T here were three positive developments in foreign affairs in July: I normalized relations with Vietnam, with the strong support of most Vietnam veterans in Congress, including John McCain, Bob Kerrey, John Kerry, Chuck Robb, and Pete Peterson; Saddam Hussein released two Americans who had been held prisoner since March, after a strong plea from Congressman Bill Richardson; and South Korean President Kim Young-Sam, in Washington for the dedication of the Korean War Memorial, strongly endorsed the agreement we had made with North Korea to end its nuclear program. Because Jesse Helms and others had criticized the deal, Kims support was helpful, especially since he had been a political prisoner and advocate for democracy when South Korea was still an authoritarian state.

Unfortunately, the good news was dwarfed by what was happening in Bosnia. After being reasonably quiet for most of 1994, things had begun to go wrong at the end of November, when Serb warplanes attacked Croatian Muslims in western Bosnia. The attack was a violation of the no-fly zone, and in retaliation NATO bombed the Serb airfield, but didnt destroy it or all the planes that had flown.
In March, when the cease-fire President Carter had announced began to unravel, Dick Holbrooke, who had left his post as ambassador to Germany to become assistant secretary of state for European and Canadian affairs, sent our special envoy to the former Yugoslavia, Bob Frasure, to see Milosevic in the futile hope of ending the Bosnian Serb aggression and securing at least limited recognition for Bosnia in return for lifting the UN sanctions on Serbia.
By July, the fighting was in full swing again, with the Bosnian government forces making some gains in the middle of the country. Instead of trying to regain the lost territory, General Mladic decided to attack three isolated Muslim towns in eastern Bosnia, Srebrenica, Zepa, and Gorazde. The towns were filled with Muslim refugees from nearby areas, and though they had been declared UN safe areas, they were protected by only a small number of UN troops. Mladic wanted to take the three towns so that all of eastern Bosnia would be controlled by the Serbs, and he was convinced that, as long as he held UN peacekeepers hostage, the UN would not allow NATO to bomb in retaliation. He was right, and the consequences were devastating.
On July 10, the Serbs took Srebrenica. By the end of the month they had also taken Zepa, and refugees who escaped from Srebrenica had begun to tell the world of the horrifying slaughter of Muslims there by Mladics troops. Thousands of men and boys were gathered in a soccer field and murdered en masse. Thousands more were trying to escape through the heavily wooded hills.
After Srebrenica was overrun, I pressured the UN to authorize the rapid reaction force we had discussed at the G-7 meeting in Canada a few weeks earlier. Meanwhile, Bob Dole was pushing to lift the arms embargo. I asked him to postpone the vote and he agreed. I was still trying to find a way to save Bosnia that restored the effectiveness of the UN and NATO, but by the third week of July, Bosnian Serbs had made a mockery of the UN and, by extension, of the commitments of NATO and the United States. The safe areas were far from safe, and NATO action was severely limited because of the vulnerability of European troops who couldnt defend themselves, much less the Muslims. The Bosnian Serb practice of UN hostage-taking had exposed the fundamental flaw of the UNs strategy. Its arms embargo had kept the Bosnian government from achieving military parity with the Serbs. The peacekeepers could protect the Bosnian Muslims and Croatians only as long as the Serbs believed NATO would punish their aggression. Now the hostage-taking had erased that fear and given the Serbs a free hand in eastern Bosnia. The situation was slightly better in central and western Bosnia, because the Croatians and Muslims had been able to obtain some arms despite the UN embargo.
In an almost desperate attempt to regain the initiative, the foreign and defense ministers of NATO met in London. Warren Christopher, Bill Perry, and General Shalikashvili went to the conference determined to reverse the building momentum for a withdrawal of UN forces from Bosnia and, instead, to increase NATOs commitment and authority to act against the Serbs. Both the loss of Srebrenica and Zepa and the move in Congress to lift the arms embargo had strengthened our ability to push for more aggressive action. At the meeting, the ministers eventually accepted a proposal developed by Warren Christopher and his team to draw a line in the sand around Gorazde and to remove the dual key decision making that had given the UN veto authority over NATO action. The London conference was a turning point; from then on, NATO would be much more assertive. Not long afterward, the NATO commander, General George Joulwan, and our NATO ambassador, Robert Hunter, succeeded in extending the Gorazde rules to the Sarajevo safe area.
In August, the situation took a dramatic turn. The Croatians launched an offensive to retake the Krajina, a part of Croatia that the local Serbs had proclaimed their territory. European and some American military and intelligence officials had recommended against the action in the belief that Milosevic would intervene to save the Krajina Serbs, but I was rooting for the Croatians. So was Helmut Kohl, who knew, as I did, that diplomacy could not succeed until the Serbs had sustained some serious losses on the ground.
Because we knew Bosnias survival was at stake, we had not tightly enforced the arms embargo. As a result, both the Croatians and the Bosnians were able to get some arms, which helped them survive. We had also authorized a private company to use retired U.S. military personnel to improve and train the Croatian army.
As it turned out, Milosevic didnt come to the aid of the Krajina Serbs, and Croatian forces took Krajina with little resistance. It was the first defeat for the Serbs in four years, and it changed both the balance of power on the ground and the psychology of all the parties. One Western diplomat in Croatia was quoted as saying, There was almost a signal of support from Washington. The Americans have been spoiling for a chance to hit the Serbs, and they are using Croatia as their proxy to do the deed for them. On August 4, in a visit with veteran ABC News correspondent Sam Donaldson at the National Institutes of Health, where he was recovering from cancer surgery, I acknowledged that the Croatian offensive could prove helpful in resolving the conflict. Ever the good journalist, Donaldson filed a report on my comments from his hospital bed.
In an effort to capitalize on the shift in momentum, I sent Tony Lake and Undersecretary of State Peter Tarnoff to Europe (including Russia) to present a framework for peace that Lake had developed and to have Dick Holbrooke lead a team to begin a last-ditch effort to negotiate an end to the conflict with the Bosnians and Milosevic, who claimed not to control the Bosnian Serbs, though everyone knew they could not prevail without his support. Just before we launched the diplomatic mission, the Senate followed the House in voting to lift the arms embargo and I vetoed the bill to give our effort a chance. Lake and Tarnoff immediately took off to make the case for our plan, then met with Holbrooke on August 14 to report that the allies and Russians were supportive, and that Holbrooke could begin his mission at once.
On August 15, after a briefing from Tony Lake on Bosnia, Hillary, Chelsea, and I left for a vacation in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where we had been invited to spend a few days at the home of Senator Jay and Sharon Rockefeller. We all needed the time off, and I was really looking forward to the prospect of hiking and horseback riding in the Grand Tetons; rafting the Snake River; visiting Yellowstone National Park to see Old Faithful, the buffalo and moose, and the wolves we had brought back to the wild; and playing golf at the high altitude, where the ball goes a lot farther. Hillary was working on a book about families and children, and she was looking forward to making headway on it at the Rockefellers spacious, light-filled ranch house. We did all those things and more, but the enduring memory of our vacation was about Bosnia, and heartbreak.
On the day my family went to Wyoming, Dick Holbrooke left for Bosnia with an impressive team, including Bob Frasure; Joe Kruzel; Air Force Colonel Nelson Drew; and Lieutenant General Wesley Clark, director of strategic policy for the Joint Chiefs and a fellow Arkansan I had first met at Georgetown in 1965.
Holbrooke and his team landed in the Croatian coastal city of Split, where they briefed the Bosnian foreign minister, Muhamed Sacirbey, on our plans. Sacirbey was the eloquent public face of Bosnia on American television, a handsome, fit man who, as a student in the United States, had been a starting football player at Tulane University. He had long sought greater American involvement in his beleaguered nation and was glad the hour had finally come.
