited in India's sex trade. The vast majority of trafficked women and girls usually come from the poorest, most disadvantaged backgrounds in India: the Dalits, Adivasi and other low-caste communities. Every day in India, 200 women and girls enter prostitution, and 80% of them do so against their will as victims of trafficking.
Soetoro-Ng then urged an end to trafficking and the exploitation of women and children.
She began by praising "prophets, revolutionaries, and saints" but warned "don't be a martyr." Then, she highlighted successful strategies that international organizations are using to rescue, rehabilitate, and prevent trafficking.
She spoke briefly also about political disturbances she witnessed in Indonesia, which by her telling created street violence but apparently did not reach the visible carnage of the height of killing in the years soon after the 1965 replacement of Sukarno, left, with the pro-American Suharto. (Both leaders used just one name.) Estimates of killings range from 500,000 deaths to much higher, creating one of the largest genocides of the century.
Indonesians descended from Malay and Chinese stock were often in conflict during her youth, she said. She added that her father was Malay, but she could see that Chinese "were scapegoated." She occasionally saw violent street disturbances from her window and felt "it was shocking" to see no news reports the next day because of censorship or self-censorship.
Soetoro's-NG's brief comments this week on the topic are notable in part because her brother rarely speaks of the events, which helped prompt the 1982 film "The Year of Living Dangerously" starring Mel Gibson and Sigourney Weaver that concludes with ex-patriates fleeing 1965 Indonesia as too violent.
Christina Lagdameo, board president of the non-profit group Odanadi-U.S.org, then joined in a dialogue on practical tips for rescuing victims of sex trafficking abuses and creating viable non-profit organizations to sustain the work. Proceeds from Ladder to the Moon sales went to Odanadi, which was founded in India by two journalists who wanted to provide a safe haven for sex trade victims. Since then it has "conducted nearly 60 brothel raids, and in the process brought 137 traffickers to justice."
Both speakers emphasized yoga, spiritual, and other creative ways for victims to find peace and tell their stories in powerful ways.
Related News Coverage
Update: Daily Mail, Drunken beatings and threats made with a knife: Obama's half-brother writes book on the horrors of living with the president's absent father in Kenya, James Nye, Dec. 19, 2013.President Barack Obama's half brother is publishing an autobiography that details the domestic abuse he and his mother suffered at the hands of their father in Kenya. Mark Obama Ndesandjo also recounts his sporadic but intense encounters with his brother over the years. The self-published book, to be released in February, also tries to set the record straight on some points in the president's bestselling 1995 memoir, Dreams From My Father. The Ivy-League educated half-brother of President Obama is publishing his autobiography in which he makes the shocking claim their father dished out alcohol-fueled beatings to him and his mother and in one terrifying instance held a knife to her throat. Mark Obama Ndesandjo, 48, also uses his new book to set the U.S. president straight on inaccuracies he claims exist in his best-selling 1995 memoir Dreams From My Father and confirms they have never seen eye-to-eye because 'Barack thought I was too white and I thought he was too black.' The book, Cultures: My Odyssey of Self-Discovery claims that Barck Obama Sr. consistently battered his wife when they lived in Kenya and details Ndesandjo's journey from the African country to America and finally to China where he now lives with his wife.
India America Today, President Obama's Half-Sister Protests Sex Trafficking In India, Andrew Kreig, Aug. 17, 2013. Maya Soetoro-Ng, US President Barack Obama’s half-sister/ Peace advocate Maya Soetoro-Ng, US President Barack Obama’s half-sister, last week called in for an end to sex trafficking in India and elsewhere. The University of Hawaii professor and author, shown at right in a photo courtesy of IAT, highlighted abuses in India to an audience convened in Washington Aug. 14 by the politically well-connected Center for American Progress. Neera Tanden, a US-born child of Indian immigrants, has led the center since 2011 after serving as a top advisor to Obama and former Senator Hillary Clinton.
