- U.S. President, 1993-2001
See also: Hillary Clinton William J. Clinton Foundation
A member of the Democratic Party, William Jefferson Clinton (born William Jefferson Blythe III) served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001.
Born in August 1946 in Hope, Arkansas, Clinton obtained a bachelor’s degree in Foreign Service at Georgetown University in 1968. He subsequently won a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford, where he studied philosophy, politics and economics. Clinton then enrolled at Yale Law School, where he met fellow student Hillary Rodham, whom he would marry in October 1975. In 1972 Clinton worked on Democrat George McGovern’s presidential campaign. The following year, he graduated from Yale with a Juris Doctor degree.
At that point, Clinton returned to his home state and took a job as a professor at the University of Arkansas. In 1974 he made an unsuccessful run for a seat in the House of Representatives. Two years later (in an election where he ran unopposed), he was voted into office as Arkansas attorney general.
In 1978 Clinton was elected governor of Arkansas, thereby becoming the youngest governor in the United States. Two years later he ran for re-election but lost to Republican challenger Frank D. White. In 1982 Clinton won back the governor’s chair and held it for the next ten years.
In 1992 Clinton won the Democratic Party's nomination for U.S. President. He ultimately won the general election over Republican incumbent George H.W. Bush by a popular-vote margin of 43.0 percent to 37.4 percent; the billionaire Ross Perot, who ran as an independent candidate, captured 18.9 percent of the vote. In 1996 Clinton was re-elected to a second term.
During his years as President, Clinton appointed two Supreme Court Justices: Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 1993 and Stephen Breyer in 1994.
Clinton’s Failure to Address the Growing Threat of Islamic Terrorism, and His Degradation of the U.S. Military:
A notable hallmark of Clinton’s presidency was his failure to address the festering issue of Islamic terrorism, whose practitioners were gearing up to carry out a series of spectacular, high-impact attacks against the United States and its interests. On February 26, 1993, the al Qaeda organization (which ultimately would carry out the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York's Twin Towers and the Pentagon) struck the World Trade Center (WTC) for the first time. The terrorists' truck bomb created a crater six stories deep, killed six people, and injured more than a thousand. It was the first major terrorist act ever to take place on U.S. soil. The planners’ intent had been to cause one tower to fall and topple the other, killing tens of thousands of people in the process.
Six Palestinian and Egyptian conspirators responsible for the attack were tried in civil courts and were given life sentences like common criminals, but its mastermind -- an Iraqi intelligence agent named Ramzi Ahmed Yousef -- escaped. Yousef's Iraqi identity indicated to U.S. authorities that the WTC attack involved more than individual terrorists; it involved hostile terrorist states. Nevertheless, the Clinton administration’s response was to absorb the injury and accept defeat. The President never visited the bomb site or tended to the victims. Instead, he warned against "over-reaction" to the incident. He also vowed that there would be vengeance, but there was none.
In October 1993, eighteen American servicemen who were engaged in a humanitarian mission in Somalias were ambushed and killed, while another 80 were wounded. The body of one of the dead soldiers was dragged through the streets in an act calculated to humiliate his comrades and his country. Under Clinton’s leadership, America made no military response to the unprovoked carnage.
Al Qaeda groups thereafter made unsuccessful attempts to blow up the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels and other populated targets in the United States. A scheme to hijack commercial airliners and use them as "bombs" (in a manner similar to the 9/11 attacks) was thwarted in the Philippines in 1995; the architect of that plan was the aforementioned Iraqi intelligence agent Ramzi Yousef.
After Yousef's abortive plot, Clinton assigned Vice President Al Gore to work on improving airline security. A commission was formed, but under Gore’s leadership it focused heavily on protecting the “civil liberties” of terror suspects and eschewed any form of “profiling,” thereby diluting any effort to strengthen security measures.
According to former Clinton adviser Dick Morris:
"At a White House strategy meeting on April 27, 1995—two weeks after the Oklahoma City bombing—the President was urged to create a ‘President’s List’ of extremist/terrorist groups, their members and donors ‘to warn the public against well-intentioned donations which might foster terrorism.’ [In 1993, the FBI had identified three charities connected to the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas that were being used to finance terrorist activities.] On April 1, 1996, Clinton was again advised to ‘prohibit fund-raising by terrorists [including Hamas specifically] and identify terrorist organizations.’”
Clinton ignored these recommendations. FBI agents have stated that they were prevented from opening either criminal or national-security cases because of a fear that such a course of action would be seen as government-sponsored ‘profiling’ of Islamic charities.
One former Clinton administration official told reporter Joe Klein, "Clinton spent less concentrated attention on national defense than any another President in recent memory." Dick Morris flatly charged, "Clinton’s failure to mobilize America to confront foreign terror after the 1993 attack [on the World Trade Center] led directly to the 9/11 disaster." According to Morris, "Clinton was removed, uninvolved, and distant where the war on terror was concerned."
By Clinton’s own account, Monica Lewinsky (the young White House intern with whom Clinton carried on a sexual affair) was able to visit him privately more than a dozen times in the Oval Office. But according to a USA Today investigative report, James Woolsey, Clinton’s first CIA director, says he was never able to schedule a private meeting with Clinton after their initial interview.
Letting Bin Laden Go Free:
In 1996 an American Muslim businessman and Clinton supporter named Mansoor Ijaz opened up an unofficial channel between the government of the Sudan and the Clinton administration. At the same time, the State Department was accusing the Sudan of harboring terrorists and was describing Osama bin Laden as “the greatest single financier of terrorist projects in the world.” According to Ijaz, who met with Clinton and his second-term national security adviser Sandy Berger:
"[Sudanese] President Omar Hassan Ahmed Bashir, who wanted terrorism sanctions against Sudan lifted, offered the arrest and extradition of bin Laden and detailed intelligence data about the global networks constructed by Egypt’s Islamic Jihad, Iran’s Hezbollah and the Palestinian Hamas. Among the members of these networks were the two hijackers who [would later pilot] commercial airliners into the World Trade Center. The silence of the Clinton administration in responding to these offers was deafening."
