Highlights of This Page
Gennifer Flowers alleges 12-year love affair with Clinton. Ross Perot announces third-party candidacy for president. Whitewater allegations break in media. "Defense Planning Guidance" article lays out GOP foreign policy for next twenty years; primarily authored by Paul Wolfowitz, with input from Dick Cheney and other hawks. Ruby Ridge massacre. Bush sends troops to Somalia. Bill Clinton elected President. BCCI report released. Bush pardons a number of convicted Iran-Contra figures. Iraqi National Congress organized by Ahmad Chalabi and US public relations firm.
Gulf War"The Gulf War was a limited-objective war. If it had not been, we would be ruling Baghdad today -- an unpardonable expense in terms of money, lives lost and ruined regional relationships.... Would it have been worth the inevitable follow-up: major occupation forces in Iraq for years to come and a very expensive and complex American proconsulship in Baghdad? Fortunately for America, reasonable people at the time thought not. They still do." (Richard Haass/Buzzflash)
Bush's foreign policiesDuring the investigation, it is discovered that Paul Wolfowitz, as Undersecretary for Policy under Dick Cheney, has promoted the export to Israel of advanced AIM-9M air-to-air missiles. The Joint Chiefs of Staff, aware that Israel had already been caught selling the earlier AIM 9-L version of the missile to China in violation of a written agreement with the US on arms re-sales, cancels the proposed deal. Douglas Feith writes in Commentary magazine, "It is in the interest of US and Israel to remove needless impediments to technological cooperation between them. Technologies in the hands of responsible, friendly countries facing military threats, countries like Israel, serve to deter aggression, enhance regional stability and promote peace thereby." (Counterpunch/Daily Kos)
George W. Bush and Harken Oilof Harken's oil wells in Bahrain comes up dry. George W. Bush takes a leave of absence from the firm to work on his father's election campaign, saying, "I don't want to involve this company in any kind of allegations of conflicts or whatever may arise." (Bushwatch)
Oil profiteering and the "oiligarchy"that mandated the deregulation of energy at the wholesale level, obliged utilities to carry privately marketed electricity like Enron's on their wires, gave Enron the opportunity to manipulate the California energy market to such disastrous effect for the state and for tremendous profits for the corporation, and made Enron's skyrocketing growth during the 1990s possible. Lay, now a major Bush campaign donor, is named co-chair of the Bush re-election committee, and chairman of that summer's Republican National Convention. Enron itself contributes $250,000 to Bush's campaign. After the loss to Bill Clinton, Enron and Lay will work with the outgoing president to obtain a ruling from the Commodity Futures Trading Committee (CFTC) that defined energy derivative contracts and interest rate swaps, two prime trading vehicles, that would exempt them from CFTC oversight. The CFTC's five-member commission has two seats temporarily vacant, so chairwoman Wendy Gramm, wife of Texas Republican Phil Gramm, who has his own close ties to Enron, cut short the usual year-long examination of Enron's request, and rams the decision through the commission before incoming president Clinton can name two more commission members. On January 14, 2003, the CFTC will vote 2-1 to grant Enron's request. Gramm resigns from the CFTC a week later, and by February 2001 will be named to Enron's board of directors. Between 1993 and 2001 Gramm will make over a million dollars from her directorship. Phillips writes, "In a nutshell -- a fat, rich nutshell -- the CFTC ruling allowed Enron to set up its own, unfettered in-house derivatives exchange without being regulated like a Wall Street firm or complying with the requirements of the New York Mercantile Exchange or the Chicago Board of Trade. This side of Enron's business quickly expanded, rising 30% in 1993 and ballooning by the decade's end." (Kevin Phillips)
HalliburtonThe company, now renamed Kellogg, Brown & Root, lands a contract this same year from the US Army to provide logistical support for troops in Somalia, Zaire, Haiti, the Balkans, and Saudi Arabia. Cheney will become Halliburton's CEO in 1995, and the company's contracts with the US Army soared, despite a 2002 statement from the company that Cheney had "steadfastly refused" to market Halliburton and KBR services to the US Army during his five-year tenure as CEO. Cheney's former Defense Department chief of staff, David Gribbin, will follow him to Halliburton, where, as an executive vice-president, he handles the Army contracts as well as Ex-Im loans and OPIC lobbying. When Cheney and Gribbin leave the company in 2000, Gribbin is replaced by Joseph Lopez, who had served as Cheney's military aide to the Pentagon. By 2000, Halliburton's oil-related work will fall to around 70% of its business, but its military-connected business ventures steadily expand. Under Cheney, Halliburton will expand its oil development interests in Algeria, Russia, Angola, Mexico, and Bangladesh. One of those contracts, to develop the Siberial oil fields owned by Russia's Tyumen Oil Company, later becomes a significant source of controversy. Under the new Bush administration, KBR will become the recipient of an unusual number of foreign military contracts, including one from Russia to eliminate liquid-fueled ICBMs and their silos, and a British contract to support a fleet of large new tank transporters. (Kevin Phillips)
GOP campaign strategiesShe was recruited in part to lead the opposition of popular Democratic governor Ann Richards, who had won handily in 1990 over the GOP's misogynist candidate Clayton Williams. Hughes is brought in specifically to win over the women's vote for the GOP. With fellow consultant Karl Rove, the new strategy is quite successful -- by 2004, the Texas GOP will dominate state politics, and a Texas Republican is president. (Laura Flanders)
Whitewater / Lewinsky and related "scandals"A courtly public figure, Johnson is a virulent and unapologetic white supremacist who views Clinton as an upstart "n*gger-lover" unfit to represent his America. Clinton represents everything he hates about what some call the "New South," with its integrated schools, civil rights for blacks, and equal treatment for women. In his political campaigns, he routinely refuses to shake the hands of black voters, and decries integration as a Communist plot, "worse than rape or murder."
