Excerpt from: PARTNERS IN POWER by Roger Morris pg. 404-411 Early in 1984, a twenty-nine-y

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Excerpt from: PARTNERS IN POWER by Roger Morris pg. 404-411 Early in 1984, a twenty-nine-year-old Arkansas trooper named Larry Douglass Brown was eagerly applying for work with the Central Intelligence Agency. As he told the story with impressive substantiation from other accounts a decade afterward, Brown had been privy to some of the Clintons' most personal liaisons, their biting relationship with each other, their behind-the-doors bigotry toward "redneck" Arkansas, and other intimacies; he and a stoic Hillary had even talked earnestly about problems in their respective marriages. At one point in the early 1980s, Brown had come in contact with Vice President Bush during an official gathering. Th e"rather conservative' young officer, as one friend described him, had been impressed by Bush. Afterward Clinton has twitted him about his Republican "hero," though the two remained close. Regarded as among the better state police officers, Brown received some of the most sophisticated training that national law enforcement agencies offer regional police officers, including advanced courses provided by the DEA and Customs in intelligence gathering, drug importation, and conspiracy cases. Because of Brown's extensive training, Clinton handpicked him to serve of a state committee studying the drug epidemic to help develop educational programs in Arkansas, and Brown wrote several of the panel's position papers later cited as evidence of the state government's fight against narcotics. By Brown's repeated accounts, including hundreds of pages of testimony under oath and supporting documentation, the sum of the story was stark: The governor had clearly been aware of the crimes of Mena as early as 1984. He knew the Central Intelligence Agency was responsible, knew that there was major arms and drug running out of western Arkansas, believed the smuggling involved not only Barry Seal but also a cocaine dealer who was one of Clinton's most prominent backers, and seemed to know that approval of the Mena flights reached as high as Vice President Bush. Brown remembered how Bill Clinton had encouraged him to join in the operation -- "Clinton got me into this, the governor did," he would testify -- and how Clinton had then dismissed his repugnance at the evidence that Seal was trafficking cocaine under CIA auspices. The state policeman watched in "despair," his brother recalled, while the governor did nothing about the drug smuggling. Brown would still think a decade later that Bill Clinton "was surprised only in that I had found out about it." Clinton had urged him to answer a newspaper ad for CIA employment that ran in the NEW YORK TIMES on April Fool's Day, 1984. "L.D., I've always told you you'd make a good spy," Clinton remarked to him when Brown showed him the paper and asked "if this is for real?" "Well, you know that's not his name," Clinton said of a personnel officer listed in the ad, "but you need to write him a letter." Brown did just that two days later. "Governor Clinton has been an inspiration for me to further my career in government service," he wrote, " and in particular to explore the possibilities of employment with your agency." Clinton proceeded to show an avid interest in Brown's application. He urged Brown to study Russian for an intelligence career, and Brown characteristically took the advice to heart, practicing the foreign script in a copybook and artlessly, proudly informing the CIA of his "understanding the Cyrillic alphabet." He and Clinton talked, too, of the role of an operations officer, with Clinton explaining the CIA's diplomatic cover abroad and the recruitment of informers. "It was strange, you know. He was into the fiction aspect of it and intrigue," Brown remembered. At one point Clinton told him he would personally call the CIA on his behalf. "He, obviously, from all our conversations, knew somebody," Brown recounted in a sworn deposition. "I don't know who he called, but he said he would. He said he did. I made a note one day that he made a phone call for me." But in a private conversation Brown would go even further with the story of the call. Clinton, he said, had not bothered to go through any officeholder's liaison or other formal CIA channel in Washington but had simply telephoned someone directly at the agency, someone whom he knew on a first-name basis and with whom he talked for some time. As usual, Brown was impressed with his boss's knowledge and contacts. Early in the process the governor had begun to greet him whenever they met with a grinning question they both understood to refer to Brown's relationship with the CIA. "You having any fun yet?" Clinton would ask. By the end of the summer of 1984 -- four months after taking and passing a CIA entrance examination -- Brown had met with a CIA recruiter in Dallas, someone named Magruder, an "Ivy League looking guy" who spoke "admiringly of Clinton," and whom Brown would later recognize in photographs and identify to congressional investigators in 1996 as a onetime member of Vice President Bush's