IAEA concludes that Iraq possesses no nuclear weapons program
- October: The International Atomic Energy Agency concludes an exhaustive study of Iraq's nuclear program and reports that Iraq has no nuclear weapons: October 8: "...the IAEA's verification activities in Iraq, have resulted in the evolution of a technically coherent picture of Iraq's clandestine nuclear program. These verification activities have revealed no indications that Iraq had achieved its program objective of producing nuclear weapons or that Iraq had produced more than a few grams of weapon-usable nuclear material or had clandestinely acquired such material. Furthermore, there are no indications that there remains in Iraq any physical capability for the production of weapon-usable nuclear material of any practical significance." The report noted that Iraq's nuclear facilities had been destroyed by American bombs in the 1991 Gulf War. The study's main author, Garry Dillon, a British nuclear-safety engineer who spent twenty-three years working for the IAEA and retired as its chief of inspection, will say in 2003 that it was "highly unlikely" that Iraq had been able to maintain a secret or hidden program to produce significant amounts of weapons-usable material, given the enormous progress in the past decade in the technical ability of IAEA inspectors to detect radioactivity in ground locations and in waterways. "This is not kitchen chemistry," Dillon says. "You're talking factory scale, and in any operation there are leaks."
- During the rest of the Clinton years, the flow of intelligence reports about Hussein's weapons of mass destruction is steady, but is almost entirely made up of speculative "worst-case scenarios." When the UN inspectors leave in 1998, virtually the only information about Iraq's WMD programs coming to the Clinton (and later the Bush) administration comes from unreliable Iraqi exiles such as Ahmad Chalabi, who have their own political agendas. (New Yorker, Center for American Progress)
- October: In a CNN interview with Osama bin Laden, bin Laden says of Saddam Hussein, "He's a bad Muslim. He took Kuwait for his own self-aggrandizement." Bin Laden is also very clear about his grievances against America -- its military presence in Saudi Arabia, its support of Israel, and its failure to support the Palestinians more strongly. (New York Times/University of St. Andrews, Eric Alterman and Mark Green)
- October 3: Linda Tripp makes her first surreptitious tape-recording of a phone conversation between herself and Monica Lewinsky. Little of use is said, though Lewinsky makes the interesting contention that oral sex doesn't constitute real sex. Tripp presses Lewinsky for intimate details of Lewinsky and Clinton's encounters, but most of the conversation revolve around Lewinsky's emotional turmoil over being "dumped" by "the big creep." Three days later, in another taped conversation, Tripp tells Lewinsky that she knows for a fact Lewinsky will never be offered a job in the White House. Her source for this contention, NSC staffer Kate Friedrich, denies ever speaking with Tripp about Lewinsky's bad reputation or the possibility of Lewinsky being hired at the White House, but Tripp, again on audio tape, later tells her friend and mentor Lucianne Goldberg of her putative conversation with Friedrich. Her fantasy of being rehired at the White House, and perhaps even a renewal of her affair with Clinton, shattered, Lewinsky becomes, over the next few weeks, more receptive of Tripp's idea of having Clinton's senior advisors help her get a job in New York. (Joe Conason and Gene Lyons)
- October 6: The UN Security Commission issues its semi-annual report containing a unanimous finding that Iraq, despite the number of documents recently disclosed, has still not come forward on all of its biological weapons programs. The report claims important progress but acknowledges significant difficulties due to Iraq's deception. On October 23, the UNSC passes Resolution 1134 demanding full cooperation and implying further sanctions upon failure to comply. Later in the month, UNSCOM completes the destruction of a large cache of chemical weapons that Iraq had denied owning. (UN/Iraqwatch/Electric Venom)
- October 6: Investigative reporter Michael Isikoff meets for the first time with one of the key anti-Clinton figures in the "vast right-wing conspiracy" to destroy the Clinton presidency, literary agent and right-wing provocateur Lucianne Goldberg. Goldberg has for months been given chapter and verse by Linda Tripp about Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky, Clinton's alleged advances towards Kathleen Willey, and has been given tapes of Tripp's conversations with Lewinsky. Goldberg, who says that she, like many other anti-Clinton bashers, considers Isikoff one of her "heroes," offers to allow Isikoff to listen to the tapes. Isikoff hesitates and, Hamlet-like, begins again questioning his own personal involvement in the developing story: "Wait a minute," he says, "I'm not sure I should be doing this. It probably isn't a good idea for me to listen to this." (In his book Uncovering Clinton, Isikoff writes that he is worried that, by listening to the tapes while the conversations were still going on, he would become part of the process and not an impartial observer. Tripp later recalls that Isikoff, far from being worried about his journalistic ethics, encourages her to keep taping.) Instead of listening to the tapes, Isikoff demands the name of the White House intern; Tripp, with Goldberg's permission, tells Isikoff that the intern is Lewinsky. Isikoff goes into high gear over the next few weeks, cataloguing more salacious but unverifiable details from Tripp and Goldberg, obtaining courier receipts from packages mailed by Lewinsky to Clinton via Clinton's personal secretary Betty Currie, and hearing stories about a certain blue dress of Lewinsky's that supposedly has Clinton's semen stains on it. Tripp claims to have seen the dress, and offers to steal it so Isikoff can have it tested. Isikoff demurs. Later, Isikoff will write of his belated realization that he "was in the middle of a plot to get the president." While he is covering the story as a journalist, he is covering it "from the inside, while it was unfolding, talking nearly every week with the conspirators as they schemed to make it happen." Isikoff dithers. He is convinced that Clinton is a serial philanderer and should be outed by the press, but wonders if the Lewinsky story has any relevance to Clinton's performance as president, and whether or not he is invading Clinton's right to privacy. Isikoff's Newsweek editors are particularly concerned with the issue of relevancy; is there, they ask repeatedly, a reason for our magazine to be investigating the president's sex life?