Whitewater / Lewinsky and related "scandals"Nichols and then-partner Larry Case, a flamboyant private investigator with a penchant for surreptitiously taping his conversations with others, obtained surveillance videos from friendly state troopers (parts of which had been broadcast on local television years before). Nichols and Case cultivated relationships with producers and reporters for the tabloids the Star and the National Enquirer, and the television shows Hard Copy and A Current Affair. The two men promise these shows video footage of Bill Clinton sitting next to a bowl of cocaine at a party thrown by Little Rock financier Dan Lasater, who himself had served time for drug possession. Case estimates the worth of the videotapes at a million dollars. The two spend time interviewing women who are willing, for a price, to accuse Clinton of sexual impropriety. These interviews are the source of the baseless rumors surrounding Hillary Clinton's supposed frigidity and the now-infamous "distinguishing characteristics" of Clinton's penis, in particular a strategically placed mole along with (to Nichols's and Case's amusement) stories of Clinton's supposed size deficiency. (None of these stories survive the most cursory investigation.) Clinton secretary Betsey Wright calls the entire fracas a "bimbo explosion," a term gleefully picked up by the media in later years.
Whitewater / Lewinsky and related "scandals"Mainstream, "respectable" journalists wrestle with the ethics of reporting on such a salacious story from such a disreputable source. ABC's Nightline, hosted by the well-respected Ted Koppel, finds a way to break the story in the mainstream press: it broadcasts a report, not on the allegations themselves, but on the way the media is handling (or refusing to handle) the allegations. Clinton addresses the allegations indirectly during an interview on 60 Minutes; broadcast just after the Super Bowl, Clinton has a tremendously large audience, and he makes the most of it. With his wife sitting "demurely" alongside him, Clinton denies the Flowers allegations but admits he has not always conducted himself properly in his marriage. Many voters, while troubled by what Republicans are calling the "character issue," choose to let Clinton's bygones be bygones.
Whitewater / Lewinsky and related "scandals"The story originates with Robert "say" McIntosh, an eccentric black restauranteur and activist known in Little Rock circles as the "sweet Potato Pie King" and "The Black Santa." McIntosh has already appeared in the Larry Nichols story printed in the Star a month earlier, claiming that he was the Clinton campaign's "Mr. Fixit," hired to head off scandals. (The Clinton campaign has never associated itself with McIntosh.) McIntosh's involvement in politics before now has mostly been as a colleague of flamboyant Arkansas sheriff and former Democrat-turned-Republican Tommy Robinson in a number of Robinson's more ludicrous publicity stunts -- one memorable photo op featured McIntosh, dressed as Satan, tied to a 12-foot wooden cross in front of the Sheriff's Department, which Robinson sawed down with a chain saw. McIntosh lards his handbills for his barbecue restaurant with polemics against racism and Clinton's sex life. According to the Globe story, McIntosh says that Clinton has "been with enough black women to cast a Tarzan movie," and has even fathered a black child with prostitute Bobbie Ann Williams. The photo of a smiling black boy adorns the story. McIntosh says the boy was fathered during one of Clinton's wild sex-and-drug orgies at the home of his mother, Virginia Kelley.
