It is a crime to lead public opinion astray, to manipulate it for a
death-dealing purpose and pervert it to the point of delirium.
I have said it elsewhere and I repeat it here: if the truth is buried underground, it swells and grows and becomes so explosive that the day it bursts, it blows everything wide open along with it.1
|-- Emile Zola|
It was a Wednesday night in the late summer of 1998 at the mausoleum-like headquarters for America’s information commissariat in Washington, DC, the National Press Club building. Deputy White House Counsel Vincent W. Foster, Jr., had now been dead more than five years, and in spite of three official investigations of his July 20, 1993, violent death, all heavily involving the FBI, and some Congressional pecking around the edges often represented as investigations as well, the evidence of homicide as opposed to the official verdict of suicide was as strong as ever. But in the dominant hollow terminology of the time and the place, most of the nation’s citizenry, we were given to believe, had achieved “closure” over this matter, and many other very serious things of a highly-suspicious nature as well, and were satisfied to “get on with their lives.”
The gathering was the periodic meeting of an odd mixture of the civic-minded, policy junkies, and likely government agents, replicating in the flesh what one sees on Internet news groups. Officially, it is called the Sarah McClendon Study Group, after the hostess of the meetings, the doyenne of the Washington press corps who, as she does periodically, had reserved the room for the occasion. On this evening the guest speaker is another grande dame of the Washington press, long-time chief UPI Washington correspondent, Helen Thomas, speaking on the timely impeachment issue. Assiduous Foster-case researcher, Hugh Turley, and I are there not only to hear what Ms. Thomas has to say but also to see to it in the question-and-answer period that larger issues don’t get overlooked by the 20-odd attendees.
We managed to get our points in. Mine, picking up on Ms. Thomas’ remark that President Clinton remains quite popular with women, was that he would likely not be if the numerous allegations of thuggish intimidation of various of his actual or would-be paramours had been properly reported to the American people by the American press. Turley’s was that Kenneth Starr is a good deal less upright than we are given to believe, and the beliefs about his rectitude persist only because the American press has failed to report on the lawsuit against several members of his “investigative” team for witness intimidation. Ms. Thomas, who comes across in person as every bit as much a Clinton partisan as news magazine reporters and TV celebrities Eleanor Clift or Margaret Carlson, was immediately hostile to my suggestion and, perceiving an “enemy” of Starr as a friend, was initially quite receptive to Turley. By the time Turley revealed that he was talking about the Foster case and the lawsuit of Patrick Knowlton, Ms. Thomas had agreed to review carefully a copy of the addendum to Starr’s report on Foster that the three-judge panel had forced Starr to include in his report on Foster. In the process she had had to shush a couple of men in the back of the room who knew right off the bat where Turley was headed and had tried to prevent him from getting there.
Turley’s real main point, as was mine, was a truly heretical one to make in such a place, that is, that there is major news suppression in the country. That point was most vociferously challenged by a large, blond fortyish man in the back--one of the shushees--who really didn’t like the use of our word “suppression” one bit. Wielding the authority of one who claimed to have worked for Ted Koppel’s Nightline and for ABC News for many years, he staked his objection upon what seemed to me the pedantic point that suppression requires conscious, collective agreement not to report something that is newsworthy, and if we had no proof of that we were irresponsible to sling around the charge of “news suppression.”
After the meeting formally ended, we continued our discussion of this point in private. Attempting to get around the collective-action prerequisite, I asked him if he would consider the actions of The Washington Post alone in the Tommy Burkett case “news suppression.”
“No,” he responded, “Just sloppiness.”
“How can you say that? What do you know about the Burkett case, anyway?” I shot back.
“I know plenty,” said he.
“But what do you know?” I persisted.
“Stuff,” was his last word on the subject, which he said with great bravado as he broke off the discussion and then walked away at a surprisingly fast clip. It really had to be seen to be believed.
The Tommy Burkett case is by now quite familiar to readers of this series, and it might ring a bell with the readers of Christopher Ruddy’s The Strange Death of Vincent Foster or Ambrose Evans-Pritchard’s The Secret Life of Bill Clinton, who both mention it briefly, Evans-Pritchard elaborating somewhat more than Ruddy. Burkett was a 21-year-old college student in a Virginia suburb of Washington, DC, who was found dead in his room in his parents house on December 1, 1991. The Fairfax County Police, who did virtually no investigation, ruled death from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The parents later exhumed the body and a second autopsy revealed a cleanly broken jaw, a mangled ear, and numerous bruises and scrapes. He had clearly been beaten to death. The parents also learned later through confidential informants that Tommy had been doing undercover work for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The original autopsy doctor was James C. Beyer, the same person whose later autopsy of Foster, as with Burkett, was absolutely vital to the suicide conclusion.
Walt Harrington, a writer for the Sunday magazine of The Washington Post, interviewed the parents at length about their experience, demonstrating great enthusiasm over the prospects for an ensuing article as he did so. No article ever appeared. To this date The Post, in fact, has blacked out the Burkett story. They have written nothing, not even a simple news report.
To my mind it is one of the most compelling examples of blatant news suppression that one is likely to find, and the large blond self-proclaimed ABC News veteran initially claimed a familiarity with the case. But he was bluffing. Put somewhat less politely, he was lying, and he had been caught in the lie right off the bat. This calls to mind our experience with Wall Street Journal columnist and TV commentator, Paul Gigot, who, as we recount in “Dreyfus 5," claimed that his newspaper had hired a handwriting expert who had determined that the torn-up note “found in Foster’s briefcase” had, indeed, been written by Foster. The only difference is that we hadn’t the means to catch Gigot in the lie almost as soon as it left his mouth. That only came later.
The experience also provided a poignant reminder of one of the things that most offends one about the whole Vincent Foster episode. It’s the lying. Such lying is a hallmark of oppressive regimes across the political spectrum from the far right to the far left. It is a chilling thought, and one perhaps that not too many people have had. One must begin to examine things for himself to realize the extent to which the United States of the late twentieth century has begun to resemble such regimes. Lying and tyranny, wherever one finds them, are bound up with one another. Consider what the famous Soviet writer Boris Pasternak had to say about it in his epilogue to his novel, Doctor Zhivago:
|“It isn’t only in comparison with your life as a convict, but compared to everything in the ‘thirties, even to my easy situation in the midst of books and comfort, that the war came as a breath of deliverance...its real horror, its real dangers, its menace of real death, were a blessing compared to the inhuman reign of the lie.”2|
I would fault only his use of the adjective, “inhuman,” because, unfortunately, lying is an all-too-human failing, but it is one the better angels within us strive to overcome. We do so not only because it offends our innate moral and religious sense and because it goes hand and glove with tyranny, but also because lying is the handmaiden of injustice, and a sense of justice seems to be even more innate in the human species than a sense of truth. “That’s not fair” typically springs much earlier from the toddler’s mouth than “that’s not true,” but in a mature society with pretensions of decency and civility the two can hardly be separated:
“Truth and justice--how ardently we have striven for them! And how distressing it is to see them slapped in the face, overlooked, forced to retreat!”
“Not for one minute do I despair that truth will triumph. I am confident and I repeat, more vehemently even than before, the truth is on the march and nothing shall stop it. The Affair is only just beginning, because only now have the positions become crystal clear: on the one hand, the guilty parties, who do not want the truth to be revealed; on the other, the defenders of justice, who will give their lives to see that justice is done.”3
Thus did Emile Zola appeal to the people of France a century ago. As truth and justice go together, so, too, do untruth and injustice.
In my study of both the Foster case and of the framing of Captain Alfred Dreyfus in France I have become acquainted with a variety of propagandistic methods by which the authorities have managed to do damage to the truth, to leave a false impression with the public. As we have noted, it has become easier to do so than it was for the French at that time because both our political and our media power are a great deal more concentrated than was theirs. A much narrower spectrum of opinion is represented by America’s dominant news media, and they are generally much more in thrall to the government on major issues. What is more, the political choices that the voters face are much more narrowly circumscribed. On major issues such as world trading arrangements or exposing deep, systemic national corruption, the two dominant parties might as well be one party, not all that different from the one that has controlled our southern neighbor, Mexico, for most of this century.
