The Mena Connection establishes unequivocally that both Vice-president George H. W. Bush and Governor Bill Clinton had direct involvement in the CIA’s cocaine smuggling operation at Arkansas’ Mena Airport during the 1980s. Aircraft loaded with illegal weapons for the Contras in Honduras returned to Mena with tons of Columbia cocaine used to finance the operation. Reprising documentary evidence Reed presents in his 1994 bestselling book, Compromised: Clinton, Bush and the CIA , the film also establishes that Clinton also deliberately obstructed investigations into Mena by local and federal prosecutors and the IRS.
Half the documentary is devoted to exposes a local Arkansas TV reporter and a WMAQ (Chicago) reporter did on cocaine smuggling at Mena during the congressional investigation into Iran Contra.* The other half consists of lengthy interviews with whistleblower Terry Reed and his wife Janis.
An experienced Vietnam War pilot, in 1983 Oliver North recruited Reed to participate in The Enterprise, a CIA operation to assemble and deliver untraceable weapons to Contra rebels fighting to overthrow Nicaragua’s Sandinista government. Reed also trained Contra pilots in “night flying” – landing without runway lights – on a remote mountainous airstrip eleven miles from Mena.
According to Reed, the CIA shut down the Mena operation shortly Iran Contra scandal broke in 1986, shortly after movingthe guns-for-cocaine operation to Mexico. Soon after Reed moved his family to Guadalajara, his CIA control order him to participate in the cocaine smuggling side of the operation. Things got nasty when he refused to comply and submitted his resignation. The Department of Justice attempted to frame him and his wife for drug smuggling.
They spent the next two years fighting the conviction. Following their 1991 acquittal, Reed filed suit against Arkansas law enforcement and Clinton administration officials who had framed him. Both Reed and Arkansas Congressman Bill Alexander, whose efforts to obtain a General Accounting Office investigation into Mena were blocked by the CIA, believed the lawsuit would lead to Clinton’s impeachment.
In a roundabout way it did. Owing to CIA interference, it proved impossible to impeach Clinton for cocaine smuggling or money laundering. Ultimately the only charge Congress could make stick was lying under oath about a sexual affair with a White House intern.
*The Iran Contra Affair was a political scandal in which senior Reagan administration officials secretly facilitated the sale of arms to Iran (an enemy state) to secure funding for CIA-sponsored Contras in Nicaragua.
This documentary approaches the Oklahoma City bombing from a somewhat different angle, focusing on the citizens group that empaneled a grand jury to investigate Tim McVeigh’s accomplices, as well as his links to US intelligence. Oklahoma is one of the few states that allows citizens to convene their own grand jury.
The Oklahoma Bombing Investigation Committee was made up of Oklahoma City police and sheriff’s officers, bombing victims and their families, eyewitnesses and a supportive state legislator. Their findings showed clearly that at the time of the bombing McVeigh was still in the US Army (as indicated on his death certificate) and assigned to working with the FBI and ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) group PatCon to infiltrate militant right wing groups. The committee’s goal was to force Congress to investigate the FBI cover-up of the Oklahoma City bombing. When this failed, the published their findings two weeks prior to 9-11 in a book called The Final Report on the Bombing of the Alfred P Murrah Building.
A Noble Lie also zeroes in on the two eyewitnesses who were murdered as part of the FBI cover-up, the files the FBI and ATF removed from the Murrah federal building before they permitted search and rescue teams from entering the bomb site, and FBI memos obtained under the Freedom of Information Act about the involvement of McVeigh and various accomplices in PatCon. The latter was an undercover FBI operation to infiltrate right wing extremist groups.
This film also goes to great lengths to debunk the FBI claim that a truck bomb caused the Murrah Federal Building to collapse. Not only was the pattern of structural damage inconsistent with an external air blast, but a truck bomb (of the size claimed by the FBI) would have produced too much ammonia gas for rescuers to enter the building.
Independent forensic tests at an Air Force lab ascertained that the bombing had to result from explosive charges attached to one or more columns inside the building – exactly like the two bombs defused immediately after the blast. The activities of the Air Force bomb disposal squad were reported by numerous media outlets on the day.
*An Oklahoma sheriff got a tip off from Little Rock the day of the bombing that these records likely concerned the federal investigation into CIA drug running at the Mena Airport in Arkansas. Federal records related to the Whitewater investigation, another Clinton scandal, were also stored in the Murrah building and vanished the day of the bombing.
Part 2 focuses on the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan between 1979 and 1989 – and how the CIA funded and trained the Islamist Mujahideen to combat the occupation.
