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Recovered history: General Wesley Clark spoke of "policy coup" after 9/11


THE ELECTRONIC PRIVACY INFORMATION CENTER has obtained a document under the Freedom of Information Act containing internal communications among Defense Advanced Research Project Agency employees considering data broker Acxiom [which Wesley Clark represented as a lobbyist - TPR] as a supplier of personal information for the Total Information Awareness program. In an e-mail dated May 21, 2002 to TIA developers John Poindexter and Robert Popp, a DARPA employee writes that "Acxiom is the nation's largest commercial data warehouse company ($1B/year) with customers like Citibank, Walmart, and other companies whose names you know. They have a history of treating privacy issues fairly and they don't advertise at all. As a result they haven't been hurt as much as Choice Point, Seisint, etc by privacy concerns and press inquiries."

The e-mail claims that Jennifer Barrett, Acxiom's Chief Privacy Officer, provided recommendations that would help quell public scrutiny of the transfer of data from the company to the government: "One of the key suggestions she made is that people will object to Big Brother, wide-coverage databases, but they don't object to use of relevant data for specific purposes that we can all agree on. Rather than getting all the data for any purpose, we should start with the goal, tracking terrorists to avoid attacks, and then identify the data needed (although we can't define all of this, we can say that our templates and models of terrorists are good places to start). Already, this guidance has shaped my thinking."

The employee continues: "Ultimately, the US may need huge databases of commercial transactions that cover the world or certain areas outside the US. This information provides economic utility, and thus provides two reasons why foreign countries would be interested. Acxiom could build this mega-scale database."



MATTHEW ROTHSCHILD But both Moore and McGovern, who are known as peaceniks, need to explain a few things. First, there's the war in Yugoslavia. As Supreme Commander of NATO during the Kosovo war, Clark was ultimately responsible for targeting the bridges and electrical grids of Yugoslavia and for using cluster bombs and depleted uranium. (I asked him at a press conference in Madison, Wisconsin, this fall about depleted uranium. He said: "There is no indication it causes any trouble," except perhaps if you put something in your mouth that is covered with it.). During the Kosovo war, Clark also repeatedly targeted Yugoslavia's TV headquarters, killing twenty people there.

"At least 1,200 civilians have died in NATO accidents," Steven Erlanger of The New York Times reported at the end of the war. On May 27, 1999, The Wall Street Journal ran an article that said: "On the sensitive topic of civilian casualties, Gen. Clark emphasized that no air war was perfect and that, to prevail, the (NATO) ambassadors should brace themselves for more collateral damage."

During the war, Clark also fobbed off the problems facing the hundreds of thousands of refugees in Kosovo whom the Serbs predictably forced out after NATO started the bombing. Refusing to drop relief supplies to the refugees, Clark said, "Our view on this is that, frankly, this is a problem that's caused by President Milosevic. He needs to address this problem."

Second, there is Clark's support for the School of the Americas at Fort Benning, which has trained some of the most notorious human rights abusers in the hemisphere. On the campaign trail, as Joanna Weiss of the Boston Globe noted on January 17, Clark "vigorously defends" the School of the Americas, which now goes by the name of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. Weiss also found a quote from Clark's 1997 testimony before the Senate Armed Services on the School of the Americas: "This school is the best means available to ensure that the armed forces in Latin America and the armies in Latin America understand U.S. values and adopt those values as their own."

Clark gave a graduation speech at the school in 1996, Weiss added. I found a copy of that speech on the web. "I have met School of the Americas' graduates who are aides to the highest military leaders, and I have met School of the Americas' graduates who are highest military leaders," Clark said. "I think you know in your command structures who the School of the Americas' graduates are, and you know that they are respected."

Many progressives are going to find Clark's support for the School of the Americas very difficult to swallow, just as they are troubled by his past support for Nixon, Reagan, and the Bush team. But it is the inexorable logic of the anybody-but-Bush position that even a nominal, newly minted Democrat who favors business and lauds the School of the Americas is acceptable.


WESLEY CLARK, CNN, FEBRUARY 2003 - The credibility of the United States is on the line, and Saddam Hussein has these weapons and so, you know, we're going to go ahead and do this and the rest of the world's got to get with us. . . The U.N. has got to come in and belly up to the bar on this. But the president of the United States has put his credibility on the line, too. And so this is the time that these nations around the world, and the United Nations, are going to have to look at this evidence and decide who they line up with.


From June 1996 to July 1997, General Clark served as Commander of the US Southern Command, where he was responsible for US military activities concerning Latin America, including the School of the Americas, now known as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. On Sept. 20, 1996, Pentagon officials admitted that SOA manuals used from 1982 to 1991 advocated the use of torture, extortion, and extra-judical executions against dissidents in Latin America. The New York Times wrote "an institution so clearly out of tune with American values should be shut down without further delay."

On December 16, 1996, a few months after the Pentagon admission of the torture manuals, Clark visited the SOA, not to demand accountability but to give a commencement speech at an SOA graduation ceremony. Six years later and still no one has been held accountable for the use of the torture manuals at the SOA. The SOA trained death squad leaders, assassins and military dictators. Its graduates were found responsible for some of the worst human rights atrocities in Latin America, including the El Mozote massacre of more than 900 civilians in El Salvador in 1980, the murder of Guatemalan Bishop Juan Gerardi in 1998 and of Colombian Archbishop Isaías Duarte in 2002.

Asked about his continued support of the SOA during an event in Manchester, NH, on Dec. 19, Clark responded, "I'm not going to have been in charge of a school that I can't be proud of." In reaction to a question asked in Concord, NH, about the torture manuals Clark stated: "We're teaching police procedures and human rights . . . [We've] never taught torture." Despite cosmetic changes, the SOA remains a combat training school that teaches Latin American soldiers commando tactics, psychological operations, sniper and other military skills.

In 2001 the SOA changed its name at a time when SOA opponents were poised to win a congressional vote that would have closed the school. The vote lost by 204-214 and even though the school renamed, Amnesty International joins other human rights groups in calling for its closure. A broad movement of human rights groups, churches and temples, students, veterans and others maintain that the underlying purpose of the school remains the same: to control the economic and political systems of Latin America by aiding and influencing Latin American militaries.

JIM RIDGEWAY, VILLAGE VOICE - Despite a rousing campaign rally led by Michael Moore, Wesley Clark himself remains a bundle of questions. His standard stump speech is a monotonous recitation of how he went to church as a kid, became patriotic when he saw Khrushchev thumping the table and threatening the U.S., and so on. . .

Meanwhile, questions about Clark's past continue to dog the former NATO commander. For one thing, he has strongly supported the School of Americas, a U.S. military training school that taught scores of Latin American army officers the techniques of modern warfare, including - according to a declassified Pentagon report-off-the-books skills like execution, torture, and kidnapping. Among its most notable graduates was former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega. Clark never ran the school, which turns out about 1,000 officers a year, but worked with it when he headed the U.S. Southern Command.

In his campaign appearances, Clark defends the school, which has been closed and reconstituted as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. When a woman at a retirement home earlier this week pointed out to Clark that the school's graduates had been accused of murder, The Boston Globe reports, the general riposted: "There's been a lot of rotten people who've gone to a lot of rotten schools in the history of the world. And a lot of them went to this school. But a lot of them have gone to Harvard Business School and a lot of other places."

Clark's role as a lobbyist for a company seeking a War on Terror contract with the Department of Homeland Security continues to raise questions. Records show that Acxiom, a company that was seeking homeland security contracts, agreed to pay Clark hundreds of thousands of dollars for his help in persuading the government to buy the company's wares. Clark was a registered lobbyist while he served as a military analyst on CNN, and was still a lobbyist when he declared his candidacy on September 17, 2003. . .

The Washington Post reported in January 2002 that Clark attended a meeting at the Department of Transportation, at which he described "a system that would combine personal data from Acxiom with information about the reservations and seating records of every U.S. airline passenger" to detect "subtle signs of terrorist intentions."


Clark, meeting with Herald reporters and editors, vowed that, if he were president, Osama bin Laden would already be captured or dead.


Some pro-Clark reporters have tried to suggest that criticism of Clark for supporting military action against Iraq in 2002 is unfair given his full congressional testimony at the time. In fact, Clark took a variety of positions in that testimony as he has since, but in summation there is no way his statement could be described as anti-war. His dispute with Bush was over timing and procedures. In the end, Clark's description of his Iraq positions have been only slightly less ambiguous, contradictory, and disingenuous than Clinton's description of his sexual positions, which isn't all that surprising given the common source of spin advice. Here, however, is much of what Clark actually said:

WESLEY CLARK TESTIMONY, SEPTEMBER 26 2002 - The problem of Iraq is not a problem that can be postponed indefinitely, and of course Saddam's current efforts themselves are violations of international law as expressed in the U.N. resolutions. Our President has emphasized the urgency of eliminating these weapons and weapons programs. I strongly support his efforts to encourage the United Nations to act on this problem and in taking this to the United Nations, the president's clear determination to act if the United States can't -- excuse me, if the United Nations can't provides strong leverage for under girding ongoing diplomatic efforts.

But the problem of Iraq is only one element of the broader security challenges facing our country. We have an unfinished worldwide war against Al Qaida, a war that has to be won in conjunction with friends and allies and that ultimately will be won as much by persuasion as by the use of force. We've got to turn off the Al Qaida recruiting machine. Now some 3,000 deaths on September 11th testify to the real danger from Al Qaida, and I think everyone acknowledges that Al Qaida has not yet been defeated.