President Bashir sent key intelligence officials to Washington in February 1996. Again, according to Ijaz, "the Sudanese offered to arrest bin Laden and extradite him to Saudi Arabia or, barring that, to ‘baby-sit’ him—monitoring all his activities and associates." But the Saudis did not want him. Instead, Mansoor said, in May 1996 "the Sudanese capitulated to U.S. pressure and asked bin Laden to leave, despite their feeling that he could be monitored better in Sudan than elsewhere.…."
According to a London Sunday Times account, based on a Clinton administration source, this was only one of three occasions when the Clinton administration had the opportunity to seize bin Laden and failed to do so. Responsibility for those decisions to turn down bin Laden, said the Times, "went to the very top of the White House.” Clinton’s failure to grasp the opportunity, says Ijaz, "represents one of the most serious foreign policy failures in American history."
Lt. Col. Robert “Buzz” Patterson served during the Clinton administration as one of the carriers of the “nuclear football,” a specially outfitted black briefcase that contains the launch codes for America’s nuclear weapons, in the event that a nuclear strike should be necessary. Reflecting on the missed opportunity to kill bin Laden, Patterson writes:
“This lost bin Laden hit typified the Clinton administration’s ambivalent, indecisive way of dealing with terrorism. Ideologically, the Clinton administration was committed to the idea that most terrorists were misunderstood, had legitimate grievances and could be appeased, which is why such military action as the administration authorized was so halfhearted, and ineffective, and designed more for ‘show’ than for honestly eliminating a threat.”
Clinton himself would later explain why he had
turned down Sudan's offer to extradite bin Laden to America:
"Bin Laden used to live in Sudan. He was expelled from Saudi Arabia in 1991, then he went to Sudan. And we'd been hearing that the Sudanese wanted America to start meeting with them again. They released him. At the time, 1996, he had committed no crime against America so I did not bring him here because we had no basis on which to hold him, though we knew he wanted to commit crimes against America."
More Islamist Attacks Against U.S. Interests:
One month after bin Laden relocated to Afghanistan in 1996, a 5,000-pound truck-bomb was detonated adjacent to the Saudi Arabian Khobar Towers housing complex, which was being used as a U.S. military barracks. Nineteen American soldiers died in the blast. Responsibility for this act of war seemed to rest with a Shiite extremist group, Saudi Hezbollah, which was supported by high-ranking officials in the Iranian government.
President Clinton vowed: "The cowards who committed this murderous act must not go unpunished. Let me say again: We will pursue this. America takes care of our own." But because Clinton, at that time, was seeking to thaw U.S. relations with Iran, he never followed up on his pledge. As National Review Online’s Rich Lowry explains:
“It is difficult to warm relations with a regime at the same time as pursuing its connections to terror. So by 1998 the administration appeared prepared to forgive and forget Khobar Towers…. The administration softened the State Department warning about travel to Iran, waived sanctions against foreign oil firms doing business there, and removed it from the list of major exporters of illegal drugs…. FBI director Louis Freeh, and those around him, began to suspect that the administration didn't care that much about finding the perpetrators because if connections with Iran were established it [the administration] would be forced to take, or at least consider, action against Iran. This meant that getting to the bottom of the case would present what the administration hated most: a difficulty, a risk.”
Madeleine Albright biographer Thomas W. Lippman wrote: “American officials stopped saying in public that they suspected Iran of responsibility for the terrorist bombing of the U.S. Air Force residential compound in Saudi Arabia.”
In April 1999, while the FBI was still trying to determine Iran’s role in the Khobar Towers plot, Clinton issued a statement that expressed, in part, his view that Iran’s hatred for America was rooted in some legitimate grievances. He said:
"It may be that the Iranian people have been taught to hate or distrust the United States or the West on the grounds that we are infidels and outside the faith. And, therefore, it is easy for us to be angry and respond in kind. I think it is important to recognize, however, that Iran, because of its enormous geopolitical importance over time, has been the subject of quite a lot of abuse from various Western nations. And I think sometimes it's quite important to tell people, look, you have a right to be angry at something my country or my culture or others that are generally allied with us today did to you 50 or 60 or 100 or 150 years ago...."
During the Clinton years, the idea that America was somehow responsible for most global distress became a familiar refrain of the President. In March 1998, for instance, Mr. Clinton, with a large delegation of African-American leaders in tow, made a pilgrimage to Uganda to apologize for the crime of American slavery. The apology was offered despite the fact that no slaves had ever been imported to America from Uganda or any East African state; that slavery in Africa preceded any American involvement by a thousand years; that America and Britain were the two powers responsible for ending the slave trade; and that America had abolished slavery more than 130 years before—at great human cost—while slavery still persisted in Africa, without African protest.
In August 1998, four months after Clinton left Uganda, al Qaeda terrorists blew up two U.S. embassies -- in Kenya and Tanzania -- killing 245 people and injuring 5,000. Clinton’s response to those attacks was ill-conceived and ineffectual. At the time, he was preoccupied with preparing his defense before a grand jury convened because of his public lies about a sexual affair he had carried on with his young intern, Monica
Lewinsky -- an affair that had first been reported in January 1998.
Three days after Miss Lewinsky’s own grand jury appearance regarding that matter, Clinton, without consulting the Joint Chiefs of Staff or his national security advisors, launched cruise missiles into two Islamic countries which he identified as being allied to the terrorists and their leader Osama bin Laden. One of these missiles hit and destroyed a pharmaceutical factory in the Sudan, killing one individual. Since the factory was the sole plant producing medicines for an impoverished African nation, there were almost certainly a number of collateral deaths.
