A Witness Harassed, Americans Fooled: The Foster Case

Clinton Investigation Headquarters

It the mid-1990s, those of us closely following the cover-up of the obvious murder of Deputy White House Counsel Vincent W. Foster, Jr., consisted of a rather small fraternity.  At the very heart of the fraternity was the conservative media watchdog group, Accuracy in Media (AIM), and its director, the late Reed Irvine.  Christopher Ruddy, the one American reporter consistently writing critically on the Foster case at that time, has claimed publicly that it was Irvine who first interested him in the matter (although he told me that it was an unnamed reporter from the conservative Washington Times who was not permitted to write honestly about it by his editors).  It was through AIM that I came into contact with the New York-based writer, Richard Poe, with whom I had several telephone conversations. 

My dealings with AIM were primarily through their media director, the late Bernard Yoh.  I gathered that that was the case with Poe as well.  Depending upon one’s perspective, that may or may not be a good thing, because we now know that had he talked to Irvine his conversation would have been recorded and saved.  Irvine taped all his telephone conversations without alerting the person on the other end that he was doing so, which is quite legal in Washington, DC.  Those conversations are now making their way onto YouTube. 

Perhaps the most important and the most exciting one to listen to yet is with the Washington bureau chief for the respected Sunday Telegraph of London, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard. It took place less than a week after Evans-Pritchard had published his article based upon his interview of the elusive witness, Patrick Knowlton, who had stopped to relieve himself at the secluded Fort Marcy Park on the afternoon of July 20, 1993, when Foster already lay dead near the back of the park.  His name had appeared in the police report on the case misspelled as “Nolton” and the address given for him was also wrong.  Ambrose-Pritchard had tracked him down by asking around the small mountain community of Etlan, Virginia, where Knowlton had been headed to a vacation home on that fateful day in July.  Knowlton learned from Evans-Pritchard that the FBI had falsified his testimony in a couple of crucial ways.  What seemed most significant at the time was what was featured in his October 22, 1995 article.  That is, that he had a very clear recollection of the “menacing-looking” man who stared at him from one of the two cars he saw parked in the Fort Marcy lot, and a drawing based upon Knowlton’s description accompanied Evans-Pritchard’s article.  Even more importantly we would learn later, the empty Honda with Arkansas license plates that Knowlton saw there was quite different from Foster’s Honda, according to his clear recollection, and the FBI reported that he had seen Foster’s car.

The article hit U.S. newsstands on Tuesday, October 24.  I was working at the time only a block from a very good news and magazine store on K Street next to a Farragut North subway entrance in Washington, DC, which carried many foreign newspapers, including the Telegraph.  How exciting it was to read this extraordinary report that never made it into the mainstream U.S. press in those days before the widespread use of the Internet! 

Two days later, on the morning of Thursday, October 26, Knowlton received a subpoena to testify before Kenneth Starr’s Whitewater grand jury.  What happened that evening as Knowlton walked with his girlfriend in the Dupont Circle neighborhood and the next night Evans-Pritchard characterizes in his 1997 book, The Secret Life of Bill Clinton, as “bizarre beyond belief.”  No written description that I could give here can compare to the phone conversation between Evans-Pritchard and Irvine immediately after the event (The “Chris” referred to is Christopher Ruddy.)  Go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RE3-TxJajSA.

The Book to Read

If you are going to read only one book on the corruption of the Clintons and our enabling government and opinion-molding institutions, it should be the one by Evans-Pritchard, not Hillary’s Secret War: The Clinton Conspiracy to Muzzle Internet Journalists, by Richard Poe.  Poe does have a very good account of the harassment suffered by Knowlton as recounted below, but Evans-Prichard actually witnessed some of it, and he has a whole chapter in his book on it, which he entitles “Street Fascism.” 

Most tellingly, even though he had finished his book just before Starr released his final report on the Foster death and Poe had much more time to reach a firm conclusion as to what Starr was all about, Evans-Pritchard’s assessment is much more accurate and honest:

…there is [an] important point to understand about Kenneth Starr.  He is by character a servant of power, not a prosecutor.  One thing can be predicted with absolute certainty:  He will never confront the U.S. Justice department, the FBI, and the institutions of the permanent government in Washington.  His whole career has been built on networking, by ingratiating himself.  His natural loyalties lie with the politico-legal fraternity that covered up the Foster case in the first place.  (p. 112)

Evans-Pritchard and his book have their shortcomings.  He may not trust or even glorify the Clintons’ conservative critics as much as Poe, but he trusts them too much.  In his “Street Fascism” chapter he writes of the determined Knowlton, “He gave a sworn deposition to Congressman Dan Burton, one of the few stalwarts on Capitol Hill who refused to allow his independent judgment in the Foster case to be swayed by mocking editorials.”