1992 presidential campaignPerot runs on a platform of balancing the federal budget and enacting electronic direct democracy via "electronic town halls," along with raising the gasoline tax and a harsh opposition to NAFTA. Perot's candidacy attracts tremendous attention, and for a time Perot is polling evenly with the two major party candidates. After Bill Clinton's powerful showing at the Democratic National Convention, and Perot' claim that Republican operatives attempted to disrupt his daughter's wedding, he withdraws from the race late in the summer. Nevertheless, he qualifies for the ballots on all 50 states, and on October 1, announces he is re-entering the race. His running mate is retired admiral James Stockdale. Perot will perform quite well in the three presidential debates. He will receive 19% of the popular vote, making him the most popular third-party candidate since Theodore Roosevelt. Common wisdom (unsupported by exit polls) indicate that much of his support will be drawn from Bush supporters. He will run again, much less successfully, as the candidate of the Reform Party in 1996. Many observers feel that Republicans who felt burned by Perot's 1992 candidacy will decide to "turn the tables" on Democrats in 2000 by advocating the third-party candidacy of Ralph Nader, who may have taken enough votes from Al Gore to swing the election towards George W. Bush. After his abortive 1996 run, Perot's Reform Party splits due to dissension in the ranks on whether or not the party is a platform for Perot or an independent party of its own, and Perot will withdraw from the political stage. (Wikipedia)
Congressional corruptionThe bank routinely allows members to overdraw their accounts without penalty and, in some cases, without paying back the overdrafts. 22 House members are singled out by the Ethics Committee for pernicious overdrafting; 77 members will not run for re-election because of their connection to the scandal. Republican Donald Lukens will plead guilty to bribery and conspiracy charges; Democrats Carl Perkins and Carroll Hubbard plead guilty to multiple felonies. Others involved in the scandal include Democrat Harold Ford and Republican Tom DeLay (who blames his wife for his financial irregularities). It is widely believed that House Speaker Newt Gingrich decided to publicize the overdrafting because the majority of participants were Democrats; Gingrich himself was found to have written numerous overdrafts, but paid no political or criminal price. (Wikipedia, Hilton and Testa)
1992 presidential campaignUnbeknownst to anyone, this will be the highwater mark of Tsongas's campaign. The Gennifer Flowers allegations of a love affair with Clinton have been roundly debunked, but the story generates tremendous name recognition and sympathy for Clinton. Better, the nation encounters the strong, supportive Hillary Clinton for the first time. Dubbing himself the "Comeback Kid," Clinton, who has been less than honest about his sexual history even though the Flowers story has been disproven, moves to upend Tsongas in the upcoming primaries. Republicans are uneasy about the prospect of a Democratic opponent so willing to fight back against a smear campaign. Still, the Flowers story has had its impact on the mainstream press, which has shown a willingness to publicize tabloid smear allegations that it never would have printed in the past. Also, as authors Joe Conason and Gene Lyons write, "[t]hrough the agency of a paid story in a supermarket tabloid, two rank amateurs [Flowers and Larry Nichols] with almost no credibility among journalists in their hometown were able to make national headlines, turn themselves into minor celebrities, and earn a substantial amount of cash in the bargain" gives impetus to other Clinton-haters to emulate their success. (Joe Conason and Gene Lyons)
Whitewater / Lewinsky and related "scandals"The story appears two days before the Democratic "super Tuesday" presidential primaries. McDougal falsely claims that the Clintons made handsome profits on Whitewater and that he received political favors in return. Both the Starr commission (the OIC, or Office of the Independent Counsel) and the RTC investigation will later confirm that McDougal's allegations are false.
NeoconservativesThe article has not yet been "sanitized" for public consumption and causes a controversy with its blunt, rough-shod approach to global foreign policy. The document portrays the US, in the words of Eric Alterman and Mark Green, as "a colossus astride the world, imposing its will and keeping world peace through military and economic power." It argues that the US must maintain its role as sole superpower by maintaining "the mechanisms for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role." As one British newspaper puts it, "America's friends are potential enemies. They must be in a state of dependence and seek solutions to their problems in Washington." The primary authors are Paul Wolfowitz and Lewis Libby, who hold relatively low posts at the time, but under Bush Jr. become Deputy Defense Secretary and Vice President Cheney's Chief of Staff, respectively (Cheney was Bush Sr.'s first Secretary of Defense; Wolfowitz and Libby are longtime political and ideological allies of Cheney).
Whitewater / Lewinsky and related "scandals"reads Jeff Gerth's Whitewater article in the Times and immediately reorders her list of Arkansas S&Ls to be investigated. Jim McDougal's relatively small and unimportant Madison Guaranty is near the bottom of the list. Lewis immediately abandons her work investigating two other failed S&Ls that lost over $1.6 billion in depositors' money to focus on Madison. Though Lewis's supervisors inform two senior RTC officials in Washington that the Whitewater deal did not fall under their investigative rubric, and that no mention of either of the Clintons is in their criminal referral files, Lewis and her immediate supervisor, Richard Iolio, move Madison Guaranty, which handled the Whitewater deal, to the top of their list for investigation.
Whitewater / Lewinsky and related "scandals"The investigation also finds that the Clintons lost around $65,000 on the deal, and that, because of a failure on Jim McDougal's part to provide them with the proper documentation, the Clintons had improperly deducted $2000 from their income tax. The Clintons immediately pay off the improper deduction. (Though the investigation is widely and understandably seen as self-serving, as it turns out, everything the investigation found is verified by later investigations.) The feeling in the Clinton campaign is that it has answered the Whitewater allegations and that the whole thing is a dead issue. As Joe Conason and Gene Lyons write, "How much scandal could there be in a gravel-road real estate development in which the Clintons had ultimately lost money?" (Joe Conason and Gene Lyons)
Whitewater / Lewinsky and related "scandals"GOP consultant Floyd Brown, trolling Arkansas for dirt on Bill Clinton with his group Citizens United and its adjunct group the Presidential Victory Committee, receives an anonymous letter from Texas concerning a woman named Susann Coleman. The letter, which is also released to many news organizations, tells of Coleman's suicide in 1977. Coleman, according to the letter, was eight months pregnant with Clinton's love child. "she spoke of her husband and how he'd been destroyed by her infidelity," the letter reads. "she spoke of her love for Bill Clinton.... She condemned herself for being an obstruction to Bill Clinton's high ambitions. She died for them."
Islamist terrorismThe event is uneventful. In late April, Kuwait informs the government that its authorities foiled an assassination attempt against Bush. Kuwaiti law enforcement officials arrest 17 people suspected in the plot to kill Bush, which would have used a Toyota Landcruiser stuffed with explosives. The Kuwaitis recover the Landcruiser, which contains between 80 and 90 kilograms of plastic explosives connected to a detonator. The Kuwaitis also recover ten cube-shaped plastic explosive devices with detonators from the Landcruiser. Some of the suspects reportedly later confess that the Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS ) was behind the assassination attempt. In April 1993, CIA bomb technicians confirm that the two detonaters are quite similar to detonators used in different Middle Eastern bombings in 1990 and 1991. Two of the convicted bombers tell FBI investigators in May 1993 that they had taken part in the assassination plot at the direction of the IIS.
Whitewater / Lewinsky and related "scandals"The new lawsuit revives old, disproven allegations that state troopers had ferried Clinton around to his various sexual trysts. In 1998, Nichols will reveal that he had known about the tapes that Gennifer Flowers had made of her conversations with Clinton long before they were revealed to the public, but refuses to admit that he helped her cut the deal with The Star or that he helped edit the tapes to place Clinton in a damning light. "I had done what I needed to do," he cynically admits. "I knew Clinton was running for president, so all I had to do was keep the court case alive, then the media would come in and take it." Nichols was right in one aspect: as Clinton's presidential aspirations flourish, Republican operatives would begin trolling Arkansas for any allegations of sexual misconduct on Clinton's part, offering large sums of money for the wildest and most unsubstantiated tales. Nichols himself partners with rogue private investigator Larry Case, who most recently had approached the Clinton gubernatorial campaign in 1990 with unfounded allegations that his GOP opponent, Sheffield Nelson, had consorted with prostitutes. Clinton's aides had listened to Case's story but refused to use the material. Case told friends that the campaign had promised him the directorship of the state Alcohol Beverage Control Commission, and that he had been betrayed. Case believes that raw files in state police headquarters will prove that Clinton had indeed used state troopers as his own private limousine service to ferry him to and from his sexual assignations. Like Nichols, the prospect of six-figure sums in return for their inventiveness proves very tempting. (Joe Conason and Gene Lyons)
Republican corruptionThe city of Branson, which had become a mecca for country music fans, is experiencing severe traffic problems. To resolve the situation, Ashcroft takes the unprecedented step of declaring the area an "economic emergency." The decision opens the way for the quick construction of an 18-mile, $140 million dollar bypass, the Ozark Mountain Highroad (Highway 465). The bypass enriches a number of Ashcroft contributors, but none more so than Silver Dollar City amusement center Peter Herschend. 465 skirts Branson and brings visitors directly by Silver Dollar City, giving visitors far better access to Herschend's playground. The road also crosses three stretches of Herschend property, one of which was sold to the state for a whopping $2.2 million. Locals call the road "Pete's Pike."
Gulf WarThe area encompasses a third of Iraq, the area south of the 32nd parallel. As part of "Operation Southern Watch," US fighters will shoot down any Iraqi aircraft which attempt to fly within the zone. Bush also says that he is "concerned" over Iraqi government forces' harsh and repressive actions against Shi'ite dissidents, but refuses to say what, if any, action the US will take to assist the dissidents. Democratic presidential opponent Bill Clinton says he supports Bush's actions, but criticizes the administration for not supporting the southern Shi'ites and northern Kurds more directly. Bush officials hasten to clarify that the "no-fly zone" is not a "security zone" employed to give the Shi'ites blanket protection from the Iraqi military, as was implemented during the Gulf War for the Kurds. Bush says he has no intention of bringing about the dismemberment of Iraq into smaller countries: "The United States continues to support Iraq's territorial unity and bears no ill will towards its people," he says. "We continue to look forward to working with a new leadership in Baghdad, one that does not brutally suppress its own people and violate the most basic norms of humanity." (Los Angeles Times/MIT)
George W. BushBath was Salem bin Laden's official representative in the US, and is intimately connected with bin Laden's financial successor, Khaled bin Mahfouz, who is now known to be a prime source of Al-Qaeda funding. Bath, and by inference bin Mahfouz, are accused of funneling money to the Reagan and Bush administrations in order to influence American foreign policy. Allegations of the bin Laden family's attempt to influence President Bush through his son are made, but before proof can be collected, the investigation is quietly throttled. (CCR, Project Censored)
Gulf WarThree weeks later, Iraqi officials successfully hide archives believed to contain information about banned weapons from inspectors; in December 2002, a UN Special Commission reports that Iraq's attempts to interfere with the inspections are increasing. (UN/Electric Venom)
Gulf Warwith cruise missiles after an abortive attempt to assassinate former president Bush during his April 14-16 visit to Kuwait (see the April item for further details). (FactMonster)
Gulf WarThroughout the course of the Bush administration, US and foreign firms were granted export licenses to ship US technology directly to Iraqi weapons facilities despite ample evidence showing that these factories were producing weapons." (Iran Chamber Society)
Whitewater / Lewinsky and related "scandals"Clinton wins the nomination after an abrasive primary season marked by New York governor Mario Cuomo's will-he won't-he candidacy. Clinton will face heated criticism from Republicans during the presidential campaign, including relentless but unproven allegations of his womanizing (some of which turn out to be true), and false allegations of shady business deals, including a failed land deal called Whitewater. At the time, many feel that Gore's inclusion on the ticket, a fellow Southerner, is a mistake; Gore turns out to be an energetic campaigner and powerful debater who will trash Vice President Dan Quayle in their only meeting. The relentless anti-Clinton campaign, borne during the 1992 campaign, will escalate over the next eight years of Clinton's presidency, and result in a failed impeachment attempt.
