The Secret Life of Bill Clinton: The Unreported Stories

Re: The Secret Life of Bill Clinton: The Unreported Stories

Postby admin » Sat Jul 02, 2016 11:05 pm

CHAPTER NINE: THE PERIPATETIC GUN

THE "CONFIDENTIAL WITNESS" had been to Fort Marcy Park at least fifty times over the years, meandering through its secluded groves on the Virginia heights above the Potomac. [1] It is known to the initiated as a place for surreptitious liaisons. Gays go there to score, and to celebrate unusual summer rites on the ramparts. In the mornings, trainee intelligence agents use the old Civil War artillery fort to practice their drop-off drills. The headquarters of the CIA is just up the road.

But for the Confidential Witness it was just a good park. He liked to stop by on Sunday afternoons on his way back from visits to the Smithsonian Institution. "It's a great place to sit down for a picnic with a bottle of wine and a nice young lady," he said, although he hardly has the look of a swordsman. A short feisty man in his late forties, with a bloodshot face and black spectacles, he earns his living as a construction foreman. His passion is traveling in Africa, Latin America, and Europe, when he can afford it, and viewing exhibits of exotic foreign art when he can't.

This time it was a call of nature. Caught in heavy traffic on the George Washington Parkway with a pint of coffee inside him, he pulled into Fort Marcy Park at about 5:45 PM. It was still suffocatingly hot. That day, July 20, 1993, the temperature had reached 96 degrees. He took off his sweat-soaked shirt and left it to dry in the van, then walked up into the further reaches of the park. About 700 feet into the wooded groves, at the top of an overgrown berm, he caught sight of some trash. It annoyed him, people leaving rubbish on the ground. But as he moved closer, he spotted a body. It was lying in the dense foliage, concealed from view by a berm, more or less in the line of fire of an antique howitzer.

Not a man of squeamish sensibilities, the Confidential Witness went over and peered into the half-closed eyes of the corpse. "He looked as if he'd been dead for a long time, I mean hours," he said. There was no blood on the pristine white shirt; nothing to explain why this elegant figure should be lying dead in the shrub wearing a "$400 or $500 suit" and sparkling "dress shoes," with a bottle of wine cooler at his elbow. The bed of dried leaves below the body had been "very heavily trampled," so something was obviously wrong. [2]

His hands were stretched out, with the palms up. No weapon was visible anywhere. No gun.

"I noticed that there was a tiny bit of dried blood around the mouth and nose, so I thought maybe he'd been hit on the back of the head."

It was eerily silent, so silent that he could hear people talking at the Saudi Ambassador's residence across Chain Bridge Road. The Confidential Witness returned to his white van and drove up the parkway to the Turkey Run outpost of the U.S. Park Service in search of a telephone. Instead he ran into two Park Service employees and decided to let them deal with it. He told them about the body, then drove off without leaving his name. He became the mysterious man in the white van. "Hey, I did my duty. I didn't need the headaches of going to court and all that crap."

The next day his brother told him that the dead man was Vincent W. Foster, the Deputy White House Counsel. The newspapers reported that Foster was a kindergarten playmate of the President, and the former law partner, mentor, and intimate friend of the First Lady. The papers also reported that Foster had committed suicide with a gun. They quoted the Park Police announcing that he had shot himself in the mouth. The weapon had been found in his hand. "That's when I thought, 'Sweet Jesus, this thing's big,' and my brother told me: 'You'd better keep your mouth shut, boy, or you're in trouble.'"

He did exactly that for seven months. Then he heard about an astonishing article in The New York Daily News. The newspaper, which has close ties to the Clinton White House, alleged that the man in the white van had never really existed. He was a fiction created by two Park Service workers trying to cover up a bout of truant drinking at Fort Marcy Park.

The Confidential Witness did not relish the implications of this. "I went, 'Wait a minute. Who in the world can put that kind of pressure on two career employees to make them tell that kind of garbage?' That's when I became really concerned about my safety."

The more he thought about it, the more sinister it appeared, so he decided to protect himself by telling his story to the G. Gordon Liddy radio talk show. He was not a Liddy fan, but his brother was, and he knew that the Watergate legend would never betray his identity. Liddy in turn persuaded him to talk to two old veterans in the FBI, believing they would give him a good shake.

The FBI did not take well to the Confidential Witness. By then, April 1994, the Bureau had already decided where it was heading with the investigation of Independent Counsel Robert Fiske. It had also decided that a .38 caliber Colt revolver was going to play the star role in wrapping up the case. One can imagine their annoyance at the sudden appearance of a witness bent on taking the gun away from them.

It was too late to start the investigation all over again. Fiske's office had already leaked to The Wall Street Journal that the case was practically closed. On April 4, 1994, The Journal reported that investigators "are expected to release a report this month declaring the death of white House aide Vincent Foster a suicide .... The report, to be issued by Special Counsel Robert Fiske, would largely confirm findings by the U.S. Park Police." It was careless of Fiske's staff to leak so prematurely, for it revealed that the conclusion of suicide had been reached before any serious work had actually been done.

The historical record shows that the FBI had not started to interview the key witnesses until late April. They did not talk to Lisa Foster until May 9. The FBI crime labs received the specimens for their firearm tests, chemical analyses, serological analyses, DNA analyses, and mineralogy tests on May 25. They received the "fingerprint card of Vincent W. Foster, Jr.," on May 31.

Verdict first. Interviews later. Tests later. Wonderland on the Potomac.

"It was these two agents, a big guy and a little guy, real smooth they were, and they kept trying to get me to say that the gun could have been hidden, and I kept saying: how many times do I have to keep telling you that there was no gun? It must have happened two dozen times at least .... The next three times they came I made sure there was a witness around, a lady-friend of mine, because I didn't like the way things were going."

But in the end they wore him down. They explained that the weapon had flipped over and was hidden from view beneath the palm of the hand, with nothing visible except the trigger guard. If that was so, the witness allowed, then it was perhaps conceivable that he had failed to see the gun.

But the FBI had tricked him. A few weeks later he was shown a crime scene photo that had been leaked to ABC News. It showed the gun in clear view in Foster's right hand.

"The lying sons of bitches, that was not the picture of what I saw at that scene, point blank," he told me. "Somebody had come after I left and put a gun in the hand."

Two months later, on June 30, 1994, the Fiske Report came out concluding that Foster "committed suicide by firing a bullet from a .38 caliber revolver into his mouth .... The evidence overwhelmingly supports this conclusion, and there is no evidence to the contrary."

The witness obtained a copy of the report and tried to avoid an apoplectic attack as he perused the section entitled "Observations by the Confidential Witness." It stated that "he did not see a gun in the man's hands but said it was difficult to see his hands because of the dense foliage in the area where the body was lying."

"When I saw the Fiske Report, I knew I'd been had," he said. "All you can do with that piece of garbage is flush it down the toilet."

A year later he learned that the FBI had distorted his witness statements. One of his" 302" write-ups said that "traces of dry black blood were running from the side of the mouth and nose down the right side of the face."

"Where the hell did they get that from?" he snapped. "There was no blood running down the face... none ... absolutely not true. What's more I told them that when they gave me my statement to sign. I underlined it and said take it out .... Goddamn sons of bitches!"

By then he was in touch with Representative Dan Burton (R-Ind.), who was so suspicious about the case that he later carried out a crime scene simulation, firing a .38 caliber revolver into a watermelon to see how far the noise would carry in the suburbs. (A long way.) Burton asked the Confidential Witness to give a sworn deposition. He agreed. When asked under oath if he was sure about the gun, he replied: "As sure as I am standing here. I am absolutely and totally, unequivocally [sure] the palms were up. I looked at both palms. There was nothing in his hands."

Nothing came of it. The Confidential Witness retreated back into the shadows. Reflecting on the event three years later, he suspected that he had disturbed the crime scene before it was "ready" and thought that he was very lucky to be alive.

"The whole thing stinks, he clearly didn't shoot himself there. You can't shoot yourself without a gun. The man had no gun. End of story."

* * *

It is not every day that the U.S. Park Police have a dead body on their hands. Perhaps that is why Park Police Officer Kevin Fornshill was so eager to respond when a "DB" alert came over the radio at 6:05 PM and 30 seconds. [3]

He was responsible for guarding the parkway entrance to the CIA, where he had been posted on special assignment. It was not really his job to rush over to the crime scene, or death scene, or whatever it was. That was the task of the beat officer in Car 211, Franz Ferstl, who was patrolling the parkway. But Fornshill took it upon himself to find the body before anyone else.

The paramedics from the Fairfax County Emergency Medical Services were arriving when Officer Fornshill reached the park. Fornshill and the rescue workers fanned out in different directions to search for the body. Fornshill took the upper path into a small clearing. He was joined by rescue workers Todd Hall and George Gonzalez from the McLean Fire Service, Company One. He instructed the two paramedics to go one way while he went off alone, "running at a pretty good clip," to a hidden grove in the top comer of the park. [4]

His instinct was uncanny, for there was the corpse: white male, hazel eyes, grey-black hair, 6' 4", 197 pounds, lying in the shrubs by the second cannon. The time was 6:14 PM and 32 seconds. It was almost half an hour after the body had been discovered by the Confidential Witness.

When rescue worker Todd Hall reached the grove a few seconds later, he saw men running away from the scene into the woods. He pointed this out to Park Police Officer Fornshill, but Officer Fornshill did not respond.

The FBI was clearly bothered by this incident. They interviewed Hall twice, first on March 18 and then on April 27, 1994. The first FBI 302 report gave his observations no more than a mild massage. "Hall thought he heard someone else in the woods. He subsequently saw something red moving in the woods. He was unable to determine if it was a person." [5]

But then he was given the treatment. The FBI suggested to him that he might have mistaken men for cars moving along Chain Bridge Road. The FBI even took him to Fort Marcy Park and showed him the road. Being a go-along-get-along kind of man, Hall took the hint. His second statement reads: "Upon discovering that there was a road in the area, Hall believes that it is possible that he saw vehicular traffic on route 123." [6]

Well, what was it, he was asked under cross-examination at the Whitewater grand jury in early 1995, was it people running away or was it the flash of cars? It was people, he answered. It could have been cars, he said, but what he saw was people. [7]

By this time a gun had appeared. Todd Hall was about to check the carotid pulse when he noticed the weapon in Foster's right hand, with parts of it tucked under his right leg. He called out to Fornshill, who was already leaving. The Park Police officer came back for a brief look but was unable to see the gun, or so he says: "I sort of strained a little bit, and because of the bushes and the growth on the ground, I couldn't see what he was talking about."8 However, the Polaroid leaked to ABC News showed that the gun was clearly visible.

Even though Fornshill had lost all curiosity in the crime scene, he still felt confident enough to infer the cause of death. After two minutes, he contacted Park Police communications and announced that it "appeared to be a suicide." Based on what? he was asked later. [9] "Based on the determination the person was dead." Realizing that this was a little thin, he added: "Again, my assumption from the paramedic and that the gun was found in his hand."

The revolver, however, had still not found its final resting place. The crime scene photos show it hopping about in a most animated way in Foster's hand.

"When I went before the grand jury they showed me two Polaroids," I was told by a member of the Fairfax County rescue squad, as we traipsed through the shrub in Fort Marcy Park. "And you know what? You could see blades of grass coming through the forefinger and the second finger in one, and another had grass between the second and third fingers. The prosecutor was real interested in that, real interested." [10]

The grand jury learned a good deal about the revolver in the early months of 1995, during the probe of Associate Independent Counsel Miquel Rodriguez. But the jury was disbanded before it could do any damage. It learned, for instance, that Franz Ferstl, the second Park Police officer to reach Fort Marcy, had questioned the probity of the crime scene photos taken later that evening after he had left. He stated under oath that the gun was in a different position when he saw it. Somehow the right hand had been edging out away from the body.

The set of Polaroids that Officer Ferstl took very early that night, recording the scene when the police first arrived, has disappeared. But that is getting ahead.

At Fort Marcy Park on July 20, 1993, the Foster case was closing down minute by minute. Once Officer Kevin Fornshill had telegraphed news of the gun-in-the-hand-that-he-never-saw, the U.S. Park Police felt that their work was over. The chief detective at the crime scene, Cheryl Braun, was disarmingly frank about the methodology of concluding suicide.

"It seems to me that we made that determination prior to going up and looking at the body," she said. "The gun was in his hand, it was trapped on his thumb. That to me would indicate that he fired the weapon himself." [11]

Having contributed her shafts of insight, Detective Braun then delegated the case to Officer John Rolla. It was his first death investigation, and it showed.

The beauty of using the Park Police to handle the violent death of Hillary Clinton's closest friend is that no other agency could hope to get away with such elliptical logic. Everything they did could be absolved under the capacious rubric of inexperience. But the Park Police have mandatory guidelines, drafted for their Criminal Investigations Branch, which stipulate that "all deaths shall be considered homicides until the facts prove otherwise."

The facts did not prove anything at all at this point. The gun can stay in the hand, due to spasmodic reflex, but typically it does not. The recoil from a .38 caliber revolver usually throws the weapon some distance from the body. Far from establishing suicide, the presence of a gun in the hand is something of a red flag for homicide detectives.

It was not obvious to the paramedics that this DB was a suicide, and the paramedics had far more experience with violent deaths than the Park Police.

Richard Arthur, who had attended to 25 or 30 gunshot deaths in his nine years as a rescue worker, believed it was a homicide. "I've just never seen a body lying so perfectly straight after a bullet in his head," he said. [12]

Back at the McLean Fire Station he pulled up the incident report of his colleague, Corey Ashford, and found that Ashford had coded the death a homicide. [13]

But the Park Police had made up its mind. There was no further need to investigate; no need to canvass the houses around the park to see if anybody had heard a shot; no need to check whether the gun actually worked (the ATF was not asked to do a ballistics check on the gun until August 12, 1993, seven days after the Park Police had already issued its final report); no need to do anything other than dot a few "i"s and cross a few "t"s.

The Park Police ruling of suicide had the effect of crimping further inquiry. It was cited by the Justice Department as grounds for backing off its original pledge to conduct a vigorous investigation. It also kept the FBI at bay. Under the Assassinations Statute, the FBI would have been compelled by law to take over the case if there was any question that it might have been homicide. [14]

The FBI was in turmoil anyway. Director William Sessions had been defenestrated the day before Foster's death in a well-executed Washington putsch. This event passed with remarkably little protest from the U.S. watchdog press, considering the precedent at stake. The Director of the FBI is appointed for a ten-year term, somewhat like a judge, because it has always been understood that a politicized FBI would upset the equilibrium of American government. The most important quality that an FBI Director must have is prickly independence. All else is secondary. Sessions had his faults, but at least he was a man who resisted meddling by the White House in the internal affairs of the Bureau. That, of course, was why he had to go.

Sessions had made himself unpopular with the old-boy network at the FBI because of his aggressive policy of affirmative action for blacks, Hispanics, and women. So to some degree he was the victim of a reactionary backlash within the Bureau. [15] But it was President Clinton who fired him. The pretext was an "ethics cloud," the most memorable cloud being that Alice Sessions, the Director's wife, had transported a bundle of personal firewood on an FBI aircraft.

On Saturday, July 17, Sessions was told by Attorney General Janet Reno that he would be fired by Monday unless he resigned. The meeting took place at the Justice Department, yet White House Counsel Bernie Nussbaum was present in the room.

Sessions refused as a "matter of principle."

On Monday afternoon the President called to tell Sessions he had been dismissed. Clearly in a great hurry, Clinton called a second time minutes later. Sessions was to leave the Hoover Building "effective immediately." [16]

The President appointed Deputy Director Floyd Clarke to take over the Bureau until a successor could be found. It would later emerge that the White House had already been working quietly with Clarke for some time.

The next day, Foster was found dead. Clarke failed to assert FBI jurisdiction, leaving the Park Police in charge. The Foster investigation slipped through the cracks.

If there was no need for a homicide probe on the night of July 20, 1993, there was no need for one later. One after another, the investigators skimmed over the surface of the case. Independent Counsel Robert Fiske, the Senate Banking Committee (twice), Congressman William Clinger (twice), and finally Kenneth Starr -- all reploughed the same old ground. They dwelt on evidence that would validate the original finding of suicide, accepting the original premises of the Park Police. The gun sealed it.

* * *

Vince Foster had promised to take Lisa out for a "date" on the evening of Tuesday, July 20. At about 5:00 PM she called his office at the White House to find out what his plans were, but was told that he was "unavailable."

She tried again later. This time she was told that the President was appearing on CNN's Larry King Live at 9:00 PM, but nobody knew where Vince had gone. She waited at their quaint Georgetown home at 3027 Cambridge Place, where the family was crowded together in circumstances that were very different from the spacious elegance of Hillcrest Heights in Little Rock.

At about 10:00 PM there was a commotion outside. Laura Foster opened the door to find Park Police Detective John Rolla standing on the step. A gaggle of longfaced Arkansas friends and relatives were clustered behind. "Mother," she yelled, up the stairs. "Mother." [17]

Lisa Foster came downstairs and stood on the third step. Detective Rolla broke the news. "I asked her to sit down, it was very rough .... I said, I'm very sorry to tell you that your husband, Vincent, is dead." [18]

In an interview with The New Yorker, Lisa later admitted to feeling a twinge of relief that it was her husband who was dead, not her son Vincent III, as she had feared at first. But the blow was hard.

"She was hysterical, screaming, collapsed on the step," said Detective Rolla. "The only question I got to ask was about the gun, did Vincent own a gun. She asked me what does it look like.... Well, it's a black-colored revolver, a .38 revolver. She cut me off, and threw up her hands and said, I don't know what guns look like, and walked into the kitchen away from me." [19]

Nine days later Lisa Foster was interviewed at the K Street law offices of Swidler & Berlin, under the auspices of lawyer James Hamilton, the White House "surrogate" who had been assigned to her. "She was presented with a photograph of the weapon found with Mr. Foster's body but was unable to identify it," states the Park Police interview with Lisa Foster. [20]

The handwritten notes of Park Police Captain Charles Hume were more explicit: "not the gun she thought it must be. Silver six-gun, large barrel." [21] Apparently, she was referring to an old silver gun owned by Vince's late father, which she had seen in a trunk in Little Rock.

There was a cursory effort to see if Vince Foster's sister in Little Rock, Sharon Bowman, could identify the revolver. An outdoors type, she had a better knowledge of the family collection.

"When shown the gun, Sharon Bowman identified it as appearing very similar to the one their father had kept in his bedside table, specifically recalling the pattern on the grip," says the Fiske Report, using this as a key prop in the authentication of the gun. [22]

This is a nice exhibit of Fiske's methods. In fact, the record indicates that Fiske's investigators never showed Sharon Bowman the gun. If they ever to spoke to her at all, they did not leave any paper trail. What the documents reveal is that Ms. Bowman was shown a picture of a gun by a family friend, who then wrote to the Park Police saying that the "pistol in the photograph" looked like a gun she had seen in her father's collection.

In fact, she did not identify it. Her husband, Lee Bowman, told me a very different version of this story. "Sharon thought she would be able to recognize it, but she really couldn't," he said. [23] Fiske's entire identification is built on a might or a perhaps that was nothing more than hearsay in the first place.

It was their son, Lee Foster Bowman, who had the most detailed knowledge of the guns. He had fired some of his grandfather's collection -- three handguns, four shotguns, and two or three rifles -- when they used to go duck hunting together at a cabin in Yellowcreek, Arkansas, and he expected to be able to identify the .38 Special with an etched handle that the old man kept by his bed. [24] But the gun found at Fort Marcy Park was an "old piece of junk," nothing like the elegant silver-colored antique he remembered.

"He didn't remember the black handle and the dark color of the metal." [25]

The truth is, no member of the family was ever able to identify the gun found in Foster's hand. Not one. Ever.

The Fiske investigation managed to transcend this. His FBI agents cut the Gordian Knot with a single stroke of Alexandrian audacity by showing Lisa Foster the wrong gun. Back at Swidler & Berlin on May 9, 1994, nearly a year after Foster's death, she gave a long interview to the FBI. [26]

"Lisa Foster believes that the gun found at Fort Marcy Park may be the silver gun which she brought with her other belongings when she permanently moved to Washington," reads the FD-302 writeup of the interview. The black gun was now silver. The widow, who was taking Prozac for depression, finally recognized the gun that she had not been able to identify a year before.

Incurious members of the American press were informed by the Fiske Report that "the gun looked similar to one that she had seen in their home in Arkansas and that she had brought to Washington." [27]

In September 1995, Lisa Foster spoke out for the first time in a New Yorker piece by Peter Boyer. Seemingly unaware that she was contradicting her statements to the police, she now talked about the gun as if she had been able to identify it all along. It was a feature article, not a piece of investigative journalism, so I would not wish to fault Boyer for failing to study the source documents. What the records show, however, is that Lisa Foster had been tricked by the FBI -- or had allowed herself to be tricked.

The article was extremely influential. It was cited by conservatives as the final word on the Foster case. The editor of my own newspaper in London, The Sunday Telegraph, found it so convincing that it made him wary of dissenting views. On Capitol Hill it promoted a feeling of disdain, bordering on disgust, for those who continued to allege a cover-up of the death. Leave the poor family alone! One heard it all the time.

Lisa Foster was building a new life. Three months after the article appeared she married Jim Moody, a kindly lawyer who had just been appointed a U.S. federal judge in Little Rock. Moody moved into the Foster residence at 5414 Stonewall, an unusual thing to do in the South. The spirit of Vincent Foster had been exorcised. "I have found a wonderful man whom I love and who loves me, and who will be good to my children," she told The New Yorker. "I can't do anything about the fact that Vince is gone."

* * *

So, what do we actually know about this peripatetic gun that was never identified by the family?

It did not have Foster's fingerprints on it, although a print belonging to somebody else was found on the underside of the grip. [28] The FBI crime labs offer one of their deliciously bureaucratic observations about this. "An individual who does not perspire readily" might not leave a print. No doubt true, but July 20 was one of the hottest, muggiest days of the summer of 1993. It then goes on to add that "atmospheric conditions" such as "snow" could destroy any latent prints.

The weapon was a .38 caliber Colt Army Special revolver with two different serial numbers -- one was a butt number -- both dating back to 1913. It was too old to trace. [29]

It was a workhorse gun. Huge numbers were made. The photos show that it had a four-inch barrel with a big jagged metal sight. The gun supposedly kicked back from the soft palate at the back of Foster's mouth without chipping his teeth or damaging the gum tissue.

Anybody who has fired a .38 Special knows that the recoil is fierce. The one time I tried-courtesy of the central Idaho militia -- both my hands were thrown back over my head, and the noise echoed down the Salmon River valley for miles.

There were no visible powder burns inside Foster's mouth, and no signs of gunpowder on his face. [30] "Limited chemical testing" by the FBI Lab did not reveal the presence of any blood on the gun. [31]

The bullet was never found. It should have been close by because it barely forced its way through the back of Foster's skull, if we are to believe the description of the wound in the autopsy report. Inside the cylinder was a second, round-nosed, Remington high-velocity bullet. No matching ammunition was found in Foster's house.

In the Fiske Report there is a passage explaining that "it would have been enormously time-consuming, costly, and in all likelihood unproductive, to have searched the entire park for the bullet."

Quite so. It is hard to fault a single word of that nicely crafted sentence. Nevertheless, the Starr probe decided that this would have to be done before it could hope to close down the exasperating Foster case. By then Kenneth Starr had brought in the renowned forensic expert Henry Lee to review the case. Henry could work wonders, but not with thin air. He was demanding one scrap of evidence that would indicate Foster died where his body was found. Henry wanted that bullet.

So Starr launched a six-week blitz at Fort Marcy Park in the fall of 1995, more than two years after the death, using cranes to scan the big maple trees above the site. When I visited one evening I found that the melancholy groves had been torn to pieces. A wedge-shaped grid had been marked out with cords, and stakes had been posted all over the place indicating the discovery of bullets. Some of them dated back to the Civil War.

Most of all they found snakes. "You wouldn't believe how many snakes there were in there," said one of Starr's prosecutors over dinner at the Occidental Grill. "One of our FBI men got bitten on the arm by a copperhead."

The highest metal-detecting powers of the U.S. federal government had been mobilized, but the elusive Remington had escaped.

No bullet.

No shot either. Nobody heard the shot. Not that the Fiske investigation would have reason to know. When I was sleuthing in the park one day in 1995 I struck up a conversation with an elderly couple walking their dog. They invited me back for coffee at their house, which was well within earshot of the second cannon. To my astonishment they said that the FBI had never dropped by to learn if they had heard that. 38 Special on the quiet, sultry afternoon of July 20, 1993.

There are five homes within 570 feet of the spot where Foster's body was found. One of them, 1317 Merrie Ridge Road, belongs to Senator Bennett Johnston of Louisiana. The closest is 660 Chain Bridge Road. It is 300 feet away. With a sand wedge you could pitch a golf ball over the top of it. If you had a 2-iron you could probably put a ball though the front windows of fifty houses.

Nobody heard a shot.
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 27854
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: The Secret Life of Bill Clinton: The Unreported Stories

Postby admin » Sat Jul 02, 2016 11:05 pm

CHAPTER TEN: THE NECK WOUND

" SO WHY IS A BRITISH reporter so interested in this when nobody else seems to care?"

"It's the Rosetta Stone," I replied.

"Huh?"

We walked in silence toward the interior of Fort Marcy Park. The path cuts through a breach in the ramparts, then opens into a clearing. It has the overgrown look of an English country garden, one of those decaying Victorian estates that no longer has a groundskeeper. My guide walked through to the upper grove, where the cannon points toward the CIA.

"The body was right here," he said, impassively. "He was straight out with his hands by his side. Funny place to shoot yourself, isn't it, back here in all this shrubbery?"

"Maybe, maybe not. How much blood?"

"Not a lot. It was on the right shoulder, coming down from the neck. That stuff about a trickle out of the mouth, I don't know where that came from because I never saw it."

He scanned the bottom of the park, just in case anybody was watching. But he was not unduly nervous.

"What did the exit wound look like?"

At first he did not answer, as if wondering how much to reveal, then he grabbed me by the shoulder.

"That's all bullshit, man. There was no exit wound."

"Nothing?"

"Listen to me, and listen to me hard, 'cause I'm only going to say this once: Vince Foster was shot right here in the neck," he said, jabbing his finger deep into my flesh, an inch or so below the jawline, about halfway between my ear and my chin.

"Oh."

"Yeah. 'Oh.' We've all been threatened, you know that?"

"I'd heard that."

"Well it's true. We're not allowed to talk to anybody. We're not even allowed to talk to each other. You understand now? This thing's big, man." [1]

* * *

Miquel Rodriguez kept holding the photograph up in the light, wondering. He knew there was something wrong with it. The resolution was too blurred, even for a blowup of a Polaroid. [2]

All you could see was a smear of blood on the right side of Foster's neck. It was the mysterious "contact stain" that nobody was able to explain. How had the blood found its way there, against the laws of forensic science, against gravity? It was nagging at him day and night.

