FactCheck.org: No Obama conspiracy to give Alaska islands to Russia

U.S. State Department map via FactCheck.org

FactCheck.org is the latest to look into an old conspiracy theory -- recently promoted online by failed Alaska U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller -- that President Obama is trying to hand over to Russia some supposedly oil-rich Alaska islands.

From FactCheck:

All [the islands] are far closer to the Russian mainland than to the Alaskan mainland. All lie on the Russian side of the U.S.-Russia maritime boundary set by a treaty that the U.S. Senate ratified overwhelmingly more than two decades ago, after being signed by President George H.W. Bush, and with the support of both of Alaska's senators. ...

And sure enough, no president or secretary of state since has shown any interest in disputing the Soviet/Russian claim to Wrangel Island or the others. Which brings us to the present accusation that President Obama is somehow giving away something the U.S. has never claimed to own. How can that be?

The Atlantic long ago interviewed the man responsible for getting this idea started in 1990.

[Carl] Olson believes that the United States has lost three groups of islands: one off the coast of Alaska, one in the central Pacific, and one in the Caribbean. He asserts that some of the lost Alaskan islands -- there are eight in all, including Wrangel Island, which he describes as being "the size of Delaware and Rhode Island combined" -- were acquired from Russia in the 1867 Alaska Purchase and that the rest were claimed for the United States upon their discovery, by various explorers, in 1881. Today, though, they are all claimed by Russia -- something that is not contested by the United States. This bothers Olson. A lot. He filed several inquiries with the State Department and never, he says, received a satisfactory response.