by Roger Morris
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Roger Clinton's locally famous name began to appear in the narcotics files of local and federal law enforcement agencies in the first weeks of 1984, and some officers believed there had been even earlier reports that were subsequently purged. It was in the late spring of that year, as Virginia remembered, that she first learned that twenty-seven-year-old Roger was in trouble for drug dealing, though "Bill had known for weeks that this moment was coming." What her sons had actually known and done, however, and for how long, not even Virginia was prepared to face.
Roger's dissolution had posed a potential embarrassment since Clinton's first term in the mansion, though each time the episode was fixed or covered up. After Roger was arrested in 1981 for ignoring repeated speeding tickets, the governor quietly arranged for his release to the custody of a relative who chaired the state's Crime Commission. Clinton had already appointed his half brother to, of all things, the Crime Commission's Juvenile Advisory Board, though Roger would soon be removed for nonattendance. There was another troublesome arrest, this time for drunk driving and possession of narcotics, in March 1982, on the eve of Bill's carefully orchestrated announcement for reelection. Containment required intense intervention behind the scenes, and after a year of maneuvered postponements the charges were discreetly dropped. "The sheriff’s office and the prosecutor succumbed to political pressure," one journalist wrote after the fact. "They leaned till they cracked," said a lawyer who knew the case. Knowing what lay in store for them if they brought charges, local authorities generally continued to look the other way through 1983 as Roger repeated his father's pattern of public drunkenness and brawls.
According to later testimony, including police stakeout video film, informers' hidden tape recordings, and his own statements to investigators, Roger Clinton had begun using cocaine in the late 1970s and was soon addicted. Eventually he was slave to a four-gram-a-day habit, snorting the drug some sixteen times during his waking hours and "getting close to a lethal dose," as a therapist told the court. He supported the addiction and a rakish lifestyle by dealing drugs himself, with contacts in New York winding all the way to the Medellin drug cartel in Colombia; he had, on occasion, walked smugly through Little Rock's small airport with what he described as "thousands of dollars" in cocaine hidden on his person. "I can get you a quarter pound," the half brother of the governor would be heard saying to a wired police informer in negotiations for $10,000 in cocaine during the early 1980s. "I can get you what you want if you come up with the cash." Yet it was clear from the evidence, too, that Roger Clinton was hardly one more petty drug dealer and addict. As his own trial and related ones revealed, the drug trade flourishing around him involved some of the most noted figures in Little Rock and around the state.
Arkansas's role in the contra war and in an arms-for-drugs supply network goes back to the early 1980s and the airport at Mena, Arkansas, discussed in this column two weeks ago. A federal investigation aided by the Arkansas State Police established that Barry Seal, a drug dealer working for the Medellin cartel as well as with the C.I.A. and the D.E.A., had his planes retrofitted at Mena for drug drops, trained pilots there and laundered his profits partly through financial institutions in Arkansas. Seal, at this time was in close contact with North, who acknowledged the relationship in his memoir. These were the years in which North was constructing his covert supply lines for the contras.
-- Chapters in the Recent History of Arkansas, by Alexander Cockburn
"I don't wannna tell ya too much, 'cause truthfully ya don't have a need to know. But Terry I been workin' with several federal agencies for the past couple of years as ya probably suspicioned. In the course of that business, a person can't help but run across some real sensitive information. It seems some major players in the Medellin Cartel, whom I personally know, ran across some knowledge that's very valuable to both the Republicans and the Democratic Party. Real national security stuff. It seems some of George Bush's kids just can't say no ta drugs, ha ha ha ha ...Well, ya can imagine how valuable information like that would be, can't ya? That could get ya out of almost any kind of jam." Seal paused for a moment then asked, "Ya ever play Monopoly? The information I got is so good it's just like a get-out-of-jail-free card ... ha, ha, ha, ha YEEHAWWWWW..."
-- Compromised: Clinton, Bush and the CIA: How the Presidency was Co-opted by the CIA, by Terry Reed & John Cummings
"Seal was smuggling drugs and kept his planes at Mena," The Wall Street Journal reported in 1994. "He also acted as an agent for the D.E.A. In one of these missions, he flew the plane that produced photographs of Sandinistas loading drugs in Nicaragua. He was killed by a drug gang [Medellin cartel hit men] in Baton Rouge. The cargo plane he flew was the same one later flown by Eugene Hasenfus when he was shot down over Nicaragua with a load of contra supplies.
-- The Crimes of Mena, by Sally Denton and Roger Morris
"The Contras needed weapons for their rebellion against the Sandinistas. When the CIA approached the Contras in the early 80's they promised total support in weapons, training, and money required to sustain the operations. This is what prompted the Nicaraguans to begin open recruiting against the Ortega-led Sandinista government. But, as time went on, the U.S. renigged on their promise to the rebels. Not only did the U.S. cut money needed for medical and food supplies for the Contra camps, but they also refused to provide the weaponry needed to stay alive. This left the Contras in a hell of a spot. William Casey met with Adolfo Colero and it was decided that the Contras would get the much needed money and weapons in exchange for cocaine. Casey put Ollie North over the project. North, at the CIAs promptings, recruited Seal to oversee delivery of the products, and a man named Ramon Navarro (Medellin Cartel) to train the Contras in the manufacturing process. Colero was the "point man" for the Contras. He dealt with Washington and others as needed. Contra leader Enrique Bermudez was tasked with getting the cocaine kitchens built and protected. Bermudez had solicited three other Contra commanders to assist in this project. Their names are Commander Fernando, Commander Franklin, and Commander Marlan. Ramon Navarro supplied the cocaine paste and raw coca leaves to the Contras. The U.S. provided the equipment. It was delivered to the camps by Chinook helicopters (CH-47) out of Ft. Campbell, Kentucky (159th Aviation Battalion). It was Barry's job to deliver the finished product and monies to destinations as dictated by Mr. North.
