America's Dreyfus Affair part 2
|Ask you what provocation I have had?
The strong antipathy of good to bad.
In early July, 1997, Newsweek's Michael Isikoff once again reported that Kenneth Starr had wrapped up the Foster case and had agreed with Robert Fiske that Foster had killed himself. Finally, he was right, because on July 15 Starr's office did make such an announcement. The conclusion was predictable. Indeed, it had been predicted by almost everyone, including this writer. What was unexpected was his brazenness in not giving one word of explanation of how he arrived at his conclusion. If anyone ever had explaining to do, it was Kenneth Starr in this instance. Instead, the public was told by a spokesman that the long-delayed report on the underlying investigation had been duly submitted to the three-judge panel that appointed Starr, and the Office of the Independent Counsel could not say when or if the report would be made public.
The American people have become more and more disaffected with their government and have come to expect magisterial behavior in which they are treated by their leaders more as subjects than as citizens of a free republic. But those two little words "or if" constituted very nearly the most regally contemptuous act yet:
"Yes, we know that any independent-minded person who has taken any time at all to look at the Foster death case knows full well that the suicide-in-Fort-Marcy Park conclusion is full of holes, and, yes, we know that the almost four years it has taken for us to arrive once and for all at this conclusion has only heightened suspicion and increased the need for full public disclosure, but, no, we just might never give you any sort of explanation. Now go away. You bother us."
And the men and the women of America's Fourth Estate, Thomas Jefferson's last line of defense against tyranny, did precisely that. They went meekly away. With the exception of the West Coast business newspaper, Investor's Business Daily, no one noted that what Starr had really done was to turn back the clock to August 10, 1993, when the Chief of the Park Police, flanked by representatives of the FBI and the Justice Department, had given us a conclusion with no supporting explanation. We were back to square one, as though Captain Dreyfus had been given another secret trial and convicted again on secret evidence, and Starr's protracted proceedings, it would appear, had been little better than a Star Chamber. But the nation's press took little note, with most not even bothering to make editorial comment. The Washington Times gave the story the most coverage and went so far as politely to urge prompt release of the report, but as the leading "opposition" daily, it was also the most disappointing. Virtually folding its tent of skepticism and forgetting completely that it had once reported that three respected experts had found the Foster "suicide" note to be a forgery, it bought into the official suicide-from-depression theory using the text of the note, like James Stewart in Blood Sport, as major evidence of the depression, and expressed general satisfaction with Starr's work.
The Times' final cave-in was but one more indication that the complete role reversal from the Dreyfus Affair that I described earlier in the paper, with the left- internationalists now on the side of the government and the right-wing nationalists trying to expose the government scandal, was breaking down. While the right seemed to be losing its appetite for exposing the most serious of the misdeeds associated with the Clinton administration, there were signs that at least a few on the left were regaining their conscience. In the last year two writers of the left-liberal New York/Washington communities emerged as among the most prominent public doubters of the government's Foster-suicide case. Phillip Weiss, who regularly writes for the small-circulation but influential New York Observer, first appeared on the scene with a major article featuring Foster "document hound" Hugh Sprunt on the cover with an article entitled "The Clinton Crazies" in the New York Times Sunday Magazine. The usual reader of that newspaper would have been given the superficial impression that the suspicions of high-level criminal conduct being expressed around the country were the product of little more than a deep-seated hatred of the President and the First Lady grounded in ideological differences. But Weiss, in the process, allowed a lot more of the facts about the Foster case to get before the American public than they had previously been permitted to see, whatever the spin he and the editors put on them, and he quoted the eminently sane, sensible, and persuasive Sprunt at some length. Had his acquaintance with Sprunt and the facts of the Foster case turned him into a closet American "Dreyfusard"?
The apparent answer to that question was soon forthcoming when he produced a series of articles for the New York Observer, each stronger than the one before, leaving the clear impression that he had lined himself up with the doubters of the government story. At the same time, a man well known and respected in Washington left-activist circles, the editor and publisher of the Progressive Review, Sam Smith, whose disillusionment with Clinton set in very early in the administration, began to add to his previously published bill of particulars against the President serious misgivings over the Foster case. The influence of his small-circulation magazine was magnified by the fact that he put out an on-line version of it that detailed many of the anomalies of the Foster case such as have been recounted in this article and elsewhere.
Most confounding of all to the thesis, heavily promoted in the press, that the most serious of the Clinton scandals were products of the fevered imaginations of ultra-right- wing, Clinton- hating partisans was perhaps the most devastating portrait yet in print of the first couple and their political milieu, Partners in Power, the Clintons and their America, by Roger Morris. Morris, respected liberal biographer of Richard Nixon and former member of the President's National Security Council under President's Johnson and Nixon touches only lightly on the Foster case--his focus is earlier--, but when he mentions it he doesn't just routinely call it the "Foster suicide" as many others have done but acknowledges that it is an unsolved case in which many legitimate concerns have been raised. And well he should, considering the background of profound personal and political corruption that he paints in his book.
The William Jefferson Clinton (born William Jefferson Blythe) of Partners in Power is the product of a hard-gambling, party-loving mother whose first two husbands were married to someone else when she began dating them and a natural father, a charming traveling salesman with a million-dollar smile, who was killed in an automobile accident shortly before Bill was born. Bill's natural father met his glamorous nurse mother when he, a married man, took his sick girlfriend to the hospital where Bill's future mother worked, and she caught his roving eye. The mother was, herself, engaged to another man at the time. Young Bill's stepfather, Roger Clinton, Sr., was a ne'er-do- well alcoholic who abused Bill's mother, but the real power in young Bill's life was the stepfather's older brother, Raymond, who owned the Buick dealership in the wide open Arkansas resort town of Hot Springs, to which Bill's mother Virginia moved before young Bill started to school. Raymond, according to Morris, was also heavily involved in the prevalent illegal gambling business in the city and was widely believed to be connected to organized crime. Chicago's top mobster himself, Al Capone, could often be seen in Hot Springs in the winter months surrounded by his coterie of bodyguards.
The bombshell revelation in Morris' book, mainly ignored by the nation's press, is that the notorious draft-evading, war-protesting young Rhodes Scholar Bill Clinton was, according to sources in whom Morris has a great deal of confidence, actually working undercover at Oxford all along for the CIA and spying on the anti-war movement for his CIA benefactors. That connection, Morris strongly implies, explains more than anything else young Bill's meteoric political rise, his charmed life with the nation's press, and his phoenix-like ability to rise from the ashes after one disastrous revelation after another about his personal and political dealings. It is a connection that continued, according to Morris, when the tiny airport in the northwest Arkansas town of Mena was used as a surreptitious conduit for arms to the CIA-backed Contra guerrillas in Nicaragua and cocaine was brought back on the return flight to help supply our nations's illegal users. Bill Clinton's continued political success, to Morris, is a sad commentary on what this country has become as we approach the 21st century, hence his book's subtitle, The Clintons and their America.
If the left-right role reversal of the Foster case versus the Dreyfus Affair was breaking down, so, too, was the parallel between the dogged young reporter Christopher Ruddy, first of Rupert Murdoch's New York Post and then of Richard Mellon Scaife's less-well-known Pittsburgh Tribune Review, and the determined young reporter Bernard Lazare. Though there were many squabbles among the Dreyfusards--Emile Zola in particular was severely attacked when he exiled himself to England to avoid serving his one-year libel sentence--no one ever questioned the sincerity and dedication of Lazare to the cause of justice for Captain Alfred Dreyfus. After all, they were both Jews in a country in which solidarity against rampant anti- Semitism was very important, and Lazare was being financed by Alfred's dedicated older brother, Mathieu. But in 1997 serious questioning of Christopher Ruddy's motives was what was heard from within the heart of the American "Dreyfusard" camp.
The questioning, ironically, was set in motion by Ruddy's own questioning of the motives of John Clarke, the lawyer for the witness, Patrick Knowlton. Ruddy did not challenge the fact that Knowlton had been followed and harassed by a number of spooky and intimidating men on the streets of Washington, DC. He, in fact, was among those who had witnessed the intimidation and had reported on it (The remarkable and thoroughly depressing thing here for anyone who cares about freedom in America is that no one else reported on it. It was, however, well-reported in London.). But as the lawyer Clarke prepared a suit against the FBI (or, more precisely, individuals working for the FBI), whom he and Knowlton blamed primarily for the harassment (or were at least guilty as precipitators of a conspiracy to obstruct justice), Ruddy spread the word that Clarke was not to be trusted, making it very difficult for Knowlton to raise the funds necessary to push ahead with his suit. One of the people with whom Ruddy planted the seed of suspicion, in addition to this author, was the previously-mentioned document hound identified only by his E-mail address, firstname.lastname@example.org (now "outed" in an electronic fit of pique by Ruddy as Hugh Turley).
