CIA Faker Blasts Obama, Sells Books

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

The right-wing opinion site Human Events added a new blogger in June, Frederick “Cork” Graham, whose most recent offering trashes President “Barack H. Obama, Jr.” and Attorney Gen. Eric Holder for allegedly prosecuting covert operators for abuses against “terrorists.” The purple prose suggests Graham, the author of a memoir titled The Bamboo Chest, was hired for his paramilitary pedigree, not his command of rhetoric:

Dear President Obama,

As a former CIA paramilitary operations officer, I worked for two of your predecessors. One was a staunch defender of the US Constitution. The other was more occupied with the New World Order….

Holder is quickly becoming recognized as the most dangerous man to the American people and The Constitution of the United States, and in no clearer example of this is his office leaking a story to a reporter from AP, to out a former-paramilitary operations officer, In a glaring attempt to make the United States seem like an even friendlier ally of the Islamist states.

The problem is no one can verify that Graham was, in fact, a CIA officer of any kind. He lists no prior military experience; his Wikipedia page merely tells how he grew up in Vietnam, dropped out of college, became a failed conflict photojournalist, and was later jailed in Vietnam searching for Captain Kidd’s buried treasure. Spy Talk‘s Jeff Stein talked with several experts, including vets of the agency’s 1980s Latin American campaigns, in which Graham claims to have been a trainer and gunrunner. All of them said Graham’s claims and photographs flagged him as a typical faker. “We did not hire paramilitary officers who had no military experience or training,” former operative Merle Pribbenow told Stein. “That would be like hiring a dentist whose only dental experience was having his teeth cleaned twice a year.”


Graham’s website also claims that he is a “#1 NYT Bestselling Author.” Yet the only book he’s published, a memoir called, The Bamboo Chest, ranks 1,138,329 in book titles sold on Amazon. The site also claims that Graham recently “found a collection of new copies of his OUT OF PRINT 2004 International Bestseller, The Bamboo Chest (1st Edition),” which he’s now hoping to sell. It’s rare for recent bestsellers to go out of print.

I tried to contact the publisher of Graham’s book, Dragon Press Publishing Inc. of Reno, Nevada, to verify his “bestseller” claims. Its website,, is defunct. The state of Nevada does have a listing for a business called Dragon Press Publishing. Its business license was “permanently revoked.” The company’s only listed officer—the treasurer, secretary, and president—was “Cork Graham.”

What would be Graham’s motivation to play pretend soldier/author? His Facebook page—started in June, the same time as his Human Events column—suggests a reason. “Funny how THE BAMBOO CHEST jumps to the Top 100 Bestsellers on’s Kindle book’s list every time my weekly column comes out at,” he wrote on July 13.

Graham’s ultraconservative readers don’t seem to have a problem with his prevarications. When Pribbenow, the CIA vet, posted a comment on Graham’s blog saying the author was likely a wannabe, a Graham supporter responded: “Keyboard warriors calling others out with no corroborating evidence. Stop posting. You have no standing here.” One reader, however, did quibble with Graham’s command of the facts. When Graham wrote that Obama should care for his soldiers and covert operators, this commenter disagreed. “They’re not obama’s own. That’s the problem,” he wrote. “obama’s own worship in mosques.”


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend