The career and 1996 demise of political operative and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown (1941-1996) is one of those forgotten, memory holed events that could reveal much about the sistema.
In May 1995, Brown, along with his business partner and mistress, Nolanda Hill, were targets of a federal independent counsel investigation into a series of dubious transactions that Hill contrived for their mutual benefit. At the time of his death, Brown was a beleaguered figure in an administration beset by controversy. It’s unlikely that he would have been a member of Clinton’s second-term Cabinet.
Brown ran the 1988 Democratic Convention and, on Feb. 10, 1989, he was chosen as the first black leader of a national political party, the climax of his career.
Per a New Yorker piece, one of the reasons Bill Clinton won the election in 1992 was that Jesse Jackson did not run in the primaries and grudgingly granted his support to the Clinton campaign. Hill described how Brown visited Jackson with a doctor’s bag filled with cash.
For his services, Clinton awarded Brown with an appointment as U.S. Secretary of Commerce.
Brown was involved in various sketchy business practices. Janet Reno, the U.S. Attorney General under Clinton, asked a federal appeals court to investigate Brown’s statements on his financial disclosures, as well as his “acceptance of things of value” from Hill. Brown was rapidly evolving into a loose end and potential loose tongue.
The charge most frequently leveled against the millionaire former Democratic National Committee Chairman was that he traded on his personal and political contacts for his own gain or to unfairly help his political allies, according the NPR’s Frontline.
Brown’s Commerce Department was staffed at its senior levels with former DNC officials. Chief among his critics was Republican Congressman William Clinger, who charged that DNC officials used their government positions to solicit campaign contributions to the Democrat Party and rewarded the party’s business friends with special favors.
While it’s not unusual for incoming agency heads to carry over their personal staff from their former jobs, Frontline identified 15 DNC veterans who went with Brown to key positions at the Commerce Department, most of them from party fund-raising, finance and business outreach operations.
An aspect of Brown’s tenure at Commerce that drew the most fire was the matter of which business executives were selected to accompany Brown on international trade missions like the one he took to China and Hong Kong in August and September 1994. Twenty-five executives flew with Brown on a modified 707, which once served as Air Force One.
Frontline determined that over 70 percent of the business delegates on the China trip were donors to Clinton and the Democrat Party. Among them was Ray Smith of Bell Atlantic, whose firm gave $236,625, and Robert Denham of Solomon Brothers, down for $109,722, not including a $50,000 gift to President Clinton’s inauguration.
In 1981, even before his role as a Clinton bagman and apparatchik, Brown joined the Washington law firm of Patton, Boggs & Blow as one of its first black partners. The firm has long been a political powerhouse, especially within the Democratic Party.
Brown was named deputy chairman of the DNC in 1982. That same year, he began lobbying the U.S. government on behalf of the brutal Duvalier regime, which was in power in Haiti. Over the next four years, Brown earned $630,000 helping to persuade the administration to continue aid to the government of dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier. Exhibiting a trait for stubbornness that offers hints as to why he was the subject of what looks like a Mafia-style hit, Brown refused to drop the Duvaliers despite being criticized for representing such unsavory clients.
At the time of his death in 1996, Brown had not been offered a role in the Clinton-Gore reelection campaign and was rumored to be ready to step down as Secretary.
Sketchy Details of a Downed Jet
Thirty-five died in the plane crash carrying a trade mission to Croatia. Par for the course, the Lugenpresse seemed to quickly read from a script, even before an investigation conducted.
U.S. mainstream media immediately claimed the weather at Dubrovnic, Croatia, airport was terrible, the “worst storm in a decade.” This was the exact wording used by TIME, Newsweek and the White House in describing the accident. No other pilots reported such storms, and no such storm cell formations show up on weather satellite photos of the area at the time of the crash. In short, no official document from the actual crash area exists to support the claim of “the worst storm in a decade.”
The Dubrovnik airport weather report issued at the time of the crash reported light scattered rain, broken clouds at 400 feet, a thin overcast at 2,000 feet and a steady headwind right down the runway, just the way pilots like it. The reported visibility was 5 miles. The distance from the airport to where the aircraft crashed was less than 2 miles.
While the claim has been put forward that the plane executed a missed approach and turned to the left, the fact is that nobody at the airport (with 5-mile visibility) ever saw the plane anywhere near the runway.
Contrary to other claims made in the media, the plane was NOT flying in the mountains. It was out over the coastline and water, with open space all around. Below in the video we can view the terrain on the coastline around Dubrovnik. The plane appeared to make a sudden, inexplicable veer and slammed into a hill.
Srebreno, Croatia, 2:57 p.m.: Villagers hear a plane roaring past unusually low and close.
Plat, Croatia, 2:58 p.m.: Villagers Ana and Miho Dunlica rush outside and see IFOR-21 plunging “like a ghost out of the clouds.”
Republic of South Africa, approximately 4 p.m.: News reports say an attempt is made on the life of Ron Brown’s law partner, Tommy Boggs, by an unknown assailant in a staged car accident in Capetown. Later, Boggs refuses to talk about the attempt. Allegations have been made that Boggs was culpable in many of Brown’s activities.