On October 12, 2000, the warship USS Cole was bombed by Islamic terrorists while re-fueling in Yemen, yet another Muslim country aligned with the terrorist enemy. Seventeen U.S. sailors were killed and 39 were injured. This, like each of the attacks cited above, was an act of war, yet the President and his cabinet refused to recognize it as such. Instead, they framed each incident as a crime that warranted a law-enforcement response rather than military retribution.
Clinton’s national security advisor, Sandy Berger, described the official White House position toward these attacks as "a little bit like a Whack-A-Mole game at the circus. They bop up and you whack ’em down, and if they bop up again, you bop ’em back, down again."
Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was unimpressed by Clinton's sporadic strikes against his regime. Saddam remained defiant, expelling United Nations weapons inspectors, firing at U.S. warplanes, and continuing to build his arsenal of mass destruction. But "the [a]dministration held no clear and consistent view of the Iraqi threat and how it intended to address it," observed Washington Post correspondent Jim Hoagland.
Neglecting America's Security Needs:
Underlying the Clinton security failure was the fact that the administration was made up of people who for 25 years had discounted or minimized foreign totalitarian threats, opposed America’s armed presence abroad, and consistently resisted the deployment of America’s military forces to halt Communist expansion. National Security Advisor Sandy Berger was himself a veteran of the Sixties "anti-war" movement, which abetted the Communist victories in Vietnam and Cambodia and created the "Vietnam War Syndrome" that made it so difficult afterwards for American presidents to deploy the nation’s military forces.
Berger had also been a member of "Peace Now," the leftist movement seeking to pressure the Israeli government to make concessions to Yasser Arafat’s Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) terrorists. Clinton’s first National Security Advisor, Anthony Lake, was a protégé of Berger. All three had met as activists in the 1972 McGovern presidential campaign, whose primary issue was opposition to the Vietnam War based on the view that the "arrogance of American power" was responsible for the conflict rather than Communist aggression.
For nearly a decade before 9/11, the Clinton administration was aware that Americans were increasingly vulnerable to attacks which might involve biological or chemical weapons, or even nuclear devices bought or stolen from broken pieces of the former Soviet Union. This was the insistent message of Republican speeches on the floors of Congress and was reflected in the warnings not only of several government commissions, but also of Clinton’s own Secretary of Defense, William Cohen. In July 1999, for example, Cohen wrote an op-ed piece in the Washington Post, predicting a terrorist attack on the American mainland:
During its eight years, the Clinton administration hamstrung the government’s intelligence services in the name of civil liberties; shrunk the U.S. military in the name of fiscal responsibility; and prevented the Pentagon from adopting (and funding) a "two-war" strategy, because "the Cold War was over" and, in the White House’s judgment, there was no military threat in the post-Communist world that might make it necessary for the United States to be able to fight wars on two fronts simultaneously.
"In the past year, dozens of threats to use chemical or biological weapons in the United States have turned out to be hoaxes. Someday, one will be real."
In less than a three-year period under Clinton, America's military manpower decreased from 2.1 million to 1.6 million. Of the 305,000 employees removed from the federal payroll by Clinton, some 286,000 (or 90 percent) were military cuts. Over the entire course of the Clinton years, the Army was cut from 18 divisions to 12. The Navy was reduced from 546 ships to 380. Air Force flight squadrons were cut from 76 to 50. Moreover, the administration enacted a pay freeze on U.S. troops, 80 percent of whom earned $30,000 or less annually.
Inattention to defense did not, however, prevent the Clinton administration from pursuing massive social experiments in the military in the name of gender and diversity reform, which included requiring "consciousness raising" classes for military personnel, redefining physical standards if women were unable to meet the traditional norms, and in general undermining the meritocratic benchmarks that are a crucial component of military morale.
While budget cuts forced some military families to go on food stamps, the Pentagon spent enormous sums to re-equip ships and barracks to accommodate co-ed living. All these efforts further reduced the Pentagon’s ability to put a fighting force in the field—a glaring national vulnerability dramatized by the war in Kosovo. This diminished the crucial elements of fear and respect for American power in the eyes of adversaries waiting in the wings.
During the Clinton years, the Democrats’ insistence that American power was somehow the disturber—rather than the enforcer—of international tranquility, prompted the White House to turn to multilateral agencies for leadership, particularly the discredited United Nations. While useful in limited peacekeeping operations, the UN was in large part a collection of theocratic tyrannies and brutal dictatorships which regularly indicted and condemned the world’s most tolerant democracies -- specifically the United States, England and Israel -- while supporting the very states providing safe harbors for America’s al Qaeda enemy.
The Clinton deployments of American forces were often non-military in nature: a "democracy building" effort in Haiti that failed; flood relief and "peace keeping" operations that were more appropriately the province of international institutions. Even the conflict which Clinton belatedly engaged in the Balkans was officially characterized as a new kind of "humanitarian war," as though the old kinds of war for national interest and self-defense were somehow tainted.
Also among Clinton’s deployments were half-hearted strikes using cruise missiles against essentially defenseless countries like the Sudan, or the sporadic bombing of Iraq when Saddam violated the terms of the Gulf peace. Clinton’s strikes failed in their primary objective—to maintain the UN inspections. On the other hand, a negative result of this "Whack-A-Mole" strategy was the continual antagonizing of Muslim populations throughout the world.
During the 1990s, Bill Clinton’s most frequent foreign guest was Yasser Arafat, whose PLO supported al Qaeda, and whose allegiance to Iraq and betrayal of America during the Gulf War could not have been more brazen. Arafat's PLO had created the first terrorist training camps, invented suicide bombings, and been the chief propaganda machine behind the idea that terrorist armies were really missionaries for "social justice." Far from treating Arafat as an enemy of civilized order and an international pariah, the Clinton administration was busily cultivating him as a "partner for peace."