The Fiske Report said this blood smear had been "caused by a blotting action." [3] The head must have fallen on the shoulder, and then bounced upright again. But that did not make any sense. There was not enough blood on the upper side of Foster's right shoulder, and the alignment was all wrong for a mirror transfer effect.

Clutching at straws, the forensic pathology panel brought in by the Fiske investigation had concluded that somebody at the crime scene must have moved the head, and was refusing to admit it. [4] But what did the panel know, or care to know?

Dr. Charles Hirsch, chief medical examiner for New York City and the man called to represent the panel in the 1994 Senate hearings, did not speak to the Park Police or the paramedics who attended the crime scene. He did not interview the medical examiner who did the autopsy. He did not even visit Fort Marcy Park.

He relied on autopsy documents, even though the investigation had been fatally compromised by that stage. It was imperative to go deeper into the case. But Dr. Hirsch barely skimmed the surface. This did not stop him testifying in tones of Olympian authority that Foster died where his body was found. "It is my unequivocal, categorical opinion that it was impossible for him to have been killed elsewhere." [5]

Though they were involved in the most important death investigation since the 1960s, the doctors on the Fiske Report's forensic panel were remarkably incurious. Perhaps forensic pathology is a more slapdash profession than we laymen had imagined. Or perhaps it is more attuned to politics. These gentlemen certainly have the most rococo resumes I have ever seen. They go on for 67 pages at the end of the Fiske Report, longer than the report itself. [6]

We learn, for example, that Dr. Charles Stahl attended a one-day workshop at the Quillen-Dishner College of Medicine at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City on May 23, 1984. We also learn that he was the guest speaker at the Kiwanis Club of Bristol, Tennessee, on April 21, 1983.

Their resumes are quite revealing. They show that three of the four experts have close ties to the FBI and the Pentagon. Dr. James L. Luke, who essentially ran the panel and furnished it with the case documents, is Forensic Pathologist to the Investigative Support Unit of the FBI. He has a "Top Secret" security clearance. [7]

Miquel Rodriguez, however, was not a fully signed-up member of the Washington power elite. A man of slight stature, a high-pitched voice, Iberian features, and large, round, Pre-Raphaelite eyes, he does not look the part of a tough prosecutor. But he has an almost reverential passion for his work as an Assistant United States Attorney in Sacramento. Clearly, Kenneth Starr did not know quite what he was getting when this young Hispanic-a child of migrant farm workers and a graduate of Harvard Law School-arrived in Washington in the fall of 1994 to take up his new post of Associate Independent Counsel.

Nonconformist in every way, the man even spelled his name with a dash of Portuguese defiance. No, my name isn't Miguel, it's Miquel. Please be so good as to get it right.

The job of Rodriguez was to reopen the investigation into the death of Vincent Foster. It was generally agreed that the Fiske investigation was so amateurish that the work would have to be done all over again. But this meant very different things to different people. For Rodriguez it meant starting from scratch with an open mind. For Mark H. Tuohey III, the head of the Office of the Independent Counsel in Washington, it meant accommodating the agenda of the U.S. Justice Department. Rodriguez was astounded when Tuohey, his boss, took him aside and told him that it would be ill-advised to challenge the essential findings of the Fiske Report. [8]

This was to be a "friendly takeover." It would be wrong to understand this as an effort to protect the Clintons. Like most Washington lawyers Tuohey happens to be a Democrat, but that is neither here nor there. In my experience, people of his ilk are first and foremost loyal to the group, and the group is an idiosyncratic subculture of like-minded lawyers. They move in and out of the U.S. Attorney's office in Washington, D.C. They clerk for the same Supreme Court Justices. They are members of the Metropolitan Club. They are Episcopalians and high Catholics. They are alumni of Georgetown Prep. They do not expose each other's dirty linen in public. And there was a great deal of dirty linen in the Fiske Report. It had to be finessed as gracefully as possible.

The mission for Miquel Rodriguez, then, was to produce a better suicide report, one that was not so self-evidently mendacious. Whether or not Tuohey already knew the secrets of the Foster case is something that he will have to answer to his conscience, and to history. But it did not look good when he left the Starr investigation in September 1995 to work for the Houston law firm of Vinson & Elkins. As reported by Christopher Ruddy in The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, this was the same firm that was representing the Rose Law Firm -- where Hillary Clinton, Vincent Foster, and Webster Hubbell had been partners -- in its dealings with the Office of the Independent Counsel. Vinson & Elkins issued assurances that Tuohey would recuse himself from matters relating to the Rose Law Firm. Very wise. Nobody is accusing Mr. Tuohey of switching sides in the thick of battle, but it goes to show how incestuous this circle of lawyers can be.

At first Rodriguez pretended to be following orders. He went about his business quietly, confiding only in his closest aides at the Washington office of the Independent Counsel. Unlike some of the other prosecutors -- aristocratic in their work habits, caught up in the whirl of Georgetown social life -- he was spending his evenings combing through the archive of documents in the Foster case, and he did not like what he saw.

It became obvious that the FBI agents who did the nuts and bolts work for the Fiske Report were engaged in a systematic cover-up. Now, a year and a half later, the same FBI agents were still there in the Office of the Independent Counsel, the gatekeepers who controlled access to the witnesses, the documents, the evidence. Yet Kenneth Starr had kept them on, allowing them to be the judge of their own past work.

Rodriguez kept muttering about the photograph. "Is this all there is?" he asked.

Yes, that's all there is; that's the original, replied his FBI staff. And so it might have rested if it had not been for the courage of one person in the Office of the Independent Counsel who managed to gain access to the locked files. Hidden inside was a folder of crime scene photographs that had been deliberately withheld from the prosecutor.

Among them was the original Polaroid of Foster's neck. What it showed was something very different from the "contact stain" in the fraudulent picture that had been circulating. Evidently, somebody had taken a photo of the original and then touched it up to disguise the incriminating evidence. This second-generation copy had then been used to create an enhanced "blow up."

It was blatant obstruction of justice. Indeed it was worse. Whoever had done this was now an accessory after the fact in the death of the Deputy White House Counsel, and they had made the mistake of failing to destroy the original.

Wary of entrusting anything to the FBI crime labs, Rodriguez turned to the Smithsonian Institution for enhancement of the original. The work was done by the Smithsonian's subcontractor, Asman Custom Photo Service on Pennsylvania Avenue. A set of five "blowups" of the original were made. They revealed a dime-sized wound on the right side of Foster's neck (his left side) about halfway between the chin and the ear. It was marked by a black "stippled" ring -- a sort of dotted effect, like an engraving -- that was suggestive of a .22 caliber gunshot fired at point blank range into the flesh. (Israeli intelligence once had a case like this when they were interrogating a Palestinian, gun pressed in the neck, and accidentally shot the man. [9])

One medical examiner who looked at the photo thought that the wound might be the result of a 40,000 volt stun-gun, designed to cause temporary paralysis for about fifteen minutes. Fired at short range it can leave bum marks. But it was more likely to be a low caliber gunshot wound. Something had perforated the skin, causing blood to ooze down the side of the neck and into the collar.

The photograph, which I have examined carefully, is one of the few surviving Polaroids taken at Fort Marcy that night. The rest disappeared. This includes most of the Polaroids taken by detective John Rolla.

"I mean, I had them in the office that night, I did reports, and I don't know what happened .... I put them in a jacket, I don't know." [10]

All of the seven Polaroids taken by Officer Franz Ferstl disappeared. He was the first Park Police officer to photograph the crime scene, and his pictures were a unique record of Foster's body as it was during the first ten to fifteen minutes after the police arrived. Ferstl believes that he gave them to Sgt. Bob Edwards. That was the last anybody saw of them. [11]

It has never been explained what Sgt. Edwards was doing at Fort Marcy Park in the first place. (The record shows that the Fiske investigation never talked to him.) He was not the shift commander. He was not one of the detectives assigned to the case. Yet there he was, in the shadows, unaccountable, playing a critical role in the events of July 20. "Usually, there's only one investigator to a scene. This was a little bit unusual as far as I was concerned, four investigators at one spot," said Park Police technician Pete Simonello. [12]

Remember, this was supposed to be a "routine suicide." At that stage nobody was supposed to know that Foster was a top White House official.

All of the official 35 mm photos were "underexposed" and deemed useless. The Park Police technician, Peter Simonello, was no beginner. He had attended about 60 gunshot cases in his eleven years with the "identification unit" of the Park Police. But this time something went wrong. The roll was ruined, even though he used a flash for some of the frames. "We can't determine whether it was a malfunction in the camera or not," he said. [13] But Simonello admitted that he had never had the camera fixed afterwards and continued using it without further problems.

The FBI, of course, has the technology to enhance underexposed negatives. In this case the crime labs were in fact able to produce a number of8-bY-Ios of extremely high quality on Kodak Ultra print paper. They were not crystal clear but they revealed considerable detail. [14] The FBI withheld this information from the Fiske investigation and the independent panel of forensic experts. Instead, it sent a memo stating that "limited detail could be extracted from each of the selected frames." [15]

All that survives is a motley collection of 18 Polaroids. [16] Five of them depict Foster's grey Honda Accord. The rest are a mix, showing the cannon, the surrounding foliage, Foster's glasses, the gun in Foster's hand, and so forth. There is only one Polaroid close-up showing the right side of Foster's face and neck. It is signed JCR 7120/93 on the back, indicating that it was taken by Detective John Rolla. This is the polaroid retrieved from the FBI's hiding place at the Office of the Independent Counsel.

It is not some stray piece of evidence that contradicts everything else known about the case. The original report by Dr. Donald Haut, the Fairfax County Medical Examiner and the only doctor to visit the crime scene that night, lists the cause of death as a "self-inflicted gunshot wound mouth to neck." [17]

Neck. Mouth to neck. According to the official version of events, Foster blew a 1 by 1-1/4 inch hole in the upper part of his skull. "There is no other trauma identified that would suggest a circumstance other than suicide," concluded Fiske's panel of pathologists. "It is exceedingly unlikely that an individual of Mr. Foster's physical stature could have been overcome by an assailant inflicting an intraoral gunshot wound without a struggle and there not to have been some other injury sustained at the time."

Well, gentlemen, evidently there was another injury.

Dr. Haut's report was not included in the documents released by the Senate Banking Committee. It was discovered in June 1997 at the National Archives by my friends Hugh Sprunt and Patrick Knowlton, of whom more later.

So, what did the paramedics see when they arrived from the McLean Station of the Fairfax County Rescue Department?

"I saw blood all over the right side of the neck, from here down, all over the shoulder, and I saw a small -- what appeared to be a small gunshot wound here near the jawline. Fine, whether the coroner's report says that or not, fine. I know what I saw," said Richard Arthur in a sworn deposition to the Senate Banking Committee. [18]

"Lt. Bianchi told me from orders higher up that I'm not allowed to talk to anybody about this if I value my job," he continued.

"I said, well, what about the CIA, the FBI, and all that stuff?

"He said, 'You're not allowed to talk to anybody if you value your job.'"

Four of the rescue workers testified in secret before the Whitewater grand jury in the spring of 1995 that they saw trauma to the side of Foster's head or neck. [19] Two of them, including Arthur, described it as a gunshot wound. What they revealed under intensive cross-examination was a far cry from the innocuous observations attributed to most of them in their FBI statements. This information was submitted to Kenneth Starr in a memorandum from Miquel Rodriguez summing up the proceedings of the Whitewater grand jury in Washington.

I look forward to reading the Starr Report, which, as I write, has not been released. His predecessor dismissed eyewitness accounts of trauma to the neck with the following words: "The photographs taken at the crime scene conclusively show there were no such wounds."

A little more ingenuity will be necessary this time.

* * *

Corey Ashford had the unpleasant task of moving Foster's corpse from Fort Marcy Park to the morgue at Fairfax Hospital. It was about 8:10 PM by then, still light. The first team of paramedics in Company One had been and gone long ago. His was the cleanup crew.

It can be a horrible business dealing with a gunshot death. A .38 Special will take the back of your head off. Blood everywhere, brain matter. It was not what he was trained for. An Emergency Medical Services technician, aged 24, his metier was saving people's lives. But somebody had to do it.

Funny thing, though. He didn't notice any blood. [20] Ashford picked up the corpse from the shoulders, cradling the head against his stomach as he lifted it into the body bag. Still no blood. He didn't get a drop of blood on his white uniform, or on the disposable gloves he was wearing for the job. There was no blood on the ground underneath the body, either, that he could see. [21] He coded Foster's body a homicide on his incident report.

Roger Harrison didn't see any blood either, as he as helped Corey slide Foster's shoulders into the body bag. No blood on the ground. No blood on the corpse. No blood on anybody who had touched it. [22] The grizzled 19-year veteran of the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department did not file a hazardous materials report -- which is mandatory if there is blood around.

Nobody filed a hazardous materials report. It was almost as if the blood had vanished from the neck between the time that first team of rescue workers left Fort Marcy Park at 6:37 PM, and the second team arrived at 8:02 PM; almost as if somebody had been cleaning up -- which, of course, was impossible. [23]

But one thing they could all agree on when they were recounting war stories back at Fire Station One was that nobody saw an exit wound. Corey Ashford didn't see it. [24]

Richard Arthur didn't see it. [25]

Sgt. George Gonzalez didn't see it. [26]

The head was intact.

None of the paramedics saw the "official" 1 by 1-1/4 inch hole in the back of Foster's skull. They have forensic evidence on their side, too. No bone fragments were ever found behind the head.

Over at the Fairfax County Morgue that night the duty doctor was Julian Orenstein, a charming man who now works as a pediatrician. His job was to verify Vince Foster's death, nothing else. In his FBI statement taken on May 17, 1994, it says that Dr. Orenstein lifted the body by the shoulders in order to "locate and observe the exit wound on the decedent's head." [27]

It is a clever construction. Any normal person reading this document would assume that Dr. Orenstein did indeed see the exit wound. But by this stage I was so suspicious of every FD-302 statement taken by the FBI that I decided to call him up at his home in Falls Church, just to be sure.

What did this exit wound look like, I asked him.

"I never saw one directly," he said, clearly taken aback. "The hair was matted with dried blood, but I didn't get a clear look. I really didn't spend too much time looking back there; my suspicions weren't aroused." [28]

Indeed.

A few months later I obtained a copy of the handwritten notes of the FBI interviews, which Christopher Ruddy had shaken loose after fighting and winning a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Office of the Independent Counsel. There was no mention of Orenstein trying to locate an exit wound. [29] The passage had been inserted into his FD-302 statement. It was another of the clues left by the FBI in the Foster case. Link the little fibs together, and you start to see the anatomy of a cover-up.

There is another clue in the FBI interview of Park Police Detective John Rolla. In the FD-302 write-up provided to the Senate it says "he observed an extensive amount of blood ... on the back side of his head." [30] But in the original handwritten notes the description of the back of Foster's head is redacted. [31] Why on earth would the FBI redact that passage? National Security? It is a clear-cut violation of the FBI's obligations under the Freedom of Information Act.

After embalming at the Murphy Funeral Home in Arlington, a Defense Department subcontractor, the body went to the Reubel Funeral Home in Little Rock. There it was prepared for final viewing before burial in Foster's hometown of Hope, Arkansas. The funeral director, Tom Wittenberg, told me that he never looked closely at the body because he was a close friend of Vince Foster's and the whole ordeal was too distressing. "I checked his hair, face, suit, and hands. That's all I saw."

But that is not what he told a private investigator in Arkansas in a taped conversation. "What if there was no exit wound at all," he said. "I'm telling you it's possible there wasn't." [32]

So, what do the X-rays reveal?

Like the crime scene photos, the X-rays have disappeared. It appears that Dr. James c. Beyer, the Deputy Virginia Medical Examiner, did in fact take X-rays. "Dr. Beyer stated that X-rays indicated there was no evidence of bullet fragments in the head," states a Supplemental Criminal Incident Record of the U.S. Park Police. [33]

The X-ray box on the autopsy report had been ticked "yes." [34] In testimony before the Senate Banking Committee, Dr. Beyer said that he had been planning to take X-rays but never did. "I made out that report prior to actually performing the autopsy. We'd been having difficulty with our equipment, and we were not getting readable X-rays. We had a new machine; we had new grids; we had a new processor." [35]

He went on to say that no X-rays were taken in his coroner's office between July 6 and July 26, 1993. In other words, the machine had already been out of action for two weeks. He knew it was not working, but he ticked the box anyway.

"Why didn't you call Fairfax Hospital and arrange for a portable X-ray machine to be brought in for your use in such an important occasion?" asked Senator Lauch Faircloth.

"Because this was a 'perforating' gunshot wound. If it had been a 'penetrating' one, I would have gotten an X-ray of the head."

"Do what, now?"

Beyer went on to bury the Senator in an avalanche of technical jargon. But Faircloth, a North Carolina hog farmer, would not give up. "How did you tell the Park Police the results of an X-ray that you didn't take?"

"I don't recall telling them that statement."

"Well, they do."

"I have no explanation."

"Has Robert Fiske ever talked with you?"

"No, sir."

"How did Robert Fiske decide to believe you instead of the police report? Did he send investigators to the hospital, or to the company that services the X-ray machine?"

"Not that I am aware of."

But by then Senator Faircloth was running out of his allotted five minutes. He was the only Republican on the Banking Committee who asked the relevant questions during the comical one-day show hearings held by the Democrats on July 29, 1994. In a sense Faircloth was "out of order" because the death of Vincent Foster was strictly off limits. Senate Resolution 229 restricted the investigation to questions involving the conduct of the Park Police and "the way in which White House officials handled documents" in Foster's office. [36]

Needless to say, it is a mantra of the American press that "two congressional committees" have investigated the death and endorsed the finding of suicide. But Congress was specifically precluded from investigating any such thing. How many journalists who write about the subject are aware of Resolution 229? How many have read it? Precious few, I would wager.

Dr. Beyer was 75 years old when he conducted the autopsy on Vincent Foster. In his prime he had worked for the U.S. Army doing 8,000 combat autopsies in the Korean War. He had gone on to do weapons research and conduct studies on body armor. But by now he was making serious mistakes.

He was responsible for the ruling that Timothy Easley committed suicide with a self-inflicted stab wound in 1989. Much to his chagrin, the killer later confessed. Beyer had neglected to mention a visible stab wound on the hand.

Beyer also conducted the autopsy in the highly sensitive death of Tommy Burkett in December 1991. The Fairfax County police ruled that Burkett had committed suicide by shooting himself in the head. But the parents had the body exhumed. A second autopsy found extensive signs of trauma, including a badly broken jaw, a bludgeoned right ear, multiple skull fractures. The parents wrote Beyer a public letter calling him a "liar."

"He denied that there were any autopsy photos after my husband had seen them right there in his office," said Beth Burkett, the boy's mother. "As far as we're concerned he's just a stooge for the FBI." [37]

* * *

Miquel Rodriguez tipped his hand too soon. He should have watched and waited, quietly amassing such overwhelming evidence that there could be no turning back. But he did not know how to play the two-faced Washington game, and he certainly did not try. He treated his superiors with open contempt.

"I'm not going to take orders from the lapdog of a lapdog," he was heard snapping at John Bates, the bespectacled clerk appointed by Mark Tuohey III to be number two in the Washington office. He made enemies. [38]

The first thing he noticed were little roadblocks left in his path. His requests for subpoenas were being held up. He was unable to call witnesses before the grand jury in a timely fashion. He was even having trouble obtaining Foster's credit card and travel records. Then the campaign of leaks began. In February 1995, planted stories started appearing in the Washington press alleging that he had been badgering the Park Police officers at the grand jury. It was half-true. He had been reading them the perjury statutes in a deliberately pointed manner. With good reason. Their accounts were flatly contradicted by the Fairfax County paramedics, who had no obvious incentive to lie. One Park Police officer ultimately broke ranks under cross-examination and testified that the crime scene had been tampered with after he arrived.

The word was put out that Rodriguez was unstable. It was whispered that his conduct was becoming unprofessional. Drip, drip, drip -- news stories started appearing that Kenneth Starr had concluded his investigation into the death of Foster and would soon be issuing a suicide report.

Rodriguez was, of course, being roasted slowly on the Beltway spit. It is how the permanent government of the United States deals with people who refuse to submit. Hundreds have been through the ordeal before him. Even senators. Even the Director of the FBI, as William Sessions can attest.

So Rodriguez went to see Kenneth Starr. This was not an easy thing to do. The Independent Counsel was exceedingly busy representing Hughes Aircraft, Bell Atlantic, General Motors -- the whole corporate roster. He has continued to earn about $1 million a year from his private work for Kirkland & Ellis, his Chicago-based law firm.

Starr did not behave according to the precedent set by earlier prosecutors burdened with the unique trust of examining the President. Leon Jaworski had dedicated himself full-time to the Watergate probe. Lawrence Walsh had done the same during Iran- Contra. Even Robert Fiske, for all his sins, had shelved his private practice for the duration of this special task. They all understood, instinctively, that they were called upon to make some sacrifice for the republic and its citizens. Decorum demanded no less.

Not Kenneth Starr. During the Whitewater trial of Susan McDougal, he was defending the interests of the NFL Players Association at the Supreme Court. During crucial grand jury testimony about the First Lady's handling of Rose Law billing records Starr was busy preparing to argue a case for General Motors. He continued to represent Phillip Morris at a time when the tobacco industry was fighting off the threat of regulation by the Food and Drug Administration.

This last case was not exactly a conflict of interest, but as Ralph Nader argues in his book No Contest: Corporate Lawyers and the Perversion of Justice in America it stands to reason that the Whitewater investigation gave Starr a degree of suasion over the executive branch of the U.S. government. It strikes me that the criticisms leveled against Kenneth Starr by Nader, The Nation, and other voices on the Left are entirely to the point. This is not a man who understands the nature of his duty.

Juggling so many balls in the air left him little time for the Washington office of the Independent Counsel. His thoughts were focused on the Little Rock office of the Whitewater investigation, the one that has secured all the convictions so far: Webb Hubbell, Governor Jim Guy Tucker, and Susan and Jim McDougal, among others. The Washington office has not brought a single indictment. It is an odd appendage, a clique of friends from the U.S. Attorney's office in D.C., known more for their leaks and cozy relationship with the Washington press corps than the conduct of useful business. It was this office that was in charge of the Foster case.

Clearly, Starr had been assured a long time ago that there was nothing to Foster's death. He was none too pleased when Miquel Rodriguez started sending memos warning that there was something deeply wrong. Starr was charming, of course. The son of a Texas, small-town, Church of Christ minister, he is a delightful man, and a devout Christian. But he had no idea what to do when Rodriguez told him that an original Polaroid showed a wound in the neck, and that renegade elements of the FBI were covering up the case.

Rodriguez resigned on March 20. His closest aide resigned in sympathy. He returned to his old job in Sacramento, refusing to give interviews to the press. By all accounts he was philosophical in defeat. There is only so much a single human being can do. Life moves on.

The grand jury was disbanded and sent home. It was replaced by a new jury with no knowledge of the peripatetic gun, or the missing photos, or the wound in the neck.

A second campaign of leaks was launched, this time announcing that the Foster suicide report was ready. It continued for another two and a half years, the longest sustained leak in the history of the Washington Beltway. One after another the major newspapers and TV networks came out with premature stories announcing that the Starr Report would be released shortly. When it never came, Starr's aides said it had been delayed because of the "Foster crazies" out there. Few reporters stopped to think about this. Why was Starr concerned about the "crazies"? Why would he allow that to influence the timing of his report by one minute, let alone two and a half years?

In March 1997 the Washington Bureau Chief for The Los Angeles Times, Jack Nelson, announced that the Starr Report was finally ready. "It puts the lie to that bunch of nuts out there spinning conspiracy theories and talking about murder and cover-ups," said an unnamed source, in the third paragraph.

I wonder if Jack Nelson was even aware of Miquel Rodriguez when he wrote that article. Was the prosecutor who actually investigated the case, and who conducted the cross-examinations in front of the grand jury, reduced to nothing more than a "nut"? Was it really as simple as that?

It sometimes appeared the Starr team had spent more time spinning the media than actually investigating the Foster case. While the Washington office was leaking that the suicide report was coming, the Little Rock office was craftily leaking a very different story. Hickman Ewing, the Deputy Independent Counsel for the South -- well- advertised as a Baptist, teetotaler, incorruptible prosecutor -- was sent out as an ambassador to the "Foster crazies" to reassure them that the matter was still being investigated seriously.

When this started wearing thin in the spring of 1996, it was announced that a new prosecutor had been appointed to review the whole Foster case. His name was Steven Parker, a Ewing protege from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Memphis. Much was made of the fact that he was a "homicide expert." Hickman Ewing even ventured so far as to say: "There remain questions about Foster's death .... Was it a murder? Or was it a suicide? Either way, why?"

Talk radio went wild for a few days. Right-wingers toasted Hickman Ewing all over again. It was Hickman this, and Hickman that, and Hickman would save civilization. But it was all eyewash. The case had been closed long before. Hickman Ewing was a team player.

Even as Ewing spoke about remaining questions, the San Diego Medical Examiner, Dr. Brian Blackbourne, was wrapping up his independent review of the case. [39] I asked him if he had been provided with the original Polaroid showing a black stippled wound on the side of Foster's neck.

No, he said, he had not been given anything like that.

The most important piece of crime scene evidence remained locked in a file.
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 27854
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: The Secret Life of Bill Clinton: The Unreported Stories

Postby admin » Sat Jul 02, 2016 11:06 pm

CHAPTER ELEVEN: THE CAR

JOSIE AND DUNCAN were too preoccupied with each other to notice what was going on in the parking lot at Fort Marcy. But they did glance up from their adulterous tryst enough times to see two men tinkering with the old brown Honda at the other end of the lot. [1]

The Honda was there when they arrived between 5:00 and 5:15 PM on July 20, 1993, and it was still there when they set off on foot to a secluded knoll inside the park to consummate their affections half an hour later. Other cars had come and gone. This was the only other vehicle that was continuously parked in the lot.

A shirtless, dark-haired man was sitting in the driver's seat. The hood of the vehicle was up and there was a grubby-looking fellow examining the engine. He was in his mid to late forties, about 6 feet tall, medium build, dirty, with long blond hair and a beard.

There was a lack of obvious purpose in their actions. Were they trying to fix the car? Or were they waiting on a drug deal, or what? Josie and Duncan found it vaguely disconcerting, but then the bearded blond guy wandered off into the woods.

At one point a dirty, beaten-up sedan came into the parking lot. Josie remembered four doors, lightish color. The driver was a big bruiser in his thirties with long shaggy hair. Not a savory type.

He drove past, looked at Josie and Duncan, then did a U-turn, and went straight back out again onto the George Washington Parkway. Obviously, he didn't want to conduct his business, whatever it was, as long as some yuppie couple was there necking in the car park.

Around 5:45 PM Josie and Duncan went off to have their affaire du picnic. They were at the south end when the fire brigade came screeching into Fort Marcy Park, 25 minutes later, followed quickly by the U.S. Park Police.

A man had been found dead, explained Officer Julie Spetz. Had they seen anything? Had they heard a shot? All the usual things. They answered as best they could. The next day they discovered that the victim was Vincent Foster, boyhood friend of President Clinton.