As far as I know, I haven't seen any substantial evidence linking Saddam's regime to the Al Qaida network, though such evidence may emerge. But nevertheless, winning the war against Al Qaida and taking actions against the weapons programs in Iraq, that's two different problems that may require two different sets of solutions. In other words, to put it back into military parlance, Iraq they're an operational level problem. We've got other operational level problems in the Middle East, like the ongoing conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Al Qaida and the foundation of radical extremist fundamentalist Islam, that's the strategic problem. We've got to make sure that in addressing the operational problem we're effective in going after the larger strategic problem. And so, the critical issue facing the United States right now is how to force action against Saddam Hussein and his weapons programs without detracting from our focus on Al Qaida or our efforts to deal with other immediate mid and long-term security problems.

I'd like to offer the following observations by way of how we could proceed. First of all, I do believe that the United States diplomacy in the United Nations will be strengthened if the Congress can adopt a resolution expressing U.S. determination to act if the United Nations can not act. The use of force must remain a U.S. option under active consideration.

Such congressional resolution need not, at this point, authorize the use of force. The more focused the resolution on Iraq, the more focused it is on the problems of weapons of mass destruction. The greater its utility in the United Nations, the more nearly unanimous the resolution, the greater its utility is, the greater its impact is on the diplomatic efforts under way.

The president and his national security team have got to deploy imagination, leverage, and patience in working through the United Nations. In the near term, time is on our side and we should endeavor to use the United Nations if at all possible. This may require a period of time for inspections or the development of a more intrusive inspection regime such as Richard Perle has mentioned, if necessary backed by force. It may involve cracking down on the eroding sanctions regime and countries like Syria who are helping Iraq illegally export oil enabling Saddam Hussein to divert resources to his own purposes.

We have to work this problem in a way to gain worldwide legitimacy and understanding for the concerns that we rightly feel and for our leadership. This is what U.S. leadership in the world must be. We must bring others to share our views not be too quick to rush to try to impose them even if we have the power to do so. I agree that there's a risk that the inspections would fail to provide evidence of the weapons program. They might fail, but I think we can deal with this problem as we move along, and I think the difficulties of dealing with this outcome are more than offset by the opportunities to gain allies, support, and legitimacy in the campaign against Saddam Hussein.

If the efforts to resolve the problem by using the United Nations fail, either initially or ultimately, then we need to form the broadest possible coalition including our NATO allies and the North Atlantic Council if we're going to have to bring forces to bear. We should not be using force until the personnel, the organizations, the plans that will be required for post conflict Iraq are prepared and ready. This includes dealing with requirements for humanitarian assistance, police and judicial capabilities, emergency medical and reconstruction assistance and preparations for a transitional governing body and eventual elections, perhaps even including a new constitution.

Ideally, the international/multinational organizations will participate in the readying of such post conflict operations, the United Nations, NATO, other regional organization, Islamic organizations, but we have no idea how long this campaign could last, and if it were to go like the campaign against the Afghans, against the Taliban in which suddenly the Taliban collapsed and there we were.

We need to be ready because if suddenly Saddam Hussein's government collapses and we don't have everything ready to go, we're going to have chaos in that region. We may not get control of all the weapons of mass destruction, technicians, plans, capabilities; in fact, what may happen is that we'll remove a repressive regime and have it replaced with a fundamentalist regime which contributes to the strategic problem rather than helping to solve it.

So, all that having been said, the option to use force must remain on the table. It should be used as the last resort after all diplomatic means have been exhausted unless there's information that indicates that a further delay would represent an immediate risk to the assembled forces and organizations. And, I want to underscore that I think the United States should not categorize this action as preemptive. Preemptive and that doctrine has nothing whatsoever to do with this problem. As Richard Perle so eloquently pointed out, this is a problem that's long-standing. It's been a decade in the making. It needs to be dealt with and the clock is ticking on this. Obviously once initiated, a military operation should aim for the most rapid accomplishment of its operational aims and prompt turnover to follow on organizations and agencies, and I think if we proceed as outlined above, we may be able to minimize the disruption to the ongoing campaign against Al Qaida. We could reduce the impact on friendly governments in the region and even contribute to the resolution of other regional issues, perhaps such as the Arab-Israeli conflict, Iranian efforts to develop nuclear capabilities and Saudi funding for terrorism. But there are no guarantees. The war is unpredictable. It could be difficult and costly and what is at risk in the aftermath is an open-ended American ground commitment in Iraq and an even deeper sense of humiliation in the Arab world which could intensify our problems in the region and elsewhere.

The yellow light is flashing. We have a problem. We've got to muster the best judgment in this country. We've got to muster the will of the American people and we've got to be prepared to deal with this problem, but time is on our side in the near term and we should use it.


DRUDGE REPORT - Two months ago Democratic hopeful Wesley Clark declared in a debate that he has always been firmly against the current Iraq War. "I've been very consistent... I've been against this war from the beginning," the former general said in Detroit on October 26. "I was against it last summer, I was against it in the fall, I was against it in the winter, I was against it in the spring. And I'm against it now."

But just six month prior in an op-ed in the London Times Clark offered praise for the courage of President Bush's action. "President Bush and Tony Blair should be proud of their resolve in the face of so much doubt," Clark wrote on April 10, 2003. "Can anything be more moving than the joyous throngs swarming the streets of Baghdad? Memories of the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the defeat of Milosevic in Belgrade flood back. Statues and images of Saddam are smashed and defiled.". . .

Less than 18 months ago, Wesley Clark offered his testimony before the Committee On Armed Services at the U.S. House Of Representatives. "There's no requirement to have any doctrine here. I mean this is simply a long-standing right of the United States and other nations to take the actions they deem necessary in their self defense," Clark told Congress on September 26, 2002.

"Every president has deployed forces as necessary to take action. He's done so without multilateral support if necessary. He's done so in advance of conflict if necessary. . .

Clark continued: "There's no question that Saddam Hussein is a threat... Yes, he has chemical and biological weapons. He's had those for a long time. But the United States right now is on a very much different defensive posture than we were before September 11th of 2001. . .

More Clark: "And, I want to underscore that I think the United States should not categorize this action as preemptive. Preemptive and that doctrine has nothing whatsoever to do with this problem. As Richard Perle so eloquently pointed out, this is a problem that's longstanding. It's been a decade in the making. It needs to be dealt with and the clock is ticking on this."

JAMES TARANTO, OPINION JOURNAL - Although Clark did say force should be a "last resort" and U.N. support was desirable, he also urged Congress to "adopt a resolution expressing US determination to act if the United Nations will not." This is completely at odds with what he's been saying since he became a candidate for the presidency. After Clark jumped into the race, Hugh Shelton, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said "integrity and character issues" were behind the decision to relieve Clark of his position as supreme commander of NATO. Shelton has yet to elaborate, but Clark's public actions have certainly provided good reason to question his integrity and character.


WASHINGTON POST - Shortly after the new year, Wesley K. Clark told the editorial board at a local newspaper here that no terrorist attacks would occur in the United States if he is elected president. The next day, the retired Army commander scaled back his promise. "Nobody can guarantee anything in life," he said.

Clark found himself explaining another statement a few days later, this one from 2002, when he said he believed the Iraqi government had ties to al Qaeda. He denied that the statement contradicted his assertion that Saddam Hussein had no role in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.


CENTER FOR PUBLIC INTEGRITY - Two weeks after declaring his intention to run for president, Clark was still registered to represent a high tech contractor, Acxiom Corporation, giving him the rare distinction of seeking the White House while registered as a lobbyist. Shortly after Clark announced his candidacy, a company spokesman said the general no longer lobbied for Acxiom, but, according to the Senate Office of Public Records, Clark had not filed any termination papers. Clark has been lobbying for the firm since January 2, 2002; Acxiom has paid more than $830,000 for Clark to advance its agenda and meet with government officials. Clark also serves on the company's board of directors.

According to federal disclosure records, Clark lobbied directly on "information transfers, airline security and homeland security issues," for Acxiom, which sought funding to do controversial informational background checks on passengers for airlines. Privacy advocates have criticized the program, called the Computer Assisted Passenger Pre-Screening System II, because of concerns that the data collected would be an overly invasive violation of individuals' rights to privacy. The public outcry has been so strong that there is a bi-partisan effort to create more oversight for the program to protect privacy interests if CAPPS II is implemented.

Clark lobbied the Department of Justice, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the Department of Transportation for the company. Clark also reported, on his lobbyist disclosure forms, that he promoted Acxiom to the Senate and the executive office of the president. According an Arkansas Democrat-Gazette report, he even met personally with Vice President Richard Cheney. He also made a pitch for the kind of tracking that the company's wares can perform while acting as a commentator on CNN. On January 6, 2002, four days after filing as a lobbyist for Acxiom, Clark told an interviewer, in response to worries that private planes could be used for terrorist attacks, "We've been worried about general aviation security for some time. The aircraft need to be secured, the airfields need to be secured, and obviously we're going to also have to go through and do a better job of screening who could fly aircraft, who the private pilots are, who owns these aircraft. So it's going to be another major effort." Naturally, he did not reveal to CNN's viewers that the company he lobbied for had a substantial stake in this issue.



VINCENT MORRIS, NY POST - In a position that's likely to alienate some Democratic primary voters, retired Gen. Wesley Clark is a big booster of the controversial "School of the Americas" - which critics charge has history of graduating Latin American soldiers accused of rape, murder and torture. Clark fought for years to keep the school at Fort Benning, Ga., open, even testifying on its behalf in Congress, despite graduates like imprisoned Panamanian ex-strongman Manuel Noriega.

Clark's backing of the school - whose curriculum once included teaching torture, execution, kidnapping and blackmail - puts him at odds with many Democratic officials and groups like Amnesty International, who want the school closed. . .