Turley, though made wary by Ruddy's warning, was not deterred from lending assistance to Clarke and found to his satisfaction that Clarke's motives were pure, astonishingly so it would seem for a modern American lawyer. Turley found in Clarke a bright and promising young attorney with the rare courage to do the unthinkable, to risk his career and stand up and "fight City Hall." Having satisfied himself as to Clarke's motives, Turley then, quite naturally, turned a gimlet eye upon the one who had mounted a whispering campaign against him, and decided that he did not like what he saw. What were Ruddy's motives, he wondered, in his trying to undercut Clarke, and what did that say about Ruddy's motives overall in being the only American journalist to pursue the Foster case on a regular basis?
Turley's first concern was that Ruddy, working first for the New York Post, owned by Australian media mogul, Rupert Murdoch, and then for the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, owned by Mellon heir Richard Mellon Scaife, had intentionally played into the hands of those who would paint the government critics in the case as mere political partisans. Scaife was a noted financier of "conservative" causes and organizations, perhaps the most notable of which is Reed Irvine's Accuracy in Media (AIM). Irvine and AIM have taken the lead along with Ruddy in questioning the government's conclusions. Irvine is an unabashed partisan who had fiercely defended the Reagan and Bush administrations against almost all allegations of scandal, particularly those related to the Iran-Contra affair, and his organization continued to debunk any hint of government involvement in drug smuggling into Mena Airport in Arkansas. Ruddy did not help by implying that very nearly the worst thing about Kenneth Starr was that he had placed the Democrat, Mark Tuohey, in charge of the Washington Office of the Independent Counsel, as though a Democrat were inherently incapable of finding another Democrat guilty of a crime.
More serious was Turley's criticism of Ruddy in the area of the case that involved the witness Patrick Knowlton and his lawsuit against the FBI. Ruddy, in a number of public appearances, mentioned that Knowlton had been the first to see Foster's car in the parking lot of Fort Marcy Park (He continues to do it in his book, but we'll have more about the book later.). The fact that the car was an older model Honda than Foster's and brown instead of silver-gray by Knowlton's very definite recollection meant that the car was not, in fact, Foster's. It was Knowlton's insistence on his recollection that, he is certain, got him harassed by people he feels he can prove were working for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. To downplay that fact is to cover for the FBI in Turley's view. Ruddy also continues to insist that the FBI as an organization was essentially kept out of the Foster death investigation, but it is a major contention of Knowlton's suit, which he supports with numerous documents from the record, that the FBI was, indeed, deeply involved in the investigation, which means it was involved in and very likely orchestrated the cover-up every step of the way.
Finally, Turley is concerned that Ruddy is giving too much attention to his assertion that Foster's body was really at an entirely different location from where the authorities said it was, a position he shares with no other serious student of the Foster case (except this writer up until an extraordinary new revelation which we shall soon discuss ). Somewhere there must be a textbook dealing with the black art of propaganda in which the techniques are laid out for gathering opponents of the propagandist's position all into a common boat. The boat is then either put on a voyage to nowhere or simply sunk. High up on the list of sinking techniques would be, "make the strongest charge on the weakest evidence."
Turley firmly believes that, though they have long traveled in the same direction and often together, the cause of justice in the Foster case is now better served by his abandonment of the Ruddy ship. Pursuant to that belief he has peppered the Internet with criticism of Ruddy, starting out with the observation that much of what Ruddy has concluded about the body site is based on something as elementary as his confusion over compass directions at Fort Marcy Park and following up with variations on the themes discussed above.
Finally, Ruddy responded, not with a direct posting to any of the public news groups to which Hughie has been sending his missives, but with E-mail messages to certain individuals interested in the Foster case (this writer was not one of them, but, of course, through the magic of electronic communication, a copy was not difficult to come by). After a point-by-point rebuttal to Hughie's charges, Ruddy concluded by revealing that "Hughie" is the professional "clown," Hugh Turley, and noting that he, as a journalist, had to adhere to higher standards of accuracy (Turley is, in fact, a very clever and successful children's entertainer). Turley quickly responded, congratulating Ruddy for that rarest of actions for an American journalist, defending his writings in a public forum; rebutting each of Ruddy's points in turn; and reminding him that in consideration of their performance with respect to the Foster case, America's journalists had earned for themselves a good deal less reason for respect than America's clowns. He closed with an invitation to Ruddy to keep up the public exchanges. That was some weeks ago, and Ruddy has had no further differences with Turley on the Net.
The other major document hound was busy as well. At the end of the same week in July in which Starr made his long-awaited announcement, Hugh Sprunt and the aggrieved witness, Knowlton, paid a visit to the National Archives in Washington to examine the latest hearing records of the Senate Whitewater Committee which were recently made available, and while they were at it, to see if there was anything that might have been missed in the earlier records of the Foster case. And, as luck would have it, there was. Dr. Donald Haut, Chief Medical Examiner of the Northern Virginia District had already had his 15 minutes of fame when he appeared on the 60 Minutes episode in which he contradicted Ruddy with respect to the amount of blood he saw on and around Foster's body at Fort Marcy Park. What reporter Mike Wallace did not say is that he also contradicted what he had previously said on the record and what he had told Ruddy in an interview that Ruddy had recorded. The controversy over what Haut, the official medical recorder of the scene and the only physician at Fort Marcy Park that night, did or did not see made it all the more noticeable that in the massive two volumes of Senate documents his official written incident report was missing. Well, Knowlton found it, and Sprunt, hesitant at first, quickly recognized its significance.
The first thing one would notice in reading the pre-printed form is that Haut hardly earned his money that night. In the 48 boxes under "Description of Body, " which includes spaces for noting incidence of blood, among a lot of other things, everything is blank. In the 10 blocks under "Fatal Wounds (Gunshot, Stab, etc.)," same thing. Finally, under "Manner of Death: (check one only) we hit some pay dirt. The choices are "Accident," "Natural," "Suicide," "Homicide," "Undetermined," and "Pending." No doubt here. The block by "Suicide" has an "x" mark. And there beside it in the "Cause of Death" block is a short narrative in all capitals: PERFORATING GUNSHOT WOUND MOUTH- [space] HEAD. (The odd blank space is not exactly as I have shown it. It actually starts a second line.) Turning to the second page of the two-page form we find more blank spaces: "Found Dead By." nothing; "Last Seen Alive By," nothing; "Witnesses to Injury or Illness and Death," nothing. Then under the concluding "Narrative Summary of Circumstances Surrounding Death" we have this:
"JULY 20, 1993 After anonymous call was received at 18:04 hours US Park Police officers found 48 yrs Caucasian male with self-inflicted gunshot wound mouth to neck on a foot path in Marcey (sic) Park. His car was parked in the parking lot but no note was found. MEDICAL HISTORY Unknown."
Mouth to neck!?!? But didn't he say mouth-head on the first page? Yes, but there was that curious space between the words. Oh, look! A four-letter word has been incompletely mechanically "lifted off" there, it would appear. Well, what do you know? The original word sure does look a lot like "NECK."
So there you have it. Kenneth Starr just got through telling us that the death was a suicide just like Robert Fiske said it was, and the autopsy doctor upon whom Fiske relied produced a diagram showing that the bullet came out through the crown of the head, but the doctor at the park saw a neck instead of a head wound. There's certainly no confusing the neck and the crown of the head. Somebody, to make the written record of the two doctors agree, went back and "corrected" "NECK" and put "HEAD" down beside it. But this was a government worker. He did a slovenly job on the first page and overlooked the words entirely on the second page.
Sprunt, as is usually the case when he is in the Washington area (It was often the case with reporter Ruddy, too.), was staying at Hugh Turley's home. Turley, who had actually organized and participated in the archives expedition that spanned several days, prepared a press release on the discovery and sent it around. As we have by now come to expect with any information that is particularly damning of the government, it was of course completely ignored by all the major news organs. Here is an excerpt from that press release:
The "Report of Investigation by Medical Examiner" authored by Donald Haut and available at the National Archives confirms that the Fiske Report was wrong and paramedic Richard Arthur was indeed right when he said under oath that there was a bullet wound to Vincent Foster's neck. This neck wound was absent from the official autopsy report. Dr. James C. Beyer's "Report of Autopsy" states that Mr. Foster shot himself in the mouth and that the bullet exited from the back of Foster's head. The bullet has never been found.
Paramedic Richard Arthur stated under oath that "...there was a bullet hole right here (in the neck)...right around the jaw line." The first Whitewater Counsel Robert B. Fiske in his report dismissed Arthur's testimony saying that "Arthur believed he saw a bullet wound in the right side of Foster's neck. These wounds did not exist. The autopsy results, the photographs taken at the scene...conclusively show these wounds did not exist." Much of the evidence, however, is inexplicably missing. Park Police officers stated under oath that many of the body site Polaroid photos vanished and all the 35mm pictures taken of the body were underexposed. The autopsy doctor James C. Beyer claimed his X-ray machine did not work even though his report shows X-rays were taken. (ellipsis in the press release).
