"Six Degrees of Richard
December 20—world exclusive
by Daniel Hopsicker
may not be reprinted without
At the same time Wally Hilliard's
Venice flight school was training dozens of terrorists to fly—including
both pilots crashing into the World Trade Center—the owner of Huffman
Aviation in Venice Florida was also involved in a murky aviation transaction
with a multi-millionaire Texas oil-man who played a prominent role in the
Truman Arnold, chief fund-raiser
for the Democratic Party in 1995 when the scandal broke, was investigated
for a variety of dubious money-raising schemes ranging from renting
out the White House's Lincoln Bedroom to selling tickets on Air Force One.
He was also fingered for procuring cash (read hush money) for convicted
Clinton friend Web Hubbell.
Arnold, who played golf with
Clinton regularly, coordinated payments to Webster Hubbell from businesses
controlled by old friends of President Clinton and campaign donors that
included the Lippo Group, organizers of a multibillion-dollar development
in China that received the endorsement of the Clinton administration.
Now Truman Arnold's name
has surfaced in connection with the investigation into the Venice FL flight
schools made infamous by the September 11 terrorist attack.
In a curious aircraft transaction
discovered while probing the tangled business affairs of Wallace J. Hilliard,
70, of Naples, FL, Truman Arnold appears to have 'loaned' Hilliard—for
only a dollar—a Beechcraft King Air 200 worth over $2 million.
Moreover, it wasn't until
almost a year later that Hilliard finally got around to arranging financing
to pay for the plane, according to documents obtained from the FAA by the
"Being connected means
never having to say you're sorry."
On December 10, 2000, Truman
Arnold engaged in his act of munificence with Wally Hilliard, owner of
two flight schools which beginning in 1999 induced hundreds of Arab men
to leave their desert kingdoms and come to American shores to learn to
Wally Hilliard's newly-discovered
association with a benefactor at the heart of the American political process
raises anew questions about whether the appearance of Mohamed Atta and
his terrorist buddies in Venice, FL. was—as the official story has it—just
a matter of mere happenstance.
Wallace Hilliard, it is clear,
has ties extending well into the upper reaches of American political circles,
ties which may hold the answers to questions about how sophisticated operators
like Hilliard and Dekkers were taken in by foreign student pilots demonstrating
none of 'the right stuff.'
In another bizarre twist,
Truman Arnold’s lawyer during the Whitewater Investigation turns out
to have been Democratic power-broker Richard Ben-Veniste, just nominated
to serve on the 9/11 probe.
If Ben-Veniste client Truman
Arnold's business dealings with terror flight school owner Wally Hilliard
come under scrutiny in the 9/11 probe, the slick Washington lawyer may
find himself involved in a major national scandal from two different sides.
If he does, for Ben-Veniste,
it won't even be for the first time. He served as Majority Counsel to the
Congressional Whitewater probe investigating the actions of Truman Arnold,
and then went on to defend Arnold before Ken Starr’s Whitewater grand
jury, an action for which he was roundly criticized.
"Six Degrees of Richard
Published reports at the
time tarred the Democratic superlawyer for alleged misbehavior during the
Whitewater investigation, claiming Ben-Veniste, while he was the Democratic
counsel to the Whitewater Committee, had blocked inquiries about Webster
Hubbell's hiring by the Lippo Group, and then turned around and defended
a man he had just been (supposedly) investigating.
Addressing his critics Ben-Veniste
wrote, "Truman Arnold's name never came up during the Whitewater investigation...
because of the entirely collateral nature of the inquiry about Hubbell
and Lippo... and given Arnold's total lack of involvement in any aspect
of the matters before the Whitewater Committee, no honest argument can
be made that my representation of Arnold transgresses professional guidelines."
Richard Ben-Veniste has been
a 'utility player' in major American scandals in roles that are often not
clearly-defined. Now Ben-Veniste, about to serve on his third major national
investigative panel (Watergate, Whitewater, and 9/11), may be about to
face the same criticism all over again.
But Ben-Veniste once again
turning up at the 'scene of the crime,' is by no means the oddest thing
about Truman Arnold and Wallace Hilliard’s aviation transaction...
That distinction would have
to go to the aircraft bill of sale which conveyed the plane from Arnold
Although it is dated December
10,2000, the MadCowMorningNews has learned exclusively that it was not
submitted to the FAA until almost a year later, on January 31,2002.
