Is there NOW a significant difference between the positions of the United States government and the Polish American Congress regarding the Polish government and its handling of the Smoleńsk Disaster investigation? If so, how might it have occurred?
By Frank J. Dmuchowski
Is there now a serious disconnect between what the United States Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communication said on May 16, 2012 about the Smoleńsk Disaster and what appears in a recent press release and a resolution of the Polish American Congress after its recent national directors meeting in Chicago for May17-18 and a separate May 19th meeting related to business opportunities here and in Poland.
On May 16, 2012 there was an on the record conference call which was titled “White House to Host Conference Call to Preview the NATO Summit”. Representing the White House was the National Deputy Security Advisor for Strategic Communications and Speech Writing Ben Rhodes and the White House Senior Director of European Affairs Liz Sherwood. These are very senior high level individuals from the administration. After some opening remarks the conference call was opened up for questions.
There were three individuals asking questions on matters related to Poland and NATO. They were Mr. John D. Czop of The Post Eagle Newspaper in New Jersey, Mr. Jurek Różalski of WNZK Radio (as he identified himself) and the author representing The Polish Weekly (Tygodnik Polski).
Mr. Różalski and Mr. Czop asked questions related to the Smoleńsk tragedy. I confined myself to a separate question regarding a threat by the Russian Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Makarov to preemptively strike at missile defense sites in Poland under conditions of a Russian defined “crisis”. (This topic will be addressed in another article)
What makes this current article of interest is the possible perception of a distortion of comments made by Mr. Rhodes, without citing him by name, when compared to statements that appear in the Press Release and in Resolution # 4 from the May 2012 National Directors Meeting of the Polish American Congress. These possible distortions would be in the form of misrepresenting the position of the United States government on the handling of the Smoleńsk Disaster investigation by Poland.
The structure of this article is to present the questions and responses from the conference call and then to compare them with language that is used within the Polish American Congress’ Press Release and Resolution #4. We ask the reader to make their own judgment on what is or is not going on.
John D. Czop of The Post Eagle Newspaper in New Jersey asked:
Mr. Ben Rhodes mentioned during his description that NATO is also an alliance of shared values. My question is that nine NATO generals who were also serving generals of the Polish Armed Forces were killed on April 10, 2010 aboard President Lech Kaczyński’s plane at Smoleńsk Severny airfield.
Recent evidence presented to the European Union Parliament by Polish Sejm Deputy Antoni Marcierewicz effectively refutes the MAK(stands for IAC –Interstate Aviation Committee headquartered in Moscow, Russia)report that claimed that President Kaczynski’s plane crashed as a result of pilot error, that one of the wings of the plane was clipped by birch trees and that caused the crash.
Now there is compelling evidence that can’t be proven until the corpses are exhumed. This compelling evidence strongly suggests that two bombs caused the presidential plane to crash. Does NATO plan to carry out an investigation of the Smoleńsk Disaster now that the MAK (IAC) report has been discredited?”
Ben Rhodes responds:
“First, let me reiterate that the United States and President Obama, personally, were deeply moved by the tragedy that took the lives of so many prominent Poles. The President was honored on his recent visit to Warsaw to have had the opportunity to pay his respects for those who were lost.
In terms of the matter of these investigations, this is something where we have very much deferred to the Poles and the Polish Government and their review of the facts and their conduct of the investigations, So neither the United States nor NATO has any plans to conduct some separate investigation or inquiry.
What we would do in this position is to be supportive of whatever steps the Polish government takes to get at the facts of this tragedy and what took place. So we don’t have plans to address this in that context beyond continuing to express our support for the Polish government and its people as they continue to recover and move forward from these tragic events”.
Mr. Jurek Różalski of WNZK Radio asked:
I would like to follow up on the first question about the nine NATO generals killed in the tragic plane crash. If the Polish government would ask the United States to help in the investigation would the US government help?
Ben Rhodes replied:
“I would just say in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy the United States made clear to Poland that we would provide whatever technical assistance that could be of use to the investigation. So that is a standing commitment that we have to the Polish government. That whatever support they might need from the United States we would stand ready to provide.
So again we will continue to be guided in this matter by the Polish government’s efforts and we would be willing to be responsive to any requests they might make. However we have not received such requests.
So again, we will continue to support our Polish friends in this matter and will look to the Polish government to be in the lead as it relates to any inquiry regarding this tragic incidence.”
Confusing language in the Polish American Congress Press Release from May 17-19, 2012 Spring Meeting in Chicago?
Let’s look at what was said in a portion of the Press Release- the full press release is available on the Polish American Congress’ website
“The resolution passed by the Council of National Directors with respect to the investigation of the Smolensk disaster takes its lead from the United States government. It ( the Resolution) notes that the U.S. government has clearly stated that it will defer to the Polish government in the decision to call for an independent international commission to investigate the disaster and that the United States government will provide available evidence upon request by the Polish government. The Polish American Congress suggests that the government of the Republic of Poland take the initiative to convene an independent investigation.”