MATT TAIBBI, NATION - In a room full of people in satin jackets embroidered with union acronyms, Clark entered flanked by a pair of boosters dressed in shiny red VFW jackets. Seeming harried, he gave a short address that was laden with military metaphors: "I'm going to go on the warpath to stop that," "We have to attack on the employment front" and so on. As his speech went on, it became painfully clear that Clark had the idea of workers confused with soldiers. "As I stand here today, I tell you that in the Army, we knew that the unit was never any better than its parts," he said. "The generals weren't any better than the soldiers. When you're in uniform, you're part of a team..."

Heads turned in shock all throughout the audience. What the hell was he talking about? But Clark plowed on. He began to recount his biography, noting that the Army had allowed him to "be all he could be." Five minutes later, he said it again. "Every part of this society," he said, "has to get the support that they need to be all they can be." After the conference, I chased after him in the parking lot. "General," I said. "You're not seriously going to make 'Be all you can be' your campaign slogan, are you?" He smiled, then gave me a little nudge with his elbow, apparently thinking I was with him on this one. "Son," he said, "it is my campaign slogan.". . .

At one of the Clark meet-ups in Boston, at a bar near Faneuil Hall, we volunteers were addressed by a man who was introduced as the highest-ranking Massachusetts politician to have endorsed the Clark campaign--a member of the state Democratic committee named Steve Driscoll. Here is how Driscoll opened his remarks:

"The thing is," he said, "being electable means having certain qualities. And unfortunately, many of those qualities are superficial qualities." He paused. "General Clark has depth, but he also has those surface qualities. He appeals to people who don't have time to think about the depth part.". . .

The Clark people were nice and well-meaning enough, I suppose. But it was hard not to notice that the fastest way to bum them out was to ask a question about the candidate's platform. At one point, when Yoken was talking to the "media committee" (I had joined a group whose job involved writing letters to the editor of various newspapers) about Clark's "New American Patriotism," I interrupted him.

"What does that mean, exactly, 'New American Patriotism'?" I said. "Is that as opposed to the old foreign patriotism?"

"No," Yoken said. "The New American Patriotism sees patriotism as something where dissent and civil liberties are encouraged."

"I thought that was the old patriotism," I said.

The committee fell silent for a moment. "Well, whatever," Yoken said. . .

Up at the labor conference in Whitefield, for instance, the candidates were asked about their position on a labor dispute involving workers and management at the New Hampshire TV station WMUR. WMUR videographer Ryan Murphy asked the candidate if they would support a boycott of a WMUR televised debate if management failed to give workers a contract. All the candidates except Clark said yes unequivocally. Clark's initial response to Murphy was classic:

"Let me ask you something," he said. "Have ya sat down with management?" Murphy repeated what he'd said in his question: They'd been in negotiations for nine months. Clark squirmed out of that one, saying he'd "look into the matter."

Now here's when it got interesting. After the conference, a WMUR reporter went up to Clark and asked him if he would boycott the debates if the other candidates did. "Oh, you betcha," he said. "I'm with you a hundred percent on that one."

I nearly dropped my notebook. "Wait a minute," I said to the reporter. "Are you asking him if he'd debate himself if everyone else boycotted?" The reporter shrugged.

I turned to Clark. "General, what if the other candidates don't boycott? What will you do then?" "We're going to take a look at this," he said, then rushed past us.


LESLIE WAYNE, NY TIMES - [Clark] sought out Thomas F. McLarty III, a former Clinton chief of staff. "Wes called me when he was leaving the military and seeking advice," said Mr. McLarty, who has also served with General Clark on the board of the Acxiom Corporation, a Little Rock data collection company. . .

The general sought out Vernon Weaver, a former ambassador to the European Union, who is an executive at the Stephens Group, a politically connected Little Rock investment bank. The introduction helped him in the door. From June 2000, Stephens provided General Clark with a steady paycheck and a base of operations.

Stephens - where General Clark worked until last March, first as a consultant and later as a managing director - has long supported both parties. Its reputation was tarnished by ties to some people involved in Clinton fund-raising scandals. The Stephens family has also given to Republicans, including both Bushes and Bob Dole.

Those who have worked with General Clark, whether at Stephens or a half-dozen other companies, said his main value was as a Washington door-opener, helping them land government contracts and advising them what products the Pentagon might want. . .

He helped Acxiom land government contracts for its antiterrorism databases. . . In 2000, the year he left the military, General Clark had an income of $474,000, of which $184,000 came from wages, $249,000 from business earnings and the rest from investments. In 2001, he reported income of $762,000, of which $213,000 was wages, $84,000 was pension, $434,000 was business and the rest was from investments.

By 2002, General Clark's income had risen to $1.667 million. Of that, $568,000 came from wages, $86,000 was pension and $984,000 was business income, with investment gains making up the rest. Since he left the military, most of General Clark's wages have come from Stephens. . .

"Wes started making phone calls to people in the upper reaches of government," said Jerry Jones, Acxiom's legal counsel, "and then they started calling us." Many of the resulting contracts are classified. One that is not is Capps II, an airline passenger screening system that some privacy advocates have criticized. . .

The general did such a good job that he became a registered Acxiom lobbyist. In June 2002, to keep an arm's length between Stephens and his Acxiom lobbying, he and Stephens set up S.C.L., a limited liability corporation in which General Clark received a consulting fee of $300,000 to get government contracts for Acxiom.

In March of this year General Clark left Stephens and signed a $150,000 retainer to lobby for Acxiom. As a member of the Acxiom board, he also received $54,500 in shares and board fees of $23,000.

Acxiom recently came under fire after a subcontractor to Jet Blue Airways bought some Acxiom data and used it in ways that Jet Blue said violated its privacy policy. Mr. Jones said General Clark had had nothing to do with that incident.

GREG PIERCE, WASHINGTON TIMES - White House hopeful Wesley Clark yesterday broke with most of his Democratic rivals, saying he favors amending the Constitution to ban flag burning, the Associated Press reports. In June, the Republican-controlled House approved a one-line change to the Constitution - "The Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States." - for the fifth time in eight years. The Senate never has passed the proposed amendment.

WASHINGTON POST - [Wesley Clark] became the first allied commander to run and win a war -- and still lose his command. Cohen, the secretary of defense, selected Clark for the post over the objections of the Army, yet the two became locked in a conflict over the direction of the war. It was planned as a strategic air campaign against the Serbs, but Clark pushed a more aggressive strategy - a ground invasion and the use of low-flying Apache helicopters. Cohen adamantly resisted.

The tension, sources familiar with it said, was not over their differences on strategy, but over Clark's single-minded pursuit of his strategy. "It got to be an almost daily comic scenario," a former Pentagon official said. "We'd all make a decision. . . . And within eight hours, eight different versions of the story would come from eight different people. It was clear he was working the Hill, the White House. . . . We'd have to spend the whole day dealing with his back-channeling."

At one point, when Clark appeared to be trying to advance his agenda through the news media, then-Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Henry H. "Hugh" Shelton delivered Clark a message from Cohen: "Get your [expletive] face off the TV."

Even though Clark held the 19-nation coalition together through 78 days of bombing, some Pentagon officials and subordinates came to view him as a headstrong leader, unable to work collegially. In July 1999, a month after the campaign had driven the Serbs from Kosovo, Cohen relieved Clark of his duties several months early, a public humiliation for a man whose service was his life.


KELLY PATRICIA O'MEARA, INSIGHT MAGAZINE - Although Clark never publicly has discussed his role in the attack on the Branch Davidians and did not respond to Insight's requests for an interview to discuss his role at Waco, there are indisputable facts that confirm he had knowledge of the grim plans to bring the standoff to an end. Between August 1992 and April 1994, Clark was commander of the 1st Cavalry Division of the Army's III Corps at Fort Hood, Texas. According to a report by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the list of military personnel and equipment used at Waco included: 15 active-duty military personnel, 13 Texas National Guard personnel, nine Bradley fighting vehicles, five combat-engineer vehicles, one tank-retrieval vehicle and two M1A1 Abrams tanks. Additionally, Fort Hood reportedly was used for much of the training for the bloody attack on the Davidians and their children.

Based on the fact that military equipment from Fort Hood was used in the siege and that training was provided there, say critics, it is clear the commanding officer of the 1st Cavalry had direct knowledge of the attack and, more likely than not, was involved in the tactical planning. . .

Tom Fitton, president of the Washington-based Judicial Watch, believes Clark has some questions to answer. "The question for Clark," explains Fitton, "is a fair one in terms of corruption. Many Americans still are troubled by what occurred at Waco, and we're very interested in his role. Many people are going to ask what are his views of the force [attorney general] Janet Reno used at Waco and they'll want to know if he, were he to become president of the United States, would authorize that kind of force again. Specifically, was Gen. Clark comfortable allowing forces and equipment under his command to participate in a police raid or, at best, a hostage situation? People are going to want to know these things."

Michael McNulty, an investigative journalist and Oscar nominee for his documentary, Waco: The Rules of Engagement, tells Insight that, "From the standpoint of what went on that operation had military fingerprints all over it. The chain of command being what it is, Clark had some responsibility, but to what degree we really don't know."

McNulty takes a deep breath and then says, "My military sources tell me that Clark and his second in command got the communication from then-governor of Texas Ann Richards, who wanted help with Waco. At that point Clark or [Gen. Peter J.] Schoomaker should have asked themselves, 'Religious community? Civilians, they want our tanks?' and hung up the phone."