Iran-Contra scandalReagan's poor memory is evident during questioning; not only is he unable to recall facts and figures, it is difficult for him to name his Secretary of State. Unbeknownst to the public, Reagan is suffering from an extensive onset of Alzheimer's, a fact which his aides have taken great pains to conceal. (PBS, Federation of American Scientists)
Domestic spyingA "friend" of Weaver's, Gus Magisano, who in reality is a BATF agent, tried and failed to get Weaver to help him plot to rob several banks, and to hoard machine guns for the upcoming battle against the government, none of which interests Weaver. Magisano then asked to buy two shotguns from Weaver, and asked him to saw them off for him; Weaver asked where to cut, and Magisano indicated a spot a quarter-inch beneath the legal limit. Once Weaver completed the sawing, Magisano informed him of his status as a federal agent, and told Weaver that he can either be arrested or become an informant against his friends in Aryan Nation. Weaver, who later claims that the shotguns were of legal length, refused. The BATF then filed charges against Weaver. "I don't understand it," recalls daughter Rachel. "We were just good people who didn't even have any intention of doing anything wrong. I totally don't understand why they even came to my dad to ask him to saw off shotguns. It makes no sense to me. It just blows my mind that they'd even care."
Whitewater / Lewinsky and related "scandals"Jackson is regarded with trepidation by reporters who have dealt with him previously, finding that Jackson is not above massaging the facts (particularly about Clinton's so-called draft evasion) to suit his own ends. (Jackson himself obtained a suspect medical deferment to avoid service.) Jackson says he has access to a "spicy" photograph of Clinton that he is sure will doom the Clinton candidacy. Jackson wants Case to sell the photograph to a media source for at least two million dollars, to be split between Jackson, Case, and the owner of the photograph. Los Angeles Times reporter William Rempel, a devout Clinton hater, tells Case that Jackson is an absolutely reliable source, but the National Enquirer, contacted by Case, is leery. No one ever sees the photograph, and Rempel later says of Jackson, "[H]e regretted making the call to Case and said it made his skin crawl to be involved even that much." Considering Jackson's present and future involvement in scurrilous and illicit attempts to smear Clinton, his moral objections to dealing with Case are hard to fathom. (Joe Conason and Gene Lyons)
Iran-Contra scandalIn 2001 and beyond, Cheney, as Vice President, will urge the overthrow of Hussein and the long-term occupation of Iraq. "[T]he question in my mind is how many additional American casualties is Saddam worth?" he says. "And the answer is not very damned many. So I think we got it right, both when we decided to expel him from Kuwait, but also when the president made the decision that we'd achieved our objectives and we were not going to go get bogged down in the problems of trying to take over and govern Iraq." Going to Baghdad, Cheney says, would require a much different approach militarily than fighting in the open desert outside the capital, a type of warfare that US troops are not familiar with or comfortable in engaging. "All of a sudden you've got a battle you're fighting in a major built-up city, a lot of civilians are around, significant limitations on our ability to use our most effective technologies and techniques," he says. "Once we had rounded him up and gotten rid of his government, then the question is what do you put in its place? You know, you then have accepted the responsibility for governing Iraq." (Seattle Post Intelligencer, Mother Jones)
Gulf Waris set up in southern Iraq, south of latitude 32 degrees north. (BBC)
Whitewater / Lewinsky and related "scandals"She lists the Clintons as "possible witnesses," along with fellow Democrats Jim Guy Tucker and former US senator William Fulbright, another McDougal investor. Everyone named in her referral is a Democrat, though McDougal is quite bipartisan in his choice of investors and clients. Normally, such referrals take months to process, but within days Lewis begins pestering the FBI and the US attorney's office with demands for immediate action. She even accuses FBI agent Stephen Irons of trying to turn her into a local pariah by not immediately moving on the referral.