I have summarized the techniques used by our ruling Uni-party and its media cohorts with the following list, a list which has enjoyed wide circulation on the Internet:
All have been used in the Foster matter in lieu of a discussion the actual facts. Doubtless, most of them were used in the Dreyfus Affair as well. We have already discussed how numbers six and seven, in particular, were relied upon heavily. The reputation and the honor of the Minister of War, General Auguste Mercier, was placed against that of the shadowy, Jewish-led international “Syndicate.” With no one in the United States commanding the respect that Mercier did then, our ruling elite have had Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr play the role of the partisan out to get President Clinton any way he can. Most recently that reputation has been embellished to a great degree by the Monica Lewinsky episode. The only ones who could possibly question him, they would have us believe, when he lets the administration off the hook on Foster are a tiny, irresponsible clique of folks politically aligned with the extreme right. Most of them, the artificial scenario goes, are in the pay of arch-conservative moneybags, Richard Mellon Scaife of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, or they are simply unscrupulous opportunists out to make money. Facts, once again, are forced to take a back seat and the truth is successfully suppressed.
The experience with our ABC news veteran at the National Press Club, as with the Wall Street Journal’s Gigot earlier, brought home to my friend, Turley, however, that I had left the oldest, the most obvious, and still the most effective truth suppression technique of all off the list. That is not just to create a false impression through the use of various subterfuges, but simply to lie.
It is an old and effective technique, but it has one big disadvantage, as President Clinton has had the misfortune to learn. One can get caught in a lie. In the case of the Foster death, however, that danger is substantially lessened by the disinclination of anyone with an audience to point it out. Here we can see what is so truly bad about a corrupt Fourth Estate. On the most serious of matters, government officials and journalists as well can lie with impunity, knowing that they will not be held accountable in the court of public opinion, and justice is the loser.
Up to this point in the Foster case we have assigned central place to the first of the truth suppression techniques, “Dummy up,” that is, we have noted repeatedly the blatant suppression of very important news. There are a surprising number of examples of plain, provable old-fashioned lies as well, but before we get into them we should note that the Foster news suppression has continued in spectacular fashion. In October of 1998 the aggrieved witness, Patrick Knowlton, amended his complaint to name in his lawsuit alleging conspiracy to violate his civil rights through harassment and intimidation, Deputy FBI Director Robert Bryant and Dr. James C. Beyer, among others. The main reason for naming Bryant relates to another bit of suppressed news, that is the revelation of an FBI memorandum sent to him only a couple of days after the autopsy which reported that the autopsy revealed no exit wound. That memo had been obtained by Reed Irvine of Accuracy in Media through a Freedom of Information Act request. Bryant, along with Park Police and Justice Department announced some days later, on August 10, 1993, that they had concluded suicide, though he was aware of this recently disclosed information that contradicted the official version of the suicide. Beyer was named in the suit for general misfeasance in his autopsy, but also specifically for moving up the starting time contrary to accepted practice, beginning it even before his announced starting time and apparently tampering with the evidence in the process, and misreporting powder burns on the soft palate in Foster’s mouth that a laboratory report contradicted.
The most voracious reader of American newspapers or listener to the news on the airwaves, of course, would have no idea whatsoever that this latest event, this naming of the second highest official in the FBI and of the Foster autopsy doctor as defendants in an important lawsuit, had taken place. While the blackout of this more important news proceeded, the public was busy falling victim not only to #1, but also to variations of #13 and #9, with the Monica Lewinsky matter. The host of extremely serious scandals associated with the president could all be boiled down to the relatively trivial illicit sex question, a monumental distraction or changing of the subject, and the system could be made to appear to be working by, in effect, coming half clean about the president’s corruption.
The public would not have been so ripe for distraction and “confession and avoidance,” however, had all the other techniques not been practiced on them throughout, not the least of which is the latest we are adding to the list, plain old lying. Reviewing the Foster case, one is surprised at how often members of the press and the government have resorted to outright whoppers. We are not talking about merely misleading statements or sweeping conclusions based upon weak evidence, matters that might be subject to some honest disagreement, nor do we propose to examine the numerous instances where the chance is quite high that the person is lying. Rather, what we propose to do in the remainder of this “Dreyfus” installment is to point out instances in which clearly identifiable individuals tell obvious lies for the furtherance of the official conclusion that Vincent Foster committed suicide out of depression.
Let us look first at the nationally-televised attempted destruction of the reputation of the one American reporter, Christopher Ruddy, who has consistently demonstrated skepticism about Foster’s death. Bear in mind that, as I indicate in Part 2 of this series, that was a reputation demolition in which there is a very high likelihood that Ruddy conspired. The more important of the two instances in which Ruddy was pounded on national television was by Mike Wallace on October 8, 1995, on 60 Minutes. By less than honest reporting methods Wallace was able to leave the impression with the viewers that Ruddy had misrepresented what Medical Examiner Dr. Donald Haut said about blood at the scene. He then nailed Ruddy quite effectively by revealing that Ruddy exercised editorial control over a video in which the narrator asserted unequivocally that Foster was left-handed, when, according to Wallace, Foster was actually right-handed. Therefore, the fact that the gun was found in the right hand was not the anomaly that the narrator of the video so confidently stated it was.
Neither matter was so cut and dried as Wallace represented them. Ruddy had taped his conversation with Dr. Haut and had told Wallace so, and the tapes would prove, according to Ruddy later that Haut had changed his story about the blood, but Wallace never checked that evidence against Haut’s on-camera statement. And Ruddy had corrected himself in print about Foster’s dominant hand and had told Wallace, but, again, Wallace ignored that fact on his program. One might say that, in essence, Wallace was lying in each instance here, but we can do better than “in essence.” Wallace went on, in his authoritative baritone, to make the following statement: “The forensic evidence shows that the fatal bullet had been fired into Foster’s mouth from the gun found in Foster’s hand and that Foster’s thumb had pulled the trigger.”
No doubt most people believe that Wallace was telling us the truth. “He wouldn’t just baldly lie about something this important, would he?” And if he was telling the truth, that pretty much seals the matter, doesn’t it? The only, quite-unlikely, murder possibility remaining if Wallace is truthful here is that Foster had been rendered unconscious and someone then placed the gun in his hand, maneuvered the muzzle of the gun into the mouth, and then pressed Foster’s thumb against the trigger.
But, in fact, Wallace is flatly lying. There is no evidence whatsoever connecting the supposed fatal bullet to the revolver found in Foster’s hand. How could there be when the bullet has never been found? As far as the evidence of Foster’s thumb having pulled the trigger goes, it is interesting that on television Wallace has Rep. William Clinger state that the depressed mark noted on Foster’s right thumb indicates that he had used that thumb to pull the trigger. Clinger, of course, has no medical-examiner qualifications for arriving at such a conclusion (See my two-letter exchange with Wallace’s producer, Robert Anderson, over this and other matters in the appendix.). Maybe Clinger was picking up on some legerdemain by Special Prosecutor Robert Fiske on this point:
The desperate nature of the Republican effort to make something of Whitewater was on marked display in the Senate hearing on the death of Vincent Foster. Partisan zeal would not yield to elemental human decency.
Ever since the assistant (sic) White House counsel committed suicide in July, 1993, the political right has tried to use the death to attack President and Mrs. Clinton. Conservative commentators claim that Mr. Foster killed himself over the Whitewater affair, or was murdered.
As crackpots from Mark Lane to Oliver Stone had a theory about President Kennedy’s assassination, so with Mr. Foster they have come up with conspiracy fantasies. A newsletter suggested that he had died in a Virginia apartment, and the body was moved to the park where it was found. Rush Limbaugh reported that charge to his large audience, embellishing it to say the newsletter “claims that Vince Foster was murdered in an apartment owned by Hillary Clinton.”
All these claims were exhaustively investigated by the independent counsel on Whitewater, Robert B. Fiske, Jr. His massive report concluded that Mr. Foster committed suicide because he was depressed, as he had been earlier in his life. The many colleagues, family and friends questioned by the counsel’s staff said Mr. Foster had never mentioned Whitewater was a cause for concern.
Last month Mr. Foster’s family pleaded for an end to the use of “outrageous innuendo and speculation for political ends.” It was “so unfair,” the statement added, “for the family’s privacy and emotions to be pawns in a political struggle.”
All in one short article Lewis waxes indignant, knocks down straw men, calls the skeptics names, impugns motives, and invokes authority. He even changes the subject to the Kennedy assassination, about which he leaves no doubt that he is in the same camp, defending the indefensible Warren Commissions findings, as is his putative adversary over Foster, Christopher Ruddy. So he has given us numbers 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 13 of the popular techniques for truth suppression--anything but facts about the case--, but when he talks about the “massive report” of Robert Fiske he is giving us the newly-minted number 15. He is simply lying. As we noted in the first installment of this series, the body of the Fiske report is only 58 double-spaced pages in length. No one with an iota of integrity who has actually bothered to crack its pages would call it “massive,” or “exhaustive,” for that matter. Most of its seven-eighths of an inch in thickness comes from the 97 pages of the resumes of Fiske’s team of pathologists and the fact that the text is printed on only one side of the paper.. But if invoking authority is what you are up to, a “massive report” surely does sound authoritative.
Lewis’ suggestion that Foster had been depressed “earlier in his life” looks a lot like a number 15 as well. He doesn’t say where that bit of intelligence came from. Here’s what the Fiske Report says:
|Foster’s family and friends said that Foster did not experience any extended period of depression prior to the spring of 1993. Although he experienced some brief episodes of depression and anxiety, these appeared to be resolved without treatment. From time to time Foster experienced what his wife described as anxiety or panic attacks, marked by heavy sweating or a strained voice. In late 1992, he told his physician in Little Rock, that he was feeling depressed and anxious. At least two of Foster’s close relatives have suffered from periods of depression.6|
Reading this carefully one encounters here what sounds like a normal man, not the man with the history of depression that Lewis suggests, especially when one notes that the wife, Lisa, and Dr. Watkins were rather slow to come around with their stories of Foster’s recent agitated frame of mind. Furthermore, “suicidologist,” Dr. Alan L. Berman, who labored so hard in Kenneth Starr’s much longer report to persuade us that Foster was suicidally depressed, for some reason didn’t see fit to tell us about any bouts with depression “earlier in his life,” so we can safely assume that they did not happen.
Dishonest as he is in this column, Pulitzer Prize winner Lewis still is not the worst bearer of false witness in America’s “newspaper of record” when it comes to the Foster case. That prize belongs to reporter Douglas Jehl. This is from his July 1, 1994, report on the freshly-released Fiske Report, which he presents to us without any degree of objectivity or skepticism, but amplified and embellished through the medium of the White House in an article entitled “First Whitewater Report Pleases Clinton Advisers.”
|The special prosecutor devoted nearly 200 pages to his review of an exhaustive investigation that he said left no doubt that Mr. Foster, a kindergarten classmate of the President’s and former law partner of Mrs. Clinton, put a revolver in his mouth and took his life July 20, hours after he left his office in the White House West Wing.|
Very few citizens have the time, the natural skepticism, the inquisitiveness, or the resourcefulness to order a government document like this for themselves. They depend on the newspapers, and they expect that what they read in the newspapers is the truth. But Mr. Jehl and The New York Times lied. The investigation was in no way “exhaustive,” and 58 scant pages are not “nearly 200 pages.” One might say that Jehl is including the various exhibits and the doctors’ resume’s, but they cannot be construed as the special prosecutor’s “review.”
Then, not content to lie, Jehl in his very next sentence manages to sprinkle in truth suppression techniques 3, 4,5, 6, and 7:
|Although the Park Police quickly concluded last year that it was a suicide, the death of the 48-year-old Arkansan has spawned theories so widespread and ugly that Mr. [Lloyd] Cutler [the White House counsel] went on today to express hope that “those rumormongers and those parts of the media that published their rumors will now leave the Foster family in peace.” Among the rumors spread by political opponents was that Mr. Foster had been killed in another location and that his body had been moved to the park.|
The reader gets no hint of the host of anomalies already apparent to the astute observer as detailed in “Dreyfus 1," nor would he guess that the “part of the media” which has raised doubts, The New York Post and their reporter Christopher Ruddy almost exclusively, had dealt primarily with facts such as the paucity of blood and gore at the scene and the curious straight positioning of the body with the arms down by the side “as though ready for a coffin.”
This is the same Douglas Jehl, we might remind you, who nine days after the death, in another “special to The New York Times,” had heavily influenced public opinion in the case by revealing “facts” that came as news even to White House spokesperson, Dee Dee Myers. We touched on this briefly in “Dreyfus 1," but with lying as our theme, a somewhat fuller treatment is in order. Here’s a longer excerpt from the Jehl article:
Federal officials said today that a piece of paper with the names of at least two psychiatrists had been found among Foster’s possessions, but White House officials insisted that they had learned of the discovery only late last night.
In contrast to White House assertions that there had been no signs of trouble, Vincent W. Foster Jr., the longtime friend of President Clinton who apparently committed suicide last week, had displayed signs of depression in the final months of his life, according to federal officials and people close to Mr. Foster.
Mr. Foster, the deputy White House counsel, had been so depressed about his job that before his death he had spent parts of several weekends working reclusively at home in bed with the shades drawn, a close associate said today.
The 48-year-old lawyer had also told at least one doctor that he was dispirited and had obtained the names of at least two Washington psychiatrists, Federal officials and associates of Mr. Foster said. A family doctor in Little Rock, Ark. sent antidepressant medication to Mr. Foster. The medication arrived in the final days of Mr. Foster’s life, but he apparently had only just begun to take it, said a person close to the family. This person said that Mr. Foster’s wife, Lisa, recalled after her husband’s death that when he would try to smile it was a “forced, hollowed-out kind of expression.”
In a court of law, a witness who has been caught in a lie in his testimony isn’t worth very much. Neither would he be permitted to pass on what he says he has been told by people that he does not identify. What evidence is there that he isn’t simply lying here, as he would provably lie later? Has Mr. Jehl given us any reason to believe that even the “federal officials” themselves and “people close to Foster” are not simply inventions or stooges? What reason would they have had to want to remain anonymous at this point, anyway? And what’s with this “at least two psychiatrists” business? Didn’t they just tell us that they have the list in hand? Can’t these “Federal officials and associates of Mr. Foster” count? Might this have something to do with the fact that the photocopy of the paper with the list of names that was released with the police investigative papers three weeks after the Fiske report came out had the names blacked out?
Then when the same list was reproduced in the Senate Banking Committee documents, the names appear--probably by mistake--, but the writing of the first name, that of Dr. Robert Hedaya, is scrawled in block letters, unlike the other two. It is easily perceived as an afterthough, added at the beginning instead of the end to make it look less like a late addition. Were they unsure at the time that Jehl wrote that Hedaya would go along with the cover-up? He is the one, after all, who said in his deposition that Foster’s sister, Sheila Anthony, had called him about her brother’s depression just a few days before. Even more curiously, Park Police lead investigator, John Rolla (if it is not fraudulently back-dated, which seems a distinct possibility) filed a report only a couple of days after the death in which he said he called each of the psychiatrists, and Hedaya made no mention of the Anthony call, saying only that he had not talked to Foster. Isn’t that strange? You’d think he would have responded to the inquiring policeman, “No, Mr. Foster didn’t call me about an appointment, but his sister did just this past Friday.”
While we are asking questions, we might also ask who Mr. Jehl works for. The fact that these two key articles are denoted as “special to The New York Times” suggests that he is not a regular employee of theirs. Hasn’t Mr. Jehl, whose anonymous sources are eventually virtually unanimously contradicted by friends and associates who testify on the record, given us good reason to believe that he actually works for one of those organizations that counts lying as part of its “trade craft?” Whoever their employer, Jehl and Lewis both would be high on my list of candidates for the Duranty Prize, a proposed award named after the Times’ Moscow correspondent of the 1930s, Walter Duranty, who regularly filed glowing and fictitious accounts of Joseph Stalin’s “workers’ paradise.”
When we see how eagerly journalists like Jehl and Lewis seize upon the suicide-from-depression report of Robert Fiske it becomes apparent how necessary it was to get a high-profile special prosecutor on the case, someone advertised as independent who is supposed to uncover wrongdoing, but whose real role is precisely to cover up wrongdoing. It was deemed so necessary that a connection to the long-ago Whitewater land scandal had to be fabricated in the form of “Whitewater documents removed from Foster’s office the night he died.” We saw in “Dreyfus 5" how crime writer Dan Moldea let Washington Times reporter Jerry Seper off the hook by saying that he was simply “mistaken” about his sources for that December 20, 1993, story revealing the Whitewater document removal, when, in fact, it was very nearly the central lie in the entire Foster death cover-up.
It may be rivaled, though, by one told in another “special to The New York Times” in the summer of 1994. David Johnston, in a July 21 article, reports that parts of the Park Police report have just been released, three weeks after the Fiske Report came out, but the pages of the report “offered little new.” He doesn’t tell us that numerous sections of the Park Police documents have been inexcusably and very suspiciously “redacted” or blacked-out, but even so, there remained at least one Park Police document that offered something new that is highly significant. That is John Rolla’s contemporaneous report on his and detective Cheryl Braun’s death notification visit to the Foster home on the night he died. That report jumps out at the knowledgeable reader, but Johnston doesn’t even bother to tell us of its existence (nor did any other national reporter).
Up to that point, the definitive word on the matter of the Park Police and the Foster residence had come from the following passage in a major front-page article in the July 30, 1993, Washington Post by Ann Devroy and Michael Isikoff:
|Police who arrived at Foster’s house the night of the death were turned away after being told Lisa Foster and family members were too distraught to talk. Investigators were not allowed to interview her until yesterday. “That was a matter between her lawyers and the police,” [White House counselor David] Gergen said, and the White House “had no role in it.”|
This echoed what Frank Murray had reported in The Washington Times on July 24:
“Park Police investigators had many questions about Mr. Foster’s final hours but deferred to his friends and family by delaying contacts with them until after yesterday’s funeral in Little Rock.”
And to further make the point, Devroy and Isikoff say in their July 30, 1993, article that the widow, Lisa Foster, “yesterday was interviewed for the first time by police.”
Lies all. Did Devroy and Isikoff know they were reporting lies? Isikoff surely did at least by August 15 when he wrote in The Post, adding an invention of his own about Foster’s mental state and the definitive nature of documents that he, but not we, had had the privilege to see: “Foster’s attempt to seek legal help is described in more than 200 pages of Park Police and FBI reports into his death that have not yet been publicly released...those reports leave no doubt that Foster was suffering from a worsening depression....” The Park Police documents that were finally released added up to a scant 100 pages, and they included, as we have noted, the Rolla report on his visit to the Foster home. Isikoff had to have read that, but he passes up this early opportunity to correct his earlier gigantic lie that the police had been turned away. At the same time he inadvertently tells us several months in advance that the 100 pages with its many redactions was only a small part of the written record withheld from the public. He also lets us in on something else that he probably didn’t mean to. The FBI was a participant in the investigation right from the beginning, and its initial report is still secret. It is as though another 100-plus pages have also been redacted in their entirety, blacked out, that is, as far as the public is concerned, but not as far as a journalistic player in the cover-up is concerned.
Even without these police documents in hand, it would have been a truly amazing thing if Devroy and Isikoff were in the dark about the visit by Park Police investigators John Rolla and Cheryl Braun to the Foster home on the night of the death. A very large number of people, after all, were there that night, as we later learn, and consider who they were. We can start with the man who sets the tone for the reign of the lie, himself, President Bill Clinton. In his written report Rolla curiously makes no mention of the president’s arrival at the house, but he broke the news a year later, shortly after the Johnston article about the police report appeared in The New York Times. He and Braun did so in their nationally-televised testimony to the Senate Banking Committee on July 29, 1994 (This time it was The Washington Post’s turn to report blandly that the testimony contained nothing new. The New York Times, for its part, neglected to report on the hearing at all.).
Did the government people simply withhold the information from the press? Anyone who could even entertain the idea has no notion of the cozy relationship that exists between the White House, especially Bill Clinton’s White House, and the national press, The Washington Post in particular. But there’s no reason to speculate. This passage comes from a very important op ed piece, “Vincent Foster: Out of His Element,” by Arkansas native, Walter Pincus, in the August 5, 1993 Post: “Near midnight that Tuesday at the Foster home in Georgetown, I sat in the garden with a few of his Arkansas friends for half an hour.” Pincus doesn’t say what time he arrived, but the police, on the record, were there from shortly after 10 to sometime after 11 (In fact, the police in all likelihood were there even longer, arriving sometime before 10. The later arrival time presumes they went to the morgue first to search for Foster’s car keys again in his pants, an almost certain untruth.). He surely would have known that the police were not “turned away,” let alone by Foster family attorneys.
Then we have this from White House attorney Jane Sherburne of Sherburne and Nemetz, prepared on May 16, 1996: “[Mickey] Kantor had been with Vernon Jordan and David Gergen at Ben Bradlee’s house when David got the news about Foster. They all wound up at Foster’s house.”7
As you might have suspected, Gergen, we see, wasn’t just repeating what someone had told him, he was simply lying when he agreed that the police were turned away. Not only did he know it, but The Post’s Bradlee very likely knew it as well, and notice how well this little gathering illustrates what we have just observed about the coziness between The Post and the White House.
So, the president, the police, and the press knew that the police did not wait nine days to talk to family members about Foster’s death, as had been widely reported as fact and was not contradicted for a year. What of it? Wouldn’t the loved ones have been too emotionally wrought up to have been of much help to the authorities? To be sure there are those who would want us to believe that, though even if it were true, it does not excuse the bald-faced lie told the public. True or not, it is what Clinton lawyer Jane Sherburne was peddling as late as May of 1996. Here she summarizes some of the doings of White House aide, David Watkins, that fateful evening:
It took ten or fifteen minutes to drive to the house. When they arrived, no one else was there. They walked up to the house; the police officers, who insisted on doing the official notification themselves, walked ahead, with Watkins right behind them. As they went up the steps, another group of people, including Webb Hubbell and Foster’s sister, came up behind them.
They entered the house and Mrs. Foster came down the steps. The male officer told them that Foster had committed suicide. Mrs. Foster became hysterical; she could not possibly have been interviewed.8
Perhaps Ms. Sherburne can claim simple ignorance, thereby admitting incompetence. If not, what we have here is another conscious lie. The following is from Rolla’s public testimony almost a year before, on July 20, 1995:
|Some people were not approachable. We tried to talk to different people. We talked to--I think we talked briefly to both sisters. I had more of a rapport with Mrs. Foster, so I talked to her. Cheryl talked to Laura, the daughter. The sons weren’t home. We talked to Mr. Watkins. Other than that, we didn’t talk to anyone else there.9|
Well, now, let’s try taking Rolla at his word on this. They talked only briefly with Sheila Anthony and Sharon Bowman, and only Ms. Braun talked with the daughter, while the only other person Rolla talked to was Lisa Foster, with whom he developed a “rapport.” Yet he writes in his report that he was there for more than an hour. What was he doing all that time, eating hors d’oeuvres?