That the new evidence would cause one to go back and look more seriously at the previous work of Robert Fiske and Drs. Haut and Beyer as well as at the autopsy and the curious missing evidence is certainly not surprising, but what's this about Richard Arthur, who first turns up as a significant witness in Hugh Sprunt's Citizen's Independent Report as we noted back on page 43? Arthur takes on new importance, not only because, as we see, this very compelling new evidence seems to bear out his sworn testimony about the neck wound, but also because it makes everything else he has said more credible, and that "everything else" sounded pretty incredible at first. The "confidential witness"(identified as Centreville, VA, construction worker, Dale Kyle by the Washington Times in the wake of the Starr announcement) who supposedly discovered the body had made the "incredible" statement that he saw no gun in the hand. But he wavered over that under intense adversarial questioning by Fiske's FBI agents, and his story about walking almost 300 yards uphill on a hot day to find a private place for an emergency urination doesn't, as they say, hold a lot of water. The now more credible Arthur is the only witness on that fateful night to say--and he said it with great certainty--that the gun he saw in Foster's hand was an automatic and not the old black Colt .38 caliber revolver that is the official death weapon. Arthur was so sure that he drew a sketch of the weapon he saw for Senate investigators.
Arthur was one of the earliest witnesses. The absolutely earliest witness after Kyle, Park Police officer Kevin Fornshill, the first of the official searchers to come across the body has, most incredibly, said he never got a close enough look at the body to determine if there was a gun in the hand. What an incurious police officer! Also, the earliest set of Polaroid photos are among those that have turned up missing. What is beginning to appear ever more likely is that someone put an automatic pistol (perhaps a 9 mm carried by the Park Police) in Foster's hand as a sort of placeholder until the silver revolver that Foster owned could be put there. Somewhere along the way the plan went awry, however, and somebody came up with the old drop gun as a sort of consolation.
A Richard Arthur who is thoroughly credible suggests a couple of more things, too. It suggests that the neck wound he saw was an entry wound and the killer came up behind Foster and popped him with a small-caliber weapon aimed up into his brain, gangland style. The bullet likely never exited. It would also mean that this writer was mistaken to support Christopher Ruddy on the question of the body site. I had known for some time that Arthur places the body in front of the second cannon, which is where it was officially, but I doubted his overall credibility in spite of his steadfastness in sticking to his story. He had even accompanied the British reporter, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard out to Fort Marcy Park and showed him where he saw the body. I had believed otherwise, not only because of my general faith in Ruddy, but also because the leafy background in the leaked hand-with-the-gun photo does not match the barren ground directly in front of the second cannon. However, upon my most recent visit to Fort Marcy Park I observed that if the body had been only a couple of feet farther down the berm and to the right, the scene would not conflict with the photo, and that body location seems the most likely possibility in light of all that we now know.
Christopher Ruddy is now farther out on a limb, and he is more lonesome out there, than he was before, which might explain how he has reacted to the neck-wound discovery. His public position is that it was not the neck wound that Arthur said in sworn testimony that he saw on the side of the neck. Nor was it the wound on the side of the neck that both Ruddy and Evans- Pritchard had said they had seen in an enhanced Polaroid photograph shown to them by someone apparently connected to the Starr investigation. Rather, it was an exit wound in the back of the neck that Foster friend and fellow Little Rock lawyer, Joe Purvis, had told Ruddy back in 1994 that an unidentified mortician in Little Rock told him he had seen. This was what he was soon suggesting on radio talk shows and in his book, which came out not quite two months later, though both neck wounds are in the book, only in different places. As for Arthur's flat disagreement with him about the body site, in a section early in the book dealing with the body site question he has this to say: "Another Fairfax County rescuer, Richard Arthur, had concerns about the body's position." Here he manages to leave an impression precisely the opposite of what is true.
But we're getting ahead of ourselves. Before we start picking around the details in Ruddy's book we should first introduce it to the reader. The title is The Strange Death of Vincent Foster, an Investigation. It is published by The Free Press, a division of Simon and Schuster. This fact is interesting in itself because Simon and Schuster published Blood Sport by James Stewart which, in its treatment of the Foster case-- pretending that the torn-up "suicide" note was authentic by ignoring the findings of the three handwriting experts, strongly implying that Foster's silver revolver was the same as the unmistakably black gun found in Foster's hand at Fort Marcy Park, and shamelessly reporting an amazing account to him by Clinton adviser Susan Thomases that the very private Foster had confided to her(of all people) in the evening privacy of her boudoir(of all times and places) that he was distraught over his being trapped in a marriage with a woman that he did not love, without telling us that it contradicted what she had told the FBI on the record--is easily qualified to be called America's leading Foster cover-up book.
Also interesting is that the book was first mentioned nationally in the September issue of the magazine, Vanity Fair, in the form of a brief favorable review by controversial on-line reporter, Matt Drudge. Drudge seems to be in the business of discrediting both himself and the Internet by reporting half-baked, gossipy rumors. Most recently he was sued for libel by new White House Assistant, Sidney Blumenthal. Before coming to the White House Blumenthal was a journalist for the New Yorker, in which capacity, as I reported at the beginning of this paper, he wrote probably the earliest national magazine article on how Foster's fatally thin skin ultimately did him in. The New Yorker, which also produced the suicide-reinforcing article based on the rare interview with Lisa Foster referred to earlier, is owned by S.I. Newhouse. One might fairly wonder if it is only simple irony that Newhouse also owns Vanity Fair, which is now praising Ruddy's book, or if something deeper might be at work.
The dust jacket is surprisingly economical with information about Ruddy's background, saying under his photograph only that "Christopher Ruddy is a correspondent with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and a Media Fellow at the Hoover Institution of War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University." The Hoover Institution is a noted conservative think tank. Irony lovers will note that of all the colleges to which she could go, the Clintons' daughter, Chelsea, picked Stanford. The dust jacket does not tell us about Ruddy's previous employment with Murdoch's New York Post, that he has been the only American reporter to write regularly and skeptically about the Foster case, nor that he is a college product of Morton Blackwell's Leadership Institute of Arlington, Virginia (From their web site masthead: "The Leadership Institute has trained thousands of conservatives to be successful in politics. Now the Leadership Institute wants to train you.).
It is not clear who is intending to impart credibility to whom, here, and who needs it more, but Ruddy further wraps himself in establishment approval with a lone endorsement on the dust jacket by William S. Sessions, former Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Here it is in its entirety:
Christopher Ruddy has detailed a significant array of facts and issues involving the death of Mr. Foster. His work is serious and compelling. While enduring great criticism, he has tenaciously argued a persuasive case that the American public has not been told the complete facts of this case.
Mr. Ruddy has carefully avoided drawing undue inferences about the death. His reporting raises serious concerns about the handling of the Foster case. It is legitimate to question the process employed by authorities to make their conclusions.
Understatement, properly employed, is also a legitimate polemical technique, but considering what this book more than amply shows, that there has been a blatant and obvious, in- your-face cover-up by the President, the Congress, the FBI, and America's press of the very- probable assassination of a high White House official, the timid and defensive tone of this statement--the first thing that the book's potential buyer might see-- is simply inexcusable.
Certainly Ruddy's work is compelling. He was allotted 305 pages (not counting the index) to lay out the whole sickening story, and it is a compelling story. He tells most of it, much of which is compressed into many fewer pages in this article, but he also tellingly leaves out a good deal of what is in this article as well as that which has been reported by others like the British reporter Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, researcher Hugh Sprunt, and that which had been turned up by the lawyer, John Clarke, as part of the Knowlton lawsuit against the FBI.
Yes, that lawsuit against the FBI that Clarke was working on for Knowlton has indeed been filed, but you would hardly know it from reading Ruddy's book. After first trying to discredit Clarke with whispered innuendo, then consistently misreporting that Knowlton saw Foster's car in the lot at Fort Marcy Park, which is the crux of Knowlton's differences with the FBI, and not showing up to cover the Washington press conference in which Clarke and Knowlton announced the filing of the lawsuit, Ruddy added the capper by avoiding the subject entirely in his text.
It is very difficult to escape the conclusion, for one whose primary concern is that truth and justice ultimately prevail, that Ruddy, not just in this book, but also in his reporting, has been intentionally ineffectual. Consider the following: Stung by the public criticism from a man who has given him many a free hour of assistance, a man who has no doubt contributed in his own selfless way to Ruddy's prominence and to the attainment of the latter's Hoover Institution Fellowship, Ruddy recently called Hugh Turley and told him that he was in Washington and would like to get together to mend fences. Turley, wanting to let Ruddy know right off the bat how difficult mending fences would now be, asked Ruddy why he had said nothing about Knowlton's lawsuit against the FBI in his book. Ruddy's response was that the book was essentially completed in the summer of 1996 and that the editor was quite strict in what he would allow him to add to it.
This answer is quite revealing in a number of ways. First, the bit about the strict editor is utter and complete nonsense. Knowlton's lawsuit was filed on November 12, 1996. Ruddy's book came out in the second week of September, 1997. Mention is made in the text of Starr's "suicide" announcement in mid-July of 1997 and of the neck-wound discovery a few days later. The excuse that the news of the lawsuit came too late to be included in the book does not increase ones confidence in the candor of the man offering it.
