by Eva Dameron

Daily Lobo

Democratic U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone and his family died in a plane crash in October 2002.

Reports attribute it to bad weather. Four Arrows thinks differently.

Arrows, co-author of American Assassination: The Strange Death of Senator Paul Wellstone, said his intuition told him it was a political assassination.

"I have a critical theory background, but the reason that I wrote the book American Assassination was because of intuition," Arrows said. "It was a gut feeling."

Arrows spoke about his book on Friday at the SUB.

Arrows said he was familiar with Wellstone and worked with him indirectly for American-Indian sovereignty rights.

Three days after the crash the Minneapolis Star Tribune polled its readers with different options explaining the crash, including weather, pilot error and GOP conspiracy.

"Sixty-nine percent of the Minnesotans checked GOP conspiracy," he said. "So others have intuitive gut feelings."

Wellstone stood for everything the Bush administration did not, he said.

"He was for more funding for American-Indian people," he said. "He was for more education funding, he was against No Child Left Behind, he was reforming America's foreign policy, he was a strong advocate for veteran's benefits."

Wellstone told a group of veterans that Dick Cheney called him on the phone and threatened to end his career if he ran for Senate again, Arrows said.

"I don't think the end of his career, in Paul's mind, was also going to be the end of his life," Arrows said.

Arrows interviewed a firefighter for his book and learned that the wings of the plane were split off the plane as it came down through the trees. The fuselage was burned to a crisp, he said.

Having been a pilot in the Marine Corps, he said he knew that an airplane burning jet fuel burns black smoke.

The firefighter told him the fuselage was burning light blue smoke.

Later, Arrows found out that fuel tanks are on the wings, not on the fuselage. He called one of the top mechanics that worked with Raytheon, the builders of the aircraft, he said.

"I asked him, 'Would a fuselage like this be likely to burn were it not connected to the wings,'" he said. "He said this in a letter - 'The King Air A100 carries its fuel only in the wings. Only minor plumbing is in the fuselage."

He said this is so the wings can feed fuel to either engine. He did not believe the fuselage would catch fire if the wings had no fuel. As for the color of the smoke, the firefighter said, jet fuel from King Air would burn black.

Arrows said Amy Goodman and Noam Chomsky both refused to touch the subject because they thought his book is based on speculation and theory rather than fact.

Student Olivier Simon was skeptical about Arrows' theory.

"It just seems like a very extraordinary claim," he said. "Noam Chomsky, who is a major figure on the left, has denied it and is a known opponent of conspiracy theories and he feels that this does not hold water. Amy Goodman, who's a very respected and progressive broadcaster, will not touch it. The Wellstone family itself will not touch it."

He said maybe the temperature of that day affected the smoke's color. He also noted that eyewitness accounts are notoriously unreliable.

"I would just look very carefully before I bought it," Simon said.

Student Varda Brahms said Arrows is on to something.

"He's really saying valuable and important things that need to be said," she said. "It takes a lot of courage to do that. I totally support it."