Skip to comments.Waco is Clinton's Bay of Pigs - The Defense of Wesley Clark
Posted on 09/19/2003 9:07:19 AM PDT by Incorrigible
Below I present two BLOG articles (ie, not mainstream media, just some guy on the campaign trail known as newberry) from the website The Clark Sphere. This appears to be at least a semi-official web site for his campaign. I thought them interesting to see how the defense of Wesley Clark is shaping up.
The first article slanders Reagan and Bush and blames the people they appointed with the Waco firestorm.
Waco is Clinton's Bay of Pigs - an operation planned before he took office, and handed to his new AG. The tactical elements in charge had been selected before hand.
PBS compiled this timeline.
It takes the timelines from the two major reports - the 1993 report which had key omissions, and the later Danforth report. The FBI turned over to congress information relating to use of military shells, but did not highlight it, leading to charges of a cover up by Republican congressmen later. Waxman then documented that the material had been turned over to congress, but was buried among voluminous documentation.
This is the Department of Justice's first report on Waco and other materials.
It is important to remember that Clinton had been in office less than a month when the stand off started, and the action had been planned in advance. Reno was not even AG until March, and certainly had not had any time to even place her own people in charge. While the right wing likes to portray Waco as Clinton's fault - and Reno's - the truth is that the team doing the ground level work consisted of Reagan-Bush people, and at key points, it showed. Reno took full responsibility, which is what the person in charge should do - but let's not kid ourselves, ground level bungling made Waco what it was, and the people on the ground had not been put there by Clinton or Reno.
Both of these reports state that Acting AG Gerson ordered the military vehicles from Fort Hood, that they were driven by FBI tactical agents. That the only meetings with military commanders on strategy were not with Clark or other elements at Hood, but with US military Delta Force officers. Clark was ordered by McClarty on behalf of the Gerson to release vehicles to the operation, and, according to some reports train people to drive them. No members of the first cav were assigned, and Clark had neither operational nor advisory input on the matter. Both the Scruggs and Danforth reports concur on this point.
The military involvement at Waco has lead to wild speculation, and the conspiracy theorists urge to make everything one big glom - with their target du jour being the grand villain - has lead to Clark being thrown into the mix. However, Clark did not issue the tear gas, nor were any of his people present. The 40mm rounds were not issued by the First Cavalry. There were three Delta Force officers there as observers. Film included in the anti-Waco documentary shows that FBI agents were driving the tanks, and not military personnel.
The unforthcoming nature for years of the Clinton Administration did a great deal to damage the credibility of the initial report - and the concealment of evidence from Reno by the FBI lead to a reform at FBI by Freeh, who Clinton would later appoint as director.
The legal trail that Danforth pursued in his investigation is here.
Find law on the Waco stand off.
Clark was not present at Waco, nor did he plan, direct or authorize it. While observers from Delta Force were present, no elements of the First Cavalry were in operational control. The events of April 19th, 1993 were based on ineptitude of a number of FBI tactical agents, who repeatedly used ham-handed negotiating techniques, and possibly, a desire for glory hunting by those leading the siege. Many of the people involved in Waco were involved in previous questionable actions, including one sniper who was involved with Ruby Ridge in 1992, and who may have fired sniper rounds during the siege.
The record of Waco stands in stark contrast to the documented style of negotiations during Dayton and during Kosovo - clearly these operations were not conducted by the same people. Wes Clark has been adamant on a number of occasions that military hardware and personnel should not be used in law enforcement situations, they are too blunt an instrument. Waco stands in sharp contrast to the tactical doctrine of using minimum force that he taught prior to being a commander at Ft. Hood, and which he espoused afterwards as Southern Commander and then SACEUR.
While it is hard to prove a negative absent the government releasing logs of General Clark's wear abouts during this period, no reliable witness has placed him on the scene, nor is he mentioned in any documentation which has been released to the public.
This next article first slanders Sir Michael Jackson, the British General in Kosovo, and leaves many issues uncovered.
On the most notorious Sunday in 1972, Northern Ireland was under the heavy boot of the British Army - rights of demonstration and free speech curtailed. A "young sprog" of a captain heard gun fire, decided he was being shot at, and "ran like fury".
"I have absolutely no reason to suppose that any of the 1 Para would have been using their weapons had there not been incoming rounds."
"As I sprinted acrost the waste ground, I had an absolutely firm impression that I was being shot at. What I thought was: 'Some bugger is firing at me'."
He thought "This is a bit hot," and stated he thought that there were multiple people firing. No weapons were found on the bodies of the 12 slain Catholic demonstrators. Protected by a cover up of evidence, including his own hand written notes The man who now leads British forces in Iraq is plagued by the scandal even today, as more charges surfaced in June.
The "he" here? Then Captain, now Sir Mike Jackson, who lost his head in 1972, and then again in 1999, and whose word is now being used to smear Wesley Clark. We've read this all before - the National Review tried it before. Strange that we are now again being treated to a story of the man his own troops call "The Prince of Darkness".