"Wrong place at the wrong time is putting it mildly," said Josie. "This thing could ruin our lives." [2] They were now crime scene witnesses in a death of national importance. They might be called into court. Their names might appear in The Washington Post. It would not be easy to explain to their respective spouses what had happened.

They heard nothing for almost a year. Then the FBI interviewed them for the Fiske investigation. That is when Josie and Duncan discovered that the Park Police had made a nonsense of their witness statements. Duncan's surname was misspelled. Not even close. The Park Police had mixed up the cars, mixed up the men in the parking lot, made a minestrone of the whole scene, and concluded that the couple "had not noticed anything unusual." [3]

So Josie and Duncan each sat down with the FBI in April 1994 and tried to set the record straight.

Josie explained that the man without a shirt was sitting in Vincent Foster's brown Honda.

Duncan explained that the long-haired blond fellow had been hovering over the engine of Foster's brown Honda.

This time the authorities got it right. "Our FBI statements are absolutely accurate," said Josie. [4]

So, two men had been observed monkeying with Vincent Foster's car shortly before the body was discovered. One of them had long blond hair. Noteworthy, one would have thought. Blond hairs were found on Foster's undershirt, his trousers, belt, socks, and shoes. [5]

The FBI never tried to identify these hairs. "The source of this hair could have been boundless," said Special Agent Larry Monroe in surreal testimony before the Senate Banking Committee. "It could have been from his residence. It could have been from his automobile, which was used quite often by his children." [6]

The FBI did not deem it necessary to check the hair against samples from the Foster family, or from the staff at the Counsel's Office -- surely the obvious way to put the matter to rest. It was a conscious decision by the FBI not to do so. Why not? Were they afraid that the hair samples would not match anybody in Foster's extended circle?

As for Josie and Duncan, they had given the Fiske investigation a wealth of extremely disturbing material. True, they could not recall every detail. Their memories were sometimes contradictory. But they had provided a narrative of events at the crime scene that should have compelled Robert Fiske to go back to the drawing board to start a fresh investigation of the entire Foster case.

Instead, their observations were reduced to this anodyne summary in the Fiske Report: "neither individual heard a gunshot while in the Park or observed anything unusual." [7]

I do not wish to labor the point, but this couple saw two unsavory-looking men handling the car of the dead victim, half an hour before his body was discovered. I cannot see how this could be distilled into nothing "unusual."

"They were going to be my secret weapon," Miquel Rodriguez confided to friends at the Starr investigation. But he never had the chance to call them before the grand jury.

Kenneth Starr concluded his suicide report in July 1997 without taking their testimony under oath. Josie and Duncan were never called before the grand jury. Instead, he sent FBI agents to reinterview them. They were talked into subtle changes that were, cumulatively, enough to dull the impact of their story. This has become a sickening habit of certain FBI agents, in both the Oklahoma bombing case and the Foster case.

The original FD-302s of Josie and Duncan, taken in April 1994, are the pristine documentary record. As Josie said at the time, they "are absolutely accurate." The rest is make-believe.

* * *

I had never given much thought to the driver of the Thrifty rental car who dropped into Fort Marcy Park between 4:15 and 4:30 PM. Another weak bladder, apparently.

This man had seen Foster's car, and Foster's suit jacket "folded over the passenger seat," and had then driven away. His cameo role was a single paragraph on page 28 of the Fiske Report. Fine, the man could place Foster's car at the crime scene. But life was too short to chase down every bit player who might, possibly, have an insight into the case. Anyway I did not have the foggiest idea who he was.

But Josie and Duncan's story made me think again. I dug up his FBI 302 interviews and discovered to my astonishment that this witness had seen a threatening man on watch at the entrance to Fort Marcy Park. He described the individual as a "Mexican or Cuban," and said his behavior made him "feel extremely nervous and uneasy." [8]

It appeared as if this Hispanic man had been posted there to dissuade anybody from venturing into Fort Marcy at 4:30 PM on July 20, an hour and a quarter before Foster's body was found. It was another startling piece of crime scene testimony.

I grabbed the Fiske Report and flicked to page 28. Could I possibly have missed a bit about the menacing man? No, I had not. The key passage had been expurgated. It was exactly what Fiske had done to Josie and Duncan.

Finding this witness was no easy matter. His name was redacted in the FBI documents. There was a brief mention of him in a Park Police "incident record": a Patrick Nolton, with a Washington telephone number 296-2339. But nobody at the number had ever heard of him -- it appeared to be a doctor's clinic -- and it soon became clear that there was no such person as Patrick Nolton in the District of Columbia, and never had been. The Park Police had done a first-rate job of "laundering" the identity of this witness, just as they had "laundered" Duncan's name.

But anybody can be found eventually.

We met for a coffee at the Au Bon Pain near his apartment on Pennsylvania Avenue. He was amiable, worldly, self-assured, wearing clean white jogging shoes and a yachtsman's jersey. Middle American through and through. He was a little over forty, perhaps, with a Celtic face. A registered Democrat. His name was Patrick Knowlton.

It was the first time he had ever spoken to the press about Fort Marcy Park. He had never read the Fiske Report or taken any particular interest in the death of Vincent Foster. As far as he was concerned, the matter was closed. He really did not have anything to reveal that he had not said already to the Park Police and the FBI, but he was happy to oblige a Limey. Now what paper was it? The London what?

A jack-of-all-trades, Patrick had been doing some remodeling work on a house in Chevy Chase on July 20, 1993. He left early, had a swim, went to the bank, and then set off for the two hour drive to a cabin he owned in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The traffic was snarled on the George Washington Parkway -- as the Confidential Witness would discover an hour later -- so Patrick pulled into Fort Marcy Park to find a tree.

There was an old brown Honda on the left, with Arkansas plates. He pulled in to the next space but one. A little further down was a newer blue car, Japanese make by the look of it, facing out into the lot. A man with a manicured appearance wearing a button-down Oxford shirt was sitting in the driver's seat, watching.

The man lowered his window just far enough to glower at Patrick. He had short cropped hair and Hispanic-looking features, although he could have been Middle Eastern. Dark, anyway, and in his late twenties. Patrick did not like the look of him.

"I was worried about getting mugged, so I left my wallet under the seat, just in case." He probably should have driven off straight away, but his knees were knocking by now. He had to find a tree.

"As I got out I heard his car door open and I thought, 'Oh shit, this is it, the guy's coming after me.' But he just stood there, leaning over the roof of the car, watching."

Patrick walked up toward the park. Instead of going into Fort Marcy proper, he took the logging trail to the left where the nearest trees were. That was a fortunate decision. Patrick dreads to think what would have happened if he had walked into the main body of the park.

"When I came back I looked at him and I thought 'Something is going to happen to me unless I get the hell out of here.'''

As an extra precaution on the way down he skirted the far side of the brown Honda. That's when he noticed a jacket draped over the back of the driver's seat, which appeared to be pulled forward.9 On the passenger seat was a soft leather briefcase. "I remember thinking, these people must be real stupid to leave a briefcase like that in plain view on the front passenger seat."

The next night Knowlton was watching the evening news at his mountain cabin when he heard that Vincent Foster's body had been found in Fort Marcy Park on the afternoon of July 20. "That's when I thought, 'Holy shit.' I couldn't sleep thinking about it."

His girlfriend, Kathryn, told him it was his civic duty to call the police. So he did. It was after midnight. The woman on duty at the Park Police was incredibly rude. They got nowhere. The next morning at about 7:30 AM he called the Park Police again to speak to a detective. He spoke to officer John Rolla, who was friendly enough, but did not seem to think that Patrick's story was very important. There was no follow up. The Park Police never sent a detective to interview him. That was it.

Nine months later he was contacted by the FBI and asked to appear for questioning at the Office of the Independent Counsel. It was another episode of amateur hour, or so it seemed. The FBI agent "kept playing stupid -- the whole fricking 'Colombo' routine," he said.

For some inexplicable reason they showed him a photo of a blue Honda with Foster's Arkansas tags RCN-s04' "They told me right out that this was Foster's blue Honda that he'd driven to work that day. They went over it about twenty times, telling me that this was Foster's car," he said.

"I was quite adamant about it. I walked right next to that goddamn car, and it was brown. I saw what I saw, and I wasn't going to change my story."

None of it made any sense. Foster's car was a grey 1989 Honda Accord. The registration certificate from the Arkansas Department of Motor Vehicles is quite clear. Color: Grey. "I think they were just trying to screw me around. It pisses me off."

After coffee, Patrick and I adjourned to the Telegraph offices at the National Press Building, a few blocks from the "White House. By now, he was eager to read his FBI 302 statements to find out what they had said about him. I offered him a deep armchair and then watched out of the comer of my eye as he began to mumble and shake his head.

"Everything's wrong," he said. "Look at this -- 'a 1988 to 1990 brown or rust brown Honda with Arkansas plates' -- I never said that. I told them it was an older model, '83, '84' I was absolutely certain about it. I told them I couldn't believe some hot-shot White House lawyer would be driving a beaten-up old thing like that."

It is hard to believe that the FBI had made an honest mistake. Patrick had been called for a second interview a month later, on May 11, 1994, in order to clear up the dispute about the Honda with Arkansas plates. [10]

The FBI showed him underexposed photos of Foster's Honda -- or that's what they said it was -- in which the car appeared black. The idea was to convince him that the shade of the trees at Fort Marcy might have distorted the color. Patrick refused to budge.

They went over to the FBI lab in the Hoover Building to examine car brochures and color panels. At one point a lab technician called Frederick Whitehurst walked in and suggested that the FBI check every brown Honda in Arkansas from the early 1980s to see if one of them belonged to somebody with White House ties. The agent brushed him off.

"We're on top of all this," he said.

Patrick Knowlton is convinced that the FBI did not misunderstand him when they wrote up his 302 statement the next day. He believes they knowingly falsified it. And as we shall see, they picked a fight with the wrong man.

Patrick remembered a lot of details about that day at Fort Marcy. He was sure that the Arkansas number plates were not RCN 504. At the time his personal car was a Peugeot 504 and he thinks the number would have stuck in his mind.

Funny thing about his Peugeot. It was vandalized the night before his second interrogation by the FBI. A man followed him for several blocks, parked behind him at the Vietnam Memorial, pulled out a tire iron and smashed the lights. It was done in full view of retired police captain Rufus Peckham. [11]

The man was driving an aging Oldsmobile with Illinois tags that tracked to a Ronald Houston. Fate would have it that the U.S. Park Police was in charge of investigating the crime. They misspelled Patrick's name again. This time it was Knowton. They told him that Ronald Houston could not be found. It was untrue. I located him with no difficulty. He had moved to Hagerstown, Maryland, and was living in an elegant house near the Fountain Head Country Club and was driving an expensive, 4-wheel drive, luxury jeep.

Patrick told the U.S. Attorney's Office in D.C. that the man had been located. The Justice Department looked into it and found that the culprit was in fact Houston's brother-in-law, Scott Jeffrey Bickett. He confessed to the vandalism but the Justice Department refused to take any further action. "It was just a dispute over a parking space," said prosecutor Mary McClaren. [12]

A year later I would discover that Scott Jeffrey Bickett works for the Pentagon and is listed in the federal intelligence data bank with the following designations:

* AGCY=DCII, which stands for Defense Contractor II clearance level.

* FBI-HQ, which indicates that he has been briefed at FBI headquarters and serves as an FBI stringer.

* FBI-T

His security clearance is listed as:

* Active SCI, which is the highest clearance in the U.S. government, higher than Top Secret. It stands for Sensitive Compartmented Information.

He was first "indexed" In 1983 with the number 357DJ6137722 1P3F with a "retention" for 15 years. His birthplace was listed as Illinois. [13]

So the man who smashed the Peugeot 504 on the night before Patrick's second FBI interview was on the roster of FBI-HQ. No wonder Mary McLaren decided not to press charges.

But this is getting ahead. Sitting in my office, Patrick was now on the brink of a full-blown Irish tempest. "The bastards," he shouted, when he read that he could not "further identify" the menacing man in the park and "would be unable to recognize him in the future."

"That's an outright lie. I want it on the record that I never said that. I told them I could pick him out of a line-up."

I asked him if he would do a police artist's sketch of the suspect. He agreed. "I can close my eyes and visualize this guy like it was yesterday."

I paid an off-duty police artist to do a sketch of Knowlton's suspect.  [14] A week later, on October 22, 1995, The Sunday Telegraph published the picture, with a cheeky comment that since the U.S. judicial authorities had failed to take the initiative, we would do it for them. The Telegraph pointed out that Kenneth Starr had not called Patrick Knowlton before the grand jury. Nor had Starr called the fornicating couple.

Surely the Independent Counsel was not going to issue his suicide report without deposing three of the most important crime scene witnesses in the Foster case. Starr responded quickly. Four days after the article appeared in London he issued a subpoena for Patrick Knowlton to appear before the Whitewater grand jury. It would prove to be a bad miscalculation.

* * *

The grey Honda really belonged to Laura Foster. She had driven it up from Vanderbilt University in May. A "Christian University Student" sticker was still on the windscreen. But father and daughter had been sharing the car for a few weeks. [15]

Once her brothers Vincent III and Brugh arrived, everybody was using it. The boys were messy. They left the trunk full of beer cans, cigarette packets, junk of all kinds, after their weekend trip to the beach on July 18.

It was Lisa Foster who got to drive the family's black Lexus 300, apparently. Not that she needed it much in Georgetown. It was easier to take taxis for her errands. [16] But she liked her little luxuries. As Bill Kennedy described her to the FBI, she was a "high maintenance" southern wife. [17]

On July 20, Vince and two children bustled down the steps of their house in Cambridge Place at about 8:30 AM and piled into the Honda. [18] Vince the father dropped Vince the son at the Metro -- the son was a staff aide to Arkansas Senator Dale Bumpers -- and dropped Laura at work. [19]

Or at least that is what we are told by the Fiske Report. There is no official record of this, so we have to take it on trust. None of Foster's children was interviewed by Fiske's FBI agents -- much to their surprise -- and the relevant paragraph is redacted in the handwritten notes of Lisa Foster's FBI interview. Why is it redacted? Why, once again, is a passage dealing with Foster's car such an acutely sensitive issue?

Snag. Vincent Foster did not bring his car to work that day. Or if he did, he did not park it in his reserved slot inside the White House grounds, number 16 on Executive Boulevard West. [20] It was never logged in and never logged out. [21]

Nothing seems to make sense about that car. Park Police detective Cheryl Braun took five Polaroids of the Honda at Fort Marcy. Time 7:30 PM. But it is impossible to make anything out, except that the license plate is redacted -- yes, redacted -- it's just a white box. The close-up shots of the car taken later at the Park Police impoundment lot reveal that there was no White House pass on the windscreen. [22]

It is a legitimate question to ask whether Foster's Honda was in fact at Fort Marcy Park on the late afternoon of July 20, 1993. Four of the original witnesses claim that they saw an old brown Honda, which is very hard to reconcile with Foster's four-year-old grey model. It was not just Patrick Knowlton, and Josie and Duncan. There was the "woman in the blue Mercedes," who went into the Fort Marcy parking lot at around 5:45 in search of a telephone after her car broke down. [23]

What color was the first car on the left? I asked her. "Oh, that was a tannish-brown," she said, spontaneously.

Sure? "Oh, yes, quite sure."

I checked her FBI 302 statement. There is no mention of a "tannish- brown" car. It says "light grey." I then went back to the handwritten FBI notes of the interview. The color is not even mentioned. It is obvious that the FBI inserted the words "light grey" later. Why?

So that made four witnesses who saw a tannish-brown car. What about the paramedics?

The official "narrative report" by Sgt. George Gonzalez of the Emergency Medical Services says: "BRWN HONDA. AR TAGS." [24]

The Medical Examiner?

Dr. Donald Haut saw "an orange compact, a beat-up old thing. I was surprised anybody in the White House would be driving a car like that." [25]

According to their FBI statements, several people observed a car that was consistent with Foster's 1989 grey Honda. The trouble is, some of the official statements are at odds with the agents' original handwritten notes. Park Police Officer Franz Ferstl, for instance, described it as a "late model, light-colored car that he later learned was Foster's vehicle." [26] But the notes do not mention the age or the color. They read: "There was a car parked in ft of lot to left (later learned it was VF's car)." It is not a big change, but it is not quite the same either. The cumulative effect of such distortions is to alter the complexion of the case.

I do not wish to accuse every FBI agent involved in the Foster investigation of distorting evidence. Some of the witness statements are accurate. It appears at least one agent was systematically altering statements, sometimes with little tweaks here and there, sometimes with outright falsehoods, as in the cases of Patrick Knowlton and the Confidential Witness.

The result in this instance was to create enough confusion about Foster's Honda to obscure the facts. But once you are alert to this legerdemain by the FBI, everything comes into focus. The old tannish-brown Honda parked at Fort Marcy between 4:30 PM and 6:37 PM -- when the first team of paramedics left the scene -- could not have been Vincent Foster's vehicle.

To whom did this car belong? Where was Foster's Honda that afternoon? Was the plate RCN 504 switched? Were the two cars switched at the crime scene as soon as the paramedics had left? These were the questions that Associate Independent Counsel Miquel Rodriguez was about to explore before his investigation was stymied.

* * *

Another mystery.

The keys to Vincent Foster's Honda had vanished.

"I searched his pants pockets. I couldn't find a wallet or nothing in his pants pockets," said Detective John Rolla of the U.S. Park Police. "We searched the car, and we were puzzled why we found no keys." [27]

It would be hard to miss them. Foster had a collection of at least six keys on two separate rings. One ring was for the Honda with a tag marked "Vince's Keys." [28] The other had a tag from Cook Jeep Sales, Little Rock, with four cabinet and door keys, including a Medeco-cut high security key with the inscription "U.S. Property Do Not Duplicate." [29]

The likelihood that Detective Rolla could search the trouser pockets of Foster's suit without finding this clump of metal is close to zero.

But two hours later, the keys mysteriously appeared. When detectives John Rolla and Cheryl Braun reached the morgue at the Fairfax County Hospital, the keys were sitting in the front right pocket of Foster's trousers. [30]

By the time they arrived, two men from the White House had already paid a visit to "identify" the body. [31] The White House aides had made themselves unpopular at the Fairfax County Hospital, flashing credentials and acting as if they owned the world. Nurse Christina Tea was not impressed. She refused to let them into the morgue at first, demanding proper authorization from the Park Police. [32] But they got in soon enough. Not only that, they managed to get inside the room itself.

"Many times when you view a body, you are in a separate room and view it through the glass," explained Detective Rolla. "This time, I don't think that happened. They were let in, the room attendant unzipped the body bag, they looked at it, he zipped it back up." [33]

One of the White House aides was Craig Livingstone, the former bar bouncer from Pittsburgh who had risen to White House chief of personnel security under the patronage of Hillary Clinton. It was the same Craig Livingstone who would later emerge as the protagonist of "Filegate," the man who came upon the FBI files of 900 political opponents at the White House as a result of an "innocent snafu."

The other was Associate White House Counsel William H. Kennedy III, friend and protege of the deceased. Kennedy would have his moment of subpoena glory when he was summoned before the Senate Banking Committee to explain why he had written "Vacuum Rose law files .... Documents never know, go out quietly," in his notes at a White House meeting on November 5, 1993. But this does not do him justice. He is an under-appreciated figure in the Byzantine nexus of the Clintons.

Lugubrious, brooding, abrasive, he was the man who made the trains run on time at the Counsel's office. Where others waffled, he executed. It was his task to comb through the FBI background files and IRS tax-check forms of presidential appointees, and others, too, no doubt. These were not FBI summaries. He was reading the original SF86 raw data files from the "full-field" investigations. Names, places, dates -- all the dirt. [34]

When he uncovered something "problematical" he would go to Vincent Foster to talk it through. [35] These two knew all the secrets. Too many, perhaps, for their own good. The two Arkansans went back a long way. Kennedy had first started at the Rose Law Firm in 1976 as an intern for Foster, and for the better part of two decades they had served the same master in Little Rock. Both were bailiffs of Stephens Incorporated, the financial overlord of Arkansas. It was only natural that Foster would tap Kennedy to serve under him at the White House Counsel's office. [36]

The activities of Livingstone and Kennedy on the night of July 20, 1990, do not make sense. They arrived at the morgue separately. But they left together, driving the twenty miles back to Kennedy's home in Alexandria in the same car.

"I drove Mr. Kennedy in my car to his home," said Livingstone in a deposition under oath. [37]

"So you left Mr. Kennedy's car at the hospital?"

"Correct. He was pretty upset."

It strikes me as bizarre for a busy man like Kennedy to leave a car 20 miles away in Fairfax. But Kennedy denied this anyway in his deposition, saying that it was Livingstone who left his car behind. [38]

The handwritten notes of Kennedy's FBI interview read "CL lvs his car at Hospital." The next line is redacted. [39] So are the next four pages. It is clear that the FBI was asking Kennedy questions about his movements that are still so sensitive, years later, that the American people cannot be told.

I do not offer an explanation as to why Livingstone and Kennedy cannot get their story straight on this elementary point. It is part of the inexhaustible mystery of the Foster case. What we do know with near certainty is that somebody slipped those keys into Foster's pocket at the Fairfax County morgue.

It compels a rather sinister question. Whoever had the keys, what were they doing with them in the first place?
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 27854
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: The Secret Life of Bill Clinton: The Unreported Stories

Postby admin » Sat Jul 02, 2016 11:06 pm

CHAPTER TWELVE: STREET FASCISM

THANK YOU FOR ruining my life," said Patrick Knowlton, calling to announce that he had received a subpoena from the Whitewater grand jury.

It was delivered by FBI Agent Russell Bransford at 10:30 AM on October 26. [1] What happened over the next two days is bizarre beyond belief, but I tell the story because it has had major consequences two years later. The tomfoolery outlined in the following pages is laughable in a way, but it has resulted in a lawsuit that could compel fresh witness testimony through the power of legal discovery. If we ever learn the full truth about Vincent Foster, it may well be because of a childish prank by the political police.

It was Patrick's girlfriend, Kathryn, who noticed it first. They were walking through the avant-garde neighborhood of Dupont Circle that evening when a middle-aged man in a brown suit stopped and stared at Patrick. [2] At first Kathryn did not think much of it. A practical woman, with a Ph.D. in management, she is not the kind to see shadows on the wall. But then it happened again.

The next man was of similar vintage, with a navy blue jacket. His stare lasted about fifteen seconds. It was the same distinctive stare -- one designed to provoke fear, confusion, and paranoia. And then it happened again, and again: men cutting in front of them, following them, glowering into Patrick's eyes, fixing him with the look of death wherever he turned.

The harassment was a boiler-plate operation, just the sort of trick played on Communist sympathizers in the 1950s, and Civil Rights activists in the 1960s. Old habits die hard, it seems.

After seven or eight episodes -- which are all described in detail in court documents [3] -- Patrick and Kathryn were seriously alarmed. The men were becoming more brazen now. They were actually brushing into Patrick, circling like hyenas. Some Middle Eastern types had joined in. Well-groomed. Athletic.

"At this point I was a nervous wreck, I was sweating. It was totally out of control," said Patrick.

He called me up in great distress that night and relayed the details, but was trying hard not to overreact. The next day it began again. My colleague Chris Ruddy, from The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, happened to be visiting Washington. He was extremely skeptical, but agreed to accompany Patrick for a stroll around lunchtime. Half an hour later he called me on his mobile telephone.

"You're not going to believe what's going on here. There's a surveillance net of at least thirty people harassing Patrick, I've never seen anything like it in my life."

It was now obvious that they were trying to destabilize Patrick Knowlton before his grand jury appearance, and they did not seem to care whether this was observed by witnesses. It was street fascism in broad daylight, five blocks from the White House.

Patrick had called the FBI, requesting witness protection. Meanwhile Chris Ruddy and I put in a conference call to Deputy Independent Counsel John Bates to inform him that his grand jury witness was being intimidated. His secretary took down a few details. An hour later I called again. She let out an audible laugh and said that her boss had received the message. I can hardly blame her treating it as a joke. The office is no doubt deluged with calls that range from the cranky to the deranged. Bates never called back.

Sometime after midnight, Patrick telephoned me at my home in Bethesda. By now he was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Somebody had got inside his apartment building and was banging on the door. When he answered, there was nobody there. Outside his window there was a man in a green trenchcoat, staring up at him. The telephone kept ringing. Hang-up calls.

"I can't take it any more. I want out of this," he said.

"Stay calm, don't let these criminals get to you," I said. "I'm going to come down and get you out of there. You're going to stay at my house until this nonsense is over."

On the way down I used my car phone to round up a posse. We met outside Patrick's apartment block, all three of us -- a professional clown, accountant Hugh Sprunt (who was visiting from Texas), and myself, trudging through the drizzle, armed with umbrellas.

By then, the harassment had stopped. Patrick had regained his nerve. He decided it was better to tough it out. I told him to disconnect the telephone for the rest of the night. The truth militia would mount a guard outside his apartment building, patrolling the streets of Foggy Bottom with their umbrellas.

Our little foray was just what the FBI wanted. On Monday they told Patrick that "Pritchard and Ruddy" were orchestrating the harassment -- to sell newspapers. [4] FBI Agent Russell Bransford finally dropped by the apartment, more than 48 hours after Patrick had requested witness protection. Patrick tried to call his lawyer, but the telephone had gone dead. Agent Bransford was cavalier, ironic, and mocking.

"He had this smirk on his face, as if he thought the whole thing was amusing," said Patrick. "I told him to get the hell out of my house."

* * *

"A toast to Kenneth Starr and the cause of justice," I said, acidly.

"To Kenneth Starr," replied Patrick Knowlton, lifting his glass. "The bastard."

We were a foursome -- Patrick, his girlfriend Kathryn, Christopher Ruddy, and myself -- sitting in one of those mahogany booths at the Occidental Grill, drinking a bottle of very expensive Cakebread Chardonnay. It was strangely jovial. There is always a sense of camaraderie when you find yourselves thrown together, fighting on every front at once: against the White House, against the Republicans, against the FBI, against the Justice Department, against the whole power structure of the United States.

None of us could quite believe that it had reached this point. But it had. The ruling class was going to crush Patrick Knowlton. They were going to trample on the civil rights of an American citizen, rather than let him disturb the settled resolution of Vincent Foster's death. There was nowhere for Patrick to turn. The rule of law was derelict, the press craven.

Patrick was still fuming from his treatment at the Whitewater grand jury that afternoon. It had been another hazing, this time by a young prosecutor named Brett Kavanaugh who attempted to ridicule the witness. Did the menacing man at the park "pass you a note," Mr. Knowlton? Did he "touch your genitals," Mr. Knowlton? [5]

So it went on, surely one of the lowest moments in the life of the Whitewater grand jury. Patrick flew off the handle at the imputation that he was a homosexual. He erupted in fury against the polished yuppy prosecutors, much to the delight of a group of African American jurors who rocked 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 had started as a charade; it had ended in farce.