The first twenty-four hours after a crime has been committed are crucial. If it is not essentially solved within that period, the chance that it will ever be solved falls drastically. The Park Police obviously know that, which is why they did their proper police work and no doubt wrung as much information out of the immediate relatives of the victim as they could. Then why would they be party to this gigantic, apparently gratuitous lie that they did not? In “Dreyfus 1" I speculated that one reason might be that they didn’t hear what they wanted to hear from the family concerning Vince’s “depression,” his inclination toward suicide. Rolla did say in his report, after all, that no one present could think of any reason why Foster would kill himself, and he also said in a later deposition that when he asked Lisa if Vince was taking any medication she said that he wasn’t. Upon further reflection and with the assistance of more public records, I have come to believe that the motivation behind the big lie that the police were turned away from the Foster home is much worse than I first thought.
Only for the most extreme reasons would the powers that be have resorted to such a blatant lie, one that they knew they would have to admit to in due time. The most likely reason is that the Foster family, or at least certain members of the family, didn’t just fail to go along with the depression thesis, they rejected the suicide conclusion as well. In all likelihood, they didn’t just reject it but they rejected it energetically and indignantly, as most people would who knew that a loved one had been murdered and it was being covered up. Time had to be bought while the recalcitrant family members were brought into line.
And which family members might those be? The most likely candidates are the two mystery men in our little story, Vince’s two sons, 21-year-old Vincent, III. and 17-year-old John Brugh, who goes by his middle name, pronounced “brew.” Oh, but didn’t we just read from the testimony of John Rolla that the sons weren’t home? That is, indeed, what he said, but then he and his organization went along with it, holding their tongues, when the newspapers told us that the police had actually been turned away. Their spokesman, Major Robert Hines, even embellished the lie a bit for me. Explaining my interest from having gone to college with Vince, I called him and asked how it would have been possible for a private lawyer to stand in the way of police carrying out an investigation. He told me that I was right, that he couldn’t, but that the newspaper had misreported the facts. He said that the police had left the residence upon determining that the widow, Lisa, was too broken up to talk to and that they had returned the next day for an interview. That version of events, like the one told by The Post, was also made “inoperative,” to borrow a Watergate-era term, a year later by the released police report and the Senate testimony of Park Police investigators Rolla and Braun about their visit to the Foster home.
If we have learned anything it is that proven liars should not be trusted simply upon their word alone, which is really all that we have with respect to the absence of the sons from the Foster home on the fateful night. Later in their July 20, 1995, Senate testimony Braun and Rolla elaborate further:
SENATOR PAUL SARBANES: Now, there also was an effort made to find the Foster sons. Were they at the house?
BRAUN. No, they were not.
ROLLA. They were in Georgetown somewhere.
SENATOR SARBANES. They were somewhere in Georgetown. I take it that extended efforts were being made to try to locate them. Obviously this story, once it reached the media, would be a lead story on the television and on the radio; correct?
SENATOR SARBANES. That’s very clear. These intense efforts were being made to locate the family and, as I understand it, friends and so forth, colleagues, in order to let them know what had happened. You understood at least part of that by the time you left the Foster home; is that correct?
But at that point Sarbanes yields to Senator Christopher Dodd who changes to subject to the goings on in Foster’s office. One never learns in this exchange when the Park Police established contact with the Foster sons. And Sarbanes, like everyone else who has reported on the case, missed the real importance of why it was necessary to talk to the sons. They, much more so than the widow, Lisa, or the daughter, Laura, would have been likely to know about the make and model of any guns that their father might have had. Guns, as we all know, are primarily a masculine interest. If the police were really serious about determining whether or not the gun ostensibly found in Foster’s hand was his, the sons simply had to be interviewed as soon as possible. Yet, in that July 30, 1993, Washington Post article in which it was reported that the police were turned away from the house, we are told that Lisa had been interviewed for the first time only the day before, and there is no mention of the sons. The gun, the article tells us, is being sent to a “family member” in Arkansas for possible identification, while, from all indications, the sons have not yet been called upon for possible identification.
Not only is this strange, but it is not exactly true, either. According to Kenneth Starr’s report, the sister in Arkansas, to whom the Post is probably referring here, was only shown a photograph in which she noticed some similarities in the detailing at the base of the grip, but was not shown the actual gun until April of 1995. At that time she could not positively identify it.
The sons remain almost completely out of the picture during the period of the investigations by the Park Police/FBI and Robert Fiske’s FBI team.11 From the official record, we never know when or if they ever find them and talk to them except that Fiske has the following bland little note at the bottom of page 38 of his report: “Foster’s children did not recognize the gun as one they had seen in their home.” We don’t know how he knows that, and we can’t help but wonder if the sons had been so bland and passive in their assertion of the fact. When Kenneth Starr in his report speaks of the vague and imprecise recollections of the two sons, whom he never even names, he documents the observations with still-secret FBI interviews of the sons done on April 7, 1995, more than eight months after the completion of the Fiske Report.12
It’s very clear that they don’t want us focusing upon the sons, and that is probably for a reason. So let’s see what else we can find out about them. The Johnnie-come-lately White House lawyer, Jane Sherburne, is once again a good source because she apparently never learned the case well enough to do a good job of covering up.
|Marsha [Scott] and Webb [Hubbell] found Sheila Anthony at home with Vince Foster’s other sister and her daughter, who was visiting from out of town. Marsha told them what had happened. They discussed the importance of finding Beryl Anthony, Sheila’s husband, who was out with Foster’s two sons, and also called Barbara Pryor. Eventually the group headed for the Foster house.16. D’Amato Committee Hearings, op. cit., p. 163.13|
This, on the record, is before anyone has gone to the Foster home to make the death notification. Now let’s fast forward a few pages in Ms. Sherburne’s memorandum. The names in bold mean that that person’s account of the evening is being related:
Watkins -- Between 10 and 11, the President appeared (at the Foster house) with [Mack] McLarty. At around 10:30, McLarty and Watkins, and possibly David Gergen, had a conversation during which McLarty asked if a suicide note had been found; someone said, maybe we should look for a note.14
McLarty -- Stayed at the Foster house for about an hour. Senator and Mrs. Pryor, Sheila Foster Anthony, Beryl Anthony, several neighbors, a physician called by Senator Pryor, David Watkins and his wife, and Webb Hubbell were there.15
So, earlier in the evening Vince’s brother-in-law, Beryl Anthony, had been out with Vince’s two sons, but, from McLarty’s account, by the time he and the president arrived at the Foster home Mr. Anthony was there. Does it not stand to reason that the sons would have been there as well?
Now let’s go back and look at some more of John Rolla’s testimony of July 20, 1995. This time he is being interviewed by the chief minority counsel of the D’Amato Committee, Richard Ben-Veniste.
BEN-VENISTE. Now, there was a point where there was so many people in the house. The President had come. There were, literally, dozens of people who had come to the home spontaneously to comfort Mrs. Foster and Vincent Foster’s two sisters, who were present there as well. Is that so?
ROLLA. There wasn’t dozens. We had Mr. Watkins and his wife with us, then there was Mr. Hubbell and the two sisters and maybe one of their husbands. I think there were four or five other people besides the four of us that originally got there and, at that point, about 10:50 p.m. or somewhere around there, the President walked in with one Secret Service agent.16
That husband of one of the sisters would not be Sharon Bowman’s because he was in Arkansas. That leaves Beryl Anthony, but Rolla does say “maybe” when speaking of that husband’s presence.
Let’s look at another source. This is Webb Hubbell speaking.
|The little living room was filling up fast. Senator David Pryor and his wife Barbara. Beryl and Sheila and Sharon. Bruce Lindsay. Mickey Kantor. Mac McLarty. My son Walter had heard and came to be with us. Cars were jammed in the tiny street outside. At about 11 P.M., the President arrived. Hillary was in Little Rock with her mother.17|
Rolla’s recollection, then, is probably correct. Beryl Anthony, the husband of Sheila Foster Anthony was there when Rolla was because Beryl was there before Bill Clinton arrived, according to this account by Hubbell.. The circumstantial evidence is growing quite strong that the two sons, with whom Beryl, for some unknown reason, had been out on the town, were also at the house. But the evidence, in the final analysis, is a bit more than circumstantial. Here Senator Barbara Boxer of the D’Amato Committee is questioning Hubbell on July 19, the day before Officers Rolla and Braun, with coaxing from Senator Sarbanes, told the committee that the sons were not there.
