Para ver este documento en español, oprima aquí.



Selling Out Vieques

by Christopher M. Lehman

December 17, 1999
Copyright © 1999 THE WASHINGTON TIMES. All Rights Reserved.

The Clinton administration appears once again on the verge of selling out an important American security interest for campaign contributions and votes. The list is getting longer with each passing month, and one can only hope that we can make it to the 2000 election without more irreparable harm to America.

Nuclear secrets to China, illegal campaign contributions, pardoning Puerto Rican terrorists who killed Americans - what could be next? The answer is thousands of acres of prime real estate in the Caribbean.

President Clinton has already declared that he thinks it is "wrong" for the United States military to use a military training range on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques, and he instructed his national security adviser to fix the problem. When this perfidious act was made public, the Clinton administration initiated a game of deception and distraction to confuse and deflate the issue. The administration ordered a study, but everyone knew what conclusion the president wanted.

The facts are pretty simple, however. The United States owns 22,000 acres of land on the sparsely inhabited island of Vieques near the island of Puerto Rico. Fifty-eight years ago the United States Navy bought the land at fair market value and since that time has used the land as a training range to develop the military readiness of Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine units. The Navy owned another range on the nearby island of Culebra but returned that to Puerto Rico in 1976.

The remaining range at Vieques is "invaluable" and "irreplaceable," according to U.S. military leaders both active duty and retired. Without access to the training area, East Coast-based forces would be unable to practice the military skills necessary for modern combat. Nowhere else in the eastern half of the United States is there a place where full combined-arms training can take place. This is the only location where ships, submarines, fighters, bombers and amphibious and ground forces can train together using live ammunition and realistic terrain.

There is another important fact that should not be overlooked. Vieques island has beautiful beaches, excellent scuba diving and snorkeling and thousands of acres of prime land for resort development. It is a real estate developer's dream. Another more insidious fact that needs to be understood is that Puerto Rico 's Gov. Rossello is a co-chairman of Al Gore's presidential campaign and has been a top fund-raiser for the Democratic Party. He is a FOB (Friend of Bill) and a friend of Al.

It all begins to add up. A president who said he "loathed" the military when he was a younger man now thinks that it is "wrong" for the U.S. military to train on land owned by the Navy where it has trained for the last 58 years. A governor of Puerto Rico who is a major fund-raiser for Bill Clinton and Al Gore wants the Navy out of Vieques. Hillary Clinton and Al Gore want the votes of the 1.4 million Puerto Ricans now living in the New York area. Janet Reno, Mr. Clinton's attorney general, said she was not in favor of sending FBI agents to remove the illegal protestors from the range because it would be a "difficult and unmanageable situation."

An administration without one single Cabinet-level security adviser who served in the military has now made a judgment that our nation doesn't need a military training facility that our military leaders unanimously declare to be "irreplaceable." It all adds up.

What doesn't add up is that the chief of naval operations and the commandant of the Marine Corps haven't resigned in protest over this charade.

On Dec. 3, these two distinguished and decorated military officers were dragged out to the Pentagon press briefing room to endorse Mr. Clinton's giveaway. They said that the Vieques training facility was an "irreplaceable asset, the crown jewel of live-fire, combined-arms training," and then they supported Mr. Clinton's offer to vacate Vieques in three to five years.

There is more. In addition to abandoning the training range, the president proposes to give Puerto Rico a $40 million aid package and then spend hundreds of millions of dollars doing a cleanup of the island.

Mr. Clinton has already proven that he is shameless and will never resign. However, the chief of naval operations and the commandant of the Marine Corps are both good and honorable men who have dedicated their lives to the defense of our country. For the good of their troops and the good of our nation, they should tell the president "no" on Vieques. They should resign rather than support such a giveaway.

Christopher M. Lehman served as national security advisor to President Reagan from 1983-1985.

Self-Determination Legislation | Puerto Rico Herald Home
Newsstand | Puerto Rico | U.S. Government | Archives
Search | Mailing List | Contact Us | Feedback