- The Washington Times - Friday, June 2, 2000

Clinton time

The Pentagon is struggling with the very tight schedule for deploying a national missile defense, or NMD, by 2005, as called for in the current program. Under the current schedule, President Clinton is supposed to make the big decision on whether or not to deploy by this summer. But as anyone who ever covered the president knows, he's late for everything.
Reporters call it "Clinton time" and factor in delays for any Clinton-attended event. Clinton time on NMD is affecting the deployment decision, which now could be delayed until around election time this fall.
That's going to create problems for the Pentagon, we are told. To meet the 2005 deadline, the first item the Pentagon must build is a large radar station on remote Shemya Island in the Aleutians. But unless the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty is amended soon an unlikely prospect considering Moscow's vehement opposition the radar construction will violate the pact. With a very short construction season on the north Pacific island, delaying the presidential decision could force the Pentagon to miss the 2005 deployment target.
Pentagon lawyers have determined that the digging part of the Shemya construction would not violate the ABM Treaty. But pouring the concrete would. They are said to be working overtime looking for a loophole that will allow construction to go ahead on Shemya without violating the pact.
Arms controllers outside the Pentagon, however, are digging in their heels, opposing any construction to avoid upsetting Moscow and violating the treaty they regard as the arms control Holy Grail.

Tailwind, part II

A production company retained by former Army Special Forces soldiers is nearing completion of a documentary billed as the antidote to CNN's discredited story, "Valley of Death: Operation Tailwind."
The CNN-Time magazine collaboration charged that Army commandos set out to kill American defectors in the Laotian jungle, killed civilians and used deadly sarin nerve gas in 1970. Ex-Green Berets vehemently denied the allegations. A Pentagon investigation found no evidence to support the June 7, 1998, broadcast. CNN retracted the story and has settled a series of lawsuits from Vietnam veterans whom the network essentially charged with murder.
Jimmy Dean, secretary of the Special Forces Association, says CNN never fulfilled a promise to give his group equal time. So, it hired a production company, which conducted interviews with Tailwind participants at association headquarters in Fayetteville, N.C., not far from Fort Bragg, home of Army Special Operations Command.
"Although 'Valley of Death' has been proven false and CNN retracted the story, it was a very weak retraction," Mr. Dean said. "We went out and obtained an independent production company to film a documentary that will give the American public the real story of Operation Tailwind… . We're going to get a major TV network to air it. We're hoping a major network will, maybe the History Channel."
The title is "Operation Tailwind: The Real Story." Interview subjects include members of the secretive, Vietnam-era Studies and Observation Group (SOG), Marine helicopter pilots and Air Force pilots who dropped tear gas bombs to help the commandos escape. All 16 SOG combatants were wounded, but survived the mission to disrupt supply lines and are alive today.
Mr. Dean, who retired in 1966 as an Army master sergeant, said the production company is bearing the cost in hopes of profiting on the finished tape.
Said an association statement, "The team produced never-before-seen 8 mm film shot from the Cobra helicopters, an audio tape of actual radio transmissions during the Hatchet Force elements extraction, along with actual operation combat maps, plots, photos and handwritten notes."


Former Navy Lt. Mary Louise "Missy" Cummings, one of the Navy's first female fighter pilots, is out with a book on her ultimately failed effort to join the carrier fleet in the F-18 Hornet.
"Hornets Nest" accuses the Navy of condoning sex discrimination from her male flying mates as she attempted to qualify as a carrier pilot in the fighter-bomber.
"The Navy, and especially the fighter community, is not ready to accept women in the roles of warriors and fighter pilots," the book charges. "Her tour in fighters is marred by blatant discrimination and criminal acts of sabotage by both her peers and superiors."
Miss Cummings, a Naval Academy graduate, calls "Hornets Nest" a "ruthlessly honest and startling account of the trials and tribulations" of an aviation pioneer.
Now a professor at Virginia Tech College of Engineering, Miss Cummings will be signing books at 7:30 p.m. Monday at the Barnes & Noble bookstore in Georgetown.
In 1995, a Navy board recommended ending her flight status for what it said was erratic flying. An admiral overruled the board. Miss Cummings later resigned for medical reasons.
Navy Capt. Everett Greene was honored at a retirement ceremony yesterday, never gaining the admiral's star the Navy promised. He plans to enter Howard University Law School to learn how to defend military personnel caught up in the same sort of charges that capped his 30-year career.
Capt. Greene, a Seal commando, was accused by two female officers of maintaining an unduly friendly relationship while all were stationed at the Bureau of Naval Personnel. The Navy handled the complaints privately. But, when Capt. Greene was nominated to the rank of rear admiral, the women reinstated the complaints. The captain requested a court-martial to clear his name.
That's just what happened. A military judge in 1995 dismissed some charges and the jury acquitted him on all other counts.
But John Dalton, who was Navy secretary at the time, still deemed his friendships as inconsistent with fraternization rules and removed his name from a promotion list.
"It's one of those things," said the 52-year-old Capt. Greene, who plans to pursue the promotion through a personnel review board. "I still feel that if I could get a fair review, I could get the promotion restored."
Said William Little, the attorney who defended him at court-martial, "He was a man who was wrongfully accused and, though acquitted, punished far beyond that which would have been adjudged at his court-martial."
Several members of Congress privately are up in arms over the work of Robert Sutter, the CIA's top China analyst. Mr. Sutter directed the recent production of a top-secret national intelligence estimate for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that contains this whopper: China's communist government will soon disappear something China skeptics say is not only wishful thinking, but bad analysis unsupported by the facts.

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