At least Patrick now knew that he could expect nothing from the Starr investigation. He was forced to conclude that the Office of the Independent Counsel was itself corrupt.

We ordered a second bottle of Cakebread, and plotted. Chris Ruddy and Patrick had snapped a few pictures of the street fascists, but identifying these people would take a long time.

We also had the license plate number of one of the cars that had been curb-crawling behind Patrick in a maneuver of overt intimidation. The tags tracked to an Arab living in Vienna, Virginia, close to the headquarters of the CIA. His name was Ayman. Not much to go on, but it was a start. Robustly drunk by now, I suggested that we all pile into a car and drive to the man's house for a surprise visit.

It was after midnight when we arrived at a cluster of mid-market townhouses. The lights were still on.

"Ayman, it's us. Answer the door, Ayman," I called out from the steps. He appeared in the doorway, an affable man of about thirty who spoke educated English. Patrick Knowlton recognized him at once as the driver of the surveillance car.

He explained that he was from Jordan. Not Palestinian. Jordanian. He had studied for a Ph.D. in economics at Oxford University, he said, and was now completing his studies in the United States. What could he do to help us? he asked.

We explained that somebody using his license tags had been conducting a harassment operation related to the death of Vincent Foster.

"Vincent Foster? It has to do with the Foster case?" he spluttered, turning ash white.

"It certainly does, Ayman, old chap. You'd better be more careful with those tags of yours," I advised.

As we spoke, a younger man appeared in the hall. He never said a word, but watched with fierce concentration. "That was him," said Patrick, afterward, "the other guy who was in the car."

Clearly they were stringers of some kind, people who could be called up at short notice to do street jobs for a little extra money. The security forces of every country employ such types for operations that require a degree of deniability. The stringers usually come cheap. If foreign, they tend to have residency problems so they can be induced to work for free.

But who were they working for? Who was Ayman? Oxford University said that they had no record of anybody by his name. But he has an interesting past. During the buildup to the Gulf War in 1990 he worked as the U.S. coordinator for a group called Solidarity International for Kuwait. The group ostensibly represented the civic opposition to the Al-Sabah family. It was making the statement that democracy activists had rallied to support the Kuwaiti monarchy in the face of Iraqi aggression.

In short, Ayman's task was to provide a patina of democratic respectability to the Kuwaiti cause. It was to reassure Americans that young, enlightened, pro-western students were behind the Sheikh. It had intelligence fingerprints all over it. But which intelligence service? Surely not the Jordanians. It could only have been the Saudis, the Kuwaitis, or the CIA.

Most people would have given up at this point. It seemed hopeless for a lone citizen to cut his way through this impenetrable thicket. But Patrick Knowlton was not going to surrender his rights as an American citizen without giving them -- whoever they were -- a taste of Celtic wrath.

He commissioned a lie detector test from Paul Minor, former chief polygrapher for the FBI, and passed with "no deception indicated" on every question about the events in Fort Marcy Park and the harassment in Dupont Circle. [6] He submitted to a psychiatric examination by Dr. Thomas Goldman who concluded that he was not suffering from mental disorder or paranoia. He underwent a Wechsler Memory Scale test by Dr. Lanning Moldauer, who found that he was in the 90th percentile for his visual memory.

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.

Finally he prepared a "Report of Witness Tampering" in the hope that the Starr investigation would be shamed into doing something. It was their responsibility, at the very least, to find out who leaked word of his subpoena. But when Patrick took the report to the Office of the Independent Counsel at 1001 Pennsylvania Avenue, John Bates called security and had him thrown out of the building. That was the last straw.

In October 1996 Patrick Knowlton filed a federal tort claim in the U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia, case number 96- 2467, alleging a conspiracy to violate his civil rights, to inflict emotional distress, and to dissuade him from testifying truthfully before the federal grand jury. In the amended complaint he named the United States of America, FBI Agents Lawrence Monroe and Russell T. Bransford, and the two mysterious Jordanians, Ayman and Abdel.

"This case arises from a conspiracy to obstruct justice into investigations of the death of Deputy White House Counsel Vincent W. Foster," began the suit. "Plaintiff avers that overt acts alleged in furtherance of the conspiracy were committed at the direction or with the knowledge or consent of Defendant United States by and through the Federal Bureau of Investigation." [7]

It was a quixotic endeavor. Patrick was in debt. His lawyer and friend, John H. Clarke, had already sold his car to help defray the costs of pursuing the case. They had no money, no well-heeled patrons. Just the little contributions that came in dribs and drabs from around the country for the Knowlton defense fund.

"It's just so reprehensible what they've done -- using government agents illegally like that. It's the epitome of everything wrong in this country," said Clarke, explaining why he had sacrificed his law practice to work doggedly on this case. "But I also know in my own mind, as a lawyer, that I can prevail. It's one of the biggest cover-ups in the history of the country, and if they ever give me a day in court I can prove it."

Big if.
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 27854
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: The Secret Life of Bill Clinton: The Unreported Stories

Postby admin » Sat Jul 02, 2016 11:06 pm

CHAPTER THIRTEEN: THE TIP-OFF

TELEPHONE NUMBER 395-4366. It tracks to the U.S. Secret Service. There it is, in the handwritten notes of Park Police Detective John Rolla on the evening of July 20, 1993. [1]

If it is not proof, it is at least compelling evidence that the White House was tipped off about Foster's death two hours before the official notification.

The sequence is crystal clear. Detective Rolla is contacted at 6:15 PM. In his notebook he writes:

Dead Body
Ft Marcy
Warm Sunny Day

He reaches the crime scene at about 6:35 PM. He is directed to the Honda with Arkansas plates RCN 504 in the parking lot, evidently the vehicle of the victim. Within two minutes a trace reveals that it belongs to Vincent Foster, Jr., 5414 Stonewall Rd, Little Rock, Arkansas, 72202.

Then comes the entry "Lt. Walter 395-4366." This is Lieutenant Danny Walter, U.S. Secret Service.

Detective Rolla was asked about this telephone number in a Senate deposition in June 1994 under penalty of perjury. At first he answered that Danny Walter was "a lieutenant on the Park Police." [2]

When pressed by Counsel Roman E. Darmer III, the detective began a tap dance. "I don't know, maybe this is a Secret Service guy. Maybe I called him. I don't remember .... I say, let's call the number and find out now, then we will know."

Reed Irvine from Accuracy in Media in Washington did exactly that. He called the number. The phone was answered by the Presidential Protection Division of the U.S. Secret Service at room 058 in the basement of the White House. [3]

The notebook indicates that Detective Rolla called the Secret Service at about 6:40 PM, within minutes of arriving at Fort Marcy Park. It would have been surprising if he had done otherwise:

• Foster had a Motorola pager on his belt with the letters WHCA (White House Communications Agency). [4]

• His White House ID was sitting on the front passenger seat of the unlocked Honda. [5]

• And presumably -- since this was supposed to be the car he parked in slot 16, West Executive Boulevard, each day [6] -- his White House sticker was clearly visible on the windscreen of the car.

The White House, however, has always claimed that it did not learn about the death until closer to 9:00 PM. The official memorandum states that the Secret Service was first notified at 8:30 PM. [7]

"LT. WOLTZ USSS/UD - WHS ... ADVISED THAT AT 2030 HRS HE WAS CONTACTED BY LT. GAVIN, US PARK POLICE, WHO PROVIDED THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION: ON THE EVENING OF 7120/93, UNKNOWN TIME, US PARK POLICE DISCOVERED THE BODY OF VINCENT FOSTER IN HIS CAR ... A .38 CAL. REVOLVER WAS FOUND IN THE CAR."

The body in the car? Gun in the car?

This was just a mistake, apparently. The Park Police accused the Secret Service of not listening properly. "I think he filled in the blanks. I said that his car was found. I didn't mention where the gun was found," said Park Police Lt. Pat Gavin. [8]

The memo then listed the White House officials who were notified by the Secret Service. First in line was David Watkins, identified as "Dir. of Personnel." (In fact, he was Director of Administration.)

* * *

"That evening was the earliest I ever got away the whole time I worked at the White House," recounted David Watkins, in his soft Arkansas accent. [9]

He is a very charming man, a former star quarterback, and now a golfing enthusiast. It was golf that proved to be his undoing, for he was fired by President Clinton in May 1994, after taking a Marine helicopter on a scouting trip to a country club near Camp David. To compound the humiliation, Clinton ordered him to reimburse the government $13,679 for the fare. It was rough treatment from a man he had known since childhood in Hope, Arkansas.

Watkins went to work for Calloway Golf, and turned his back on politics. As Rebecca Borders reported in The American Spectator, his only political act in the 1996 election campaign was to drive around Little Rock with a Bob Dole sticker on his jeep.

On July 20, 1993, he picked up his wife, Eileen, and went over to the Cineplex Odeon Wisconsin Avenue Cinemas to watch the Clint Eastwood film In the Line of Fire. It was showing on Screen A at 6:25PM and Screen B at 7:10 PM. He cannot remember which screen it was. The credits had rolled through, the film was just starting, when he was beeped by the White House signals office (WACA).

"I thought, damn, I really wanted to watch that film."

He went to a pay phone at the theater. The Secret Service informed him that Vincent Foster was dead, self-inflicted gunshot to the head. It was deeply shocking. Watkins and Foster were not close friends, but they came from the same intimate little world. Both were from Hope. They knew the same people. Watkins had once dated Foster's sister, Sharon.

At the White House, Watkins and Foster talked every day. There were no signs of depression. [10] Eileen Watkins had played tennis with Lisa Foster that morning. Everything seemed fine.

"I was so in shock, I couldn't understand. I kept saying, 'Are you sure it's Vince Foster?'"

Watkins walked out onto Wisconsin Avenue to wait for the Park Police to pick him up. As best he can recall, it was a little after 7:30 PM.

* * *

Lt. William Bianchi was at the McLean fire station when the paramedics from Ambulance One and Engine One arrived back. They had left Fort Marcy Park at 6: 3 7 PM. [11]

They were all gossiping about the victim being a White House aide. [12] "One of Clinton's buddies has killed himself," quipped Sgt. Iacone. [13] There was a joke going around that the man had been shot at the White House and dumped in a federal park so the Park Police would be in charge. Give it to the Keystone Cops. [14]

Todd Hall and Rick Arthur were commenting on how strange the whole thing was, the body lying so straight, so clean. [15] Given the circumstances, Lt. Bianchi ordered the unit leaders to fill out a detailed incident report. [16]

Later, Bianchi issued a gag order, as requested by the Office of the County Attorney. It forbade the paramedics from talking to the press about the Foster death "if they were interested in keeping their jobs." [17]

I asked one of the paramedics who logged out of Fort Marcy at 6:37PM if he was sure they didn't learn of Foster's identity later in the evening. Couldn't there be some confusion?

"We all knew that it was a White House official when we left the park," he said, wearily. "Of course we knew, everybody knew, we were all talking about it on the way back." [18]

The Fairfax County Medical Examiner tells the same story. When Dr. Donald Haut rolled up in his blue Crown Victoria, with his wife, he remembers a whole gaggle of Park Police officers. One of them immediately came over and told him that the victim worked at the White House.

"They all knew right away. Everybody sort of assumed that Foster was one of the underlings the Clintons had brought up from Arkansas," said Haut. [19]

So what time did Dr. Haut arrive? He told the FBI that it was 6:45 PM. [20] But this was probably too early. He had just finished eating supper on the patio at his home when the call came. Reconstructing the chronology with his wife two years later, he thought that it was probably between 7:00 and 7:15 PM by the time they reached Fort Marcy.

This is consistent with the report he filed with the Virginia Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. In the box marked "View of Body" he wrote 7:15 PM.

In one of those revealing little fibs, the Fiske Report claimed that he did not arrive until 7:40 PM. It will be interesting to see if Kenneth Starr tries to stretch the time line, too.

* * *

So how does the Park Police explain the delay of almost two hours in notifying the White House? With great difficulty.

Investigator Cheryl Braun (promoted to sergeant a month later) arrived from the Anacostia station at 6:35 PM. After a quick briefing by the shift commander, she began going through Foster's Honda.

There was a map of the Washington metropolitan area on the floorboard, with no annotations or ink marks. A blue silk tie with swans was lying on top of a suit jacket, which was neatly folded on the front passenger seat. In the inside pocket of the jacket was a brown leather wallet. It contained $292 in cash, Foster's Arkansas driver's license, an American Express gold card, an Exxon card, a Delta Frequent Flyer card, and -- this should have set off the alarm bells -- a White House Federal Credit Union card.

Finally she noticed Foster's laminated chain ID from the White House Communications Center with Foster's photo lying loose on the seat beneath the jacket. [21]

Strangely, Detective John Rolla told the FBI that he was the one who searched the jacket and wallet, and found the ID.22 Why can't the two Park Police detectives get their story straight on this? It was not a minor detail. The discovery of the White House ID changed the whole tenor of the case.

I strongly suspect that the ID had in fact been found already, either by Sgt. Jim Edwards or by Lt. Pat Gavin, two Park Police officers of higher rank who were already on the scene. Rescue worker Richard Arthur told the FBI that he saw a group of officers searching Foster's car for an ID before he left the scene at 6:37 PM. [23]

Let us assume that Cheryl Braun is telling the truth. By her own admission she had discovered the White House ID by 7:00 PM, an hour and a half before the White House was told. [24] Why does it take 90 minutes to call the other side of the Potomac River?

Braun says that she asked another officer to relay the message to the shift commander. This officer is not identified in her FBI statement, and for a very good reason. [25] The handwritten notes of her interview reveal that the man was in fact Officer William Watson, a member of the Park Police "Special Weapons and Tactics" team. [26]

What was the Park Police SWAT team doing at Fort Marcy at 7:00 PM on July 20, 1993, attending to a routine suicide? Why was this information withheld from the American people until it was forced into the open by Chris Ruddy's Freedom of Information Act lawsuit?

SWAT Officer Watson forgot to pass on the message, according to Braun. Here was a White House official lying dead in the park, and Officer Watson forgot to carry out the only assignment he was asked to do?

Half an hour later Braun discovered that nobody had notified the shift commander, so she made the call herself. [27] She claims that this was done at 7:30 PM. The FBI later massaged this to 7:30-7:45 in her official statement, but the handwritten notes of the interview say 7:30 PM, period. It is another sign that the FBI was jigging the testimony to close the time gap. Every fifteen minutes helped.

If one believes the story of Cheryl Braun, this still leaves a whole hour unexplained before the Secret Service was notified of Foster's death.

It is no wonder that Associate Independent Counsel Miquel Rodriguez felt the need to read the perjury statutes line by line to the Park Police officers at the grand jury.

* * *

Trooper Roger Perry was on duty at the guard shack of the Arkansas Governor's Mansion when the call came through from the White House. It was Helen Dickey. She was babbling incoherently, quite upset. [28]

Perry tried to calm her down. He knew her well from the days when she was Chelsea Clinton's babysitter. All the troopers on the security detail had grown fond of her. She practically lived with the Clintons. She ate with them, went everywhere with them. She was family, but they had her listed as a security employee on the Mansion payroll. [29] It was a way for the Clintons to get free nanny care. No social security taxes either. Anyway, she was much grander now: she was Assistant to the White House Social Secretary.

"Vince shot himself," she sputtered. "He walked out to his car and shot himself in the head."

Perry tried to comfort her. He knew that Helen had been a neighbor of the Fosters and looked up to Vince as one of the great gentlemen of life. As she calmed down, Perry went over the details carefully. She repeated that Vince Foster had got off work and shot himself in the parking lot.

Perry relayed the message to Governor Jim Guy Tucker, then telephoned his friend Trooper Larry Patterson. "You ain't going believe what's happened now," he began.

It was early evening. Patterson had not been home all that long. His shift ended at 4:30 PM. He had not even changed out of his uniform. At the very latest it was 6:00 PM central time (7:00 PM eastern time). [30]

Perry also called Lynn Davis, the former commander of the Arkansas State Police.

"It was during the rush-hour, before 6:00 PM our time," said Davis. "He told me they'd found Vince Foster's body in his car, he'd shot himself in the parking lot." [31]

So, three men in Little Rock knew about the death of Vincent Foster before 6:00 PM local time -- before 7:00 PM in Washington, D.C. -- an hour and a half before the White House was officially notified. Without realizing it, Perry had repeated the version of events that later came to light in the declassified Secret Service memo. He had been told the "body-in-the-car" version that was mistakenly circulating inside the White House during the early part of the evening, which lends a degree of authenticity to his story.

It is possible that they are all confused about the time, but each of them signed a sworn affidavit. Helen Dickey, in turn, issued her own affidavit stating that she did not learn about Foster's death until 10:00 PM -- after watching the President on Larry King Live in the Solarium at the White House Residence. However, she acknowledges that she made the call to Perry. [32]

The war of the affidavits was underway. Senator AI D'Amato, Chairman of the Senate Whitewater Special Committee, took a brief interest in the matter in September 1995. His office issued a statement announcing that the committee "will try to resolve this discrepancy by calling in Ms. Dickey and Trooper Perry for depositions. We have an obligation to determine the truth."

In his entertaining book, Fools for Scandal: How the Media Invented Whitewater, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette columnist Gene Lyons saw this as evidence of a "flirtation with the nut right." D'Amato was getting desperate, he alleged. "By late autumn 1995, the revived Senate Whitewater hearings had begun to resemble an absurdist mini-drama."

Something was needed to juice things up, so D'Amato latched on to the "farcical episode" of the Helen Dickey story, which had "started with a story in the London Sunday Telegraph" and then snaked its way like a slug into the U.S. press. "It wasn't until February 14, 1996, that the sad little farce came to a predictable end when Helen Dickey testified before the Whitewater committee."

By this, presumably, he meant that she repeated the assertions made in her affidavit. (How could she do otherwise?) Lyons noted that Senator D'Amato was "abjectly apologetic," reminding everybody that it was actually the Democrats who had requested the testimony of Helen Dickey in order to put "this wild speculation" to rest. Neither Trooper Perry, nor Trooper Patterson, nor Commander Lynn Davis -- a former FBI agent, and a former U.S. Marshal -- were ever called to give their side of the story.

Gene Lyons reached a wide audience with his plucky defense of the Clintons. He wrote long articles for Harper's and the ultraserious New York Review of Books, each time alleging that the troopers had refused to testify -- as if it were possible to refuse a subpoena. Over time this came to be accepted as fact. The BBC even came to see me in Washington and started their interview by asking what I had to say for myself now that the whole Dickey story was shown to be a fiction. It was a very interesting insight into the way that consensus is manufactured in the Washington media culture.

But Lyons's olympian pronouncements were ill-informed. The troopers were in fact eager to testify. A "tentative" deposition had been scheduled for October 1995 but it was delayed because both the committee and the lawyer for the troopers agreed that it would make more sense to obtain the telephone records first. [33]

Needless to say, the records were not forthcoming. "The White House has been able to locate no record of a telephone call from Ms. Helen Dickey to the Governor's Mansion in Little Rock on July 20, 1993," associate White House counsel Jane Sherburne informed the U.S. Senate. [34] The call was made through the "Signal Switchboard," she explained, so it could not be traced.

This is very hard to believe. The White House Communications Agency is a high-tech Defense Department outfit run by an officer with the rank of colonel. If it cannot keep track of outgoing calls, America must be slipping into the Third World.

So the testimony of a 25-year-old erstwhile Clinton nanny was accepted as the final word on the matter, while three law enforcement officers with combined service of more than 70 years were not allowed to speak.

Senator D'Amato's acquiescence in this maneuver by the Senate Democrats is all the more remarkable when you learn who Helen Dickey actually is. To call her Chelsea's nanny does not do justice to her wide range of skills. In the first place she is a graduate of the University of Arkansas, and is the daughter of campaign treasurer Robyn Dickey, who signed the checks at the Clinton-Gore headquarters in 1992.

At the White House she worked for Marsha Scott on the illicit "Big Brother" database that has been the subject of an investigation on Capitol Hill. [35] She helped Hillary Clinton write It Takes a Village, typing up the pages every day in July and August of 1995. For two years she lived in a suite on the third floor of the Living Quarters of the White House, directly above the Clintons, and went in and out of their kitchen as if it were her own.

This was not some lowly aide to the President and the First Lady. This was their second daughter. Dickey had an obvious motive to dissemble about the events of July 20, 1993, and that is exactly what she did in her closed-door deposition to the Senate. [36]

What time did she get off work? She couldn't remember.

What did she do after work? She couldn't remember.

What did she do for dinner? She couldn't remember.

Did she talk to the First Lady that night? She couldn't remember.

She was alone in the Solarium when she watched the President on Larry King Live. Other aides were clustered together in a celebratory mood. But not the gregarious Dickey. Nobody saw her. And on it went, with the help of some very aggressive blocking by the Democratic counsel, James Portnoy.

For the record, the Secret Service logs show that Dickey "went up" to the living quarters from her West Wing office at 19:32. She came down again later at 22:15 -- although this has been crossed out and replaced with 23:35. [37]

Far from settling the matter, her performance under cross-examination cried out for further investigation. But the Republicans decided to let the issue slide. When Dickey was called before the committee in open hearings two days later she was handled with kid gloves.

All bark and no bite, Al D'Amato.

"Bill Clinton is a crook and a thief," he screamed all of a sudden when I was having coffee in his office. "Hillary Clinton is a crook and a thief, too." [38]


Then he minced his way over to the telephone to take a call from his dear friend Bob. This was Bob Fiske. They had known each other for decades in New York. This meeting occurred during the height of the Fiske investigation, so I asked if he would like me to leave the room.

No, no, he waived, and for the next fifteen to twenty minutes I heard a conversation that helped me understand why Senator AI D'Amato was never going to challenge the findings of the Fiske Report. As he got off the phone, he minced back to the sofa in a state of near ecstasy.

"God that man's tough. Tough, I mean tough. If the Clintons think they've found some patsy who's going to roll over, they've made the biggest mistake of their lives. Bob's going to cut their balls off."

But the real patsy was AI D'Amato. An engaging man, capable of gushing Italian charm, he is also weak, vacillating, and craves the approval of the Washington press corps.

Anybody watching those hearings could see that he was no match for the single-minded Democrats on his committee. The show trial was indeed an "absurdist mini-drama," as Gene Lyons had said. It was an interminable parade of secondary witnesses, talking about secondary issues, for month after month with no theme or purpose. In the end it served to exonerate the White House, giving the impression to the American public that the Clinton scandals had been investigated exhaustively, without result.

Foster's death itself was taboo, so D'Amato confined himself to investigating the seizure of documents from Foster's office that night. But even in this the Senator managed to miss the point. His lawyers honed in on allegations that a raiding party had entered Foster's office at around 10:50 PM to spirit away incriminating documents.

Secret Service officer Henry O'Neill testified that he saw Maggie Williams, the First Lady's chief-of-staff, coming out of Foster's office with a 3- to 5-inch pile of folders in both hands, then disappearing into her office next door, and then coming back out empty-handed. [39]

Ms. Williams denied it under oath, and passed two polygraph tests. She explained that she had wandered into Foster's office out of a Pavlovian reflex. The light was on and she just sort of hoped to feel the presence of Vince one last time. [40] All she did was sit on the sofa and think of Vince and weep her heart out.

Patsy Thomasson was there -- the Director of the Office of Administration -- sitting at Foster's desk. So Thomasson, too, was grilled by the committee. Senator Faircloth accused her of "rifling through" sensitive documents. She denied it.

"I opened each drawer in his desk, to look if there was something laying in the top. My thought process was if someone left a suicide note, they would leave it where it could be easily found." [41]

Why did she search his briefcase? [42]

"Because it was sitting at the base of his desk, and it just looked like a likely place."

And so it went, on and on, going nowhere. Months later Senator D'Amato had still failed to establish that anything sinister had happened in Foster's office that night.

But of course. He was looking at the wrong raid.

The 10:50 PM excursion into Foster's office was not the one that mattered. There was a reason why the White House has always insisted that it did not learn of Foster's death until 8:30 PM, when it quite obviously learned much earlier. The real mischief in Foster's office occurred between 6:45 and 8:30 PM -- that is to say before Foster's set of keys, including that Medeco-cut high security key, made their way back into his pocket at the morgue.

If subpoena power had been used to pull at this string, the coverup of Foster's death would have unraveled very quickly.


* * *

President Clinton was on Larry King Live from 9:00 to 10:00 PM, giving a cheerful account of himself. It had been a good day for the White House. The nomination of Louis Freeh as the new Director of the FBI had been met with approval all round.

If the truth be known, Freeh was not the first choice. Clinton had wanted to appoint his old friend Rick Stearns, by now a judge on the Massachusetts Superior Court, to control the investigative machinery of the Justice Department.

Like the President, Stearns was a Rhodes Scholar from the rambunctious Class of '68, and Clinton's confidant during his maneuvers to evade the Vietnam draft. The two had traveled to Spain together in 1969 on a pilgrimage to the shrines of the Spanish Civil War.

But Clinton's staff had talked him out of appointing Stearns. There were already too many accusations of cronyism flying in Washington. It might have raised suspicions about the way Director Sessions had been disposed of the day before. Louis Freeh was a good compromise. Friend of Bernie Nussbaum. Friend of Bob Fiske. Good recommendations.His Opus Dei background helped, too. [43] It was another power network that Clinton could put to good use.

The president was in such high spirits that he agreed to stay on for another half-hour segment with Larry King. The show was being filmed in the ground-floor library of the White House. Mack McLarty appeared at the door. He waited until the advertisements, then broke in.

"Mr. President, let's quit while we're ahead," he said. "We've done the hour interview. It's been a fine interview." [44]

"Mack, what's wrong? What's up?"

"It's not a national emergency, or a crisis, but it's a very serious matter. Let's go upstairs."

That is when Bill Clinton first learned about the death of his childhood friend Vincent Foster. Or so we are told.

But did Bill Clinton already know something before he appeared on the show? It is hard to imagine that he is such a masterful actor, and such a cynic, that he could have staged this exuberant performance knowing that Foster was already dead. But how are we to account for the events witnessed by the CNN makeup artist sent to prepare the President for his appearance on Larry King Live that night? As she was putting the final touches to the President's blotchy yellow skin in the White House Map Room, a man walked in and announced that a note had been found in Vince Foster's office.

She was not able to identify the aide, but remembered that Mack McLarty was in the room. It must have been about 8:50 PM. She came forward to the FBI with some trepidation, for it was obvious that this had dreadful implications. Robert Fiske could not ignore her. She moved in well-connected circles of television. So his FBI agents went through the motions of investigating. They showed her photos of the White House staff to see if she could recognize the mysterious envoy from Foster's office. She could not.

Since then she has eschewed publicity. In a brief comment to Christopher Ruddy, who broke the story in The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, she said: "I usually don't discuss my clients and what goes on. It's not good practice."