On July 3rd, the Republican News reported "Lord Saville is currently considering a request from lawyers for the families that General Mike Jackson be recalled to the inquiry for further questioning after serious discrepancies between his account of Bloody Sunday and that of Major Edward Loden, Command of Support Company, emerged during the latters evidence at the end of June. These discrepancies, argue the lawyers, strongly suggest that Jackson was involved in fabricating evidence in order to justify the killings on Bloody Sunday."
Jackson, if the document is correct, drew up lists of people to be shot, which is consistent with the extreme accuracy of the killing which took place - single bullet to the head shots. Jackson repeatedly denied - for 30 years - any decision to draw the IRA into a gun battle. The target list shows why this is probably true, there were already "targets".
And this is the man who The Nation wants us to take the word of. Next thing you know we will be reading them quote George W. Bush Jr. about how the Clinton policy of nation building was wrong, and that Iraq is the right way to do things: because Clark has been against Iraq since last summer - while Jackson is still 200% convinced that Iraq was "the right thing to do" and that it is being handled the right way.
It is Jackson's word that is at the root of all of these stories, no one has any other documentation, and all of them require people ignoring two inconvenient facts: it was Secretary General Solana who gave the Activation Order (ACTORD) for Clark to proceed - Clark could not have ordered deployment without it, and Jackson would not have needed to take matters to higher levels if Clark did not have authorization - and the plan that was put in place was, substantially Clark's. The last problem with stories attempting to attack Clark's judgment is that it was he who held the line on sectorizing Kosovo, which made the Russian presence constructive.
Sir Mike Jackson is, by all accounts, a tough as nails officer. His reputation from intelligence and the paratroopers and many assignments around the world indicates that he is the kind of man who likes his business. He was a big backer of the invasion of Iraq, and was a fountain of optimistic reports about how well the operation has been going.
It seems clear that certain people in the anti-war under any circumstances crowd have found common cause with the smear machine on the right wing against Wesley Clark, as they continue to repeat a charge which has been repeatedly been debunked on the record. They can dress Mike Jackson's hysteria up in as many guises as possible - but the record remains clear. Clark pushed, and when rebuffed, worked around it. Later, in this PBS interview, he explains his position:
GEN. WESLEY CLARK: It was a surprising moment to me. It was Sunday the 13th of June, about 8:30 in the morning. And he said, "I'm not going to take your order to block these, this runway." And so we talked about it. He was extremely agitated and emotional and making all kinds of statements. So I said, "let's get your chief of defense," his boss in the British chain of command, "on the line." I talked to General Sir Charles Guthrie, the British chief of defense, and he said, "let me talk to Mike." And so I pass the phone over and then Mike handed the phone back to me. And the British chief of defense said, "well, I agree with Mike." And he says, "so does Hugh Shelton," the American chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. I was very surprised because I had gotten word from Washington that Washington supported, in fact, suggested that I block these runways and strongly supported how I did it, how I wanted to do it. So I called Hugh. It was about 3:00 in the morning in Washington, and I said, "well, you know, here is the problem and Guthrie says you support Jackson, not me. What... Do you support me or not?" Because you can't take actions in war without support of governments. He said, "well," he said, "I did have a conversation with Guthrie. I knew you were getting this order. Guthrie and I agreed we don't want a confrontation but I do support you." So I said, "well, then you've got a policy problem." And it really was a policy problem caused by the British government's differing perception than the American government's, and by Mike Jackson's perception of the situation.
MARGARET WARNER: What does this tell you about alliance warfare? I mean, that if push comes to shove, does the whole alliance command structure break down?
GEN. WESLEY CLARK: Well, only in... It tells you the same lesson we've always known about alliances, that if you are going to lead and you have the command positions, you have to back up that command position. You have to earn it by committing the resources. Now, in this case, although we had the majority of the aircraft and the air campaign, we had done our best to avoid taking a leadership role on the ground. The British had the vast majority of the forces. They were there first. They had the capital sector around Pristina and the Pristina Airport sector, and they had the commander on the ground. So it was going to be, except for the Apaches, it was all British troops at risk, and it was a British commander and therefore it was essentially a British operation under my command. It's the same thing that we would have found in the Second World War. Eisenhower was the supreme allied commander because the United States put the bulk of the forces in, not the Brits. In this case, because the United States didn't want to take the lead by committing its resources on the ground, when push came to shove, it was another country that actually set the policies.
So the questions raised by the smear pieces have been answered - Clark believed in allies at the time, and he believed in the chain of command, and he followed that chain of command. He believes in Allies now as well. Clark continued to rely on Sir Mike Jackson, sending him to negotiate face to face with Serbian commanders. Jackson continued on to be KFOR commander. Clearly, the two men, for whatever their differences over the Pristina airfield, did not decide the other was an unreliable colleague, and did not attempt to undercut or undermine the other's authority. It was a difference of tactical decision - Clark supported by his commanders and by Solana, Jackson by his superiors. The working out was not based on a larger decision about later negotiations, but over the working relationship between the US and the UK.
