Editor's note: In his extraordinary new DVD documentary, "Mega Fix," Emmy-award-winning filmmaker Jack Cashill traces the roots of Sept. 11 to the political exploitation of terror investigations by the Clinton White House in the desperate 1995-1996 election cycle. This 8-part series began in Oklahoma City and now moves on to Croatia.
The "Mega Fix" DVD is available now at Jack Cashill's website.
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On April 4, 1996, the subject of my radio show in Kansas City was Commerce Secretary, Ron Brown. He and 34 others had died the day before when their Air Force plane crashed into a Croatian mountainside.
Not one to shy from exploitation of a tragedy, President Clinton was busily profaning the memory of Martin Luther King – who had been killed on April 4, 1968 – by comparing King's mission to Brown's.
What Clinton did not say was that Brown had gone to Croatia to broker a sweetheart deal between the neo-fascist strongman who ran Croatia, Franjo Tudjman, and Enron Corporation. This was all part of the Clintons' desperate drive to raise money for their 1996 re-election campaign.
More than a few callers argued that the Clintons had the plane destroyed. I dismissed these arguments out of hand. I believed then, and believe now, that an American president would never do such a thing.
When I began my investigation for my book, "Ron Brown's Body," I thought, however, that I might very well find another link in the Mega Fix chain – that is, the cover-up of a terrorist incident for the sake of political advantage.
Brown's flight did leave Bosnia, a Muslim country swarming with mujahideen. This flight came just six months after the Dayton accords and the insertion of American troops – an unpopular move. I figured that if a terrorist missile shot Brown's plane out of the sky, or a hijacker flew it into the mountain, the Clinton White House would have good cause to conceal this fact.
But I was wrong. The evidence does not support a terrorist scenario. Here is what we know for sure about Ron Brown's last days.
- To protect his son Michael from prison, Ron Brown threatens to expose the White House's yet unrevealed Asian fund-raising scheme, in which Brown played a major role.
- Just weeks before his death, Brown starts going to church for the first time in his life. He is scared for his life and that of his confidante, Nolanda Hill.
- The Croatian government insists on a Dubrovnik stop an unprecedented 36 hours before Brown's scheduled landing.
- The Enron executives take their own plane.
- The Air Force calls the pilot's nearly two-mile deviation into a Croatian hillside "inexplicable." No aircraft has ever drifted inland before at that airport. The AWACS data suggest sabotage of the ground-based navigation system, a line of inquiry that the Air Force is not allowed to pursue.
- For the first time ever on friendly soil, the White House orders the Air Force to skip the "safety" phase of the investigation and move directly to the "accident" phase. There is to be no consideration other than accident, even though this airport is near the Bosnian border and in a potential hot-fire zone.
- Three days after the crash and two days before his scheduled interview by the Air Force, the Croatian responsible for the airport's navigation system is found with a bullet hole in his chest.
- A day later, every pathologist who views Brown's body concludes his head wound, at the very least, looks like a bullet hole. In a decision that reached the White House, there is to be no autopsy. The Brown family is not informed. Nor is there any forensic testing or a search for an exit wound.
- The head x-rays that show a possible "lead snowstorm" are destroyed. Officially, they're lost.
- The three Armed Forces pathologists and the forensic photographer who blow the whistle on this case have their careers destroyed.
- In silencing these dissidents, the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology brass assure the public that Brown died of "multiple blunt force injuries" like the others. The death certificate says otherwise. It notes that Brown died of "blunt force injuries to the head." He was the only one of the 35 victims to have a reported head wound.
- Franjo Tudjman, who has feared a trip to the Hague as a war criminal, shows up a week after the election at the Walter Reed Army Hospital to have his cancer treated.
- His son, Miroslav, investigates the death of the navigation chief and rules it a suicide.
The evidence strongly suggests that Ron Brown was, in fact, assassinated. In the most likely scenario, Croatian intelligence agents coerce the navigation chief into sabotaging the airport's non-directional radio beacon. After the plane crashes, they divert the rescue efforts, go to the crash site and administer a coup de grace to Brown, who may already be dead. Three days later, they murder the airport's navigation chief lest the Air Force investigators persuade him to talk.
Who commissioned the Croatians is not known, although the list of suspects is small. If the commission came from Washington, it likely did not include the destruction of the aircraft.
Although not technically "terrorism," the Mega Fix paradigm works here just the same: The White House undermines the investigation and exploits the political advantage. The Clintons do not want to know the truth about Ron Brown's death, and they certainly do not want to share it. In this case, it is impossible to lay the blame on the FBI. That much-maligned agency is not involved.
This time, the Clintons use a reluctant Air Force and a nearly mutinous Armed Forces Institute of Pathology to bury Ron Brown as quickly as possible, literally and figuratively. They exploit Brown's death for political advantage and leave the truth buried with him. Without an autopsy or a serious investigation, that is where it remains to this day.
On April 14 – four days after Brown's funeral – Clinton watches in shock as his buddy Greg Norman blows a six-stroke lead in the final round of the Masters, the greatest choke in the tournament's history.
"Yes," Clinton tells press aide, Mike McCurry, "that's going to be the new theme for the campaign, that we're not going to allow ourselves to be Greg Normanized."
Clinton is horrified in a way few around him can understand. "We could have a major crisis go bad on us," he frets constantly. Clinton knows something his staff does not: Ron Brown's death has spared him just such a crisis. "Greg Norman," he repeats to his staff. "Greg Norman."
To arrange a showing in your city, please send an e-mail to Jack Cashill.