I asked Turley if he had asked Ruddy why the publisher had essentially sat on the book for more than a year, or if Ruddy had volunteered a reason, and the answer in either case was negative. But in consideration of the pattern that Ruddy has established, one can make an educated guess about the reason. The string on the Foster case has now, it would seem, run out. The President signaled right off the bat that he was not going to do anything. First a Democratic Congress and then a Republican Congress have shown that they are not going to do anything. The press, also, has thrown in the towel, though it is probably correct to say that it never got in the ring, that is, on the side of truth and justice, and first Robert Fiske and now Kenneth Starr have given them all cover by closing the case. As I was reading the book I found myself thinking "Every American, every member of Congress ought to read this book." But then it occurred to me. It's too late. A year ago it might have brought some pressure on Starr and the Congress, but not now. The only avenue of citizens' redress left is through Patrick Knowlton's lawsuit, and Ruddy ignores it.
But wait! Appendix I, out of a total of seven appendices, is a chronology of events connected (sometimes very tenuously) with the Foster case. It cuts off with:
June 23 Supreme Court refuses to hear Clinton administration appeal on notes made by government lawyers during their conversations with Hillary Clinton.
Backing up ten items we find the following at the top of page 268:
November 12 Witness Patrick Knowlton files suit in federal court alleging the government violated his civil rights.
There it is in black and white, watered down and drained of meaning and impact, buried in a chronology that few will bother to read with any care or comprehension. It doesn't say that it is precisely the FBI that he is suing and it doesn't explain why he would do such a thing, but the text does talk about the harassment on the streets of Washington so the really astute reader possibly can figure things out. Still, at the very best he can only think it must be some kind of crackpot suit like we often hear about on the news, or surely Ruddy would have covered it in his text. But, as with so much in the book, what Ruddy has really covered is his rear end. He can say that he did mention it, but in this instance, quite embarrassingly so, he didn't even seem to know that he had.
But Ruddy doesn't just ignore the lawsuit, he also introduces a new interpretation of events on Vincent Foster's fateful day that would tend to undercut it. We turn to another appendix and another chronology, Appendix II, "Vince Foster's Last Day," where we see this entry:
Approx. 12:30 P.M. White House claims Foster eats lunch in office.
What's with this "White House claims" business? Linda Tripp, White House counsel Bernard Nussbaum's assistant, says she brought a cheeseburger and French fries from the White House cafeteria for him, and clerk Thomas Castleton has even attested to having been sent after her to see what was taking her so long. Tripp, a holdover from the Bush administration now working at the Pentagon, would seem to be an unlikely person to make up a story to cover up a probable murder in the Clinton White House, but what Ruddy is clearly implying here is that Tripp and Castleton didn't tell the truth about Foster's lunch.
The line of reasoning is further developed in the text. Ruddy notes that the autopsy doctor, Beyer, did not clearly fix the time of death, but he said that Foster had recently eaten a large meal of meat and potatoes. Here Ruddy passes up the chance to drive one more nail into the "depression" coffin by failing to note that such a hearty appetite belies a man about to abandon his family and his responsibilities on account of his suicidally-tortured mental state. Rather, he uses the information to raise questions about Foster's time of death. The witnesses at Fort Marcy Park coming across Foster's body just after 6:00 pm describe a man freshly murdered, according to Ruddy (but not, by my reading, to the preponderance of the testimony), and the autopsy describes a stomach full of an only partially digested meal. Further, Ruddy relates, "CW's ("confidential witness" Dale Kyle) FBI statement also mentions a purple wine-colored stain that one of the investigators told me was clearly visible on Foster's shirt and was obviously not blood." "A source close to the Starr probe who examined the shirt agreed with CW that a stain consistent with a wine color was on the shirt. The source said that Fiske had made no attempt to analyze the stain."
This latter evidence is presented in the context of how Robert Fiske accepted some evidence from CW that supported his conclusions but ignored other things, because CW, alone, also said he saw a wine cooler bottle near Foster's body, but that fact is not mentioned by anyone on the official record. Ruddy apparently doubts the existence of the bottle and CW's overall credibility, but he has got on the public record here, buttressed by two anonymous sources, the existence of a wine-colored stain on Foster's shirt. A picture is beginning to emerge not only of some riotous banquet that Foster might have attended where he ate a hearty meal and spilled wine on himself, but a time of death too late for Patrick Knowlton to have been a witness to much of anything. The car that he saw didn't match Foster's because Foster, what with his late meal that his stomach had been working on for two or three hours, wasn't yet at Fort Marcy Park.
Chris Ruddy has been praised as an old-fashioned shoe-leather reporter who doesn't just rely on official reports and the public record but goes out and tracks down leads on his own. In this he can be contrasted with many a mainstream journalist. But his penchant for going beyond the official record--something you never see the document hound Hugh Sprunt do--has gotten him in serious trouble in the past, to the point of contributing to the suspicions, here expressed, that he is being intentionally ineffectual.
It is not lost on those who rule us that, lamentably, most Americans get all their news from the major national television networks. The only time that the Ruddy name has figured prominently on the networks, first on the ABC Evening News in March of 1994 and then again on CBS's 60 Minutes in October of 1995 a self-discrediting blunder of his has been exposed. In each case the blunder originated with an unattributed source. Let us look first at the ABC piece, which I discuss--much less critically of Ruddy-- back on page 25.
On March 7, 1993, he wrote an article for the New York Post that appeared under the headline, "Cops Made Photo Blunder at Foster Death Site." It begins as follows:
The U.S. Park Police never took a crucial crime-scene photo of Vincent Foster's body before it was moved during the investigation into the death of the White House deputy counsel, FBI sources told The Post.
The embarrassing blunder--corroborated by a Park Police source--was one of several routine crime scene procedures investigators neglected to follow in Fort Marcy Park in Arlington, Va., in the Foster case, FBI sources said.
The clearest impression left by this article, whose truth or lack of same rests entirely upon anonymous FBI and Park Police sources, is that nobody unsheathed even the first camera or took the first picture, a breach of procedure so serious that all trace of doubt is erased that a cover-up is going on. Now we learn later that a lot of monkey- business went on with the copious photos that were taken--the basic 35-millimeters were said to have been underexposed and two-thirds of the Polaroids mysteriously disappeared--but Ruddy, by overstating the case had handed the networks a propaganda coup and had partially inoculated the investigators from damage from the future revelations. He took great umbrage with me personally at my writing that he had made a mistake here. The spin he took with me and continues to take in his book is that he wasn't talking about photographs overall but simply the broad perspective shots that would have settled once and for all whether the body was nearer to the first cannon as he alleges or nearer to the second cannon, as the authorities have it. That he can make such an assertion and still keep a perfectly straight face certainly does not inspire great confidence in his general probity.
The Christopher Ruddy that Mike Wallace interviewed on 60 Minutes, whom Wallace credited as responsible, more than anyone else, for Americans' skepticism about the Foster death, certainly came across as sheepish and shifty-looking. I credited it at the time to skillful editing, lighting, and camera angles by the same people who had admittedly pulled Bill Clinton's chestnuts out of the fire during the Gennifer Flowers stink in the `92 campaign and to Ruddy's youth and inexperience. But maybe the camera doesn't lie. He looked his absolute stumbling worst when he tried to explain away the bold assertion of the video (that he had a major role in producing) that Foster was left- handed, when the gun was found placed in his right hand. His weak retort was that the video was not his, but was instead a product of James Dale Davidson's Strategic Investment Newsletter. "You edited it, didn't you," shot back Mike Wallace, and Ruddy was left with no defense.
Ruddy's defense with the faithful--and he continues to make it in his book--is that all the blame here lies with that tricky Mike Wallace. It was he, Ruddy, who told the 60 Minutes people in the first place that the "left-handed" assertion was wrong, that it had originated with the liberal Boston Globe, and that Strategic Investment had mistakenly gone with it in their video without checking it out. Then those underhanded Clinton- defenders at CBS turned around and used it against him.
Let us look at the record. After having been let go by the New York Post just in time to miss the opportunity to comment publicly on the Fiske Report, he told me that he was gambling his journalistic future on a major report on the Foster case. The resulting 17-page paper dated July 18, 1994, entitled "A Special Report on the Fiske Investigation of the Death of Vincent W. Foster, Jr." leads off with a long exposition of his differences with the Park Police over the location of the body. His conclusions depend heavily upon what he says he was told by lead paramedic Sgt. George Gonzalez and an anonymous Park Police officer, and his own confusion over compass directions. The report includes a map that is oriented with west at the top and it is described in the text as north. Ruddy acknowledges that Gonzalez told a different story to Fiske's investigators, but what he does not tell us and probably did not know is that Gonzalez also told the same story as the one he told to Fiske's investigators in the report he wrote for the record that night, a report that pre-dated his interview with Ruddy by several months.
