This week, I watched the Daily Show interview with former Joint Chiefs of Staff retired General Hugh Shelton about his new memoir. What was most striking was his disclosure that a Clinton cabinet member suggested ordering a U.S. pilot to fly low in a U2 surveillance flight over Iraq in order to be shot down. The U.S. would then use the staged pretext to start a war with Saddam Hussein. What Shelton described is a proposed crime of horrendous proportions. However, he has not revealed the name of the cabinet member or whether Bill Clinton was aware of this proposed criminal act.
Shelton described the plan as the following: “Fly one of our [aircraft] low enough so that Saddam could actually shoot it down.” Once the pilot was killed, we would have an excuse to go to war.
Salon supplied the relevant passage:
Early on in my days as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, we had small, weekly White House breakfasts in National Security Advisor Sandy Berger’s office that included me, Sandy, Bill Cohen (Secretary of Defense), Madeleine Albright (Secretary of State), George Tenet (head of the CIA), Leon Firth (VP chief of staff for security), Bill Richardson (ambassador to the U.N.), and a few other senior administration officials. These were informal sessions where we would gather around Berger’s table and talk about concerns over coffee and breakfast served by the White House dining facility. It was a comfortable setting that encouraged brainstorming of potential options on a variety of issues of the day.
During that time we had U-2 aircraft on reconnaissance sorties over Iraq. These planes were designed to fly at extremely high speeds and altitudes (over seventy thousand feet) both for pilot safety and to avoid detection.
At one of my very first breakfasts, while Berger and Cohen were engaged in a sidebar discussion down at one end of the table and Tenet and Richardson were preoccupied in another, one of the Cabinet members present leaned over to me and said, “Hugh, I know I shouldn’t even be asking you this, but what we really need in order to go in and take out Saddam is a precipitous event — something that would make us look good in the eyes of the world. Could you have one of our U-2s fly low enough — and slow enough — so as to guarantee that Saddam could shoot it down?”
The list of crimes would begin with murder before moving on to conspiracy, false statements, and a host of international offenses. They would also constitute impeachable acts. So who was this person who wanted to discuss a possible criminal conspiracy? It is not revealed but it should be. More importantly, if Clinton was in the room and did not fire such a person (whether a cabinet member or top aide), he would have committed an equally outrageous act of omission. This does not fall into the range of “brainstorming” permitted under federal law. It is the equivalent of a top aide floating the idea of killing the Senate Majority leader or the Chief Justice. The Justice Department has prosecuted people for such discussions in terrorism cases.
The story shows how such criminal conspiracy continue to occupy the minds of our leaders — undeterred by the criminal code or prior scandals. They seem to rest like dormant viruses in some minds — waiting for the right opportunity.
It is bizarre for reporters to interview Shelton but not demand the name of the aide. He is describing a proposal for a criminal conspiracy in the White House and yet treats it as an interesting factoid from this career. Shelton said he strongly denounced the idea but did he object to the President that a top aide was suggesting a horrific criminal conspiracy? I commend his response but waiting to address it in one’s memoir is a bit belated in my judgment.
Source: TV Squad