America's Dreyfus Affair part 5
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What is the most persuasive thing, in the eyes of the American public, that might convince many--though fewer than the molders of opinion would have us believe-- that Deputy White House Counsel Vincent Foster did, indeed, commit suicide? It is certainly the fact that they are being told so by virtually all of the nation's authority figures. How many times, when one tries to talk about actual evidence, is he confronted with the rejoinder that "four investigations" have all concluded that it was, indeed, a suicide (They refer, presumably, to the U.S. Park Police investigation, the Robert Fiske investigation, the Kenneth Starr investigation, and then either to the inquiry by the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee or the one done by the office of Rep. William Clinger, then ranking Republican on the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee, neither of which was an actual independent investigation of Foster's death. Presumably, they do not refer to the largely secret cursory investigation conducted by the FBI based upon which it concluded that the assassinations law [18 U.S.C. Section 1751] requiring it to be the principal investigative body in the case did not apply.) Never mind that several investigations have been required instead of just one definitive one, as is customary. That fact, alone, should be more than sufficient to make people suspicious.
More than the fact of the official "investigations," it comes down to one's essential faith in our major institutions. As the French newspaper, L'Autorite, put it in the earlier case, "If Dreyfus is not guilty then the government is." If Vincent Foster is not guilty of self-murder, then not only are our government leaders protecting those who are guilty of the assassination, but so, too, are the controllers of our major news organs. This is a very unsettling thought. It should make all of us feel rather insecure, suggesting that we don't have the government of laws that we thought we did nor a free press, as we thought was guaranteed by the First Amendment, that would keep the government under scrutiny. It would mean, to put it bluntly, that Thomas Jefferson's last line of protection against tyranny has been breached.
Let us look at a couple of examples of how this faith in our institutions plays itself out. I had just finished describing the outlines of the case for murder to a friend of long standing who I had not seen for a while. He is a professional historian of a somewhat standard liberal political orientation. "I can't believe," he said, "that if what you are telling me is true that Republicans like Dick Armey or Newt Gingrich wouldn't be making all kinds of political hay over it." The logic is impeccable if one believes that we really do have the vigorous, two-party system that we think we have. An opposition party that would let the party in power literally get by with murder is certainly no opposition party worthy of the name. To be sure, continued congressional inaction on the Foster case since the Republicans gained control of both houses of Congress in 1998 speaks volumes, but I would suggest that my friend is seriously misreading what is in the volumes. Suffice it to say that the main difference between my historian friend and me is that I have studied the Foster death and he has not. Maybe, too, we are different in that I have the urge to satisfy my curiosity over something I regard as very important to the nation and he does not. Perhaps he, like so many Americans, has made the rational calculation that it could not be good either for his peace of mind or for his career to do too much picking on this festering little sore. Whatever his motivation, this putative seeker and revealer of historical truth has revealed to me in unmistakable terms that as for this messy little episode in very recent history, he would truly rather not know.
On the press front, I was at a forum on politics and the news media at American University in Washington, DC. Someone in the audience raised a question about the harassment of the witness, Patrick Knowlton, in the Foster case. Rather than address herself to the specifics of the question, one of the panelists, television news commentator, Cokie Roberts, responded that we have many, many excellent journalists in the country who you can be sure have looked into every aspect of the Foster case and if it were anything more than a simple case of suicide you can be sure that they would have told you about it.
Again, what we have is an appeal to the public's faith in our basic institutions, and, again, if the premises are granted the reasoning is impeccable. Certainly all the major news organs have told us over and over again that Vince Foster committed suicide. And we see how the "conservative" and the "liberal"ones war with one another, or so it seems. Even arch-Clinton opponent Rush Limbaugh has been virtually silent on the Foster matter, as have nationally-syndicated talk-show hosts G. Gordon Liddy and Oliver North, while such "conservative" standard bearers as The Washington Times, the Wall Street Journal, National Review, the Weekly Standard, and the American Spectator have all weighed in in support of Kenneth Starr's suicide conclusion, slapping down dissenters as "conspiracy theorists" in the process. The national publicity machine has also given a great deal of attention to books by "conservative" writers like Gary Aldrich, James Stewart, and David Brock, all of whom reinforce the suicide conclusion. No wonder the appellation "nutcase" or "right-wing Clinton-hater" is hung so freely on anyone with the temerity to take issue with the official verdict. Surely all these people we trust for informed opinion could not be, in effect or in fact, lying to us, could they? To believe it is to see one's belief system come completely un-tethered. To deny that Vince Foster committed suicide becomes, then, a very radical act, and most people don't like to take very radical actions.
It all comes down to this: To believe Vince Foster was murdered is to believe that our government is corrupt to the core and that what represents itself as a free and vital press is nothing more than a big propaganda machine. Put another way, so high have the stakes been raised in this case that one cannot have any faith at all in our federal government and in our vaunted free press and still entertain the notion that Vincent Foster might not have committed suicide.
Before we further explore the implications of all this, we should first deal with one more "authoritative" voice that has been invoked in support of the suicide conclusion, that is the voice of the Foster family. Although we have been told that on the night of the death none of them could think of any reason why he would have committed suicide and although none of them has made a positive identification of the gun found in Foster's hand, and three days after the death the family was still saying "with certainty" that he had not been treated for depression, and although the Park Police seem to have gone out of their way to avoid questioning Foster's three grown children, claiming that the Foster family lawyer would not make them available (as though he had that power) the family has through that lawyer, James Hamilton, and in a New Yorker interview with the widow Lisa climbed aboard the suicide-from-depression train.
All that is required to deal with the authoritativeness of the family is to contrast the Foster example with that of the Martin Luther King family and a number of other similar examples around the country. The King family has recently proclaimed its belief in the innocence of James Earl Ray, hinting that they think that the government may have been involved in the death, and has certainly been involved in the cover-up. When the King family held a news conference on February 13, 1997, in which they called for a new trial for Ray, the supposedly liberal Washington Post reacted to this extraordinary new development by ignoring it, writing nothing at all about it the next day. The press has generally treated the King family as simply hopelessly misguided and has lent no editorial support for the family's call for a reopened investigation. For less-well-known people whose death has been ruled suicide over the vigorous protests of the families involved, America's press has been largely silent. One hundred and thirteen squares were in the cover-up quilt displayed at the second annual Washington, DC, Quilt Day program on the National Mall, May 23, 1998, sponsored by Parents Against Corruption and Cover-up. The whole purpose was to gain publicity for the families in their attempt to obtain justice for their lost loved ones, but the publicity was not forthcoming. For the second year in a row the event was blacked out by America's major press.
So, the authority of the family in these cases may be subsumed under the authority of the press because it is the press that tells us which families we should pay attention to and which we should not. In turn, the authority of the press must be subsumed under the authority of the government because, invariably in all these controversial cases, whether it be the ones mentioned or the victims of the Oklahoma City bombing, Pan Am 103, or TWA 800, the only families whose voice carries any authority with the press are those who happen to agree with the government's version of things.
The (Intentional?) Losing Hand
We are back, then, to the press and the government whose moral authority is at issue. Anyone who would dispute the official finding in the Foster case, but stops short of calling into question the very legitimacy of America's basic institutions, plays from a losing hand. If our basic institutions are not corrupt and illegitimate, then Vince Foster did, indeed, commit suicide from depression. The evidence of Vince Foster's murder must be placed against not just the evidence of suicide in Fort Marcy Park but also against the evidence of overall government and press probity.
Now one might argue that simply from a narrow, tactical standpoint it is better not to bring these larger issues up. One runs the risk, after all, of simply being denounced as someone who sees conspiracies everywhere. The only American reporter to investigate the Foster death from a standpoint critical of the government, Christopher Ruddy, up until recently when he spread his net to look into the suspicious death of Commerce Secretary Ron Brown, had been very careful not to look beyond the Foster death to any larger pattern of corruption. He won't even go so far as to suggest the likelihood that Foster was murdered. A lot of good his circumspection has done him. Consider the review of Ruddy's book by Jacob Cohen in the "conservative" National Review (Nov. 24, 1997), a review that is all too representative of the sort of treatment Ruddy has received from the mainstream. Cohen begins with some red herring examples of spurious witnesses in the Kennedy assassination case, witnesses of whom this writer in all his considerable readings on that case has never heard, and represents them as typical of the anomalies or "contradictions" that sober investigators must resolve, and usually do most satisfactorily, in almost any real or apparent crime. But, says Cohen:
In short, Ruddy is nothing more than just another one of those "wild" conspiracists. This is the kind of ridicule and abuse to which Ruddy has been subjected in spite of his great caution. Before I elaborate further upon the fundamental fecklessness, either intentional or unintentional, of the Ruddy approach, please indulge me a brief digression upon the subject of Professor Cohen. He first came to my attention a few years ago with an article in the magazine Commentary in which he engaged in the kind of debunking of the film "JFK" by Oliver Stone, that has been completely universal in America's press. Unlike the run-of-the-mill journalist, however, Cohen is an academician, a professor of American studies at Brandeis University. American studies, the reader should know, is one of the favorite places for the Central Intelligence Agency to plant professors who double as recruiters for their agency. That is because this is one of the favorite courses of study for foreign students with leadership potential in their home countries. Furthermore, those destined to become experts on the United States back home are prime candidates for recruitment by our spooks, and who better to recruit them than one of their professors? Perhaps it is just a coincidence that an American studies professor would be the one to dash cold water on a movie that points the finger of suspicion at the CIA for the Kennedy assassination or upon a book about the death of a high-level government official with numerous associates connected in one way or another to illicit drug smuggling and money laundering in his home state that has, in turn, been linked to the CIA, but perhaps it is not.