-- The Chip Tatum Chronicles: Testimony of Government Drug Running, by Chip Tatum
Only occasionally did a major news outlet seek to square this circle, such as during Noriega’s drug-trafficking trial in 1991 when U.S. prosecutors called as a witness Colombian Medellin-cartel kingpin Carlos Lehder, who, along with implicating Noriega, testified that the cartel had given $10 million to the Contras, an allegation first unearthed by Sen. Kerry.
-- The Warning in Gary Webb’s Death, by Robert Parry
Ledher Rivas was a member of MAS -- The "Death to Kidnappers" group (Spanish: Muerte a Secuestradores, MAS) is a non-state death squad run by Colombian drug traffickers for the limited purpose of countering and containing their main enemies, namely Colombian leftist revolutionaries, politicians, and the Colombian state. The group formed after the kidnapping of Jorge Luis Ochoa’s daughter….
MAS was founded in December 1981 by drug traffickers Carlos Ledher Rivas and Jorge Luis Ochoa Vásquez. The leader of the Medellín drug cartel, Pablo Escobar Gaviria (d. 1993), was also believed to be among the patrons of MAS. This group was originally directed particularly against guerrilla groups, such as M-19, that had been kidnapping drug kingpins for ransom. Eventually it became a right-wing death squad that targeted leftist politicians, students, and other activists. MAS is believed to function as an umbrella organization for a number of right-wing paramilitary groups of which 128 could be identified by 1988.
-- Inside the Dixie Mafia: Politics of Death, by John Caylor
Nazis and their sympathizers are rarely boring. At the very least, they are revolting and perhaps even ridiculous. At best, they are surreal. One such case is that of Carlos Lehder Rivas,  a former kingpin of the Medellin drug cartel of Colombia: neo-Nazi, multimillionaire drug lord, convicted felon, prosecution witness against former Panamanian President and Santeria practitioner Manuel Noriega, and huge John Lennon fan.
Lehder's father was a German engineer who managed to emigrate to Colombia before the end of the war. Carlos Lehder himself was born in 1947, the product of a union between his German-born father and Colombian mother. His parents divorced shortly after Carlos was born, and his mother took him to New York City, where he eventually wound up selling pot in the Bronx as a teenager before getting arrested for grand-theft auto at the age of twenty-six. He had been stealing cars since he was eighteen.
By 1975, he was out of jail and back in Bogota. Three years later, and Carlos Lehder was one of the richest men in the world. He had understood that the key element in any narcotics operation was transportation, and -- with his newly acquired pilot's license -- he set up a marijuana transport system that was the marvel of South American criminal enterprises.
Not content with being a mere drug trafficker, however, Carlos Lehder decided he wanted to run the country. By 1983 he had formed a political party -- the Movimiento Civico Latino Nacional (MCLN) -- a rabidly nationalist, anti-American, anti-Communist, and neo-Nazi party in which Hitler was extolled as "the greatest warrior in history,"  and Lehder's own open involvement in the drug trade was nothing less than a means of toppling the imperialist forces (the United States) and destroying their influence in Latin America. He opened a resort hotel, the Posada Alemana (German Inn), a pastiche of Bavarian-style architecture, with a statue of Lehder's idol, John Lennon, as centerpiece of the hotel's disco: a club which blared a constant stream of Beatles music at all hours of the day and night. The statue itself is worthy of attention for here Lennon is depicted in the nude, wearing only a Nazi helmet, holding a guitar, and with a bullet hole in his heart! How the peaceful, antiestablishment and pro-love pop singer and composer was linked with Nazism in Lehder's mind is anyone's guess; perhaps Mr. Lennon's marriage to a Japanese woman was enough to convince the drug dealer that Lennon's sympathies were with the Axis powers?
In any event, Lehder's many speeches to the press and to crowds of curiosity-seekers in his hometown of Armenia consistently invoke this theme of Nazism and the drug trade, equating cocaine with the atomic bomb: the secret weapon of the Nazis in their ongoing struggle against capitalism and American imperialism. Most DEA agents regarded these speeches as the ravings of a coked-up narcotraficante ... but then there was that little matter of a military coup in Bolivia, a coup masterminded by drug-runner and former Gestapo chief Klaus Barbie with the assistance of a secret Masonic organization based in Italy.
At the end of the war, and with a price on his head and a warrant for his arrest, Barbie managed to find employment with American intelligence in Germany, specifically for the US Counter Intelligence Corps, or CIC.  As a Nazi turned informer and spy, Barbie entered into such illustrious company as Reinhard Gehlen, Otto Skorzeny, and SS Colonel Freddy Schwend. Barbie soon proved very useful to his American handlers, developing an intelligence network that extended from penetrations within French intelligence all the way to Eastern European emigre groups and intelligence services there.
But Europe got too hot for Barbie. Wanted by the French for war crimes committed in Lyon, Barbie knew his days of enjoying the patronage of his American superiors were drawing to a close. The Americans could not afford to let Barbie fall into French hands, for fear that he would reveal American intelligence operations against them. (To the Americans, the French intelligence service was riddled through with Communists and could not be trusted. They spent almost as much time spying on their Allies as they did keeping tabs on the Soviet Union.) So, they arranged his escape along the ratline to South America; and for this purpose they used the offices of a Croatian priest, Dr. Krunoslav Draganovic, himself a war criminal and Fascist (a member of the dread pro-Nazi Ustase) wanted by the Yugoslav authorities but who enjoyed the protection of the Vatican nonetheless.  …
After a series of adventures, Barbie found himself (and his entire family) a new home in Bolivia in 1951 with a visa made out in the name of Father Roque Romac (the pseudonym of yet another Croat war-criminal priest, a Franciscan who ministered to his newfound flock in the area of Cochabamba) and for a while Barbie was the perfect bourgeois businessman. Then, forming and cementing relationships with the underground Nazi cult in South America -- and among men such as Skorzeny, Freddy Schwend, Eichmann, and many others -- Barbie, as "Klaus Altmann," began to carve out a position of influence in the various shifting military regimes in La Paz. It will be remembered that Bolivia had been host to German immigrants for years before the war began, and was a target of US intelligence efforts (notably under Dulles) to neutralize their influence on Bolivia's political life.  Barbie fell in with the German emigre community, and -- linking up with wheeler-dealer Freddy Schwend and, eventually, Italian pro-Fascist terrorist Stefano delle Chiaie -- found himself a lucrative position as a lieutenant colonel in Bolivian Intelligence! 