SENATOR BOXER. So you would say that--when you say that that night, although--there were how many people from the White House? I think you’ve testified, I thought, to about a half dozen. Were there at least that many?
HUBBELL. At least that many. I’m sure there were more, and the days blend together, but that night, I know the President came. Mr. Gergen came. Mack was there. David Watkins was there. Bruce Lindsey was there, but I’m sure there were other people there. We were--the room was full. Senator Pryor was there and Barbara, Beryl Anthony got there later, the kids got there. It was a typical scene and as I said, the phone was ringing off the wall. People were calling from Little Rock, had seen it on CNN in total disbelief, like the rest of us.18
There you have it, Hubbell remembered “the kids,” just as he recalled the presence of Beryl Anthony. Jane Sherburne must have been correct that they had been out together. Now here they were at the Foster house with the crowd, but no one on the Senate panel takes any note of it, and the fiction continues that they were not located. Senator Boxer follows with a leading question about the unlikelihood that anyone in that circumstance would have been concerned about searching for documents, and quickly yields the rest of her time to the minority counsel, Ben-Veniste, who continues with leading questions of his own on the subject of the handling of documents in Foster’s White House office. Hubbell had let the cat out of the bag, but these two quickly stuffed it back in, and apparently no one was the wiser.
Those who think they have followed this case quite closely might recall that there was a minor stink raised at the July, 1994, Senate Banking Committee hearings on Foster when Cheryl Braun said she had been pushed away from Sheila Anthony at the Foster house by Hubbell. In retrospect that looks like a No. 9, “confession and avoidance” and a No. 13, “create a distraction” in the Techniques for Truth Suppression. The real story, in all likelihood, is that the sons reacted quite spontaneously and naturally to the outrageous cock-and-bull story that their very stable and responsible father had committed suicide. They probably raised holy hell at the house that night. The fear must have been very great that they would blow the lid off the cover-up right off the bat if they continued in that vein. They might have even threatened that they would go to the newspapers, perhaps even to the great Watergate investigator, Bob Woodward, who was still at The Washington Post.
Somehow, the danger of the two sons had to be neutralized. It had to be demonstrated to them in no uncertain terms just how futile, how hopeless were their protests. They had to be shown just how strong and united were the treacherous powers ranged against them. What better object lesson could there have been than the Washington Post report, citing David Gergen, that the police had never even made it into the Foster home that night. The list is quite long of very powerful people, including the president and Gergen himself who knew that that was nothing but a bald-faced lie, but they let the lie stand. I later asked Gergen after a National Press Club panel discussion how he could make such a statement, which, by that time, had been revealed as untrue. He told me that he was just passing on what he had been told. I did not know at the time that Gergen was actually at the house that night and was lying once again to cover up the original lie. If intimidating the sons with their brazenness was what they were about, the choice of Gergen instead of regular White House spokesperson Dee Dee Myers to tell the original lie was appropriate because the sons no doubt knew that Gergen had been at the house that night.19 The choice of the powerful Post to tell the lie was a good stroke as well, because the reporter the sons were most likely to know, Walter Pincus, whose wife is from Little Rock, had also been at the house that night, and had no doubt been seen by the family.
Vincent Foster III, in the summer of 1993, was preparing to start his senior year in college. John Brugh Foster was as yet a year away. But in a span of less than two weeks they would learn more about this country than they would ever learn in an American college. They would learn that, in the United States today as it was in the old Soviet Union, the lie is king.
I am not the only one to notice serious lying going on by key figures associated with the Foster death. Recall the reaction, discussed in “Dreyfus 5,” of Detective Pete Markland of the U.S. Park Police upon hearing that White House Counsel, Bernard Nussbaum, had reported his office finding 27 pieces of a torn-up note in Foster’s briefcase:
“Bullshit! Either it didn’t come out of the briefcase, or Nussbaum was lying that he didn’t see the note.”20
Markland had been present on July 22 when Nussbaum had emptied out the briefcase and inventoried it. Since there could be no reason why Nussbaum would have lied about not seeing the note initially, the implication of the Markland remark is obvious. The provenance of the note, like the note itself, is a fabrication. Markland’s reaction is akin to the observation of a friend of mine upon learning the official initial details of the Foster death, “It was either a murder staged to look like a suicide or a suicide staged to look like a murder.”
We have observed how this note, which for a number of reasons is as obviously fraudulent as was the Panizzardi telegram in the Dreyfus Affair, was first withheld so suspense could build about its contents and, since then, has been repeatedly referred to by the authorities and the journalistic community as virtual proof of Foster’s suicidal frame of mind. The most recent example comes from the pen of The Post’s famed Bob Woodward in his best-selling Shadow: Five Presidents and the Legacy of Watergate 1974-1999:
|Foster had singled out the Wall Street Journal editors as those who “lie without consequence” in his famous suicide note in which he had concluded that he was not meant for the spotlight of public life in Washington.21|
Notice how, contrary to the original cautious characterization, the strangely peevish, disjointed scribbling worthy of a high school sophomore has now become “his famous suicide note,” with the penultimate sentence duly emphasized. All that is missing is the ballyhooed last line, “Here ruining people is considered sport.” Woodward, once portrayed by the handsome, open-faced Robert Redford as a crusading, idealistic young reporter in All the Presidents Men, has now come down to squeezing the last bit of mileage out of a bald lie in the form of a government forgery. It kind of makes you wonder about the real role of this Yale graduate and former Naval intelligence officer in the Watergate episode, doesn’t it?
Even more important to the official suicide conclusion and the media-concocted suicide “consensus” than the bogus note is the bogus Foster autopsy. We have discussed its importance and the reasons for our characterization elsewhere. Finally, though, while lying is our subject, we must share with you this exchange of letters between Foster autopsy doctor, James C. Beyer, and the father of the late Tommy Burkett, Thomas D. Burkett. They are taken from the Burkett family’s web site at http://www.clark.net/pub/tburkett/pacc/PACC.html. They speak volumes about Dr. Beyer’s probity:
Department of Health
Office of the Chief Medical Examiner
NORTHERN VIRGINIA DISTRICT
9797 BRADDOCK ROAD
FAIRFAX, VIRGINIA 22032-1700
December 1, 1992
Mr. Thomas D. Burkett
RE: Thomas C. Burkett
As I have attempted to explain in replying to your previous letters regarding photographs from the postmortem examination on Thomas C. Burkett, a photograph of the right side of his head was never taken. Therefore, I have furnished you with copies of all available photographs which you could have viewed on January 2, 1992.
James C. Beyer
Deputy Chief Medical Examiner
Dr. James C. Beyer
RE: Your responses to requests for information regarding the location of and custodians of photos of the body of our son, Thomas C. Burkett
In our letter of Nov. 29, we requested information regarding the present location of and the custodian of the photo I saw in your office on Jan, 2, 1992. The photo was of the right side of the head and the upper torso. The body was unclothed and lying on a table. You pulled that picture out after I asked why the injury to the right ear did not appear on the autopsy report even though both funeral directors and others who saw the body commented on it. On April 7, 1992, in my presence, our lawyer asked about other photos when you showed him the close-up of the face. In your answer you acknowledged the existence of other photos but said they were " police photos" and we couldn't see them. Now you say in your letter of Dec. 1 that there were no other photos and that I could not have viewed any others on Jan. 2.
You are lying.
Thomas D. Burkett
Letter to M. Felix Faure, president of the Republic (‘J’accuse’}, in L’Aurore, 13 January 1898. Reprinted in The Dreyfus Affair, J’accuse and Other Writings, Alain Pages, editor, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996), pp. 51, 52.
"Report on the Death of Vincent W. Foster, Jr., by the Office of Independent Counsel in Re: Madison Guaranty Savings & Loan Association," Filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Oct. 10, 1997, (Starr Report) p. 59.
"Hearings before the Special Committee to Investigate Whitewater Development Corporation and Related Matters (D’Amato Committee), Vol. I, The Inquiry into Whether Improper Conduct Occurred Regarding the Way in which White House Officials Handled Documents in the Office of White House Deputy Counsel Vincent W. Foster, Jr., Following His Death," p. 175.
The role of the FBI in the original investigation has been downplayed by all concerned, including the putative critic of the government, Christopher Ruddy. Note, however, that when the initial suicide conclusion was reached on August 10, 1993, one of the people making the announcement and taking questions was Robert Bryant of the FBI. The FBI also sent investigators to the White House and the Old Executive Office Building in the days immediately after Foster’s death. Fiske’s primary investigators came from the ranks of the FBI and then, as we noted in "Dreyfus 3," Kenneth Starr kept Robert Fiske’s FBI men on the job. In essence, there have not been three investigations but only one big investigation/cover-up by the FBI from the beginning.
In a previous article on the Foster case entitled "The Counsel, the Cop, and the Keys," I made note of the fact that a surprising number of people involved in the Foster case cover-up had also been involved in Watergate and/or had gone to Yale University. I don’t know how I did it, but I managed to overlook David Gergen. He is not only a Yale graduate, but his tenure as White House adviser covers not only Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, and George Bush, but Richard Nixon as well.
Dan E. Moldea, A Washington Tragedy, How the Death of Vincent Foster Ignited a Political Firestorm (Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, Inc., 1998), p. 104. In addition to Markland’s report contradicting Nussbaum, recounted in "Dreyfus 5," we have this from Moldea on p. 87, "Markland has a clear view of Foster’s briefcase through the opening in the late deputy counsel’s desk and observes Nussbaum each time he handles it. At one point, Markland watches Nussbaum as he tilts the briefcase back and forth while it’s still on the floor, apparently making sure that it’s empty.
New York: Simon and Schuster, p. 303. Surveying the index we find that Woodward mentions the Foster death on 22 pages. It certainly deserves to be put on the list of major Foster cover-up books by prominent journalists. The quote we have given is quite representative. Here are some more:
p. 232, when he first mentions the discovery of Foster’s body: "...from all indications it was a suicide.
p. 249, "Clinton reminisced on Foster’s suicide."
p. 260, Pathologist Charles S. Hirsch, working for Robert Fiske, describes the case as a "...no brainer. The evidence overwhelmingly showed it was a suicide."
p. 270, "[Kenneth Starr] would walk over every inch of ground to assure the public that Fiske’s findings had been correct."
p. 355, "In July, Starr announced that after an exhaustive investigation he had concluded that Vince Foster committed suicide."
p. 416, "On June 25...the Supreme Court closed off the last possible avenue for Starr to get new information on the Vince Foster suicide."
p, 435, "[President Clinton] recalled his mother’s reaction to Vince Foster’s suicide, "Every man has his breaking point. We just don’t know where it is."
Curiously, to those who have not yet figured out the deception that goes into America’s cover-up game, as of the date of this writing, the leading recommended book on Christopher Ruddy’s prominent "conservative" web site, http://www.newsmax.com/ , is none other than Woodward’s Shadow. Not far down the list is Front Row at the White House: My Life and Times, by Helen Thomas. This latter book, which routinely refers to the Foster "suicide" in at least two places, came out several months after Ms. Thomas has been personally presented the suppressed Knowlton addendum disproving the suicide thesis by my friend, Turley. Continuing his strange love affair with The Washington Post, Ruddy also touts Uncovering Clinton: A Reporter’s Story, by perhaps the leading media conspirator in the Foster cover-up, Michael Isikoff. In the past, Newsmax has touted Spin Cycle, by The Post’s "media critic," Howard Kurtz, a book that belittles the reporting efforts of Ambrose Evans-Pritchard of the Sunday Telegraph of London and buys in completely to the "Communications Stream of Conspiracy Commerce" attributing all serious scandal inquiry to right-wing fanatics financed by Richard Mellon Scaife. Newsmax also used to list "conservative" Ann Coulter’s High Crimes and Misdemeanors along with a blurb, "Chris Ruddy recommends this book." High Crimes has an entire cover-up chapter on Foster that begins with the observation that Kenneth Starr had laid to rest all doubts that the death was anything but a suicide. I like to think that my repeated reminders of that fact on the Internet had something to do with its removal from the site, but as we see from these other books being touted, a man bent on covering-up cannot be kept down.
Oh, by the way, now that Bob Woodward has finally jumped into the Foster cover-up with both feet, he, who did not yet qualify when I wrote "The Counsel, the Cop, and the Keys," now moves to the head of the list of those people who have been players in both the Watergate and "Fostergate" episodes and are also graduates of Yale University.
Here are two letters that I sent to Robert Anderson, the producer of the infamous October 8, 1995, Mike Wallace interview of reporter Christopher Ruddy on 60 Minutes.
November 10, 1995
Mr. Robert Anderson
Dear Mr. Anderson:
I see that your man Mike Wallace has taken exception to some things said about your 60 Minutes program in Marlin Fitzwater’s book, even going so far as to accuse Fitzwater of telling "bald-faced lies." Speaking of which, in his by-now infamous, skillfully edited piece featuring journalist Christopher Ruddy as a sly, dishonest money grubber Mr. Wallace makes the following statement: "The forensic evidence shows that the fatal bullet had been fired into Foster’s mouth from the gun found in Foster’s hand and that Foster’s thumb had pulled the trigger."
You surely must know that as lies go that one is a big time whopper, one of the most egregious ever told on prime time television, and worse, it is an intentional misrepresentation of the facts that goes right to the heart of the Vince Foster death case. The known forensic evidence does nothing of the sort. Without the bullet, which is still yet to be found, there is simply no way of connecting the apparent head wounds to the revolver found in Foster’s hand. All that could be said from Dr. Beyer’s autopsy is that there is a possibility that the wounds were made by a large caliber weapon firing a high-velocity bullet corresponding to the revolver with the spent shell casing found in Foster’s hand, and that the weapon’s barrel was deep in the mouth at the time the trigger was pulled. But there is much evidence, both within the autopsy and without, which doesn’t just fail to support that conclusion, but actually contradicts it.
A .38 caliber Colt revolver has a high sight and a large recoil. That combination almost guarantees chipped teeth if the gun was fired as Wallace so authoritatively says it was, especially if the gun and the hand are to end up all the way down by the side of the leg. No such chipped teeth were noted in the autopsy. Dr. Beyer did record the presence of powder burns in the soft palate of the mouth, but curiously, the Fiske panel of pathologists, who, ostensibly, relied exclusively on Dr. Beyer’s report, said there were no "flame burns," which is essentially the same thing, in the mouth. The gaping exit wound which Dr. Beyer depicted in his autopsy diagram is characteristic of the .38, but all other known evidence appears to contradict Beyer’s observations. No other person known to have seen the body has described such a wound. Chief Medical Examiner Donald Haut said the wound appeared to have been made with low velocity bullet. Others thought there was no exit wound at all. Still others thought they saw a small wound below the ear such as one might expect from the entrance of a small caliber bullet. The blown out skull and brain matter of the Beyer diagram were nowhere in evidence at the site where the body was found. To further confuse matters, one witness, known as CW, says there was no gun in the hand when he saw the body and another, emergency worker Richard Arthur, insists that the gun he saw was an automatic and not a revolver. He even drew a picture of the automatic for his Senate interviewers.
There is, as you surely must know, additional reason to question Dr. Beyer’s honesty. He checked on the gunshot wound chart that he took X-rays, while the attending policeman wrote that "Dr. Byer (sic)" reported that the X-rays showed no bullet fragments in the head (This is not a minor point. A bullet fragment of sufficient size might have been traceable to the gun which fired it.). Yet Dr. Beyer maintains that he took no X-rays, which is quite convenient for him if they, as seems likely from all the other evidence, contradict his diagram. In addition, his performance in two other recent autopsies, one of which apparently involves dastardly political corruption similar to the Foster case, seems at the very least criminally negligent.
