It’s never been more clear to me why President Clinton downplayed the terrorist threat to America – even at the cost of lying to the American public about the Oklahoma City bombing and the downing of TWA Flight 800.
The Dec. 17 issue of National Review has a piece by Byron York, “Clinton Has No Clothes,” which put some of the missing piece together for me.
He describes the chain of events following the June 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia in which 19 America soldiers were killed and hundreds wounded by Osama bin Laden.
“When news reached Washington, President Bill Clinton vowed to bring the killers to justice,” he writes. “‘The cowards who committed this murderous act must not go unpunished.’ The next day, leaving the White House to attend an economic summit in France, Clinton had more tough words for the attackers. ‘Let me be very clear: We will not resist – the president corrected himself – ‘we will not rest in our efforts to find who is responsible for this outrage, to pursue them and to punish them.'”
Indeed, Clinton didn’t rest. He got his top political adviser, Dick Morris, busy conducting polls to gauge the public’s reaction to the bombing. Keep in mind, this act of terrorism occurred in the midst of his re-election campaign. Morris said he was concerned about how public dissatisfaction with Clinton on the terrorism issue might benefit rival Bob Dole.
Within a few days, it was clear from Morris’ polling that the terrorism issue was not sticking to Clinton.
But then the second shoe dropped. On July 17, TWA Flight 800 exploded and crashed into the Atlantic Ocean on its way from New York to Paris. York notes there was “widespread suspicion that the crash was the result of terrorism.” Morris’ polling found the public growing uneasy about air safety and Clinton’s performance in the Khobar probe.
Clinton continued to talk tough on terrorism, but York misses the fact that the investigation of TWA Flight 800 took a different direction. Witnesses who saw missiles attack the plane were disregarded. Attention focused on the center fuel tank. No alternate theories were entertained. The probe became fixated on a mechanical malfunction to the exclusion of all other evidence. The Central Intelligence Agency even went to the extent of developing an untenable theory, complete with a bogus animation released to the public that sought to explain why the plane went down on its own.
That’s how Clinton politicized the investigation of TWA Flight 800. It has remained politicized ever since. The Bush administration has as yet shown no signs of reopening the probe. Maybe officials feel they have enough on their hands.
But there’s even more at stake than finding out the truth about this air disaster. It seems clear to me the investigations of the FBI and the National Transportation Safety Board were compromised by politics. Agents lied to cover for their bosses. The welfare of the American people was sacrificed for political expediency.
Listen folks, TWA Flight 800 was shot down. If you don’t believe me – if you have any doubts – you must see the tremendous, thoughtful, probing documentary by Jack Cashill and James Sanders, who have been working on this case for years. It’s called “Silenced: Flight 800 and the Subversion of Justice.” It has more relevance today, after Sept. 11, than ever before.
Not only do we have a continuing problem of official cover-up, we also have the knowledge that terrorists may well have the capability of shooting down commercial airliners – even in our own domestic airspace. They may well have gotten away with it. And because they got away with it, they may well have moved on to bigger and more dramatic incidents – such as we witnessed Sept. 11.
Never before has there been such urgency to uncovering the truth about TWA Flight 800. How can America prepare for this monumental fight against terror if it is in denial about the truth?
Even when the Clinton administration recognized the obvious truth of Islamist involvement in the first bombing of the World Trade Center, it deliberately ignored evidence tying it directly to bin Laden and al-Qaida, preferring to believe it was the work of what York describes as a “loose network of terrorists working apart from any government sponsorship.”
And, of course, the Clinton administration ignored any possibility of Mideast connections to the bombing conspiracy in Oklahoma City. It was, officials concluded early, the work solely of right-wing domestic extremists. Once again, how politically convenient.
Are you ready for the truth? Can you handle it? Then push your government for a full and complete reopening of the investigations of TWA Flight 800 and the Oklahoma City bombing. The American people have a right to know.