staff. This was the man who asked him if he would be interested in "paramilitary" or "narcotics" work as well as "security." Brown said he wanted to be considered for such assignment and, in the course of the interview, duly signed a secrecy agreement. Somebody, he was told, would be giving him a call. On September 5 he received formal notification of his nomination for employment. Scarcely a month later the expected CIA call came to his unlisted number at home. As Brown testified, the caller "talked to me about everything I had been through in the meeting in Dallas, ... made me very aware that he knew everything there was to know." He asked Brown to meet him at Cajun's Wharf in Little Rock, a popular restaurant and bar off Cantrell Road in the Arkansas River bottoms just below the white heights. His name, he said, was Barry Seal. At their meeting, the corpulent Seal was memorable for the athletic young state trooper. "Big guy. He had one of those shirts that comes down ... outside your pants, big-guy kind of thing." Seal was cryptic but again seemed clearly to know details Brown had provided on his CIA application. "He knew about the essay and everything I had done, so absolutely there was no question in my mind," Brown testified. Seal also spoke vaguely about working for the CIA: "He'd been flying for the agency, that's all I knew." In comnversations over the next few weeks, Seal referred casually to Clinton as "the guv" and "acted like he knew the governor," Brown recalled. He invited Brown to join him in an "operation" planned to begin at Mena Intermountain Regional just before sunrise on Tuesday, October 23, 1984. Arranging his shifts at the mansion to make time for the flight, Brown met Seal at the Mena airport in the predawn darkness and was surprised to find them boarding not a small private craft but a "huge military plane" painted a dark charcoal with only minimum tail markings, its engines roaring with a "thunderous noise," he remembered. "Scared the shit out of me just taking off." Seal ordered him matter-of-factly to leave behind all personal identification, including his billfold, keys and jewelry. Along with Seal at the controls sat a copilot whose name Brown never learned, and in the back of the aircraft sat two men, "beaners" or "kickers" the trooper called them. Though he did not know it, Brown was aboard the FAT LADY, and his later account marked the flight as on of Mena's routine gun-and-drug runs. After a refueling stop in New Orleans and the flight to Central America, the C-123K dived below radar, then climbed and dipped again for the "kickers" to roll out on casters large tarp-covered palettes, which were swiftly parachuted over what Brown could see out the open cargo door was a tropical, mountainous terrain. Later Sal told Brown the loads were M-16s for the Contras. On the return they landed in Honduras, where Seal and the "kickers" picked up four dark green canvas duffel bags with shoulder straps, which Brown did not see again. Back at Mena Seal handed Brown a manilla envelope with $2,500 in small bills, presumably as payment for his time -- "used money just like you went out and spent," Brown recalled -- and said he would call him again about another "operation." As the ambitious young trooper testified later, he was diffident about this apparent audition with his CIA employers, reluctant to ask questions, even about the cash. "This guy (Seal) obviously knew what he was doing and had the blessing and was working for the agency and knew everything about me, so I wasn't going to be too inquisitive." At the mansion on Brown's next shift following the run to Central America, Clinton greeted him with the usual "You having any fun yet?" though now with a pat on the back. With a "big smile" Brown answered, "Yeah, but this is scary stuff," describing "a big airplane" which he thought "kind of crazy." But Bill Clinton seemed unsurprised and unquestioning, casual as always about what Brown told him about the CIA, Seal and Mena. "Oh, you can handle it," he said again. "Don't sweat it." Brown was startled at the governor's obvious prior knowledge of the flight. "He knew before I said anything. He knew," Brown testified. Asked later under oath if he believed the Seal flight had been sanctioned by the governor, Brown would be unequivocal. "Well, he knew what I was doing. He was the one that furthered me along and shepherded me through this thing." Did he have any doubt that Clinton approved of the flight from Mena to Central America:? "No," he testified. Did he believe the Seal run "a sanctioned and approved mission on behalf of the United States?" "Absolutely. I mean, there is no doubt." Not long afterward, in the later fall of 1984, Seal called the trooper as promised, again inquiring about Clinton: "he always asked me first thing, how is the guv?" They talked about the first flight and Seal, ruminating on his service for the CIA, confirmed that they had dropped a load of contraband M-16s for the Contras. "That's all he talked about was flying and (the) CIA and how much work he had done for them, and that's all he did. That's all we would talk about," Brown recalled. They met again, this time at a Chinese