After Split, the U.S. team went to Zagreb, Croatias capital, to see President Tudjman, then flew to Belgrade to meet with Slobodan Milosevic. This inconclusive meeting was remarkable only for the fact that Milosevic refused to guarantee the safety of our teams plane from Bosnian Serb artillery if they flew from Belgrade into the airport at Sarajevo, their next stop. That meant they had to fly back to Split, from which they would helicopter to a landing spot, then take off for a two-hour drive to Sarajevo over the Mount Igman road, a narrow, unpaved route with no guardrails at the edges of its steep slopes and great vulnerability to nearby Serb machine gunners who regularly shot at UN vehicles. The EU negotiator, Carl Bildt, had been shot at when he traveled the road a few weeks earlier, and there were many wrecked vehicles in the ravines between Spilt and Sarajevo, some of which had simply slid off the road.
On August 19, my forty-ninth birthday, I started the day by playing golf with Vernon Jordan, Erskine Bowles, and Jim Wolfensohn, the president of the World Bank. It was a perfect morning until I heard about what had happened on the Mount Igman road. First from a news report, and later in an emotional phone call with Dick Holbrooke and Wes Clark, I learned that our team had set out for Sarajevo with Holbrooke and Clark riding in a U.S. Army Humvee, and Frasure, Kruzel, and Drew following behind in a French armored personnel carrier (APC) painted UN white. About an hour into the trip, at the top of a steep incline, the road gave way on the APC, and it somersaulted down the mountain and exploded into flames. Besides the three members of our team, there were two other Americans and four French soldiers in the vehicle. The APC had caught fire when the live ammunition it was carrying exploded. In a brave attempt to help, Wes Clark rappelled down the mountain with a rope tied to a tree trunk and tried to get into the burning vehicle to rescue the men still trapped inside, but it was too damaged and scalding hot.
It was also too late. Bob Frasure and Nelson Drew had been killed in the tumbling fall down the mountain. The others all got out, but Joe Kruzel soon died of his injuries, and one French soldier also perished. Frasure was fifty-three, Kruzel fifty, Drew forty-seven; all were patriotic public servants and good family men who died too young trying to save the lives of innocent people a long way from home.
The next week, after the Bosnian Serbs lobbed a mortar shell into the heart of Sarajevo, killing thirty-eight people, NATO began three days of air strikes on Serb positions. On September 1, Holbrooke announced that all the parties would meet in Geneva for talks. When the Bosnian Serbs did not comply with all of NATOs conditions, the air strikes resumed and continued until the fourteenth, when Holbrooke succeeded in getting an agreement signed by Kradzic and Mladic to end the siege of Sarajevo. Soon the final peace talks would begin in Dayton, Ohio. Ultimately they would bring an end to the bloody Bosnian war. When they did, their success would be in no small measure a tribute to three quiet American heroes who did not live to see the fruits of their labors.
While the August news was dominated by Bosnia, I continued to argue with the Republicans on the budget; noted that a million Americans had lost their health insurance in the year since the failure of health-care reform; and took executive action to limit the advertising, promotion, distribution, and marketing of cigarettes to teenagers. The Food and Drug Administration had just completed a fourteen-month study confirming that cigarettes were addictive, harmful, and aggressively marketed to teenagers, whose smoking rates were on the rise.
The teen smoking problem was a tough nut to crack. Tobacco is Americas legal addictive drug; it kills people and adds untold billions to the cost of health care. But the tobacco companies are politically influential, and the farmers who raise the tobacco crop are an important part of the economic, political, and cultural life of Kentucky and North Carolina. The farmers were the sympathetic face of the tobacco companies effort to increase their profits by hooking younger and younger people on cigarettes. I thought we had to do something to push them back. So did Al Gore, who had lost his beloved sister, Nancy, to lung cancer.
On August 8, we got a break in our efforts to eliminate the vestiges of Iraqs weapons of mass destruction program when two of Saddam Husseins daughters and their husbands defected to Jordan and were given asylum by King Hussein. One of the men, Hussein Kamel Hassan al-Majid, had headed Saddams secret effort to develop weapons of mass destruction and would supply valuable information on Iraqs remaining WMD stocks, the size and significance of which contradicted what the UN inspectors had been told by Iraqi officials. When confronted with the evidence, the Iraqis simply acknowledged that Saddams son-in-law was telling the truth and took the inspectors to the sites he had identified. After six months in exile, Saddams relatives were induced to return to Iraq. Within a couple of days, both sons-in-law were killed. Their brief journey to freedom had provided the UN inspectors with so much information that more chemical and biological stocks and laboratory equipment were destroyed during the inspections process than during the Gulf War.
August was also a big month in Whitewater World. Kenneth Starr indicted Jim and Susan McDougal and Governor Jim Guy Tucker on charges unrelated to Whitewater, and the Senate and House Republicans held hearings all month. In the Senate, Al DAmato was still trying to prove there was something more to Vince Fosters death than a depression-induced suicide. He hauled Hillarys staff and friends before the committee for bullying questioning and ad hominem attacks. DAmato was especially unpleasant to Maggie Williams and his fellow New Yorker Susan Thomases. Senator Lauch Faircloth was even worse, scoffing at the notion that Williams and Thomases could have had so many phone conversations about Vince Foster just to share their grief. At the time, I thought that if Faircloth really didnt understand their feelings, his own life must have been lived in an emotional wilderness. The fact that Maggie had passed two lie detector tests about her actions in the aftermath of Vinces death didnt temper DAmatos and Faircloths accusatory questioning.
In the House Banking Committee, Chairman Jim Leach was behaving much like DAmato. From the beginning, he trumpeted every bogus charge against Hillary and me, alleging that we had made, not lost, money on Whitewater, had used Madison Guaranty funds for personal and political expenses, and had engineered David Hales SBA fraud. He kept promising blockbuster revelations, but they never materialized.
In August, Leach held a hearing starring L. Jean Lewis, the Resolution Trust Corporation investigator who had named Hillary and me as witnesses in a criminal referral shortly before the 1992 election. At the time, the Bush Justice Department inquired about Lewiss referral and the Republican U.S. attorney in Arkansas, Charles Banks, told them that there was no case against us, that it was an attempt to influence the election, and that to launch an investigation at that time would amount to prosecutorial misconduct.
Nevertheless, Leach referred to Lewis as a heroic public servant whose investigation had been thwarted after my election. Before the hearings began, documents were released that supported our position, including Bankss letter refusing to pursue Lewiss allegations because of lack of evidence, and internal FBI cables and Justice Department evaluations saying that no facts can be identified to support the designation of Hillary and me as material witnesses. Although there was almost no press coverage of the documents refuting Lewis, the hearings fizzled.
By the time of the August hearings and Starrs latest round of indictments, I had settled into a routine of handling press questions about Whitewater with as little public comment as possible. I had learned from the press coverage over the gays-in-the-military issue that if I gave a meaty answer to a question on whatever the press was obsessing about, it would be on the evening news, blocking out whatever else I was doing in the public interest that day, and the American people would think I was spending all my time defending myself instead of working for them, when in fact Whitewater took up very little of my own time. On a scale of 1 to 10, a 7 answer on the economy was better than a 10 answer on Whitewater. So, with the help of constant reminders from my staff, I held my tongue on most days, but it was hard. I had always hated abuse of power, and as false charges flew, evidence of our innocence was ignored, and more blameless people were hounded by Starr, I was seething inside. No one can be as angry as I was without doing himself harm. It took me too long to figure that out.
September began with a memorable trip to Hawaii to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the end of World War II, followed by Hillarys trip to Beijing to address the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women. Hillary gave one of the most important speeches delivered by anyone in our administration during our entire eight years, asserting that human rights are womens rights and condemning their all-too-frequent violation by those who sold women into prostitution, burned them when their marriage dowries were deemed too small, raped them in wartime, beat them in their homes, or subjected them to genital mutilation, forced abortions, or sterilization on them. Her speech got a standing ovation and struck a responsive chord with women all over the world, who knew now, beyond a doubt, that America was pulling for them. Once again, despite the abuse she had been taking on Whitewater, Hillary had come through for a cause she deeply believed in, and for our country. I was so proud of her; the unfair hard knocks she had endured had done nothing to dull the idealism that I had fallen in love with so long ago.
By the middle of the month, Dick Holbrooke had persuaded the foreign ministers of Bosnia, Croatia, and Yugoslavia to agree on a set of basic principles as a framework to settle the Bosnian conflict. Meanwhile, NATO air strikes and cruise missile attacks continued to pound Bosnian Serb positions, and Bosnian and Croatian military gains reduced the percentage of Bosnia controlled by the Serbs from 70 to 50 percent, close to what a negotiated settlement would likely require.