Eleven pages into the report we find a numbered list of 10 "Other Problems in Fiske's Findings." Here, produced in bold as in Ruddy's report is number 3, (the underlined emphasis is mine):
Why was the gun in Foster's right hand if, as The Boston Globe reported and the Park Police confirmed, he was left-handed?
Whatever did happen to that Park Police confirmation by the time the 60 Minutes set-up rolled around?
Ruddy's erroneous directions and apparently erroneous assertion about Foster's left- handedness (I say "apparently" because the matter has never been cleared up to my satisfaction.) continued to circulate in a compendium volume of Ruddy's writings, available by mail order from The Western Journalism Center entitled Vincent Foster, the Ruddy Investigation for years afterward, perhaps up to the present.
Thanks I believe primarily to Hugh Turley and Hugh Sprunt, the very embarrassing directional errors are not in Ruddy's latest book, but the argument over the body site still occupies a prominent place, consuming most of Chapter 2. Still, we see no hint that what Ruddy tells us he was told by Sgt. Gonzalez is contradicted by what appears in Gonzalez's contemporaneous report and his later deposition. Now emergency worker Richard Arthur has been added falsely as a body-site ally to Ruddy.
If the body site claim is not the source of Ruddy's next national television embarrassment, perhaps it will come on another point. Now apprised of his record and on guard, the careful reader should be wary of any assertion that comes from an anonymous source or is not on the public record. We find one such assertion on page 53. The known evidence, most of which Ruddy recounts, is very powerful that the gun found in Foster's hand was not his and did not previously belong to his father, though we have been told by Fiske et al. that it did. Ruddy goes farther, however, saying, "Yet documents obtained by the Fiske investigators show conclusively that the gun was not owned by Foster's father and had not been part of his father's gun collection."
This is a very strong charge. I know of nothing to support it on the public record. Since the conclusion of suicide rests so heavily on the assertion that the gun found in Foster's hand was one given to him by his father, the willful withholding of evidence that would prove otherwise is nothing short of criminal conduct by the prosecutor. What will happen, should it become necessary, when the next Mike Wallace or Ted Koppel asks Chris Ruddy to put up or shut up?
Before we leave the topic of "intentional ineffectualness" let us look at a few more of the Ruddy dodges. One thing that is noticeably lacking in the book is anything around which the people might rally for a call to action. Well laid out is the plethora of contradictory evidence concerning the nature of Foster's wounds and the complete dishonesty of the autopsy and the autopsy doctor. I looked very hard in the book for the simple suggestion that the conflicts be resolved once and for all by an exhumation and a re-autopsy under strict supervision by objective observers, and I did not find it. Perhaps the big problem with making that suggestion is that it immediately brings into relief the fundamental problem we now face in the country: Who in authority is not so mistrusted that we would feel safe hearing their word on the autopsy? Nevertheless, as a very basic first step, as something attainable that we could all agree on and rally around, the call must be made, and Christopher Ruddy does not make it.
Ruddy also has a good treatment of the little charade that was performed by Senator D'Amato's Banking Committee with respect to the conflict between the testimony of Chelsea Clinton's nanny, Helen Dickey, and Arkansas state troopers Roger Perry and Larry Patterson. Perry has said that he was called by Dickey around quitting time who hysterically told him that Foster had killed himself out in the parking lot of the White House. Perry immediately called Patterson and told him (Ruddy neglects to mention here, as he had done earlier in the book, that both have put their recollections into notarized, sworn affidavits.). Dickey, brought before the committee at the request of minority counsel Richard Ben Veniste, said she called well after ten o'clock and the story she told was only what the Park Police had reported. Ben Veniste then said that the troopers had been requested to come and tell their story, but they declined. They quickly denied that they had declined to testify, and Ruddy is correct to point out that the conflict could have very easily hashed out through use of the committee's subpoena power. He also exposes the transparent ruse by which the White House and Sprint thwarted any resolution of the question of when the call was made. If the troopers were correct, as certainly seems likely, then, at the very least, the White House knew about the death hours before they said they did.
Telephone records here could have cleared up this relatively minor dispute about time, though they could not have resolved the more important dispute about the contents of the call. Telephone records are of potentially much greater importance in another facet of the case, and Ruddy fails to note the fact. Instead, he swallows whole the story that Foster called his family physician in Little Rock and the physician called a pharmacy in Georgetown who delivered the medication to his home the day before he died. The fact that the physician did not come forward with his story until the White House, and, more importantly, unidentified sources talking to the press ( as I discuss in this article but Ruddy neglects) began to gin up the story that Foster was depressed is highly suspicious. Also suspicious is the fact that no long-distance telephone records were volunteered to prove the calls were made. I raise these points on page 21 of this paper, and I know Ruddy has read it because he commented upon a draft I sent him. It is not too late to call for the records of those calls, if they were really made, to be produced, but first the importance of such an action must be pointed out, and Ruddy fails to do it.
Ruddy also makes much of the mystery of the five-hour gap between the time Foster was last seen at the White House and when Foster's body was found at Fort Marcy Park. When part of that mystery might have been resolved, he effectively blocked it. In 1994 an acquaintance of mine who once worked for the CIA-contract company, the Mitre Corporation, told me that they had installed the security equipment around the White House and that it was so sharp that it could tell how close an arriving driver had shaved that morning. Surely, there would be a video record of Foster leaving the White House, he told me, if, indeed, he left under his own power. I passed this information on to Ruddy, and he came back with the news that "his White House source said there was no such equipment." In retrospect I believe that source, if there ever was one, was about as dependable as the source that told him that Foster was left-handed and that the Park Police had taken no crime scene photographs. The very notion that the White House, of all places, would have no surveillance record of its grounds is, I believe, utterly preposterous. A call in 1994 for those records for the afternoon of July 20, 1993, to be produced might have brought some serious heat on the White House, but, thanks to Mr. Ruddy and his source, no such call was made, and it is probably too late to do any good now.
Sometimes his book's crucial omissions seem to have a larger purpose than just weakening his case with respect to the Foster death and damaging his overall credibility. Consider the following beginning to page 62:
Up until July 26, the day a White House lawyer found the torn note, there was almost no evidence to support the depression theory.
On July 27, the Park Police interviewed Foster's brother-in-law, former congressman Beryl Anthony. For the first time, the word "depression" appears in witness testimony. Anthony and his wife said that for a month preceding the death they noted "Mr. Foster's depression had become increasingly worse...."
That looks like pretty strong evidence, indeed, coming as it does from people so close to Vince. Go back to page 4 of this article, which Ruddy had studied with an eye toward making helpful suggestions, and note the contrast. He knows that on July 24 the Washington Times had a front page article in which an anonymous source told the Times reporter that Foster was depressed and had sought psychiatric help through family members, including brother-in-law Beryl Anthony. Called for confirmation, Anthony reportedly responded, "That's a bunch of crap. There's not a damn thing to it," and angrily hung up the phone. With the exception of the testimony of this couple, the record is perfect in the book. All the people who were close to Vince who have spoken on the record either have said that he didn't seem at all depressed to them, or they have changed their story. Ruddy knows that Anthony changed his story, too, radically and within three days, but he doesn't use the information. Why?
Actually, even by Ruddy's account, which we come to many pages later on p. 109 they probably did change their story. We are at the Foster house on the night of July 20, `93:
Turning to friends and family, (Park Police officer John) Rolla asked a number of people if they noticed any signs of depression. "`Did you see this coming?' he recalled asking. `Were there any signs? Has he been taking any medication?' No. All negative answers."
Among those present were Beryl and his wife Sheila, but Ruddy doesn't use this information, either, to impugn the July 27th statement of the Anthonys. Why not?
Well, maybe he can say they might not have been among those friends and family who were within earshot, but he could have also referred to Rolla's contemporaneous written report in which he concluded that no one present could think of any reason why Foster would have taken his own life. That certainly did include the Anthonys.
The failure to mention the July 24 Washington Times story is the far more serious offense, and it fits a pattern in the book. Though here and there Ruddy is critical of the press he is careful not to reveal the depth and breadth of their corruption. The contrast, in that regard, with this monograph could not be more stark. The gradual change in the line from "incomprehensible mystery" to "deep depression" he in one place credits to White House spokesperson Dee Dee Myers, and he has those sharp watchdogs of the press catching her as she does it. What he does not tell the reader is that no hint of the exposure of the White House verbal legerdemain ever made it into the news. In another place he faults the Park Police for being too obsessed with Foster's mental state. We would never guess from Ruddy that the depression story originates not obviously from the White House but through anonymous sources feeding the Washington Times, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the New Yorker, and Newsweek.
Those anonymous sources might well have been from the White House, but with the exception of Frank Murray of the Washington Times who did the revealing checking behind the source, the press people were extraordinarily compliant in passing on the "depressed" line. Notice, for instance, how often we heard that Foster had lost not 14 pounds or 16 pounds, but exactly 15 pounds. Where did that come from, anyway?