But that’s exactly what he did do when push came to shove after he became a committee chairman.  And, ironically enough, after encountering difficulties in locating Patrick Knowlton because his name had been misspelled by the Park Police, Evans-Pritchard spells Brett Kavanaugh’s name with a “C” instead of a “K” and, like Poe, he leaves him out of his index, by whatever spelling.  In Evans-Pritchard’s or his publisher’s case, it’s probably caused by mere inadvertence because John Bates and Miguel Rodriguez are there.  Why that is significant is explained in my original review of Poe’s book, published on my web site September 9, 2007 and expanded on February 23, 2009.

The Original Review of Hillary’s Secret War

Thumbing through this 2004 book, with a foreword by Jim Robinson, founder of FreeRepublic.com, one gets the impression that this is a much harder hitting and genuine effort than Edward Klein's The Truth About Hillary: What She Knew, When She Knew It, and How Far She'll Go to Become President. 

Harder hitting?  Yes.  More genuine?  No.

The tip-off as to who is expected to read this book is at the top of the dust jacket:  "This book is required reading," it says in bold italics.  And right under the quote in bigger, bolder, all capital letters is the name of the professional polarizer being quoted, none other than Ann Coulter.  With such a recommendation, the publisher is assured that the only people likely to spend more than five minutes with the book are hard core Fox News junkies.  And Poe gives them a lot more raw meat than Klein or even Coulter, herself, ever did. 

Recall that I faulted Klein for pulling his punches on Hillary Clinton's likely lesbianism and the various Clinton scandals, particularly the death of Deputy White House Counsel, Vincent Foster.  Hillary's domestic life is not a topic of his book, so her sexual orientation is, appropriately, not addressed.*  As for the scandals, Poe can hardly be said to have gone easy on Hillary.  Though both Klein's and Poe's books are aimed principally at conservatives, Poe's is obviously meant for only a small subset of that audience. The giveaway is that Klein's book got tons of publicity and Poe's book got absolutely none.  I didn't even know of the existence of Poe's book until I stumbled across it at a used book store a couple of months ago, even though it actually mentions me and references my "America's Dreyfus Affair, the Case of the Death of Vincent Foster."  It is safe for Poe to tell his readers about some of the worst of the Clinton scandals, because only a very select group of people who already hate the Clintons with a passion are likely ever to read it.

That is not to say that Poe tells the whole truth.  Far from it.  His job is clearly to play right-wing shepherd and to herd his assigned flock away from the corruption that envelopes both the Democrats and the Republicans as well as our ruling media elite. 

Poe describes a shocking manifestation of the corruption in his apparent gloves-off treatment of the murder and cover-up in the Foster case.  Revealing more than journalist Christopher Ruddy, whom he praises to the skies and ridiculously likens to Emile Zola in the Dreyfus case, he describes here the reaction of Kenneth Starr's "investigative" team to the terrifying harassment** that the inconvenient witness, Patrick Knowlton, whom British journalist Ambrose Evans-Pritchard had ferreted out,  received after being subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury:

No one knows who ordered the harassment team to begin its operation against Patrick Knowlton on October 26, 1995.  However, someone close to the Starr investigation must have tipped them off that Knowlton had received a subpoena.

Throughout Knowlton's ordeal, Starr's team treated the beleaguered witness with extraordinary contempt.

When the street harassment began, Knowlton called the FBI and requested witness protection.  Nothing happened for two days.  Finally, Agent Russell Bransford--the same FBI agent who had delivered Starr's subpoena--showed up.  "He had this smirk on his face, as if he thought the whole thing was amusing," says Knowlton.  "I told him to get the hell out of my house."

At the same time Knowlton was calling the FBI, Ruddy and Evans-Pritchard called Deputy Independent Counsel John Bates to report the intimidation of a grand jury witness.  Bates's secretary jotted down some notes.  "An hour later I called again," says Evans-Pritchard. "She let out an audible laugh and said that her boss had received the message...Bates never called back.

What did Starr's people find so funny about the situation?

As a last resort, Knowlton prepared a "Report of Witness Tampering" and took it personally to the Office of the Independent Counsel.  "It was their responsibility, at the very least, to find out who leaked word of his subpoena," notes Evans-Pritchard.  According to Evans-Pritchard, John Bates responded by calling security and having Knowlton removed from the building.