Whitewater / Lewinsky and related "scandals"Failed banker and real estate developer Jim McDougal, now deeply in the throes of mental illness, gives an interview to the New York Times alleging criminal actions about the Clintons and the Whitewater real estate deal. The allegations have no basis in fact and are quickly dismissed by most observers, but conservative opponents of Clinton take note. (Susan McDougal)
GOP campaign strategiesThe search is later determined to be part of an effort to claim, falsely, that Clinton once attempted to renounce his US citizenship as part of his activities to protest the Vietnam War. Despite clear evidence that Clinton's privacy rights had been trampled in an attempt to fix the outcome of a national election, Republican investigator Joseph diGenova clears the Bush campaign of all wrongdoing, and even chastises the State Department's inspector general for raising the suspicions in the first place. This is the source of the unfounded rumor that Bill Clinton tried to renouce his citizenship in order to avoid the Vietnam draft. (Consortium News)
Islamist terrorismOddly enough, though Yousef passes freely through airport security, Yousef's traveling companion, Ahmad Ajaj, is arrested upon arrival at Kennedy Airport and found to have in his possession an array of fake identification, numerous bomb-making manuals and treatises, video tapes about weaponry, and an advanced guide to surveillance training. Ajaj is charged with nothing more than passport fraud, and is sentenced to six months in prison. He calls Yousef frequently from prison, but what few calls that were recorded were not translated until years later. It is possible that Ajaj was a mole for the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, and may have informed that agency about the WTC bombings beforehand. It is certain that Ajaj participated in the planning of the attack from his cell. He is released from jail 3 days after the WTC bombings, but is later recaptured and sentenced to over 100 years in prison for his role in the attack. One of the manuals seized from Ajaj is horrendously mistranslated for his trial: the title page is translated to read "The Basic Rule," when it really translates as "The Base." In Arabic, this phrase is "al-Qaeda." (FBI translator Sibel Edmonds will later testify that many of the FBI's Arabic translators are incompetent.) A proper translation would have shown a strong connection between the terrorist group and the 1993 WTC bombings. (CCR)
GOP campaign strategiesGuerrero was a rising star in Texas Democratic politics, widely seen as the successor to Ann Richards; Richards landed a spot for her to speak at the summer's Democratic National Convention, where she gave a rousing speech that cemented her position as an up-and-coming politician with national aspirations. Unfortunately for Guerrero, she claimed on her resume that she was a graduate of the University of Texas, when in fact she never graduated. Worse, she falsely claimed to be a member of Phi Beta Kappa, and failed classes on Texas government and Mexican-Americans in the Southwest. GOP strategist Karl Rove learns of Guerrero's false claims, obtains her college transcripts, and waits for the proper moment to release the information. As Election Day neared, Rove alerts the press to Guerrero's false claims: "Karl had Lena's transcript," says an Austin political consultant. "But he held it until the right moment. The perfect moment. Then he screwed her." Guerrero badly botches her response to the news, first denying the story, then claiming that she just recently learned she was four hours short of a college degree. (This after a commencement speech at Texas A&M University where she said, "I remember well my own commencement." No one believed Guerrero's claims that she didn't realize she wasn't a college graduate, and didn't realize she wasn't a member of Phi Beta Kappa, especially after Rove papers the media with Guerrero's own statements and press releases.
GOP campaign strategieshis opponent, Bill Clinton, believes that a "Washington elite" should run the country's economy. (Paul Waldman)
Whitewater / Lewinsky and related "scandals"Sheffield Nelson and GOP businessman Peter Yoakum attempt to convince a woman named Juanita Broaddrick to come forward with her story that in 1978, while he was campaigning for governor, Clinton raped her. Yoakum sends a letter telling a tantalizing story: in 1990, Nelson had visited Broaddrick at her home where he interviewed, and recorded, Broaddrick and her husband, David, discussing the alleged rape. According to the letter, Broaddrick claims that in 1978, Clinton visited her in her hotel room during a Nursing Home Association conference ostensibly to discuss business, and while alone with Broaddrick, raped her. The letter says that Broaddrick now wishes to come forward to set her husband's mind at ease and convince him of her truthfulness. Yoakum also says that he has tapes of Broaddrick's husband recounting stories of Clinton giving him "a couple of big favors" in return for his silence.
GOP campaign strategiesGeorge Bush reacts to his accusation that Bill Clinton committed treason by participating in anti-Vietnam protests during his days at Oxford University by saying, "You let the liberal elite do their number today, trying to call me Joe McCarthy. I'm standing with American principle." This and other pronoucements are part of Bush's strategy to paint Clinton and his campaign as an extension of a so-called "liberal elite" that, by definition, is anti-American. (Paul Waldman)
Whitewater / Lewinsky and related "scandals"He lets Cooper stay on his houseboat on the outskirts of Little Rock in return for odd jobs, and clearly intends to make Cooper his protege. "I'm going to give you a lesson in southern history and culture," he tells Cooper one day. "I'm going to teach you how politics in this country and this state really work. You're in North Little Rock. This is n*ggertown. We don't have conflicts with our n*ggers here. We keep them in their place." Cooper is appalled but intrigued, and broke, so he chooses to stay; he has, by strange fortune, landed in the center of lawyer Cliff Jackson's anti-Clinton group, the Alliance for the Rebirth of an Independent America. Ham's houseboat is plastered with Bush/Quayle posters, news clippings, and bumper stickers. Ham himself is a former advisor to Republican governor Winthrop Rockefeller, and a former chair of the state Republican Party. He proudly displays photos of himself with Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and other prominent Republicans. Cooper is amazed to find that Ham's houseboat is a beehive of activity. Jackson and dozens of local Republicans and other Clinton-haters meet night and day aboard Ham's boat, plotting Clinton's downfall. Seeming to exist on little more than vodka, Ham spends hours a day phoning right-wing talk shows excoriating Clinton. Cooper later recalls, "They were in it for the hate. They considered Clinton a traitor to his country. Everett was infuriated that 'n*ggers, feminists, Jews, f*ggots, and the liberal New York press,' as he put it, could force people like himself from power. Everett gravely assured me that they had the means at their disposal to bring about the utter destruction of Bill Clinton, and whether it happened before or after the election was of little concern for them. Their thinking was clearly long-term." (Joe Conason and Gene Lyons)