THOMAS H. LIPSCOMB - The NATO commander's headquarters rapidly became an echo of the "five o'clock follies" of press misinformation at Army headquarters in Saigon two decades earlier.

Here are a few examples: There were supposed to be 100,000 prisoners detained by the Serbs in a soccer stadium in Pristina. An Agence France Presse reporter dropped by the stadium a few days later and admired its green grass and empty seats with the single caretaker on the site.

NATO headquarters passed along Albanian allegations that Serbian victims were being incinerated at a Trpca mine smelter. But when interviewed by reporter Ben Works, NATO officers admitted they had monitored the site during the entire war and the smelter had never been fired up.

Even the NATO bomb-damage assessment team Clark sent in after the truce found that instead of the several hundred Serbian tanks Clark had claimed were destroyed by his air war, there were only 12 and about as many personnel carriers. As for atrocities, according to Works, Clark's team found "no credible indications of large scale atrocities or any other pattern of smaller scale crimes against humanity."

If Clark was singularly unsuccessful in his high-altitude air war on the Serb forces, which he had predicted would bring victory in a few days, it caused a lot of civilian casualties. Besides blowing up the Chinese Embassy, some civilian convoys, a lot of radio and TV facilities, and an amazing number of chicken coops, one incident stands out. A train loaded with civilians was crossing a bridge near Grdelica when it was attacked by NATO F-15s. A dozen were killed and many wounded. In briefing the press Clark termed it "unfortunate." Clark ran gun camera photo footage. "You can see if you are focusing on your job as a pilot how suddenly that train appeared." NATO was claiming their target was the bridge and the train was moving so fast they couldn't reinstruct the missile in time to avoid the train.

. . . Mistakes happen. Subordinates send up bad or intentionally skewed information. The fog of war makes any headquarters press communications difficult at best. But if Shelton and Defense Secretary Bill Cohen were receiving reports as misleading as the ones furnished to the press by Clark's headquarters it couldn't have made their task any easier.



WILLIAM SALETAN, SLATE - Clark has repeatedly questioned Bush's truthfulness in making the case for war. Last Thursday, after announcing his candidacy for president, Clark said,

1) "I was against the war as it emerged because there was no reason to start it when we did."

2) "At the time, I probably would have voted for it, but I think that's too simple a question."

3) "I don't know if I would have or not. I've said it both ways because when you get into this, what happens is you have to put yourself in a position-on balance, I probably would have voted for it. When the president of the United States comes to you and makes the linkages and lays the power of the office on you, and you're in a crisis, the balance of the judgment probably goes to the president."

4) "I think [Dean's] right. That in retrospect we should never have gone in there. … But on the other hand, he wasn't inside the bubble of those who were exposed to the information."

According to the New York Times, Clark's press secretary tried to clear things up by telling Clark, "You said you would have voted for the resolution as leverage for a U.N.-based solution." Clark replied, "Right. Exactly."

On Friday, Clark said, "I would never have voted for this war. I've gotten a very consistent record on this. There was no imminent threat." But he added, "I would have voted for the right kind of leverage to get a diplomatic solution, an international solution to the challenge of Saddam Hussein."


MARGARET WARNER, PBS: Now the other tension that runs through your whole book is the tension between. . . That this was an alliance war. And you were head of NATO forces as well as American forces. There is an amazing scene at the Pristina Airport as NATO forces are coming into Kosovo, and the British general on the ground, General Mike Jackson, refuses your order to block the Russians on the runway. Just tell us more about this.

GEN. WESLEY CLARK: It was a surprising moment to me. It was Sunday the 13th of June, about 8:30 in the morning. And he said, "I'm not going to take your order to block these, this runway." And so we talked about it. He was extremely agitated and emotional and making all kinds of statements. So I said, "let's get your chief of defense," his boss in the British chain of command, "on the line." I talked to General Sir Charles Guthrie, the British chief of defense, and he said, "let me talk to Mike." And so I pass the phone over and then Mike handed the phone back to me. And the British chief of defense said, "well, I agree with Mike." And he says, "so does Hugh Shelton," the American chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. I was very surprised because I had gotten word from Washington that Washington supported, in fact, suggested that I block these runways and strongly supported how I did it, how I wanted to do it. So I called Hugh. It was about 3:00 in the morning in Washington, and I said, "well, you know, here is the problem and Guthrie says you support Jackson, not me. What... Do you support me or not?" Because you can't take actions in war without support of governments. He said, "well," he said, "I did have a conversation with Guthrie. I knew you were getting this order. Guthrie and I agreed we don't want a confrontation but I do support you." So I said, "well, then you've got a policy problem." And it really was a policy problem caused by the British government's differing perception than the American government's, and by Mike Jackson's perception of the situation.

POLITICS US - In the new issue of Newsweek, former General Wesley Clark is quoted telling Colorado's GOP Governor Bill Owen and GOP activist Marc Holtzman that "I would have been a Republican if Karl Rove had returned my phone calls." But according to White House phone logs, there is no record of Clark ever having called Rove.


JOAN GARVIN, LOS ALTOS TOWN CRIER, CA - Retired General H. Hugh Shelton, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on 9/11, shared his recollection of that day and his views of the war against terrorism with the Foothill College Celebrity Forum audience at Flint Center, Sept. 11 and 12. His review of that historic event and his 38 years in the military kept the audience's rapt attention throughout. But it was his answer to a question from the audience at the end that shocked his listeners.

"What do you think of General Wesley Clark and would you support him as a presidential candidate," was the question put to him by moderator Dick Henning, assuming that all military men stood in support of each other. General Shelton took a drink of water and Henning said, "I noticed you took a drink on that one!"

"That question makes me wish it were vodka," said Shelton. "I've known Wes for a long time. I will tell you the reason he came out of Europe early had to do with integrity and character issues, things that are very near and dear to my heart. I'm not going to say whether I'm a Republican or a Democrat. I'll just say Wes won't get my vote."

JIM VANDEHEI, WASHINGTON POST - Retired Gen. Wesley K. Clark said today that he "probably" would have voted for the congressional resolution last fall authorizing war. . . Clark said his views on the war resemble those of Democratic Sens. Joseph I. Lieberman (Conn.) and John F. Kerry (Mass.), both of whom voted for the war but now question President Bush's stewardship of the Iraqi occupation. "That having been said, I was against the war as it emerged because there was no reason to start it when we did. We could have waited," Clark said during a 75-minute session with four reporters.

En route to his first campaign stop as a candidate, a high-energy rally at a local restaurant, Clark said he has few specific policy ideas to offer voters right now and offered a few thoughts that might surprise Democrats flocking to his campaign. As recently as Sunday night, he was unsure if he should run for president, so Clark said voters need to give him time to think things through. . . In the interview, Clark did not offer any new ideas or solutions for Iraq that other candidates have not already proposed. . .

Clark, relaxed and chatty, portrayed himself as a different kind of Democrat, one without strong partisan impulses. He said he "probably" voted for Richard M. Nixon in 1972 and backed Ronald Reagan. He did not start considering himself a Democrat until 1992, when he backed fellow Arkansan Bill Clinton. "He moved me," Clark said. "I didn't consider it party, I considered I was voting for the man."

Clark said that as recently as last week, the former president and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) both encouraged him to run, as did many of their close friends. He said the former president initially was cool to the idea but warmed to it as the draft-Clark movement grew. Clark said he never discussed running with Sen. Clinton on the same ticket, however. Clark, who discussed the vice presidency with Dean at a recent meeting, said he would not rule out taking the No. 2 slot on a ticket. . .

He said he supports universal health coverage that includes preventive care and a "freeze" on Bush's tax cuts that have yet to take effect for people earning $150,000 or more. Clark said he supports a ban on assault weapons and was uncertain of precisely what the Brady gun law does -- and if any changes to it are needed. The law requires background checks and waiting periods for gun purchases.

Clark, who said he does not consider homosexuality a sin, said the military needs to reconsider the "don't ask, don't tell" policy for gay service members. He suggested the military should consider the "don't ask, don't misbehave" policy the British use. "It depends how you define misbehave. That's what has to be looked at," he said.

ABC NEWS NOTE - By letting Adam Nagourney, Jim VandeHei, Johanna Neuman, and Joanna Weiss interview him on the plane to Florida (for somewhere between 75 and 90 minutes), Clark certainly shook up his place in the Democratic world. . . Suffice to say, the message is a work in progress. Some of the other Democrats are amazed at the manner in which Clark is taking and (apparently) untaking positions.

Speaking of positions, the Miami Herald 's Wallsten and Bolstad interviewed Clark, with The General offering this on the death penalty:

"At one point in the interview, Clark endorsed a moratorium on the death penalty, saying there has been "a lot of discrimination and a lot of injustice" and saying cases should be reviewed with DNA evidence. Asked if he would back a halt to executions, Clark sat up straight."

"'Stop. Stop,' he said. 'I promised I wasn't going to take a strong position."'

[He didn't indicate to whom he had made the promise - TPR]

Writes one Democrat with national political experience:

"I have read the accounts of the Clark interviews and my reaction is despair and anger. Why did my party's best operatives think it would be a good idea to subject their neophyte candidate to the country's savviest reporters for over an hour? Why have my party's elders rallied around a candidate who is so shockingly uninformed about core issues and his own positions? I am not a Dean supporter - but I am angry that our party's leaders have anointed an alternative to him who seems even more ignorant and unprepared - and that this supposed 'anti-war' candidate turns out to have been in favor of both the war resolution and Richard Nixon!! And let's not even talk about the Clintons. Today I am embarrassed to be a Democrat."

NOTE: Clark has agreed to take part in the upcoming debate that he had previously decided to duck.

