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Editor’s note: This column originally ran on the recent anniversary of Ron Brown’s death. It is the first segment of a brand new 11-part exclusive WorldNetDaily series excerpted from Jack Cashill’s shocking new book, Ron Brown’s Body.” “At the end of day,” says Cashill who began the project a skeptic, “it is not irresponsible to talk about murder.”
“ENRON CORP. CONFIRMS NO ENRON EXECUTIVES ON BOARD COMMERCE SECRETARY RON BROWN’S MISSING PLANE.” (April 3)
Throughout the day on April 3, 1996, even as America’s power brokers scrambled to spin their respects, the man whom they presumed to honor lay face up amidst the mud and debris of a barren Croatian hillside.
Death, as it often does, humbled its victim, this man of impeccable style, and left his body in ironic disarray, his arms thrown helplessly over his head, the shirt ripped clean off his back, his pants severed at the knees like a careless frat boy’s, the mocking vestige of a tie draped around his neck.
His name was Ron Brown, the United States secretary of commerce and an all too appropriate icon of this time and place. No man’s life more clearly embodied the cynical ethos of official Washington and yet, given that cynicism, no man’s death was more fully welcome therein.
For the two most desperate years of the Clinton presidency, 1994-1996, Ron Brown found himself at the nexus of White House machinations, the central exchange, the point where presidential power alchemized into hard cash more crudely and less discreetly than at any time in a century. Here, Brown was both exploiter and exploited, victimizer and ultimately victim, the classic “man who knew too much.”
“Why Ron Brown Won’t Go Down.” So declared the grimly ironic title of a just-released article in the American Spectator. But the article’s author miscalculated the physics of Washington power. Ron Brown did go down. Just before 3 p.m. Croatia time, the Air Force CT-43A that bore him drifted “inexplicably” off-course, sideswiped a hill nearly two miles from the Dubrovnik airport where it was headed and skidded to a wrenching stop.
Hours before the first American arrived at the crash site to confirm Brown’s death, while at least one American passenger still lived, President Bill Clinton descended on the Commerce Department and, in the artless words of CNN, “eulogized his friend nonetheless.”
“His favorite Scripture verse was that wonderful verse from Isaiah,” said Clinton of Brown. “They who wait upon the Lord shall have their strength renewed. They shall mount up with wings as eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and faint not.”
This verse would provide the essential metaphor for Brown in the days to come. He was the man “who walked and ran and flew through life.” This was all fabrication. Brown did not know the Bible. He could not cite a single verse. His quest for spirituality had begun only in the last weeks of life and only then out of desperation. Still, on the dishonesty scale, this bit of presidential dissembling barely registers.
To be sure, eulogies almost invariably aggrandize the virtues of the deceased, but Clinton was not so much eulogizing Brown as he was constructing his own defense:
[W]hen we met earlier this week, right before he left for the Balkans, he was so excited because he thought that, along with these business leaders and the other very able people from the Commerce Department on this mission, that they would be able to use the power of the American economy to help the peace take hold in the Balkans, to help people in that troubled place have the kind of decent, honorable and wonderfully ordinary lives that we Americans too often take for granted.
In truth, Brown was not excited at all. When they met earlier in the week, Brown begged not to go. At this, the most anxious moment of his life, he dreaded the prospect of the trip. There was nothing decent or honorable about it. There no longer was anything approaching decency or honor on such junkets. He was sick of being, in his words, “a mother-f—ing tour guide for Hillary Clinton.”
And this leads to the essential deceit of Clinton’s hasty eulogy. The president and his wife did not love Brown as Clinton avowed. Nor did they enjoy much, if any, of “his friendship and his warmth.” No, the relationship, always cool, had turned cold. Brown feared the Clintons, feared to even call them, and they deeply distrusted him.
This, the opinion-shapers in the major media chose not to know. They had already chosen their story line. Rather than recount Brown’s fate as a cautionary tale on the perils of power, the media routinely meshed the death of “this great American hero” on April 3 with Martin Luther King’s death on April 4, 28 years earlier. President Clinton, in fact, unblushingly claimed Brown, like King, died “answering a very important challenge of his time,” and no one dared to call the comparison profane.
And so the story would have ended: Ron Brown buried at Arlington National Cemetery with more pomp than any government official since RFK, a nation in mourning for its fallen hero and a president bereft. But Ron Brown’s body had one more story to tell.
At the U.S. Army base at Dover, Del., three days after his death, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology photographer U.S. Navy CPO Kathleen Janoski noted a nearly perfectly circular hole in the top of Brown’s head. It would measure just about .45 inch in diameter.
“Wow. That looks like a bullet hole,” said Janoski.
The pathologists who heard her cry and heeded it would soon enough wish they hadn’t. They opened the door on a mystery that simply refuses to stay shut. And, like many others who questioned the official story line during the Clintons’ most desperate years, they have suffered for it.
Tomorrow: Part 2 — How the easy fruits of “minority capitalism” undid Ron Brown.