- After meeting with Isikoff, Tripp goes home and calls Lewinsky again, and tapes the call. She suggests that, as part of Lewinsky's attempt to get assistance from the White House in finding a job in New York, that the two compose a letter to Clinton, asking him to help her find a job. She suggests that Lewinsky use the courier Speed Service to deliver the letter; unbeknownst to Lewinsky, Tripp makes the recommendation because the courier service is managed by a relative of Lucianne Goldberg who has already agreed to keep the routing slips for every letter and package Lewinsky sends to the White House. Tripp and Goldberg later give the slips to Isikoff as proof of Lewinsky's contact with the White House. After a stormy, emotional phone call from Clinton to Lewinsky in the wee hours of October 11, Clinton promises to help Lewinsky secure a job in New York City. Lewinsky mentions that Clinton's friend Vernon Jordan, the well-connected Washington attorney, can help, and Clinton agrees; it later comes out that the idea of bringing Jordan in originated with Tripp, in part to try to besmirch Jordan with the same brush she is using to dirty Clinton's name.
- Along with Isikoff, Tripp and Goldberg are feeding their information to the Paula Jones legal teams, both official and secret. Tripp actively wants to testify in the Jones case, saying to Goldberg that she is "gleeful" at the prospect, but wants to look as if she has been coerced; an agreement is reached for Tripp to be subpoenaed in November. She is suspected of making several anonymous phone calls to the Jones lawyers urging them to subpoena both herself and Lewinsky. She worries most about being cross-examined by Clinton lawyer Robert Bennett, whom she both despises and fears, and being forced to admit to taping Lewinsky. The Jones team has been well briefed by Tripp and Goldberg on the details, both real and imagined, of the Lewinsky story as well. (Marvin Kalb, Joe Conason and Gene Lyons)
- October 8: Covert legal advisor George Conway, of the Paula Jones "elves," sends an e-mail to Internet gossip monger Matt Drudge, passing confidential legal information about the Kathleen Willey sexual harassment charges and spending a great deal of time telling Drudge about the concocted story of the "distinguishing characteristic" of Clinton's penis, which he now claims Jones will use to identify the presidential genitalia in court. Drudge, of course, gleefully prints everything Conway tells him. Conway's motivation is to scuttle any chance of a legal settlement between Jones and Clinton and ensure that the case is presented in court. "Conway's leaking of this stuff certainly jeopardized a settlement," Jones's former lawyer Gilbert Davis says in 1999 after reading the e-mail for the first time. "I had no concept, no idea that they would do such a thing." The leak is, of course, a direct violation of Judge Wright's gag order covering all attorneys in the Jones litigation
- Jones's new lawyer, Bill McMillan, joins with Conway and fellow "elf" Ann Coulter to leak the story of the "distinguishing characteristic," enraging Clinton's lawyer Robert Bennett. "The distinguishing physical characteristic that Paula Jones believes she saw is that Clinton's penis is curved when erect," Conway writes to Drudge. "If she is correct, then Clinton has a urological condition called Peyronie's disease.... It is caused by blockages in blood flow to the penis...if blood is constricted on one side, the penis curves when it is erect.... Jones's former lawyers, Cammarata and Davis, attempted to find a urological expert witness before they resigned for [sic] the case. The idea was that the expert witness, a physician, would examine Clinton in a turgid state (induced by injection), and then would render an opinion as to whether it is possible that Clinton had the problem in 1991.... Disgusting or what???" Conway forwards the Drudge e-mail to Laura Ingraham. Coulter herself later admits that the truth or falsity of the story wasn't important -- Clinton, of course, does not suffer from Peyronie's disease, nor does he have any such "distinguishing characteristic" -- but the story was designed to humiliate and embarrass Clinton and ensure that a settlement would never take place. Coulter gives the story to Richard Johnson of the New York Post's Page Six gossip column; Johnson's editors refuse to let him print it, but he passes it off to the Washington Times, where it appears on the front page. Talk show host Don Imus features it on his morning program. And Newsweek's Michael Isikoff says it was offered to him as well, though he does not say by whom. Of course, the media descends into a riotous examination of the story, ensuring that Conway's and Coulter's plan of making the presidential penis a subject of discussion and mockery comes to pass. (Joe Conason and Gene Lyons)
