On February 11, I witnessed the ultimate testimonial to the power of perseverance. Early that Sunday morning, Hillary and I got Chelsea up and took her down to the kitchen of the Governors Mansion to see what we told her would be one of the most important events shed ever witness. Then we turned on the television and watched Nelson Mandela take the last steps in his long walk to freedom. Through twenty-seven years of imprisonment and abuse, Mandela had endured, and triumphed, to end apartheid, liberate his own mind and heart from hatred, and inspire the world.
Starr and his allies curious view of what constituted a conflict of interest was never more apparent than in their treatment of Judge Henry Woods, a highly respected veteran jurist and former FBI agent who was assigned to preside over the trial of Governor Jim Guy Tucker and others whom Starr had indicted on federal charges completely unrelated to Whitewater. They involved the purchase of cable television stations. At first, neither Starr nor Tucker objected to Woods hearing the case; he was a Democrat but had never been close to the governor. Judge Woods dismissed the indictments after he determined that Starr had exceeded his authority under the independent counsel law because the charges had nothing to do with Whitewater.
By all accounts, bin Laden was poisoned by the conviction that he was in possession of the absolute truth and therefore free to play God by killing innocent people. Since we had been going after his organization for several years, I had known for some time that he was a formidable adversary. After the African slaughter I became intently focused on capturing or killing him and with destroying al Qaeda.
But my thoughts were never far from Mother. She was a marvel, still beautiful at seventy, even after a mastectomy, chemotherapy treatments that took all her hair and forced her to wear a wig, and daily blood transfusions that would have put most people in bed. She was ending her life as she had lived it, going all out, grateful for her blessings, without a shred of self-pity for her pain and illness, and eager for the adventures of every new day she could get. She was relieved that Rogers life was on track, and convinced that I was mastering my job. She would have loved to live to be one hundred, but if her time was up, so be it. She had found her peace with God. He could call her home, but He would have to catch her on the run.
Just before the ceremony, all three delegations gathered in the large oval Blue Room on the main floor of the White House. The Israelis and the Palestinians still werent talking to each other in public, so the Americans went back and forth between the two groups as they moved around the rim of the room. We looked like a bunch of awkward kids riding a slow-moving carousel.
Sharif said he wanted to come anyway. On July 4, we met at Blair House. It was a hot day, but the Pakistani delegation was used to the heat and, in their traditional white pants and long tunics, seemed more comfortable than my team. Once more, Sharif urged me to intervene in Kashmir, and again I explained that without Indias consent it would be counterproductive, but that I would urge Vajpayee to resume the bilateral dialogue if the Pakistani troops withdrew. He agreed, and we released a joint statement saying that steps would be taken to restore the Line of Control and that I would support and encourage the resumption and intensification of bilateral talks once the violence had stopped.