Perhaps the most telling indication of Starr's attitude toward Knowlton is the humiliating cross-examination to which this brave man was subjected before the grand jury.  Knowlton says that he was "treated like a suspect."  Prosecutor Brett Kavanaugh appeared to be trying to imply that Knowlton was a homosexual who was cruising Fort Marcy Park for sex.  Regarding the suspicious Hispanic-looking man he had seen guarding the park entrance, Kavanaugh asked, Did he "pass you a note?"  Did he "touch your genitals?"

Knowlton flew into a rage at Kavanaugh's insinuations.  Evans-Pritchard writes that several African American jurors burst into laughter at the spectacle, rocking "back and forth as if they were at a Baptist revival meeting.  Kavanaugh was unable to reassert his authority.  The grand jury was laughing at him.  The proceedings were out of control."

It was at that point, reports Evans-Pritchard, that Patrick Knowlton was finally compelled to confront the obvious: "the Office of the Independent Counsel was itself corrupt."  (pp. 106-107)

Indeed it was, which explains how it could come to the conclusion that Foster committed suicide in Fort Marcy Park against the compelling testimony of Knowlton that the extra car in the park parking lot was not that of the already dead Foster, plus a ton of additional suicide-contradicting evidence.

Where Poe intentionally misleads us, to his eternal discredit, has to do with the nature, the depth and breadth, and the origin of the corruption of Starr and his team.  Consistent with his book's title and its general orientation, Poe would have us believe that the Clintons were behind the cover-up and that George H.W. Bush's former solicitor general, Kenneth Starr, went along with it out of simple timidity and cowardice:

As Ruddy paints him, Starr was the sort of man who makes police states work.  He may well have been the decent fellow whom his friends describe, upright and diligent in his work.  But Starr had a vice that outweighed all his virtues.  He was a coward, so paralyzed with fear in the face of naked evil that he would look the other way and pretend not to see it.  He was just the sort of man that Bill and Hillary needed.  (p. 103)

Actually, it's not quite that simple.  Really effective police states need effective propaganda that is believed by a high percentage of the population.  That's where the layers of propagandists, from the mainstream journalists, to the Edward Kleins, the Ann Coulters, the Christopher Ruddys, the Richard Poes, and the various "persecuted," "heroic," Internet journalists in Poe's book, Joseph Farah, Jim Robinson, Matt Drudge, David Horowitz, and a host of others come in (entering stage right, of course).  And here's the proof of the pudding.

Note carefully the names of those two Starr underlings involved in the harassment of the witness, Knowlton.  They are John Bates and Brett Kavanaugh.  On page 143 Poe says, not surprisingly, "Like most Americans I support George W. Bush and his War on Terror."  But Poe conveniently neglects to tell his readers that this president, whom he praises as a "decent, God-fearing man," has made federal judges--with the approval of the United States Senate--of these two accomplices after the fact of a high-level murder.

Poe's omission of this fact is surely intentional.  To impart this information would be to completely undermine his simple-minded message aimed at simple-minded readers, that is, that the deep, pervasive national corruption that he reveals in his book essentially begins and ends with Bill and Hillary Clinton, and that his right-wing heroes are free of the taint.  His editors apparently recognized the risk he was taking of giving the game away by telling us of the cover-up role of Bates and Kavanaugh in the Foster murder, because neither name appears in the book's detailed, extensive index.   

Again, this omission could hardly be unintentional.  Even the brief mention of my "America's Dreyfus Affair" got my name into the index.  Poe must be pretty sure that the true believers who read his work are not going to go to the trouble to track down my six-part Internet article and actually read it.  Were they to do so, they would see how his beloved "conservative" crowd did as least as much as the hated, pro-Clinton liberals to cover up the Foster murder.  These include Ann Coulter, FBI agent Gary Aldrich, and the late Barbara Olson, whom Poe praises so highly in his book.  On the role of conservatives in particular, see "Vince Foster's Valuable Murder."  With this broader education, one should not be at all surprised that George Bush should reward obstructers of justice by giving them positions of great importance in our "justice" system.  Who is a nominal Democrat or Republican in this corrupt apparatus is completely beside the point.

Finally, and again, not surprisingly, a name that you will not find anywhere in either Poe's or Ruddy's account of the cover-up of the Foster murder is that of George Bush's current head of the Department of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff.  He was minority counsel in the first Senate investigation related to the death of Vincent Foster and majority special counsel in the second such Senate inquiry.  Readers can see how cleverly he labored to prevent the truth from getting out at "Michael Chertoff, Master of the Cover-up.  

