Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

For Clinton, Joy at Rescue, Pressure on Policy

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

For Clinton, Joy at Rescue, Pressure on Policy

Article excerpt

A joyous President Bill Clinton congratulated Air Force Capt. Scott F. O'Grady on his dramatic rescue from Bosnia Thursday, telling the pilot: "The country was on pins and needles."

But even as the president savored the rare good news from war-torn former Yugoslavia, congressional critics questioned the tactics that got the pilot shot down, and the House demanded that Clinton lift the arms embargo on Bosnia.

Still, the mood at the White House was one of jubilation.

When Clinton learned shortly before 1 a.m. EDT that O'Grady had been rescued and was on his way to safety, the president invited national security adviser Anthony Lake to the Truman Balcony of the White House for celebratory cigars.

Thursday afternoon, Clinton declared himself "ecstatically happy" and hailed O'Grady and the Marines who went in to get him as heroes.

"His bravery in the face of great danger and uncertainty is an inspiration to all of us," Clinton said.

In midafternoon, Clinton talked to O'Grady by telephone aboard the Marine warship Kearsarge in the Adriatic Sea.

"He told me that he was on the ground between three and five minutes before armed people made it to his parachute . . . three to five minutes to find a place to hide and begin this incredible odyssey that I'm sure someday will make a very great movie," Clinton later told a diplomatic arts reception at the White House.

The eight-minute conversation was private, but the White House released highlights.

Clinton told O'Grady: "The whole country is elated."

The president then invited the pilot to the White House when it can be arranged.

According to deputy White House press secretary Mary Ellen Glynn, Clinton told the pilot he had talked to his parents shortly after the rescue "and they are really proud. Your family is very impressive."

O'Grady was quoted as telling the president that his rescuers were "the real heroes."

O'Grady: "The United States is the greatest country in the world. God bless America."'

Clinton: "Amen."

On Capitol Hill, lawmakers hailed the U.S. armed forces for pulling off the daring rescue but stepped up criticism of the administration's Bosnia policy.

By a 318-99 vote, the House voted for a unilateral U. …

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