Center for American Progress, Maya Soetoro-Ng on Education for Peace and Resilience, Staff report, Aug. 14, 2013. Please join the Center for American Progress for a discussion with world-renowned peace advocate, Dr. Maya Soetoro-Ng. She will address the importance of ending trafficking and exploitation of women and children. She will highlight not only the challenges, but also the successful strategies that international organizations are currently utilizing in rescue, rehabilitation, and prevention of human trafficking.
Washington Post, 'Human Trafficking Around the World: Hidden in Plain Sight,' John Tirman, Aug. 16, 2013. In Human Trafficking Around the World, authors Stephanie Hepburn and Rita Simon chart the gruesome practice. Human trafficking is one of those issues that rankles people even when they don’t understand its actual shape and scope. At least a dozen books have appeared in the past few years describing the horrors of sex trafficking, a gruesome practice of enslavement and perversion affecting millions of (mostly) girls the world over, including, with alarming frequency, in the United States. But as Stephanie Hepburn and Rita J. Simon point out in their encyclopedic study of global trafficking, the larger crime is forced-labor trafficking, which is three times greater than that for sex commerce. The official response to each is inadequate — under-resourced, legally fragile and too often complicit.
New York Times, First Family of Writers Grows by One, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, April 12, 2011. In the fall of 2007, while helping her ambitious older half-brother, Barack Obama, campaign for president, Maya Soetoro-Ng holed up in the basement of the Obamas’ Chicago home to pursue a long-held ambition of her own: writing a children’s book. Maya Soetoro-Ng, President Obama's half-sister, has just published a children's book, “Ladder to the Moon.” Mr. Obama was by then a best-selling author. But when he offered to introduce his little sister to his agent, Ms. Soetoro-Ng said, she refused. And she did not show him her book — a fictional paean to their mother, the free-spirited anthropologist Stanley Ann Dunham — until it sold to a publisher. But the path she has chosen, in her family at least, is crowded. When Ms. Soetoro-Ng’s book, Ladder to the Moon, hit bookshelves on Tuesday, it added to a growing Obama family literary canon. President Obama, whose first two books earned millions, recently published a children’s book. His wife, Michelle, just signed a contract with Crown Publishing for a book on the White House garden, due in April 2012.
New York Times, Obama and Sister to Share a Town, Rachell L. Swarns, July 30, 2009. The far-flung Obama clan is coming closer together. President Obama’s half-sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, is moving her family here from Hawaii and will spend the next several months living in the nation’s capital, White House officials say. The extended stay means that the siblings will live in the same city, at least for a while, for the first time in years. Ms. Soetoro-Ng, who has given up her job as a high school teacher in Hawaii, has a book contract and a new baby. Her husband, Konrad Ng, a professor at the University of Hawaii, will become the scholar-in-residence at the Smithsonian Institution’s Asian Pacific American Program here next month. Museum officials say Mr. Ng will stay in Washington through December, when he will return with his family to Hawaii. There, he will complete his yearlong term as resident scholar. The family is not expected to move into the White House, though they are very close to the Obamas.
Catching Our Attention on other Justice, Media & Integrity Issues
Philly.com, ACA: Not perfect, but a big step, Wayne Madsen, Aug. 23, 2013. Sixteen million Americans who haven't access to medical care are eagerly awaiting the Oct. 1 start of the Affordable Care Act, and now Republicans and a few willy-nilly Democrats are saying, "No, it's not perfect, let's defund it and start over." What unprincipled malarkey. Of course it's not perfect! No piece of legislation that wends its way through the sausage factory on Capitol Hill ever deserves a Grade A stamp, but implementing the legislation as it stands and making needed fixes later is a far better choice than dumping it into the waste stream whole hog. Barring the unlikely event that Congress should suddenly follow the world's other progressive industrialized nations and enact single-payer health care, the ACA is as good as it gets as a starter bill.