Schwend and Barbie began running guns between Bolivia, Peru, and Chile using their contacts in the Kamaradenwerk (the informal association of ex-SS officers organized by Luftwaffe ace and Hitler pet Colonel Hans Ulrich Rudel) and among the more fascist of the various Latin American governments who became their clients and, occasionally, their suppliers as well. The gun trade eventually led them into the drug trade, where the abilities of Barbie as a military organizer were enhanced by the arrival of Stefano delle Chiaie. Delle Chiaie enjoyed a serious reputation abroad as a master terrorist who had been responsible for a series of lethal bombings throughout Italy in the late sixties. He had also been involved in an aborted military takeover of the country in 1970, and had to flee Italy for the relative safety of Franco's Spain. It was in Spain that he met -- and cultivated -- "El Brujo," Argentina's own version of Rudolf Hess: Jose Lopez Rega, self-professed Rosicrucian, Peronista, mystical advisor to Isabel Peron, founder of the notorious AAA death squads ... and member of Propaganda Due, P-2, the supersecret Masonic society dedicated to the overthrow of the Italian government and its replacement by a Fascist regime.  Lopez Rega was an intimate of such men as P-2 founder Licio Gelli who spent many of the postwar years in exile in Argentina, plotting to restore pro-Fascist, anti-communist governments in South America as well as in Europe and using his own version of Hitler's "dangerous element," the initiatory secret society P-2, as his vehicle for bank manipulations and the subversion of governments.
As we shall see in the next chapter, delle Chiaie would also become involved with Michael Vernon Townley, the American terrorist and spy who planned and organized the assassination of former Allende minister Orlando Letelier in Washington, D.C. on behalf of Chile's secret police, DINA. Townley, of course, was a frequent visitor (and adviser) to Colonia Dignidad.
With all this talent cropping up in Bolivia, it was inevitable that the phenomenon known as "narco-terrorism" would be born. Elements of Italian, Argentine, and Bolivian mercenaries -- trained and led by former SS officers -- formed the security detail (known as the melodramatically nomenclatured Fiances of Death) for Bolivia's drug smugglers and even warded off violent attacks from Colombia's rival Medellin cartel. For some time it seemed that Barbie and his friends could not reach any higher and then came July 1980 and the Garcia Meza military coup, masterminded in part by Klaus Barbie and Stefano delle Chiaie and funded by Argentine intelligence and the shadowy P-2.
The coup ushered in a new period of severe and brutal military repression in the country, as perhaps could be expected of a government created and managed by drug smugglers, terrorists, Fascist cultists, and Nazi war criminals. Carlos Lehder's inspiration had obviously been the Meza/Barbie coup, and Nazi gatherings took place rather openly in La Paz complete with swastika banners and raucous singing of the "Horst Wessel Song" in Bolivian clubs and bars. Barbie continued as chief of "internal intelligence" and delle Chiaie went abroad to forge links between the government of Bolivia and such legendary homicidal madmen as Major Roberto D'Aubuisson of El Salvador, the man who ordered the assassination of Bishop Romero. At home, Barbie concentrated on removing all opposition to his growing narcotics trade ... with the approval and assistance of the government.
Eventually, though, the sadistic dream had to end. Delle Chiaie was fingered in the bombing, in August 1980, of the railway station in Bologna, Italy, in which eighty-four passengers died. He dropped from view, narrowly escaping capture. The foreign press had already identified Barbie as the "Butcher of Lyon" wanted by the French government. And, slowly, Barbie's spiderweb world began to unravel. A civilian government was elected in Bolivia by a population finally driven to outrage by the excesses of the Cocaine Army and in February 1983, Barbie was extradited to France to stand trial almost forty years after the end of World War II.
Barbie's story is instructive for two reasons. In the first place, it demonstrates the danger and continuing threat of the Nazi underground against political regimes all over the world. In the second place, Barbie remained a committed Nazi: a man who bought into the cult of Nazism with his whole heart and soul and who never, ever, lost faith with the religion of Hitler, Himmler, Hess, and Rosenberg. The racial conceits; the anti-Christian, pro-pagan ideology; the anti-Communist crusade ... it was all present in Barbie's reign of terror in Bolivia and included the other organizers of neo-Nazi intrigue, Skorzeny and Rudel.
Drugs, guns, murder-for-hire, military coups, instruction in Nazi torture and interrogation techniques, Nazi nightclubs and the "Horst Wessel Song" ... these are all the hallmarks of what is often mistakenly referred to as "neo-Nazism." There was nothing "neo-" about Klaus Barbie. He was the genuine article. And there was nothing "neo-" about Colonia Dignidad, the latest in a long line of concentration camps and cult centers courtesy of the Third Reich.
-- Unholy Alliance: A History of Nazi Involvement With the Occult, by Peter Levenda
There was also more to know about Gomez. In November 1985, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) learned from an informant that Gomez’s two brothers had been large-scale cocaine importers, with one brother arranging shipments from Bolivia’s infamous drug kingpin Roberto Suarez.