Both Carter’s National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski and the neoconservatives claim credit for the hare-brained and incredibly short sighted scheme to recruit, fund and train a jihadist army in Afghanistan. In addition to providing sophisticated weaponry, the CIA trained the Mujahideen in terror techniques, such as assassination, car bombs and improvised explosive devices (IDEs).
Abdullah Azzam, the Palestinian who led the Mujahideen, put out a call for all Muslims to join Afghanistan’s holy war. He believed that victory in Afghanistan would inspire foreign fighters to return to their homelands and overthrow corrupt secular dictators the US was propping up.
One Saudi who answered this call was a phenomenally wealthy construction contractor named Osama bin Laden. He, too, provided funding for the Mujahideen.
Arab governments, recognizing a unique opportunity to expel their own jihadist troublemakers, opened their jails and exiled their Islamic extremists to Afhanistan. Egypt released Islamic Jihad founder Dr Zawahiri and his followers.
Gorbachov Orders Soviet Withdrawal
In 1987 when Gorbachov came to power, the Soviet Union was on the brink of economic collapse. Believing he could still save it through political reform, Gorby quickly commenced Soviet troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. He also reached out to the Bush senior administration to help install a stable government in Kabul. He warned that failure to do so would allow the Mujahideen to install an Islamic dictatorship. The neoconservatives who ran the Pentagon and State Department refused. With Pakistani support, the Mujahideen (renamed the Taliban) took control of Afghanistan and installed a brutal fundamentalist regime.
Both the neoconservatives and the Taliban/Mujahideen would claim sole credit for victory over the Soviets in Afghanistan. Both groups (and Zbigniew Brzezinski) would also credit US intervention in Afghanistan for the demise of the Soviet Union. In reality the USSR collapsed due to gross economic mismanagement and internal decay.
The Split Between Azzam and Zawahiri
Following the Soviet withdrawal, a major rift occurred between Zawahiri and Azzam. As it turned out, torture also radicalized Zawahiri. Who now proclaimed that politicians who were in bed with the Americans – and their civilian supporters – were legitimate targets for assassination.
Azzam, in contrast, compelled Islamic freedom fighters to swear an oath not to kill innocent civilians. Osama Bin Laden, former deputy to Azzam, joined forces with Zawahiri shortly before the latter’s assassination in 1989.
By the early nineties, powerful movements the Islamic Jihad (and related groups) had built in Egypt and Algeria were on track to win national elections. Aided by the US and France, the Algerian military launched a coup and cancelled the Algerian elections. Egypt, in turn, banned the Muslim Brotherhood and arrested and tortured their leadership.
Islamic Jihad responded by attempting to launch violent jihad in both countries. Owing to their failure to attract a mass following, in May 1998 Zawahuri and Bin Laden would announce a new strategy: taking jihad to their real enemies: the US and Israel.
Meanwhile Back in Washington
Following the fall of the Soviet Union, the neoconservatives were more committed than ever to promoting the myth that the US was the sole force for good in a world of evil regimes. Fingering Saddam Hussein as the next satan to be overthrown, in 1990 they put immense pressure on Bush senior to overthrow the Iraqi government during the first Gulf War. Bush wisely took the sage advice of Pentagon advisers who warned that a full scale invasion of Iraq would result in a hopeless quagmire.
Mainstream Republicans Back Clinton
In 1992, mainstream Republicans, frightened by the religious fundamentalism that had overtaken the Republican Party, voted for Clinton in droves. The neocons, in turn, latched onto Clinton as the new evil. They began a vicious propaganda campaign against him, spearheaded by the conservative American Spectator. The campaign widely disseminated spurious allegations that the Clintons had committed financial fraud in Whitewater*, murdered their friend Vince Foster and participated in drug smuggling at the Mena Airport in Arkansas.**
Under immense pressure, Clinton agreed to appoint Kenneth Starr as special prosecutor to investigate these allegations. Starr couldn’t find any evidence of Clinton wrongdoing until he stumbled onto the President’s affair with Monica Lewinsky.
Following their failure to impeach Clinton, the neocons became as marginalized in the US as Bin Laden, Zawahiri and their ragtag followers in the Arab world.
All this would change with 9-11, which would propel both the Islamists and the neocons.
*The Whitewater controversy involved a questionable real estate deal Clinton engaged in while he was attorney general of Arkansas. The Whitewater investigations would result in criminal convictions for several of Clinton’s associates. Although there was insufficient evidence to file criminal charges against the President, his conduct was clearly unethical: see Whitewater Scandal
**While there’s no evidence Governor Clinton was directly involved in cocaine smuggling, he was unresponsive to strong grassroots demand that he investigate the CIA’a drug-gun smuggling operation at the Mena Airport – and to Ross Perot’s (presidential candidate in 1992 and 1996) request that Clinton back the Internal Revenue’s investigation of Menta.