David Martin

September 9, 2007 

* Poe later more than made up for that omission in spades with his glowing review of Klein's phony Hillary attack book on FrontPage Magazine.

** For a detailed account of that harassment, see the statement that Knowlton and his lawyer, John Clarke, prepared and a 3-judge panel had Kenneth Starr append to his report on Foster's death over Starr's strenuous objections.


It has been called to my attention that the names of future federal judges John Bates and Brett Kavanaugh were not the only ones strategically left out of the book's index.  The long passage above ends at the bottom of page 107.  Here we pick up the narrative at the top of page 108, without skipping a word.  As you read it, see if you can guess the name that didn't make the index:

Ken Starr's lead prosecutor Miquel [sic] Rodriguez had reached that same conclusion seven months earlier (that Starr's investigation was corrupt ed.).  Starr hired him as a lead prosecutor in September 1994.  Soon after, Rodriguez was told that he was expected to back up the conclusion of the earlier Fiske reportthat Foster had committed suicide.  Rodriguez refused.  He insisted on conducting a real investigation.  But the harder he tried, the more resistance he got from Starr's team.

The last straw came on January 5, 1995, when the Scripps Howard News Service ran a story claiming that "sources familiar with the Starr inquiry," said that Kenneth Starr was ready to announce that Vincent Foster "committed suicide for reasons unrelated to the Whitewater controversy."

Rodriguez was furious.  He had just begun grand jury proceedings the day before.  Who on earth would have leaked the news that the probe was finished?  Rodriguez stuck it out for a few more weeks but finally resigned in March, returning to his former job as assistant US attorney in Sacramento.  "As an ethical person, I don't believe I could be involved with what they were doing," he told Ruddy.

Rodriguez's sudden resignation could have exploded in scandal.  But Big Media virtually ignored it.  Indeed, Rodriguez claims that he tried to go public with his story, giving extensive interviews to reporters from Time, Newsweek, ABC's Nightline, the Boston Globe, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and the NewYork Times.  Rodriguez says he spent six hours with the New York Times reporter alone.  To all of them, Rodriguez told the same story: Starr's probe of Vincent Foster's death was a sham.

"I was told what the result [of the Starr investigation] was going to be from the get-go," Rodriguez later said in a taped conversation, excerpted inWorldNetDaily.com.  "This is all so much nonsense; I knew the result before the investigation began, that's why I left.  I don't do investigations to justify a result."

None of the news organizations that interviewed Rodriguez aired or published his account.  Several reporters admitted to Rodriguez that their editors had spiked the story.  Rodriguez also claims that FBI agents bullied him, making threats against his "personal well-being," if he did not shut up.  "The FBI told me back off, back down.  I have been communicated with again and been told to be careful where I tread," says Rodriguez.

To this day, Rodriguez still serves as an assistant US attorney in Sacramento.

On July 15, 1997, Starr reached his inevitable conclusion.  He issued a two-paragraph statement, saying, "Mr. Foster committed suicide by gunshot in Fort Marcy Park, Virginia, on July 20, 1993."  (pp. 108-109)

You guessed it.  The additional name missing from the index is "Miguel Rodriguez."  Book editors, like newspaper editors, can be leaned upon. 

Knowlton and his lawyer supplied three more tapes to World Net Daily, and the reporter promised a follow-up story, but none was ever forthcoming.  You can read the transcripts of the additional tapes, which came from telephone conversations with Reed Irvine of Accuracy in Media, at http://www.fbicover-up.com/Miquel/Miquel.htm.

David Martin

February 23, 2009

You can listen to the Rodriguez recordings here.  You can also have a very depressing experience by reading the customers’ reviews of Poe’s book here.  Everyone, it would seem, with the exception of the present writer, has gone for the bait.  None of the people who loved the book—which includes almost all the reviewers—have noticed the book’s essential treachery.  Poe wants them to believe that their salvation lies with “conservatives,” almost all of whom pulled their punches on the numerous Clinton scandals.  He also expects that they will not notice the smooth continuity in policy from Clinton to Bush to Obama when it comes to the important matters of foreign policy, Wall Street, immigration, civil liberties, and endemic corruption, including the unpunished—nay, the rewarded—corruption of the Clintons.  The Poe believers have swallowed it all hook, line, and sinker, while a couple of “liberal” reviewers have panned the book without reading it, letting the rest of their cohorts have gone off to swallow their own rat poison on PBS.

David Martin

February 23, 2012


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