WALL STREET JOURNAL - Since retiring from a 34-year Army career in 2000, Gen. Clark has become: chairman of a suburban Washington technology-corridor start-up, managing director at an investment firm, a director at four other firms around the country and an advisory-board member for two others. For most, he was hired to help boost the companies' military business.

After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Gen. Clark counseled clients on how to pitch commercial technologies to the government for homeland-security applications. One is Acxiom Corp., based in Gen. Clark's hometown of Little Rock, Ark., where he formally launched his campaign yesterday. He joined the board of the NASDAQ-traded company in December 2001, as the company started to market its customer-database software to federal agencies eager to hunt for terrorists by scanning and coordinating the vast cyberspace trove of citizen information. . .

In aiming for the White House, Gen. Clark follows a long revolving-door tradition of government officials going back and forth between the public and private sectors. For now, at least, he plans to mix business and politics. "At this early point in the campaign, Gen. Clark will remain on his hoards," campaign adviser Mark Fabiani said this week. Gen. Clark did, however, miss a board meeting for Chicago-based Sirva Inc. yesterday to launch his campaign.

It is unclear exactly how successful Gen. Clark's business career has been-either for his clients or for himself. Most companies contacted declined to give specific examples of contracts he helped them win. Those willing to detail his role mainly said it was too soon to see the fruits of his efforts. . .

Stephens Inc., the large, politically connected Little Rock investment firm, hired him to boost its aerospace business shortly after he gave up his NATO command. He left Stephens last year and opened his own consultancy, Wesley K. Clark & Associates. While Gen. Clark was at Stephens, the firm also marketed him to clients such as Silicon Energy - in which Stephens held a stake - "as a good person to help us understand the federal procurement process," says Mr. Woolard. The company was trying to enter the government market, and Gen. Clark explained the process "and contacted people at the Navy and Air Force and told them what we had," Mr. Woolard says.

Wesley Clark

In today's feedback column there are a number of letters critical of our coverage of Wesley Clark. They arrive just as your editor is finishing Gore Vidal's 'Washington,' a novel written in 1967.

One of the characters is a faux war hero who is elected senator despite the journalistic efforts of Peter Sanford, who at one point asks the senator being replaced: "Why do you think what I wrote about Clay had so little effect? It was the truth and it was devastating."

"Apparently not. In any case the public is impressed only by winners."

"But winners have become losers. They've even gone to jail."

"But to say that Clay was a false hero. . . "

"And I proved that he was. . . "

". . . only confuses people who have already accepted him as what they think he is, a genuine hero, the subject of an extraordinary amount of publicity. that's all that matters, the large first impression. You cannot change it, short of a public trial."

We practice these days the politics of first impressions. This is the reverse of older politics in which success was based on lengthy, serial impressions. Here's how I described it in 'Shadows of Hope:'

"Politics used to be about remembrance. The best politicians were those who remembered and were remembered the most -- the most people, the littlest favors, the smallest slights, the best anecdotes tying one's politics to the common memory of the constituency.

"Politics was also about gratitude. Politicians were always thanking people, "without whom" whatever under discussion could not have happened. . . Above all, politics was about relationships. The politician grew organically out of a constituency and remained rooted to it as long as incumbency lasted.

"Today, we increasingly elect people about whom we have little to remember, to whom we owe no gratitude and with whom we have no relationship except that formed during the great carnie show we call a campaign. Dallas coach Jimmy Johnson spoke for many contemporary politicians when he answered a question about his memories of Thanksgiving Day football games by saying, 'Memories? That's not my style.'"

Wesley Clark is the latest manifestation of the politics of first impressions. The job of the Review, however, is not to foster the latest myth, report only things that support readers' hopes, or - in the words of Russell Baker - serve as a megaphone for frauds. If you want that, go turn on your TV.

Our job is to tell you, as best we can, what the hell is going on. Unfortunately, the facts about Clark simply do not fit the fantasy that has quickly developed around him. This is not a revelation for me. I have been following Clark ever since a high Clinton administration official told me during the Bosnian business what a problem the guy was to all around him. I would subsequently learn that one reason these people were around him was that Richard Holbrooke told them to be there, to reduce the chances of Clark saying something stupid to the press.

Of course, one of the reasons political fantasies are so popular is because the Democratic Party is running low on appealing reality. The party, as a political institution, disintegrated under Clinton, with extraordinary numbers of seats lost at every level from the Senate to the statehouses. If the party were strong, it might today be sharply divided between its conservative and liberal wing but it would not suffer from the embarrassment that the name that does best in polls against Bush is someone named "Unknown." The last thing the party would have to do is hope that a general it doesn't know anything about will fool others as much as he has it.

In Clark's case, the people who are skeptical include a surprising number of professional colleagues both in and out of the military. In fact, I can't recall another instance in which a general has attracted such unenthusiasm from those who worked with him (or as much as they apparently could).

One of the problems is that there are a declining number of people of this country with military experience and thus an increasing number of people - including journalists - who are susceptible of having their heads turned by a few stars and medals. For someone like myself, who served as an aide to an admiral and worked closely with three captains, flag officers are just typical humans in atypical dress. Some, like my boss, are exceptionally talented. Some are fools. And it helps to be able to spot the difference.

My first real appreciation of how difficult this was becoming came as the city of Washington fell woozily for a new school superintendent who was a general. To me it was quickly apparent that the man was an incompetent blowhard, but it was impossible to convince many of this. Eventually, however, reality raised its ugly head and the general was gone.

One sensible way to look at Clark is to figuratively undress him and garb him in civvies. What is it that then that makes him so appealing?

Regardless of how you feel about their politics, Dean, Gephardt and Lieberman have consistent, seriously conceived policies, an integrity of philosophy and purpose, and a record of others having worked with them and thought well of the experience. Clark does not and those who ignore this are casting a part for dreams rather than for reality. -SAM SMITH


DAY ONE. . .

WASHINGTON POST, SEP 18 - Retired Gen. Wesley K. Clark said today that he "probably" would have voted for the congressional resolution last fall authorizing war, as he charged out into the presidential campaign field with vague plans to fix the economy and the situation in Iraq. Clark said his views on the war resemble those of Democratic Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (Conn.) and John F. Kerry (Mass.), both of whom voted for the war but now question President Bush's stewardship of the Iraqi occupation. "That having been said, I was against the war as it emerged because there was no reason to start it when we did. We could have waited," Clark said during a 75-minute session with four reporters.

DAY TWO. . .

NY TIMES - General Clark was famous for impressing his bosses throughout his career, and yet, at the pinnacle of his power and influence after the Kosovo war, he was cashiered by his boss, William S. Cohen, the secretary of defense, after openly challenging the Clinton administration's reluctance to use ground troops in the conflict.

"I find him to be a guy who's very clever at determining which way the wind's blowing," said Gen. Paul Funk, who was General Clark's boss in the early 1990's. "Who knows, maybe in the political world that's a good thing."

Commanders in Bosnia, and later in Kosovo, complained that General Clark would micromanage from his headquarters in Belgium the tactical details of missions usually left to commanders on the ground.
"It was tenuous at times," said Maj. Gen. David Grange, who is retired now but who headed the First Infantry Division in Bosnia and Kosovo. "He did get into the weeds."

As he struggled to keep the fractious NATO alliance united, he repeatedly clashed with his bosses in Washington - Mr. Cohen and Gen. Henry H. Shelton, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff - when he urged the use of American ground troops and Apache attack helicopters after days of bombing alone failed to bring Mr. Milosevic's surrender.

It is unclear how someone so skilled in the political ways of Washington could have put himself in such a precarious position with his civilian masters. Yet when he received word from General Shelton in July 1999 that his command would end earlier than scheduled, General Clark was stunned.

Similarly, despite his months of toying with whether to run for the presidency, he seems ill-prepared. Even if his goal is to be picked as a vice-presidential running mate, he still seems to be short on the fundamentals, like a top-level staff, message and strategy.

TIME - What's most striking about the Clark boomlet is how little his supporters really know about the candidate in whom they have invested such sudden and stratospheric hopes-a man who didn't declare himself a Democrat until a few weeks ago and who says he isn't sure whether he voted for a Democrat for President before Bill Clinton ran. "He can save this goddam nation from self-destruction," declares New York Congressman Charles Rangel, who is arranging a meeting for Clark with the Congressional Black Caucus, possibly as early as this week. But Rangel acknowledges that he has never met Clark in person (they have talked on the phone) and didn't know a thing about Clark until he started catching the general's criticism of the Iraq war on CNN. . .

On a post-announcement swing through Florida and Iowa, Clark deflected questions on issues that ranged from aids in Africa to the Patriot Act. But that did not dampen the enthusiasm of the supporters who greeted him wherever he went. . . He is clearly at ease with some domestic policy issues-dissecting the Bush tax cut, for instance, and citing a string of figures to explain why he wants to retain the breaks for the middle class while eliminating the ones for high-income Americans. On other subjects-health care and education, for example-his positions have not yet congealed, though he promises they will soon.

ROBERT NOVAK - The important Democrats eager to run retired Gen. Wesley Clark for president might exercise due diligence about a military career that was nearly terminated before he got his fourth star and then came to a premature end. The trouble with the general is pointed out by a bizarre incident in Bosnia nearly a decade ago.

Clark was a three-star (lieutenant general) who directed strategic plans and policy for the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington. On Aug. 26, 1994, in the northern Bosnian city of Banja Luka, he met and exchanged gifts with the notorious Bosnian Serb commander and indicted war criminal, Gen. Ratko Mladic. The meeting took place against the State Department's wishes and may have contributed to Clark's failure to be promoted until political pressure intervened. The shocking photo of Mladic and Clark wearing each other's military caps was distributed throughout Europe. . .