Chinagate and the Compromising of U.S. Intelligence:
When Bill Clinton took office in 1993, Chinese missiles were greatly limited in terms of their range and accuracy. But as journalist Richard Poe noted in 2003, “Thanks to Bill Clinton, China can now hit any city in the USA, using state-of-the-art, solid-fueled missiles with dead-accurate, computerized guidance systems and multiple warheads.”
Poe explains that the Clinton administration willingly permitted China to obtain the technology necessary for this giant leap forward. In part this was due to Clinton’s globalist view of international relations, where "multipolarity" -- the notion that a balance of power among nations is preferable to the existence of a single superpower -- is the ideal. Acting out of that mindset, Clinton appointed the anti-nuclear activist Hazel O’Leary as his Energy Secretary. A self-identified advocate of "leveling the playing field" in terms of miltary capacity, O’Leary declassified some 11 million pages of military data; she also loosened security procedures at U.S. weapons labs. According to Poe, “Federal investigators later concluded that China made off with the 'crown jewels' of our nuclear weapons research under Clinton’s open-door policy -- probably including design specifications for suitcase nukes.”
But declassification was not the only means by which President Clinton transferred missile technology and nuclear secrets to the Chinese. He also permitted those secrets to be sold directly to Beijing. Poe elaborates:
"In his book The China Threat, Washington Times correspondent Bill Gertz describes how the system worked. Defense contractors eager to sell technology to China poured millions of dollars into Clinton’s campaign. In return, Clinton called off the dogs. Janet Reno and other counterintelligence officials stood down while Lockheed Martin, Hughes Electronics, Loral Space & Communications and other U.S. companies helped China modernize its nuclear strike force.
"'We like your president. We want to see him reelected,' former Chinese intelligence chief General Ji Shengde told Chinagate bagman Johnny Chung.
"Indeed, Chinese intelligence organized a massive covert operation aimed at tilting the 1996 election Clinton’s way.
"Clinton’s top campaign contributors for 1992 were Chinese agents; his top donors in 1996 were U.S. defense contractors selling missile technology to China.
"Clinton recieved funding directly from known or suspected Chinese intelligence agents, among them James and Mochtar Riady who own the Indonesian Lippo Group; John Huang; Charlie Trie; Ted Sioeng; Maria Hsia; Wang Jun and others."
In a related move, Clinton in 1997 awarded a 25- to 50-year contract to Hutchinson Whampoa Ltd., a Hong Kong-based shipping firm with ties to Communist China's government and its People's Liberation Army. The contract authorized Hutchinson to control the two major ports on the Panama Canal's Atlantic and Pacific entrances. As Senator Trent Lott put it:
“This administration is allowing a scenario to develop where U.S. national security interests could not be protected without confronting the Chinese communists in the Americas. U.S. naval ships will be at the mercy of Chinese-controlled pilots and could even be denied passage through the Panama Canal by Hutchinson, an arm of the People's Liberation Army. In addition, the Chinese Communist Party will gain an intelligence information advantage by controlling this strategic chokepoint. It appears that we have given away the farm without a shot being fired.”
Noting the ominous implications of this, Richard Poe observed: “China can now strike U.S. targets easily from their bases in Panama, Vancouver and the Bahamas.”
The Clinton Administration Erects a "Wall of Separation" between Law-Enforcement and Intelligence:
In 1995, while America’s intelligence agencies were still investigating the 1993 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, Clinton's Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick called for increased separation between intelligence and law-enforcement agencies, and sought to stifle inter-agency information sharing. In a 1995 memo to then-FBI Director Louis Freeh and U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White, titled “Instructions on Separation of Certain Foreign Counterintelligence and Criminal Investigations,” Gorelick wrote the following:
The wall between agencies was not new; it had been first created during the Carter administration via the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which was enacted to defuse allegations of FBI espionage abuses. But Gorelick’s 1995 efforts served to strengthen the barrier and made it abundantly clear that cooperation between intelligence and law-enforcement agencies was forbidden.
"We believe that it is prudent to establish a set of instructions that will more clearly separate the counterintelligence investigation from the more limited, but continued, criminal investigations. These procedures, which go beyond what is legally required, will prevent any risk of creating an unwarranted appearance that FISA is being used to avoid procedural safeguards which would apply in a criminal investigation."
It should be noted that at the time Gorelick penned the aforementioned memo, Mr. Clinton was worried about ongoing FBI and CIA investigations into illegal Chinese contributions that had been made to U.S. presidential campaigns. Both the FBI and the CIA were churning up evidence damaging to the Democratic Party, its fundraisers, the Chinese, and ultimately the Clinton administration itself.
It was also a period when the FBI had begun to systematically investigate technology theft by foreign powers, most notably Russia and China. For the first time, these investigations singled out the U.S. chemical, telecommunications, aircraft and aerospace industries for intelligence collection. Had FBI agents confirmed China's theft of weapons technology -- or its transfer of weapons technology to nations like Pakistan, Iran and Syria -- Clinton would have been forced by law and international treaty to react (and to thereby jeopardize the future flow of Chinese money into his political coffers).
By the time Gorelick wrote the March 1995 memo that sealed off American intelligence agencies from each other and from the outside world, all of the most critical Chinagate investigations by American intelligence agencies were already underway. Some of their findings were damning:
- In an investigation originally instigated by the CIA, the FBI was beginning its search for the source of the leak of W-88 nuclear warhead technology to China among the more than 1,000 people who had access to the secrets. Despite Justice Department stonewalling and the Department’s refusal to seek wiretap authority in 1997, the investigation eventually led to Wen Ho Lee and the Los Alamos National Laboratory.