September 28 capped off a good month in foreign policy, as Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat came to the White House for the next big step in the peace process, the signing of the West Bank accord, which turned over a substantial portion of land to Palestinian control.
The most significant event occurred away from the cameras. The signing ceremony was scheduled to occur at noon, but first Rabin and Arafat met in the Cabinet Room to initial the annex to the agreement, three copies that included twenty-six different maps, each reflecting literally thousands of decisions the parties had reached on roads, crossings, settlements, and holy sites. I was also asked to initial the pages as the official witness. About midway through the process, when I had stepped outside to take a call, Rabin came out and said, We have a problem. On one of the maps, Arafat had spotted a stretch of road that was marked as under Israeli control but that he was convinced the parties had agreed to turn over to the Palestinians. Rabin and Arafat wanted me to help resolve the dispute. I took them into my private dining room and they began to talk, with Rabin saying he wanted to be a good neighbor and Arafat replying that, as descendants of Abraham, they were really more like cousins. The interplay between the old adversaries was fascinating. Without saying a word, I turned and walked out of the room, leaving them alone together for the first time. Sooner or later, they had to develop a direct relationship, and today seemed the right moment to begin.
Within twenty minutes they had reached an agreement that the disputed crossing should go to the Palestinians. Because the world was waiting for the ceremony and we were already late, there was no time to change the map. Instead, Rabin and Arafat agreed to its modification with a handshake, then signed the maps before them, legally binding themselves to the incorrect designation of the disputed road.
It was an act of personal trust that would have been unthinkable not long before. And it was risky for Rabin. Several days later, with Israelis evenly divided on the West Bank accord, Rabin survived a no-confidence vote in the Knesset by only one vote. We were still walking a tightrope, but I was optimistic. I knew the handover would proceed according to the handshake, and it did. It was the handshake even more than the official signing that convinced me that Rabin and Arafat would find a way to finish the job of making peace.
The fiscal year ended on September 30, and we still didnt have a budget. When I wasnt working on Bosnia and the Middle East, I had spent the entire month traveling the country campaigning against the Republicans proposed cuts in Medicare and Medicaid, food stamps, the direct student-loan program, AmeriCorps, environmental enforcement, and the initiative to put 100,000 new police officers on the street. They were even proposing to cut back the Earned Income Tax Credit, thus raising taxes on lower-income working families at the same time they were trying to cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans. At virtually every stop, I pointed out that our fight was not about whether to balance the budget and reduce the burden of unnecessary government, but how to do it. The big dispute involved what responsibilities the federal government should assume for the common good.
In response to my attacks, Newt Gingrich threatened to refuse to raise the debt limit and thus put America in default if I vetoed their budget bills. Raising the debt limit was merely a technical act that recognized the inevitable: as long as America continued to run deficits, the annual debt would increase, and the government would be required to sell more bonds to finance it. Increasing the debt limit simply gave the Treasury Department authority to do that. As long as Democrats were in the majority, Republicans could cast symbolic votes against raising the debt limit and pretend that they hadnt contributed to the necessity to do it. Many Republicans in the House had never voted to raise the debt limit and didnt relish doing so now, so I had to take Gingrichs threat seriously.
If America defaulted on its debt, the consequences could be severe. In more than two hundred years, the United States had never failed to pay its debts. Default would shake investor confidence in our reliability. As we headed into the final showdown, I couldnt deny that Newt had a bargaining chip, but I was determined not to be blackmailed. If he followed through on his threat, he would be hurt, too. Default ran the risk of increasing interest rates, and even a small increase would add hundreds of billions of dollars to home mortgage payments. Ten million Americans had variable-rate mortgages tied to federal interest rates. If Congress didnt raise the debt limit, people could pay what Al Gore called a Gingrich surcharge on their monthly mortgage payments. The Republicans would have to think twice before letting America go into default.
