This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, August 25, 1999.
The days canicular are winding down, and again people Ė people like me Ė start vectoring in on news that is padded away as filler in local newspapers. Among the joys today, a hiker on a mountain, oh, not that far from Vail Colorado, reported a cylindrical metallic object with tail fins in a pile of rocks in an area breezily close to where the wreckage of an A-10 Thunderbolt attack bomber was found three years ago. Missing still is a ton of ordinance composed of five hundred pound bombs remarkably like the item discovered oh so recently.
Immediately, military spin doctors were on it. This bomb, for it is unlikely to be anything else, might be, they intone, left over from when the 10th Mountain Division trained during the Second World War. And indeed, that division did train in that area, although a simple look at the tail fin configura-tion would have revealed what quarter century it was constructed. Surely they would already know that from the discovererís description. Sure, it is possible from the 1940ís , except that fifty-five years of exposure in the Colorado Rockies might have rendered the bomb rust, and Iíd kind of like to think that a tourist area like Vail might have required that the military clean up its explosives or at least fess up about their existence. Iíd like to think that and I do. It is not a World War Two Bomb flowering in the rocks of Colorado.
But what is happening here is a justifiably paranoid military establishment is trying to deflect the publicís gaze from what is either monumental incompetence of one of its pilots or the infiltration of rightwing militia ethics into the airforce, one of the theories trotted out, or the lapse of a pilotís romantic affair, either heterosexual or, the all purpose military canard, homosexual. All these were swung up the yard arm for likely believability three years ago. You remember the details. A squadron of these planes were flying south when one turned and headed north and vanished. Another Vail tourist heard a crash back then but it took months for the plane to be found and there was, at that time, not much left. All the while, the air force was trying to blame the pilot of everything, being spurned by a woman and suicidal, being gay and ashamed, being a militia nut thinking about avenging Waco and Oklahoma City and bombing something, being an idiot. The Air Force, of course, was somehow not at fault.
All of this is possible, of course, but there is the annoying lack of any evidence for any of the pilotís motivations and an awful lot for airforce incompetence. The United States military-intellegence complex, which brags about being able to read newspapers over the shoulders of Kremlin politicians in Moscow, or retrieving sunken Russian subs three miles down, or being able to shoot from the hip and hit incoming missiles, or have heat seeking smart bombs able to pose as local farmers before blowing up silos, did not know one of its armed planes was missing in the countryís heartland. It could not find it after it noticed. It could not find an explosion site of some heat above timber line. It could not find the bombs the plane carried. And it essentially said the hell with it after a few months and moved on with its life. Sleep tight tonight, your Air Force is awake. In fairness, neither could the Civil Air Patrol, Mountain Rescue teams, or the armada of media helicopters. Apparently, to find anything missing in the future in the Rockies we will henceforth have to air drop in teams of Vail tourists. After all, they were the ones who saw the crash, eventually found the plane and now the bombs.
Oddly missing from all the conspiracy theories trotted out was one involving illegal drugs. The biggest assignment of the US military in the last decade has not been Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, or Libya but its new and foolish assignment to be used in the drug war. I have no evidence, absolutely none, that drugs played any role in this incident, but I am suspicious. It is a bovine idea and dangerous to use a nationís army as police, especially in the drug war. It smacks of fascism. It leaves all these young kids open to huge bribes, a financial transaction I would love to leave to corrupt local police and the DEA. Police are always going to be a little dirty at least, because they have to be in the gutter with the actual criminals to be doing their job. But a military should at least try to hold on to ideals like pa-triotism and democracy which it cannot do when it is bombing South American peasants harvesting coca and opium and hemp. Would a young pilot make a deal to miss a bomb run for a couple of million dollars? Would he do it if the drug lords knew his name, his parentís address, his childrenís school? Would he run drugs in empty cannisters posing as bombs with the connivance of influential South Americans vacationing in Vail? Who knows, I do not, but surely as they bribed our police forces, drug money will Ė if it has not already Ė corrupt entire units of the military.
I have no evidence of drug involvement with any of this except to point out there was no evidence of gay affairs, militia involvement, or any of that with the pilot either, but they received careful scrutiny in the press. And a coincidental scenario as I have loosely constructed could just as honorably be forwarded for consideration. It is very puzzling why it has not been. Even those of us who look forward to the day when the so-called drug war ends and people can knowledgeably smoke and inject what they wish have much to fear from a corrupt American military composed entirely of rival drug factions. If we use them as police, it will happen and could have already. Recall that all the fighting in Ireland, Kosovo, much of the world under the guise of revolution is actually a filthy, greedy drug war. It could happen here unless we shape up, and a tail fin on the continental divide might be just the most visible signal of a big mistake as the recent flaming wreckage in a South American jungle.