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OPINION

How the Clintons Fooled America with Elian Gonzalez

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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''I believe personally that this little boy (Elian Gonzalez) should be with his father…but I also believe that this is not a decision that politicians should be making. I wish everybody would take a deep breath, and a step back, and let's try to get this child into a safe, permanent, loving, unexploited home and family as soon as possible.''  (Hillary Clinton April 4, 2000.)

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Let the record show that most Americans approved of the Clinton-Castro shanghaiing of Elian Gonzalez.  A 60 Minutes “interview” of Elian’s father Juan Miguel by Dan Rather played a key role in this expert snookering of America. To wit:    

On the April 6th 2000 edition of 60 Minutes, America saw a bewildered and heartsick father pleading to be allowed to have his motherless son accompany him back to Cuba, his cherished homeland. Dan Rather (who hailed Fidel Castro as “Cuba’s Elvis!”) was interviewing Elian’s “bereaved” father. How could anyone possibly oppose his heartfelt plea? How could simple decency and common sense possibly allow for anything else?

"Did you cry?" the pained and frowning Dan Rather asked the "bereaved" father during the 60 Minutes drama."A father never runs out of tears," Juan (actually, as we’ll see, the voice of Juan's drama school-trained translator) sniffled back to Dan. And the 60 Minutes prime-time audience could hardly contain their own sniffles.

Here's what America didn't see: "Juan Miguel Gonzalez was surrounded by Castro security agents the entire time he was in the studio with Rather." This is an eye-witness account from Pedro Porro, who served as Dan Rather's translator during the famous 60 Minutes interview. Dan Rather would ask the question in English into Porro's earpiece whereupon Porro would translate it into Spanish for Elian's heavily-guarded father.

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"Juan Miguel was never completely alone," says Pedro Porro. "He never smiled. His eyes kept shifting back and forth. It was obvious to me that he was under heavy coercion. He was always surrounded by security agents from the Cuba Interest Section (i.e. Cuban embassy) in Washington D.C. When these agents left him alone for a few seconds, attorney Gregory Craig would hover over Juan Miguel.

"The questions Dan Rather was asking Elian's father during that 60 Minutes interview were being handed to him by attorney Gregory Craig," continues Pedro Porro. "It was obvious that Craig and Rather where on very friendly terms. They were joshing and bantering back and forth, as Juan Miguel sat there petrified. Craig was stage managing the whole thing - almost like a movie director. The taping would stop and he'd walk over to Dan, hand him a little slip of paper, say something into his ear. Then Rather would read the next question into my earpiece straight from the paper."

A reminder: officially (Bill Clinton and Dan Rather crony) Gregory Craig then served as attorney for Elian's father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, who worked as a hotel doorman in a nation where the average monthly salary is $16. The high-rolling Gregory Craig worked for Washington D.C.'s elite firm, Williams & Connolly, one of America's highest-priced law firms.

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Upon accepting the case at the Clinton administrations’ behest, Gregory Craig had flown to Cuba for a meeting with Fidel Castro. Craig's remuneration, we learned shortly after his return, came from a "voluntary fund" set up by the United Methodist Board of Church and Society and "administered" by the National Council of Churches. The same reporters and pundits, who routinely erupted with snide snorts midway through any statement by a Republican press secretary, reported this item with a straight face.

Gregory Craig had led the Juan Miguel/Cuban-Security entourage into the studio, then presided over the interview as a movie director. "At one point Craig stopped the taping almost like a movie director yelling, 'Cut!' I was confused for a moment, says Porro, "until Greg Craig complained that Juan Miguel's answers were not coming across from his translator with "sufficient emotion." "So Dan Rather shut everything down for a while and some of the crew drove to a drama school in New York. They hired a dramatic actor to act as a translator, and brought him back!"

Okay roll 'em!

"I probably should have walked out," says Porro. "But I'd been hired by CBS in good faith and I didn't know exactly how the interview would be edited -- how it would come across on the screen. I mighta known, but you never know these things play out until you actually see it."

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"Midway through watching that 60 minutes broadcast, I felt like throwing up," said Porro. "My stomach was in a knot." His worst fears were confirmed.

Lara Logan and her 60 minutes crew got snookered by a defense-contractor con-man. They were negligent and admit it. Dan Rather and crew volunteered to help a Stalinist con-man (Fidel Castro) stage a massive farce--a veritable show-trial complete with bogus confessions and coerced testimony. They knowingly snookered the American public.

Worse, as mentioned, most Americans fell for the farce. In their innocence (of Communist tactics) most Americans saw the Elian tragedy as a simple custody dispute, as happen hourly in places like Omaha, Atlanta and Peoria. That’s exactly what Clinton, Castro and Rather wanted, expected and got.

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