World Net Daily, Obama's brother linked to Muslim Brotherhood, Jerome R. Corsi, Aug. 20, 2013. President Obama’s half-brother in Kenya could cause the White House more headaches over new evidence linking him to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and establishing that controversial IRS supervisor Lois Lerner signed his tax-exempt approval letter. Malik Obama’s oversight of the Muslim Brotherhood’s international investments is one reason for the Obama administration’s support of the Muslim Brotherhood, according to an Egyptian report citing the vice president of the Supreme Constitutional Court of Egypt, Tehani al-Gebali. Editor's Note: Dr. Jerome Corsi is the author of the New York Times best-seller Where's the Birth Certificate? and other controversial works attacking prominent Democrats.
FireDogLake, Manning’s Biggest Revelation of All, Nat Parry, Aug. 23, 2013. As much hay as the government has made about the supposed damage done to the United States by Pfc. Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning’s massive leak of classified documents to WikiLeaks three years ago, you might think that those revelations were the biggest breach of U.S. national security in American history. Manning’s sentence of 35 years surpasses by far any punishment that anyone has ever received for similar offenses. By comparison, former Navy intelligence officer Samuel Morrison was sentenced to two years for giving classified satellite photographs to Jane’s Defense Weekly in 1985. Indeed, 35 years is a harsh sentence in the extreme, one that should be reserved only for the most heinous crimes – for example, violence against children, rape, murder and torture. Ironically, it was precisely those sorts of crimes that Manning exposed three years ago that got him in so much trouble in the first place. After being rebuffed by his commanding officer and rejected by traditional news outlets like the New York Times, the young Army intelligence analyst provided three important bodies of documents to WikiLeaks. Manning, the whistleblower who brought to light countless stories of malfeasance and corruption, was tortured and denied any semblance of a fair trial.
OpEdNews, Ramping Up Intimidation of Journalists: Obama's UK Stasi Poodles Detain Glenn Greenwald's Partner, Steal Digital Gear, Rob Kall, Aug. 18, 2013. Earlier today, Glenn Greenwald's Brazilian partner, David Miranda was held by UK authorities using anti-terrorism laws, for nine hours. The authorities released him without leveling charges, but they took his phone, camera, notebook computer and jump drive. Glenn Greenwald tweeted in response: Detaining my partner: a failed attempt at intimidation."
Washington Post, Obama’s underused pardon power, George Lardner Jr., Aug. 16, 2013. Prisoners — and justice — are waiting, Mr. President. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has announced plans to reform some of the most disgraceful features of imprisonment on a federal level. But what has his boss, the president of the United States, been doing? The answer, more than four years after President Obama and Holder were sworn in, is: almost nothing. So far, Obama has done little to justify Hamilton’s optimism. He has granted just 39 pardons and only one commutation, while denying more than 6,700 petitions. In his first term, Ronald Reagan signed more than 10 times as many pardons and commutations as Obama did (250 vs. 23); George H.W. Bush more than three times as many (77); and Bill Clinton more than twice as many (56). The “easy access” that Hamilton envisioned has nearly disappeared. In January 2010, Obama said that “one of the great things about America is that we give people second chances.” He could do just that by ordering a special review of the thousands of clemency applications at the Justice Department and White House that are growing older by the day, and by commuting the sentences of offenders of all races that are too severe, like those for the five serving life terms without hope of parole for nonviolent offenses.
AP via Huffington Post, Obama Pledges To Make Health Care Law Work, Darlene Superville, Aug. 17, 2013. President Barack Obama is pledging to do everything he can to make sure the new health care law works the way he intended. In his weekly radio and Internet address, Obama is criticizing congressional Republicans, who he says are trying to confuse people about the law. He targets other Republican opponents for threatening to eliminate funding for the law or shut down the government if they don't get their way. The president says a lot of Republicans think he'll suffer if they make the law fail. But if that happens, he says they'd just be "sticking it" to the people. In the Republican address, West Virginia Rep. Shelley Moore Capito argues for a delay in the requirement that uninsured consumers buy health care coverage or pay fines.
