Inman's friends and other enemies.
Inman wrote a letter last year to
a U.S. district court judge in
Philadelphia commending the "patriotism"
of arms merchant James
Guerin, who has since been sentenced
to 15 years for fraud and
smuggling weapons to South
Africa. While he praised Guerin
for providing the U.S. with "information
obtained during his foreign
travels," Inman did not ask the
court for leniency.
That Inman didn't stoop to requesting a lighter sentence for his buddy James Guerin seems to be a bonus in Nelan's eyes--enough to absolve the journalist from asking other questions, such as: what was Bobby Ray Inman doing hanging around with Guerin, who both violated the arms embargo against South Africa and bilked the U.S. government out of vast sums of money?
Those who have followed Inman's career--both in and out of Washington --have raised similar questions. Now that Inman has withdrawn his nomination as Secretary of Defense, many of these queries will be left unanswered.
Here's one more. During the heyday of Reagan's foreign policy, Inman served on the board of directors of the Wackenhut Corporation, based in Coral Gables, Florida. TWC is and always has been more than what it pretends to be--the biggest private rent-a-cop agency in the world. Such basic security services are a low-margin business, however, and TWC has never been afraid to venture out into sexier and more profitable ventures. This entrepreneurial spirit has led TWC to involve itself in security operations throughout Latin America, most notably in El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. According to Jefferson Morley of the Nation, back in 1988 several employees of TWC helped members of El Salvador's death squads hatch and carry out an elaborate scheme to kidnap the then-U.S. ambassador to El Salvador, Edwin Corr. The plotters hoped to pin the blame on the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), but the intrigue failed. News of the conspiracy--which, if successful, would have been an international incident--and Wackenhut's hand in it were seemingly lost in, and on, the U.S. press (see Jefferson Morley, "The Vanishing Kidnap Plot," the Nation, July 30-August 6, 1988).
Wackenhut employees seem to have a thing for indigenous paramilitaries. In the late 1970s, TWC sought and obtained special permission from the Belgian government to operate there. By 1982, however, the company had succeeded in hiring several neo-Nazi thugs from Belgium's notoriously violent and anti-Semitic Westland New Post. One such employee was Marcel Barbier, who Wackenhut assigned to guard a synagogue (!) on the Rue de la Regence in 1982. The synagogue mysteriously blew up on Barbier's watch.
Ah, you may say, but Barbier was just a low-level employee. Unfortunately, TWC's local director for the city of Brussels turned out to be Jean-Francis Calmette, who both trained and armed members of the Westland New Post. Not surprisingly, some other like-minded TWC employees were caught luring immigrant children into basements and beating them (see Jan Capelle, "Westland New Post: Ombres et Lumieres," Article 31, Belgique, July 30, 1987). Wackenhut beat a hasty retreat out of Belgium shortly after these disclosures.
For more on Wackenhut, have a look at the late Frank Donner's books, The Age of Surveillance and Protectors of Privilege. And while you're pondering the case of TWC, ask yourself another question: might someone have quizzed Inman about his role on TWC's board? Could someone have asked Inman about TWC's operations around the world? Perhaps--but now we'll never know. "Good heavens," quoth Dryden, "how faction can a patriot paint!"
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|Title Annotation:||Ex Umbris; the troubling history and media treatment of Bobby Ray Inman|
|Date:||Mar 1, 1994|
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