Inman's Friends and Other Enemies

Article excerpt

Time magazine should be ashamed of its puffball handling of Bobby Ray Inman, painted as an organizational and military wunderkind with nary a political bone in his body. Here's a sample clinker from Time's Bruce W. Nelan:

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.

{emphasis added}

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 Now that Inman has withdrawn his nomination as Secretary of Defense, many of these queries will be left unanswered.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. …