OpEd News, Christians under siege in Egypt and Syria, Michael Collins, The president and Congress are united about supporting the invasion of Syria and doing little other than whine about Egypt. They fail to mention the full scale assault on Egyptian and Syrian Christians. Where's the outrage?
Reuters via Huffington Post, Rupert Murdoch's UK Company Could Face Corporate Hacking Charges, Michael Holden and Mark Hosenball, Aug. 16, 2013. London police are actively investigating Rupert Murdoch's British newspaper business for possible criminal violations over allegations of phone-hacking and illegal payments to public officials by its journalists, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters. Murdoch's News Corp said it was aware of the police inquiry but gave no further details. Until now, the investigation appeared to be focused on News Corp employees rather than the corporation.
Washington Post, Lawmakers, privacy advocates call for reforms at NSA, Ellen Nakashima, Aug. 16, 2013. A turning point in the NSA debate? Democratic lawmakers are taking a stand amid the newest revelations about the spy agency. Some lawmakers called Friday for reforms and greater transparency in the surveillance operations of the National Security Agency following a report that the agency repeatedly violated privacy rules, while U.S. officials stressed that any mistakes are not intentional. The contrasting reactions came after The Washington Post reported that the NSA broke rules or overstepped its legal authority thousands of times in recent years, and the chief judge of the special federal surveillance court that oversees NSA spy programs said the court’s ability to provide oversight is limited.
Washington Post, House panel withheld document on NSA program from members, Peter Wallsten, Aug. 16, 2013. Obama administration had asked that the information on phone A letter drafted by the Obama administration specifically to inform Congress of the government’s mass collection of Americans’ telephone communications data was withheld from lawmakers by leaders of the House Intelligence Committee in the months before a key vote affecting the future of the program.surveillance be widely shared.
Washington Post, NSA often breaks privacy rules, Audit finds thousands of breaches each year since ’08, Barton Gellman, Aug. 15, 2013. The National Security Agency has broken privacy rules or overstepped its legal authority thousands of times each year since Congress granted the agency broad new powers in 2008, according to an internal audit and other top-secret documents. Most of the infractions involve unauthorized surveillance of Americans or foreign intelligence targets in the United States, both of which are restricted by statute and executive order. They range from significant violations of law to typographical errors that resulted in unintended interception of U.S. e-mails and telephone calls. The documents, provided earlier this summer to The Washington Post by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, include a level of detail and analysis that is not routinely shared with Congress or the special court that oversees surveillance. In one of the documents, agency personnel are instructed to remove details and substitute more generic language in reports to the Justice Department and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
Huffington Post, Exclusive: Edward Snowden Says Media Being Misled 'About My Situation,' Michael Calderone, Aug. 15, 2013. National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden wants to set the record straight after individuals associated with his father have, in his words, "misled" journalists into “printing false claims about my situation.” In an emailed statement to the Huffington Post, Snowden said that neither his father Lon Snowden, his father’s lawyer Bruce Fein, nor Fein's wife and spokeswoman Mattie Fein “represent me in any way.” “None of them have been or are involved in my current situation, and this will not change in the future,” Snowden said of his father and the Feins. “I ask journalists to understand that they do not possess any special knowledge regarding my situation or future plans, and not to exploit the tragic vacuum of my father's emotional compromise for the sake of tabloid news.” Mattie Fein told The Wall Street Journal on Thursday that Lon Snowden’s legal team doesn’t trust Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald, the journalist at the center of the NSA story, or WikiLeaks, the anti-secrecy organization that has advised Snowden in Russia. Fein also claimed Greenwald was trying to shop around an exclusive interview with Snowden for seven figures. Greenwald told the Journal Fein's claim was "defamatory."