U.S. diplomats warned Clark not to go to Bosnian Serb military headquarters to meet Mladic, considered by U.S. intelligence as the mastermind of the Srebrenica massacre of Muslim civilians (and still at large, sought by NATO peacekeeping forces). Besides the exchange of hats, they drank wine together, and Mladic gave Clark a bottle of brandy and a pistol.

This was what U.S. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke's team seeking peace in Yugoslavia tried to avoid by instituting the "Clark Rule": whenever the general is found talking alone to a Serb, Croat or Muslim, make sure an American civilian official rushes to his side. It produced some comic opera dashes by diplomats.

MITCHEL COHEN, GLOBAL RESEARCH - Gen. Wesley Clark was in charge of refugee camps in the 1980s and 1990s where Haitian refugees who were fleeing first Baby Doc Duvalier (and later the new regime installed by the US following the overthrow of the elected Aristide government in the early 1990s), were packed, under appalling conditions. . . In the 1980s, many Haitian male refugees incarcerated at Krome (in Miami), and Fort Allen (in Puerto Rico) reported a strange condition called gyneacomastia, a situation in which they developed full female breasts.

Ira Kurzban, attorney for the Haitian Refugee Center, managed to pry free government documents via a lawsuit on behalf of the refugees. These contained the startling information that prison officials had ordered the refugees sprayed repeatedly with highly toxic chemicals never designed for such generic use. The officer in charge of the refugee camp? None other than Gen. Wesley Clark, chief of operations at the US Navy internment camp at Guantanamo, and later head of NATO forces bombing Yugoslavia. The documents go on to say that lengthy exposure to the particular chemicals can cause hormonal changes that induce development of female breasts.



GUARDIAN, AUG 3, 1999 - If Nato's supreme commander, the American General Wesley Clark, had had his way, British paratroopers would have stormed Pristina [Kosovo's capital] airport threatening to unleash the most frightening crisis with Moscow since the end of the cold war. "I'm not going to start the third world war for you," General Sir Mike Jackson, commander of the international K-For peacekeeping force, is reported to have told Gen Clark when he refused to accept an order to send assault troops to prevent Russian troops from taking over the airfield of Kosovo's provincial capital.


JOHN CHUCKMAN YELLOW TIMES - The Perfumed Prince declared himself a Democrat. Many Americans may not recognize the nickname bestowed upon Wesley Clark by British colleagues as he strutted around Serbia with his set of platinum-plated general's stars carefully repositioned each day to a freshly-starched and ironed camouflage cap, wafting a thick vapor trail of cologne. His lack of judgment demonstrated in Serbia -- including an order to clear out Russian forces that British general Sir Michael Jackson had to ignore for fear of starting World War III -- should be enough to utterly disqualify him as a candidate for President. But this is America, land of opportunity.

The former general scents, through the mists of his musky cologne, an opportunity for service. Hell, we're at war, and any real general is better than a former male cheerleader from Andover who cross-dresses as a combat pilot. Dreams of being the hero on a white horse beckon. A fatal attraction in the American people to used-up generals is how the country managed to elect some of its worst presidents - Grant, Jackson, and Garfield, for example.

NY POST PAGE SIX - The last thing the Clintons want is for a Democrat from Arkansas to defeat Bush next year," says our spy about the ex-general who is expected to announce his candidacy next month. . . Our source adds, "The Clinton master plan is for a Hillary candidacy in 2008 and they will subtly sabotage the Democratic candidate in 2004.That's why they insist on keeping their personal operative, Terry McAuliffe, in charge of the Democratic committee."


[Joining the military fetishists at the American Prospect is the Washington Monthly. Sad to report, however, that once you get past the fact that Clark's a four star general, there isn't all that much more to say on his behalf]


[The Clark fetish among certain Democratic elites and the media is a strong argument for a revival of the draft. With some military service, such fetishists would be less likely to go berserk over a star-laden, bedizened uniform]

WASHINGTON POST - It's unclear whether Clark can make the transition from military general to political leader. Even before Clark's official announcement, Jim Jordan, campaign manager for Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.), previewed the attacks to come. "It's a strange profile for a Democratic primary: a career military with no domestic policy experience," Jordan said. Moreover, "some Democrats might find it unsettling he just decided in recent weeks to become a Democrat," he said. Clark announced he was a Democrat on Sept. 4.

FAIR - A review of his statements before, during and after the war reveals that Clark has taken a range of positions-- from expressing doubts about diplomatic and military strategies early on, to celebrating the U.S. "victory" in a column declaring that George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair "should be proud of their resolve in the face of so much doubt" (London Times, 4/10/03).

Months before the invasion, Clark's opinion piece in Time magazine was aptly headlined "Let's Wait to Attack," a counter- argument to another piece headlined "No, Let's Not Waste Any Time." Before the war, Clark was concerned that the U.S. had an insufficient number of troops, a faulty battle strategy and a lack of international support.

As time wore on, Clark's reservations seemed to give way. Clark explained on CNN that if he had been in charge, "I probably wouldn't have made the moves that got us to this point. But just assuming that we're here at this point, then I think that the president is going to have to move ahead, despite the fact that the allies have reservations." As he later elaborated: "The credibility of the United States is on the line, and Saddam Hussein has these weapons and so, you know, we're going to go ahead and do this and the rest of the world's got to get with us. . . The U.N. has got to come in and belly up to the bar on this. But the president of the United States has put his credibility on the line, too. And so this is the time that these nations around the world, and the United Nations, are going to have to look at this evidence and decide who they line up with."

On the question of Iraq's supposed weapons of mass destruction, Clark seemed remarkably confident of their existence. Clark told CNN's Miles O'Brien that Saddam Hussein "does have weapons of mass destruction." When O'Brien asked, "And you could say that categorically?" Clark was resolute: "Absolutely." When CNN's Zahn asked if he had any doubts about finding the weapons, Clark responded: "I think they will be found. There's so much intelligence on this."

After the fall of Baghdad, any remaining qualms Clark had about the wisdom of the war seemed to evaporate. "Liberation is at hand. Liberation -- the powerful balm that justifies painful sacrifice, erases lingering doubt and reinforces bold actions," Clark wrote in a London Times column. "Already the scent of victory is in the air." Though he had been critical of Pentagon tactics, Clark was exuberant about the results of "a lean plan, using only about a third of the ground combat power of the Gulf War. If the alternative to attacking in March with the equivalent of four divisions was to wait until late April to attack with five, they certainly made the right call."

Clark made bold predictions about the effect the war would have on the region: "Many Gulf states will hustle to praise their liberation from a sense of insecurity they were previously loath even to express. Egypt and Saudi Arabia will move slightly but perceptibly towards Western standards of human rights." George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair "should be proud of their resolve in the face of so much doubt," Clark explained. "Their opponents, those who questioned the necessity or wisdom of the operation, are temporarily silent, but probably unconvinced." The way Clark speaks of the "opponents" having been silenced is instructive, since he presumably does not include himself-- obviously not "temporarily silent"-- in that category. Clark closed the piece with visions of victory celebrations here at home: "Let's have those parades on the Mall and down Constitution Avenue."

In another column the next day, Clark summed up the lessons of the war this way: "The campaign in Iraq illustrates the continuing progress of military technology and tactics, but if there is a single overriding lesson it must be this: American military power, especially when buttressed by Britain's, is virtually unchallengeable today. Take us on? Don't try! And that's not hubris, it's just plain fact."

Another "plain fact" is this: While political reporters might welcome Clark's entry into the campaign, to label a candidate with such views "anti-war" is to render the term meaningless.

ABC NOTE - What does The Note know about the Wes Clark (D-CNN) phenomenon? We know that the media interest in his candidacy proves the political press is bored with the field as is. We know that the Democratic elite interest in his candidacy proves that many of them - including members of Congress - are apparently underwhelmed by the existing nine candidates and are willing to support someone about whom they know shockingly little. . .

As for the motivations of these (largely) Clinton-Gore types - they all want to beat Bush; they all are totally turned off by Howard Dean personally and by his prospects; they have all lost respect for the rest of the field (because if they can't crush Dean, how could they beat Bush?); and they all (for whatever reasons) failed to find places in the other campaigns. Oh, and most of them are bored in their lawyer, lobbyist, PR jobs, and this Clark thing looks fun to them. . .

So far, Clark has not taken a single position on domestic issues that distinguishes him from the field, and in fact, he appears to be a garden variety liberal on the gamut of party touchstones. There are no distinctive policy positions, third way or otherwise. And for an alleged straight talker, we wouldn't characterize his position on, say, the Bush tax cuts, as particularly straight or crisp. . .

Clark is already talking about maybe skipping some of the debates because of conflicts, and the scrutiny of his past is going to ramp up fast . . .

POLITICS U.S. - As recently as two years ago, he was addressing Republican dinners in his home state of Arkansas amid speculation about a possible future Clark run for office - as a Republican. Speaking on May 11, 2001, as the keynote speaker to the Pulaski County Republican Party's Lincoln Day Dinner, Clark said that American involvement abroad helps prevent war and spreads the ideals of the United States, according to an AP dispatch the following day. Two weeks later, a report in U.S. News and World Report said Arkansas Republican politicos were "pondering the future of Wesley Clark:"

"Insiders say Clark, who is a consultant for Stephens Group in Little Rock, is preparing a political run as a Republican. Less clear: what office he'd campaign for. At a recent Republican fund-raiser, he heralded Ronald Reagan's Cold War actions and George Bush's foreign policy. He also talked glowingly of current President Bush's national security team. Absent from the praise list -- his former boss, ex-Commander in Chief Bill Clinton."

