Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Joint Chiefs Rally Behind Clinton to Counter Insult from Helms

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Joint Chiefs Rally Behind Clinton to Counter Insult from Helms

Article excerpt

America's top military officer emphasized Saturday the armed services' full support for President Bill Clinton. He was reacting to a remark by a conservative senator that the president was not up to the job of commander in chief.

"President Clinton is our commander in chief. He has, and will continue to have, the loyalty and full support of the joint chiefs of staff," said a statement by Gen. John Shalikashvili, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The statement was released late Friday, after Sen. Jesse Helms, the Republican who will become the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that many active-duty officers did not support Clinton.

In an interview broadcast Saturday on CNN's Evans and Novak, Helms, R-N.C., said the view was expressed by "just about every military man who writes to me." He noted that "we've got a pile of military installations" in North Carolina.

The armed forces' rebuttal, though emphatic, was brief, and a Pentagon press officer declined to comment further.

But John Taylor, a former Army commander who is senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said Friday:

"Bill Clinton is still our president. He is still our commander in chief. If you want to go after the policies of the planning, fine. But to go public and to say our president is not fit to be the commander in chief, I take great exception to that.

This man is our president. This nation must have a national security policy and strategy, and we should not try to undercut it for domestic political reasons."

Helms also criticized the administration's intervention in Haiti and its policies in the Middle East. But he was not uniformly confrontational and left the door open to continued foreign aid, particularly to Israel.

And he went out of his way to praise Secretary of State Warren M. …

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