Press Think, When you’re in a Fourth Estate situation, Jay Rosen, Aug. 15, 2013. “I think if the American public knew what our government was doing, they wouldn’t be allowed to do it anymore.” These are the poignant words of Ladar Levison, founder of Lavabit, a secure email service that he voluntarily shut down when faced with some sort of demand from the U.S. government to reveal user information. The precise nature of that demand he cannot talk about for fear of being thrown in jail, perhaps the best example we have for how the surveillance state undoes the First Amendment. But we know that Lavabit was used by Edward Snowden to communicate with the outside world when he was stuck in the Moscow airport. So use your imagination! If the public knew what the government was doing, the government wouldn’t be allowed to do it anymore is a perfect description of a “Fourth Estate situation.” That’s when we need a journalist to bring the hidden facts to light and put public opinion into play, which then changes the equation for people in power. If it doesn’t happen, then an illegitimate state action will persist.
Guardian, Intelligence committee withheld key file before critical NSA vote, Amash claims, Spencer Ackerman, Aug. 13, 2013. Republican who led Congress revolt against surveillance insists members did not see document before 2011 Patriot Act vote. A leader of the US congressional insurrection against the National Security Agency's bulk surveillance programs has accused his colleagues of withholding a key document from the House of Representatives before a critical surveillance vote. Justin Amash, left, the Michigan Republican whose effort to defund the NSA's mass phone-records collection exposed deep congressional discomfort with domestic spying, said the House intelligence committee never allowed legislators outside the panel to see a 2011 document that described the surveillance in vague terms.
WMAL AM/FM, A Newly Uncovered Motive For the Benghazi Attack: Stolen Surface-To-Air Missiles? John Matthews, Aug. 12, 2013. The purported motive for last year's attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya has moved a long way from the Obama administration's original explanation of Muslim activists being angered by a defamatory Youtube video. Now, the attorney for one of the senior State department officials who was on duty the night of the attack claims the real objective was the theft of 400 surface-to-air missiles. Joe DiGenova, a former U.S. attorney who now represents Mark Thompson, one of the so-called "Benghazi whistleblowers" who testified before Congress last spring, says he's been told that some "very ugly people" had stolen the missiles, and that the Benghazi annex played a key role in the theft. "I do not know whether [the missiles] were at the annex, but it is clear the annex was somehow involved in the process of the distribution of those missiles," said DiGenova in an interview Monday with WMAL's Mornings On The Mall with hosts Brian Wilson and Larry O'Connor. How did DiGenova get this information? He told WMAL that ever since he and his wife and law partner, Victoria Toensing, began representing the Benghazi whistleblowers last spring, they have been contacted by several people eager to share information about what really happened the night of September 11, 2012, when four Americans were killed in the Consulate attack, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens.
Reuters, California man behind anti-Islam film released to halfway house, Steve Gorman, Aug. 13, 2013. The man behind a film that stoked anti-U.S. protests across the Muslim world has been moved from prison to a halfway house to serve the remaining weeks of his sentence for probation violations stemming from his role in making the video, federal officials said on Tuesday. The 56-year-old Egyptian-born Coptic Christian, whose real name is Mark Basseley Youssef, previously served time for a 2010 bank fraud conviction and was sent back to prison last year after admitting to breaching the terms of his probation. "I never thought my movie can cause anyone trouble or anyone can get killed from my movie," he told CNN in a telephone interview aired on Tuesday, his first public comments since his arrest in the wake of unrest stirred by the film. The crudely made 13-minute video he produced in Southern California, circulated online under several titles, including "The Innocence of Muslims," portrayed the Prophet Mohammad as a fool and sexual deviant. The film touched off a torrent of anti-American demonstrations in Arab and Muslim countries, where many consider any depiction of the prophet as blasphemous. The start of the unrest on September 11, 2012, coincided with an attack on U.S. diplomatic posts in the Libyan city of Benghazi that killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens. But links between the Benghazi assault and "The Innocence of Muslims" have since been debunked. Youssef was transferred from a federal detention center during the past few weeks to an undisclosed halfway house as part of preparation for his release, Federal Bureau of Prisons spokesman Ed Ross said. He is due to be freed on September 26.