The Map Room incident was a closely guarded secret. The Fiske investigation did not provide the makeup artist's FBI 302 statement to the Senate Banking Committee. Like a number of the most incriminating witness reports, it is missing from the archive of documents in the Foster case. [45]

But if the FBI was trying to draw a veil over events that implicated the President of the United States in the Foster cover-up, it slipped up when redacting -- or sanitizing -- the FBI handwritten notes that were being released under court order. For the Map Room would come up again in the FBI's interview of Bruce Lindsey, the Senior Adviser to the President and the ultimate keeper of the secrets.

"Didn't hear any conversation about finding note that night .... Map Room? Pres never came in. Never shut door. Never talked about note." [46] There it is: the Map Room, the note, apropos of nothing else in the entire investigative record. This was all redacted in the FBI 302 write-up of Lindsey's interview that was provided to the Senate and to the American people. [47]

* * *

So what happened at the White House between 6:30 and 8:30 PM on July 20, 1993?

Maggie Williams, the First Lady's chief-of-staff, telephoned Foster at the White House Counsel's office at about 6:15 PM. [48] There was nothing unusual about this. Williams and Foster worked "very closely" together. [49] They had adjacent office suites on the second floor of the White House, and she was always bustling in and out with an armful of folders.

A gregarious, affectionate, voluble African American from Kansas, she even professed to have a crush on her beloved Vince. Couldn't an extra one be cloned, just for her, she used to joke.

The telephone was answered by Betsy Pond, a Clinton loyalist who had worked as a secretary with Hillary Rodham on the Watergate impeachment inquiry. She suggested trying to page Foster. Maggie Williams said: yes, go ahead, have him paged. The call went out through the White House operator at 6:20 PM. [50]

At that time Hillary Clinton was on her way from Los Angeles to Little Rock on a U.S. Air Force flight, accompanied by her mother and her daughter Chelsea. [51] The stop in Arkansas was a chance for the First Lady to drop the elderly Mrs. Rodham off at home and pay a visit to her doctors.

In mid-air, at 7:37 PM eastern time, Hillary Clinton called the White House signals office and was patched through to the apartment of her chief-of-staff at 1730 New Hampshire Avenue. "Maggie, are you at home?" she asked. "I'll call you when I land." The First Lady did not want to discuss details until they had a secure landline. [52]

The aircraft touched down in Little Rock at 8:26 PM eastern time.

Bernie Nussbaum and Betsy Pond left the White House Counsel's suite, room 208, at about 7:00 PM that night. Before leaving, Pond switched on the alarm system -- which happened to be located in a box inside Foster's office -- and then called the Secret Service Control Center to notify them that the Counsel's suite was being vacated. [53]

If anybody entered that set of rooms later that evening their movements would be picked up by a sensor in the ceiling. They would have two minutes to get out again before the alarm went off in the Control Center -- unless, of course, they knew how to neutralize the alarm system. The logs show that at 8:04 PM Tom Castleton, the office intern, accessed the alarm system. It would indicate that he entered the Counsel's suite, but he cannot remember anything about it. [54]

Foster had a locked file cabinet in his office, room 220. Nobody was allowed to touch this cabinet. His executive assistant Deborah Gorham remembers that he kept a file on the Branch Davidian siege at Waco in there, but she did not have a key and never got to look inside. [55]

The most sensitive material was kept in a safe in Bernie Nussbaum's office. Betsy Pond had the combination number taped underneath one of her file drawers, but even with the number she was defeated by the technology of the lock. "I never once was able to get that safe open." [56]

Deborah Gorham was the only person who had mastered the art. She kept the password on the hard drive of her computer in an encoded form so that nobody could make any sense of it, even if they managed to break into her computer files. Foster had asked her to place two binders from the National Security Agency in the encrypted safe in March or April 1993. While the safe was open she noticed two gold envelopes -- 8-1/2 by 11 inches -- inside the safe. One said "For Eyes Only, Not To Be Opened, William Kennedy." The other said "Janet Reno." [57]

Two floors below, the ubiquitous Patsy Thomasson was hard at work in the Offices of Administration 015-018. At the time she did not have a White House security clearance. Indeed, she was not granted one until March 5, 1994, [58] fourteen months into her tenure at the White House.

David Watkins, her boss, had slipped away early to watch In the Line of Fire. The secretaries had gone home. [59] But it appears that Thomasson was not alone. The Secret Service alarm logs -- discovered by the indefatigable Hugh Sprunt on page 4214 of Volume XIV of the Senate Whitewater documents -- show that Patsy Thomasson checked into the suite at 7:05 PM.

Five minutes later, at 7:10 PM, a unit called the "MIG GROUP" -- U.S. Secret Service -- was logged into the offices of administration. At 7:44 PM, both Thomasson and the "MIG GROUP" were logged in a second time. [60]

The Secret Service was not very forthcoming about this "MIG GROUP." Mike Tarr, the agency's spokesman, told me at first that he had never heard of it. When pressed about the logs he explained: "It's not our group. We'd be notified they were coming, and we'd process them in."

The next day, polite as always, he corrected himself. "It's us. It's our technical people, our folks who were doing a routine alarm check."

There is no mention of this MIG GROUP in the logs of other offices covering a two-week period in July 1993.

So, what does MIG stand for? "I can't tell you, that's classified. Sorry," said Mike Tarr.

The things they classify. It appears that the unit is the Maintenance and Installation Group. It is part of the Technical Security Division, which handles alarms, locks, safes, surveillance, bugs, and the like. Very high tech. Very capable. If there was any unit in Washington capable of getting into Foster's safe, quickly and cleanly, these were the gentlemen who could do it. They were in the West Wing, between 7:10 to 7:44, with the enterprising Patsy Thomasson.

It is possible that there is an innocent explanation. But if there is, Ms. Thomasson did not offer one. She slammed down the telephone the moment I broached the subject.

On the evening of Foster's death Ms. Thomasson had dinner at the Sequoia Restaurant with a group of visitors from Arkansas. Her set of friends is an unusual one. She spent the 1980s working for Dan Lasater, a Little Rock tycoon who went to prison for cocaine distribution. As we shall see, attempts to investigate Lasater for suspected narcotics trafficking and organized crime were consistently thwarted. Ms. Thomasson was his chief lieutenant. She ran his business affairs while he was in prison, and was still listed as a registered agent of Lasater's Phoenix Mortgage Company after she started work at the White House.

As she came out of the restaurant she was beeped by David Watkins. It was 10:34 PM. She called in from a pay phone and was informed that Foster was dead. Taking a taxi back to the White House, she went directly to Foster's office to look for a suicide note.

The door was open, the lights were on, the cleaning lady was there. Thomasson sat down at Foster's desk and stayed long enough to be seen searching, conspicuously but not in a "purposeful" way, by Maggie Williams, Bernie Nussbaum, and Secret Service Officer Henry O'Neill. [61]

By the time she left the White House Counsel's office, suite 208, her fresh fingerprints were all over Foster's desk, drawers, filing cabinet -- and all quite innocently.  
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 27854
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: The Secret Life of Bill Clinton: The Unreported Stories

Postby admin » Sun Jul 03, 2016 12:37 am

CHAPTER FOURTEEN: "COMMUNICATION STREAM OF CONSPIRACY COMMERCE"

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH of London was founded in 1855, four years after The New York Times. It had a good run covering the American Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War, then settled down as the voice of yeoman England, advancing the purposes of the Anglican Church, the Union, and always, without question, supporting Her Majesty's Dragoon Guards wherever they were deployed.

For a while The Telegraph was the newspaper of the Empire, although for some reason it has been more muted on this subject lately. Its historic triumph was to recognize early in the 1930s that fascism was an exceedingly nasty movement, and a threat to the European order. This was not obvious to everybody. The Times of London, representing the prevailing mood of the ruling class, belittled such concerns, ridiculed Winston Churchill, and supported the Tory appeasement of Adolf Hitler until the very end.

By the mid-1990s The Telegraph was still fighting for Church, Queen, and Country, this time struggling to prevent the United Kingdom from being subsumed into a sort of Vichy II -- a European superstate run by the Germans and the French, and administered from Brussels under the terms of the Treaty of Maastricht.

The newspaper is doing very well. Now owned by a Canadian proprietor, Conrad Black (who also owns The Jerusalem Post and The Chicago Sun Times, among others), the circulation of The Daily Telegraph is around 1.2 million, the highest figure for a "quality" newspaper in western Europe. The Sunday Telegraph has a circulation approaching 800,000, but no less influence.

Both the daily and the Sunday editions are large broadsheet papers, a fact that is well displayed on the newsstand of any large Washington hotel. So it was with some consternation that I read a 331-page report by the White House Counsel's Office calling The Sunday Telegraph a "tabloid."

It is hard to believe that the authors of this remarkable document -- "Communication Stream of Conspiracy Commerce" -- were so provincial that they did not know the difference between The Telegraph and The Times, on one side of Fleet Street, and The Sun or The Mirror with their page three topless girls, on the other. Since this White House is stuffed with Oxonian Rhodes Scholars I have to assume that the smear was deliberate. The authors issued a report at taxpayers' expense, with the full imprimatur of the White House Counsel's Office, that published assertions they knew to be false. It violates the cardinal rule of Washington spin: Never get caught propagating a demonstrable lie, and this one was quite demonstrable. Even under America's forgiving libel laws, it was defamatory.

The secret society of Cecil Rhodes is mentioned in the first five of his seven wills. In the fifth it was supplemented by the idea of an educational institution with scholarships, whose alumni would be bound together by common ideals — Rhodes's ideals. In the sixth and seventh wills the secret society was not mentioned, and the scholarships monopolized the estate. But Rhodes still had the same ideals and still believed that they could be carried out best by a secret society of men devoted to a common cause. The scholarships were merely a facade to conceal the secret society, or, more accurately, they were to be one of the instruments by which the members of the secret society could carry out his purpose. This purpose, as expressed in the first will (1877), was:

"The extension of British rule throughout the world, the perfecting of a system of emigration from the United Kingdom and of colonization by British subjects of all lands wherein the means of livelihood are attainable by energy, labour, and enterprise, . . . the ultimate recovery of the United States of America as an integral part of a British Empire, the consolidation of the whole Empire, the inauguration of a system of Colonial Representation in the Imperial Parliament which may tend to weld together the disjointed members of the Empire, and finally the foundation of so great a power as to hereafter render wars impossible and promote the best interests of humanity."


-- The Anglo-American Establishment: From Rhodes to Cliveden, by Carroll Quigley


In clanking prose the report described "the mode of communication employed by the right wing to convey their fringe stories into legitimate subjects of coverage by the mainstream media." At the beginning of the chain is Richard Mellon Scaife, or "the Wizard of Oz," as he is described in the report. Mixing the metaphor, the report then states that "he is nothing less than the financial archangel of the movement's intellectual underpinnings." Whatever that is supposed to mean.

The White House claims that Scaife, 65, uses his $800 million banking fortune to fund the think tanks, foundations, and media outlets that elaborate Clinton conspiracy tales and launch them into cyberspace. Once on the Internet "the story will be picked up by the British tabloids," which launder and return them to the United States as quasi-legitimate news. Then they are picked up by The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Times, and The New York Post. At this point the Congressional Committees start taking an interest and then -- whoosh -- they go mainstream with a vengeance. A busy wizard.

I met Scaife once. When the report came out he invited me to Pittsburgh. Since I was now supposed to be working for him, it was only fitting that we should meet. We had lunch at the old, wood-paneled Allegheny Club, plotting new mischief as we ate homemade peach ice cream. After being told by the White House Counsel's Office that he was a reclusive, shadowy man, I was surprised to find myself with a warm, bubbly extrovert whose greatest joy in life is shooting in the 80Sat Cypress Point in Monterrey.

The White House report was hysterical and hopelessly confused but it did sense something real. Matters were, indeed, getting out of hand. The usual levers of control over the media were no longer working properly.

A Samizdat media had emerged that resembled the underground network of faxes and newsletters in the Soviet Union in the 1980s -- when nobody believed Pravda or Izvestia any longer. It was comprised of talk radio, the Internet, alternative newsletters, and C-Span, all working in chaotic synergy. The effect was highly subversive, and the White House was having great trouble jamming the broadcast mechanism.

One of the favorite pastimes of mainstream journalists is to comb through the Internet -- Alt. Conspiracy, etc. -- in search of outrageous "posts" that can be used to mock the medium. Amusing. Trite. Above all, uninstructive. If you know where to look, there are real documents to be found on the Internet. When Americans can review the primary material for themselves, they can see with piercing clarity what they long suspected: the American media is incurious, slothful, consensual, pedestrian, biased without acknowledgment, fearful of challenging power, and not particularly honest. In other words, it behaves as the media does in most countries, most of the time, as an adjunct of the governing elite. The guild has done a good job of disguising this with its Pulitzer Prizes and ombudsmen and code of ethics. But that era is coming to an end, I suspect. The reservoir of trust is close to exhaustion, and the market monopoly is breaking.

What was bothering the White House most about the Internet was the enormous amplification it gives to newsletters like Strategic Investment, or regional papers like The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, or even foreign publications like The Sunday Telegraph. In the 1980s our stories would not have gained any traction. Now they are "posted" within hours of publication, and are then perused by the producers of the radio talk shows, who surf the Net in search of avant-garde material. A good scoop may be picked up by Michael Reagan -- the President's son -- with 120 radio stations and an audience of millions. (Reagan also breaks his own stories. He has sent investigative staff to go digging in Arkansas.) It might be read on the air by G. Gordon Liddy, Paul Harvey, or Chuck Harder. It might be featured by Blanquita Column, or by Rush Limbaugh, with his 20 million "ditto heads."

Within a week a good news story might have come to the attention of 20 or 30 million people. This would pass unnoticed inside the Beltway, but not inside the White House. Clinton's staff sensed what was happening, even if they did not understand how it was happening. The polls were picking up dangerous undertows. Only a third of Americans accepted the official story that Vincent Foster committed suicide, despite the fact that no major newspaper, magazine, or TV station in the United States was questioning the death. Indeed, most of the media were pouring scorn on the Foster "conspiracists." But word was leaking out.

By the summer of 1995 it was becoming clear that the Samizdat media could no longer be ignored as a fringe irritant. Senator AI D' Amato was being ambushed on radio talk shows by the Internet brigade, who were carrying out a spontaneous campaign of guerrilla warfare. Whenever D'Amato, or other Whitewater figures, were scheduled to appear on a call-in show, the troops would issue an alert bulletin over the Net. The snipers would take positions, lie low, and then let off a volley of fire -- very accurate, well-informed fire -- over the airwaves.

It could cause a skittish politician like AI D'Amato to panic, which is what finally happened when "Carl from Oyster Bay," one of the most ingenious of the rebel pickets, ensnared him on the Bob Grant show in August 1995. Asked about the discrepancies in the case, the Senator started babbling:

"Did [Foster] die in that position? Was he dragged there? Was he carried there? .. What about the gun? .. And the manner in which the gun was found?"

The Senator had committed himself. He had provided "cover" to the Foster "conspiracists," at least for a while. It was a major rebel advance.

In late June 1995 I had lunch at the Maison Blanche with Joe Gaylord, the chief strategist of Speaker Newt Gingrich. It was a threesome hosted by Mark Melcher, the erudite chief of the Washington research office of Prudential Securities. Gaylord was not loquacious. A lean, wiry man of forbidding intensity, he listened for 45 minutes as I walked him through the backroads of the Foster coverup. He asked a few questions, but did not indicate one way or another what he thought. A few days later he relayed a request for some of the documentary material. I put together a package of articles from the Samizdat but did not expect much to come of it.

A month later Gingrich was the guest at one of the informal "Saturday Evening Club" dinners hosted by the editor of The American Spectator, Bob Tyrrell. The conversation turned to Foster.

It is easy to forget now, but in July 1995 Gingrich was at the height of his powers. The upper room at La Brasserie was packed. Robert Novak was there; so were Arianna Huffington, David Brock, and Wesley Pruden from The Washington Times; John Fund from The Wall Street Journal had come down from New York; so had John O'Sullivan, the editor of National Review. It was a gathering of the top guns in American conservative journalism. So it created waves when the Speaker said, caustically, that you would have to be "brain dead" to believe the official story about the death of Vincent Foster.

He then blurted out that I had met with Joe Gaylord over lunch and had convinced him that the Fiske Report was a cover-up. Gaylord nearly slithered out of his chair. For my part, I knew at once that this meant trouble. Penn Kemble, the Deputy Director of the U.S. Information Agency and the only administration official to attend these dinners, took out a notebook and started scribbling. Kemble is a good man, but I knew that Newt's comments were going straight to the White House.

There was a heated exchange about Foster -- reflecting the deep rift among conservatives over the case -- but Gingrich took my side on every point. After dinner, a small group of us withdrew to the "Kennedy Room," where Ted Kennedy had allegedly been interrupted coupling on the table with a female companion.

"I've made up my mind. This evening has sealed it," said Gingrich. "I'm going to appoint an investigator in the House and we're going to go after this." [1]

For the White House, matters were getting dangerously out of hand. The successful, two-year effort to contain the Foster case was suddenly unraveling, and all because of a group of "crazies" that nobody was supposed to be listening to. From what I can tell, the Counsel's Office started putting together the "Communication Stream of Conspiracy Commerce" report in July 1995 when both Gingrich and D'Amato first began to make their threatening noises about the Foster death.

The report was never intended for public release. It was shown quietly to journalists to discourage them from pursuing the allegations. "Do you realize the provenance of this conspiracy garbage?" the White House would say. "I wouldn't touch it if I were you." [2]

It was also offered as a crib sheet to a few collaborators in the hope that they would write hostile pieces on Scaife and the tiny handful of journalists pursuing the Foster case. A few obviously did exactly that. You can see the outlines of the "Communication Stream of Conspiracy Commerce" report in the work of Arkansas Democrat-Gazette columnist Gene Lyons. I kept getting calls from reporters asking the same questions: "Did I know Scaife? Had I ever accepted money from Scaife? So who owned the tabloid I worked for? You mean it's not a tabloid? Oh."

It was only after The Wall Street Journal exposed the existence of the report in December 1996 that I was able to confirm my suspicion that all this had been orchestrated behind the scenes by the White House. I found the contents very revealing. What came through strongest was the growing alarm that the investigative journalism on Foster's death was striking close to home.

Clearly somebody was awake at night in the White House fretting that the Helen Dickey story was gaining dangerous momentum. And somebody was worried that a trio of handwriting experts had called the Foster "suicide note" a forgery. The Foster movement was becoming a threat to the Clintons, and the leader -- by unanimous acclamation -- was Christopher Ruddy, the roving correspondent of The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He had to be destroyed.

* * *

The staff called Ruddy the Lone Ranger at the Adlai E. Stevenson High School in the South Bronx, where he taught social studies to black and Hispanic children. It was one of the toughest schools in the country, a sub-city of 5,000 pupils and 500 staff. By 1992 it was descending into pandemonium. Teachers were being beaten to a pulp in their own classrooms, and nothing was being done about it.

The principal was paralyzed by doubts, and no one would take the initiative to reform the school. So Ruddy ran for election as Chapter Chairman of the American Federation of Teachers on a reform ticket, and won. It was a powerful position. Under New York's "school-based management" system the union chief had a veto on all policy decisions. In effect, Ruddy became co-administrator of the school. Things did not improve. The principal, he realized, was beyond redemption. She had to go.

Ruddy organized his forces for strike action. It caused a minor sensation. TV cameras were all over the school. The strike was the lead story on the New York nightly news. It was years since anybody had challenged the New York school system and successfully toppled a principal. But this time the school bosses backed down. Adlai E. Stevenson High School was given a new principal. Order was restored. Ruddy was 27 years old.

"That's when I learned what it's like to take on the system, make enemies," he said. [3] "It's what has guided me through the morass of the Foster case."

It was never his intention to become a union activist. After finishing a master's degree at the London School of Economics, and briefly studying Middle Eastern policy at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, he had decided to do a stint of teaching in an inner-city school as a form of social service. He had no money. He was one of fourteen children, the son of an Irish-Catholic police lieutenant in Nassau County. He had the ascetic habits of a monk, at least compared to me. These things are relative, I suppose.

"While working as a teacher he wrote articles for The New York Guardian, which is what catapulted him into a job as chief investigative reporter for The New York Post, a boisterous center-right newspaper owned by Rupert Murdoch. It is what is called a "midmarket tabloid" in Britain: no topless tarts, but less portentous than the Old Grey Lady -- The New York Times.

In late 1993 nobody was investigating the death of Vincent Foster. The American press had taken the official story on trust, even though the authorities had refused to release the Park Police report, the autopsy report, or a copy of the suicide note.

"A friend of a friend in Washington told me that the gun was found in the hand, which is something that almost never happens in a suicide," said Ruddy. "I thought 'that's interesting' and filed it away in the back of my mind. When I got back to New York I did a Nexus search and found that all the stories were different. Some had Foster draped over a cannon, others had him lying in a ditch. He was all over the place. There was no hard information at all on the crime scene. So I figured it was time to track down somebody who was actually there that night."

Ruddy is portly beyond his years, with an air of impending middle age. He dresses in a stolid coat and tie, like a bureaucrat. The clothes never quite fit; the colors often threaten to clash. Hip is the last word one would ever think of applying to him. But he commands a certain quiet authority, and he has an extraordinary gift of building trust with sources who can see through the usual smarmy deceptions of the press. On a freezing January morning in 1994 he made his first breakthrough with the Park Police.

"Rush Limbaugh's been saying all these bad things about us, but it wasn't our fault," an officer confided over coffee. "We tried to get the truth out but the newspapers covered it up."

A Fairfax County paramedic, George Gonzalez, told Ruddy that he had never seen a gunshot victim like Foster in thirteen years on the job. All so clean, a pristine shirt, no blood to speak of. Then paramedic Corey Ashford said he picked up the body -- which was lying straight, "ready for a coffin" -- and didn't see any blood.

Ruddy had a story. It was the first of a series that appeared in The New York Post in January and February of 1994. They caused a furor. The newly appointed Whitewater prosecutor, Robert Fiske, announced that he would expand his brief to include a review of the Foster case and indicated that this time it would be a genuine homicide investigation. Ruddy became a celebrity.

But there was something strange about the way the rest of the media was responding. Instead of cultivating crime scene witnesses of their own and building on Ruddy's work, they tried to shoot down the story. They wheeled out Major Robert Hines, the public affairs spokesman of the Park Police, accepting his pro forma comments as if they were the last word.

The New York Daily News -- the chief competitor of The New York Post -- embarked on a debunking campaign. Their Washington Bureau Chief, Karen Ball, a personal friend of President Clinton, was given access to the autopsy report. In a two-page spread on February 11 she wrote that the gunpowder burns in Foster's mouth were "consistent" with the powder traces found on his right thumb. It sounded good, but in fact it was meaningless. Gunpowder is not manufactured with taggants that allow police labs to establish such a match.

The Daily News then sent its star columnist Mike McAlary down to Washington to talk to the Park Police. He was shown the closely held Park Police report and some crime scene photos. It was a considerable journalistic coup, but at the same time there is something wrong when the police show their reports to one or two chosen allies in the press, while unjustifiably withholding it from anybody who actually knows the details of the case -- in fact, it is a form of police corruption. It nevertheless formed the basis for McAlary's frontpage blockbuster "Case Closed."

McAlary was tricked into writing that the Confidential Witness was a fiction created by a truant Park Service worker who had been drinking in Fort Marcy Park. Somebody had overplayed their hand. It was this article that caused the Confidential Witness to come forward with his allegation that there was no gun in the hand. McAlary was wildly wrong. But you are forgiven for being wrong about the Foster case if you toe the line.

Being right is much more hazardous to your career. The door closed on Chris Ruddy at the end of a fast, furious week in early March 1994. He was "nailed" on the photos. Ruddy had written a story on March 7 reporting that the "crucial" crime scene pictures were missing and that there were no "relationship photos."

Documents released a year later showed that this was essentially true. All of the 35 mm photos were underexposed and most of the Polaroids had disappeared. All that remained were a few close-up shots. But it was a subtle point, one that ABC News chose to obscure when the network was leaked the surviving Polaroids -- clearly with the purpose of discrediting Ruddy. ABC went on the air with the now famous photo of the gun in Foster's hand, leaving an impression in the mind of all but the most attentive viewers that Ruddy had claimed there were no crime scene photos at all.

Ruddy never wrote another story about Vincent Foster for The New York Post. "It didn't matter what I said after that, nobody wanted to listen. And in a way I don't really blame them," he said.

But the coup de grace was Ellen Joan Pollock's story in The Wall Street Journal on April 4 saying that Fiske had concluded that Foster's death was a suicide. Fiske had indeed come to this conclusion, but not for the right reasons. As we have seen, the record shows that he had not conducted the key witness interviews by then and the FBI crime labs had barely begun to examine the forensic evidence. But that was not known in the editorial offices of The New York Post or any other newspaper until much later.

"So that's it, case closed," said The Post's editor, Ken Chandler.

Ruddy limped on through the early summer, but his career at the newspaper was finished. Chandler was graceful about it afterward. "The truth is, Chris Ruddy trod where others fear to tread. When you do that, you get criticism and scorn heaped upon you," he said. "When you're writing about something you can't get answers to, you have to keep pushing, and he did."

Ruddy, of course, refused to give up. He launched one of the most remarkable guerrilla campaigns in the history of American journalism. This has led to a good deal of tut-tutting at the gatherings of the guild. But what was the man supposed to do? Drop the story, knowing that a grievous abuse of power had taken place?

Not Ruddy. He waged war on the airwaves, broadcasting night after night across the country on the radio talk circuit where he soon became a folk hero. He gave speeches, endlessly. He lobbied on Capitol Hill. He lobbied at the Christian Roundtable meetings in Tennessee. He lobbied wherever people would listen. He built alliances: with Reed Irvine's Accuracy in Media in Washington; with Jim Davidson's Strategic Investment; with the Western Journalism Center in California; with Jeremiah Films (which made The Clinton Chronicles). He signed up with Richard Scaife, writing about the Foster case for The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. It was a modest little brigade. But it was enough for insurgent warfare.

One of his coups was to persuade Joseph Farah, the Executive Director of the Western Journalism Center, to commission a team of forensic experts to do a two-month review of the Foster case. Farah, the former editor of The Sacramento Union, started the Center in 1991 to restore the forgotten mission of American journalism: rooting out government corruption and exposing abuse of power.

The forensic team was led by Vincent J. Scalice, a former homicide detective for the New York City Police Department. Scalice had worked with the FBI on the assassinations of John Kennedy and Martin Luther King. He had been a Consultant Member for the House Select Committee on Assassinations.

The so-called Scalice Report, released in April 1995, concluded that "a high probability exists that Foster's body was transported to Fort Marcy Park." It honed in on the fact that no traces of soil could be found on Foster's shoes, under a microscope, even though he had supposedly walked 700 feet through the overgrown park. [4] The investigation did two simulation walks to see what residue was left after walking to the crime scene. Both models had visible soil all over their shoes.

While Scalice did not conclude outright that the death was a homicide, he certainly suggested it: "[T]he lack of extraviated blood on the front of the body is inconsistent with death by intra-oral gunshot, which raises the likelihood that Foster's heart had already cessated and that death would have been caused by other means."