Former FBI Director Sessions finds it admirable that "Mr. Ruddy has carefully avoided drawing undue inferences about the death." However praiseworthy that might be, what is not at all admirable is Ruddy's even more careful withholding of facts that might cause the public to draw its own inferences, due or undue, about the death and the cover-up. The fact that the "opposition" Washington Times was chosen for the pivotal first "depression" leak might make us infer that they are not the true conservative opposition newspaper that we have been led to believe they are, that is, if the leaker was from the White House. Alternatively, we might infer that the leaker was not exactly from the White House but might actually be part of the crowd that killed a scruple-smitten Foster in the first place, that now also calls most of the shots in the "mainstream" press, and that foisted off upon the American people the nephew of Raymond Clinton to guard their domain.
Is it not clear now why there could be no mention of the July 24, `93, article even though it helps immensely with the argument that Foster was not at all depressed and therefore had no motive for suicide? It would have led to too many messy inferences, as would have making mention, as I do in this article but Ruddy does not, of the Foster cover-up books written by such "conservative" stalwarts as ex-FBI agent Gary Aldrich or "His Cheating Heart" revealer, David Brock. Surely the White House couldn't be pulling their strings, too. Must it not go higher? The only other possibility is that James Stewart and Aldrich and Brock have simply been honestly persuaded by the weight of the evidence that Foster committed suicide from depression. Anyone who has read this far and would believe that must fare very badly on reading comprehension tests.
A possible defense that might be offered as to why Ruddy would go a little easy on fellow "conservatives" is that he could not afford to alienate his main constituency, although I would offer that full truth and disclosure in so serious a matter as the Foster cover-up is far too high a price to pay for such a purpose. We are also still left without an explanation for why he should be so kind to those powerful "liberal" king-makers-and- breakers at the Washington Post. Trace down and read all the references to the Post listed in the index and what comes across is not the pure propaganda organ furthering the cover- up that we saw in the earlier pages of this paper but a regular newspaper reporting the news, perhaps only a tad less aggressively than it should. And, curiously, the index does not even mention this first reference to the Post on page 30:
(Body discoverer) Fornshill was impressed by the neatness of Foster's body and the overall scene. He told the FBI on April 29, 1994, and the Washington Post shortly after Foster's death that Foster's hair was "neatly in place," his white shirt "clean and apparently starched," and his trousers "extremely neat" with sharp creases.
That Fornshill told this to the FBI eight months later is a matter of record, and he might also have told this exact same thing to the Post. The long, fact-poor summarizing "Foster-was- depressed" article by David Von Drehle (with assistance by Peter Baker and Michael Isikoff) of August 15, 1993, to which Ruddy is apparently referring (his lack of a footnote reference here makes it impossible to be certain) says, "Officer Fornshill remembered his slacks were creased, his white shirt starched, and every hair in place." Had Ruddy told us that the Post left out the crucial word "clean" when describing the shirt of a man who, according to the Post and the authorities, had just blown his brains out with a .38 caliber pistol, he might have helped us to see more clearly the Post's cover- up role rather than leaving us with the impression that they were just doing their job and reporting what they were told.
Ruddy's benign picture of the Post is also in vivid contrast to the one painted by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard of London's Sunday Telegraph. This brief portrait is certainly enough to make one re-examine the Post's supposed "anti-government" role in the Watergate and Pentagon Papers episodes. Here are some excerpts from Evans-Pritchard's rebuttal of July 10, 1995, after he had been attacked in a front-page article by the Post as a Foster "conspiracy theorist":
The decision by the Washington Post to run such a piece at this late stage--in the face of overwhelming suspicions of foul play--comes perilously close to complicity in a cover-up.
The argument has nothing to do with ideology. The Washington Post ceased to be a newspaper of liberal activism a long time ago, if it ever really was. "Its anti- establishment image is one of the most absurd myths in journalism today," said Jeff Cohen, from Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting in New York, a liberal group that monitors the Post closely and accuses it of an incestuous relationship with the governing elite. "It has been an instrument of state power for many years."
It is worth noting too that the Washington Post ignored the series of well- researched pieces by the American Spectator alleging that Bill Clinton used state troopers to solicit women on a routine basis, and then played rough to silence leaks.
One might choose to treat that as unimportant. A private matter. Beneath the Post. But what about the story of gun-running and drug-smuggling through the Mena airport in Arkansas in the 1980s? As reported by The Sunday Telegraph in January, the managing editor, Robert Kaiser, intervened at the last moment to spike a story by Sally Denton and Roger Morris that was backed by an archive of 2,000 documents.
The story had been cleared by the lawyers. It was typeset and ready to go to the printers. Since then there have been fresh developments in this story. Sworn testimony taken from a court case in Arkansas has linked Bill Clinton directly to this cloak-and- dagger operation, which has possible ties to US intelligence. Not a word about these depositions has been written in the Washington Post.
But failure to report the news is one thing. Active disinformation is another. Last week's article in the Post insinuated that The Telegraph had fabricated a story about clandestine trips to Switzerland by Vince Foster. The author, Susan Schmidt, who is the Post's full-time reporter on Whitewater, said that sources "with access to Foster's American Express receipts say they show no purchase of airline tickets to Switzerland."
But when confronted, she admitted that her sources did not in fact have access to information--that The Telegraph did have--about the two flights Foster made to Geneva in 1991 and 1992. Furthermore, she had no credit card numbers and she did not know which of Foster's American Express cards may have been involved. Nor did she have any records from the airlines. "These records are closely guarded," she said, by way of explanation.
You bet they are, and Ms. Schmidt failed to get them. The only information she had, it turns out, referred to a single purchase in July 1993 conducted through the White House travel office. We would surmise that her "sources" (plural) are in the Clinton White House. We rest our case.
Chris Ruddy faults the Park Police for ostensibly failing to step back and take any larger "perspective shots" of the crime scene. Ironically, that is what is so sadly missing in Ruddy's work. With Ruddy, one is eternally peeping in through the keyhole, whereas with these few lines from Evans-Pritchard one feels that he has at least one foot into the room. Neglecting to expose news organs like the Post as mere "instrument(s) of state power," he is eternally on the defensive: "How could he be the only one who is right about the Foster death?" Here, too, it is interesting to note that another thing missing from Ruddy's Foster story is any mention of these alleged trips to Switzerland. Is he afraid, once again, that we might make "undue inferences"? The reader might also like to know that when Evans-Pritchard wrote his article about the mysterious whirlwind trips to Switzerland by Foster, Ruddy told me that Evans-Pritchard was being fed disinformation and that I should not believe him. Now, in retrospect, what seems more likely is that Ruddy, like the people at the Post, did not want anybody to see the link between the Foster death and the dirty money that was going into secret Swiss accounts.
Linking the Post's reticence about Bill Clinton's scandals and Ruddy's reticence about both of them is the government-implicated illegal drug business. The following quote is from the introduction to the 1994 paperback edition of the 1992 book Evil Money: The Inside Story of Money Laundering & Corruption in Government, Banks & Business by the widely-respected non- partisan Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld:
Evil Money was first published in the summer of 1992. My objective was to call attention to the threat illegal money, especially drug money, presents to the democratic institutions and free markets. Since Bill Clinton was inaugurated as President in 1993, the threat to the United States seems to have worsened. It is worse because the new president's financial, political, and personal ethics, as well as his associations, reflect all of the alarming trends described in Evil Money. It appears that in the group around the president willful blindness was common, and evil money bought political power.
Ruddy's narrative touches on drugs only once when he notes that the "presidential assistant in charge of certain security matters," Patsy Thomasson, was among those who went through Foster's office on the fateful night. "Before coming to Washington," says Ruddy, "Thomasson had been the chief operating officer of a Little Rock bond house while its owner, Dan Lasater, was serving jail time for cocaine distribution. Thomasson's name had even turned up in one Drug Enforcement Administration document detailing a passenger manifest of persons flying with Lasater from Latin America."
What's missing here is any mention of Lasater's great closeness to Clinton, the fact that Lasater had employed Bill's half-brother, Roger Clinton, Jr., also a convicted drug felon, the fact that Lasater was a major contributor to Bill's campaigns, and that, as Ehrenfeld notes, "...even after being implicated in drug dealing at Roger Clinton's trial Lasater was awarded $664.8 million in Arkansas state bond contracts, making $1.7 million for himself." Most importantly, what's missing is the famous line, "That's Lasater's deal," reported by R. Emmett Tyrrell in his book, Boy Clinton, to have been said by Governor Bill Clinton to security aide and state trooper L.D. Brown to dismiss the importance of a shipment of cocaine that Brown told him he had discovered on one of those return flights from supplying arms to the Nicaraguan resistance. Brown, according to Tyrrell, had been urged by Clinton to join the CIA, which he had done, and it was under their employ that he made his cocaine discovery.
