QUESTIONS RAISED BY DEATH
Since the crash that killed Commerce Secretary Ron Brown, radio
talk shows, fax networks and computer communication links have
been filled with various conspiracy theories.
(Exclusive to The Spotlight, April 29, 1996)
By Mike Blair
Thousands of Americans believe that when an Air Force jetliner
crashed into a mountain near the Croatian coastal resort city of
Dubrovnik, killing the secretary of commerce, more than two dozen
U.S. business executives and others, it was not an accident.
A series of mysteries and contradictory statements from the
government continue to baffle those trying to unravel details of
the April 3 death of Ron Brown.
Critics find it more than coincidental that DynCorp CEO Dan
Bannister decided not to make the trip two days before the group
left Washington. DynCorp has 600 employees working in Bosnia.
Writers on patriot networks have tied DynCorp to non-military
security forces in the Balkans.
One of the leading theories discussed was that the crash was not
an accident but a means to end an embarrassment for President
Bill Clinton. Brown was investigated by the Justice Department
in 1993 for allegedly taking $700,000 in bribes from Vietnam
(*Spotlight* July 5, 1993 and others). He was cleared by
Clinton's Justice Department.
Another ongoing probe focused on the commerce chief's business
A special prosecutor was trying to determine whether Brown
improperly accepted more than $300,000 from a business partner,
Nolanda Hill, and if he deliberately filed inaccurate disclosure
statements and a misleading mortgage statement.
The case was dropped after Brown's death.
A federal grand jury in Oklahoma was expected to indict both
Brown and his Washington lobbyist son, Michael, for influence
peddling. The case focused on the hiring of the younger Brown by
Dynamic Energy Resources, a gas pipeline company based in Tulsa,
according to published reports.
Two former partners in the firm said that Michael Brown was hired
by Dynamic in order to win favor with his father.
Independent counsel experts indicated after the crash that it
would abruptly end the investigation of the commerce chief and
probably his associates.
In any case, adding fuel to the speculation are a number of
mysteries and contradictory government statements involving the
** According to Pentagon and White House officials, the plane
on which Brown and 34 others were killed was not equipped
with flight voice and data recorders, known as "black boxes."
These reports came after Croatian Prime Minister Vlatko
Matasa and Miljenko Radic, head of the Croatian civilian air
traffic control, both stated that the two boxes were found
inside the tail of the plane.
The Pentagon said the aircraft was too old to be equipped
with the data recorders.
However the United States European Command in Stuttgart,
Germany, insisted the plane did have the "black boxes" on
This was the same aircraft in which Secretary of State
William Perry had been ferried about Bosnia earlier in the
week and several weeks ago had carried first lady Hillary
Clinton and the Clintons' daughter Chelsea to the troubled
The burning question is, why would such important
personages of the Clinton administration be assigned to an
aircraft without such data recorders?
** The Pentagon claims that the aircraft had not received
upgraded radar and communications technology to facilitate
electronically-controlled "blind landings."
Again, why would such a plane be used to carry key
** Why did the aircraft attempt a landing at Dubrovnik in
what locals have called "the worst storm in a decade?"
** Lt. Col. James Albright, commander of the Air Force unit
in Germany, which included the plane, had been replaced five
days before the crash for complaining about safety concerns
about the planes flying into poorly equipped airports, such
as the field at Dubrovnik.
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