In the first week of October, the pope came to America again, and Hillary and I went to meet him at Newarks magnificent Gothic cathedral. As we had in Denver and at the Vatican, His Holiness and I met alone and mostly talked about Bosnia. The pope encouraged our efforts for peace, with an observation that stuck with me: he said the twentieth century had begun with a war in Sarajevo, and I must not allow the century to end with a war in Sarajevo.
When our meeting concluded, the pope gave me a lesson in politics. First, he left the cathedral for a spot a couple of miles away so that he could drive back in his popemobile, with its roof of clear, bulletproof glass, waving to the people who had crowded the streets. By the time he reached the church, the congregation was seated. Hillary and I were in the front pew with local and state officials and prominent New Jersey Catholics. The massive oak doors opened, revealing the pontiff in his resplendent white cassock and cape, and the crowd stood and began to clap. As the pope began to walk down the aisle with his arms spread out to touch hands with people on either side of the aisle, the applause turned into cheers and roars. I noticed a group of nuns standing on their pews and screaming like teenagers at a rock concert. When I asked a man near me about it, he explained that they were Carmelites, members of an order that lived a cloistered existence completely apart from society. The pope had given them a dispensation to come to the cathedral. He sure knew how to build a crowd. I just shook my head and said, Id hate to have to run against that man.
On the day after I met with the pope, we made progress on Bosnia, as I announced that all the parties had agreed to a cease-fire. A week later Bill Perry stated that a peace agreement would require NATO to send troops to Bosnia to enforce it. Moreover, since our responsibility to participate in NATO missions was clear, he did not believe we were required to seek advance approval from Congress. I thought Dole and Gingrich might be relieved not to have a vote on the Bosnia mission; they were both internationalists who knew what we had to do, but there were many Republicans in both chambers who strongly disagreed.
On October 15, I reinforced my determination to end the Bosnian war and hold those who had perpetrated war crimes accountable when I went to the University of Connecticut with my friend Senator Chris Dodd to inaugurate the research center named for his father. Before going to the Senate, Tom Dodd had been the executive trial counsel at the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal. In my remarks, I strongly endorsed the existing war crimes tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, to which we were contributing money and personnel, and supported the establishment of a permanent tribunal to deal with war crimes and other atrocities that violated human rights. Eventually, the idea would take root in the International Criminal Court.
While I was dealing with Bosnia at home, Hillary was off on another trip, this time to Latin America. In the postCold War world, with America the worlds only military, economic, and political superpower, every nation wanted our attention, and it was usually in our interest to give it. But I couldnt go everywhere, especially during the budget struggles with Congress. As a result, both Al Gore and Hillary made an unusually large number of important foreign trips. Wherever they went, people knew they spoke for the United States, and for me, and on every trip, without fail, they strengthened Americas standing in the world.
On October 22, I flew to New York to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the United Nations, using the occasion to call for greater international cooperation in the fight against terrorism, the spread of weapons of mass destruction, organized crime, and narco-trafficking. Earlier in the month, Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman and nine others had been found guilty in the first World Trade Center bombing case, and not long before, Colombia had arrested several leaders of the infamous Cali drug cartel. In my address I outlined an agenda to build on those successes, including universal adherence to antimoney laundering practices; freezing the assets of terrorists and narco-traffickers, as I had just done with respect to Colombian cartels; a no-sanctuary pledge for members of terrorist or organized crime groups; shutting down the gray markets that provided arms and false identification papers to terrorists and narco-traffickers; intensified efforts to destroy drug crops and decrease demand for drugs; an international network to train police officers and provide them with the latest technology; ratification of the Chemical Weapons Convention; and strengthening of the Biological Weapons Convention.
The next day I returned to Hyde Park for my ninth meeting with Boris Yeltsin. Yeltsin had been ill and was under a lot of pressure at home from the ultra-nationalists over NATO expansion and the aggressive role the United States was playing in Bosnia at the expense of the Bosnian Serbs. He had given a tough speech the day before at the UN, which was mostly for domestic consumption, and I could tell he was stressed out.