restaurant near the Capitol, and arranged for Brown to go on another trip in late December. On Christmas Eve, 1984, once more with the governor's encouragement, Brown again flew with Seal to Central America on what he still understood to be some kind of orientation mission for his CIA employment. Seal picked up two duffel bags on the return through Honduras, and just as before, back at Mean he offered Brown $2,500 in small bills. Yet this time Seal also brought one of the duffels to Brown's Datsun hatchback in the Intermountain Regional parking lot and proceeded to take out of it what the former narcotics investigator instantly recognize as a kilo of cocaine, a "waxene-wrapped package," as he called it, "a brick." Alarmed and incensed, brown quickly told Seal he "wanted no part of what was happening" and left, speeding back to Little Rock in mounting agitation, not least over the role of the state's chief executive. "I'm just going nuts in my mind with all the possibilities," he would say. "I'm thinking, well , this is, this is an official operation. Clinton got me into this, the governor did. It can't be as sinister as I think it is ... He knew about the airplane flights. He knew about it and initiated the conversation about it the first time I came back." Returning to the guardhouse, Brown first called his "best friend," his brother Dwayne in Pine Bluff, who remembered his being "terribly upset" and later went to the mansion to see him when the Clintons were away. According to the two men, Brown told his brother part of what he had encountered, though without mentioning the CIA involvement. "Who's pushing this. Who is behind it?" his brother asked at one point. In reply, as each recalled clearly, Brown "nodded over towards the governor's mansion." Brown decided to approach Clinton directly about what he has seen. When they were together soon after the second flight, a smiling Clinton seemed about to ask the usual question. But Brown was angry. He asked Clinton if he knew Barry Seal was smuggling narcotics. "Do you know what they're bringing back on that airplane?" He said to Clinton in fury. "Wait, whoa, whoa, what's going on?" the governor responded, and Brown answered, "well, essentially they're bringing back coke." More than a decade later, Brown would testify to his dismay at Clinton's response" "and it wasn't like it was a surprise to him. It wasn't like -- he didn't try to say, what? ... He was surprised that I was mad because he though we were going to have a cordial conversation, but he didn't try to deny it. He didn't try to deny it wasn't coming back, that I wasn't telling the truth or that he didn't know anything about it." In waving off Brown's questions about Mena, Clinton had made another remark as well, added as what seemed both justification and warning. "And your hero Bush knows about it," he told Brown. "And your buddy Bush knows about it." Brown was chilled. "I'm not going to have anything else to do with it ... I'm out of it," he told Clinton. "Stick a fork in me, I'm done," he added, an adolescent phrase from their shared Arkansas boyhood. The governor had tried to calm him: "Settle down. That's no problem." But Brown turned away, hurried to his car, and drove off, leaving behind his once-promising career. "I got out of there, and from then it was, you know, not good." The trooper immediately called the CIA to withdraw his application, albeit discreetly. "Just changed my mind," he recalled telling them. But he saw no recourse, no appeal to some higher level of government in a crimes in which both the governor of the state and Washington were knowledgeable and thus complicit. "I mean if the governor knows about it ... and I work for the governor," he remembered thinking, "exactly who would I have gone to and told? I mean, the federal government knows that this guy is doing this ... I don't know what authority I would have gone to." More than a year later, as they were having drinks in Jonesboro, Brown would tell the commandant of the state police, Colonel Tommy Goodwin, but even then he acted out of a desire to confess his unwitting involvement rather than out of any expectation that Arkansas would move on the crimes. All the while, he was bothered by the role of his onetime hero at the mansion. "Number one," he would testify later of Bill Clinton, "he didn't deny it. I wanted him to tell me, OH, GOOD GOSH, THAT'S TERRIBLE. WE'VE GOT TO REPORT THIS. And I wanted him to deny knowing anything about it or explain it away to me ... THEY'VE GOT A BIG STING PLANNED, AND THEY'RE TRYING, YOU KNOW, TO MAKE A CASE ON SUCH AND SUCH, but no. It was no surprise to him. He was surprised, I think -- this is what I think -- that Seal showed it to me. That's what I think to this day." But perhaps what most disturbed L.D. Brown was a direct reference by Clinton to a member of the governor's own inner circle. Clinton "throws up his hands" when Brown mentions the cocaine, as if a crucial, somehow rationalizing distinction should be made between the gunrunning and the drug trafficking. "Oh, no," Clinton said, denying that the cocaine was related to the CIA Brown


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