It was picked up by Reuters, Cox News Service, and The Washington Times, among others, and created a huge stir in the Samizdat. At the Office of the Independent Counsel copies were put in the pigeonholes of the prosecutors and FBI agents associated with the Foster case. [5] It had been a triumph. So Ruddy prepared a second strike.

"I wanted to pull away the pillars of the cover-up one by one, so they couldn't use them again," he said.

In the fall of 1995 he commissioned three handwriting experts to study the authenticity of the "suicide note" found in Foster's briefcase. This time it was funded by James Dale Davidson, a tall, slender, elegant man of dry humor and considerable wealth. He owns a beautiful Queen Anne estate in rural Maryland dating from the 1690s, a chateau in France, and a huge apartment in Buenos Aires -- currently his favorite haunt.

Having been wined and dined by Davidson at many of the best restaurants in Washington (he considers them adequate, but below Argentine standards), I must confess a personal bias in his favor. Best known as President of the National Taxpayer's Union, he is also an accomplished author. He co-edits the Strategic Investment newsletter with William Rees-Mogg -- or the Baron of Hintonblewitt to use his correct title -- a member of the House of Lords and a former editor of The Times of London. Strategic Investment is tailored to those who want hard intelligence for investment purposes, long before it appears in the general press.

Davidson had the same tutor as Bill Clinton at Oxford, enjoyed Clinton's "charm and geniality," and contributed to his 1992 presidential campaign. "I knew he was a bounder, of course, but my hope was that he'd turn out to be the Carlos Menem of North America and slash entitlement spending," said Davidson. [6]

But questions of economic management were soon overtaken by the much greater issue of the rule of law. For Davidson the Foster cover-up is a marker of the declining integrity of the American democratic system. If the U.S. judicial system cannot summon the courage to deal with this case, if it behaves like the Mexican or the Indonesian or the Nigerian judiciaries, then there is no reason to pay a "rule of law" premium on U.S. stocks, bonds, and real assets.

He recommends investing in countries at a positive stage of the moral and cultural cycle, like Chile, where judges, prosecutors, and police cannot be bought so easily. A Chilean policeman in the 1990s, he asserts with contrarian mischief, is much more honest than a U.S. cabinet officer.

But at a deeper level Davidson is afraid that Foster's death, which he calls an "extra-judicial execution," is a sign of incipient fascism. He notes that the Clintons have mastered the art -- described by Hannah Arendt in The Origins of Totalitarianism -- "of turning all questions of fact into questions of motive." The Clintons do not try to rebut allegations. They use surrogates to muddy the waters and smear opponents, just as the National Socialists used to do. That they should be able to employ this practice to obscure the violent death of a top White House aide throws into doubt the durability of the republic.

"A government that winks at murder will wink at anything," he says, sniffing the aroma of a Corton Charlemagne, Premier Cru. "What's left after that? Cannibalism?"

So Davidson agreed to finance the first serious analysis that has ever been conducted of the "suicide note." Lisa Foster, of course, had authenticated the note. But that is meaningless. Family members do not have the training to spot forgeries. As for the official efforts, they were a humiliating glimpse at the practices of American law enforcement.

The Park Police had asked Sgt. Larry Lockhart of the Capitol Police to look at the note. He had no certification in handwriting analysis. Using a single sample of Foster's handwriting he authenticated the note in less than an hour. [7] He later repudiated his own findings. [8]

A year later, Agent Henry Mathis of the FBI crime labs had a look. This time the FBI added 18 samples of Foster's check signatures. The result was inconclusive. "A qualified opinion is rendered in this case as the known writings of Foster are limited in quantity .... It is suggested additional... writings by Foster be obtained for comparison." [9]

Good suggestion. But it was never done. The FBI never obtained further samples of Foster's handwriting. In the end Agent Mathis authenticated the note using the same single sample used by the Park Police. In Canada, Germany, or Britain, it is usual to use ten to fifteen samples. To rely on one sample alone is considered malpractice. I would be surprised if the FBI habitually adheres to inferior standards.

Properly speaking, it was not a suicide note at all. Lisa Foster told the FBI that it was written in his bedroom on or about July 11, nine days before his death, as the opening argument of his defense should he be called to testify before Congress about Travelgate.

"I made mistakes from ignorance, inexperience and overwork," it begins in a tone of mawkish self-pity, before ending plaintively: "I was not meant for the job or the spotlight of public life in Washington. Here ruining people is considered sport."

It presses all the right buttons -- Travelgate, hostile editorials in The Wall Street Journal -- the things that we can safely dwell on without causing a moment's lost sleep in the White House.

The note was found in Foster's leather briefcase by Associate White House Counsel Stephen Neuwirth six days after Foster's death. It was torn into 27 pieces -- the 28th piece was missing. [10] The FBI's Louis Hupp used state of the art equipment to check for fingerprints -- an argon ion laser florescence test, and a diazofluorine chemical test -- but all he could find of any use was a single palm print. It did not belong to Foster. When asked in closed-door testimony if it was Bernie Nussbaum's print, he was instructed not to answer by a lawyer for the Starr investigation. [11]

The briefcase had been searched four days earlier by Bernie Nussbaum in the presence of a team from the Justice Department. He had removed some files, peered into the briefcase from about two feet, and declared it empty. Twice.

"It would have been impossible for him to miss that many torn scraps of yellow paper," said Sgt. Pete Markland, who was there representing the Park Police. By this stage Markland was convinced that Nussbaum was engaged in some sort of mischief. "It was absurd. I sat there shaking my head the whole time. I was disgusted." [12]

When Neuwirth picked up the briefcase the next week on Monday, July 26, the pieces of yellow legal paper that had been invisible before suddenly materialized. Neuwirth's behavior that afternoon was very odd. At one point he asked to have Vince Foster's typewriter uprooted and taken into Nussbaum's office. [13] One of the secretaries told him there were plenty of other typewriters. But no, Neuwirth wanted Foster's typewriter. Then he changed his mind.

When he found the note he came charging out of Foster's office, satchel in hand. He went into Bernie's office, banged the door, came charging back out again saying, "Where's Bernie? Get Bernie!" Then he charged back in again and slammed the door. [14] A "slapstick comedy" wrote the secretaries to one another in surreptitious e-mail exchanges. [15] Then the First Lady came over from her office next door to look at the note. "I can't deal with this thing, Bernie," she said. "You deal with it."

But did Neuwirth really find the note? Documents now lodged with the National Archives refer to a handwritten note by White House aide Bill Burton dated July 26, 1993. "Far happier if discovered [by] someone other than Bernie," it says. Burton was describing a meeting shortly after the discovery of the note that was attended by Neuwirth, Nussbaum, Burton himself, and Hillary Clinton. It is natural to infer that the Neuwirth story was concocted. If so, Neuwirth perjured himself in congressional testimony, and Hillary Clinton was party to the deception.

The Clinton circle was determined that no outsiders should get to see a copy of the original note. Webb Hubbell lobbied Phillip Heyman, the Deputy Attorney General, requesting that no photocopies of the note should be allowed to get out. Lisa Foster was "adamant" about this, he explained. [16] Since Hubbell was chief of the civil side of the Justice Department at the time -- and widely viewed as the "real" Attorney General -- Heyman was unlikely to rebuff him. The request was formalized by Lisa Foster's handler, White House "surrogate" James Hamilton, who asked "that a photo of the note not be released under FOIA." [17]

In a hand-delivered letter to the Attorney General dated August 25, 1993, Hamilton asked that the "original torn pieces of Vince's note be returned" and added in a faintly menacing tone: "Please do not underestimate the depth of Mrs. Foster's feelings about this matter." [18]

The text of the note was made available in printed form, of course. No problem with that. But a photo of the original? Absolutely not. The Wall Street Journal fought a FOIA lawsuit to shake it loose. Still no luck. The note could be reviewed with an appointment at the offices of Carl Stern, the Justice Department spokesman, but no photographs could be taken. Finally, in July 1995, a copy of the note was leaked to The Wall Street Journal.

Chris Ruddy pounced. He contacted the most distinguished handwriting experts in the world. One of them was Dr. Reginald Alton, emeritus fellow of St. Edmund Hall at Oxford University and former Chair of the English faculty, who had authenticated the C.S. Lewis diaries. A brave man -- he was awarded the Military Cross for outstanding courage on the battlefield in the fight against fascism -- he agreed to look at the note, although he did not want anything as squalid as payment for his services.

The note, he said, was a fake. It was the work of a "moderate forger, not necessarily a professional, somebody who could forge a cheque or a pass in a prison camp."

At a press conference in Washington he was self-effacing and begged Americans not to "mistake me for another interfering Brit." He went through the letters one by one on a screen, showing how Foster would write the letter "b," for instance, in a single "fluid, cursive motion" while the forger would need three or four strokes to replicate the general shape.

It was a big story in the British press, and it electrified the Samizdat in the United States. Otherwise, it was ignored. Even the Senate Whitewater Committee chose to overlook Dr. Alton and the congruent findings of his two American colleagues.

"I thought it would be explosive," said Joe Farah from the Western Journalism Center. "Here were people with technical expertise, looking at this coldly and coming to stunning conclusions. I thought it was just the thing to elevate it to the front pages, but it didn't get on the radar screen .... I have to wonder now: What will it take to make the press look at this thing? If somebody confessed to the crime, would that do it?" [19]

"Probably not," I replied.

The White House, however, was exhibiting the reflex twitches of panic. A good part of the "Communication Stream of Conspiracy Commerce" report targeted Chris Ruddy and the forged note. Section VI is entitled "The Foster Forgery Note Example: How The Media Food Chain Transforms Fiction into Fact."

The report included the transcripts of CBS's 60 Minutes special on Chris Ruddy, which historians may regard one day as a prime exhibit of state-sponsored propaganda. There is a world of difference between inaccurate reporting and the dissemination of deliberate lies. This particular effort, broadcast on October 8, 1995, included a generous mix of both.

Playing down the presence of unexplained white, tan, grey, blue, red, and green carpet fibers found all over Foster's clothes, correspondent Mike Wallace stated: "The FBI and the Park Police say the fibers are not significant. Anyone who walks on a carpet picks up fibers. And since all of Foster's clothes were put into one bag, all of his clothes would probably have fibers on them."

In fact, the case documents show that the Park Police did not put the clothes in one bag. Foster's suit jacket and his blue silk tie with swans were recovered from his Honda on the night of his death. [20] His shirt, shorts, trousers, belt, socks, and shoes were removed from the body the next day at the morgue and bagged separately. [21] Both sets were covered with the same multicolored fibers.

Let us give Wallace the benefit of the doubt on that one. Let us call it poor staff work. It happens all the time in journalism.

But then Wallace crossed the line.

"You know and I know that there was blood all over the back of [Foster's] shirt," he said to Chris Ruddy on camera.

"Dr. Haut, in his FBI report and his interview with me, said there was not a lot of blood behind the body," said Ruddy.

Cut to Dr. Donald Haut, the Fairfax County Medical Examiner who examined Foster's body at Fort Marcy Park.

"Was there a suspicious lack of blood at the scene?"

"Absolutely not."

"Did you tell a reporter by the name of Christopher Ruddy that there was an 'unusual lack of blood'?"

"No."

"Dr. Haut says that Ruddy simply got it wrong," narrated Wallace. "Here's another mistake .... " And so it went on.

But Dr. Haut had changed his story. His statement to the FBI on April 14, 1994, confirmed everything that Ruddy had said. "Haut did not recall seeing blood on the decedent's shirt or face and no blood was recalled on the vegetation around the body .... Although the volume of blood was small, Haut did recall that the blood was matted and clotted under the head." Haut also expressed surprise that a .38 caliber revolver could have caused such little damage. [22]

This FBI statement was in the public record. Ruddy offered to provide 60 Minutes with a copy of the document, as well as a taped interview in which Dr. Haut told Ruddy that "there was not a hell of a lot of blood on the ground" -- which, by the way, is very similar to what he told me in an interview in 1994. After the filming, Ruddy sent Wallace a detailed memo that included Dr. Haut's FBI statement. He offered 60 Minutes a copy of the tape, but they did not request it until after the segment had aired.

So instead of holding the public official to account, demanding to know why he was equivocating on national television, Mike Wallace decided to crush the beleaguered reporter who was telling the truth.

The broadcast caused a storm of protest. The phone lines to 60 Minutes were flooded with calls from the Samizdat pointing out the errors in the piece, and a week later the network felt compelled to issue a partial correction. By this stage, Wallace must have known that he had committed a journalistic atrocity. So it is all the more astounding that 60 Minutes should have decided to broadcast the original program a second time, with heavy promotion, in July 1996.

"It had a devastating effect. It chilled any further interest in the story," said Ruddy.

The worst sin a journalist can commit is serving as the instrument of coercive power, and too many in the American media seem content to do just that.
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 27854
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: The Secret Life of Bill Clinton: The Unreported Stories

Postby admin » Sun Jul 03, 2016 12:38 am

CHAPTER FIFTEEN: THE VERDICT OF DEPRESSION

VINCENT FOSTER WAS exhibiting symptoms of extreme suspicion bordering on paranoia during the final days before his death. He did not trust the telephones at the White House, or even the trash collection. [1] At night he kept waking with panic attacks, his heart pounding violently. Sometimes he would get up in the morning and tell Lisa that he had not slept a wink all night. [2]

"How did I get myself into all this?" he said to her. [3]

But he did not confide in Lisa about the full secrets of his work. He confided in no one. [4] Four days before his death, on Friday, July 16, he had his blood pressure checked at the White House infirmary. It was 132/84 (a normal reading for a man his age is 120/75). Part of the problem was that he had stopped his regular routine of jogging three or four times a week. He was no longer working off the adrenaline. But something was eating at him.

On Monday, July 19, he called his doctor in Little Rock, Dr. Larry Watkins, who prescribed Desyrel to help him battle insomnia. Dr. Watkins had suggested a sleeping pill called Restoril back in December, but now he decided that something stronger was needed. Still, he considered the problem "mild and situational." He did not think that Foster was "significantly depressed." [5]

The White House would like us to think that Travelgate drove Foster to the brink. This is the authorized Beltway version. "The single greatest source of his distress was the criticism he and others within the Counsel's Office received following the firing of seven employees from the White House Travel Office," concluded the Fiske Report.

I do not find this to be a remotely convincing explanation for why he thought his telephones were bugged, or for anything else about his final days.

Foster certainly had grounds for remorse over Travelgate. The putsch, carried out at Hillary Clinton's behest on May 19, 1993, involved a nasty misuse of the criminal justice system to discredit the victims. But the crisis was subsiding by July 20. Foster had escaped without reprimand in the White House "Management Review."

On Capitol Hill the Democrats controlled the investigative apparatus of both chambers and seemed set to continue doing so ad aeternum. They were stonewalling on the issue with their usual aplomb. On July 14 they voted down a "House Resolution of Inquiry" that would have compelled the White House to turn over "all responsive documents and answer questionings concerning FBI and IRS actions related to the firings." On the Senate side things appeared to be equally well under control.

Foster's eldest son, Vincent III, who worked as an aide to Arkansas Senator Dale Bumpers, had attended the preliminary hearings of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He reported back "that he didn't think it was a big deal." [6] Travelgate wasn't going anywhere. It certainly cannot explain Foster's mounting paranoia.

The Fiske Report did not mention Foster's concerns about the deadly Waco assault, a much more serious abuse of power and one that cast the Justice Department and the FBI in a dreadful light. Why was this totally omitted from the report?

The Branch Davidian siege was clearly on Foster's mind. He was "drafting a letter involving Waco" on the day of his death, surely a point of some significance. [7] What was in this letter, may we ask? He kept a Waco file in the locked cabinet that was off limits to everybody, including his secretary.

His widow mentions Waco twice in her statement to the FBI. "Toward the end of his life, Foster had no sense of joy or elation at work. The Branch Davidian incident near Waco, Texas, was also causing him a great deal of stress. Lisa Foster believes that he was horrified when the Branch Davidian complex burned. Foster believed that everything was his fault." [8]

I am not trying to suggest that Waco was the true cause of Foster's demise, although that is possible. I merely wish to illustrate that Vincent Foster was involved in a lot of things besides Travelgate. What was he doing, for example, with files from the National Security Agency?

His executive assistant, Deborah Gorham, testified in a closed-door deposition to the Senate Whitewater Committee that Foster had handed her "two one-inch binders that were from the National Security Agency" to place in the encrypted safe in the Counsel's office. She spoke with great precision, choosing her words carefully. Asked again, she repeated "National Security Agency." One of the binders was white, but she could not remember the color of the other. This occurred in March or April 1993 and was the only time that Foster ever asked Gorham to put documents into the safe. [9]

This was a remarkable revelation. The NSA, of course, is the ultra-secret arm of the Defense Department, in charge of electronic eavesdropping and satellite intelligence around the world. It requires a Sensitive Compartmented Information clearance to handle NSA material, higher than Top Secret. Boyden Gray, the White House Counsel in the Bush administration, told me that he did not know of any occasion when the Counsel's Office handled NSA documents during his tenure. [10]

There may well be a mundane explanation for Foster's NSA ties, but the White House has not offered one. Instead, it tried to deflect the matter. Spin-control officer Mark Fabiani said the files had come from the National Security Council, a totally different outfit. The NSC, of course, is the President's personal team of foreign policy advisers at the White House. You do not require an SCI security clearance to handle internal White House documents.

Again, I am not asserting that there was -- or was not -- a national security dimension to this case. The point is that Foster was involved in activities that belie the carefully drawn portrait of a bemused country lawyer, and that have clearly been obscured on purpose.

For what it is worth, I doubt that espionage or any such exotica contributed to Foster's death. I suspect that it was something more intimate. Let it be noted that Foster was handling the Clintons' private legal affairs at the White House: preparing a blind trust, doing taxes, tying up the loose ends of the Whitewater Development Corporation, and who knows what else. It was so blatant that it raised a few eyebrows among the old-timers on the executive staff.

"He seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time being the President's and the First Lady's personal attorney as opposed to what I perceived to be the role had historically been," said Linda Tripp, one of the executive assistants in the Counsel's Office, rather garbledly. [11]

Whether or not this was illegal is a fine point, but there can be no question that Foster was behaving as the general factotum of the Clintons. He took care of things behind the scenes, just as he had been doing for years. [12] That is what interests me most of all.

* * *

Before they closed down his investigation, Miquel Rodriguez was planning to break the inner circle of the Clintons one by one before the grand jury. It was his suspicion that Foster was being lobbied intensely by the core group of Arkansans at the White House during the days before his death, as if he were being called to do something that put him in a very awkward position and was resisting. [13]

On Friday, July 16,1993, the Fosters were scheduled to have dinner with their old friends from Little Rock, Webb and Susie Hubbell. [14] But the Fosters broke the engagement and instead drove to the gracious eighteenth century town of Easton on the Chesapeake Bay. Lisa Foster gave a brief description of the trip in her FBI statement on May 9, 1994, but the handwritten notes of the interview are either missing or redacted -- always a sign that something is seriously amiss.

Hubbell, who was then de facto chief of the justice Department, followed them to the Eastern Shore and tracked them down at the Tidewater Inn. [15] For the rest of the weekend the Fosters were corralled by Hubbell and his friends Harolyn and Mike Cardozo, who had an immense estate outside Easton.

Vince went boating, recounted Hubbell later. He hit some golf balls, and ate some crab. Lisa was given a tennis lesson by star coach Nick Bollettieri. They talked of old times, how things had changed. Vince remarked how much he missed the decompression of long summer vacations up at the family cabin in Michigan. It was a relaxing weekend. [16] Or at least, that is what Webster Hubbell said. Lisa Foster told the Park Police that "it had not gone particularly well."

The Arkansas Group -- as the insiders called themselves at the White House -- were very interested in the outcome of that weekend, as if something were riding on it.

Back at the office on Monday morning, Foster went through his papers and drawers. He was taking care of unfinished business, tying up loose ends. His secretary, Deborah Gorham, noticed a "major and uncharacteristic 'lull' in his work pace." [17] Hubbell came over from the justice Department in person to say "hi," yet again. Bill Kennedy called, twice.

At one point Foster went off to see the White House Credit Union to sort out his overdraft problems. He was obviously strapped for cash. Instead of earning $295,000 a year as a litigation lawyer, he was drawing a government salary that was less than half that figure. Even so, something strange had been going on. Without telling Lisa, Foster had made several large withdrawals of $3,500 each from the account. [18]

In the afternoon he was visited by Marsha Scott, the White House Director of Correspondence. She had dropped in to find out how the weekend had gone. [19]

Scott used to come over from the Old Executive Office Building quite often to visit Vincent Foster. But their tete-a-tete the day before his death was different. It was a closed-door session that lasted for over an hour, possibly as long as two hours. [20]

Her last words to Vince Foster: "If I talk to Bill before you do, what do you want me to tell him?"

It would appear that she was an envoy from the President, sent to learn Foster's thoughts. In the handwritten notes of her FBI interview she admitted that she had been to see Clinton that afternoon. This was subtly changed in the FD-302 statement provided to the Senate. The FBI had tweaked her words to reduce the exposure of the President. [21]

She would be with the President the next night, too, after Foster's death. The Secret Service logged her into the living quarters of the White House at 00.50 on July 20, 1993, and she was not logged out again until the next morning. [22] The logs support a story that Eileen and David Watkins told Rebecca Borders of The American Spectator. They said that Marsha Scott talked openly about her affair with Bill Clinton and had bragged about her comforting labors on the night of Foster's death.

She was "pretty pumped up about the whole thing," said Eileen Watkins. "She told me 'I spent the night in his bed. I had my head in his lap, and we reminisced all night long.'''

Marsha Scott is one of the most enigmatic figures of the tight-knit Arkansas Group. Her mother was an Olympic hurdler in the 1950s; her father an American football star; and she was a true child of the 1960s. Before her sudden elevation to epistolary duties at the White House, she was saving trees in the eco-radical enclave of Santa Cruz, California.

But though outwardly hip and laid-back, she is clearly an operator of some talent. In 1994 she was in charge of the "Big Brother" database program at the White House. And we now know that she was the principal conduit between the Clintons and Webb Hubbell, after Hubbell was sent to prison for fraud.

Her memory failed her when she was interviewed by the FBI. She could not remember what they had talked about in Vince Foster's office on July 19, 1993. "It was an incredibly painful time and her way of dealing with matters such as that was to block it out. She remembers impressions, she does not remember specific conversations," reads her statement. [23]

She did recall however that Foster was a little chilly, failing to get up from his desk to greet her, as if she had interrupted his train of thought. Reflecting on it afterwards she concluded that he had "painted himself into a box with no windows," but at the same time "she got the sense that he had come to some sort of decision and was, if anything, relaxed as a result." [24]

Later that night, at about 8:00 PM, President Clinton himself called Foster at his home in Georgetown. He asked him to come back to the White House.

"I hadn't seen Vince in a while, and I hadn't had a chance to talk to him in a few weeks. So I decided I would call and invite him to the movie that night," said the President in a deposition. [25]

"That was In the Line of Fire?"

"Uh-huh."

"Who else was there?"

"Just a couple of us. I think Mr. Hubbell was there. I think Mr. Lindsey was there."

It was the inner core.

Foster refused the invitation. He chatted to the president for ten to fifteen minutes about "organizational issues" and the two men agreed to meet Wednesday morning at the White House.

"He was already home with Lisa, and he didn't think he should leave and come back to the White House. I understood that," said the President. "Then I asked him, you know, if he had a good time over the weekend, and he said they had a great time."

I strongly suspect that Foster's rebuff was read by the Arkansas Group as an indication that he was no longer on the team.

"No one can ever know why this happened. Even if you had a whole set of objective reasons, that wouldn't be why it happened," said President Clinton in an opaque address to his staff, the morning after Foster's death. "He had an extraordinary sense of propriety and loyalty, and I hope that when we remember him and this, we'll be a little more anxious to talk to each other and a little less anxious to talk outside of our family." [26]

* * *

I do not know whether Vincent Foster was depressed before his death. It is irrelevant anyway. The hard evidence indicates that the crime scene was staged, period. Even if Foster was depressed, somebody still put a gun in his hand, somebody still inflicted a perforating wound on his neck, his body still levitated 700 feet into Fort Marcy Park without leaving soil residue on his shoes, and he still managed to drive to Fort Marcy Park without any car keys.

That said, the dishonest manipulation of the facts about Foster's state of mind, and the anonymous leaks to the press that have subsequently been disproved by the official record, make for an interesting case study of a cover-up in progress. It is quite clear from the archive of documents that almost nobody realized that Foster was depressed at the time of his death. That story evolved later.

Foster had been in a filthy mood at the beginning of the year, flying off the handle at the slightest encroachment on his precious time. [27] When the family came up for the inaugural, Vince had left Lisa and the children on their own, and slipped away to his work. Lisa was so upset she boycotted the inaugural ball that night. [28] There had been ups and downs, obviously.

But by the early summer of 1993 things were looking up. Foster's children had arrived, putting an end to the deracinated bachelor life of those first miserable months in Washington. First came Laura, the daughter he adored. [29] "I have a distinct memory of him celebrating Laura's birthday and bringing her to one of our Friday night movies," said Hillary Clinton. [30] "He had his arm around her and they looked so happy. He seemed very happy that finally he was going to have his family back."

By July, Foster was making an effort to control his workaholic habits. He was planning weekend getaways outside Washington with Lisa, and was promising to come back earlier each night from the White House. On Monday, July 19, as the family were standing around the kitchen after supper, Foster suggested that it would be fun to buy a family boat. [31] He chatted warmly about different kinds of crafts with his youngest son, Brugh.

The next morning his "mood seemed better than it had in a while," Lisa Foster told the Park Police. [32] (Ten months later she told a dramatically different version to the FBI, but by then she was being advised by White House "surrogate" James Hamilton.)

He drove his children to work, chatting happily enough. Vincent III commented afterward that "his dad was in such a happy mood when he dropped us off." [33]

That afternoon Foster's sister, Sharon Bowman, arrived from Arkansas for a visit. Foster had arranged to take his niece, Mary, to lunch at the White House mess. He was back to his old courteous, thoughtful self.

Perhaps Foster's conduct during these last days and hours before his death could be construed as symptoms of depression. But it strikes me that the Fiske Report conflated the issue of clinical depression with symptoms of stress, insomnia, anxiety, and above all fear. I will leave it to psychiatrists to judge whether these two mental conditions are one and the same. These things can be subjective. But what we do know is that Fiske played fast and loose with the evidence.

The report said that it was "obvious to many that he had lost weight," [34] but in fact he had gained weight in Washington.

On December 31,1992, Dr. Watkins weighed him at 194 pounds in Little Rock. [35] At the autopsy, after some loss of blood, he weighed 197 pounds.

Fiske distorted the witness statements of those who disputed the assertion that Vincent Foster was depressed. Deborah Gorham, Foster's executive assistant at the Counsel's Office, told the FBI that she "did not see anything in Foster's behavior which would indicate a distressed state of mind" and that "he had not made any statements or comments indicating despondency and she had not noticed any physical changes in Foster from the time she started as his secretary to his death." [36]

The inventive Mr. Fiske somehow transformed this into "Gorham confirmed that Foster's productivity dropped significantly in the last few weeks of his life." [37] She makes no such assertion in the declassified portions of her FBI statement. But then seven pages of her 302 write-up are censored under a specious claim of national security. So we cannot be sure.

The Foster family was stunned when the Park Police first notified them of the death. "Mrs. Foster nor other relatives, or friends were able to provide any insight as to why Vincent Foster would take his life," wrote Park Police Detective John Rolla. "One of the last things I got from Mrs. Foster ... I asked her, was he ... did you see this coming, was there any signs of this, and of course everyone said no, no, no, no. He was fine. This is out of the blue." [38]

This was Lisa's spontaneous reaction on the night of the death. Once again, it bears no relation to the "Hamiltonized" version she elaborated for the FBI a year later. Without wishing to belabor the point, here is a sampling of testimony from those who saw the most of Foster in the weeks before his death:

* Betsy Pond, secretary in the Counsel's office: "There was nothing unusual about his emotional state. In fact over the last several weeks she did not notice any changes, either physically or emotionally. She noticed no weight loss .... She was not aware of any depression problems." [39]

* David Watkins, Director of Administration: "I saw him every day and I never picked up anything to suggest he was deteriorating .... It wasn't clear to me at all." [40]

* Webb Hubbell "did not notice Foster acting differently in the days or weeks before his death." [41]

* James Lyons, a Denver attorney working with the Arkansas Group. Foster telephoned him on July 18. They were due to have dinner three days later. "Lyons had seen no evidence of depression or psychiatric imbalance." [42]

* Nancy Hernreich, Deputy Assistant to the President and a member of the core Arkansas Group, recalled "seeing no changes in Vincent Foster's physical or psychological presence." [43]

* Beth Nolan, Associate White House Counsel under Foster, "did not recall anybody ever remarking about Foster holding up or not holding up, and she did not herself notice any weight loss." [44]

* Lorraine Cline, Foster's longtime secretary at the Rose Law Firm. Came up to see him in D.C. in late May. "He was reserved and quiet but not depressed. She was surprised to read in the media that he had been depressed." [45]

* Susan Thomases, intimate of Hillary Clinton, told the FBI: "She last saw Vincent Foster on Wednesday or Thursday before his death. She believes that they had lunch together with some other people in Washington She noted no change in his demeanor or physical appearance His death came as a complete shock to her and she can offer no reason or speculation as to why he may have taken his life." [46]

This is rather interesting because James Stewart, in his bestselling book Blood Sport quotes Thomases as saying that she met Foster furtively before his death at a boarding house on 2020 0 Street. It was Wednesday night, July 14. She alleged that he bared his soul and confided that his marriage "had not been what he'd hoped for, and it hadn't been for years .... [Lisa] was completely dependent on him, and this had become a burden." Thomases was deeply concerned about the "change in his appearance and demeanor."

This statement is in glaring contradiction to what she told the FBI as a witness in a criminal investigation. This is not an academic question, for it was Thomases who talked Stewart into writing Blood Sport in the first place. What was her purpose?

The official documents indicate that the only member of Foster's family and close circle who said from the beginning that Foster was depressed was his sister, Sheila Anthony. She is a Clinton loyalist and a Washington power-broker in her own right. As a top official at the Justice Department, she was in charge of choosing U.S. attorneys, U.S. marshals, and U.S. federal judges. In other words, she picked the staff for the federal machinery of coercion. She was later appointed Assistant Attorney General.

At a dinner at the Cactus Cantina on July 9, which Foster paid for using his American Express Card, leaving a 20 percent tip as always, he mentioned that overwork and constant stress were grinding him down. He was thinking of resigning. [47]

A week later he telephoned to say that "he was battling depression for the first time in his life" but was reluctant to visit a psychiatrist because it might endanger his security clearance. He also wanted to be absolutely sure that everything revealed in therapy would be confidential and beyond the reach of subpoenas. [48] Sheila Anthony called Dr. Charles Hedaya in Chevy Chase and explained that her brother was handling "Top Secret" issues at the White House and "that his depression was directly related to highly sensitive and confidential matters." [49]

She left Dr. Hedaya with the impression that Vincent Foster was caught "in a bind." On Monday, after returning from the Eastern Shore, Foster told his sister that he was "feeling good" and had decided not to see a psychiatrist.

It is always possible that Ms. Anthony was seeing the matter through her own prism, pushing her brother toward treatment out of sibling bossiness. Foster himself never visited a psychiatrist. Be that as it may, the bigger point is that the U.S. judicial authorities have tried to convince us that Foster's depression was visible to everybody around him. That is simply not true. Clearly, this story was concocted to compensate for the paucity of forensic evidence at the crime scene.

I once asked a gathering of thirty Washington journalists what they considered to be the most compelling evidence that Vincent Foster committed suicide. There was a brief silence, then somebody said: "Well, he was depressed."

It was a very good answer. The depression is all they have, and by "they" I mean Fiske, Starr, the Justice Department, the White House, The Washington Post, the governing class. Take that away, and there is nothing left to sustain the ruling of suicide. Nothing.
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 27854
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: The Secret Life of Bill Clinton: The Unreported Stories

Postby admin » Sun Jul 03, 2016 12:39 am

CHAPTER SIXTEEN: THE PARKS MURDER

"I'M A DEAD MAN," whispered Jerry Parks, pale with shock, as he looked up at the television screen. It was a news bulletin on the local station in Little Rock. Vincent Foster, a childhood friend of the President, had been found dead in a park outside Washington. Apparent suicide. [1]

He never explained to his son Gary what he meant by that remark, but for the next two months the beefy 6' 3" security executive was in a state of permanent fear. He would pack a pistol to fetch the mail. On the way to his offices at American Contract Services in Little Rock he would double back or take strange routes to "dry-clean" the cars that he thought were following him. At night he kept tearing anxiously at his eyebrows, and raiding the valium pills of his wife, Jane, who was battling multiple sclerosis. Once he muttered darkly that Bill Clinton's people were "cleaning house," and he was "next on the list." [2]

Two months later, in September 1993, Jerry and Jane went on a Caribbean cruise. He seemed calmer. At one of the islands he went to take care of some business at a bank. She believed it was Grand Cayman. They returned to their home in the rural suburbs of Little Rock on September 25. The next day Jane was in one of her "down" periods, so Jerry went off on his own for the regular Sunday afternoon supper at El Chico Mexican Restaurant.

On the way back, at about 6:30 PM, a white Chevrolet Caprice pulled up beside him on the Chenal Parkway. Before Parks had time to reach for his .38 caliber "detective special" that he kept tucked between the seats, an assassin let off a volley of semi-automatic fire into his hulking 320 pound frame.

Parks skidded to a halt in the intersection of Highway 10. The stocky middle-aged killer jumped out and finished him off with a 9 mm handgun -- two more shots into the chest at point blank range. Several witnesses watched with astonishment as the nonchalant gunman joined his accomplice in the waiting car and sped away. [3]

* * *

It was another three months before news of the murder of Jerry Luther Parks reached me in Washington. The U.S. national media were largely unaware of the story, which surprised me because Parks had been in charge of security at the 1992 Clinton-Gore campaign headquarters in Little Rock. [4]

On my next trip to the state I decided to drop by at the archives of The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette to see if they had covered the death. There were two routine homicide stories by reporter Ward Pincus, mostly focusing on disputes that Parks had had with a former partner.

I contacted the writer, who had since moved to New York. To my surprise he turned out to be the son of Walter Pincus, the intelligence correspondent for The Washington Post and a friend of Vincent Foster. In fact, Walter Pincus had lunched with Foster at the Federal City Club on July 9, eleven days before the death. [5] Afterward Pincus had written an "op-ed" piece in The Post saying that Foster was visibly cracking under the strain of Washington life. It was a persuasive article, the suicide clincher. I remember reading it at the time and thinking: "Well, that's it, then, case closed."

What his son told me was astounding. When he spoke to Jane Parks the day after the death she said that her husband had been involved with Vince Foster and she seemed to think there was a political dimension to the murder. She was distraught, almost hysterical. Ward Pincus did not know what to make of it, so he consulted his editors at The Democrat-Gazette. Should he go out to visit the widow and try to find out what on earth she was talking about? No, they said, don't bother. Soon afterward, Jane Parks withdrew into her shell and refused to give any interviews to the press.

By asking around, I learned that her son Gary, then 23, might be willing to talk. He was half-underground, sleeping on the floor in different houses, afraid that he too could be the target of attack. Messages were passed back and forth through the informal network of civic opposition in Arkansas. He agreed to talk, given that I was a "foreigner," he said, and not part of the corrupt U.S. media cabal. It was a sentiment I encountered often in Arkansas.

We met for dinner at the Little Rock Hilton. His escort arrived first, "sweeping" the lobby, the bar, and even the bathrooms, before giving the all clear. It was like being back in El Salvador or Guatemala, where I had worked as a correspondent during la violencia of the early 1980s. I never imagined that I would witness such a spectacle in the United States.

A big strapping fellow like his father, Gary Parks was in constant pain from a wound he had suffered in the navy. A propeller had ripped through his right shoulder. He described his father as a harsh martinet, who once made him run miles in freezing cold weather, drenched and shirtless. But in the security business the name of Jerry Parks was good metal. Bill Clinton had appointed him to the board of Arkansas Private Investigators. He was a player. He knew how to keep his mouth shut, too.

Wolfing down a huge piece of steak -- he seemed to be half-starved- Gary then said that his father had been collecting files on Bill Clinton. "Working on his infidelities," he said, grinning. "It had been going on for years. He had enough to impeach Bill Clinton on the spot."

At some point in 1988, when he was about 17, he had accompanied Jerry on four or five nocturnal missions. Armed with long-range surveillance cameras, they would stake out the haunts of the Governor until the early hours of the morning. Quapaw Towers was one of them, he remembered. That was where Gennifer Flowers lived.

It was a contract job, Gary believed, but he did not know who was paying for the product. Some of the material was kept in two files, stored in the bottom drawer of the dresser in his parents' bedroom. He had sneaked in one day, terrified that his father might catch him, and flicked through the papers just long enough to see photos of women coming and going with Governor Clinton, and pages of notes in his father's handwriting. In one of the photos Clinton was with Captain Raymond "Buddy" Young of the State Police.

In late July 1993 the family house on Barrett Road was burgled in a sophisticated operation that involved cutting the telephone lines and disarming the electronic alarm system. The files were stolen. [6] Gary suspected that this was somehow tied to his father's death two months later.

"I believe that Bill Clinton had my father killed to protect his political career," he told me that evening. "We're dealing with a secretive machine here in Arkansas that can shut anyone up in a moment."

It was a startling allegation. He was accusing the President of the United States of using a death squad to eliminate enemies. I knew at once that this was a news story that had to be pursued. It was an infinitely more serious issue than Whitewater, and Watergate, too, for that matter.

But why would a bimbo file cause such alarm? And how much did Gary Parks really know anyway? He had been away in the navy. His father had kept him in the dark.

It was imperative to interview his mother. It was she who knew the secrets.

* * *

At first Mrs. Parks would not talk to me, except to confirm in a general way that there were indeed files, that they had been stolen, and that Gary was telling the truth. The Little Rock Police had told her not to talk to the press until the case was solved, and she had agreed.

But by the spring of 1994 she was losing faith. The original detective, Tom James, had been pulled off the case. It was becoming apparent that the eyewitness accounts of the death were being ignored by the police. Witnesses had described two assassins: hefty men, with beer bellies and broad shoulders, greyish hair, in their late forties or early fifties. [7] Yet the police kept saying that there was only one killer in the car.

Jane Parks went to visit a top official from the State Police whom she knew well from her church network. [8] He told her outright that the murder was a conspiracy hatched in Hot Springs by five men who moved in the social circle of Buddy Young, the former chief of Governor Clinton's security detail and now the regional director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the south-central United States. She was given the names of the five men, and was told that they had flipped coins to decide which two would carry out the execution. And finally, she was told that nothing was ever going to be done about it.

Torn by conflicting impulses, afraid for the safety of her two sons, she agreed to meet me. It was the beginning of a three-year dialogue in which she slowly opened up, and slowly came to terms with her husband's life as an officer in the Dixie Cartel. With time, and new drugs that restored a degree of health, she began to recall the details that had been repressed and buried.

Her account confronted me with a journalistic dilemma of the first order. Certain episodes could be corroborated, which established a pattern of veracity, but the most shocking allegations were based on her word alone. I made an intuitive decision to publish. At times the moral imperatives of reportage require one to violate the Columbia School codex. Somebody has to give a voice to the little people. I offer readers her story for what it is: her word, sometimes supported by other evidence, sometimes not.

Jane Parks is a slender, elegant brunette, with high cheekbones and a Scots-Irish look about her. On her good days, one would never have known that she was suffering from multiple sclerosis. Tanned and carefully made up, with a soft southern voice, she is undoubtedly an attractive woman. Unaware of who she was, Kenneth Starr had once chatted her up at the Little Rock Athletic Club. She, in turn, noted that he had a "gorgeous body" in his gym shorts.

But at the same time she is a fervent Pentecostal, a member of the Assembly of God Church. She had separated from Jerry Parks early in their marriage, during his brash, heavy-drinking days. The condition for reunion was that he give himself to the Lord and be born again, which he did. Although not everybody was convinced.

"Jerry professed to be a devout Christian. He was obsessed with that image, but he was one of the biggest hypocrites I've ever met in my life," said his former business partner, and enemy, John D. McIntire. "He was power-hungry, out to prove that he was a big shot." [9]

Jane Parks was not entirely convinced either. But going through the motions was a good deal better than the boorish behavior of the past. At least he had stopped drinking.

In the summer of 1984 Mrs. Parks was the manager of a mid-scale apartment complex called Vantage Point. She was informed by the real estate agents that a nonpaying guest would be coming to stay for a while. She was told to take care of him, no questions asked. The guest turned out to be Roger Clinton, college-dropout, rock-musician, consummate scoundrel, kid brother, or, to be more precise, half-brother, of the Governor -- and a Clinton appointee to the Arkansas Crime Commission's Juvenile Advisory Board.

Mrs. Parks installed him in the corporate suite, room B107. The suite and her offices had originally been part of the same condominium, but they had been divided in two by a thin partition. For the next two months she and her assistant found themselves the reluctant audience of Roger Clinton's Bohemian recreations. Even during the quiet office hours of 9 to 5 the goings-on were wild. And sometimes the conduct was so outre that the two of them would have to leave their office and wait outside until the ecstasies had subsided.

The Kid Brother was going through a bad patch. At that time he was nearing the disastrous culmination of a five-year cocaine addiction. "By mid- I 984, Roger spent virtually every waking hour getting high or trying to get high," wrote Arkansas commentator Meredith Oakley, in her book On the Make.

Roger was already the target of a sting operation by a joint state-federal narcotics task force. In April 1994 he had been filmed by hidden surveillance cameras at an apartment in Hot Springs disparaging "niggers," and cutting a rock of cocaine for sale.

"Boy, this is some good coke," says the undercover informant. "It's decent, it's decent," allows the Kid Brother. He knew he was under suspicion but cockily assumed that he was untouchable. "I've got four or five guys in uniform who keep an eye on the guys who keep an eye on me," he explained. [10]

The surveillance archive is a revealing set of tapes. At one point Roger reached for the telephone to order some merchandise from his Colombian friend Maurice Rodriguez, a man listed on FBI documents as an international trafficker with ties to the Colombian cartels.  [11] This is not a mixed-up kid who crosses the line a couple of times and gets caught. This is a serious drug dealer who boasts of his technique for getting through airport security with bags of cocaine strapped to his body -- once in the company of Big Brother. People are sent to prison for life for dealing cocaine on this scale.

He needed the money badly.

"I've been saving up for a Porsche," he says. "I want a Porsche so bad, I can spit."

The full uncensored set of tapes was first brought to light by freelance journalist Scott Wheeler, who has spent four years digging into the organized crime world of Hot Springs and Mena -- at great personal risk. They serve as a very raw exposure of the symbiotic corruption of the Clinton brothers.

At one point in the tapes, the undercover informant, Rodney Myers, asks Roger if he can take care of a sewer permit for a condominium project in Hot Springs. Construction had been held up by the Pollution Control Board. A $30,000 fee was negotiated, sweetened with the offer of a job for Roger.

Kid Brother says he thinks that he can "do something," having explained that "we're closer than any brothers you've ever known. See, I didn't have a father growing up, and he was like a father to me growing up, all my life, so that's why we've always been close. There isn't anything in the world he wouldn't do for me."

At their next meeting Roger comes back to the subject. "About your other thing, I talked to Big Brother, it's no problem." But there is a snag, warns Roger. Big Brother had made some calls and discovered that there was one hold-out on the Control Board.

Could the man be bribed, asks the informant?

No, says Roger, with disgust. The holdout is a decent, upstanding man. But the Board would do what Big Brother wanted in the end.

None of the truly damning dialogue on the tapes was made public in court proceedings, or brought to the attention of the Arkansas people. In his book Partners in Power, Roger Morris says that the segments implicating Governor Clinton were sent to the Public Integrity Office of the Justice Department in Washington. "I guess they just got lost," one police officer told Morris, bitterly.

The Kid Brother was arraigned in U.S. federal court on August 14, 1984' He pled not guilty to six counts of drug dealing and conspiracy, but soon "rolled over" and became a snitch for the drug task force. The announcement of his plea agreement was delayed until after Governor Clinton was safely reelected in November. In January 1985, locked arm in arm with his devoted mother and brother, Roger was sentenced to two years in the federal penitentiary in Fort Worth. Judge Oren Harris said that he could not reasonably impose probation after learning that Roger had continued snorting cocaine after his arrest.

Bill Clinton, of course, handled it all with great sensitivity and savoir faire. "My brother has apparently become involved with drugs," he announced. "A curse which has reached epidemic proportions and plagued the lives of millions of families, including many in our state." His spokesmen insisted the Governor never knew his Kid Brother had tried drugs.

The spin must have been galling for Hot Springs Detective Travis Bunn. A highly decorated Army Special Forces sergeant-major, it was he who had mounted the original case against Roger Clinton. In the spring of 1984 Bunn had recorded Roger Clinton saying: "I've got to get some for my brother, he's got a nose like a Hoover vacuum cleaner." [12]

Bill Clinton later turned his brother's scandal to advantage. He intimated that he had "signed off' on the police investigation of his own brother, allowing the process of criminal justice to run its course without meddling. His trouble-shooter, Betsey Wright, claimed that Clinton had written a note to the Commander of the State Police stating that there would be no interference from the Governor's Mansion and that he wanted the matter handled in a routine fashion.

It was utterly bogus, the very opposite of the truth. In reality the Clinton machine had done everything it could to contain the case. Apparently, Detective Bunn felt he had enough evidence from the surveillance tapes to launch an investigation -- in conjunction with federal authorities -- of Governor Clinton himself. When he broached the question with the Arkansas State Police, they muscled in immediately and sabotaged his case.

Roger Clinton was arrested before he could provide any more damaging revelations on surveillance tapes, and was kept sequestered. In violation of usual police procedure, Bunn was denied access to the prisoner. He was told, tartly, that Roger "didn't know anything."

When Bunn complained to the head of the State Police Criminal Investigations Division he discovered that the arrest of Roger Clinton had not been authorized by the proper officials. It was outside the normal chain of command. Nothing could be done. "The whole thing was damage control, orchestrated by the Governor's Mansion," said a State Trooper close to the probe. "They had no right butting in on the Hot Springs police like that." [13]

The Governor was off the hook. But it was too late to save Roger. This, then, was the shape of Roger Clinton's life when he moved into the corporate suite at B107 Vantage Point. The Kid Brother soon made himself at home. Lounging about in his shorts, showing off his gold accoutrements at the pool, he was a quick hit with the teenage girls at the complex. [14]

Women came by at all times of the day and night, sometimes delivered by uniformed State Troopers. Roger would have the door open, the "ghetto blaster" cranked up playing acid rock. Jane's assistant, who was in charge of tenant relations, had to inform the Kid Brother of the complaints that were pouring in from residents who paid $550 a month for the promise of tranquility at Vantage Point.

From time to time the Governor would appear, usually in the middle of the afternoon. The limousine would be parked along the side of "A" Block, somewhat obscured from view. Jane remembers seeing the driver sitting there listening to music. She soon learned to distinguish between the voices of the two brothers behind the thin partition.

"Roger was the filthy one. He was gross. That's how you could tell," she said. But if the language was different, the behavior of the two was much the same. They were sharing joints of marijuana. There could be no doubt about it. She could hear Roger saying what it was, where he got it from, what it was like. Then she could hear the Governor bleating his approval: "This is really good shit!"

It was not just marijuana either. Two or three times a week the Governor was buoying his spirits with a snort of Kid Brother's Colombian rock. The repartee was coming through the vents. She was as certain as if she had been in the suite herself. Sometimes the two brothers were alone. Sometimes young women were invited to join, and the little party was consummated with raucous orgasms. The bed was pressed up against the partition wall, just a few feet from the desk of Mrs. Parks. On two occasions she heard the Governor copulating on the bed. Who the visitors were, exactly, she did not know. But some of them appeared surprisingly young.

Jerry Parks was then head of the Little Rock branch of Guardsmark, a security firm based in Memphis. But he also did private detective work on the side, so when Jane alerted him to the goings on at B107, he began his own discrete surveillance. He wrote down names, dates, license plates; he snapped photos from the balcony of the Parks condo on the third floor of "B" block, across the yard. By the end of Roger's stay, Parks had collected a thick dossier on the comings and goings of Big Brother. Jane Parks believes that some of that material was in the files stolen from their house in July 1993.

Jane Parks's account of the goings on at Vantage Point is broadly corroborated by her assistant. Unlike Jane, who can be demure, even faintly stem, the assistant is a gregarious, voluble young woman who worshipped at the same church. We had lunch at a barbecue joint in North Little Rock. A chicken-wing sort of place, with faux leather booths. It was dark and largely empty. She was nervous, holding things back. But she did confirm the critical point. The incidents happened, Bill Clinton was present on frequent occasions, and drug use was rampant.

"Everything Jane Parks told you is true. That woman does not know how to tell a lie," she said. "Bill had his girlfriends in there. You could hear them through the walls. They looked to me very young girls, probably 17, 18 years old."

I pulled out some confidential files from the Arkansas State Police and started going through the names of young women to see if any of them rang a bell. Lost in concentration we did not notice that a large, corpulent, bearded, redneck wearing dark glasses had crept up on us. When I flicked my head around, I suddenly saw him sitting at the next table, staring pointedly at my guest. There was nobody else left in the restaurant.

"Do you know him?" I whispered.

"No, no, I don't," she said looking up with fright. The man did not take his eyes off her.

"Please, can we get out of here? Right now," she said.

We got up without finishing our food. The big bruiser got up, too, and followed us to the cash register. Outside, I waited to see which vehicle he got into so that I could trace the plates. But he just stood there waiting, and watching, with the hint of a smile flickering beneath his salt and pepper beard.

The Machine had left its calling card.

* * *

It was another two years before Jane Parks began to tell me the rest of the story. She had remarried and moved to Batesville, two hours' drive from Little Rock. Her new husband was an attorney named Harvey Bell, the former Arkansas Securities Commissioner. His life, too, had intersected with that of Vincent Foster. A colonel in the Arkansas National Guard, Bell told me that he had been the commander of Foster's reserve unit and had later crossed swords with him in court. "Vince liked to think of himself as a master chess player, moving all the pieces, controlling the game," he said. "He was always scheming in the shadows." [15]

Jane felt safer in Batesville. The threatening telephone calls that she had been receiving had stopped. Her illness was in remission. She had held back before, she explained, for fear of violent reprisals against her two sons and herself. But she was weary of bottling up her secrets, and she no longer felt the emotional compulsion to cover for her first husband. "I've been praying about it. I decided that if you tell the whole truth it'll set you free."

She revealed that Jerry Parks had carried out sensitive assignments for the Clinton circle for almost a decade, and the person who gave him his instructions was Vince Foster. It did not come as a total shock. I already knew that there was some kind of tie between the two men. Foster's brother-in-law, Lee Bowman, told me long ago that Vince had recommended Jerry Parks for security work in the mid-1980s. "I was struck by how insistent he was that Parks was a 'man who could be trusted,'" said Bowman, a wealthy Little Rock stockbroker. [16]

Jane thought that Jerry and Vince Foster had gotten to know each other when the Rose Law Firm represented Guardsmark in litigation. Vince had fed him little tasks during the 1980s, she believed, rewarding him along the way. In late 1989 he helped to secure Jerry a $47,959 loan from the Arkansas Teachers Retirement Fund, a huge piggy bank used by the Clinton Machine for political payoffs. As reported by James Ring Adams in The American Spectator, the loan went through the Twin City Bank of North Little Rock, a bank that had played a role in the Whitewater saga.

Jerry, in turn, "respected Vince Foster more than anybody else in the world." [17] It was a strange, clandestine relationship. Foster called the Parks home more than a hundred times, identifying himself with the code name, "The Congressman." Jane met him only once in person. It was at a "Roast and Toast" of the Governor. He walked over, graceful as always, and said: "Hello, you must be Jerry's wife. I'd heard he'd robbed the cradle."

By the late 1980s Vince trusted Parks enough to ask him to perform discreet surveillance on the Governor. "Jerry asked him why he needed this stuff on Clinton. He said he needed it for Hillary," recalled Jane. It appears that Hillary wanted to gauge exactly how vulnerable her husband would be to charges of philandering if he decided to launch a bid for the presidency.

Had he learned to be more cautious? How easily could he be caught? Was it bad enough to destroy a candidacy? These were things she needed to know before subjecting herself and her daughter to the media glare of a national campaign. This moral check-up was a very understandable precaution. [18]

Later, during the early stages of the presidential campaign, Parks made at least two trips to the town of Mena, in the Ouachita Mountains of western Arkansas. Mena had come up in conversations before. Jane told me that Parks had been a friend of Barry Seal, a legendary cocaine smuggler and undercover U.S. operative who had established a base of operations at Mena airport. Parks had even attended Seal's funeral in Baton Rouge after Seal was assassinated by Colombian pistoleros in February 1986.

One of the trips was in 1991, she thought, although it could have been 1992. The morning after Jerry got back from Mena she borrowed his Lincoln to go to the grocery store and discovered what must have been hundreds of thousands of dollars in the trunk. "It was all in $100 bills, wrapped in string, layer after layer. It was so full I had to sit on the trunk to get it shut again," she said.

"I took a handful of money and threw it in his lap and said, 'Are you running drugs?' Jerry said Vince had paid him $1,000 cash for each trip. He didn't know what they were doing, and he didn't want to know either, and nor should I. He told me to forget what I'd seen."

They had a bitter quarrel and barely spoke to each other for two weeks. They made up on Jerry's birthday on July 3. "The whole thing was becoming scary," she said of that time. "He was in over his head."