After all, if Clark's plan had been unacceptable, Solana could have simply withdrawn the "ACTORD", or Washington could have. Clearly both wanted the option in play in the negotiations, or one phone call could have stopped everything cold.
He had guidance for me. "I am recommending you move to Pristna airport as soon as possible," he (NATO Secretary General Javier Solana) said.
"Javier, I just want to be certain that you are comfortable that I have the authority to order this," I asked to be clear.
"Yes, of course you do. You have ACTORD," he said emphatically.
So I had NATO support, but I knew there was much more to be done before an operation like this could be executed.
Let's be clear who we are talking about here - Javier Solana was the Socialist former Foreign Minister of Spain, who had opposed his country's entry into NATO, and who, as Secretary General, had the authority to order Clark to do this. It was Jackson, and later the British, who decided against it. The plan eventually adopted, to block airspace and the roads was Clark's, not "Washington's". On the 11th of June Solana ordered air exercises over Kosovo as a way of making it clear to the Russians that NATO was not merely folding its tent and going home. In his statements Solana emphasized that "all military options remain open". So, on the record, Clark had the backing of NATO to implement the ACTORD of 12 June.
The Serbs and Russians cooperated to bring the Russian forces in, and Milosevic progressively filed away at the legal framework of the "Military Technical Agreement" - first from NATO lead, then to KFOR, then trying to replace this with "UN". The Russian tanks had "KFOR" painted on them before there was, in fact, a KFOR, for them to be part of. The hawkish assessment of The Russia Journal indicates the wire Clark was walking at the time - between those who saw it as an "empire building move", and those who wanted to do nothing. By keeping Clark's option in play, Cohen had a lever to move Gutherie on the matter, along the lines of: "Well, if you don't want to do anything, I'll just call up Wes and tell him to move in the choppers. You can field the questions as to why your commander couldn't do anything about it."
And this, not some hysterical accusations and hypotheticals, is the reality of the situation. NATO made a decision, but being an alliance of unanimous consensus, one of its key members refused. And since that member was the one providing the forces, its refusal carried that day. This is how the alliance works, and Clark is clearly, in his interview, comfortable with it.
Some articles make a further factual error: Ellis did not refuse, and Jackson, while troubled, began organizing the Apache mission that Clark ordered. There were several rounds of consultation, and in Waging Modern War Clark goes, in detail, about the diplomacy involved, and shows a much greater grasp of the intricacies than does Katrina vanden Heuvel. Her version in is pure fabrication.
Instead what happened is that Clark had Jackson block the roads to the airfield, and Clark asked other nations to deny overflight to the Russians. The Russians continued to demand a sector, continued to smuggle troops in through Serbia, and attempted to push the US out. It was a risky moment, because if the Russians had violated airspace, it would have required shooting down the incoming planes, or accepting a de facto partition of Kosovo with a Russian sector, with the result being a continued guerilla war and disintegration of what peace was managed. When the conflict was over - there was a flood of people back into Kosovo, 400,000 people return to Kosovo in a matter of weeks. Would people have come flooding back with the Russians and Serbs in control of the capital? It's a matter for speculation, but in a probability not.
What's the real bottom line here? Attacks on Clark's patriotism have the quality of fear and panic - the people, far right or protest left who hate Clark, know they have only one chance to get him before people meet the man himself. At which point charges of his being hot headed and unpatriotic become, well, as credible as charges that he is running for Vice President.
On a personal note, when I campaign on the ground, I meet many supporters of Dennis Kucinich. Over all, I have a strong admiration for their dedication to voting rights, and the need to make sure that this next election is run on a positive platform focused on jobs for real Americans, civil rights, and taking care of our people. I value their commitment to an informed and involved electorate. But informed means informed with the truth, and with a balanced view of events - not misinformed by smears and slander - regardless of whose by-line.
It seems that what is going on is that the old leadership, fearful of losing control is trying one last top down blast to destroy the growing bonds that have formed across the political spectrum, and produce a splendid isolation. To those people who support candidates working for peace, I will say this now: we in the Clark movement are with you. The occupation of Iraq is a blunder of the first magnitude, the way it was decided, the way it was sold, the way it was handled and the way it is being mangled. We hope that all Democrats and interested independents will continue to make the case for jobs, justice and peace - and a renewed American consensus, and reject the kind of scandal mongering which is purveyed by the old, tired, and angry top down leadership from another age.
His candidacy proves that the Clintons are still bent on the destruction of the Constitution of the United States of America.
I wouldn't say Clark exactly used minimum force in the Kosovo War.
Courtesy ping to Backhoe
And that 99% more and more doesn't want to know anymore of what they think might be "out there."
It was a great dog and pony show. "Look, we are doing something about it." Not really.
"The fact is that Clark released the equipment and operators for Waco. He can't be brilliant and not know the intracacies of the Posse Comitadas Act"
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