I did a search of Brandeis on the Net, and found out that they have a student-run FM radio station that features political talk shows. I e-mailed the station, introduced myself as the author of "America's Dreyfus Affair, the Case of the Death of Vincent Foster," which they could access on the Net, and offered to debate Professor Cohen about the Foster case on the air. The response was very favorable, but a final decision had to be put off until after the end-of-year break. After the break I received an amazing correspondence telling me that Professor Cohen was amenable and I was asked my preference for a format. I communicated my agreeableness to almost any format and waited with great anticipation. Several weeks passed and I heard nothing. I followed up and got the response that Professor Cohen, now that he had gotten around to reading "Dreyfus," had concluded that it would not be "productive" to be on the air with me, but that they still would like to have me on for an hour-long interview.
"Fine," I responded, though disappointed, and once again waited.
A couple more weeks passed and then I was hit with the proposal that I be interviewed for thirty minutes (on tape). Professor Cohen would then be permitted to hear what I had to say and would be taped in a thirty-minute interview which would follow my interview immediately (leaving the impression that he was responding to me spontaneously). With few options, I responded that I would do it if they could explain to me how the proposed arrangement was fair. The response was that Cohen was no friend of the students at the station, and that they would be even-handed in their questioning of the man.
"Okay," I answered, and once again waited, and waited, and waited. Nothing. Several follow-up e-mails have been ignored, and I have given up. There is something about this case that forbids open discourse.
I had attempted to pique the students' interest from the beginning by characterizing the Cohen review as one of the most dishonest I had ever encountered. It seemed to work initially, but something happened to dampen their initial interest. Here is but one example of the Cohen dishonesty. He is making light of Ruddy's case for the body having been moved to the park:
Cute, but Cohen describes a park that does not exist. This story told to a knowledgeable audience would mark one purely and simply as a big-time liar. I have been to the park many times--usually on the weekend--and most commonly there is no one there. The chance of encountering anyone on a weekday is particularly low, especially on a disagreeably muggy summer afternoon. Wedged between two busy commuter roads, the George Washington Parkway and Chain Bridge Road, it is preserved for its Civil War interest and for no other reason. It affords no view of the Potomac River. Usually the sightseers are at the two scenic Parkway Potomac-cliffs overlooks before one gets to the entrance to the Ft. Marcy parking lot, an entrance which one comes upon suddenly and unexpectedly. The park is spooky in its emptiness.
The dense residential area "across the street" does not exist. There is only the compound of the Saudi Arabian ambassador. Middle-class residences abut the park on the same side of the road, but the residents have no easy access to the fenced and wooded park, and no real reason to go there. Once you've seen the cannons and the earthen works, you've seen them. There are no facilities and there's hardly enough open space even to throw a frisbee. Virtually perfect clandestine access is available from an abandoned road off Chain Bridge that ends at an abandoned cabin. One would be less noticeable in the day than the night because most people are away at work and because no car lights would give you away. The park is fenced, but there is a break where a tree has fallen across it near the cabin. From there to the body site (either the official one or the one where Ruddy says it was) is an easy walk in very secluded woods of about 100 yards. Neither site would be easily seen by the occasional visitor to the park.
Interestingly, there is no mention of the old road in the many volumes of official documents that have now been released to the public. Even Ruddy makes no mention of the old road and pointedly leaves it out of the map of Fort Marcy Park and its surroundings that he has in his book. From the official documents we do learn that a young woman who lives in the area reported seeing a man wearing a suit, who did not fit Foster's description, walking most improbably in the woods near the old road the day before Foster's body was found near there. It was a hot July day. The police apparently did nothing with her information. What could that have to do with a suicide the next day, anyway?
By chance, the people most likely to know about these unique park features work at a building a scant mile up Chain Bridge road. It is said that they conduct some training at the park. I speak of the public servants who toil at the headquarters building of the Central Intelligence Agency.
The autopsy doctor compliant toward corrupt higher-ups is hardly a figment of the Ruddy imagination, either. On this subject, Ruddy is remiss in his book only in that he does not convey to the reader the true rottenness of the performance of Dr. James C. Beyer in the Timothy Easley and Tommy Burkett cases. Based on that sorry record, which I lay out in some detail in "Dreyfus 4," it is abundantly clear that killers with the right connections would have no more to fear from Dr. Beyer than they would from a mainstream journalist approached by an "inconvenient observer," or from Jacob Cohen, for that matter.
Ruddy raised his exercise in futility to new heights recently in an article in the May 17, 1998, issue of The Pittsburgh Tribune Review. Rather than taking the obvious step of assaulting those opinion-molding organs that are his greatest nemesis, he went a long way out of his way to build them up. Any reasonable, dispassionate and objective student of the series of assassinations and attempted assassinations that have had such a major effect on public life in this country over the past 35 years can see that the routine, official "lone-crazed-gunman" explanation of events is exceedingly weak, but, as with the Foster case, it prevails because it has the unanimous support of our news media right across the political spectrum. To ridicule the critics is to build up the credibility of precisely those people who stand between Ruddy-on-Foster and the American public, but that's precisely what Ruddy does in his May 17 article, and he does it in tones reminiscent of Jacob Cohen.
The chosen critic to scoff at is none other than Sidney Blumenthal, currently a controversial high-level White House advisor but formerly journalist for The New Yorker, in which capacity, Ruddy neglects to tell us, he wrote in the September 9, 1993, issue the first magazine article that made the case for Foster having committed suicide from depression. Blumenthal, in fact, was the source of the fiction that Foster had lost 15 pounds. Ruddy has discovered an obscure book that the young Blumenthal co-edited in 1976 entitled Government by Gunplay: Assassination Theories from Dallas to Today.
"Because of his own conspiracy thinking," says Ruddy, "Blumenthal has been nicknamed Grassy Knoll' by White House insiders." He then proceeds to lampoon Blumenthal for the latter's apparent belief that the government--perish the thought-- might have had something to do with the murders of the Kennedy brothers and Martin Luther King and the shooting of George Wallace.
"The world knows that Blumenthal is a radical left-winger. His book demonstrates that. Its introduction is written by former CIA agent Philip Agee, who became something of an icon for the left as he fled the country to find safe haven in Castro's Cuba and later Europe."
Thus does Ruddy burnish the obverse of the line he and both his public supporters and detractors have cultivated in the Foster case, that it is all a matter of right-wing versus left-wing. While only the political "extremists," of one stripe or its opposite, are permitted under the color of their blinding and self-discrediting ideological bias to point the finger at the most awful goings-on, the "responsible mainstream" is able to appear to rise above the fray, dismissing them all as marginal "nutcases."
What a fine formula to keep the great mass of the public divided and impotent while the permanent government and their paid propagandists in the ostensibly independent press go their lawless way! The last thing in the world they would want us to see is that there might be a consistent pattern and many of the same actors in the recurrent outrages. To take one example, one finds in the index of Sylvia Meagher's meticulously-researched, thoroughly non-ideological 1967 book about the Warren Report on the Kennedy assassination ten pages of references under the heading "FBI, alleged intimidation of witnesses," and another four pages under "FBI, alleged misreporting."
Ruddy chronicles precisely the same sort of actions by the FBI in the Foster case, but yet he can write, when speaking of Blumenthal's professed youthful opinion, "The paranoia that marks a true conspiracist is evident when the conspiracist begins to believe that all of his pet conspiracies run together, forming a unified conspiracy theory.
"Thus, one chapter argues that the same right-wing anti-Castro Cubans who were part of Nixon's Watergate plumbers' operation had links to the same people who killed President Kennedy 10 years earlier. Blumenthal's chapter, 'Cointelpro: How the FBI tried to destroy the Black Panthers' argues that the FBI domestic surveillance efforts used against the Black Panthers created the framework for the Watergate operation."
No wonder Ruddy has received an approving pat on the head in the form of a book-jacket promotion from former FBI Director William Sessions. The fiction is perpetuated with the right-wing faithful, as with the book by former FBI man Gary Aldrich, that the tyrannical actions we are now witnessing are an aberration, the product only of the takeover of the government by the "liberal" Bill Clinton and his Arkansas desperadoes.
Ruddy also discovers in the book that Jeff Gerth, the New York Times reporter who broke the Whitewater story, has a chapter on Richard Nixon's alleged secret mob ties and Jeff Cohen, now head of liberal media watchdog group, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), who was head of the Los Angeles chapter of the Assassination Information Bureau, "a left-wing group that promoted theories about Kennedy's, King's and other deaths," wrote the chapter on the killing of Martin Luther King.
His presumed purpose in pointing these things out is to show how the mainstream press and the liberal establishment is infested with a bunch of wild-eyed radicals. A much more plausible interpretation is that these young writers were being given a good, leftist, anti-establishment sheep-dipping pursuant to being placed on a journalistic career track to power and influence. Just as Ruddy has established his bona fides with the right, and has already parleyed it into a Media Fellowship at the prestigious "conservative" think tank, the Hoover Institution, Blumenthal, Gerth, and Cohen were being groomed for bigger things when they got their tickets punched with their low-impact book with its self-discrediting title and its off-putting leftist bias. Judging from their complete public inability to see the most serious current crimes of our government, along with most of the rest of their professed leftist brethren in the mainstream press, I am inclined to conclude that, in reality, they were no more radical critics of the government than the driven, politically-ambitious young Bill Clinton was a principled, anti-Vietnam War protestor.
Ruddy has given me reason to believe that he knows better. I was in regular communication with him from the time he wrote his first article on Foster in late January of 1994 up until shortly after I came out with my first installment of "Dreyfus" almost exactly two years later. Ironically, it was he who suggested that I do the essay showing the parallels between the Foster and Dreyfus cases when I showed him the passage by Barbara Tuchman in her book, The Proud Tower: "(General Mercier) had all the strength but truth on his side." I never made any bones about the fact with him that one of the things that raised my suspicion from the beginning about the Foster death was the similarity to the Kennedy assassination in the performance of the major news media, the lack of suspicion, the lack of curiosity, the high tolerance for anomalies, the inconsistencies and the changes in the early stories with hardly a comment from the press, and the overall willingness of the press to accept at face value virtually anything they were told by government authorities. He never took issue with me on any of these things. At one point he arranged for me to be a regular weekly guest with political poems and commentary on Scott Wheeler's "Reporter's Journal" on the American Freedom Network out of Johnstown, Colorado. Several times I got back to Ruddy with my doubts about Wheeler's sincerity, because Wheeler, who is now with Paul Weyrich's National Empowerment Television, insisted on seeing things in simplistic good-conservative, bad-liberal terms, hardly any different from Rush Limbaugh. The screed that Ruddy recently penned against the young Blumenthal and his nutty conspiracy theories might have tripped from the tongue of Wheeler at any time.