The first announcement of the crash came not from Dubrovnik, or anywhere else in Croatia, but from a Pentagon spokesman who requested anonymity, an odd occurrence in a supposed simple airline crash. This modus operandi was very similar to the plane crash of JFK Jr, see WW post link at end.
Unlike other crashes, in this crash the Transportation Safety Board portion of the investigation was skipped. In other words, before anybody had even reached the crash site, it was presumed to be an accident.
The airport maintenance chief in charge of navigational beacons among other things was found to have killed himself a couple of days after the crash and before he was scheduled to be interviewed.
A portable navigational beacon was missing from the airport and was never found. The U.S. government claimed the 737 carried no black boxes, even though it was basically “Air Force 2” and had carried Hillary Clinton, among others on official business, and Air Force 1 had black boxes. Russian, French and Croatian TV reported the recovery of the black box recorders. U.S. sources denied it.
The data reported in an Aviation Week & Space Technology article shows evidence that TWO SEPARATE SYSTEMS on board the Ron Brown aircraft failed at the same time. The cockpit radios and the radar transponder. But the government claims that THIS aircraft — used for VIPs, including Hillary only two weeks previously — had no such standard safety systems.
Ron Brown, along with the other crash victims, was removed from the crash site and eventually examined by Air Force Col. William Gormley, who declared Brown dead of the crash trauma itself and ignored the hole seen in Brown’s skull, which was observed and commented upon by Air Force Lt. Col. Steve Cogswell and Army Lt. Col. David Hause, both of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology.
No autopsy was ever done or ordered on Brown’s body, despite the fact that Cogswell and Hause noted a beveled edge hole in the head of Brown that looked to all of them exactly like a 45-caliber bullet hole. A “lead snowstorm” was noted in his head around where the circular wound was noted. Air Force officers and a petty officer attesting to a bullet wound were issued gag orders.
Autopsy photos were stolen and the original X-rays of Brown’s head are missing.
Reporter Chris Ruddy learned of the photos and what they showed. Dr. Cogswell provided copies and Ruddy wrote the first of several stories detailing the new allegations, which were soon corroborated by Dr. Hause.
Both Dr. Hause and Dr. Cogswell were immediately subjected to a gag order, while Dr. Gormley, who initially insisted that the hole in Ron Brown’s skull did not penetrate to the brain and was therefore not a bullet hole, was allowed free reign to attack, unchallenged and with impunity, the prior statements of Drs. Hause and Dr. Cogswell.
This backfired when Dr. Gormley, appearing on NET, was shown the photos and X-rays that displayed the hole clearly penetrating all the way into the brain. On TV, Gormley reversed himself and agreed that the hole did penetrate to the brain, excusing his former statements as a lapse of memory.
During the first week of 1998, AFIP convened a panel of its pathologists and issued a report claiming that all of its pathologists agreed with the official cause of death, only to have members of that panel break ranks just days later to publicly state that the report was not representative of the actual conclusions of the AFIP panel.
Cyril Wecht entered the picture. Wecht is considered by many to be the world’s foremost forensics expert with over 40 years experience, including gunshots and plane crashes. He was also a Democrat, which meant that the White House couldn’t quite paint him with their usual broad brush of “it’s a Republican plot.”
Wecht concurred that the hole in the top of Ron Brown’s head is consistent with a gunshot based on the inward beveling and the “snowstorm” of highly dense particles seen on the X-rays behind Ron Brown’s left eye. Wecht also pointed out additional lead particles in the photos as well as the cracking one would expect near the entry point of a bullet.
As for Dr. Gormley’s comment about there not being an exit wound, one need only look at the relationship of the entrance wound to Ron Brown’s neck to postulate that the bullet is lodged somewhere in his abdomen. Most significantly, according to Wecht, Brown’s other injuries were not that serious, and it was quite possible that Ron Brown survived the actual crash, as had stewardess Shelly Kelly.
Four hours and 20 minutes after the crash, the first Croatian Special Forces search party arrived on the scene. It finds only stewardess Kelly surviving. They called for a helicopter to evacuate her to the hospital. When it arrived, Kelly was able to get on board without assistance from the medics. But Kelly somehow dies an route.
According to multiple reports given to journalist and editor Joe L. Jordan, an autopsy later revealed a neat three-inch incision over her main femoral artery. It also showed the incision came at least three hours after all her other cuts and bruises.
This opens up the possibility that during those first few hours, when the White House reports of wreckage being found in the Adriatic had everyone looking in the wrong location, a “clean up” crew visited the crashed T-43, to make certain there were no survivors. Somehow, Ms. Kelly was overlooked, which required “special handling” during her helicopter ride to the hospital.
Evidence that such a “cleanup” crew was there is contained in the following story from Associated Press that confirmed that when the rescue crew finally reached the crash site, someone had gotten there ahead of them.
April 4, 1996, Associated Press: Cited under “fair use” 12:07 p.m. (ET) April 4 [snip] U.S. military officials said searchers arrived at the crash site at 5:50 a.m. Thursday. They joined three Americans who had been lowered in by helicopter earlier.
Read about other hit jobs via aircraft: