How Bill Clinton concealed it from the public and U.S. intelligence.
A bombshell report by the Washington Times reveals that fecklessness in the face of terror isn’t a condition exclusive to the Obama administration. "Bill Clinton’s administration gathered enough evidence to send a top-secret communique accusing Iran of facilitating the deadly 1996 Khobar Towers terrorist bombing,” the Times states, "but suppressed that information from the American public and some elements of U.S. intelligence for fear it would lead to an outcry for reprisal, according to documents and interviews.”
Nineteen American servicemen were killed in that attack and another 372 people were wounded when a tanker laden with plastic explosives was driven into the parking lot and detonated next to the eight-story dormitory used for U.S. Air Force personnel assigned to the Gulf. A U.S. indictment was issued in 2001 charging 13 Saudis and a Lebanese man with the crime for which then-Attorney General John Ashcroft blamed Iran, stating they "inspired, supported and supervised members of Saudi Hezbollah.” Yet no Iranian officials were named or charged, nor was the Iranian government accused of any legal responsibility for the atrocity.
According to memos obtain by the Times, the intelligence demonstrating Iranian involvement in the attack was characterized as extensive and credible. It included interviews by the FBI of a half-dozen Saudi co-conspirators who told the agency their passports were provided by the Iranian embassy in Damascus. They further revealed they reported to a top Iranian general, and received training from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard (IRGC), according to FBI officials.
The Times further notes the revelation about what former President Clinton knew has taken on "new significance” due to the August announcement that Ahmed al-Mughassil, described by the FBI in 2001 as both head of the military wing of Saudi Hezbollah and the alleged leader of the attack, had been captured. According to the Saudi newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat, al-Mughassil was arrested in Beirut and transferred to Riyadh. U.S. officials contend his capture has revealed new evidence of Iran’s and Hezbollah's complicity in the attack—as well as Clinton administration efforts to shield both from responsibility.
Former FBI Director Louis Freeh minced no words describing what occurred. “The bottom line was they weren’t interested,” he stated during an interview. "They were not at all responsive to it. They were looking to change the relationships with the regime there, which is foreign policy. And the FBI has nothing to do with that. They didn’t like that. But I did what I thought was proper.”
Freeh insists that when he initially sought help from the Clinton White House to gain access to the Saudi suspects, he was repeatedly turned down. When he went around the Clinton and succeeded in bringing the evidence to light, it was dismissed as “hearsay,” and a request was made not to disseminate it to others because the administration was endeavoring to improve relations with the world’s foremost state sponsor of terror. Freeh was also dismissed as a partisan when he revealed the same allegations in a book he wrote a decade ago about his time with the bureau. The same Clinton defenders further insisted the evidence obtained by Freeh was inconclusive.
“But since that time, substantial new information has emerged in declassified memos, oral history interviews with retired government officials and other venues that corroborate Mr. Freeh’s account, including that the White House tried to cut off the flow of evidence about Iran’s involvement to certain elements of the intelligence community,” the Times reports.
The chief piece of evidence cited by the paper is a damning memo sent in 1999 by Clinton to newly-elected Iranian President Mohammad Khatami. Clinton stated the American government "has received credible evidence that members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), along with members of Lebanese and Saudi Hizballah were directly involved in the planning and execution” of the bombing. Clinton insisted the United States viewed the evidence “in the gravest terms,” and though the atrocity had occurred before Khatami’s election those responsible “have yet to face justice for this crime.” Clinton further stated "the IRGC may be involved in planning for further terrorist attacks against American citizens,” and that such a possibility remains a "cause of deep concern to us.”
The 2001 indictment was issued after Clinton left office, and whatever doubt remained about Iranian involvement in the crime was shattered in 2006, when U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth ruled that Iran was responsible for the bombing, and ordered the Iranian government to pay $254 million to the families of 17 Americans who died. "The totality of the evidence at trial . . . firmly establishes that the Khobar Towers bombing was planned, funded, and sponsored by senior leadership in the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran," Lamberth wrote.
Following the linkage of Iran to the attack, Clinton had initially ordered the military to come up with plan for a retaliatory strike, and gave the CIA the green light to pursue “Operation Sapphire” aimed at disrupting Iranian intel operations in several nations. Yet just like our current president, Clinton believed the election of the ostensibly more moderate Khatami would produce a thaw in the U.S./Iranian relationship leading to Iran aiding the investigation, and renouncing terror.
Iran pushed back with a vehement denial—and a threat to publish Clinton’s cable to Khatami. Clinton officials were scared such a revelation would force the president’s hand. “If the Iranians make good on their threats to release the text of our letter, we are going to face intense pressure to take action,” wrote top Clinton aide Kenneth Pollack in a Sept. 15, 1999 memo.
As the evidence linking Iran to the crime piled up, the administration was backing down, speculating that Saudi Arabia was fanning a Shia-Sunni confrontation and that it would be better to work with the new Iranian regime rather than dealing with the possibility of engendering a wider war against terror, according to former aides. Thus, despite the State Department and FBI getting increased cooperation from the Saudis with regard to Iranian involvement, the flow of information suddenly stopped. “We were seeing a line of traffic that led us toward Iranian involvement, and suddenly that traffic was cut off,” said career intelligence officer Wayne White, who served as deputy director of the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research’s Office of Analysis for the Near East and South Asia.
When White tried to get the intel flowing again, he discovered “the stream had been cut off by Sandy Berger, and the original agency producing the intelligence was struggling to work around the roadblock,” he said. Berger was Clinton’s top security aide—and the man who was fined $50,000 following his 2008 conviction for illegally removing highly classified documents from the National Archives, some of which he intentionally destroyed.
White’s account was confirmed to the Times by several U.S. officials “with direct knowledge of the matter” including Freeh, who also revealed he tried to get around Berger by contacting former President George H.W. Bush, who had a good relationship with the Saudis. "I explained to him what my dilemma was and asked if he would contact the Saudis. And he did,” Freeh revealed. White noted that intel analysts didn’t want Iran involved in the attack because of the serious long-term ramifications it would engender for America. But when the evidence became irrefutable, he was disgusted with the administration’s politically-motivated reaction. “You cannot provide your intelligence community selective intelligence without corrupting the process, and that was an outrage,” he declared.
It is an outrage allegedly reprised by the Obama administration, which has been accused by 50 intelligence analysts working out of the U.S. military’s Central Command of doctoring their reports in an effort to downplay the danger ISIS and the Syrian branch of al Qaeda presented. The same Obama administration got equally traitorous Democrats to sustain a filibuster against the Iran deal in Congress. The GOP abetted the outrage, allowing a vote to proceed despite the law requiring all parts of that agreement, including Iran’s “side deals” with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to be part of the process. Their cowardice was exemplified by Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell, who refused to invoke the nuclear option and force a vote on what is arguably the most important national security issue of our time.
Exactly like Bill Clinton, who also promised us the Agreed Framework of 1994 would prevent a nuclear North Korea, Obama is embracing appeasement with Iranian Islamo-fascists responsible for far more American deaths than the Khobar Towers attack. Beginning with the 1979 hostage crisis, during which Americans were beaten and placed in solitary confinement, Iran has precipitated numerous instances of aggression, including kidnapping and murder, against America. The terror timeline is highlighted by 1983 U.S. Embassy bombing in Beirut, killing 17 Americans and the Beirut barracks bombing that killed 241 U.S. Marines. Moreover their involvement in both Afghanistan and Iraq cost at least 500 American soldiers their lives, according to Congressional testimony presented last July by current Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford. And one is left to wonder if Iran’s propensity for killing Americans was part of the equation to which our contemptible Secretary of State John Kerry referred, when he admitted the part of the Iranian deal that frees up billions of dollars for their use will be devoted to “nefarious activities.”
Like the Clinton administration before them, the Obama administration is indulging the fantasy they can improve relations with terrorist thugs whose contempt for America hasn’t diminished an iota in 37 years. And as these revelations from the Washington Times indicate, Bill Clinton and his apparatchiks were every bit as dishonest as Barack Obama and his equally duplicitous underlings when it came to pursuing an agenda utterly inimical to American interests and security. Make no mistake: both men have demonstrated a willingness to countenance the murder of their fellow countrymen in pursuit of appeasement. Times have changed. The unconscionable nature of the Democratic/progressive mindset with regard to America’s enemies remains a constant.