[To find out more about the Stephens Group, go to our main page and use our site search engine. It's pretty interesting]

GEORGE WILL - As Clark crisscrosses the country listening for a clamor for him ("I expect to have my decision made by Sept. 19," when he visits Iowa--feel the suspense), he compounds the confusion that began when he said (June 15, 2003) that on 9/11 "I got a call at my home" saying that when he was to appear on CNN, "You've got to say this is connected" to Iraq. "It came from the White House, it came from people around the White House. It came from all over." But who exactly called Clark?

July 1: "A fellow in Canada who is part of a Middle Eastern think tank." There is no such Canadian institution. Anyway, who "from the White House"? "I'm not going to go into those sources. ... People told me things in confidence that I don't have any right to betray."

July 18: "No one from the White House asked me to link Saddam Hussein to Sept. 11."

Aug. 25: It came from "a Middle East think tank in Canada, the man who's the brother of a very close friend of mine in Belgium. He's very well connected to Israeli intelligence. ... I haven't changed my position. There's no waffling on it. It's just as clear as could be."

VERNON LOEB, WASHINGTON POST - Clark's hard-charging style, his penchant for dealing directly with the White House and his ceaseless agitation for ground forces during the Kosovo conflict - over the wishes of Defense Secretary William S. Cohen - caught up with him a month after the end of the war. In July 2000, while dining with the president of Lithuania in London, Clark was called by Gen. Henry H. Shelton, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who curtly informed him that Cohen had decided to ease him out of his NATO command. The call stunned Clark. It meant he would have to leave his NATO post three months earlier than scheduled and without a year's extension, which he had expected. . .

One retired four-star general, who knows Clark well and represents a sentiment expressed by a number of his peers, said he fully understood Clark's ultimate clash with Cohen, Shelton and, particularly, the leadership of the Army. "The guy is brilliant," said the general, who agreed to speak candidly about Clark only if his name were not used. "He's very articulate, he's extremely charming, he has the best strategic sense of anybody I have ever met. But the simple fact is, a lot of people just don't trust his ability" as a commander. While his strategic analysis is "almost infallible," his command solutions tended to be problematic, even "goofy," the general said, "and he pushed them even when they weren't going to work." The general said Clark "needs to win, right down to the core of his fiber," which tends to make him "highly manipulative."

"There are an awful lot of people," added another retired four-star, who also requested anonymity, "who believe Wes will tell anybody what they want to hear and tell somebody the exact opposite five minutes later. The people who have worked closely with him are the least complimentary, because he can be very abrasive, very domineering. And part of what you saw when he was relieved of command was all of the broken glass and broken china within the European alliance and the [U.S.] European Command."

BBC - His words at the beginning of Nato's bombing campaign in 1998 set the tone for the alliance's tough line with the then President Milosevic. "We're going to systematically and progressively attack, disrupt, degrade, devastate and ultimately, unless President Milosevic complies with the demands of the international community, we're going to destroy his forces and their facilities and support," he said.

But the campaign was not as swift and decisive as Nato had hoped and there were a series of mistakes, including the bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade

LOWELL POINTE - He does appear to be supported by much of the Clintons' political war machine. Among those flocking to his campaign are Clinton veteran gutter fighters Mark Fabiani, Bruce Lindsey, Bill Oldaker, Vanessa Weaver, George Bruno, Skip Rutherford, Peter Knight, Ron Klain and perhaps even former Clinton deputy chief of staff Harold Ickes, among others. . . The Clinton "orchestration" behind Clark's campaign is so apparent that commentators are already speculating whether General Clark is running for himself ­ or as a stalking horse for Hillary and/or as a puppet for Bill. Is all this being arranged to knock down rivals and clear the way for a Clinton-Clark "C-C Rider" ticket in 2004?. . .

In 1993 Wesley Clark, after a solid-but-not-stellar military career, was commanding the 1st Cavalry Division at a sweaty 339-square-mile base in Texas called Fort Hood. On a late winter day his office got a call from Democratic Texas Governor Ann Richards (later defeated and replaced by George W. Bush). The Governor had an urgent matter to discuss. Crazies about 40 miles north of Fort Hood in Waco, Texas, had killed Federal agents, she said. If newly sworn-in President Bill Clinton signed a waiver setting aside the Posse Comitatus Act, which generally prohibits our military from using its arms against American citizens inside our borders, could Fort Hood supply tanks, men, and equipment to deal with the wackos at Waco? Wesley Clark's command at Fort Hood "lent" 17 pieces of armor and 15 active service personnel under his command to the Waco Branch Davidian operation. Whether Clark himself helped direct the assault on the Davidian church using this military force at Waco has not been documented, but it certainly came from his command with his approval. . .

Even Clark's vaunted fourth star as a general was unearned, according to Robert Novak. It was twice rejected as undeserved by Pentagon brass, but then was awarded by his patron Bill Clinton after Clark begged the President for it. "Clark," wrote Novak, "is the perfect model of a 1990s political four-star general."

TIM, CLINTON ADMINISTRATION SCANDAL BULLETIN BOARD - My wife graduated from Hall High School in Little Rock with Wesley Clark, in the Class of 1962. Her take, briefly: Clark is a super overachiever, very smart, but had no close friends in high school. . . something of a loner. Has the personality of a gourd. Very slight build, so no chance for glory on the football or basketball teams, the popular team sports, became a champion swimmer instead. She's mystified by the hype surrounding his nascent campaign. . . Doesn't remember Clark as a person who could stir anyone to do anything. . .

Prediction: Clark has been selected by the Clintons to be Hillary's running mate if she decides to run in '04, which I think she will do. Clark will gain much needed national exposure over the next few months as a candidate for the Democratic nomination for president. If Hillary runs, she will have the Democratic nomination for the asking. . . and Clark will be the perfect running mate.

What a ticket! Leftist feminist icon Senator from New York, with unknown but somewhat respected four star General from the South as a VP candidate.

PROGRESSIVE REVIEW, JULY 1999 - Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in The Secret Life Of Bill Clinton writes, "The Branch Davidian siege was clearly on Foster's mind. He was 'drafting a letter involving Waco' on the day of this death, surely a point of some significance. He kept a Waco file in the locked cabinet that was off limits to everybody, including his secretary. His widow mentions Waco twice in her statement to the FBI: 'Toward the end of his life, Foster had no sense of joy or elation at work. The Branch Davidian incident near Waco, Texas, was also causing him a great deal of stress. Lisa Foster believes that he was horrified when the Branch Davidian complex burned. Foster believed that everything was his fault.'"

Evans-Pritchard makes no claim that Waco was a cause of Foster's death. After discussing other anomalies, such as his ties to the National Security Agency, the investigative reporter notes, "The point is that Foster was involved in activities that belie the carefully drawn portrait of a bemused country lawyer, and that have clearly been obscured on purpose."

These comments are worth reviving because of Counterpunch's revelation that two key Army officers were involved in the Justice Department planning for Waco and that Clinton had abrogated an longtime American principle of not using the military in domestic law enforcement.

We now also know that NATO chief Wesley Clark, then Texas-based, at the very least approved the seconding of logistical support from his command. We know that important records in Foster's possession were removed. And we know that a military intelligence group moved in on the White House following his death for unknown purposes.

This all, however, merely adds to the mystery of Foster. What remains true is that the existing facts argue strongly against Foster having died in a park of his own hand. Put directly, if he did kill himself, someone moved him afterwards, or else he was murdered. Under what circumstances and for what reasons, we still don't know.

PROGRESSIVE REVIEW - According to an must-read report by Ken McCarthy at Brasscheck, the military was far more deeply involved in the Waco massacre than is generally realized. Behind the military's part in the operation was now NATO commander General Wesley Clark. Among the points McCarthy makes are these:

- The military's involvement in a domestic law enforcement matter was illegal.

- Used in the Waco massacre operation were 13 track vehicles, 9 combat engineer vehicles, 5 tank retrieval vehicles, and a tank.

- The military equipment and personnel came from the US Army base at Ft. Hood, Texas, headquarters of III Corps. According to an account from attorney David T. Hardy, who filed a freedom of information action in the incident, "The operation required mustering approximately a hundred agents (flown in from sites around the country), and who received military training at Ft. Hood. They traveled in a convoy of sixty vehicles and were supported by three National Guard helicopters and one fixed-wing aircraft, with armored vehicles in reserve."

- Clark was the Commander 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas from August 1992 to April 1994. The Mt. Carmel raid was on February 29, 1993. The arson-murders occurred April 19. Clark had been Commander of the National Training Center and Deputy Chief of Staff for Concepts, Doctrine and Developments, US Army Training and Doctrine Command TRADOC, where Clark was Deputy Chief right before becoming an armor commander at Ft Hood, has as its primary mission to "prepare soldiers for war and design the army of the future." Item number one from the TRADOC vision statement: "...enable America's Army to operate with joint, multinational and interagency partners across the full range of operations."

- President Clinton said, "The first thing I did after the ATF agents were killed, once we knew that the FBI was going to go in, was to ask that the military be consulted because of the quasi-military nature of the conflict."

- Attorney General Janet Reno attempted to explain away the FBI use of US Army tanks as being equivalent to an innocuous "rent a car" arrangement.

- From early in the siege, "Operation Trojan Horse" became a popular destination for special forces officers both from around the United States and from its closest ally, the UK. They came to observe the effectiveness of various high tech devices and tactics that were being tested against the Branch Davidians. -- Two unnamed high ranking Army officers personally presented Attorney General Janet Reno with the final assault tactics for her, as chief law enforcement officer of the US, to sign off on.