Suarez already was known as a financier of right-wing causes. In 1980, with the support of Argentina’s hard-line anticommunist military regime, Suarez bankrolled a coup in Bolivia that ousted the elected left-of-center government. The violent putsch became known as the Cocaine Coup because it made Bolivia the region’s first narco-state.
By protecting cocaine shipments headed north, Bolivia’s government helped transform Colombia’s Medellin cartel from a struggling local operation into a giant corporate-style business for delivering cocaine to the U.S. market.
Flush with cash in the early 1980s, Suarez invested more than $30 million in various right-wing paramilitary operations, including the Contra forces in Central America, according to U.S. Senate testimony by an Argentine intelligence officer, Leonardo Sanchez-Reisse.
In 1987, Sanchez-Reisse said the Suarez drug money was laundered through front companies in Miami before going to Central America. There, other Argentine intelligence officers, veterans of the Bolivian coup, trained the Contras in the early 1980s, even before the CIA arrived to first assist with the training and later take over the Contra operation from the Argentines.
Inspector General Hitz added another piece to the mystery of the Bolivian-Contra connection. One Contra fund-raiser, Jose Orlando Bolanos, boasted that the Argentine government was supporting his Contra activities, according to a May 1982 cable to CIA headquarters. Bolanos made the statement during a meeting with undercover DEA agents in Florida. He even offered to introduce them to his Bolivian cocaine supplier.
Despite all this suspicious drug activity centered around Ivan Gomez and the Contras, the CIA insisted that it did not unmask Gomez until 1987, when he failed a security check and confessed his role in his family’s drug business. The CIA official who interviewed Gomez concluded that “Gomez directly participated in illegal drug transactions, concealed participation in illegal drug transactions, and concealed information about involvement in illegal drug activity,” Hitz wrote.
-- The Warning in Gary Webb’s Death, by Robert Parry
New York and Medellin suppliers began extending credit to Roger Clinton on learning "who his brother was," Maurice Rodriguez, one of the middlemen, testified. Roger's frequent drug-buying trips to Manhattan reached a peak in the fall and winter of 1983 after Bill's reelection and as his popularity and power in Arkansas soared. On trial, the younger Clinton would deny or evade any implications that he was blackmailed or otherwise exploited by his drug connections to exert influence on the governor. "Both sides were 'Jack be nimble, Jack be quick' about that subject," said a government attorney who monitored the case. "They were all Arkansas lawyers and it was enough they had Roger. They didn't want the other cans opened." The potential for corruption was obvious. One state police tape recorded Roger being propositioned to persuade Bill Clinton to help remove a ban on new buildings in Hot Springs in return for a kickback from the profits on the sanctioned construction, but Roger denied ever having done anything improper.
Yet according to the local narcotics officers who made the tapes, video surveillance footage showed Roger discussing various payoffs of $30,000 to arrange government approval of sewer lines for a large development that was an interest of a close Clinton friend and major contributor, multimillionaire bond broker and later convicted drug dealer Dan Lasater. "I need $10,000 for my brother to take care of EPA regs and other environmental oversight problems," the officer quoted Roger as saying on the tapes, which were turned over to the state police, never to be presented at trial. City police officers who shot the tapes were told the portions dealing with imputed involvement of the governor had been forwarded to the Public Integrity office of the Justice Department in Washington early in 1984, but then they heard no more. "I guess they just got lost," one officer said bitterly a decade later.
At the least, Roger Clinton put on an impressive show of his intimacy with the state's chief executive. Had he ever taken women for sex "over to your brother's place," a wired informer once asked him. "Yeah. There was the mansion and the guest house," Roger answered. "Oh, they love it." Even sketchy state trooper entry and exit logs at the governor's mansion would bear him out, showing him coming and going at the family quarters or the guest house, often accompanied by "females," "girl," or "a friend," at least thirty-six times after February 7, 1983, the height of his drug trafficking. The guards recorded visits within days of his July 1984 indictment and as late as January 13, 1985, only two weeks before his sentencing, when the registry showed "Roger in with two females to change for party." Commonly the logs might note "Roger and girl" going to the mansion for two hours or more during the night, then Roger moving to the guest house alone and leaving from there late the next morning, though with no further record of the whereabouts or eventual departure of "girl." ''They used the home of the governor as a whore hotel," said one narcotics investigator.
On one of the 1983-84 videotapes filmed by local narcotics officers, Roger Clinton was said to tell a supplier jauntily, "Got to get some for my brother. He's got a nose like a vacuum cleaner." Years later, after the suspicious murder of her husband, Jane Parks, the resident manager of an expensive Little Rock apartment complex, would tell Ambrose Evans-Pritchard of the London Sunday Telegraph that during the summer of 1984 Roger Clinton had been a nonpaying guest there for two months. The governor was "a frequent visitor," the Telegraph reported. "There was drug use at these gatherings ... and she [Parks] could clearly distinguish Bill's voice as he chatted with his brother about the quality of the marijuana they were smoking. She said she could also hear them talking about the cocaine as they passed it back and forth." As at the mansion, there were said to be numerous women, often strikingly young. Tenants complained of the noise made by the partying Clinton brothers in B107.
There would be still others to substantiate similar accounts. A teacher and social worker named Sally Perdue would describe similar occasions in her late-1983 affair with Bill Clinton when he would smoke marijuana and use cocaine regularly, pulling joints out of a cigarette case and shaking cocaine out from a small bag onto a table in her living room. "He had all the equipment laid out, like a real pro," Perdue told a reporter. Still another witness, a convicted drug dealer and informant named Sharlene Wilson, who was a bartender at Le Bistro nightclub in Little Rock, testified to a 1990 federal grand jury in Arkansas that she had sold cocaine to Roger Clinton as early as 1979 and had watched, at both Le Bistro and at the infamous toga parties at the Coachman's Inn on the outskirts of the state capital, as Roger passed the drug to Bill, who "would often snort cocaine."