Now one might say that Ruddy would have been getting off the track of the Foster case had he delved into these matters, but they would have certainly provided useful perspective, at least in a footnote. And what can we say about the Jerry Parks connection, which he also leaves out? Parks was a private investigator who had handled security in Little Rock for the Clinton- Gore campaign in 1992. He was murdered gangland style on September 26, 1993. After the murder, which has not been solved, his house was ransacked and, according to his widow, Jane, there were "as many as eight federal agents in her house at one time--flashing FBI, Secret Service, IRS, and curiously, CIA credentials--not to mentions visits by Little Rock police officers. A computer was purged by an expert, files went missing and 130 tapes of telephone conversations were confiscated."
The quote is from a July 15, 1996, article by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in the Sunday Telegraph of London entitled "Foster `hired detective to spy on Clinton'." In the article, Jane Parks alleges that Vince Foster hired her husband around 1985 for a number of sensitive assignments. One was spying on Bill Clinton at the instigation of Foster's friend and Rose Law Firm partner Hillary Clinton. Another involved a couple of mysterious trips to Mena during the 1992 campaign. Mrs. Parks said that Foster had telephoned her husband over a hundred times at their home outside Little Rock. Parks had Clinton surveillance files stolen from his home in a burglary in July 1993, about the time of Foster's death. "`That's when Jerry got paranoid,' said Mrs. Parks, `He believed that Foster had been murdered and he was afraid that he'd be next'." And he was right.
Look in the index of Ruddy's book for the name "Jerry Parks" and you draw a blank. Would the excuse be that the Evans-Pritchard article came too late, what with the manuscript having been essentially put to bed by the mid-summer of 1996 as Ruddy told Hugh Turley, or would it be that it might cause the reader to draw "undue inferences," or would he echo the key Washington Post/Newsweek Foster-case reporter, Michael Isikoff, who refused to report on the Knowlton lawsuit against the FBI for harassment because, "It raises more questions than it answers"?
Isikoff, it should be noted, also escapes mention by Ruddy as does the important Little Rock brokerage firm owner, Jackson Stephens. Ruddy does tell us that Robert Fiske was the lawyer for Clark Clifford in a case related to Clifford's work for the Bank of Commerce and Credit International (BCCI), the Pakistan-based biggest customer- swindling, drug-money- laundering criminal enterprise in history, an enterprise with numerous alleged connections to the CIA. What he does not tell us, as we learn from this article back on pp 24-25, is that Stephens was instrumental in getting BCCI involved in banking in the United States, he was the biggest single client of the Rose Law Firm, and that Foster was in charge of his account.
Where he has not completely omitted vital information, Ruddy has done a brief and misleading bump-and-run seemingly designed to close off further inquiry, especially when the further-inquiry road ends at the destination of illegal drugs and wholesale government and systemic corruption. Consider the following sentence: "Foster, as noted earlier, was working on much more than the Whitewater tax papers; he had also supervised all of their personal matters, including the creation of blind trusts for their assets."
From reading this, one would get the impression that the blind trusts had been finalized. In fact, Ruddy here sounds a lot like Robert Fiske who, in a footnote on page 20 of his report says, "In addition to completing tax returns on Whitewater, Foster also participated in creating a blind trust for the Clintons, completing their personal 1992 income tax returns, and fulfilling their financial disclosure requirements. There is no evidence that these matters were a contributing cause of Foster's distress."
What neither author tells us is that Foster was already six months late in completing the blind trust requirement. There must have been something about that assignment that was tripping him up. Might it have had something to do with drug money? Left by Ruddy with the impression that Foster had smoothly completed his assigned task, we make no such "undue inference."
Anyone who wants to see best how Ruddy appears to be bent on keeping the flames from the Foster-case corruption from spreading should note his treatment of the Tommy Burkett case and contrast it with the discussion of the case on pp. 38-39 of this article. Ruddy consigns it to an appendix entitled "Case Histories of Dr. James Beyer," where it plays second fiddle to the botched autopsy of Timothy Easley, a case that is, indeed, tragic but apparently has no larger political significance. Starting out with his vague description of Tommy as "another college-aged Virginia man" rather than describing him as the 21-year-old Marymount University student who had been induced into doing undercover drug work for the DEA that he was, Ruddy only gives us enough details of the case and of the autopsy for us to conclude that the main issue is Beyer's incompetence. He does not mention that the case has most recently been covered up by the FBI-- just as they have done with the Kevin Ives-Don Henry drug-related murders in Arkansas--and that it has been covered up from day one by the Washington Post and the major media in the Washington area. Ruddy certainly cannot claim ignorance for his omissions. He has read my paper, he has written one article on the FBI conclusions on the Burkett and Arkansas cases, and he was present in the Burkett living room when, in response to a question from me, the parents detailed their long meetings with the Washington Post Magazine reporter who later, like the newspaper overall, wrote nothing.
But the larger purpose of minimizing, misdirecting, and containing is well served by keeping this messy information out of the book. An agency that would cover up a drug-related double homicide in Arkansas and a drug-related homicide in suburban Washington, might also cover up another drug-related homicide in Washington's environs. That's the sort of inference that it appears neither he nor William Sessions would want the reader making. He has told us that the FBI was kept out of the investigation, which is one more reason why it is very inconvenient for him that we should know that it is precisely the FBI that the witness Patrick Knowlton is suing for harassment.
We are led to believe that it was the firing of Director Sessions that enabled the Clinton administration to keep the FBI out. Nowhere is it even hinted that Sessions' firing had been set in motion by Clinton's predecessor, George Bush, most likely because of the independence that Sessions had shown over the BNL-Iraqgate matter and who knows what else. Vice-Presidential candidate Al Gore in particular had made a big issue of that scandal involving the illegal financing and shipment of arms to Saddam Hussein's government, but as soon as Clinton was in he swept it under the rug. So it was not so much the FBI that was kept out as it was a William Sessions that Clinton, or his handlers, did not trust any more than George Bush did.
Ruddy, to his credit, has a very good section on the manipulation of witnesses by the FBI agents working for Robert Fiske and how they twisted around their statements or changed them when transferring them from the handwritten to the typed form. But then he undoes much of the good by ludicrously appearing to side with Susan Thomases when her story about Foster's sad last tale to her of a failing marriage contradicted her earlier FBI statement. In that statement she is reported to have said she last saw him, not in her room, but at lunch with a group of people, and he seemed perfectly okay to her. That is one statement I would seriously doubt the FBI doctored.
Ruddy is almost as unintentionally humorous with the first of his rebuttal statements to a list of reasons (in italics) that have been offered as to why he should not pursue the case:
The Foster case is the Kennedy assassination redux. While both (sic) share similarities--such as the fact that the first investigations into their deaths were not considered thorough--there are major differences. To begin with, there is a tremendous amount of forensic, circumstantial, and physical evidence that contradicts the official ruling on Foster's death, not to mention the mountain of evidence that contradicts the official account of what happened in its aftermath. And, of course, much more is known about Foster's death than with Kennedy's, where the facts trickled out over years.
The "of course" in that last sentence is particularly laughable. I would call the attention of Ruddy and others who were not yet born when President John Kennedy was killed, to just one book. That is Accessories after the Fact, The Warren Commission, The Authorities, and The Report, by Sylvia Meagher. Like Ruddy's book, it came out four years after the crime, and like Ruddy's book, but contrary to his assertion here, it marshals a mountain of evidence that contradicts the official ruling. The Warren Commission published 26 volumes of raw evidence, and Meagher mastered them not unlike Hugh Sprunt has mastered the two Senate volumes on Foster, and, like Sprunt, she showed us that the conclusions were simply not supported by the government's own evidence.
Turning to Meagher's index for "FBI" one will find many pages under "alleged intimidation of witnesses" and more pages under "alleged misreporting." What Ruddy has discovered in the Foster case is not, as he would have us believe, some kind of aberration. The FBI has practiced these techniques so long that they have developed them almost into an art form. One of the planks in the platform of the organization that Tommy Burkett's parents have formed, Parents Against Corruption and Coverup, calls for legislation that requires all investigating police to show witnesses their recorded statements. They would not be official until signed by the witness. This, they regard, as an elementary first step for the creation of a more just system of justice.
Even that reform probably would not have prevented the bit of FBI trickery that was performed on Lisa Foster, which I relate back on page 26. The agents obviously showed her a silver gun and told her that it was the one found on her husband at Fort Marcy Park. She confirmed that it did, indeed, resemble one that the family had brought up from Arkansas with them, and with that "confirmation" Robert Fiske and James Stewart have led us to believe that she identified the "death weapon" as theirs. Had she been shown her statement she could have truthfully said, "Yes, that's what I said." What she did not know at the time was that the gun that was finally found in Vince's hand was thoroughly and unmistakably black.
It is yet to be proved that the FBI was behind the harassment of Patrick Knowlton, though it is difficult to imagine who else could call up so much manpower and who else knew where he was going to be and that he had been summoned to testify before a grand jury, but we know almost certainly that the FBI, no doubt intentionally, showed Lisa Foster the wrong gun to identify. It is an unpardonable act for an investigator. And Christopher Ruddy, in what is supposed to be the definitive book on the Foster case, tells us not one word about it.
