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Right-wing conspiracy weirdos are finally getting a lot of people to bite on their claim that Commerce Secretary Ron Brown was murdered before his plane crashed in Croatia in 1996.

Incredibly, an odd assortment of black leaders and publications has been provoked to ask for a probe of charges that Brown was shot in the head before he and 32 other people went down in a military aircraft. Included in this group are Kweisi Mfume, president of the NAACP; Rep. Maxine Waters, D.-Calif.; Alan Keyes, former Republican candidate for U.S. president; Nation of Islam publication The Final Call, and the New York Amsterdam News.

These blacks ought best beware, because the people pushing this conspiracy theory have no real concern for Brown or his survivors. They want a probe to sully his reputation and wipe out the proud memories many have of this former Democratic leader.

The driving force behind this claim of a murder plot has been the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, a newspaper created to air the right-wing views of multimillionaire Richard Scaife. This is the same publication that has insisted that former White House aide Vincent Foster was murdered -- this despite the finding of at least four investigations that Foster committed suicide.

In the case of Ron Brown's death, the Scaife rumor-conspiracy mill spreads the claim that "the Clinton people will do anything." Obviously, it would help the ultraconservative Republican cause to have millions of black people seriously suspect that the Clinton administration murdered Ron Brown. Scaife has to love it when the Amsterdam News says "enough doubt has been raised about the circumstances of Brown's death to warrant a full investigation by the highest levels of government, including the CIA, FBI and the Justice Department."

Such cries go up when there is no real evidence that Brown was shot, or murdered in any other way. The official finding was that he died of the blunt force of blows suffered when his plane crashed in a storm.

Neither has the Tribune-Review explained why anyone wanted so badly to kill Brown that they also snuffed out the lives of 32 other people on that plane.

The right-wingers are whispering that someone in a corrupt business deal with Brown wanted him dead, or that Brown was an embarrassment to Clinton, who wanted to prevent congressional probes into Brown's finances.

This is absurd, but Scaife and his crowd could get a probe of Brown if gullible blacks are suckered into demanding investigations by baseless claims that Brown was murdered.

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