- The FBI first collected extensive evidence in 1995 linking illegal Democratic Party donations to China, according to the Congressional Record. But Congress and the Director of the CIA didn’t find out about the Justice Department’s failure to act upon that evidence until 1997, safely after the 1996 election.
- According to classified CIA documents leaked to the Washington Times, between 1994 and 1997 the CIA learned that China had sold Iran missile technology, a nuclear fission reactor, advanced air-defense radar, and chemical agents. The Chinese had also provided Pakistan with 5,000 ring magnets, used in producing weapons-grade uranium. Moreover, China had provided uranium fuel for India's reactors.
Gorelick's 1995 memo essentially emphasized Clinton's Presidential Decision Directive 24 (PDD 24), which he had signed the previous year (just one month after Gorelick began her tenure at the Justice Department. PDD 24 placed intelligence-gathering under the direct control of the President’s National Security Council, and ultimately the White House, through a four-level, top-down chain of command set up to govern (i.e., stifle) intelligence-sharing and cooperation between intelligence agencies. From the moment the directive was implemented, intelligence-sharing became a bureaucratic nightmare that required negotiating a befuddling bureaucracy that stopped directly at the President’s office.
First, the directive effectively neutered the CIA by creating a National Counterintelligence Center (NCI) to oversee the Agency. NCI was staffed by an FBI agent appointed by the Clinton administration. It also brought multiple international investigations underway at the time under direct administrative control. The job of the NCI was to “implement counterintelligence activities,” which meant that virtually everything the CIA did, from a foreign intelligence agent’s report to polygraph test results, now passed through the intelligence center that PDD 24 created.
NCI reported to an administration-appointed National Counterintelligence Operations Board (NCOB) charged with “discussing counterintelligence matters.” The NCOB in turn reported to a National Intelligence Policy Board, which coordinated activities between intelligence agencies attempting to work together. The policy board reported “directly” to the President through the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs.
The result was a massive bureaucratic roadblock for the CIA -- which at the time had a vast lead on the FBI in matters of foreign intelligence -- and for the FBI itself, which was also forced to report to the NCOB. This hampered cooperation between the two entities.
As a result of Clinton's PDD 24 and Gorelick's 1995 memo, the only place left to go with intelligence information -- particularly for efforts to share intelligence information or obtain search warrants -- was straight up Clinton and Gorelick’s multi-tiered chain of command. Consequently, information lethal to Clinton and the Democratic Party languished inside the Justice Department, trapped behind PDD 24 and Gorelick’s walls.
The implications were enormous. In her letter of protest to Attorney General Reno over Gorelick’s memo, United States Attorney Mary Jo White spelled them out: “These instructions leave entirely to OIPR and the (Justice Department) Criminal Division when, if ever, to contact affected U.S. attorneys on investigations including terrorism and espionage.”
President Clinton and his administration were not the only ones to benefit from keeping secret any information about Chinese espionage, campaign contributions, and acquisition of military technology. A number of American corporations benefitted as well.
- In 1994, for instance, the McDonnell Douglas Corporation transferred military-use machine tools to the China National Aero-Technology Import and Export Corporation that ended up in the hands of the Chinese army. The sale occurred despite Defense Department objections. McDonnell Douglas was a client of the Miller Cassidy Larroca & Lewin, L.L.P. (now called Baker Botts), the Washington, DC law firm where Gorelick worked for 17 years and was a partner. Rayn Larroca, another partner in the firm, represented McDonnell in the Justice Department’s investigation of the technology transfer.
- In 1995, General Electric, a former client of Gorelick’s, also had much to lose if the damaging information possessed by the CIA and the FBI were to have reached Congress. At the time, GE was publicly lobbying for a lucrative permit to assist the Chinese in replacing coal-fired power stations with nuclear plants. A 1990 law required that the President certify to Congress that China was not aiding in nuclear proliferation before U.S. companies could execute the business agreement.
- Moreover, in 1995 Michael Armstrong, then the CEO of Hughes Electronics -- a division of General Electric and another client of Miller Cassidy Larroca & Lewin -- was publicly lobbying Clinton to switch satellite export controls from the State Department to the Commerce Department. After the controls were lifted, Hughes and another company gave sensitive data to the Chinese, equipment a Pentagon study later concluded would allow China to develop intercontinental and submarine-launched ballistic missiles aimed at American targets. Miller Cassidy Larroca & Lewin partner Randall Turk represented Hughes in the Congressional, State Department, and Justice Department investigations that resulted.
The Cox Report, which detailed, for Congress, the facts about Chinese espionage during the period, revealed that FBI surveillance had caught Chinese officials frantically trying to keep Democratic donor Johnny Chung from divulging any information that would be damaging to Hughes Electronics. Chung funneled $300,000 in illegal contributions from the Chinese military to the Democratic National Committee between 1994 and 1996.
In summation, Clinton and Gorelick erected their roadblocks to intelligence-sharing as a means of derailing the complex web of FBI and CIA investigations that ultimately could have implicated Clinton and the Democratic Party. A few years later, however, those very same roadblocks would prevent intelligence authorities from learning about the terrorist plots that would topple the Twin Towers on 9/11.
Clinton's Failed North Korean Policy:
Evidence that North Korea was violating the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty surfaced within weeks of Clinton's first inauguration. After a year of inaction allowed Pyongyang to create at least one nuclear weapon, the emboldened Stalinists announced their formal withdrawal from the treaty. It seemed that North Korean officials were angling for a payoff.
In an effort to deal with North Korea, Clinton named former President Jimmy Carter as his principal negotiator. Under the final terms of the Agreed Framework approved in October of 1994, Clinton agreed to provide North Korea with two light water nuclear reactors and a massive allotment of oil. The U.S. also agreed to ship 500,000 metric tons of oil annually in response to the North's pretense that it had developed the nuclear facility to generate power.
Upon completing the "Agreed Framework" with North Korea in 1994, Clinton stated: "This agreement will help achieve a vital and long-standing American objective: an end to the threat of nuclear proliferation on the Korean peninsula." Bill Gertz described the terms of the Agreed Framework well: "The agreement gave the North Koreans ten years to dismantle their weapons program and five years to turn over the existing stockpile of plutonium."
But North Korea did not abide by the terms of the agreement.
When Congressional Republicans backed a missile defense bill in September 1998, Senate Democrats filibustered the measure. Clinton offered a different "solution" during this time period. In August 1998, North Korea launched a Taepo Dong missile over Japan's northernmost island. Two months later, the United States re-opened direct, bilateral talks with North Korea -- rushing a generous $15 million aid package to Pyongyang in the meantime. Throughout his presidency, Bill Clinton met North Korean belligerence with tough words and fistfuls of dollars.
Clinton's Role in Laying the Foundation for an Economic Crisis:
The Clinton administration was intimately involved in sowing the seeds of the devastating financial crisis that would hit the U.S. housing market and banking industry in 2008. As early as 1993, Clinton’s first year in office, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Henry Cisneros and Attorney General Janet Reno expressed dismay over reports that the rejection rate of black mortgage applicants nationwide was considerably higher than that of their white counterparts. In response, Reno warned that thenceforth “no bank” would be “immune” to an aggressive Justice Department campaign to punish such “discrimination” in the lending market. For emphasis, then-Assistant Attorney General Deval Patrick pledged to work for the elimination of all racial disparities in mortgage-lending rejection rates.
It should be noted that the aforementioned disparities were not actually due to discrimination of any kind. Instead, they reflected the realities of borrowers’ credit-worthiness, as determined by such objective factors as credit history, debt burden, income, net worth, age, and education.
But instead of permitting these facts to change their outlook on the issue of mortgage lending, the Clinton White House moved ahead with its crusade to inject new energy into the so-called Community Reinvestment Act of 1977, which, according to President Clinton, had failed to live up to its potential as a vehicle for increasing minority homeownership. Thus began the government policy of forcing lenders, under threat of severe sanctions, to make subprime loans to high-risk borrowers who failed to meet traditional loan criteria. It was a policy guaranteed to create a crisis. Eventually, it did.
Clinton's Controversial Presidential Pardons:
On August 11, 1999, Clinton granted a presidential pardon to 16 members of the FALN, acronym for the Armed Forces of National Liberation—a violent terrorist organization (as designated by the FBI) that had been active in the U.S. from the mid-1970s through the early 1980s.
The FALN was a Marxist-Leninist group whose overriding mission was to secure Puerto Rico's political independence from the United States. Toward that end, between 1974 and 1983 the group detonated nearly 130 bombs in such strategically selected places as military and government buildings, financial institutions, and corporate headquarters located mainly in Chicago, New York, and Washington, DC. These bombings were carried out as acts of protest against America's political, military, financial, and corporate presence in Puerto Rico. All told, FALN bombs killed six people—including the Chilean ambassador to the United States—and wounded at least 80 others.
Congress condemned the clemencies by votes of 95-2 in the Senate and 311-41 in the House. In the immediate aftermath of the pardons, a report by the Justice Department stated that the FALN posed an "ongoing threat" to national security. And in late October 1999 the Senate Judiciary Committee released a report from Attorney General Janet Reno stating that the FALN members' "impending release from prison" would "increase the present threat" of terrorism.
A House Committee on Government Reform report stated in December 1999:
"The 16 [FALN] terrorists appear to be most unlikely candidates. They did not personally request clemency. They did not admit to wrongdoing and they had not renounced violence before such a renunciation had been made a quid pro quo for their release. They expressed no contrition for their crimes, and were at times openly belligerent about their actions…. Notwithstanding the fact that the 16 did not express enough personal interest in the clemency process to file their own applications, the White House appeared eager to assist throughout the process. Meetings were held with supporters, and some senior staff [i.e., Holder] even suggested ways to improve the likelihood of the President granting the clemency. Overall, the White House appears to have exercised more initiative than the terrorists themselves."
In the final days of his presidency, in January 2001, Clinton granted another very controversial presidential pardon to the billionaire financier Marc Rich -- a fugitive oil broker who had illegally purchased oil from Iran during the American trade embargo, and who then had proceeded to hide more than $100 million in profits by using dummy transactions in off-shore corporations. Rich later renounced his American citizenship and fled to Switzerland to avoid prosecution for 51 counts of racketeering, wire fraud, tax fraud, tax evasion, and the illegal oil transactions with Iran.
Over the years, Rich's ex-wife Denise had funneled at least $1.5 million to Clinton interests. Some $1.2 million went to the Democratic National Committee, $75,000 went to Hillary Clinton's 2000 Senate campaign, and $450,000 helped finance the Bill Clinton Library in Arkansas. Mrs. Rich also had given expensive gifts to the Clintons and, according to some rumors, had a very close relationship with the President.
Also in January 2001, President Clinton pardoned two former domestic terrorists: Linda Evans and Susan Rosenberg. In the 1970s, Evans and Rosenberg had been members of the Weather Underground, a Marxist-Leninist cult that was launched under the name "Weatherman" in 1969. In 1981 the pair took part in the deadly Brinks armored-car robbery in Nyack, New York, where four men -- two security guards and two police officers -- were shot, three of them fatally. Three years later, Evans and Rosenberg were finally apprehended. At the time, they had 740 pounds of explosives (which they admitted were earmarked for bombings) in their possession. Rosenberg was sentenced to 58 years in prison, Evans to 40 years.