For all of the FBI misdeeds in the Foster case that Ruddy recounts, he ultimately pulls his punches. The lion's share of the blame for the cover-up, starting with what he says is their misidentification of the body site, he lays in the lap of the U. S. Park Police. "Why has no one held them accountable," he quite properly asks. To make sure that we don't miss the point that they bear primary responsibility, along with the bungling autopsy doctor James Beyer, he has an appendix for them, too, with some Park Police case history horror stories. Imagine what he could have done with a similar appendix on the FBI. Right off the bat he could have reminded us of their recent cover-up of the Burkett and the Ives-Henry cases. He could have referred to a case just recently in the news, their framing of the Black Panther, Geronimo Pratt, for murder, causing him to spend a substantial part of his life in prison. He could have gone back a few years and told us about the sending of tapes to Martin Luther King, Jr. that purported to record his illicit sexual liaisons, along with the suggestion that he commit suicide. And, by all means, he would have to include the FBI shooting of Vicki Weaver as she held her infant in her arms at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, and the immolation of the Branch Davidians by the FBI at Waco. Instead, as though to reassure us that God's in his heaven and all's right with the world, he has his "protest book" endorsed by the man who was in charge of the FBI, albeit as something of a Bush-created lame duck, when they perpetrated the Ruby Ridge and Waco outrages.
Nowhere is his misdirection and containment more obvious than in his treatment of the behavior of the major media and of the leaders of our only "opposition" party, the Republicans.
This is from page 247:
Part of the problem has been the absolute refusal of the establishment media to report on this case. The Foster matter testifies, on the one hand, to the power of the American media to set the nation's public agenda and, on the other, to the way in which policymakers, Congress, and even independent counsels set their course based on the media's agenda.
The refusal of the media to report on the Foster case is not the biggest problem, rather it is their active and aggressive obstruction of justice and promotion of the official "suicide" line, as we amply show in this work. Ruddy almost acknowledges as much with his final line suggesting that they have some sort of agenda that is different from merely reporting the news. But because he refuses to let us have a glimpse of any larger picture and leaves us eternally peeping in through the keyhole we are left clueless as to what that agenda might be. His method also renders him powerless to address the sixth and last of the common objections he says have been raised to his pursuing the case, "The Republicans themselves agreed that Foster committed suicide."
Ruddy's attempt at a response begins on the bottom of page 252 and extends to the middle of page 254, and he is as feckless here as a fish flopping around on a pier. One can read it over and over and never figure out exactly what his point is. The passage absolutely defies brief summary. The best I can come up with is that the only Republican leader who has really thoroughly committed himself to the suicide conclusion is former ranking minority member of the House Government Operations Committee, William Clinger of Pennsylvania. This is the same William Clinger who was trotted out on both Ted Koppel's Nightline and Mike Wallace's episode of 60 Minutes to show that, indeed, the Republicans were on board with the official line. Others such as Senate Banking Committee Chairman Alfonse D'Amato of New York and House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia have made public statements indicating that they don't quite believe the official story. Unfortunately, for some strange reason they have failed to act on their beliefs.
But why haven't they done anything, now that they control both houses of the Congress? The suggestion that they have done nothing even though they don't swallow the official story makes it all the worse for them. It means that they, too, are a conscious part of the cover-up. We needn't merely just suggest it, though. Ruddy lets the Republican who obviously is, indeed, a conscious part of the cover-up completely off the hook. That is the man who unexpectedly ascended into the chairmanship of the former Government Operations, now named Government Reform and Oversight Committee, when the Republicans won a majority in 1994, and Clinger got out of the line of fire by retiring. When he had little power he demonstrated with strong speeches on the House floor that he knew the case well and that he didn't buy the government's story for a minute. His, like Ruddy's among U.S. journalists, was a lonesome and seemingly courageous voice in the United States Congress. He is a Representative from Indiana and his name is Dan Burton. As committee chairman, he has made a lot of noise about investigating lesser Clinton administration scandals, but this one, he has now told us, just as he has told the Burkett parents about their case, he is simply going to let lie.
What could possibly make the man behave this way? What could make him now earn for himself the most deserving title of arch-villain of America's Dreyfus Affair? He has neither the excuse of ignorance nor of impotence. He is the Republican who knew, but did not do. Christopher Ruddy, staying away from all the pressure points where we might get something accomplished, spares the man the questions and the dubious title. Rep. Burton is mentioned only once in passing on page 54, hearing out the "confidential witness" before becoming chairman.
How crude, audacious, and reckless,
Right under the President's seal,
What was a living Vincent Foster
Such a threat to reveal?
In light of the people they've had to suborn
And investigations to rig,
It must have been something truly ugly,
And something terribly big.
So, in the final analysis, America's Dreyfus Affair is like the original in that it involves a frightful abuse of power by those in the executive branch and much of the ruling establishment. It also involves the perpetuation of a gigantic lie with such techniques as doctored evidence, intimidation, and forgery. But with the exception of the pervasive anti-Semitism in French society that it brought to the surface, the scandal of a hundred years ago lacked the larger ramifications of this one. It did not have the apparent links to a web of seemingly endless and much larger other scandals. It did not have the power to make what were thought to be stalwart members of the opposition turn on a dime and join the cover-up camp. It did not turn the opposing party into a quivering mass of Jell-O. And it did not require layer upon layer of cover-up. We are a much bigger and more important country in the world than France, and so, too, is our scandal.
October 5, 1997
In addition to the lawsuit by Patrick Knowlton, the chairmanship of the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee by a one-time "Dreyfusard, " and the continued efforts of the parents of Tommy Burkett, another pressure point on the Foster case is represented by the growing popularity of the Internet. Previously, I discussed the efficiency with which news group participants are able to sort out wheat from chaff and therefore can not only learn a lot of things that they never would from the regular print and airwave media, but also can have more confidence in its veracity. Now I would like to discuss briefly the phenomena of web sites and links.
Never has there been a more efficient way to garner information rapidly. Often it is very difficult to obtain information. Noting the dearth of serious articles on the Foster case in magazines, the reader can imagine that the present article would have great difficulty finding a publisher. But it was quickly accepted by Dr. J. Orlin Grabbe for his extremely provocative home page. The site is at http://www.aci.net/kalliste/. On page 46 of his book, Chris Ruddy speaks of the blood that gushed from Pennsylvania government official Bud Dwyer when he committed suicide with a revolver on television in 1987. Photos of that scene and much else can be seen at the web site of Foster researcher Michael Rivero at http://www.accessone.com/~rivero/. Rivero also has a copy of the recently discovered neck-wound document of Dr. Haut. The question of the FBI having shown Lisa Foster the wrong gun is developed by Foster researcher and lawyer Allan J. Favish at http://members.aol.com/AllanF8702/page1.htm. The major details of the Patrick Knowlton lawsuit against the FBI can be found at the web site of his lawyer, John Clarke at http://www.mnsinc.com/lawofcjc/. Also discussed in this article is Sam Smith's Progressive Review. It is at http://emporium.turnpike.net/P/ProRev/. Hugh Sprunt's information, along with much else, can be found on the Clinton Impeachment Web at http://www.c-I-w.com/. It also has many useful links to other sites as does CGBG's home page at http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/7614/index.html. The mother of all archive sites with political links is kept in Sweden by Marcus Wendel. He calls it the Seventh Seal. It is at http://www.grs.se/marcus/seven/. Another great Foster information site is kept by Brian Thomas at http://users.aol.com/beachbt/index.html.
Christopher Ruddy's articles appear at http://ruddynews.com and http://tribune-review.com/ruddy/. We have given previously the web sites of the Telegraph of London (Ambrose Evans-Pritchard) and Parents Against Corruption and Coverup (Burkett case and others) before, but here goes again. The former is http://www.telegraph.co.uk and the latter is at http://www.clark.net/pub/tburkett/pacc/PACC.html. At the Telegraph site after the obligatory registration go to the Archive and search the subject "Vincent Foster," or whatever you like, to your heart's content.
Against the backdrop of this cornucopia of knowledge, Ruddy, ever the American print journalist, leaves us mainly with this impression of the Internet:
Some of the ideas swirling around the country, courtesy of the Internet, dove into the deep end of the bizarre: Foster was actually a Mossad agent killed by the CIA; Foster was assassinated by an Austrian hit squad; Foster was about to blow the whistle on a government piracy of an intelligence gathering software: and so on. (p.16)
The last of these three is hardly bizarre, having to do with the Systematics Corporation of Little Rock, which came into possession of the PROMIS software that originated with the Inslaw Corporation. Go to the Internet search engine of search engines at http://www.dogpile.com and see what you turn up on those subjects, or check out either http://www.dejanews.com or http://www.reference.com to see what might have been said about them on a news group. As for the other two theories, which are indeed bizarre in my estimation, they might have been discussed on the Net but I have not seen them. Notice that there is no mention here of speculation about the possible connection of the death to the illicit drug business. That has, indeed, been discussed extensively, but it certainly looks as though that is something Christopher Ruddy would rather we not talk about.