This is clearly NOT the position of the United States government. Nowhere, has the U.S. government used language calling for the creation of an independent international commission. This is at SERIOUS VARIANCE from what Ben Rhodes, the Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications has said —as quoted above. He made no mention of the United States government calling for an international commission.
Perhaps there is another unidentified source within the U.S. government that has made such a statement. If so this source in no way speaks for the President or the National Security Advisor. The source if it exists has no validity.
More Confusing Language in Resolution # 4 of the Polish American Congress
Now let’s look at the actual language in Resolution #4 which deals specifically with the Smoleńsk Disaster. It also contains language which appears to be at significant variance from what Ben Rhodes the Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications stated and implied during the White House Conference Call. (This resolution and all of the others can be found at the Polish American Congress website.)
Resolution #4 states:
WHEREAS, new scientific evidence has come to light which challenges the conclusions of the Russian MAC (IAC) report and the Polish Miller Commission report on the disaster at the Smoleńsk Severna Airfield on April 10, 2010 which resulted in the death of former President Lech Kaczyński and 95 other high government and cultural officials, including nine Polish/NATO generals, and
Whereas, the United State government clearly stated that it will defer to the Polish government in the decision to call for an international commission to investigate this disaster, and
WHEREAS, the United States government will give the Polish government evidence of the Smoleńsk disaster, including satellite photographs, upon request by the Polish Government,
Therefore, be it resolved that the Polish American Congress calls on the government of the Republic of Poland to take the initiative and move to convene an independent international investigation.
Once again nowhere did the United States clearly or even unclearly say “it will defer to the Polish government in the decision to call for an international commission to investigate this disaster”. There is absolutely no comment by Mr. Ben Rhodes in the White House Conference call which even remotely has the US government calling or suggesting that there be an international commission to investigate the Smoleńsk disaster. To do so is arguably at SERIOUS VARIANCE from the actual position of the United States of America.
Now let’s move on to the next statement that is questionable in this resolution: “WHEREAS, the United States government will give the Polish government evidence of the Smoleńsk disaster, including satellite photographs, upon request by the Polish Government” Where do any of Mr. Rhodes’ statements make mention of the words “the United States government will give the Polish government evidence of the Smoleńsk disaster including satellite photographs”. Mr. Rhodes never said these words or even hinted at them.
The most that was said by Mr. Rhodes is that the United States will render assistance if it was requested by the Polish government. That is as far as the language goes!
What we have in the Polish American Congress’s Press Report and Resolution #4 are comments that were apparently intended to suggest that the United States government might have used specific words “ calling for an international commission” to investigate the Smoleńsk tragedy. Furthermore, that the United States government “would give evidence to Poland” about the Smoleńsk disaster if only Poland would ask for it.
A reasonable interpretation of the above could be the possibility that the comments of Mr. Rhodes – the Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communication – have been misstated (accidentally or otherwise) to justify part of the Press Release and the resolution on the Smoleńsk Disaster. If this is the case then this may be a potentially serious issue for the Polish American Congress. Minimally it implies that the reasoning used to justify Resolution #4 is seriously flawed and therefore the resolution should be rendered moot.
Furthermore if this is the situation, then who is the beneficiary? Certainly not the Polish American Congress which stands to loses huge credibility both with the United States Government and the government of the Republic of Poland. How so? Simple, both governments have recordings of the May 16 Conference Call. They will do the same analysis as has been done in this article. Then, if need be, the two governments will be in touch with each other to clarify the situation.
Certainly the Polish government is well aware of the dissident movement among some of the national directors and others in the Polish American Congress who have been trying to have Poland pressured into calling for the creation of an international commission to investigate the Smoleńsk disaster. The Polish government is most likely also well aware of the political leanings of these dissidents – leanings which favor the major party out of power in Poland.
Furthermore, does anyone seriously believe that the Polish American Congress would so quickly alter its February 16, 2012 wise position on neutrality vis-à-vis the Smoleńsk Disaster without some form of “takeover” by the dissident national directors and their supporters?
There are legitimate unanswered questions with regard to the Smoleńsk Disaster which reasonable individuals have asked. In light of the current actions apparently oriented toward trying to impact the decision making of the government of the Republic of Poland, we don’t see this happening too soon. It seems as though both the governments of the United States and the Republic of Poland ought to be put off by what has gone on.
We believe it is only the well respected Mr. Frank Spula, president of the Polish American Congress, and the National Executive Committee that can salvage the current situation for the Polish American Congress and it’s Mission. We wish them good luck in their daunting task! Time, we believe is of the essence!
In the final analysis: there are no apparent differences in the positions of the governments of the United States and the Republic of Poland regarding the handling of the Smoleńsk Disaster investigation. Difficult as it may be, everyone in the Polish American Congress needs to accept this and move on in the best interest of America, Poland and Polish Americans.