- October 27: The chairman of UNSCOM writes to Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz asking that Iraq address outstanding issues, including warheads, VX and biological weapons. Aziz refuses to cooperate with US members of UNSCOM and demands that all such members leave Iraq. The President of the Security Council issues a statement demanding full cooperation or the imposition of serious consequences. Four days later, the IAEA suspends its activities in Iraq, leaving all inspections in the hands of UNSCOM. (UN/Electric Venom)
- October 27: Halliburton Oil, with future VP Dick Cheney as CEO, announces a new contract with Turkmenistan to provide drilling and technical services. Halliburton also mentions its work with Turkmenistan for the previous five years. That same day, a new consortium, CentGas, is launched to build a pipeline through Afghanistan. CentGas is made up of Unocal and Delta Oil. (CCR, Albion Monitor/AlterNet)
- October 27: A doctor who provides abortions in upstate New York is shot and wounded in the shoulder while sitting in his home. The police do not provide the name of the victim. (Washington Post)
- Late October: Bill McMillan, the interim attorney for Paula Jones, is replaced by a group of attorneys who, like the covert legal advisors who are actually steering the case, have no interest in a settlement and every interest in using the case to bring down Bill Clinton. The supervising attorney is John Whitehead, president of the religious-right Rutherford Institute, and lawyers brought on board from a Dallas law firm by Whitehead. Whitehead plans to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars by direct-mail solicitations to fund the litigation and leave the actual conduct of the trial proceedings to the Dallas lawyers. Whitehead represented Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority until 1982, when he left to help found the Rutherford Institute. The Institute promotes a far-right strain of Christian theology informally known as "Christian Reconstructionism," a doctrine explored far more thoroughly in the They Said It page of this site, but which basically advocates replacing secular, Constitutionally based law with "God's law." Whitehead refrains from making any such pronouncements when he discusses the Jones case in public, stating for the cameras that his only interest is to ensure that everyone, even the president, is treated equally before the law. The Institute's own founding principles insist that its members only involve themselves in legal proceedings that "principally involve a violation of religious liberties or parental rights;" the Jones case involves neither. Until this case, the Institute had refused to become involved in any case involving allegations of sexual harassment. It is hard to see that anything except partisan politics impelled Whitehead to take the case.
- Whitehead is not happy when he realizes that, far from being a cash cow for the Institute, the Jones case is draining his organization's coffers. He does not yet realize that Paula Jones and her husband Steve are operating their own legal fund, for which they are raising money. In November, fund-raiser Bruce Eberle promises to raise $300,000 for the Paula Jones Legal Fund. Later in the month, lawyers on both sides of the case are dismayed when Jones informs all concerned that not only has she refused Clinton's offer of $700,000 to settle the case, she will not accept anything less than $2.6 million. Clinton lawyer Robert Bennett realizes once and for all that the case is nothing less than a political vendetta against his client. (Joe Conason and Gene Lyons)
- Late October: Linda Tripp tries unsuccessfully to talk Monica Lewinsky out of meeting UN ambassador Bill Richardson in Richardson's Watergate Hotel suite. Richardson has, at the request of Clinton's secretary Betty Currie, agreed to help find Lewinsky a job at the UN. Tripp warns Lewinsky that the meeting with Richardson might be a setup engineered by Clinton aide John Podesta, to later be used against Lewinsky by claiming that she had propositioned Richardson in the privacy of Richardson's hotel room. Tripp tries desperately to persuade Lewinsky to meet Richardson instead in the dining room of Aquatelle, the Watergate restaurant. Tripp does not tell Lewinsky that she needs for this meeting to be in a public place -- she has arranged with Michael Isikoff to have a Newsweek photographer secretly photograph the two. Lewinsky doesn't bite, and meets briefly, and chastely, with Richardson and several of Richardson's assistants. But Lewinsky will turn down the job Richardson offers her a few days later, and instead decides to rely on the contacts made for her by Clinton's friend and advisor Vernon Jordan, who on November 5 promises to line up some interviews for her. (Joe Conason and Gene Lyons)