- General Clark's last assignment before taking over NATO was as Commander-in-Chief, United States Southern Command, Panama, where he commanded all U.S. forces and was "responsible for the direction of most U.S. military activities and interests in Latin America and the Caribbean." i.e. the support of repressive Latin American military and police operations and a phony war against drugs.

Meanwhile, Dan Gifford, producer of "Waco: The Rules of Engagement" writes that "Secret anti-terrorist U.S. Army Delta Force and British SAS soldiers were present at FBI invitation as 'observers.' But reports of those troops illegally killing Americans on American soil persist from sources that have provided accurate information in the past. So do reports of classified weapons testing on the Davidians that was being micro managed, along with everything else, from Washington.

ROBERT NOVAK, 1999: Members of Congress who, during their spring recess, met in Brussels with Gen. Wesley Clark, the NATO supreme commander, were startled by his bellicosity. According to the lawmakers, Clark suggested the best way to handle Russia's supply of oil to Yugoslavia would be aerial bombardment of the pipeline that runs through Hungary. He also proposed bombing Russian warships that enter the battle zone. The American general was described by the members of the congressional delegation as waging a personal vendetta against Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. "I think the general might need a little sleep," commented one House member.

RULING BY GREEK COURT, MAY 1999 - Greece's Council of State, the country's highest administrative court has an extraordinary ruling on the war against Yugoslavia:

1. NATO's offensive against a sovereign European state, unprecedented in the post-war years, is an affront not only to the ethical principles of Greek and European civilization, but also to the fundamental precepts of international law. . .

2. This inexcusable attack is taking place in flagrant violation of articles 1 and 2 of the United Nations Charter, which expressly prohibits the use of violence in international relations, and designates the Security Council exclusively competent in international crises. . .

3. But this attack even violates the NATO Charter, the exclusive purpose of which is collective defense of the area defined therein that coincides with the boundaries of its member states, and which has expressly committed itself in its international relations to refrain from the threat or use of violence in any way whatsoever that is incompatible with the principles and purposes of the UN. . .

4. In addition, both the United Nations Charter and all generally recognized precepts of international law safeguard the equality and sovereignty of all peoples, irrespective of their numbers and power, and do not recognize any jurisdiction on the part of powerful nations to intervene in the internal affairs of weaker nations or to dictate solutions to their own liking. Consequently, however serious the crisis in Kosovo may be, it remains an internal Yugoslav affair and belongs to the exclusive jurisdiction of the sovereign Yugoslav state. Any humanitarian or other interest on the part of the UN, other international organizations or third countries may be manifested only in a peaceful way and by diplomatic means within the context of the UN Charter.

COUNTERPUNCH, 2000: With the end of hostilities it has become clear even to Clark that most people, apart from some fanatical members of the war party in the White House and State Department, consider the general, as one Pentagon official puts it, "a horse's ass." Defense Secretary William Cohen is known to loathe him, and has seen to it that the Hammer of the Serbs will be relieved of the NATO command two months early.

WILLIAM BLUM, ROGUE STATE - Beginning about two weeks after the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia began in March, 1999, international-law professionals from Canada, the United Kingdom, Greece, and the American Association of Jurists began to file complaints with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague, Netherlands, charging leaders of NATO countries and officials of NATO itself with crimes similar to those for which the Tribunal had issued indictments shortly before against Serbian leaders. Amongst the charges filed were: "grave violations of international humanitarian law", including "willfully killing, willfully causing great suffering and serious injury to body and health, employment of poisonous weapons and other weapons to cause unnecessary suffering, wanton destruction of cities, towns and villages, unlawful attacks on civilian objects, devastation not necessitated by military objectives, attacks on undefended buildings and dwellings, destruction and willful damage done to institutions dedicated to religion, charity and education, the arts and sciences." The Canadian suit names 68 leaders, including William Clinton, Madeleine Albright, William Cohen, Tony Blair, Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien, and NATO officials Javier Solana, Wesley Clark, and Jamie Shea. The complaint also alleges "open violation" of the United Nations Charter, the NATO treaty itself, the Geneva Conventions, and the Principles of International Law Recognized by the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg.


US NEWS & WORLD REPORT - Whispers learns that once in, top Democratic elected officials, strategists and donors are ready to join the Clark Brigade. Many of Clark's team-in-waiting are Clintonistas, like the former president's handyman, Bruce Lindsey, scandal spokesman Mark Fabiani, and maybe even ex-deputy chief of staff Harold Ickes, who's close to New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. Also, New York Rep. Charles Rangel has pledged to round up endorsements from House and Senate members. . . And forget about that talk that all the retired four-star general and former NATO boss wants is the veep nomination. Supporters say that's a dirty-tricks campaign pushed by rival Howard Dean who's scared of a Clark candidacy. Says Frisby: "Wes Clark firmly believes that he is the best choice to be president, not be vice president or hold any other government post."



GREG PIERCE, WASHINGTON TIMES: Retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark, who for months has flirted with a presidential run while declining to state a party preference, announced yesterday that - drum roll, please - he is a Democrat. "I have to say that I'm [aligned with] the Democratic Party," Gen. Clark said yesterday on CNN's "Inside Politics." "I like the message the party has, I like what it stands for. ... It's a party that has had a great tradition in our country, and I'm very attracted to it, and that's the party I belong to."


NOW THAT establishment favorite Edwards is fading in the Democratic primaries, there is increasing talk in similar circles of launching a campaign for General Wesley Clark, some of it so absurd that it compares Clark to Eisenhower.

But the Clark boosters better do a bit more homework. For example, this from a piece by Lowell Ponte

"[Clark] was named Commander of the 1st Cavalry Division, III Corps, at sweltering Fort Hood southwest of Waco, Texas. On a late winter day in 1993, Texas Governor Ann Richards suddenly called the base, later meeting with Clark's Number Two to discuss an urgent matter. Crazies at a Waco compound had killed Federal agents. If newly-sworn-in President Bill Clinton signed a waiver setting aside the Posse Comitatus Act, which generally prohibits the military from using its arms against American citizens within our borders, could Fort Hood supply tanks and other equipment?

"Clinton did. Wesley Clark's command at Fort Hood "lent" 17 pieces of armor and 15 active service personnel under his command to the Waco Branch Davidian operation. It is absolute fact that the military equipment used by the government at Waco came from Fort Hood and Clark's command.

"The only issue debated by experts is whether Clark was at Waco in person to help direct the assault against the church compound in a scene remarkably similar to the incineration of villagers in a church by the British in Mel Gibson's movie "The Patriot."

"What happened at Waco was the death, mostly by fire, of at least 82 men, women and children, including two babies who died after being "fire aborted" from the dying bodies of their pregnant mothers.

"Planning for this final assault involved a meeting between Clinton Attorney General Janet Reno and two military officers who developed the tactical plan used but who have never been identified. Some evidence and analysis suggests that Wesley Clark was one of these two who devised what happened at Waco."

Ponte also reports that "when Russians landed and took over one provincial airport in the region, General Clark commanded British forces to attack the Russians. British General Sir Mike Jackson reportedly refused, saying: 'I'm not going to start the Third World War for you!'"

And this from military writer Col. David Hackworth: "Known by those who've served with him as the 'Ultimate Perfumed Prince,' he's far more comfortable in a drawing room discussing political theories than hunkering down in the trenches where bullets fly and soldiers die."

Clark, by the report of some who have worked with him, is an egocentric, marginally qualified officer of questionable judgment who made his way to the top with the help of fellow Rhodes Scholar Bill Clinton.

You have been warned.


COUNTERPUNCH - "The poster child for everything that is wrong with the GO (general officer) corps," exclaims one colonel, who has had occasion to observe Clark in action, citing, among other examples, his command of the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood from 1992 to 1994. While Clark's official Pentagon biography proclaims his triumph in "transitioning the Division into a rapidly deployable force" this officer describes the "1st Horse Division" as "easily the worst division I have ever seen in 25 years of doing this stuff."

Such strong reactions are common. A major in the 3rd Brigade of the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson, Colorado when Clark was in command there in the early 1980s described him as a man who "regards each and every one of his subordinates as a potential threat to his career".

While he regards his junior officers with watchful suspicion, he customarily accords the lower ranks little more than arrogant contempt. A veteran of Clark's tenure at Fort Hood recalls the general's "massive tantrum because the privates and sergeants and wives in the crowded (canteen) checkout lines didn't jump out of the way fast enough to let him through". . .

Observers agree that Clark has always displayed an obsessive concern with the perquisites and appurtenances of rank. Ever since he acceded to the Nato command post, the entourage with which he travels has accordingly grown to gargantuan proportions to the point where even civilians are beginning to comment. A Senate aide recalls his appearances to testify, prior to which aides scurry about the room adjusting lights, polishing his chair, testing the microphone etc prior to the precisely timed and choreographed moment when the Supreme Allied Commander Europe makes his entrance.

"We are state of the art pomposity and arrogance up here," remarks the aide. "So when a witness displays those traits so egregiously that even the senators notice, you know we're in trouble." His NATO subordinates call him, not with affection, "the Supreme Being".


[We have begun tracking disingenuous comparisons between World War II hero Dwight Eisenhower and Bosnian-Waco military hack Wesley Clark. Contributions are welcomed]

DAVID IGNATIUS, WASHINGTON POST - They're all good questions, but that's not what makes Clark an interesting candidate. It's the fact that, like Dwight Eisenhower talking about Korea in 1952, the retired general can argue that he's the man to get America honorably out of a war others created.