Although his colleagues on the U. S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee will be content to throw Hillary Clinton softballs during her confirmation hearing, I suspect Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina has moxie enough to throw the would-be secretary of state a nasty curve as follows:
DeMint: Senator Clinton, just who Is Zdenka Gast?
Clinton: Zdenka Gast? Help me out here.
DeMint: Let me refresh your memory. Gast played a key role in Commerce Secretary Ron Brown’s fatal trip to Croatia in April 1996. Ostensibly at least, Brown went to Croatia to broker a deal between the Croatian government and a certain American corporation. Gast served as liaison between the two.
Clinton: Why is this an issue?
DeMint: For starters, it was a sweetheart deal that the White House coerced Croatia to sign. For another, the White House’s Croatian client was president Franjo Tudjman, a notorious anti-Semite. And for a third, the company in question was Enron. Otherwise, no problem.
Clinton: Enron? Please! What’s your source? Some right-wing blog?
DeMint: No, your ambassador to Croatia, Peter Galbraith. He told Air Force investigators that Gast had been scheduled to fly with Brown on the USAF plane that crashed but flew in instead on a Swiss Air Charter with the Enron guys.
Clinton: You’re making this up.
DeMint: Let me quote the official, 22-volume U.S, Air Force Report. Said Galbraith, “There were problems in—in—in this—in concluding this deal where they wanted to sign a letter of intent, and so, rather than—than go on the Brown trip, she stayed with the Inron [sic] people to do the final negotiations.”
Clinton: Bull. Enron was a Republican company.
DeMint: That is what the media tell us, and Gast was allegedly a Republican too, but in the nineties Enron execs were frequent flyers on Brown trade missions. Remember the deal in 1995 when you all held up a $13.5 million aid package to Mozambique until its president agreed to give Enron a major stake in a local gas field?
Clinton: I have no recollection of that.
DeMint: As you probably heard, Brown more or less sold seats on these missions to raise money for what Senator Fred Thompson’s committee would call “the most corrupt political campaign in modern history.”
Clinton: I had nothing to do with that campaign.
DeMint: Dick Morris says otherwise. As he tells it, you were the one who brought him into the White House after the Dem’s November 1994 whipping, and you were there with the president, Al Gore, Chief of Staff Leon Panetta, and DNC chair Don Fowler when his plan for a massively expensive ad campaign was approved. In fact, The DNC cupboard was bare. The money had to come from somewhere.
Clinton: Prove it.
DeMint: Brown could have. In fact, Judicial Watch had scheduled him to give a deposition on this subject as soon as he returned from Croatia. It’s a shame he never returned.
Clinton: And why would Tudjman submit to such a deal?
DeMint: Glad you asked. According to the Financial Times of London, Tudjman linked the Enron deal to a variety of political demands, chief among them—and this is a quote--“avoiding his arrest and that of other senior figures by the Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal.”
Clinton: You’ve got it backwards. The Serbs were the war criminals.
DeMint: The Serbs had no monopoly on ethnic cleansing. If you recall, just months before Brown’s death, Croatian forces drove more than 200,000 Serbian civilians from their homes in the Krajina region and killed some 14,000 of them. The White House and Galbraith aided and abetted the Croats as something of a reward for their agreeing to the federation between Croats and Muslims in Bosnia.
Clinton: I had nothing to do with that.
DeMint: I didn’t say you did. But I am curious as to why you took a one-day detour to Tuzla in Bosnia just nine days before Brown left Tuzla on his fatal flight. You may have fudged about the sniper fire, but Tuzla was a dangerous place in 1996. As the White House spun it, “No first lady since Eleanor Roosevelt has made a trip into such a hostile military environment.” And you brought Chelsea?
Clinton: I wanted to say “thank you” to our troops. What are you insinuating?
DeMint: Nothing, just asking. Much of this would be clearer if we had all the facts.
Clinton: What are you missing?
DeMint: Our best witness. After Galbraith told the Air Force about Zdenka, the investigator said, “We’ve been looking for her.” Apparently, they did not find her. The report lists 148 witness interviews, but Zdenka’s was not among them. You might have been able to help.
Above: Zdenka Gast
Clinton: How is that?
DeMint: You know the lady. I have this photo here from a Croatian language magazine named Gloria taken a few years after Brown’s death. In the center of the photo is Zdenka, the redhead, not bad looking. On her left, as you can see, is Secretary of Labor, Alexis Herman. On her right is you.
Clinton : Probably some big fundraiser. I get my picture taken with all kinds of people.
DeMint: This is a little more intimate, a lot more. This was taken at a wedding reception for Herman at the White House. You hosted it. Only 40 people attended, just about all of them DC big shots except Zdenka. Zdenka boasts that she was supporting your senate run and that—quote--“Hillary paid special attention to me.”
Clinton: And that’s somehow suspicious?
DeMint: It’s no more suspicious than your detour to Tuzla or the hole in Ron Brown’s head or the White House refusal to do an autopsy on Brown or the “inexplicable” deviation of the aircraft into the mountainside or the lethal bullet hole in the chest of the airport aviation manager.
Clinton: Are you finished?
DeMint: This is just question one, Senator. Fasten your seat belt.