Whitewater / Lewinsky and related "scandals"The issue fails to catch on, mostly because no proof of wrongdoing is ever found, and the Clintons actually lost over $40,000 in the deal. Whitewater will dog Clinton's entire presidency, as the GOP will revive it as part of its effort to undermine the Clinton presidency. Meanwhile, Newt Gingrich's political machine attempts to dig up dirt on Clinton's sexual past, and finds a ludicrous tale that Clinton fathered a "love child" with a black prostitute (see above). The tale is later proven completely false. (CNN, H.R. Clinton, Joe Conason)
GOP campaign strategiesClinton has always admitted that he sought student deferments to avoid serving in the Vietnam War, a war he deeply opposed, though he did give up his student deferment and enter the draft. Joe Conason later writes, "They defined Clinton's Vietnam dissent and his reluctance to serve as a test of character that demonstrated his unfitness for the presidency. It was fine to be a fortunate son like George W. Bush or [Bush's vice-president] Dan Quayle, to whom an 'honorable' method of evading Vietnam's perils was awarded like a graduation gift. [Both Quayle and the younger Bush avoided service by joining the National Guard; Quayle spent the Vietnam years playing golf and allegedly using vast quantities of cocaine, while the younger Bush deserted his Guard post before completing his term of service.] It was unacceptable, however, to be a self-made young man from a lower-middle-class family like clinton, who didn't want to fight in a war he believed was terribly wrong." "I have a different concept of public service and service to the country," Bush tells conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, who managed to dodge Vietnam service himself by using a cyst on his buttocks as an excuse to receive a medical deferment. The Bush campaign digs through State Department files on Clinton and finds information about a 1969 trip Clinton made to Moscow while a student at Oxford, and uses it to smear Clinton's patriotism. "It is absolutely germane to the voting public to know precisely why Bill Clinton traveled to the heart of enemy territory at the height of the war," says campaign spokeswoman and Lee Atwater protege Mary Matalin. (An assistant secretary of state will be forced to resign over his allowing the Bush campaign to illegally peruse Clinton's files.) GOP operatives start false rumors that Clinton renounced his American citizenship while overseas. While the efforts to smear and defame Clinton are ultimately fruitless during the campaign, partially because of the Clinton campaign's energetic counterattacks, they will be endlessly recycled during the eight-year efforts to besmirch Clinton during his presidency. (Joe Conason)
Bush's foreign policiesThe US sends troops to Somalia under the auspices of "Operation Rescue Hope," an attempt at both peacekeeping and humanitarian aid. Somalia, a country essentially in anarchy, has a large Muslim population and is well known as a hotbed of fundamentalist Muslim terrorism. Osama bin Laden is well-connected to elements of the Somalian terrorist movement. (ABC News)
East Timor rebellionHe is convicted the next year and sentenced to life in prison, but wins his freedom in 1999 after the Indonesian occupation of East Timor begins to collapse. Gusmao will later be elected president of East Timor. (Xanana Gusmao, BBC/East Timor Timeline)
Clinton AdministrationClinton wins in large part because of the independent candidacy of H. Ross Perot, a libertarian billionaire who draws perhaps 20% of potential Bush voters to him. Thusly, Clinton is one of a relatively small number of American presidents who win office without securing a majority of the votes cast. One of the final blows to Bush's hopes for re-election was the October 1992 filing of charges against Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger by Iran-Contra prosecutor Lawrence Walsh. The indictment revealed that Weinberger's notes confirmed that, far from being "out of the loop" as he had so often claimed, Bush was intimately involved in the arms-for-hostages deals. After the election, Bush will use his final days in office to pardon Weinberger and others; most Americans see Bush's pardons as an attempt to protect himself from further charges from Iran-Contra. CNN's William Schneider says, "Not only did he pardon his political allies, he pardoned them for illegal activities in which he himself may have been implicated." Iraqgate, too, took its toll. Clinton's vice-presidential candidate Al Gore said in September 1992, "George Bush wants the American people to see him as the hero who put out a raging fire. But new evidence now shows that he is the one who set the fire." In October, Gore accused Bush of "presiding over a cover-up significantly larger than Watergate," and Clinton promised that, if elected, he would appoint a special prosecutor, a promise he will fail to keep. Bush injured himself in his re-election bid by coming across as a privileged rich politician who is out of touch with the concerns of the average American; an infamous incident at a grocery store, where Bush is apparently amazed at a grocery checkout scanner, makes him seem as if he is too privileged to set foot in an ordinary grocery. (Bush takes issue with the characterization, though it is largely true; Bush and his family have lived lives of stunning wealth and privilege foreign to most Americans.) A seemingly minor incident during one of the presidential debates, where Bush ostentatiously checks his watch during one of Clinton's responses, also makes it seem to many voters that Bush cared little for issues that the voters cared about; Bush's defense that he was merely trying to point out that Clinton was exceeding his allocated time made little impact with voters. (CNN, Wikipedia, Wikipedia, Kevin Phillips)
George H.W. Bush"Oh,yeah, man, it was fabulous," recalls Tom DeLay, the extremist Texas congressman, who'd feared another "four years of misery" fighting the urge to cross his party's too-liberal leader. At the Heritage Foundation, a group of right-wingers called the Third Generation conduct a "bizarre rite involving a plastic head of the deposed Bush on a platter." The plan is similar to the one from 1976: withdraw all but the most surface support from a too-moderate Republican president, in that case Gerald Ford, in favor of a more purely conservative successor, in that case Ronald Reagan, wait four years, and install the new, more conservative president. Conservatives immediately begin working towards Clinton's eventual political demise, and work tirelessly through the media to deny Clinton the usual "honeymoon period" traditionally enjoyed by incoming presidents. (Christian Science Monitor)
Islamist terrorismUS soldiers had just left the hotel en route to Somalia. This is probably the first operation of the newly formed Al-Qaeda terrorist network. (CCR)
BCCI scandalSenators John Kerry and Hank Brown release their report on "the BCCI Affair" as the conclusion of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations's investigation into the criminal activities of the bank, and its connections to Iran-Contra and other political scandals.
