There is nothing in the parent's manual to prepare you for this: Sandy Hume, son of my friend and colleague Brit Hume, took his life last week.
Like most suicides, this one defies explanation.
Sandy gave off light. He was blessed with chiseled good looks, athletic skill and a voracious curiosity about the world. He smiled easily and contagiously. When he showed up, he didn't just put people at ease. He made them happy.
At the age of 28, he had emerged from his famous father's shadow, and established himself as one of Washington's most dogged and creative reporters. He ran circles around veteran scribes by committing old-fashioned journalism. He worked long hours, talked endlessly with sources, listened carefully and knew how to seize upon the smallest inconsistency or incongruity. He could tug at loose threads in such a way as to unspool falsehood and reveal truth. (end of excerpt)
Hey, this sounds like the sort of Washington reporter who would not turn someone away who approached him with information about FBI harassment of a witness in the Foster case.
I think that it's time for me to recycle a letter to the editor that I wrote the Washington Times on July 26, 1993, two days after they produced the first article, based entirely upon one anonymous source, that suggested that Vince Foster had been depressed:
July 26, 1993
Anyone with a shred of curiousity must wonder about the identity and motives of your "source close to the Foster family" who seemed to got to such lengths to persuade us that senior White House aide Vincent Foster, Jr., was deeply and obviously depressed and therefore a likely candidate for suicide. Brother-in-law former Rep. Beryl Anthony was in much closer harmony with acquaintances in Arkansas who have spoken for attribution when he angrily denounced such insinuations. Strong, solid, stable, and responsible, a successful professional litigator accustomed to pressure and hard work, Vince Foster hardly seemed the type who would take his own life because of a few minor setbacks and a hectic schedule.
Other news reports describe him as a man of uncommon intelligence and integrity. You may label me a cynic, but it seems to me that such is our current condition that those qualities alone would mark him as a prime candidate not for suicide, but for murder.
It goes without saying that the Wash. Times did not print the letter.
Now go back and look at all those qualities that Snow attributes to young Hume. If, as they say, curiosity killed the cat, how much more fatal would it be for a real Washington journalist?
So what do we know about the death? The Arlington County (VA) police say officially that it was a suicide. Their spokesman told me this morning that in such cases, because suicides are not a criminal matter, to protect the family's privacy they give out no further information.
"But Sandy Hume was a public figure," I responded. "The public has a right to know."
"No, he wasn't, he was just a reporter," was the response.
"All I know from reading the Internet was that he died last Sunday. Can you confirm that?" I asked.
"The body was found on Sunday or Monday, I think," was all he would say.
"Well, could you tell me where it was found?" I asked.
"No," he responded, "If you ever had a loved one commit suicide maybe you would be able to understand why these things are kept private."
"Is there any place else I can go for information?" I asked.
"You might try the coroner. Dr. James C. Beyer did the autopsy, but I don't think he's giving out any information either."
I didn't bother.
Later in the morning I discussed my conversation with Beth George, the mother of Tommy Burkett, whose death has also been ruled a suicide, a ruling that the Burketts have vigorously protested, saying it was murder.
"You know, that's the excuse that the Fairfax County police use for not discussing our case, to protect the family's privacy, and here we are with our web site and our cover-up quilt shouting 'murder' from the mountaintops."
As I said on a previous posting, such secrecy in matters where there is a clear public need to know only invites rumor and speculation, not a healthy thing for a society.
It may turn out not to be relevant to the Sandy Hume case, but the following poem has an undeniable general relevance to our current situation, I believe:
When they killed Casolaro and Wilcher
It's clear the instructions they gave you:
When you agreed that you would stay silent
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