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Suspicions About Wellstone Crash

Shortly after the announcement about the plane crash that killed Senator Paul Wellstone, speculation began that his death wasn't an accident. Wellstone was opposed to many of the Bush government policies, including war with Iraq.

Although national media reported that during the pre-flight briefing, the pilots were told they would have adverse icing conditions throughout the flight, local media in Minnesota reported that at the time of the crash, visibility was 3 to 4 miles, the ceiling was 200 to 400 feet, and the temperature was 34 degrees. Icing only occurs when the temperature is between 28 and 31 degrees.

This sort of thing can fuel endless internet conspiracy speculation, but without proof of airplane tampering, there is no evidence of foul play. When John Ashcroft ran for a senate seat in 2000, before he was appointed attorney general, his opponent Mel Carnahan died in a small plane crash just days before the election. Carnahan's wife Jean stood in for him, which is allowed under Missouri state law. Despite the fact that Ashcroft was running against the wife of a dead man, he still lost the election, so there?s not much motivation for anyone who would wants to move congress more to the right to do it in this grisly way.

However, there was plenty of covert opposition to Wellstone?s liberal policies. Americans for Job Security, a Virginia-based interest group that opposed his reelection, made a $1 million negative ad buy in the last two weeks before the election, according to Wellstone campaign officials. Campaign manager Jeff Blodgett says his biggest concern is that no one knows who funds the mysterious group, which has found a legal loophole that allows it to keep its donors secret. "In a state with a reputation for clean, transparent campaigns, this is an outrage, that a group can come in and spend this kind of money and no one knows who their donors are," Blodgett says. "We demand to know. We ask Norm Coleman (Wellstone?s opponent) to join us in this."

Michael Dubke, president of Americans for Job Security, is unapologetic about the group's refusal to disclose its donors, saying the decision is legal and is common among issue advocacy groups. He says Wellstone benefited from ads run by liberal groups.

Little is known about Americans for Job Security, which is based in Alexandria, Va., just outside Washington, D.C. It was founded in 1997 with a $1 million contribution from the American Insurance Association. The Annenberg Public Policy Center describes the group as a "tax-exempt, conservative, business-backed, pro-Republican organization" that was an offshoot of a group formed in 1996 to fight against issues promoted by organized labor.

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