Roger Clinton's world had begun to unravel in the winter of 1983- 84. Beyond the savage addiction that left him so dissipated physically -- he had "eyes and nose like an announcement," a friend said later -- someone had stolen $8,000 of cocaine from his car, slashing the top of a new convertible Virginia had given him. Aghast at the vandalism, Virginia had started to call the police. But when Roger nervously insisted they could not report the incident, as she told the story later, she suspected and did nothing. Her other son apparently had no illusions. Roger Clinton would later admit that his drug creditors had threatened his mother and even Bill, though there is no record that the two half brothers ever discussed the problem. Instead of advising Roger to go to the proper authorities with his predicament or reporting the convertible slashing himself, the governor of Arkansas simply moved to get his drug-dealing relative out of town. According to an FBI report, Bill Clinton had swiftly gone to his friend and backer Dan Lasater, imploring him to find a place for Roger at his thousand-acre thoroughbred farm outside Ocala, Florida. "Clinton asked him [Lasater] to give his ne'er-do-well half brother Roger a job," said one summary of the FBI document. Lasater did just that. "Mr. Lasater remarked at that point that he owed the governor a lot of favors," John Fernung, the farm's manager, said afterward.
Roger not only took the job but asked Lasater to loan him the $8,000 he owed his drug connections, money the millionaire handed over as quickly as he had the job Bill Clinton requested. Cocaine dealers were "putting the heat on him and something might happen to his brother and mother," Lasater told the FBI Roger had said. If Ocala was intended to be more than a hideout, however, it was hardly the place for an addict's recovery. Those who worked there described the same sorts of wild drug parties for which Lasater was known in Little Rock. It was suspected that the racehorse trading business was being used as a mechanism for the laundering of drug money. On one holiday, according to a trainer and veterinarian, small pouches of cocaine were hung as favors on a huge Christmas tree, and an eager guest nearly set the house ablaze when he lunged for a packet and toppled the densely lit tree. "You could tell Roger Clinton was really strung out the whole while he was at the farm. I just remember he was always using, always saying he had been on the phone talking to his brother the governor, not worth a damn as hired help," recalled a senior employee. "I was told we were stashing him for some politician Mr. Lasater was working." At that, the favors from the contributor may also have gone beyond refuge and the $8,000. When Roger returned to Arkansas, eventually to face narcotics charges in Hot Springs, his team of defense lawyers would feature the same prominent attorney, William R. Wilson, Jr., who then represented Lasater and Company in Little Rock and who in 1993 would be appointed a federal judge by President Clinton. Assisting Wilson would be his partner, Stephen Engstrom, who would be called to aid Betsey Wright in countering state troopers' testimony about the president's alleged cover-up of his personal excesses in Arkansas.
The videotape and wire recording case developed against Roger Clinton by both local police and state investigators might well have been quietly quashed if not for dissident state police who schemed to get at least some of the evidence out. "Some troopers put it out on the street where it couldn't be ignored," said an investigator. "They took a real risk." One former federal prosecutor remembered clearly, "Roger Clinton was about to be swept under the rug by both the US attorney and the local boys, no question about it." In any case, in the spring of 1984 the younger Clinton was back from Lasater's Florida haven and was now the target of a federal grand jury investigation. By the time state police commandant Tommy Goodwin formally told the governor in June of the imminent indictment of his half brother -- "Goodwin knew of that investigation real early and had alerted Bill Clinton directly," said one officer -- the case was "already handled" by federal prosecutors, as Goodwin told a reporter later, insisting that the governor could not have interfered. "Just go ahead and handle it like you would any other case," Goodwin recalled the politician's stoic response.
But dissidents in Goodwin's own ranks were convinced that Clinton would intervene and they managed to get details of the case to Hillary Rodham Clinton as well, counting on her to force the governor to keep his hands off as a political precaution. By the dissidents' account, the First Lady reacted exactly as they hoped, rushing to Clinton with her own report on Roger and ordering that he do nothing to warn his half brother or stave off the arrest, actions that might be exposed and used against them in the 1984 reelection campaign or later. "I don't think she ever knew how much coke Bill had snorted with Roger or how many girls they'd done together," said one state policeman, "but we knew she'd tell him to feed ole Roger to the feds for the sake of his career, and that's what he ended up doing." On August 2, 1984, as he later recounted to the press, Goodwin came to the capital to tell the governor that the indictment of Roger Cassidy Clinton on six counts of drug dealing and conspiracy was about to be announced. Clinton called a press conference for a brief statement with no questions, reading his remarks red-faced and "visibly shaken," as a reporter noted. "My brother has apparently become involved with drugs," he said with irony and hypocrisy only a few insiders could appreciate, "a curse which has reached epidemic proportions and has plagued the lives of millions of families in our nation, including many in our state."
The five waiting men were clearly taken aback when Governor Bill Clinton stepped from the vehicle with his aide, Bob Nash, and led the entourage into the World War II ammunition storage bunker that would serve as the meeting place.
In a low tone, Cathey turned to Terry and said: "Shit! I was afraid he'd show up. That'll certainly upset our agenda. I'm glad Johnson is here. He'll be able to handle him."
The waiting group of five had expected Nash, but not his boss, Arkansas' Commander-in-Chief, Bill Clinton. By his mere appearance, Clinton was risking exposure of his involvement in unauthorized covert operations. But he seemed desperate.
The meeting had been called at Camp Robinson, an Army facility outside Little Rock, to get some problems ironed out. In addition to the governor and his aide, the "guest list" included Max Gomez (Felix Rodriguez), John Cathey (Oliver North), resident CIA agent Akihide Sawahata, Agency subcontractor Terry Reed -- and the man in charge, the one who would call the shots. He called himself Robert Johnson.