When I expressed my doubts about Wheeler to Ruddy his response was, "Scott's okay, but you have to understand that he's just not as politically sophisticated as you are." The implication was that though Wheeler may not have such sophistication about various government misdeeds that transcend party and ideology, he, Ruddy, did. Ruddy was also quite defensive toward me about his reliance upon retired New York homicide detective, Vincent Scalice, because one of Scalice's big claims to fame is that he worked as a consultant to the House Select Committee on Assassinations, the body which, to my mind, perpetrated the second major cover-up, after the Warren Commission, of the Kennedy assassination.
The Script that Divides
Ruddy began to cool toward me noticeably as soon as I came out with the first installment of "Dreyfus." At first I took him at face value that he was upset because I had written that he made a "mistake" when he reported that the Park Police had not taken crime scene photographs. Now that I have seen the national script that is being followed over the Foster case, with all challenges to the official version of the truth supposed to have emanated from the "conservative" orbit of Richard Mellon Scaife, I can see why my work might be a little upsetting to Ruddy, or more precisely, to those who have written the script. Even excellent Internet web sites on the Foster case tout Ruddy's work and have links to his web site, which could lead to charges that they are ultimately Scaife operations as well. I do not fit the Scaife-beholden conservative mold, and I am willing to follow the evidence where it leads, even if it involves the revelation of massive malfeasance in America's press. I am also a lot more inclined than Ruddy to give the required attention to cases like that of the December, 1991, murder of Tommy Burkett, which is related to government corruption in the so-called drug war that well pre-dates Bill Clinton's presidency and to the FBI-embarrassing lawsuit of the harassed witness, Patrick Knowlton.
About the same time as I came out with the first installment of "Dreyfus," I was given a powerful object lesson on the force of the right-versus-left script. For quite some time I had been urged by my fellow Foster researcher, Hugh Turley, to get a computer that is up-to-date and fast enough to negotiate the Internet. He particularly wanted my voice to join his on a discussion group entitled the "cs (Clinton scandals) list." Though the very name of the group connotes a blinkered view of the political landscape, Turley told me that I would be among friends who were as skeptical of what the government was telling us about the Foster death as we were.
To the contrary, hardly more than a couple of months had passed before we were both banished from the group--to be precise, put punitively into the purgatory of "digest status" for the postings of others and told that anything we wanted to post must first clear a censor. Yes, political censors on the Net! And what was the charge. We were said to be engaging in "media-bashing" and "ad hominem attacks." Upon the specific request of fellow cs member, Hugh Sprunt, no examples of the latter could be produced, which is no surprise because we never did it. We only defended ourselves when attacked by others. The real offense, then, was the media bashing, and as long as we have the press we do in the U.S. I shall remain a felon in the eyes of any discussion group that, in effect, criminalizes the pointing out of our media's shortcomings. As with the Dreyfus Affair, the principal enabler of tyrannical actions is a press that is in league with a corrupt government. They won't print your letters to the editor and they dump you like a hot potato from radio call-in shows--or screen you out in the first place. All we have left is the First Amendment and the Internet, and we would be seriously remiss in our civic responsibilities if we did not use them to the maximum extent of our ability.
Actually, I got the distinct impression that it was not the press-bashing per se that was so much the problem as that I departed so radically from the right-versus-left script. Apart from its apparent great interest in the minutiae of the Foster case, the overall tone of the group was little different from what one might hear on Rush Limbaugh or read in the pages of The Washington Times. I wasted no time in pointing out that the "conservatives" were as much a part of the Foster cover-up as the "liberals" were. The so-called "Confidential Witness" who ostensibly found the body and then claimed to see no gun in the hand, I told the group, was not to be trusted. That is not just because he had wavered in his story when questioned by Robert Fiske's FBI interrogators and not just because his long uphill hike to take a leak was implausible, but also precisely because he had gone public through the "conservative" G. Gordon Liddy. Liddy, I reminded the group, is not only a former FBI agent, but in the Watergate caper he was accompanied by CIA man E. Howard Hunt and former Cuban freedom fighter, Frank Sturgis, both of whom have been linked to the Kennedy assassination in published books. CW's tale was also suspect, I noted, because it was being touted by ultimate Washington insider columnist, Robert Novak, and that Novak had otherwise shown no interest whatsoever in the Foster case. Both Liddy with his unsavory connections and Oliver North, with his reported connections to Latin American drug smugglers, have been handed the national megaphones they now hold not in spite of these connections but precisely because of them, I speculated, in postings to the group.
Upon those preaching trust in "conservative" organs like The Washington Times or the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal I dashed cold water as well, and my assessment has been thoroughly borne out by the very positive reaction of these two publications to the cover-up report of Kenneth Starr on Foster--and their blackout of the news of the court-ordered attachment of the critical letter by the lawyer of aggrieved harassed witness Patrick Knowlton thereto. As evidence at the time I had begun to post my rejected letters to the editor to The Washington Times and my series of exchanges with the editors of the Wall Street Journal when I was banished. You'd think that curiosity alone would have made them hold off, but apparently I was cutting a bit too close to the bone and there was no time to waste. Assuming the readers of this tome have greater curiosity, I shall at this point, give you my first never-published Washington Times letter, with the others in an appendix, and my exchanges with the Journal. Recall that Foster's body was discovered on July 20, 1993:
We are referring here to the front-page Saturday, July 24 article by Frank Murray in which Murray checks on the allegations by the anonymous source that Foster had sought psychiatric help through the aid of his sister Sheila and her husband Beryl Anthony. Anthony had responded, according to Murray, "There's not a damn thing to it. That's a bunch of crap." Recall that Ruddy in his book notes that on July 27 Anthony becomes the first witness to refer to Foster's "depression," but Ruddy never mentions how radically Anthony's story had changed since he was caught off guard by the Murray phone call. (For the record, Dan Moldea, who says he supports the suicide conclusion, actually does recount the Murray-Anthony exchange, but as with many other such curiosities in his new book, which we shall discuss in detail later, he then proceeds as though he had never reported it.)
The Wall Street Journal's Role
Interestingly, in an editorial on July 28 strongly critical of the White House handling of the Foster death investigation entitled "Self-Fulfilling Prophecy" the Wall Street Journal made pointed reference to the Anthony quote, suggesting that something was seriously amiss. By the late summer of 1996, however, the Journal editorial page had given strong advance indication that its tune was changing on Foster and that it was in on the cover-up. It was no surprise, then, when on November 25, 1997, Micah Morrison weighed in at the top of the Journal's editorial page with a long article entitled "In Re: Vincent Foster" in which he reviewed the Starr Report on Foster, Ruddy's book, The Strange Death of Vincent Foster, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard's book, The Secret Life of Bill Clinton, and Webster Hubbell's book, Friends in High Places. What he had to say is summed up in the following two sentences: "Mr. Starr's report convincingly answers the questions Mr. Ruddy has raised over the years and repeats in his book.... Most of the...allegations, including the recollections of much-touted witness Patrick Knowlton, represent the confusions inevitable in any large investigation of a dramatic event."
Let us back up now to Thursday, March 23, 1995. Reporter Ellen Joan Pollock, demonstrating the apparent split personality of the Journal, has just written a truly scurrilous front-page article with the hackneyed title "Vince Foster's Death is a Lively Business for Conspiracy Buffs." True to its title, the article rips into the crowd of supposed right-wing nuts and religious fanatics who are exploiting the Foster death by selling videos and sending out fund-raising letters outrageously suggesting that Vince Foster was murdered. I get a call from Ruddy urging me to send in a letter of refutation.
"There hasn't been a critical letter permitted in any American newspaper, yet," I respond. "I don't see why I should waste my time."
"This time it's different," answers Ruddy, "I have a friend who is letters editor there. Address it to Micah Morrison and it will get in."
"Okay," said I, and I hastily and not too optimistically slapped together a short letter that was less than my best effort, and lo and behold, on April 11 between the much longer ones of Reed Irvine of Accuracy in Media, Joe Farah of the Western Journalism Center, and James Dale Davidson of the Strategic Investment newsletter, under the heading "Vince Foster, Big Questions Remain" my letter got in. It is reprinted in the order in which it appeared among the other letters in Appendix II.
I couldn't help but think that the four letters together would have been quite a body blow to the casual Journal reader, who never before had been exposed (and hasn't been since in that paper) to so many doubts about the official version of events in the Foster case.
On July 1, 1996, I was further encouraged by the following nice, short letter:
I had occasion to follow that letter up with a not-for-publication letter to the editor himself, which went as follows:
I got no response, but I eventually did get my book, which prompted me to write again.
Ms. Kirkpatrick eventually responded to that letter as follows:
To which I could not resist responding as follows:
I'm sure that you are not surprised to learn at this point that that was the end of our correspondence.
At least from this episode we were able to get a fine education as to why you won't see anyone from the mainstream press putting his head up on any of the Internet news groups. And as the things to keep covered up continue to mount, it seems that there are fewer and fewer functions being announced in the Washington area where one may go and ask a tough question or two of one of these authority figures.
Anyone wanting to see world-class argument-from-authority on display, as well as a prime exhibit, much of it unintentional, of the fake right and the fake press at work, should check out A Washington Tragedy, How the Death of Vincent Foster Ignited a Political Firestorm by crime writer Dan E. Moldea. Published by "conservative" Regnery Publishing, Inc., the same people who gave us Ambrose Evans-Pritchard's The Secret Life of Bill Clinton and Gary Aldrich's Unlimited Access (though the former is a far, far better book, please note which one got the national publicity), it has the most in common with the Simon and Schuster-published Foster book of Christopher Ruddy. One gets the distinct impression, as much as their different interpretation of events is touted, that they are horses out of the same stable. Ruddy, in the way he stays away from the continuing pressure points on our political system by downplaying the significance of the lawsuit against FBI agents for their harassment and intimidation of the witness, Patrick Knowlton, avoiding elaborating upon all connections that might lead to larger bipartisan scandal like the slaying of Jerry Parks in Arkansas a couple of months after Foster and the murder of Tommy Burkett a year and a half before, and ignoring the Republican cop-out, shows that he, or those who are behind him, never wanted more than to fan the flames of the left-right "political firestorm," not to obtain justice in the case. Ruddy seems to want very little more than to buy credibility with those who think of themselves as conservatives.
Moldea, describing himself on the flyleaf as a "pro-cop liberal," (as though declared bias and murder investigation were compatible) as he picks over the case, seeming to side with the tortured logic of the authorities at every turn, ends up doing the same thing for Ruddy that the infamous 60 Minutes interview of Mike Wallace or the White House's "Communication Stream of Conspiracy Commerce" did for him. The more Moldea, the self-professed liberal, tries to show up Ruddy with half-baked defenses of the official line, the more he gives Ruddy all that he ever seemed to want out of the case, credibility with a narrow band of "conservative" followers. No one ever adhered to "the script" more scrupulously than Moldea, the script that says that the Foster case represents nothing more than a scrap between the "liberal" Clinton White House and a fringe of the "right wing." Ask yourself which one you are and that tells you what you are supposed to believe.
Let's dive right into the heart of this phony wrestling match. Look at how they both treat Indiana Republican Representative Dan Burton. To both, Burton is the great skeptic on Capitol Hill. Neither seems to have noticed the fact that now that he is Oversight Committee chairman, and in an ideal place to put up on the Foster case, he has shut up. Moldea gives us long passages from Burton's floor speech of July 13, 1994, when he was not even the ranking committee member of the minority party. Take a critical look at the snake oil he was selling:
One cannot help wondering where the great concern for facts and truth went when Burton became committee chairman. But was it really ever there? Even in the "courageous" floor speech there are the earmarks of fake-right misdirection, the same emphasis on the curious, difficult-to-believe witness who comes to us through the dubious auspices of G. Gordon Liddy and Robert Novak and the promotion of what looks for all the world like a safe fall-back position, the suggestion that Foster killed himself in some embarrassing place or manner and some folks then took it upon themselves to protect the family, the White House, and the American people from the embarrassment by dumping the body in the out-of-the-way park. Even the fact that there is apparently "hard" evidence for such a scenario such as the unknown hair and the semen in the shorts might well be doubted. It originates, after all, with the dubious FBI lab, whose probity has recently been called into question in a number of other cases and which claimed to have detected the anti-depressant Trazadone in Foster's blood when it was missed by the autopsy toxicologist.
The Feeble Fall-Back Position
The biggest argument against the moved-suicide-victim theory, of course, is that it is simply farfetched on its face. Who would run the risk of making themselves look like murderers by transporting and dumping a suicide victim? And the assumption of suicide elsewhere fails to clear up many of the anomalies. How did he do it? What gun, if any, did he use? Why did he do it, when all the evidence of depression seems to be based upon changed stories or forged writings that turn up in strange places?
It has been standard fare among the official right-wing crowd, however, which we might regard as reason in itself that it is not true. I heard it from an FBI-agent friend of Gary Aldrich as I stood in line at a book-signing in a store in McLean, Virginia. The late Bernard Yoh, Director of Communications for Accuracy in Media (AIM), tried to cajole me and the professional writer Richard Poe into writing a fictionalized account of Foster being moved from a safe house after he had done himself in in some embarrassing way. Obviously, neither of us went for it.
An early article by Christopher Ruddy, on March 11, 1994, which Moldea talks about (pp.173-174) might well have been designed to buttress the suicide-elsewhere line and/or to take attention away from the real murder scene. Citing a confidential White House source, Ruddy said that Foster had "shared a secret apartment with several senior administration officials at the time of his death." The apartment was supposed to be just across the Potomac River from Washington, perhaps in the Crystal City section of Arlington.
Shortly after that article came out I was told by an acquaintance of mine who used to work for the CIA-contract Mitre Corporation that Mitre had installed the security equipment at the White House and that their surveillance cameras were, as one might expect, state of the art. "They could tell you how close the driver of a car had shaven when he drove in the gate in the morning," he said. It had intrigued me that with everyone wondering where Vince had gone after he left the White House proper, no one had ever raised the question of when the surveillance videos showed him leaving the White House grounds or whether they showed him leaving the grounds alive at all. I passed the word on to Ruddy and asked if he might look into it. A week or so later he came back to me with the incredible story that his White House source had told him that there were no such surveillance cameras, that Clinton had found that they cramped his carousing style and he had had them removed. I relayed that word to my acquaintance, who simply shook his head in disbelief.
Upon further reflection, the failure of the Park Police or the FBI to interview on the record anyone minding either of the gates to the White House compound or the exits of the Old Executive Office Building that Foster would have had to use to leave the White House compound, as opposed to the White House, itself, is as telling as the failure to consult the surveillance record. Taken together they strongly suggest that Foster, in fact, never left the White House compound alive on July 20, 1993, and the investigators know it. Ruddy's lack of interest in these matters, in fact, his apparent fabrication to steer me away from them, is, in retrospect, at least as telling. It is also reminiscent of the apparent fabrication by Paul Gigot that a handwriting expert hired by the Wall Street Journal had examined the torn-up note "found" in Foster's briefcase and had pronounced it authentic.
Nowhere is the false trail that members of the fake right would want us to follow laid out more explicitly than in a March 14, 1995, letter that was sent to Foster researcher, Hugh Sprunt:
The writer of that letter to Sprunt, at the time the number two man at AIM under Reed Irvine, is described this way by Moldea in a note:
I received a quite different view of Goulden from AIM's Bernie Yoh. He virtually apologized to me for a piece that AIM had put out debunking the very idea that the government could have been involved in any way in the arms and drug smuggling operation at Mena Airport in northwestern Arkansas, saying that the piece was the exclusive work of Goulden, and Goulden, he told me, was "connected." He certainly meant by that that Goulden was connected to the intelligence community, most likely the CIA. Goulden does little to dispel the notion. He tosses off lines in his articles and books like "...when I was having lunch with an old friend who had spent twenty-five years with CIA as a covert agent" (The Death Merchant, p. 15), and I recall his having made reference at a conservative conference to his own training in "psychological warfare," which is spook speak for propaganda. Most recently he had a column in The Washington Times praising the new book by Gerald Posner that predictably attempts to debunk the notion that James Earl Ray might not have been guilty of the murder of Martin Luther King.
Goulden even turns up in the Meagher book (p. 348) on the Kennedy assassination floating the rumor in the Philadelphia Inquirer just 16 days after the killing that Lee Harvey Oswald was on the FBI payroll as an informant. Meagher marvels that neither Goulden nor two other writers reporting such speculation or allegations were ever called to testify before the Warren Commission. Peter Dale Scott in his Deep Politics and the Death of JFK, overlooking the third writer, Harold Feldman of The Nation, handles the episode this way in an end note: "The story was first floated by two journalists with intelligence connections, Joe Goulden (Philadelphia Inquirer, December 8, 1963) and Alonso Hudkins (Houston Post, January 1, 1964)." (p. 368)
Goulden was also overheard by Hugh Turley, who was seated directly in front of him, mutter almost under his breath, "That's nonsense," at a C-Span-televised, AIM sponsored panel discussion on Foster at the Army-Navy Club when Patrick Knowlton's lawyer, John Clarke, rose to describe the staring-down intimidation treatment that Knowlton claims to have suffered on the streets of Washington, DC. Afterwards, in the lobby, Turley asked Goulden what he meant by the "nonsense" remark. Goulden responded, "I know about psychological operations, and they don't do things like that."
The most compelling evidence on Goulden's CIA affiliation comes from his own pen in a footnote on page 138 of Death Merchant, his book about the CIA "renegade," Edwin Wilson:
Yoh, a charming, cultured, broadly-educated man with whom I conversed by phone almost daily for a couple of years, when he talked about intelligence, Goulden, and psychological warfare, certainly was one to know whereof he spoke. Here he is alluded to by Douglas Valentine in his 1990 book, The Phoenix Program, "Eight years later, after enduring religious persecution in Laos, Father Hoa was persuaded by Bernard Yoh--a Kuomintang (Nationalist Chinese) intelligence officer on loan to the CIA--to resettle his flock in the village of Binh Hung on the Ca Mau peninsula in southern South Vietnam." (p. 37)
Here he is colorfully and disparagingly described doing his public relations work for the President of South Vietnam in the 1965 book by Hilaire du Berrier, Background to Betrayal, the Tragedy of Vietnam:
Yoh denied to me that he had ever worked for the CIA, saying that he thought they were too stupid for him to have anything to do with them, but he had lectured to the U.S. Army War College on a subject in which he claimed world-class expertise, psychological warfare.
Since Ruddy was working hand and glove with AIM on the Foster case (though he had told me that it was an anonymous Washington Times reporter thwarted by his superiors rather than Reed Irvine who had enticed him into the investigation, as Moldea tells us a couple of times), I passed on Yoh's intelligence about the journalist-cum-spook Goulden to Ruddy, who seemed to take the report at face value. Ruddy, who is not altogether lacking in a sense of humor, later joked with me that when he met with Goulden he let drop on a couple of occasions that he, Ruddy, was capable of being bought and that his price was a million dollars. The idea was that if he should ever be offered such an amount to stop pursuing the Foster case by spook-central, he would know how they arrived at the figure. I would inquire from time to time if the offer had been forthcoming, and the answer was always in the negative. Now I wonder who the joke was on all along.
Before leaving the subject of apparent cloak-and-daggery involved in the Foster "political firestorm," we must mention a couple of very curious organizations showcased by Moldea. Referring to a March 13, 1994, article in The Washington Post, he writes, "(Michael) Isikoff also spotlights Floyd Brown, the chairman of Citizens United, a nonprofit conservative group, which has hired two full-time investigators' to investigate Foster's death. One of the investigators is David Bossie, known by some as a young attack dog' who has been brought on, specifically, to investigate President Clinton in a practice known as opposition research.'" He also reminded us that Brown had been behind the production of the Willie Horton commercials which played on racial fears and made Michael Dukakis, in his presidential campaign against George Bush in 1988, appear to be soft on crime.
That Isikoff article--and particularly that passage-- had jumped out at me when I first read it, but certainly not because I believed it was true. I surmised that what I was witnessing was the propaganda technique that would later reach its finest flower in the Moldea book. The Post, I suspected, was intentionally showcasing Citizens United to give the group free publicity, building them up as legitimate, though unscrupulous, overzealous, and exceptionally-partisan conservative opponents of Bill Clinton. Those thinking of themselves as conservative would then gravitate toward the group rather than form their own groups while everyone else would be given an easy explanation as to where all these scurrilous, irresponsible and unfounded charges against the Clintons might be coming from. For their part, Brown and his group could be counted on the create a lot of sound and fury primarily about minor and complicated Clinton financial shenanigans centered around the joint vacation-home investment with the McDougals known as Whitewater, with perhaps a sexual peccadillo or two thrown in for spice.
These were my suspicions because, active as I was in looking into the Clinton administration misdeeds by this time and although I lived and worked in the Washington area, I had never heard of Citizens United. Most importantly, in the small world of people nosing into the Foster death the paths of the "two full-time investigators" had never crossed mine. Bossie had not been named as one of them, as Moldea implies, and, at any rate, I had not heard of him either. I also wondered how, if they were spending so much time on the case they were yet to come up with anything that had been made public, considering all there was to come up with. I tracked down a phone number for the group and called them, asking them who the two Foster investigators were. The woman on the other end of the line didn't know what I was talking about and couldn't find anyone there at that moment who did. I requested that she have one of their two investigators call me so we could compare notes should she ever ferret him out and asked her to send me some of the group's material. I never heard from the "investigators," but I did get some material from them although it took at least a month to arrive. The literature was slick and expensive-looking, with a number of boxes to check at the bottom of the last page for how much money I would send them, ending on the top end at some outrageously high figure, but the disclosures of Clinton misdeeds were so bland and the organization had been so languid in responding to my initial inquiry, one had to wonder why anyone would be moved to send them a dime. The distinct impression left with the perceptive reader was that the plea for contributions was there to give the group some visible means of support. To this day I have never read or heard of the first thing with respect to the Foster case that this organization has ever uncovered or publicized.
Later when I learned that Bossie had ended up, in spite of his lack of legal, law-enforcement or even journalistic experience, as Rep. Burton's chief investigator of the Clinton scandals, I was not at all surprised. I was even less surprised when he turned out to be the guy held responsible for the Burton-discrediting selective release of Webb Hubbell's prison tapes. It is no less than what one should expect of a fake-right operative.
Speaking of which, another patently phony Clinton-opposition group accounts for no more than a flickering zephyr in Moldea's "political firestorm" account, but he appears to take them seriously, nonetheless. That is the bizarre outfit that fashions itself the Clinton Investigative Commission. In his penultimate endnote, Moldea credits "investigative reporter" Byron York of The American Spectator with having written a "hilarious expose" of the group (speaking of outfits lacking evident economic viability, the neo-conservative Weekly Standard, Moldea tells us in his text, had a review by York of Ruddy's book in which he concluded "the conspiracy theorists simply have too much invested in their scenarios to conclude that the evidence proves them wrong."). One can't help wonder what awesome investigative and literary skills York had to bring to bear to make this crew appear ridiculous. It could hardly be more obvious that their entire reason for being is to make all suspicions of the Foster death appear almost humorously absurd. That our clandestine community has gone to such lengths as to manufacture such ruses is just about the best evidence we have that we are dealing with something far more important here than a simple suicide.
Consider the fact that on Saturday, October 19, 1997, (it would be a Saturday) The Washington Times, on the heels of its ringing endorsement of the Starr suicide conclusion, permitted under the heading "More questions than answers on Vince Forster (sic)," its first and only skeptical letters to date on the Foster case. The first and by far the longest of the letters almost comically mixes up the facts in the case. It is signed "Scott Lauf, Director of communications, Clinton Investigative Commission, Annandale (VA)." Lauf maintains once again that Foster was left-handed, the apparently erroneous assertion over which Ruddy had been crucified on national TV by Mike Wallace, and tells us that park policeman Kevin Fornshill "stated to the FBI that there was no gun in Mr. Foster's hand, that both palms were face up and his arms were laid by his side as if in a coffin." (Here he is putting the testimony of several other witnesses into the mouth of Fornshill, who, in fact, claims not to have seen a gun, but he said that after discovering the body he never bothered to look to see if there was a gun in the hand.).
The second letter is a vague, two-sentence fluff ball by a California reader who also happens to be a heavy participant in the alt.current-events.clinton.whitewater news group on the Internet. This reader, by coincidence, has, of late, taken to attacking me, though I find it almost impossible to pin down what it is he doesn't like about my message.
The third letter, five short paragraphs in length from a reader in Pennsylvania, faults The Times in a general way for not having done enough of its own research, compares Starr's work unfavorably to Ruddy's, offers an on-script gratuitous swipe at "conspiracy theories," saying that they (I think he means the theorists.) are "intellectually lazy," and concludes, "As you point out, the Clintons have dissembled and covered up. One does not have to be a conspiracy theorist to ask why."
In the first, almost comical, fund-raising letter that I saw from the Clinton Investigative Commission I noted that they gave the name of a non-profit group in Arlington, Virginia as their respectable-sounding parent organization. They provided no telephone number but gave a street address. I went looking for their office, but found that although the street existed, there was no address with a number even close to the one given.
If, in this Orwellian world that America has become, letter writers aren't really letter writers, leftists aren't really leftists, rightists aren't really rightists, citizens' groups aren't really citizens' groups, respected veteran journalists aren't really respected veteran journalists, major book authors aren't really major book authors, and magazine investigative reporters aren't really magazine investigative reporters, one can surely say the same thing for newspapers and their reporters.
Moldea's Big Revelation
The big scoop in the Moldea book, the thing that would have commanded headlines if we had anything remotely resembling a free press in the country, is the revelation that the pivotal newspaper article linking Vince Foster and his death to the lesser scandal known as "Whitewater" and precipitating the employment first of a special prosecutor and then an independent counsel, is fraudulent. Moldea, the "pro cop" writer has been given access to the Park Police that apparently goes beyond anything we have seen before, even in the official investigation. At times, then, when cops are his source, he breaks new ground. With this in mind, let us look now at the revelation by lead Washington Times reporter, Jerry Seper, on December 20, 1993, that "Whitewater documents" were removed from Foster's office in the wake of his death.
First, Ruddy's account is straight from the script:
Readers of my entire "Dreyfus" will recall that back on page 24 of the initial installment I had expressed skepticism that the Park Police could have known at that time that Whitewater files were among those removed from Foster's office, implying that what we are actually dealing with here is an official, purposeful leak. Moldea as much as confirms it, but doesn't seem to have recognized what he has done.
First, he improves on Ruddy by telling us that The New York Times on December 19, 1993, had an article which reports that "law-enforcement" sources say that Foster had a separate file on Whitewater figure Jim McDougal and speculates that those documents might have found their way to Foster lawyer Jim Hamilton.
"In reality, Hamilton has no such file, and never did," says Moldea. (p. 145) What he then says about Jerry Seper's headline article entitled "Clinton papers lifted after aide's suicide" in the next-day's Washington Times deserves to be quoted in its entirety:
At this point Moldea has an asterisk and an accompanying note at the bottom of the page which completely confirms my earlier suspicion that this story did not, as Seper tells us, originate with the Park Police:
What Moldea says next is almost as interesting:
"Consequently, even though this claim in Seper's story is inaccurate, White House Communications Director Mark Gearan is forced (that same day) to issue a statement..." which confirms that Whitewater files were indeed taken out of Foster's office on the 22nd by Nussbaum and turned over not to Hamilton but were sent instead to the Clintons' personal attorney, Robert Barnett and later David Kendall of Williams and Connolly.
Moldea appears to be saying that it is untrue that there were Whitewater files taken from Foster's office because they did not, contrary to reports, end up with either Foster's or the Clintons' personal attorneys, but he offers no evidence for that assertion. But he does nail down solidly his claim that the Park Police were not Seper's source for his monumental scoop. All of the possible Park Police sources for the leak deny it on the most believable of grounds, that they, in effect, didn't know Whitewater from white wine at that point. But then Moldea shows all of the aggressiveness of a manatee by letting Seper off the hook, saying simply that he made a "mistake."
What mistake? Seper knows who gave him the information. Moldea is providing us with compelling evidence that the razor-sharp "investigative reporter" for the paper that "drove the case" and kept Whitewater alive as a political issue, The Washington Times, is simply lying. And what an influential lie it was!
A cry for those precious files goes up all around in the mainstream press and in the Congress along with calls to Attorney General Janet Reno to appoint a special prosecutor. The putatively liberal and definitely influential newspapers, The Washington Post and The New York Times both weigh in with editorials crying wolf over the White House stonewalling. Even the TV networks get interested. Among those pretending outrage over White House lack of cooperation in this little misdirection ruse related to the precious Whitewater files is our friend at the Wall Street Journal, Paul Gigot: "Whitewater may not be Watergate, but the Clinton White House's skill in handling the real estate S&L suspicions has certainly earned it the right to be called Nixonian," he writes on January 7, 1994.
"You probably think I'm part of the conspiracy," he had said at the AEI gathering, as he smugly dismissed the pesky questioner about the likelihood that the suicide note was forged. Either possibility, he would have had us believe, projecting the insufferable self-importance of the American celebrity journalist, is as farfetched as the notion that the moon is made of green cheese.
On January 12, Janet Reno produced the desired result and the Foster case had its first General Mercier, someone to personify the cover-up and give it credibility in the form of Robert Fiske.
Seper may have fabricated his source for the leak that changed history, but if, as Moldea maintains, the whole story of the Whitewater connection to Foster's office is a fabrication as well, you can be sure that it did not originate with Seper, no more than the story that the police were turned away from the Foster residence the night Vince died originated with Ann Devroy or Michael Isikoff of The Washington Post or the story that the list of psychiatrists was found in Foster's office rather than his car originated with Isikoff or Sidney Blumenthal of the New Yorker, or the many stories recounting how "depressed" Foster seemed originated with the various mainstream reporters who passed the tale along from anonymous sources.
Another Journalistic "Mistake"
Moldea also tells us of another confirmed significant fabrication relayed by a reporter, this one a recent winner of a Pulitzer Prize, but once again he excuses it as just a "mistake," and he misses its likely fake political firestorm significance completely. I refer to the infamous ballyhooed "Case Closed" article by Mike McAlary in the New York Daily News. The article, notes Moldea, is riddled with factual errors, and he continues:
How truly bizarre! Moldea can recognize in retrospect that the story has problems because the final official story is the same as the original, that is that the man in the white van found the body and he then drove up the road and told the maintenance worker who phoned in the report, but what can one make of Moldea's complete lack of curiosity about either the provenance or the purpose of this intervening story relayed by our new Pulitzer laureate?
The McAlary story was worrisome from the beginning. If the maintenance worker had lied initially he would have, in all probability, stuck to it. Drinking and goldbricking on the job is not something one readily owns up to even if it doesn't involve admitting lying the first time through and even if it isn't related to something so important as a potential homicide. In short, it sounded like a whopper, sort of like the absence of security cameras at the White House or the Foster family lawyer not permitting the Park Police to interview the grown Foster children.
The only purpose for it that I can see is that it gave the so-called "confidential witness," now identified as construction worker Dale Kyle, an excuse to break his silence and come forward. He said he did so because he had heard that this maintenance worker was now telling a false story about the body's discovery, and he just wanted to set the record straight. He chose Liddy as his conduit, he said, because Liddy had shown he was the sort of man who could keep secrets in the Watergate case. If that was his real reason it had to be an act of extraordinarily poor judgment. Considering Liddy's secret-government background and associates, he's about the last person I would confide a life-and-death secret to involving high-level skulduggery. Kyle also said that he didn't come forward at the beginning because he "didn't want to end up like that fellow back in the park. But at that point the body in the park could have been anybody, and now he knows who it was and he has first-hand information that suggests that it was a murder and not the suicide they say it was, and he's confiding it to the G-man? First he's inexplicably cowardly and then he's inexplicably bold.
So where did McAlary get the story that ostensibly flushed Kyle out? It probably came from his stated primary source for the article, the Park Police, but the chance that they originated it is about is great as that McAlary did himself. Tell me where this one and Seper's story and several of Isikoff's stories came from and I'll tell you who the Foster killers were. I think, probably, that the crime writer Moldea could do so as well. Whether he would do so, of course, is the more interesting question.
Minus the obvious errors (One gets the distinct impression that Moldea's book was proofed by the folks at AIM and perhaps by the independent researcher Sprunt as well, though it is hard to see how they could have missed Moldea's completely unfounded claim that Patrick Knowlton ever said or denied he said that he could pick a certain GW Parkway van driver out of a lineup. [p. 417]), what Moldea has wrought is nothing more than a much longer version of the McAlary article. A safe reporter has been selected to embellish the official suicide line with inside information. Just as McAlary says he was given access to a Park Police report that had not been made public more than half a year after the official verdict had been rendered, Moldea claims to have seen autopsy and crime scene photos which we are not allowed to see and he is also allowed to talk to policemen who tell him things that they not only have not told to reporters but they haven't even said before in their official depositions, at least in none that have been released.
Moldea Undercuts Himself
For one whose apparent purpose is to continue to keep the lid on the scandal, this method has its pitfalls. We have already seen how it has resulted in exposing the reporter Seper and his newspaper, The Washington Times, as apparent liars and frauds. There are other examples. Take, for instance, the following passage:
Detective Pete Markland, Moldea dutifully reminds the reader, was present and observing intently, as were several other people, when Nussbaum cleaned out the briefcase and inventoried its contents. On page 111 we have this from Markland's written report: "After the contents were removed, I could see that he spread open the briefcase and visually inspected it as if to confirm that it was, indeed, empty. Mr. Nussbaum did not recall doing what I described."
Most of all, though, Markland's spontaneous reaction to the claim that not one but twenty-seven pieces of a torn-up note had subsequently been "found" in that emptied-out briefcase speaks volumes. It would be hard to find better evidence that the note is a fraud, and it negates almost completely Moldea's attempts to paint the note as authentic by calling Ken Starr's handwriting expert "respected" (an adjective that he also uses for former BCCI lawyer Robert Fiske and, as we have seen, Joe Goulden) and dishonestly casting aspersions in a note on the motivations of noted literary document authenticator Reginald Alton of Oxford University who had declared the note a forgery.
If the note is a fraud the whole suicide house of cards comes tumbling down, of course. Although he is only talking about the Foster lawyer Jim Hamilton at the time, and not the authenticity of the note, Moldea lets drop the following bit of information in an end note on page 410:
That is the letter that I reproduce in its entirety on page 50-51 of the first installment of "Dreyfus." Hamilton in that letter also says, "The family appreciates the manner in which the Department and you handled the note during the investigations and particularly thank you for your decision not to release a photograph of the actual note. That clearly was the correct decision for all concerned."
What's the big deal with the photocopy when the text is already out, if not to keep it out of the hands of authenticators? If one were trying to act guilty of a forgery it is hard to see how he would behave any differently. Had Moldea reproduced the whole letter--along with the Markland observations-- in the context of the note's authenticity he would have left little doubt that it is, indeed, a forgery, which is reason enough why he didn't do it.
Toward the end of the book, Moldea presents new police evidence that virtually destroys Dr. Henry Lee's desperate attempt to show, in conflict with the testimony of all the witnesses at the park that night, that a bloody mess came flying out of the back of Foster's head along with the exiting bullet. The problem is that no one saw or collected any evidence of it under the path of the bullet or on surrounding vegetation. According to the autopsy report, the bullet as it passed through the back of Foster's skull opened up a one inch by inch-and-a-quarter hole. The pressure of the gases from the explosion that propels the bullet, the bullet itself, and Foster's own blood pressure should have all caused blood and brains to spew out of the relatively large hole like a geyser, which it apparently did not. Here's how the Starr Report tries to salvage the situation:
Possible Bloodstains on Vegetation at Scene
Moldea, in his summary of the Starr Report, refers to this passage but then gives us this end note:
If this is the conspiracy debunking book it's been touted to be, perhaps we need more of them. We have given just a few of the many, many examples in which Moldea just drops out powerful evidence that thoroughly undercuts the official suicide line to which he doggedly pretends to adhere. In his promotional interviews for the book Moldea, like Kenneth Starr and James Stewart, the Pulitzer-Prize-winning author of the book Blood Sport, has stressed motivation, concluding that it was private more th an public worries that led Foster to do himself in.
Turning to Moldea's book all we find in the way of support for his argument is a rehash of Blood Sport, which he pumps up by calling it "a widely respected chronicle of the Clinton administration" and "a well-researched and important book," as evidenced by the fact that it made number one on the New York Times best-seller list. One of the reasons for the book's success, he tells us, is the "penetrating interview" of Susan Thomases, the Clinton confidante who told of an evening meeting in the privacy of her guest-house boudoir on July 14, 1993, in which Vince poured out his heart to her about his despair for his marriage on account of his burdensome wife in whom he is unable to confide.
Moldea, believe it or not, takes at face value this account in which the very private and supremely confident Vince Foster, the handsome southern gentleman whom Moldea tells us elsewhere the female employees of the White House had chosen as the man with whom they would most like to have an affair (Now that has the ring of truth. They're only a few months on the job and look what they're concerning themselves with.), looks for all the world to be hitting on the dauntingly plain Susan Thomases.
"Thomases, didn't know what to say. Foster seemed calm, dignified--but infinitely sad," concludes Moldea's long quote from Stewart on page 340 (a quote that also appeared in a long excerpt from the book in a Time cover story).
Moldea appears to forget completely what he had written back on page 224 about Thomases' earlier deposition to the FBI:
The best one can say for Moldea here is that at least he doesn't attempt to resolve the contradiction by suggesting that this is one of the examples where the FBI misreported a witness's statement as Chris Ruddy does in his book. The script that Stewart was using was apparently the real thing. In order to adhere to it on this subject Ruddy would undercut himself almost as badly as Moldea does repeatedly.
So regularly does Moldea undercut himself that one begins to think of him as a hostage forced to write a letter to the outside world in which he is told what he is supposed to say. He knows he must please his captors so all the broad outlines of the letter are completely in accord with their wishes, but he laces the letter with hidden messages for alert outside readers so they will know he really doesn't mean what he seems to be saying. Another comparison that one might make is with The Washington Times. The Times has done one-time, bump-and-run articles telling us of the suit by the aggrieved witness Patrick Knowlton against his alleged FBI harassers working for Kenneth Starr, the forgery findings of the three handwriting experts, and on Dr. Beyer's indefensible autopsy performance in the Timothy Easley and Tommy Burkett cases. They also regularly printed full-page ads by Ruddy in which he detailed many of the unexplainable anomalies in the official version of the death. If one accepts what is in these articles and ads as true then one cannot endorse the official suicide verdict, but that is precisely what the newspaper's editorial writers and reporters do, embracing the Starr Report and routinely referring to the "Foster suicide."