The final assertion that the evidence shows that Foster’s thumb pulled the trigger is just silly. How did he handle the gun without leaving his fingerprints on it? And if there was an indentation on his thumb such as that which Rep. Clinger says he saw in the Polaroids, it could easily have resulted from rigor mortis setting in after the pistol’s trigger had been wedged against the thumb by someone else post mortem. In fact, that is the most likely explanation. The trigger recoil that some have hinted at simply doesn’t exist, and if it did, a livid thumb would quickly spring back to its original configuration.
So why, Mr. Anderson, would Mr. Wallace tell us such a bald-faced lie over a matter of such consequence to the nation, and when do you plan to correct it? Now that the most expert opinion available to date tells us quite confidently that the "suicide note" was not even a particularly good forgery, I would say the time for you people to salvage what’s left of your reputation is growing short.
P.S. I didn’t even get into the matter of the improbable, if not impossible, grip Foster would have had to have had on the weapon to produce the front cylinder gap powder smudges on his fingers that Dr. Beyer reported and photos apparently show.
Mr. Robert Anderson
I have been reflecting on our telephone conversation which you initiated as a response to my November 10, 1995, letter to you charging that in a 60 Minutes piece that you produced Mike Wallace made false statements concerning the forensic evidence in the Vince Foster death case.
Before my memory of the conversation fades I’d like to get the gist of it down in writing, both for the sake of the record and because I have found, after the fashion of Sir Francis Bacon ("...writing maketh an exact man..."), that it helps me greatly to clarify by thinking.
My recollection is that, rather than addressing yourself point by point to the issues I raise in my letter, you made two main points in your defense. You invoked the authority of the four pathologists whom Special Prosecutor Robert Fiske had employed, saying that they had provided to you incontrovertible evidence of suicide, and you wrapped yourself in the prestige of CBS News, saying that because you have no particular axe to grind, if, in your professional opinion a thing is adjudged to be true, we should all accept it as true.
Another, and perhaps the principal, reason for my deciding at this time to set pen to paper again was that I was suddenly struck by the consistency , not in the substance of your argument but in the technique you employ both in the 60 Minutes piece and in your oral defense of it. A few of the Foster case characters are there, but they are out of place, invoked as authorities outside their expertise or experience while much better authorities are passed up. If you had been the producer of The Wizard of Oz, I get the impression you would have cast Judy Garland as the Wicked Witch of the West and Ray Bolger as a munchkin.
Recall that I suggested to you that, because Fiske’s doctors had had to rely upon Dr. James Beyer’s autopsy report for the lion’s share of their analysis, eschewing, as they did, exhumation of the body, you would do better to cite Dr. Beyer as your authority. You responded that there would be a problem with that because Dr. Beyer had told "five different stories." You were admitting, it seems to me, that the man that most reasonable people would agree was in the best position to know about the nature of the wounds and their possible connection to Foster’s voluntary actions is wholly unreliable. This is a very serious concession, indeed, which I’m sure would interest the viewers of 60 minutes. You went on to say that you had seen persuasive evidence that the four doctors had come up with independently, but when I asked why they didn’t include such evidence in the Fiske Report you had no explanation that I can recall.
Though the Fiske doctors are not the best authorities on the nature of Foster’s wounds, their opinion might have carried weight on the significance of a groove or depression on the inside of Foster’s right thumb that Rep. William Clinger says he saw in the Polaroids taken by the Park Police. On 60 Minutes Rep. Clinger says that more than anything convinced him that Foster pulled the trigger. Yet, in their three and one half pages in the Fiske Report, the doctors have nothing to say about it and none are interviewed on the program. Could it be that a doctor might hurt his professional reputation making such a claim while a layman, albeit a ranking member of the U.S. House of Representatives, can say whatever he pleases?
On your TV program we were also told that the numerous, many-colored carpet fibers found on Foster’s clothing came from new carpets installed in Foster’s Georgetown townhouse that he could have easily picked up merely by walking on them. And is it someone from a police laboratory who tells us this? No, it is the "Foster family lawyer," James Hamilton. Unmentioned is the fact that Hamilton was also an important member of the Clinton political transition team and the author of a memo to Clinton counseling stonewalling in the Whitewater case. His word, which is not only tainted, but is in this case obvious nonsense if you just think about it a little, is simply taken as final.
The criminal lawyer Hamilton is also cited by Mike Wallace as his authority that Foster was depressed, but when interviewed on screen Hamilton hardly corroborates the characterization, saying only that he "had been told" that Foster had been experiencing bouts of anxiety, or something to that effect. Was there no doctor in the house? Were you unable to interview Dr. Larry Watkins of Little Rock, Arkansas, the man who Fiske tells us prescribed an anti-depressant to Foster after talking to him on the phone, or are you as lacking in confidence in him as you are Dr. Beyer?
Then there is the matter of the impure motives, the profiteering which you strongly suggest is impelling the critics of the government. A couple of weeks ago I heard a blindly pro-Clinton local talk show host say that "the Western Journalism Center has made a half million dollars on the sale of its Foster case videos." I called him on it and he cited 60 Minutes as his authority. I had to remind him that your authority, in turn, was the lawyer for the U.S. Park Policeman, Kevin Fornshill, whose suit against Chris Ruddy and the WJC was thrown out by a judge because of the officer’s irrelevance to Ruddy’s assertions. You no doubt know that Jim Davidson, the editor of the newsletter Strategic Investment whose video was the actual one in question, has offered to pay Mike Wallace five times his independently verified profits on the video if Wallace will appear with him to defend his charges in a public forum. Wallace’s failure to respond tells us all we need to know about the truth of this particular charge.
Speaking of Officer Fornshill, he is your authority on the condition of the death (?) scene even though he was not a part of the Park Police investigative team, such as it was, and as the discoverer of the body (the second time), was so unobservant that he claims never to have seen a gun in Foster’s hand even thought the light would have been quite good shortly after 6:00 pm daylight time on July 20. Surely you could have found more reliable witnesses to query about the scene of the body’s discovery.
Continuing your pattern, when I reminded you of the three handwriting experts having declared the oddly-discovered, fingerprintless, torn-up note a forgery you told me that you would rather believe the widow who has ostensibly said she thought the note was authentic. By the standards which you have set for yourself, I should surely think you would.
When all else fails Mr. Wallace himself becomes the authority, as with his statement I noted in the earlier letter about the "proof" that the gun in the hand was the death weapon and his assertion of the great difficulty anyone would have transporting the body to its discovery site undetected. He can make that latter assertion only because he works out of New York and not Washington. If he were stationed here he would encounter every day people who could easily drive out to Fort Marcy Park and see for themselves, as I have done many times, what a ridiculous statement he had made. Wallace also performs a pretty neat mind reading trick, explaining what Lisa Foster meant when she told The New Yorker that Vince was "feeling trapped." Wallace says that it was because he knew he had to go to a psychiatrist, but he feared for his career should people learn of it. Lisa does not explain what she means by the "feeling trapped" statement, but since she also s ays in the interview she was unaware of any depression, Wallace’s gratuitous interpretation is almost certainly erroneous as well.
Taken all in all what you have accomplished is exactly the opposite of what you set out to do. You tell me, implicitly, that I should go with the people who have no political agenda, who are politically non-partisan. They’re the ones to believe. Well, that’s me. Until November, ‘94, I had voted Democratic all my life, including for Bill Clinton in 1992. I also watch the CBS Evening News, and that’s another reason why I think I’ll just trust myself on this one. You obviously want the American people to believe that this was a simple suicide, but I can’t help telling myself that if this the best case CBS, with its vast, though deservedly dwindling resources, can make, then it surely must have been murder.
For proof that the "investigation" by Kenneth Starr was a planned cover-up, see the recorded observations of his erstwhile chief investigator at FBI Cover-up.com.
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