Johnson had been sent from Washington to chair this very delicate operational briefing that would hopefully extricate the Agency from its entanglement in what was becoming a messy situation in Arkansas....
Cathey began the briefing.
"Governor Clinton," he said switching to his toastmaster tone, "I'm glad you could attend tonight's meeting with us. We're both surprised and honored. Bobby (Nash) didn't inform us you would be attending ... However, let's get down to it....
Terry viewed this meeting as his initiation into the inner circle. But this impromptu appearance by Governor Clinton, however, would expose Terry to yet more things that he had no "need to know." It would also confirm his suspicions that operations in Arkansas were being run with Clinton's full knowledge....
"Gentlemen," Cathey said, "this meeting is classified Top-Secret. The items discussed here should be relayed to no one who does not have an operational need to know. I repeat Top-Secret. There are to be no notes taken."...
Johnson, Cathey said, was the personal representative of CIA Director William Casey and had been sent to chair the meeting. Casey was too important to show his face, Terry assumed. But he felt honored, and yet surprised, to find he'd been dealing with someone so closely connected to the Director of Central Intelligence, the top of the intelligence pyramid.
"Thank you," Johnson said. "As Mr. Cathey mentioned, I am the emissary of Mr. Casey, who for obvious security reasons could not attend. We are at a major junction of our Central American support program. And I am here to tie up a few loose ends. As you are all aware, the severity of the charges that could be brought against us if this operation becomes public ... well, I don't need to remind you of what Benjamin Franklin said as he and our founding fathers framed the Declaration of Independence ..."
Cathey interrupted. "Yeah, but hanging is a much more humane way of doing things than what Congress will put us through if any of this leaks out." This marked the only time during the briefing that laughter was heard.
"This is true," Johnson replied. "And therefore, Governor Clinton, I'm going to find it necessary to divide this meeting into groups so that we don't unnecessarily expose classified data to those who don't have an absolute need to know. We can first discuss any old business that concerns either "Centaur Rose" or "Jade Bridge", and I think that you will agree that afterwards you and Mr. Nash will have to excuse yourselves ..."
Clinton was visibly indignant, giving the angry appearance of someone not accustomed to being treated in such a condescending manner.
"It seems someone in Washington has made decisions without much consulting with either myself or my aide here, Mr. Nash. And I'd like to express my concern about the possible exposure my state has as you guys skedaddle out of here to Mexico. I feel somewhat naked and compromised. You're right, there are definitely some loose ends!"...
Nash interjected: "Sir, Governor Clinton's concerns are that there may be some loose ends cropping up from the Mena operation in general. As you know, we have had our Arkansas State Police intelligence division riding herd on the project. And that has been no simple task. Even with some of our ASP officers undercover over there, we couldn't have gained any real inside knowledge had it not been for Mr. Reed's ability to report it directly to me. This thing about Barry Seal getting Governor Clinton's brother involved is what's got us all upset. I mean, as we speak, there's an investigation going on that could spill over onto some very influential people here in Arkansas, and people very close to the governor personally ..."
Johnson looked like he was getting irritated. Clinton had not been scheduled to be there and his original agenda now was being discarded.
"Hold on!" Johnson shot back. "Calm down! Mr. Casey is fully in charge here. Don't you old boys get it. Just tell me what has to be taken care of, or who needs to be taken care of, and I'll fix it for you!"
Johnson boasted to the group that Attorney General Edwin Meese, by arranging the appointment of J. Michael Fitzhugh as U.S. Attorney in Western Arkansas, had effectively stonewalled the ongoing money laundering investigations in Mena where the Contra training operations had been centered. It was his impression, Johnson said, that everything was now "kosher" and the "containment" was still in place. Operations "Rose" and "Bridge" had not been exposed because federal law-enforcement agencies had been effectively neutralized. But Johnson said he was now concerned that the "drug" investigation there might expand beyond his control and unmask the residue of black operations.
Now the meeting was starting to turn into a shouting match, Terry quietly observed that Clinton appeared on the verge of losing his well-rehearsed, statesman-like demeanor. Stopping investigations around Mena had helped the CIA and its bosses in Washington, but it had not solved any of the governor's local political problems. And these same problems were threatening to unveil the Mena operations.
It was the spring of 1986, just over a month after Barry Seal's assassination in Louisiana. Clinton was facing a very tough and dirty reelection campaign. His Republican opponent was certain to be ex-Governor Frank White, the only man who had ever defeated Clinton. The newspapers were filled with stories about Clinton's brother, who had been convicted and served time from federal drug trafficking charges, giving White the dirt he needed to launch a serious and damaging political attack.
Roger Clinton had "rolled over" and turned informant, enabling the Feds to begin an investigation of investment banker Dan Lasater, a close personal friend and campaign contributor of Clinton's. This investigation, it was clear, could spill over into Lasater's firm, possibly exposing CIA money-laundering and other possible illegal activities. 
The investigation of Clinton's brother had been carried out largely by disloyal state police officials who were backing White, and without Clinton's knowledge, when the inquiry was first initiated. Terry wondered whether a "coup" was building? Clinton was clearly in big political trouble, and his demeanor now was not the cool and composed man people saw on television. Perhaps the CIA and the Reagan administration wanted another "presidente," a Republican one, in its banana republic?
Rumors were also running wild that the bond underwriting business, in which Lasater was a major figure, had been used to launder drug money. In addition, candidate White had another big issue to run with. He would charge later that Clinton was directing choice state legal work as bond counsel to the prestigious Rose Law firm, where his wife, Hillary, was a senior partner. And Clinton had to be fearful that exposure of the Mena operations would be the death blow to his reelection hopes. And, if that weren't enough ammunition, the governor was also facing a possible state budgetary shortfall of more than $200 million.
