by Frank Holmes, reporter
Of all the scandals hanging over Bill Clinton, the one that’s remained the most mysterious for the longest period of time is this: What was his connection to an alleged government drug smuggling operation run out of Mena, Arkansas, while he was governor?
Allegations have swirled for decades about the airport, where multiple federal agencies flew planes for years at the height of the U.S. cocaine epidemic.
Now, new documents, first obtained by conservative legal watchdog Judicial Watch, shed light on one of the darkest corners of the Clinton legacy.
In 1981, a drug smuggler named Barry Seal moved his operation to a tiny airstrip in Arkansas, the Mena Intermountain Airport.
Seal claimed he’d made up to $50 million by delivering 1,000-pound bags of cocaine for South American cartels. When the feds busted him, he became a DEA informant and helped expose how Nicaragua’s Communist Sandinistas helped cocaine flow into the U.S.
But rumors have always had it that Seal did a lot more than run picture-taking errands; he was smuggling drugs into the U.S.—and Bill Clinton allegedly sat at the center of the action.
Eyewitnesses claim to have seen a new airstrip being cut into the wild woods of the Ozarks near Mena, and very strange things happening there.
Former IRS investigator Bill Duncan said reports started to pour in of “automatic weapons fire, men of Latin American appearance in the area, people in camouflage moving quietly through streams with automatic weapons, aircraft drops, twin-engine airplane traffic.”
Sources claimed that the airport was ground zero of a massive illegal drug-and-arms-smuggling operation that imported cocaine into the United States and shipped weapons to Central American rebels—and rumor is that Clinton and his pals profited handsomely from the trade.
Clinton’s then-governor administration collected a 10 percent “commission” on every dollar of drugs flown into the Mena airport—and, according to a 550-page book by Terry Reed, Clinton saw that the drugs got laundered through Dan Lasater, a close friend of the governor, his wife, and his half-brother Roger Clinton.
“There was something going on there that the government desperately wanted to hide,” said the book’s co-author, John Cummings.
But it looked like we’d never know the details. In just a few years Seal was murdered by the Medellin cartel, and his plane – and its new pilot – got shot down over Nicaragua, illegally carrying arms to the Contras.
The fact that all this happened while Bill Clinton sat in the governor’s mansion made people ask the same question: What did Clinton know and when did he know it?
Amazing as it sounds, President Clinton has only made one statement on the shocking allegations over the years—in 1994. At a press conference, he said things happening at Mena “were primarily a matter for federal jurisdiction.” The feds “didn’t tell me anything about it,” and that “we had nothing—zero—to do with it.” At the time, reporters thought he used legal language to dodge the question.
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Others said he outright lied.
The London Telegraph reported that Arkansas state trooper Larry Patterson stated, under penalty of perjury, that he and others on his team “discussed repeatedly in Clinton’s presence” very “large quantities of drugs being flown into the Mena airport, large quantities of money, large quantities of guns.”
In 1996, Congress ordered the CIA to produce a report about what happened at the mountaintop airport with the high volume of drug shipments.
CIA officials insisted the report cleared them…but it never saw the light of day.
Judicial Watch sued and won the report’s release—but there’s a hitch.
Most of its 73 pages are redacted, erased, or crossed out.
Still, what is visible brings interesting facts to light.
The CIA states that it had nothing to do with Barry Seal—except for a two-day stint when they paid him to repair airplanes they flew on another, totally innocent mission with the Defense Department.
What that routine training with the DoD entailed, they won’t say.
But the document undercuts Clinton’s statement that he knew “zero” about the goings-on at Mena. The CIA says that “certain Arkansas state and local officials were informed.”
Those with knowledge of the Arkansas government in the 1980s say it’s unbelievable that Clinton didn’t at least know about what really happened at Mena, whatever it was.
“Bill Clinton likely knew a lot more than he has admitted,” Judicial Watch says in a statement. “We also learn there is a lot the government still does not want us to know.”
In fact, Clinton’s cronies are reportedly still avoiding investigators. Reporter Mara Leveritt said she personally read the Arkansas State Police’s enormous file on Barry Seal years ago—but when she asked to review it a few years ago, it disappeared into thin air.
“I knew the agency had an extensive file on Seal, because I’d read it decades earlier, shortly after Seal’s murder,” she said.
Because of this kind of stonewalling, Judicial Watch is demanding the CIA come clean to the American public.
“The Mena Report should be declassified and released,” says Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. The public deserves answers to what really went on at Mena.”
Frank Holmes is a veteran journalist and an outspoken conservative that talks about the news that was in his weekly article, “On The Holmes Front.”