But in early 2001, New York Congressman Jerrold Nadler suddenly intervened on the incarcerated terrorists’ behalf. It seems that Rosenberg’s mother had assembled documents from her daughter’s parole hearings that purportedly showed the latter to be a model prisoner; the mother presented these materials to Rolando Matalon, her rabbi at New York’s liberal Congregation B’nei Jeshurun Rolando Matalon. Rabbi Matalon then gave the documents to Nadler, who was also a member of the congregation, and Nadler in turn passed them on for President Clinton to consider as evidence that Rosenberg might merit consideration for a presidential pardon.
Clinton in fact decided to pardon not only Rosenberg (42 years before her sentence was due to end), but Evans as well (24 years early, in her case)—over the strong objections of Mary Jo White, the U.S. attorney in New York. After her release from prison, Rosenberg was given a job at Congregation B’nei Jeshurun. As attorney Alan Dershowitz put it, “This was a congregational victory.”
Why did Clinton oblige Nadler’s request? Perhaps it was payback to the congressman, who, as a member of the Judiciary Committee in the 1990s, had used his influence to oppose the impeachment proceedings against the President.
Clinton's Lack of Seriousness in Matters of National Security:
President Clinton's attitude toward American national security was demonstrated clearly by his February 1993 nomination of Morton Halperin for the new position of Assistant Secretary of Defense for Democracy and Peacekeeping. Halperin withdrew his name from consideration in January 1994, however, when his nomination was stalled by both Republican and Democrat U.S. Senators who refused to consent to a nominee with so radical a history.
Undeterred, Clinton thereafter appointed Halperin to several positions that required no Senate confirmation: Special Assistant to the President, Senior Director for Democracy at the National Security Council, consultant to the Secretary of Defense, consultant to the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, and Director of Policy Planning for the U.S. State Department.
A look at Halperin's background is instructive: From 1961 to 1966, he taught at Harvard University's Center for International Affairs. During this period, he advocated U.S. nuclear disarmament even if the Soviet Union did not likewise disarm. In any mutual arms reduction treaty with the Soviets, wrote Halperin in his 1961 treatise A Proposal for a Ban on the Use of Nuclear Weapons, "inspection was not absolutely necessary.… The United States might, in fact, want to invite the Soviets to design the inspection procedures if they seem interested in them."
"The Soviet Union apparently never contemplated the overt use of military force against Western Europe," wrote Halperin in his 1971 Defense Strategies for the Seventies. "The Soviet posture … has been, and continues to be, a defensive and deterrent one … against a Western attack."
During President Lyndon Johnson's administration (1964-1968), Halperin had been put in charge of compiling a classified history of U.S. involvement in Vietnam. As David Horowitz and Richard Poe report:
"This secret history later emerged [in June 1971] into public view as the so-called 'Pentagon Papers.' Halperin and his deputy Leslie Gelb assigned much of the writing to leftwing opponents of the war, such as Daniel Ellsberg who ... was already evolving into a New Left radical. … With Halperin's tacit encouragement -- and perhaps active collusion -- Ellsberg stole the secret history and released it to The New York Times. … Not surprisingly, 'The Pentagon Papers' echoed Halperin's longstanding position that the Vietnam War was unwinnable, and ridiculed Presidents Kennedy and Johnson for stubbornly refusing to heed those of their advisors who shared this opinion."
In 1975 Halperin became Director of the Center for National Security Studies (CNSS), a spinoff of the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS). CNSS also is aligned with the National Lawyers Guild. Much of CNSS’s staff was derived from these two organizations. IPS Director Robert Borosage helped Halperin run CNSS.
In the mid-1970s Halperin befriended Philip Agee, a former CIA agent-turned-Communist who publicly identified hundreds of American covert-intelligence operatives. At least one of those agents, Athens station chief Richard Welch, was murdered shortly thereafter. Halperin flew to Europe to help Agee find safe haven after Great Britain had expelled him. In the U.S., Halperin, who has described the CIA as "the subverter of everybody else's freedom,” opposed legislation to punish the outing of U.S. undercover agents as Agee had done.
Also in the 1970s, Halperin served as director of the Washington, DC office of the American Civil Liberties Union, under whose auspices he defended the right of The Progressive magazine to publish secret details it had obtained of how to make an atomic bomb.
In the June 9, 1979 issue of The Nation magazine, Halperin wrote the following with regard to the Soviet-Cuban military intervention in Angola: "Every action which the Soviet Union and Cuba have taken in Africa has been consistent with the principles of international law."
In Target America -- James L. Tyson's 1981 expose of the Soviet Union's massive "propaganda campaign designed to weaken and demoralize America from the inside" -- the author stated:
"Halperin has emerged as probably the leading 'expert' on intelligence matters among the Far Left Lobby groups. He and his organizations have had a constant record of advocating the weakening of U.S. intelligence capabilities. His organizations are also notable for ignoring the activities of the KGB or any other foreign intelligence organization. His criticism of American intelligence misdeeds would give the impression that our agencies have been committing these crimes simply for their own villainous reasons in a world where the U.S. faces no external enemies whatever. A balance sheet analysis of Halperin's writings and testimonies ... gives Halperin a score of 100% on the side of output favorable to the Communist line and 0% on any output opposed to the Communist line."
According to a May 2000 World Net Daily report:
“Halperin, according to a well-respected former State official, was suspected of working for the communists in the '60s and '70s. ‘He was a person we knew to be pro-Soviet and not a person to be trusted,’ said the official, who worked in intelligence during the height of the Cold War. ‘Halperin has been known on embassy [briefing] cards as a Soviet or communist agent.’”