By his comments, the governor's political problems and his potential exposure were clearly on his mind. Clinton showed his contempt for the young man from Washington as he lost his composure, jumped to his feet and shouted: "Getting my brother arrested and bringing down the Arkansas bond business in the process isn't my idea of kosher! You gents live a long way from here. Your meddling in our affairs here is gonna carry long-term exposure for me! I mean us. And what are we supposed to do, just pretend nothing happened?" He was angry.
"Exactly, pretend nothing's happened," Johnson snapped back. "It's just like the commercial, you're in good hands with Allstate. Only in this case, it's the CIA." Johnson paused, took a deep breath, and continued. "Mr. Clinton, Bill, if you will, some of those loose ends you refer to here were definitely brought on by your own people, don't you agree? I mean your brother didn't have to start shoving Mr. Seal's drugs up his nose and your friend, Lasater, has been flaunting his new wealth as if he's trying to bring you down. We're having to control the SEC and the IRS just to keep him afloat.
"Our deal with you was to help 'reconstruct the South,''' Johnson sniped, using a term Southerners hate, since it reminds them of the post-Civil War Yankee dominance of the South. "We didn't plan on Arkansas becoming more difficult to deal with than most banana republics. This has turned out to be almost comical."
"Bobby! Don't sit here on your black ass and take this Yankee shit!" Clinton yelled at Nash in an appeal for support. "Tell him about Seal bribing those federal agents!" It was getting to resemble a verbal tennis match as volleys were being lobbed, each one with more intensity. From the comment about Seal, Terry concluded that Clinton did in fact have his own intelligence network, too.
"Why, Mr. Clinton, with racial slurs like that, the federal government could terminate educational busing aid here," Johnson wryly shot back. "I thought Arkansas was an equal opportunity employer!"
Nash touched the governor's arm, coaxing him back into his chair.
Johnson continued, "The deal we made was to launder our money through your bond business. What we didn't plan on was you and your token nigger here to start taking yourselves seriously and purposely shrinking our laundry."
"What do you mean by shrinking the laundry?!" Clinton asked still shouting. By now, Clinton's face was flushed with anger....
Arkansas desperately needed new businesses -- and so did the CIA. It had plenty of black money, but that alone was not enough. "You can't kill an enemy by lobbing dollars at him" was the phrase Cathey had used with Terry to explain the CIA's dilemma of having the monetary resources to fund the Contras, but no legal way to deliver it directly. The Agency was barred by Congress from converting the cash into weapons and training the Contras needed on the battlefield, at least not through traditional Department of Defense suppliers.
Under Director William Casey's plan, the CIA needed other companies that would be a source of secretly-produced weapons that would find their way into the hands of the Contras. These selected businesses needed payment to perform these services for the CIA, and that cash came to them conveniently in a legal and undetectable manner, through ADFA, in the form of industrial development loans backed by tax-free development bonds. The CIA should have been showing a profit through accrued interest on their secured investments. But a problem had arisen. As Johnson had said, the "laundry" was shrinking.
And Johnson was not happy about that as evidenced by the way he was firing back at Clinton. It was apparent that Johnson knew Clinton and his people had not abided by his agreement with the Agency.
"Our deal was for you to have 10 per cent of the profits, not 10 per cent of the gross," Johnson sternly admonished Clinton.
"This has turned into a feeding frenzy by your good ole boy sharks, and you've had a hand in it, too, Mr. Clinton. Just ask your Mr. Nash to produce a business card. I'll bet it reads Arkansas Development and Finance Authority. We know what's been going on. Our people are professionals; they're not stupid. They didn't fall off the turnip truck yesterday, as you guys say. This ADFA of yours is double-dipping. Our deal with you was to launder our money. You get 10 per cent after costs and after post-tax profits. No one agreed for you to start loaning our money out to your friends through your ADFA so that they could buy machinery to build our guns. That wasn't the deal. Mr. Sawahata tells me that one of ADFA's first customers was some parking meter company that got several million in ... how shall we say it ... in preferred loans.
"Dammit, we bought a whole gun company, lock, stock and barrel and shipped the whole thing down here for you. And Mr. Reed even helped set it up. You people go and screw us by setting up some subcontractors that weren't even authorized by us. Shit, people who didn't even have security clearances. That's why we're pulling the operation out of Arkansas. It's become a liability for us. We don't need live liabilities."....
Clinton had paused for a moment to ponder Johnson's words. "What do ya' mean, live liabilities?" he demanded.
"There's no such thing as a dead liability. It's an oxymoron, get it? Oh, or didn't you Rhodes Scholars study things like that?" Johnson snapped.
"What! Are you threatenin' us? Because if ya' are ..."
Johnson stared down at the table, again took a deep breath, and paused. It appeared he wanted to elevate the tone of the disintegrating exchange.
"Calm down and listen," Johnson said. "We are all in this together. We all have our personal agendas ... but let's not forget, both the Vice President and Mr. Casey want this operation to be a success. We need to get these assets and resources in place and get them self-sustaining and prospering on their own while we have the chance. This is a golden opportunity. The timing is right. We have communists taking over a country in this hemisphere. We must all pull together and play as a team. This is no time for lone wolves. Mr. Seal is an example of what happens to lone wolves. They just don't survive in the modern world of intelligence.
"I'm not here to threaten you. But there have been mistakes. The Mena operation survived undetected and unexposed only because Mr. Seal carried with him a falsely created, high-level profile of a drugrunner. All the cops in the country were trying to investigate a drug operation. That put the police in a position where we could control them. We fed them what we wanted to feed them, when we wanted to feed them; it was our restaurant and our menu. Seal was himself a diversion. It was perfect until your brother started free-enterprising and now we have to shut it down. It's as simple as that. Mr. Seal was a good agent and it's a shame he's dead. But, hopefully, our new operation will build on Seal's success in sustaining our Contra support effort while goddamn Congress dilly dallies around as the Russians take over Nicaragua."