Upholding "The Script"
What seems important to Moldea, as to The Times, is not really the truth in the Foster case but that the left-versus-right fiction be kept up. To read Moldea, from early-August, 1993, when the Park Police declared suicide, to late-December, 1993, when The Washington Times wrote of the removal of Whitewater documents from Foster's office, everything was going along just swimmingly. And no one has any real reason to be concerned until the "conservative" Ruddy and the "conservative" AIM start stirring things up the next month. All the problems with the case evident from just reading the newspapers carefully and using one's own common sense, which I detail in the first part of "Dreyfus," simply do not exist. In light of the fact that the Foster case is only a concern of the far right, the general public can put it out of their minds. It works just as well from the other side:
Get the message? If you are not a black American, it's none of your concern, no more than the Foster death should be your concern if you are not a right-wing fanatic, in particular, a follower of the godfather of most major right-wing conspiracist's causes, Richard Mellon Scaife.
In the final analysis, the obvious overall purpose of the Moldea book, even with it's numerous revelations that undermine the official suicide case, is to further flesh out the White House charges contained in their 331-page Communication Stream of Conspiracy Commerce. He even makes quite uncritical reference to the document along with a favorable acknowledgment to another script-reader, Philip Weiss of the New York Times Magazine, for revealing the existence of the White House report in his mini-version of Moldea's book, "The Clinton Haters," a February 23, 1997, cover article. Weiss lets out some useful information as well, such as the news of the Knowlton harassment and lawsuit, but as long as the broad-brush impression is left that only some kind of nut could possibly care about or even believe these things, and everything remains contained within the right-versus-left structure, that's okay. A by-product of the operation is that fake opposition, or, at the very least, acceptable opposition, which is regarded with all the mock horror of Br'er Rabbit contemplating the briar patch, is built up and publicized. Unapproved opposition not using the horse-and-buggy, never-bother-to-defend-what-you-write traditional media, only gets the back of Moldea's hand:
Finally, Moldea's very different perspective from mine on the scurrilous, Weiss-style front-page article for the Wall Street Journal about the lively business shameless right-wing "conspiracy buffs" have made out of the Foster death, and the article's aftermath, is instructive. Many of the Scaife-dependent culprits who later turn up in the Weiss article and the White House "Communications Stream" are there, but Accuracy in Media and its director, Reed Irvine, who have certainly done more than their share to keep the Foster case alive, are missing.
Moldea then has an amazing long passage in which he quotes from and alludes to the taped transcript of Reed Irvine's call of complaint to Ms. Pollock for having been left out. Irvine, the responsible government doubter, gets all the better of Ms. Pollock in the exchange as Moldea recounts it, demonstrating his far greater command of the subject than the Wall Street Journal reporter who is supposed to be covering the case.
Noting earlier in the book Moldea's use of previously unpublished excerpts from White House press briefings in the wake of the Foster death, briefings that a friend of mine first ferreted out and furnished to me, which I then passed on to Irvine, I had suspected that Moldea worked very closely with the people at AIM in preparing this book. His use here of AIM-taped phone transcripts and Moldea's uniformly positive mention of the organization throughout the book certainly confirms that. (Giving Irvine the benefit of the doubt, he might have thought that exposing Moldea to the facts would lead him to the proper and obvious conclusion. Moldea, unfortunately seemed determined not to let facts get in the way of what was apparently a conclusion that was foreordained)
"After this conversation," writes Moldea, "Irvine, Farah, and Davidson all write letters to the editor of the Wall Street Journal, defending their work, as well as the reporting of Christopher Ruddy."
Please notice that he does not give us the April 11, 1995, date when the letters were published so the reader cannot easily track them down and read them for himself, and something else seems to be missing as well. Hmm.
"You probably think I'm part of the conspiracy," I can imagine his response to my insights into his work.
Yes, Dan, I do.
Gary David Martin
Additional Letters of Mine to The Washington Times that Were Rejected
January 27, 1994
I have read the London Sunday Telegraph article to which Richard Grenier alludes in his January 26 column, "The Tonya Harding and Bill Clinton Parallels," and I must say that he gives only the slightest inkling as to its real power and importance. You would do your readers and the country a great service were you to reprint the article in its entirety.
Sally Miller Perdue, a former Miss Arkansas, was, according to her own well-substantiated account, one of the victims of a vigorous 1992 effort to suppress "bimbo eruptions" threatening to the Clinton campaign. She was, the Telegraph reports, offered a cushy federal sinecure if she would cooperate and deny everything, and was threatened with bodily harm if she would not. She didn't cooperate and although she has not been physically injured, she has been subjected to career and life-threatening harassment.
A better parallel than with the amateurish buffoons associated with Tonya Harding is with the much more effective plata o plomo (silver or lead) intimidation techniques of the Medellin cartel. It shouldn't take a letter-writer to say it, but such thuggery has no place in any country which pretends to be civilized. We must eliminate it root and branch before it spreads and takes us over. But before it can be eliminated it must be exposed in all its ugliness. That's where you in the vaunted American free press come in. Get with it.
Feb. 15, 1996
Your February 15 report on the testimony of former White House aide Helen Dickey contains a blatant and verifiable untruth which goes right to the heart of the Vincent Foster death case. You report, correctly, that Ms. Dickey testified that she did not call Arkansas reporting Foster's death before 10:20 p.m. Eastern Time on July 20, 1993. You then say: "Conspiracy theorists focused on a supposed 7:30 p.m. call by Ms. Dickey as central to a Foster murder theory. Minority counsel Richard Ben-Veniste noted that Arkansas troopers who first said the call had come earlier refused to testify or supply the panel with any corroborating evidence."
It is indeed curious that the Washington Times, of all newspapers, should satisfy itself with the Clinton-apologist minority counsel on this vital factual question. Had your reporter called the troopers in question, as talk show host Michael Reagan did (see enclosed transcript), he would have learned that Mr. Ben-Veniste has not talked to Trooper Larry Patterson or to his attorney about this matter and that the trooper is ready and eager to testify on the subject. Please set the record straight, and let's get on with the pursuit of justice without the gratuitous name-calling.
Though the letter was not printed, The Times did have an article a few days later based on an interview with the troopers' lawyer in which they did, in fact, set the record straight. That did not stop Gene Lyons from repeating the Ben-Veniste story in a long negative review of Partners in Power, the Clintons and Their America in the August 6, 1996, issue of The New York Review of Books, with the added embellishment that the troopers had actually declined to honor a subpoena by the committee to appear. The Review has a very generous letters policy, often printing several long letters attacking articles that they have published, but with the proviso that the original author is able to get in the last word with a rejoinder. I was willing to play by those rules and I sent in my letter straightening Mr. Lyons out on the matter.
I had never seen them do it before, but they changed the rules. Mr. Lyons himself had a letter in the September 19 issue in which he was permitted to respond to "some readers" without naming them and without their being allowed to make their case for themselves. This letter contained additional factually erroneous information to which Reed Irvine responded. To my knowledge, neither that letter nor any letter correcting the errors ever appeared.
May 22, 1996
Letters to the Editor
Why should you expect the public to read and take seriously the pages of your newspaper when, in a matter of utmost importance to the country, your editorial page people apparently do not? In the May 22 issue, editorial page editor, Tod Lindberg, says, " Here, ruining people is considered sport,' Vince Foster famously wrote before his own suicide." The editorial on Whitewater the same day also refers twice to Foster's "suicide."
But your paper reported in a Reuters dispatch on October 26 of last year that three well-credentialed handwriting experts, including a noted literary documents authenticator from Oxford University in England had examined the note and each, independently, had declared it a forgery. Considering its disjointed, sophomoric text and the curious way and condition in which it was found, their ruling should not have come as a surprise to anyone with anything resembling a critical mind.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Kenneth Starr's investigation of the death still open and ongoing, and hasn't that also been reported by your paper? So why do your editorial page people insist upon ignoring the news part of the paper and protecting Bill Clinton by continuing to treat the belatedly-discovered torn-up note as authentic and the strange death of Vincent Foster as a completely-confirmed suicide?
I don't think I shared this letter with Christopher Ruddy, so I shouldn't think of taking credit for the title of his book, but, then again, maybe it reached him through other channels. For all I know, my material is widely-circulated in our political nether world.
August 28, 1996
May I take it that in printing a long, front-page article about new evidence of Hillary Clinton's involvement in the delay in reporting the "discovery" of a note attributed by authorities to Vincent Foster without even hinting at known, published (in your own newspaper), credible and convincing challenges to the authenticity of the note, you at the Washington Times have cast your lot quite clearly with "authority?" Might I ask further if, in so doing, you believe you are continuing to perform the role of a vigorous, independent, truth-seeking press so necessary to our survival as a free people?
December 16, 1996
I wish to thank you for publishing periodically the very learned and deeply philosophical letters of Stephan Zachartowicz of Chantilly. So substantive and thoughtful are they, and so well grounded in Christian tradition, that collected together they ought to be worth about a semester of college credit in one of our elite universities these days.
His most recent letter, "History does not culminate in liberal democracy'," (Dec. 14) reminding us that conservatives should not credit Enlightenment-inspired "liberalism," by either its original or its current definition, for our most cherished values, I thought was one of his best. A people unnurtured in the deeper values of the Western tradition can't handle the freedom that liberal democracy espouses, and the Leviathan state, often in the guise of anti-crime measures, must grab for ever-more-concentrated power.
Mr. Zachartowicz could have made his letter a good deal more powerful and poignant in one area, however. "Human rights and the rule of law? Ask a parent who has seen his child's murderer freed on a technicality," he says. Perhaps he hasn't heard about it, but at that point he might have cited the example of his 21-year-old neighbor in Chantilly Highlands, Tommy Burkett, the story of whose violent death in his own home was reported on NBC's Unsolved Mysteries on November 11, 1994 (Of the area's major news organs, only the Times found this significant enough news to report.). In spite of abundant evidence to the contrary, the police ruled his death a suicide, supporting the conclusion stated to Tommy's mother by the attending policeman even before he saw the body. The episode ended with the news that the FBI had taken over the case and would conduct its own investigation.
