Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Hillary and the snipers

by Rick Francona

I only took passing notice of the recent reporting of Senator Hillary Clinton’s brush with death during an airport landing in the Balkans. The story was of her "swooping down in a helicopter into a war zone..." In her own words: “I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base.”

Hillary dodging sniper fire

Then today I saw the video of the airport scene – and had to choke back the laughter. I recognized the landing strip as the sprawling former Yugoslav airbase at Tuzla, located in what is now Bosnia. Mrs Clinton landed in an U.S. Air Force transport plane at a secure American military facility, not an airport in the middle of a war. She didn’t have to “get to our base,” she was already on it.

I flew in and out of Tuzla several times while stationed in the country. I had to laugh at the mere thought of snipers at Tuzla Air Base – it was the headquarters of the NATO force in Bosnia, including the headquarters of the U.S. Army 1st Armored Division. The base itself is the size of a small American city. A sniper firing at someone deplaning at the reception terminal on Tuzla would have to be using an artillery piece. It was arguably the safest place in the Balkans. It is where we intelligence teams operating around the country went when we wanted to be safe. The U.S. Army is not in the habit of exposing sitting First Ladies and their daughters to hostile fire. The senator claimed she “misspoke.” Right.