GOP campaign strategiesThe Clinton transition team refuses to accept evidence offered by Iran about the 1980 "October Surprise." A task force headed by conservative Democratic representative Lee Hamilton has already ignored or hidden evidence provided to it that proves the GOP cut a deal with Iran to hold the American hostages until after the 1980 elections. (Consortium News)
Clinton AdministrationThe Clinton transition team hires Linda Tripp as an administrative assistant. Tripp worked for the Bush administration in the Defense Department. Tripp will eventually work in the Office of Legal Counsel, sometimes working with Vince Foster, and later will become an integral part of the conspiracy to bring down the Clinton presidency. (Executive Intelligence Review)
Iran-Contra scandalBush has kept diaries relevant to Iran-Contra, which have never been produced to investigators. Walsh requests that the diaries be turned over; Bush refuses to produce the diaries until December 22, well after his election loss to Bill Clinton. (Bushwatch, Federation of American Scientists, AlterNet)
Iran-Contra scandalBush issues blanket pardons for Casper Weinberger, Duane "Dewey" Clarridge, Walter McFarlane, Alan Fiers, Elliot Abrams and Clair George. The pardons stop any possibility of Bush being called to testify in any of their trials. Special prosecutor Lawrence Walsh strongly denounces the pardons, but the pardons essentially end both the Iran-contra and BCCI/BNL investigations. Walsh, who was in possession of evidence proving Bush's involvement, later says that it was "hard to find an adjective strong enough to characterize a president who has such contempt for honesty." (Democrat John Kerry presides over the Senate investigation into BCCI.) Bush, who consistently denies any knowledge of the Iran arms deals even after evidence shows that he attended many meetings on the subject, had written in his diary, "I'm one of the few people that know fully the details, and there is a lot of flack and misinformation out there. ...This is one operation that has been held very, very tight, and I hope it will not leak."
"It is becoming increasingly clear that George Bush, operating largely behind the scenes throughout the 1980s, initiated and supported much of the financing, intelligence and military help that built Saddam's Iraq into the aggressive power that the United States ultimately had to destroy."
-- Ted Koppel, June 1992 (US/Iraq Relations Timeline)
Iraq war and occupationThe head of the firm, John Rendon, gives the INC its name, coordinates its strategy sessions, lines up meetings with powerful GOP officials, and channels $12 million in covert CIA funds to the new group. In October 1992, Rendon names Ahmed Chalabi as the head of the INC. (Chalabi left Jordan in 1989 in the trunk of a car after a bank he ran collapsed; he was subsequently charged in absentia with embezzlement and sentenced to 22 years in prison.) Internal dissension all but destroys the group and ruins Chalabi's reputation with US intelligence. After Clinton's election, the US ceases supporting the INC and helps form its own opposition group, the Iraqi National Accord (INA). Both groups are severely damaged when Hussein's internal police captures and executes many members of both groups. Chalabi, dubbed by many a "limousine insurgent" who draws "more support on the Potomac than the Euphrates," according to one Middle East expert, continues to be trusted and wooed by Pentagon and other neoconservatives, some of whom privately dub him the "George Washington of Iraq." In 1997, Chalabi's fortunes improve when many of his Washington supporters form the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), which advocates the overthrow of Hussein and Chalabi taking his place as Iraq's leader. "Were it not for Rendon," a State Department official later reflected, "the Chalabi group wouldn't even be on the map." Nine days after the 9/11 attacks, the PNAC sends a letter to President G.W. Bush advocating not only the destruction of al-Qaeda, but the overthrow of Hussein as well as measures to be taken against the governments of Syria, Iran, Lebanon, and Palestine. (In These Times, Asia Times)