Late last year Louis Freeh's FBI announced that it had completed its review of the matter and had concluded that it was, indeed, a case of suicide. Supporting the conclusion was a 1,800-page report, their spokesman said. However, up to now no one from the press or the public, which includes the outraged parents, has been permitted to see the report, though it has been shared with certain members of a couple of Congressional "oversight" committees who, in turn, won't let anyone else see it, nor will they heed the parents' plea for Congressional hearings.
If this is the sort of thing we can continue to expect from the Juggernaut that governs us, I shall have to join Mr. Zachartowicz in digging in to hold off the "Great Decline."
Critics on the Net who certainly do not wish me well have taunted me by saying my letters don't get printed because I am too unrelentingly critical of the newspaper, which ignores the fact that a person's usual motivation for writing is to disagree with what a newspaper says, and such is the tenor of most published letters to the editor. I have also had letters printed in The Washington Times that are critical of The Times or one of their columnists, but only about much less controversial topics. Nevertheless, in an effort to increase the chances this letter would be printed I stroked the paper not once but twice, attacked their competitor, and had nothing critical of them to say. I even sent it in twice.
No luck. Could it be the message? They actually only did one pretty unsatisfactory bump-and-run on Tommy Burkett three years after the murder, and they have reported nothing on the FBI perfidy. Obviously there is a reason for their silence, and like so many other things that our press keeps a lid on, it clearly includes enforced silence from the citizenry, at least as far as the paper's assistance is concerned.
Other Wall Street Journal Letters, April 11, 1995
Vince Foster: Big Questions Remain
Your March 23 page-one article labeling critics of the botched investigations of the death of Vincent W. Foster, Jr. as "conspiracy buffs" reflects the fact that most journalists who have written about this case want to believe the official reports and refuse to examine critically the evidence they present.
You say that those who have pointed out flaws in the investigations are "generating elaborate and scurrilous rumors about his suicide." You describe Christopher Ruddy, the first reporter to challenge the findings of the Park Police investigation, as "the king of Foster conspiracy theorists." You say this that Mr. Ruddy and many other conspiracy theorists stop short of saying they have proved murder." You say this "may be because so many of the theorists' suspicions can be explained away by a cursory reading of a report by Robert Fiske, the former independent counsel."
A cursory reading of Mr. Ruddy's stories should have shown you that rather than weaving conspiracy theories and generating scurrilous rumors about Mr. Foster's death, Mr. Ruddy did what you and other journalists should have done. Hearing charges that the Park Police investigation had been bungled, he did his own investigation. He was the only reporter who interviewed the EMS personnel and Park Police officers who had seen Foster's body as it lay in Fort Marcy Park.* He reported that some of them and experts he consulted had doubts about the quick rush to judgment that this was a suicide. There was the unusual posture of the body (laid out as if it was in a coffin), the paucity of blood, the gun in the hand, the failure to find the bullet or bone fragments from the exit wound in Foster's skull and his shiny shoes in a dusty park.
As Mr. Ruddy pursued the story for the New York Post, he found many flaws in the Park Police investigation, all resulting from their failure to observe the rule that unattended violent deaths should be investigated as a homicide until there is enough evidence to rule out that possibility. The Park Police admitted that they didn't immediately check Mr. Foster's car for fingerprints because "it was obviously a suicide."
Mr. Ruddy neither generated nor disseminated rumors. He reported facts that exposed serious flaws in the Foster investigation. Your article's statement that many of the suspicions raised were explained away by the Fiske report is inaccurate. The Fiske report actually revealed even stronger evidence that cast doubt on the finding that Foster killed himself in Fort Marcy Park. The appended FBI lab report concluded that Foster's head had not always been in the face-up position in which it was found. This was proven by the blood on his right shoulder and on his cheek and jaw.
Mr. Fiske's rejection of the alternative explanation--that the blood indicates that the body was moved--was based on the claim of his four pathologists that moving the body would have resulted in a lot of blood being spilled on Mr. Foster's clothing and skin. One of these pathologists (Dr. Donald Reay) has since acknowledged that this could have been controlled by bandaging the exit wound.
The Park Police investigators apparently made no tests for gunshot residue on Foster's hands or face, but the autopsy reported that black marks presumed to be gun smoke were observed on both index fingers in front of the gap between the cylinder and the barrel, precluding the possibility of his having a firm grip on the gun to aim it. It would be awkward to have even one hand in that position and senseless to have two. It would have been difficult to aim the gun accurately, risking incurring an injury that would paralyze but not kill.
These are only a few of the unanswered questions that have been posed by those that you berate as :"conspiracy buffs" who generate "scurrilous rumors" about Foster's death. If you don't have the answers, you could at least tell your readers what the questions are.
*Editorial Comment: Ruddy may not have been the first journalist to interview the emergency workers. Recall what was written back on page 16 of the first part of "Dreyfus." After Ruddy had produced his first New York Post article based on interviews of a couple of emergency workers on January 27, 1994, The Washington Post responded two days later with a short article buried away in Saturday's Metro section in which it maintained that the workers had "consistently described the scene of Foster's death as tidy, but only recently indicated their suspicions that his death might not have been a suicide."
If reporters for The Post had not interviewed them, how did they know how the workers had consistently described the scene. Assuming that someone from the paper must have interviewed them before and the paper is not just making up this story of how the emergency workers had described the body before, one must seriously question the probity and professionalism of a news organization that would keep such vital information to itself.
As a concerned former college mate of Vincent Foster Jr., I have done much more than a "cursory reading" of the Fiske Report, and I can say unequivocally that the report (which is itself quite cursory) does not "explain away" the numerous inconsistencies in the case pointed out by Mr. Ruddy.
The flecks of mica the FBI lab found on Foster's shoes, socks and clothing are consistent with his body having been transported and dumped in the park. But I have walked the 200 or so yards that Foster would have had to walk to get to where they say his body was found, and that simply can't be done without getting dirt on your shoes. The barren ground in front of the second cannon where they say they found his body is also inconsistent with the one photograph that has been released to the public and also inconsistent with the description of surrounding "heavy vegetation" given by all initial viewers of the body.
I also wonder how it is possible for a police investigator to write that he was told by the autopsy doctor that X-rays showed no bullet fragments in Foster's head when the doctor, as he now maintains, took no X-rays, and how it is possible for assiduous investigators to overlook for almost a week a crucial note torn into 28 pieces and left in Foster's briefcase.
Gary D. Martin
If the CIA or La Securite were doing a course on professional disinformation they could hardly find a more worthy exhibit for study than your articles on Vincent Foster. You have helped to convince the world that Vincent Foster committed suicide--notwithstanding compelling evidence to the contrary.
Your most recent article of March 23 is yet another study in insinuation and falsehood. Your intent is plainly to discredit those of us who have attempted to maintain public pressure for a thorough and honest investigation of Foster's death.
Crucial forensic evidence strongly suggests that he met foul play. At least seven of America's leading forensic experts have stated for the record that the pattern of powder burns on both Foster's left and right index fingers is "not consistent with suicide." They include Masaad Ayoob, head of the Lethal Force Institute, Dr. Vincent Di Maio, medical examiner for San Antonio, Texas; Dr. Martin Faschler, who headed the U.S. Army's Wound Ballistics Laboratory, and Vincent Scalice, who was for many years a New York Police crime scene expert as well as a forensic consultant to the House Committee on Assassinations.
Yet rather than report this important expert testimony, you say that all that keeps Foster's memory alive are "elaborate and scurrilous rumors about his suicide."
A lot more is involved. What is at issue are not rumors, but facts, few of which are known to most Americans. To ask that the truth be told is not to search for conspiracies.
The thinking citizen who looks beyond your reports to review the medical, biographical and simply descriptive facts of the case will be left with the strongest impression this side of certainty that Foster was murdered.
For someone who thinks conspiracists are silly (yet newsworthy), you certainly weave a pretty good conspiracy tale of your own.
You assert that my organization, the Western Journalism Center, has a political agenda because of its connections with "conservative activists." One of those, it turns out, was a major contributor to Bill Clinton's political campaign.
Any good conspiracy theory must, by definition, do two things: (1) explain who's behind it, and (2) reveal what really happened. In our investigation we have scrupulously avoided doing either of these two things. We have simply and painstakingly raised questions and inconsistencies that our colleagues have missed.
So what is your agenda? On April 4, 1994, your news story stated that then-Special Counsel Robert Fiske was about to conclude Foster had killed himself. While it turned out you were right, the curious thing about it is that by April 4, 1994, Robert Fiske had not yet conducted any substantive aspects of his investigation--no FBI lab tests, no pathology review. This fact was reported by Christopher Ruddy in the Pittsburg (sic) Tribune-Review on March 21.
Mr. Ruddy's 20-page response to former special counsel Robert Fiske's report was the only detailed critical analysis published before Fiske was sacked by a three-judge panel. Though you apparently forgot to mention it, Mr. Starr has empaneled the first grand jury investigation into the case.
Some of the substantive points raised by Mr. Ruddy: The gun did not have Foster's fingerprints on it. The family has not been able to positively identify the gun. The gun remained in Foster's hand despite the explosive recoil. Gunpowder residues, as noted in the Fiske report, demonstrate that neither of Foster's hands was on the gun's grip when it was fired.
There was uncharacteristically little blood at the scene, according to the medical examiner on the scene--a direct contradiction of the Fiske report. Mr. Foster left no suicide note and made no final arrangements for his family. The note he allegedly left did not have his fingerprints on it. Key crime scene photos, as well as X-rays, are missing. Mr. Foster would have had to walk more than 700 feet through the heavily wooded park without getting a trace of soil on his shoes and clothing. Wile he had no soil on him, his clothing was littered with unexplained carpet fibers of various colors. Several witnesses even dispute the location of the body's discovery.