In December 1998, Bill Clinton became the second President in American history to be impeached by Congress. The series of events that led to his impeachment were traceable back to a May 6, 1994 lawsuit filed by Paula Corbin Jones, who had been an Arkansas state employee during the years when Clinton was governor there. Jones’ suit charged that in 1991 Clinton had violated her federal civil rights by inviting her to his hotel room, where he made a crude sexual overture that Jones rejected.
Clinton’s attorneys tried to block the Jones lawsuit from going forward until after the President’s tenure in the White House was complete, but in May 1997 the Supreme Court ruled (in 9-0 vote) that the case should proceed without delay. On December 5, 1997, Jones’ lawyers first identified one Monica Lewinsky, who (at age 21) had worked as a White House intern in 1995, as a potential witness in the case.
On January 17, 1998, Clinton appeared before a grand jury where Ms. Jones’ attorneys deposed him about the plaintiff's charges. During the deposition, Clinton was also questioned about Miss Lewinsky, with whom it was alleged that he had maintained an ongoing sexual relationship in the Oval Office. Clinton denied that he had engaged in "sexual relations" with Lewinsky, and also testified that he could not recall whether he had ever been alone with the young intern at any time. Lewinsky, for her part, submitted through her attorneys a sworn affadavit to the Jones legal team; in that affadavit, she stated, in part:
"I have never had a sexual relationship with the President, he did not propose that we have a sexual relationship, he did not offer me employment or other benefits in exchange for a sexual relationship, he did not deny me employment or other benefits for rejecting a sexual relationship."
Special prosecutor Kenneth Starr, on authorization from Attorney General Janet Reno, launched an investigation into the Lewinsky matter. In July 1998 Lewinsky, after Starr had granted her immunity from prosecution, acknowledged that she in fact had a sexual relationship with the President that did not include intercourse. On August 17, 1998, Clinton testified for more than four hours before Starr's grand jury. In his testimony, he admitted the Lewinsky relationship but denied that he had perjured himself in the Paula Jones deposition because, in his view, the oral sex in which he had engaged with Lewinsky did not constitute “sexual relations.”
On September 9, 1998, Starr submitted a final report to Congress in which he concluded that there was "substantial and credible information that President William Jefferson Clinton committed acts that may constitute grounds for an impeachment"; those acts consisted of Clinton's perjury in the Jones litigation, and his urging Lewinsky "to file an affidavit that the President knew would be false."
On November 13, 1998, Clinton and Paula Jones reached an out-of-court settlement where the President agreed to pay her $850,000 to drop her charges.
In December 2008 the House of Representatives approved two Articles of Impeachment against the President. Article I alleged that Clinton had "willfully provided perjurious, false and misleading testimony to the grand jury" investigating his actions with both Paula Jones and Monica Lewinsky. Article II charged that the President had "prevented, obstructed, and impeded the administration of justice" by attempting to delay, impede, and conceal evidence related to the Jones case.
On January 7, 1999 began the Senate trial to determine whether Clinton would be convicted of the aforementioned charges and removed from office. On Article 1, 45 Senators voted to convict, and 55 (including all 45 Democrats) voted to acquit. On Article 2, the vote was evenly split, 50-50, with every Democrat as well as five Republicans voting to acquit.
Clinton's Post-Presidency Years:
After his presidency was over, Clinton became an active public speaker.
By February 2013, he had delivered 471 speeches, for which he was paid an average of $189,000 apiece -- or approximately $89 million in total.
In 2001 Clinton established the William J. Clinton Foundation “to alleviate poverty, improve global health, strengthen economies, and protect the environment.”
In January 2006 Clinton urged the Bush administration to establish a dialogue with Hamas in the wake of its upset victory in the Palestinian parliamentary elections, saying it would be a mistake to discontinue contact with the terror group. "You've got to find a way to at least open doors," Clinton told the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. "And I don't see how we can do it without more contact." Clinton added that Hamas might "acquire a greater sense of responsibility, and as they do we have to be willing to act on that." Addressing complaints that Hamas had vowed to destroy Israel, Clinton explained: "We need to be practical here. ... It took the Palestinian Authority years before they took [the same vow] out of their charter." Clinton also suggested that Palestinians who had voted for Hamas were not necessarily endorsing terrorism: "For every one person who said they voted for Hamas because they wanted to see Israel destroyed, there were one hundred who said they just wanted a change and better life."
the fall of 2011, Clinton expressed support for the anti-capitalism
which were staged
in cities across the United States by Occupy
(OWS) and other activist groups. Said Clinton: "The Occupy Wall Street crowd basically is saying, 'I'm unemployed and the people that caused this have their jobs again and their bonuses again and their incomes are high again. There's something wrong with this country. This is not working for me.' So I think it can be a good positive debate." To view a list of additional noteworthy
individuals and organizations that endorsed the OWS movement, click
During the third weekend in January 2013, some 4,000 committed Barack Obama campaign supporters convened at an Organizing For Action (OFA) event in Washington, DC to discuss
how OFA's potential could best be harnessed to advance President Obama's
agendas going forward. Clinton was the keynote
speaker at a Saturday closed-door meeting, dubbed the
“Road Ahead” conference, which was sponsored by Business Forward. Invitations for this meeting were sent jointly by Obama’s National Finance Committee, the Presidential
Inaugural Committee, the Center for American Progress, and Media
Portions of this profile are extracted and/or adapted from the following articles:
David Horowitz, How the Left Undermined America's Security before 9/11
(March 24, 2004); Richard Poe, The Idiot's Guide to Chinagate (May 26, 2003); Thomas Ryan The Writing on "The Wall" (August 22, 2005); Jean Pearce, How Chinagate Led to 9/11 (May 25, 2004); Ben Johnson, Appeasing North Korea: The Clinton Legacy (January 3, 2003); Ben Johnson and Gordon Cucullu, On North Korea: Don't Blame Bush (February 11, 2005).