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The Wes Clark dossier

| Sunday, Dec. 21, 2003

Gen. Wesley Clark appears to have everything he needs to win the White House. However there is one item he might find useful - a food taster to check everything that he eats and drinks for poison.

The reason is plain. In a number of campaign appearances Wes Clark has said that if he wins the nomination, he might invite Hillary Rodham Clinton to be his vice president. He says that she is "a great person and a great leader" and that he's admired her for 20 years. But does anyone believe that Sen. Clinton would be content to remain in the No. 2 spot•

Enough of this malicious speculation, let's look at the facts about Clark.

Clark is no simple soldier living on a pension of a mere $85,000 as NATO's former supreme allied commander. On leaving the Army after 32 years, the general joined the Stephens Group in Arkansas as an investment banker and his earnings went up to $1.6 million. Now he has his own consulting group, is a director and consultant to several companies and an author.

Born in Chicago, growing up in Little Rock, graduating first in his class at West Point and winning a Rhodes scholarship to Oxford, there always was something lacking in Wesley. Clark may have learned how to be a general but not how to take responsibility. Any success was his alone - any mistake was due to the failure of one of his staff officers.

He is the perfect candidate for a Democrat president, and a near-perfect politician. He is unable to make a decisive decision on any meaningful issues. The Washington Post quoted a retired, four-star general as saying, "There are an awful lot of people who believe Wes will tell anybody what they want to hear, and tell someone else the exact opposite 5 minutes later!"

The American public should question what credentials Clark has besides his friends in high places. In fact, his promotion to four-star general was only the result of the intervention of Bill Clinton and then-Secretary of Defense William Perry. The Pentagon brass just didn't trust Clark.

The former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Hugh Shelton, when asked in September if he supported Clark's bid for the White House, took a drink of water, saying, "That question makes me wish this were vodka. I've known Wes a long time. He retired early from NATO because of integrity and character issues. I'm not going to say whether I'm a Republican or a Democrat. I'll just say Wes won't get my vote."

The next month, retired Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, appearing on national television, said, "The greatest condemnation of him came from Gen. Shelton. He fired him as a NATO commander. That being the case, he's not the right man for president!"

As far as the war in the Balkans, Wesley Clark was a part of the Clinton delegation that wrote the 1995 Dayton Accords "ending" the war in Bosnia. One of the accord's provisions was that foreign fighters, the "Afghan-Arab Legion," must leave the Balkans, including fighters recruited by Osama bin Laden. He had established training camps there and visited them three or four times between 1994 and 1996.

As a result of the terror network that bin Laden set up in the region, it was not surprising that the first acts of terrorism prevented after 9/11 were attempts to bomb the United States Embassy in Sarajevo.

Clark's Balkan "peace" has given him the superbly timed gimmick of appearing as a witness at the trial of Serbia's former dictator, Slobodan Milosevic, at The Hague. He gambles that being on the international stage will enable him to look both patriotic and presidential in the primaries.

However, the evidence may reveal that he knew atrocities were planned by Serbian Gen. Ratkol Mladic and was unable to stop them.

Additional Information:

Coming December 28

President George W. Bush?s high popularity ratings and Democratic presidential hopeful Howard Dean?s lead are haunting Hillary Clinton, forcing her to have second thoughts about her plans. Read about it in Sunday?s ?Dateline D.C.• column, a Tribune-Review exclusive.

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