Bread crumbs along the
While the purpose of this
arrangement is unclear, one possible reason, aviation sources indicate,
is that had the plane come under law enforcement scrutiny during this time,
the person coming under suspicion would have been—not Wally Hilliard,
the man using the plane—but Truman Arnold, who was still the owner of
This is no small benefit,
considering that the December 10, 2000 transfer date for the twin-engine
King Air came right after Hilliard had lost his bid to retain possession
of a Lear jet he owned which the DEA confiscated on the runway at Orlando
Executive Airport in July of 2000 with 45 pounds of Columbian heroin aboard.
When that happened, Mr. Hilliard's
name was 'mud,' at least with certain federal authorities.
Nonetheless, Hilliard continued
putting together a company, Florida Air Holdings, which planned to offer
commuter air service, after briefly flying in the Spring of 2000, when
it was touted by Florida political luminary Katherine Harris.
When it offered commuter
service again, under the name Discover Air, it went out of business again
after not one ticket was sold on its inaugural route. Notwithstanding this
dismal record, another Florida political luminary, Gov. Jeb Bush, stepped
forward to tour its facilities and praise its seemingly un-praiseworthy
Against this backdrop of
inexplicable aviation activity by Hilliard in Florida the State Dept announced
a change of policy in January, after President Bush's swearing-in, instructing
the U.S. Ambassador to Columbia, Anne Hamilton (from DEA chief Asa Hutchinson's
home of Fort Smith, Arkansas, just minutes by air from infamous Mena, home
of the biggest narcotics trafficking operation in history during the 1980's)
to urge Columbia to "stop its opium eradication activities in favor of
When he found out, Republican
Dan Burton was livid, and brought the matter before his House Govt. Reform
"In 2000 we saw initial success
with the heroin strategy," Burton stated in the hearing. "Our allies and
the Colombian National Police eradicated 9,200 hectares of opium poppy
plants in Colombia's high Andes Mountains. This put a serious dent into
the supply of heroin coming into the United States."
"It was then that the State
Department chose to stop opium eradication," Burton fumed, "to, as Ambassador
Patterson put it, 'take advantage of a historic opportunity to eradicate
During hearings, Burton said
that "Eradication of opium with the new Black Hawks that we gave them last
year was stopped -- stopped while the coca eradication in the south took
a priority. And the only problem is Colombia's cocaine is now increasingly
headed in another direction: to Europe. And the opium poppy used to make
more deadly Colombian heroin is almost exclusively headed to the United
States of American and our East Coast."
"It's a small world after
What makes this digression
into the politics of heroin of especial interest are two related facts:
1.Richard Ben-Veniste represented
notorious Contra-era drug smuggler and CIA pilot Barry Seal, covered (read
the chapter here) in Barry & the ‘boys.'" And
2.The King Air 200 which
passed from Truman Arnold into Wally Hilliard's hands was originally one
of a number of special "mil-spec" planes produced in 1981 for use in the
Contra adventure in Central America.
Barry Seal 'owned' one, which
later became the favorite plane of then-Texas Governor George W. Bush.
Now Wally Hilliard 'owns'
Also of note is the fact
that Barry Seal had attempted to plea bargain himself out of trouble
through the simple expedient of offering to 'roll' on his own attorney,
This novel approach caused
a nervous Ben-Veniste to write a letter to Seal (reprinted in Barry &
the boys from Seal's own archive) in which he says, "I have mentioned several
times that I would appreciate your returning my two briefcases of legal
materials which you have been holding as soon as possible."
Some observers detected a
whiff of blackmail.
When we originally learned
of this maneuver while writing "Barry & 'the boys,'" we thought, how
Offering to roll on your
attorney is odd. But rolling on someone else, slightly higher up in your
particular criminal organization, like your boss...
That happens all the time.
Years later, well after Seal's
assassination, the Wall Street Journal called him "the ghost haunting the
Richard Ben-Veniste may one
day be known as "the ghost haunting the 9/11 investigation."
Today the Truman Arnold Company
tops the Arkansas Business list of that state's largest private companies,
after unseating Jackson Stephens Inc. of Little Rock, long unchallenged
as the state's largest private company.
Jackson Stephens was often
referred to by drug smuggler Barry Seal of the Mena drug smuggling operation
as the "Old Man"
No doubt all of this is mere
coincidence, without the slightest relevance to an understanding of what
happened in America on September 11th, 2001.
According to the FBI, which
should know, the 19 hijackers had no help from any outside organization
while in this country.
They were a Lone Cadre.
Nothing to see here, folks.