Clinton just glared back. "That was a good sermon, but what can you specifically do to end this investigation concerning my brother and the bond business?"
"Your brother needed to go to jail," Johnson said staring at the governor. "As governor you should intervene and make things as painless as possible now. As far as the money investigation goes, Mr. Meese is intervening right now. There will be no money investigation. The U.S. attorney's office (in Little Rock) is 'getting religion' as we speak. *
"There may be nothing we can do about your friend Lasater's drug problem. I suggest that he and everyone else caught with their pants down take the bad along with the good and do a little time -- as your brother has. It's a shame. But bartenders shouldn't drink. If some of our people are going to be in the drug business as a cover, they should do as Mrs. Reagan says and 'just say no'."
Johnson had applied the balm and now the massage began. "Bill, you are Mr. Casey's fair-haired boy. But you do have competition for the job you seek. We would never put all our eggs in one basket. You and your state have been our greatest asset. The beauty of this, as you know, is that you're a Democrat, and with our ability to influence both parties, this country can get beyond partisan gridlock. Mr. Casey wanted me to pass on to you that unless you fuck up and do something stupid, you're No. 1 on the short list for a shot at the job you've always wanted.
"That's pretty heady stuff, Bill. So why don't you help us keep a lid on this and we'll all be promoted together. You and guys like us are the fathers of the new government. Hell, we're the new covenant."
-- Compromised: Clinton, Bush and the CIA: How the Presidency was Co-opted by the CIA, by Terry Reed & John Cummings
Damage control began immediately. Local narcotics officers who had developed much of the original and most compelling evidence against Roger -- and the most damning for the governor -- were deliberately excluded from the arrest and systematically cut out of the subsequent investigation and evolution of the prosecution's case. "We had a lot more than just Roger, like Lasater and who owned who in places like Springdale, and buys that included the state police," said one local officer close to the case. "But Roger cops out, our narcs get taken out, and the case stops there." On August 14, represented by Lasater lawyer Wilson and his partner Engstrom, Roger Clinton was arraigned before Oren Harris, a former Democratic congressman and one of the more infirm judges on the federal bench, who was known locally for his relative deafness, his dim eyesight, and "a propensity," as Meredith Oakley noted, "for nodding off during prolonged testimony." Roger pled not guilty to every count. After less than ten minutes before the doddering Harris, he was released on $5,000 bail, with trial scheduled for November 9, days after the general election. Governor Clinton, spokesmen assured the public, "had no idea he had even tried drugs," as a reporter summed up the claims, "let alone that he had become addicted to cocaine."
Roger continued to come and go at the mansion with some abandon. Virtually from the hour of the arraignment there had been negotiations to arrange a plea bargain, so long as the formal admission of guilt came only after the election. In return for testifying against certain accomplices, the younger Clinton would avoid his own potentially revealing trial, face fewer counts, and receive a lighter sentence. In partial preparation for the plea bargain and sentencing, Roger and his immediate family attended token sessions of counseling on drug addiction and codependency. Even these cursory sessions, which both Virginia and Bill described later in general terms, opened the "rawest wounds," as one account put it. Though neither Virginia nor Bill mentioned it, it was Hillary who, according to Judith Warner, her biographer, "took a leading role in the discussions and was quite astute at pointing out patterns and weaknesses to the assembled family." Warner adds pointedly that, "though he was grateful, her participation didn't always endear her at the time to her husband." According to friends who heard contemporaneous accounts from Virginia, her daughter-in-law raised unexamined questions of denial and irresponsibility and other topics that sent the mother away in tearful fury and the thirty-eight-year-old governor into yet another round of distraction and debauchery.
On November 9, 1984, three days after his half brother's resounding victory at the polls, Roger Clinton was back in court to change his plea to guilty of conspiracy and a single count of drug distribution. He was "one tentacle of cocaine distribution in Arkansas," said Republican US attorney Asa Hutchinson, though most of the other arms of the figurative monster would never be pulled in. In a subsequent trial Roger testified for the government to convict a boyhood friend, Sam Anderson, Jr., a Hot Springs lawyer and the son of Virginia's old attorney. But there the inquiry stopped for the moment. "I guess I'm going to do Roger's time for him," Anderson would say bitterly the following March. In his last days at large the younger Clinton took women in and out of the governor's mansion for parties and went on with his cocaine habit despite the certainty of discovery before sentencing. On January 28, 1985, when Roger again appeared before Judge Harris, now "exceptionally alert," as Oakley saw him, there was no denying that he had used drugs consistently even after his arrest and during his months on bail. A dour, publicity-conscious Harris suspended the three years on the distribution charge but for the count of conspiracy imposed two years in the federal prison at Fort Worth. Both the governor and Hillary stood there with a lip-biting Virginia as Roger Clinton -- " a fourteen-year-old in a twenty-eight-year-old's body," as his mother now came to see him -- was summarily handcuffed and driven off by marshals. At no point in the five months of bargaining, suppression, and calculated betrayal of cohorts had there been an inkling of the videotaped footage implicating the governor or even of the graphic physical evidence of Roger's addiction, which would have belied the governor's bland protestations of ignorance. "I feel more deeply committed than ever before to do everything I can to fight illegal drugs in our state," Bill Clinton said in a rehearsed statement outside the courtroom as his half brother was taken away.
In the little more than a year Roger served in prison, as Virginia told the story later, he would "grow up some." Out on probation in the spring of 1986, he worked with a construction crew building bridges "on the winding old Benton highway," Virginia recorded, "the one Bill and I had taken years before on those horrible Sundays when we had gone to visit my mother in the state mental hospital."