To put him more at ease, I flew him to Hyde Park in my helicopter so that he could see the beautiful foliage along the Hudson River on an unseasonably warm fall day. When we arrived, I took him out to the front yard of the old house with its sweeping view of the river, and we talked awhile, sitting in the same chairs Roosevelt and Churchill had used when the prime minister visited there during World War II. Then I brought him into the house to show him a bust of Roosevelt sculpted by a Russian artist, a painting of the Presidents indomitable mother done by the sculptors brother, and the handwritten note FDR had sent to Stalin informing him that the date for D-day had been set.
Boris and I spent the morning talking about his precarious political situation. I reminded him that I had done everything I could to support him, and though we disagreed on NATO expansion, I would try to help him work through it.
After lunch we retuned to the house to talk about Bosnia. The parties were about to come to the United States to negotiate what we all hoped would be a final pact, the success of which depended on both a multinational NATO-led force and the participation of Russian troops, to reassure the Bosnian Serbs that they too would be treated fairly. Finally, Boris agreed to send troops, but said they could not serve under NATO commanders, though he would be glad to have them serve under an American general. I assented, as long as it was understood that his troops would not in any way interfere with NATOs command and control.
I regretted that Yeltsin was in so much trouble back home. Yes, he had made his share of mistakes, but against enormous odds he had also kept Russia going in the right direction. I still thought he would come out ahead in the election.
At the press conference after our meeting, I said that we had made progress on Bosnia and that we would both push for the ratification of START II and work together to conclude a comprehensive nuclear test-ban treaty in 1996. It was a good announcement, but Yeltsin stole the show. He told the press that he was leaving our meeting with more optimism than he had brought to it, because of all the press reports saying that our summit was going to be a disaster. Well, now, for the first time, I can tell you that youre a disaster. I almost fell over laughing, and the press laughed too. All I could say to them in response was Be sure you get the right attribution there. Yeltsin could get away with saying the darnedest things. Theres no telling how he would have answered all the Whitewater questions.
October was relatively quiet on the home front, as the budget pot slowly simmered toward a boil. Early in the month, Newt Gingrich decided not to bring the lobbying-reform legislation to a vote and I vetoed the legislative appropriations bill. The lobbying bill required lobbyists to disclose their activities and prohibited them from giving lawmakers gifts, travel, and meals beyond a modest limit. The Republicans were raising a lot of money from lobbyists by writing legislation that gave tax breaks, subsidies, and relief from environmental regulations to a wide array of interest groups. Gingrich saw no reason to disturb a beneficial situation. I vetoed the legislative appropriations bill because, apart from the appropriations act for military construction, it was the only budget bill Congress had passed as the new fiscal year started, and I didnt think Congress should be taking care of itself first. I didnt want to veto the bill and had asked the Republican leaders just to hold it until we had finished a few other budget bills, but they sent it to me anyway.
While the budget battle continued, Energy Secretary Hazel OLeary and I received a report from my Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments detailing thousands of experiments done on humans at universities, hospitals, and military bases during the Cold War. Most of them were ethical, but a few were not: in one experiment scientists injected plutonium into eighteen patients without their knowledge; in another, doctors exposed indigent cancer patients to excessive radiation, knowing they would not benefit from it. I ordered a review of all current experimentation procedures and pledged to seek compensation in all appropriate cases. The release of this formerly classified information was part of a wider disclosure policy I followed throughout my tenure. We had already declassified thousands of documents from World War II, the Cold War, and President Kennedys assassination.
At the end of the first week of October, Hillary and I took a weekend off to fly to Marthas Vineyard for the wedding of our good friend Mary Steenburgen to Ted Danson. We had been friends since 1980; our children had played together since they were young, and Mary had worked her heart out for me all over the country in 1992. I was thrilled when she and Ted met and fell in love, and their wedding was a welcome relief from the strains of Bosnia, Whitewater, and the budget battle.
At the end of the month, Hillary and I celebrated our twentieth wedding anniversary. I got her a pretty diamond ring to mark a milestone in our lives and to make up for the fact that when she agreed to marry me, I didnt have enough money to buy her an engagement ring. Hillary loved the little diamonds across the thin band, and wore the ring as a reminder that, through all our ups and downs, we were still very much engaged.