He told her that he would leave his Lincoln at a hangar at the Mena airport, go off for a coke, and by the time he came back they would have loaded the money into the trunk with a forklift truck. He never touched it. When he got back to Little Rock he would deliver the money to Vince Foster in the K-Mart parking lot on Rodney Parham boulevard, a little at a time. They used a routine of switching briefcases, a "flip-flop mail carrier" made of leather.

Foster and Parks had other operations running. The two of them had bugged the Clinton-Gore headquarters in Little Rock. "Vince knew that somebody was stealing money from the campaign, and he wanted to find out who was doing it," she said. If her memory is correct, it suggests that Foster was far more deeply involved in the 1992 campaign than previously thought. It raises extra questions about the bundles of cash coming through Mena. Was it campaign money? If so, how was it laundered? How could so much cash have been spread around without flagging the Federal Election Commission?

Contact with Foster was rare after he moved to the White House. But he telephoned in mid-July 1993, about a week before his death. He explained that Hillary had worked herself into a state about "the files," worried that there might be something in them that could cause real damage to Bill or herself. The conversation was brief and inconclusive. Jerry told Vince Foster that there was indeed "plenty to hurt both of them. But you can't give her those files, that was the agreement." Jerry did not seem too perturbed at the time.

A few days later Foster called again. Jane is sure that it was either Sunday, July 18, or Monday, July 19, the night before Foster's death. Jerry was in the living room with his feet up, watching the History Channel on TV. Jane was puttering in and out of the kitchen. It was around 8:30 PM, central time.

"Vince was calling from a pay phone," said Jane, who overheard one side of the conversation and then learned the rest from Jerry afterward. "He kept feeding coins into the box, and then he told Jerry to hold on. He must have been near a mini-mart or something because he said he had to get more coins. [19] Then he called a second time, and they spoke for 30 minutes or more."

This time it was a heated exchange. Vince said that he had made up his mind. He was going to hand over the files and wanted to be sure that he had the complete set.

"You're not going to use those files!" said Jerry, angrily.

Foster tried to soothe him. He said he was going to meet Hillary at "the flat" and he was going to give her the files.

"You can't do that," said Parks. "My name's all over this stuff. You can't give Hillary those files. You can't! Remember what she did, what you told me she did. She's capable of doing anything!"

"We can trust Hil. Don't worry," said Foster.

Jane does not know exactly what files Foster wanted, but assumes he meant everything that Parks had done for him over more than a decade. Nor did she know what Foster meant by "the flat."

If the telephone call was made on Monday, July 19, it must have occurred an hour or so after President Clinton had called Foster at home and chatted to him for fifteen minutes about "staff problems." Clinton said that he called to invite Foster back to the White House to watch In the Line of Fire with Webb Hubbell and Bruce Lindsey. Foster had refused. [20]

But I suspect that Jane Parks has muddled the day. Foster was with his family that night. He was in a happy mood, chatting in the kitchen with his youngest son Brugh about buying a boat. It is more likely that the call was made on Sunday, July 18, after Vince and Lisa had returned from a weekend trip to the Eastern Shore. [21]

Vince was making calls late that night. Between 8:00 and 9:00 PM Foster telephoned James Lyons, a Denver attorney who had handled personal business for the Clintons. [22] This is an interesting call, too. Foster had spoken to Lyons earlier that week asking whether he would be able to come to Washington on short notice, if necessary.  [23] Lyons did in fact agree to come. The two men had arranged to meet for dinner on Wednesday, July 21.

Whatever Foster said to Jerry Parks, he cannot possibly have met with Hillary Clinton at "the flat" or anywhere else. She was on the West Coast during the days preceding his death. On the afternoon of July 20 she was on an aircraft flying from Los Angeles to Little Rock. But that does not preclude the grim possibility that Foster thought he was going to a rendezvous with the First Lady on July 20, and met his death instead.

* * *

The rambler-style home of the Parks family was swarming with federal agents on the day after Jerry's assassination. Jane remembers men flashing credentials from the FBI, the Secret Service, the IRS, and, she thought, the CIA. Although the CIA made no sense. Nothing made any sense. The federal government had no jurisdiction over a homicide case, and to this day the FBI denies that it ever set foot in her house.

But the FBI was there, she insisted, with portable X-ray machines and other fancy devices. An IRS computer expert was flown in from Miami to go through Jerry's computers. Some of them stayed until 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning. The men never spoke to Jane or tried to comfort her. The only conversation was a peremptory request for coffee.

The FBI agent in charge was tall man of about fifty, with blue eyes. Tom somebody, she thought. He never left a card. Jane was under the impression that he was from the Hot Springs office, which didn't make any sense either. When she told him that the murder might have a political dimension because of Jerry's dealings with Vince Foster and Bill Clinton, the man cut her short. "He threw up his hands and said, 'I don't want to hear anything about that.'''

With the help of the Little Rock Police Department the FBI ransacked the place, confiscating files, records, and 130 tapes of telephone conversations -- without giving a receipt. "I've asked them to give it all back, but the police refuse to relinquish anything. They told me there's nothing they can do about the case as long as Bill Clinton is in office."

Without access to the complete records, Jane has been unable to reconstruct her husband's activities in the months before his death. She knows that he was calling the White House in early 1993 demanding full payment for work performed by American Contract Services during the campaign. [24] The firm was owed $83,000, she believed.

When Jerry complained to his client contact, Dee Dee Myers, she insisted that the money had already been paid. "I have the company's signature on the back of the checks," Myers told him. The checks were drawn on the Worthen National Bank in the name of the "Clinton-Gore Presidential Transition Planning Foundation." Most of them were signed by David Watkins. [25]

"We don't sign our checks, we stamp them," Jerry replied.

Somebody inside the campaign had been embezzling the money, he was told, but he was promised full payment anyway. The check never arrived. In the end, the campaign said that it was only going to pay him thirty cents on the dollar. Parks was seething. He had been contracting workers at $5.00 an hour and billing the campaign at a rate of $7.23 an hour, a relatively modest mark-up. [26] A settlement on these terms would have been ruinous. That is when he began to play hardball with Betsey Wright and Webb Hubbell, calling them in Washington to express his wrath. [27] Whatever he said, it seemed to work. On July 22, 1993, two days after Foster's death, Jerry received his check for $83,000.

Was it possible that he had begun to make some hints about his confidential files, starting with the Vantage Point material but then perhaps escalating to matters of campaign finance? Could he have triggered a nuclear alert by alluding to documentation that was not supposed to exist?

"No, I don't think so," said Jane, loyally but without total conviction. "Jerry would never have been so stupid as to try to blackmail the President of the United States."

I do not pretend to understand why Jerry Parks was murdered. But the indications that the Parks case is somehow intertwined with the death of Vincent Foster is surely compelling enough to warrant a proper investigation. Instead, nobody cares to learn what Mrs. Parks has to say.

Why is it that every utterance from the lips of one widow-Lisa Foster -- is treated with reverence, while the other widow, brushed aside by an arrogant FBI, offers a conflicting version of events that is totally ignored by the American press?

Is Lisa Foster an inherently more accurate witness of events than Jane Parks simply because she belongs to a higher social caste? Is that what American justice and journalism has come to?
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 27854
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: The Secret Life of Bill Clinton: The Unreported Stories

Postby admin » Sun Jul 03, 2016 12:39 am

"COME TO ARKANSAS .... YOU MIGHT EVEN LEARN A THING OR TWO"

-- Bill Clinton, accepting the Democratic nomination, July 1992


CHAPTER SEVENTEEN: DEATH SQUAD

THE TREMOR HIT on June 11, 1997, when a Little Rock jury convicted Dan Harmon on five counts of racketeering, extortion, and drug dealing. It meant nothing to the political classes in Washington, but those who understood the nexus of relationships in Arkansas saw it very differently. Harmon was one of the commissars who had enforced a politicized criminal justice system during the tenure of Governor Clinton. Now a jury of Arkansans had found him guilty of running his Seventh Judicial District prosecuting attorney's office "as a criminal enterprise for six years" and "demanding money in return for dropping charges."

Among those attending the trial at the U.S. District Court was Jean Duffey, one of his many victims. Years before she had told me, in one of her acerbic asides, that "if you freed all the prison convicts in Arkansas, and locked up all the judges and prosecutors, you would do wonders to raise the moral condition of the state."

Here, at last, were the first glimmerings of vindication. She listened tensely, with bittersweet emotions, as Dan Harmon was painted by one witness after another in unflattering colors. He was a wife-beater; he took payoffs; he dealt drugs. A woman testified that she had delivered $10,000 in cash to Harmon's office as the bribe to drop a marijuana charge.

Fine as far as it went, thought Duffey, but the prosecution was holding back. She knew that Dan Harmon was much worse than that. His crimes were heinous. She suspected that the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas was engaged in damage control. Experience had taught her to expect the absolute minimum from the U.S. Justice Department. But at least Harmon had now been exposed as a criminal, and that was something. At least he could not inflict any more judicial atrocities on the people of central Arkansas. That was no small victory.

A gaunt, fearless woman with piercing eyes, now aged 50, and an animal-rights vegan to boot, Duffey is the sort of American who reassures you that the founding character of the republic lives yet. When I met her, she was an algebra teacher at the Sam Rayburn High School in Pasadena, Texas, but that was a second career she had adopted in political exile, as a refugee from Arkansas. By metier, she is really a prosecutor.

In March 1990 she was appointed head of the Seventh Judicial District drug task force, a joint federal and tri-county probe into the epidemic of narcotics trafficking in central Arkansas. It started badly. Her supervisor, Gary Arnold, walked in and said: "Jean, you are not to use the drug task force to investigate any public official." [1]

But it was not her character to confine herself to the street "mules" while the managerial class carried on with impunity. With a team of seven undercover police officers it did not take long to establish what she already suspected: The local judiciary was up to its neck in corruption, behaving much like the fiscalia of a backward Mexican province.

"We heard right away that if you got busted you could buy your way out," said Duffey. "It was an extortion racket. You'd pay off the prosecutor, who'd share the profits with the judge, and the case would be dropped." Soon they learned that it was even worse: The clique not only protected the drug flow, they essentially operated the business. Dan Harmon, then 45, the former Saline County prosecutor, and soon to be the Seventh Judicial District prosecutor, was the enforcer for the local smuggling enterprise.

It was not easy to conduct the investigation. Dan Harmon, a mustachioed dandy of great personal charm with a concealed penchant for violence, soon found out that the task force was poking around in his affairs. He launched a smear campaign with the help of friends at The Benton Courier and The Arkansas Democrat, accusing Duffey of every sin from embezzling funds to child abuse.


Instead of fighting back in public, she took the findings of the task force to the U.S. Attorney's office in Little Rock, hoping that the federal government would have the gumption to confront the local narco-brotherhood. Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Govar encouraged her to fight on. Dan Harmon would soon be indicted by a federal grand jury, he promised. She would be absolved.

But both of them underrated Harmon's reach. In November 1990 Duffey was fired by the Seventh Judicial District committee that had appointed her. Half of the task force resigned in sympathy.

The federal probe into Saline County corruption was still running, so Duffey was able to continue her crusade vicariously by offering her witnesses to the U.S. Attorney's Office. On the afternoon of December 10, 1990, her best informant, Sharlene Wilson, walked into the U.S. District Court in Little Rock and blurted out in front of an astonished grand jury that she had provided cocaine to Bill Clinton at Le Bistro nightclub during his first term as governor.

It had no criminal implications for Clinton because the statute of limitations had passed long before. But matters were clearly getting out of hand. Within days the federal investigation was closed down. U.S. Attorney Charles Banks went into full cover-up mode. [2] He was a Republican appointee but that meant nothing in Arkansas. What mattered were the interlocking relationships of power. Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Govar was pulled off the case. [3]

A month later Sharlene Wilson contacted Duffey in a desperate panic and arranged a surreptitious meeting at Lake Catherine on January 7, 1991. It was then that she revealed what she had blurted out in a moment of misguided candor at the grand jury.

"She was terrified. She said her house was being watched and she'd made a big mistake," said Duffey. "That was when she told me she'd testified about seeing Bill Clinton get so high on cocaine he fell into a garbage can .... I have no doubt she was telling the truth." Duffey has provided me with her contemporaneous diaries recording the conversation. [4]

For both Sharlene Wilson and Jean Duffey matters took a drastic turn for the worse when Dan Harmon became prosecuting attorney for the Seventh Judicial District in January 1991. He immediately summoned a county grand jury and issued a subpoena for all the records of the task force, which included the incriminating files on his own activities. If Duffey had complied it would have exposed 30 witnesses and her confidential informants to violent retribution. She refused.

Harmon issued a felony warrant for "avoiding service." Harmon's ally, Circuit Court Judge John Cole announced publicly that once arrested she would be held without bail. "That is when I got really worried," said Duffey. "I got a message from one of the dispatchers that I would never get out of jail alive, and I didn't doubt it. Some of the cops had already been warning my family there was a $50,000 price on my head."

She went into hiding on a ranch in northern Arkansas. During the early months of 1991 she was on the move, emerging from time to time for a clandestine meeting with her husband and three children, but always one step ahead of Dan Harmon's men. The Arkansas Democrat called her a "felony fugitive" in blaring headlines. Finally she fled to Texas. The family followed.

"I was dragged through the mud, totally discredited and professionally destroyed, but I have no regrets," said Duffey. "We tried to do what was right; we did everything that we possibly could; all that was left was to get on with our lives .... I became a school teacher, and you know what? I just love it."

It took longer to deal with Sharlene. In the mid-I980s she had been one of Harmon's lovers, on and off, and an accessory in his illicit operations. That, of course, is why she had been so invaluable to Jean Duffey, guiding her through the underworld of organized drug trafficking in Arkansas. Sharlene, in essence, had served as paramour to the cartel.

She had bedded with most of the criminal fraternity, including Roger Clinton, in a decade-long career of vertiginous debauchery. She had even done a stint for three or four months unloading bags of cocaine at the Mena Airport in the mountains of Eastern Arkansas. If there was anybody who knew the business inside out -- where the aircraft made their drops at night, who picked up the deliveries, who laundered the money, who ordered the hits -- it was Sharlene Wilson. She was a dangerous woman. What's more, she had gone spiritual. She was trying to rectify her life, hoping to regain custody of her lost son. She posed a threat to the whole organization.

But Harmon had to be careful, bide his time. Sharlene had become an undercover informant for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, and the DEA did not like it when their sources had fatal accidents. [5] So with a nice sense of irony he used the Seventh Judicial District task force, now completely under control, to set her up on drug charges.

His opportunity came when a close friend of Sharlene's, Joann Potts, was arrested and agreed to "roll over" to avoid prosecution. Potts was sent on repeated visits to Sharlene's house to arrange a drug deal. Sharlene succumbed. [6] She gave Potts a joint of marijuana, then made the fatal mistake of fetching her some methamphetamine. The woman was crying, saying her husband was cheating on her, that her car wouldn't start, that life was hell, and she "needed to get high really bad." [7]

"I'm not denying that I did it," Sharlene later told the court. "I'm saying that I've been pushed and pushed into this whole situation. The girl would not leave me alone, and I cared about her genuinely."

Sharlene was arrested by Dan Harmon in person. "He yelled, 'Bitch, I told you that if you ever breathed a word about me I'd take you down. You're going to prison, bitch,''' she said.

Harmon then prosecuted the case, neglecting to tell the jury that they had been lovers. He offered her a plea agreement of 116 years. A bit stiff, she felt, opting instead for a trial. She was convicted and sentenced to 31 years in prison for delivery of methamphetamine and marijuana. Still a bit stiff, for a first drug conviction.

"They couldn't silence her so they locked her up and threw away the key," said Duffey. "That's Arkansas for you."

But this time the powers that be in Arkansas did not have the last say. Represented by a talented, maverick lawyer, John Wesley Hall, Sharlene took her appeal all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. In a unanimous opinion written by Justice Clarence Thomas on May 22, 1995, the Court found that Harmon's men had violated Sharlene's Fourth Amendment rights by failing to adhere to the "knock-and-announce principle" before entering her home. [8]

Citing English common law, Justice Thomas noted that a man's house is "his castle of defense and asylum" and that the King may not send his sheriff into a person's house, either to arrest or to do other execution of the King's process, without signifying the cause and requesting that the doors be opened. Harmon had forgotten to study his Blackstone Commentaries. So had the Arkansas courts.

"The judgment of the Arkansas Supreme Court is reversed and the case is remanded for further proceedings," concluded Thomas. It did not get her off the hook entirely. Other convictions still held. But it bolstered her claim that she had been a victim of legal foul play, and it occurred at a time when Harmon's vicious sway over the Seventh Judicial District was fast coming to an end.

* * *

"I don't know if I trust you. I don't know if I trust anybody any longer," said Margie Wilson, in the sing-song cadence of rural Arkansas, as she hobbled around her dusty, cluttered trailer.

I was trying to persuade her to take a message to her daughter, Sharlene, in the Arkansas penitentiary for women. I knew that Sharlene would refuse to talk to me without knowing what it was about, but I did not want to alert the wrong people by sending an explicit letter through the prison system. I had to get in by stealth and tape her story before the portcullis came crashing down. The weekend family visit was my best bet.

"Since you're a friend of Jean Duffey I'll do it," said Margie, wearily. "Though I don't see what good it'll do my daughter talking to you .... She knows too much stuff about the Clinton brothers, too much for her own good." [9]

The penitentiary protruded inelegantly from the flat, sweltering cotton fields near Pine Bluff. A team of male convicts was out in the midday sun, slowly pulling up grass with their hands. Uniformed guards watched on horseback, no doubt envious of the loose white clothes worn by their wards. It was deathly silent.

At the women's compound I was shown into the warden's boardroom and told to wait while Sharlene was escorted from her cell in Barracks 9-B. She had borrowed some makeup from one of the other inmates in an effort to recapture lost allure. But it could not mask the desecrating effects of a life on drugs. Though still comely at age 38, it was hard to imagine that she had once been the blonde bombshell who made the rounds with Roger Clinton in the governor's limo. She had grown frumpy on prison food. Her light brown hair was untended. All that remained where the laughing eyes.

I made it clear to her that my newspaper could not offer any money for her story. Nor could I guarantee her safety in any way, although I believed that she was probably at less risk going public.

"Mr. Pritchard, sir, I'll tell you anything you want to know," she said. "I'm not proud of what I've done, but if I'm doing time for dope, they should be, too. They've persecuted me. They took my house, my family. They've done everything but kill me, and when the time is ripe they may do that." [10]

She had been the bartender at Le Bistro, a Little Rock nightclub where Roger Clinton used to play with his rock band Dealer's Choice. Big Brother would come by from time to time with one or two of his State Troopers.

"Roger had all the pretty girls and drugs and the fast life, and Bill was pretty envious of this," she said. On one occasion "Roger the Dodger" came back to the bar and said he needed two grams of cocaine right away. They carried out the deal near the ladies room. The Dodger then borrowed her "tooter," her "one-hitter" as she called it, and handed it to the governor.

"I watched Bill Clinton lean up against a brick wall. He must have had an adenoid problem because he casually stuck my tooter up his nose," she said. "He was so messed up that night, he slid down the wall into a garbage can and just sat there like a complete idiot."

Afterward they went back to the Governor's Mansion and partied into the early hours of the morning. "I thought it was the coolest thing in the world that we had a governor who got high."

That was not the only time she snorted cocaine with Bill Clinton. She claimed to have been present with him at a series of "toga parties" at the Coachman's Inn outside Little Rock between 1979 and 1981. "I was, you know, the hostess with the mostess, the lady with the snow," she said. "I'd serve drinks and lines of cocaine on a glass mirror."

People shared sexual partners in what amounted to a Babylonian orgy. They were elite gatherings of ten to twenty people, mostly public officials, lawyers, and local notables, cavorting in a labyrinth of interconnected rooms with women that included teenage girls. Bill Clinton was there at least twice, she said, snorting cocaine "quite avidly" with Dan Harmon. She gave a graphic description of the sexual activities that Bill Clinton preferred.

She remembered seeing a distinctive mole at the base of his stomach. "It's darned me that he's managed to get elected through all this," she said.

"It's 'darned' a lot of people," I concurred.

Sharlene was surprisingly frank about her job at the Mena Airport in the mid-1980s. The cocaine was flown in on twin-engine Cessnas, sometimes as often as every day. "I'd pick up the pallets and make the run down to Texas. The drop-off was at the Cowboys Stadium. I was told that nobody would ever bother me, and I was never bothered .... If there was a problem I was to call Dan Harmon."

A lot of the cocaine that came into Mena was taken up to Springdale in northwest Arkansas, she said, where it was stuffed into chickens for reshipment to the rest of the country.

But she had another job, which she revealed to me two years later when we were allowed to meet and talk in relative privacy at the prison library. This time she was trembling with emotion, giving free rein to the terrible remorse that had been eating at her for nine years. She used to pick up cocaine deliveries on the railway tracks near the little town of Alexander, thirty miles south of Little Rock.

"Every two weeks, for years, I'd go to the tracks, I'd pick up the package, and I'd deliver it to Dan Harmon, either straight to his office, or at my house .... Sometimes it was flown in by air, sometimes it would be kicked out of the train. A big bundle, two feet by one and a half feet, like a bale of hay, so heavy I'd have trouble lifting it .... Roger the Dodger picked it up a few times."

But in the summer of 1987 one of the drops disappeared. Furious, Harmon brought out some of his men to watch the delivery on the night of August 22. They were expecting a delivery of 3 to 4 pounds of cocaine and 5 pounds of "weed." Sharlene was supposed to make the pickup that night but she had been "high-balling" a mixture of cocaine and crystal and was totally "strung-out." They told her to wait in the car, which was parked off Quarry Road. It was around midnight.

"It was scary. I was high, very high. I was told to sit there and they'd be back. It seemed forever. I heard two trains. Then I heard some screams, loud screams. It ... it ... ," she stammered, breaking into uncontrollable tears. She never did finish that sentence.

"When Harmon came back, he jumped in the car and said, 'Let's go.' He was scared. It looked like there was blood all down his legs."

She later learned that a group of boys had been intercepted at the drop sight. According to Sharlene some of them had managed to get away, but Kevin Ives, 17, and Don Henry, 16, were captured. Harmon's men interrogated them as they were lying on the ground, face down, hands tied behind their backs. They were kicked and beaten, and finally executed. One of the boys was stabbed to death with a "survival knife." The bodies were wrapped in a tarpaulin, carried to a different spot on the line, and placed across the railway tracks so that the bodies would be mangled by the next train.

The following day Harmon told Sharlene that she would have to ditch her car. He gave her $500 in cash and told her to deliver a packet of cocaine to an address in Rockford, Illinois. She went to an auto auction and bought an Olds Cutlass Supreme for $450 in cash and drove to Rockford. From there she fled to the obscurity of Nebraska.

Sharlene is too candid for her own good. After telling me her harrowing story she made a collect call to my office in Washington, and said in a tone that was by turns pleading and peremptory: "Everything I told you is off the record." She then sent a letter with a notarized stamp, or so it appeared, commanding me to adhere to her First Amendment rights.

I thought about this a great deal. Technically, under American journalistic convention, a comment cannot be put off-the-record retroactively. But Sharlene Wilson is not a public official. She is not a potentate who knows how to play the game of media spin. She is a convict in dire straights who is afraid to eat the food on her tray when it is brought to the prison boiler-room where she works. People in her predicament have an excuse to go "off-the-record" after the event.

On the other hand, I owe greater loyalty to the feelings of Linda Ives who lost her son Kevin to the death squad of the Saline County judicial authorities. Besides, I have Sharlene's signed confession, which she gave to the narcotics detail of the Little Rock Police Department on May 28, 1993. The FBI has it, so does the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas. The whole damn government has it.

* * *

Kevin Ives was spending the night at the home of his friend Don Henry. At about 12:30 AM the two boys had apparently gone out "spotlight" hunting for deer in a wooded area near the railway tracks. [11]

At 4:25 AM the three drivers of a Union Pacific train coming up from Shreveport caught sight of an obstruction on the line. They jammed on the breaks but there was no chance of stopping the immense freight train in time. As they got closer they could see two bodies lying across the tracks, heads inside the rails, partly covered with a tarpaulin. [12] Not even the deafening whistle of the train could make them stir.

The Arkansas medical examiner, Fahmy Malak, ruled the deaths an accident. He said the boys had smoked twenty marijuana joints and fallen into a trance on the railway tracks, side by side. How he reached this astounding conclusion was a mystery because the state crime labs never tested the concentration of marijuana in their blood. [13]

Malak, an Egyptian with poor command of English, did not inspire confidence. In his most creative ruling he concluded that a James "Dewey" Milam had died of an ulcer and then been decapitated by the family dog. According to Malak, the animal had eaten the entire head and then vomited, leaving traces of half-digested brain matter. To Malak's chagrin, however, the man's skull was later recovered. No bites were taken out of it. The man had been decapitated with a sharp knife.

"That Malak survived in Arkansas is a testament to Clinton's power," wrote Meredith Oakley in her dispassionate Clinton biography On the Make. "He repeatedly lied about his credentials, misconstrued his findings, and misrepresented autopsy procedures. In the lab, he misplaced bodies and destroyed evidence. On the witness stand, he was a prosecutor's dream."

As has now been amply explored -- by The Los Angeles Times, NBC's Dateline, and others -- he obscured the negligent role of Bill Clinton's mother, Virginia Kelley, as the nurse anesthetist in the death of 17-year-old Susie Deer in 1981. Deer had been hit by a rock that broke her jaw and nose, but she was not in serious danger. Indeed, she was sitting up and chatting before surgery at the Ouachita Memorial Hospital.

During the operation, however, Virginia Kelley fumbled the breathing tube with disastrous results. Deer died from lack of oxygen. It was a clear case of medical malpractice, but Fahmy Malak concluded that the patient had died of "blunt trauma" to the head. With the extra touch that so captured the character of justice in Bill Clinton's Arkansas, the lad who threw the rock was prosecuted and convicted of negligent homicide.

Over the years, outraged families had tried to expose Fahmy Malak for what he was, a pseudo-scientific servant of power. But the doctor finally met his match in the immovable American spirit of Linda Ives. A buxom housewife with blue eyes and bushy blonde hair, aged 38 when her son was killed, she had never been involved in politics. Nor had her husband, Larry, an engineer on the Union Pacific. "Our lives were going to the ballpark, going out to the lake ... until the 'machine' reached into our lives." [14]

Linda declared war on Fahmy Malak and created such a stir that a county grand jury was called to investigate the case. The bodies were exhumed. In April 1988 a second autopsy was conducted by the Atlanta medical examiner Dr. Joseph Burton.

He found a "v" shaped "penetrating wound" into the "thoracic and left lower chest cavity" of Don Henry. He showed an enhanced photograph of the wound to six other forensic investigators. They all concurred that it was "a stab wound ... consistent with it having been inflicted by something such as a large cutting edge knife." [15]

He also found that Kevin Ives had been smashed in the head with a rifle butt, probably Don Henry's .22 caliber hunting rifle. There was "considerable reaction within the lungs of both boys" indicating that they had not died immediately. The level of marijuana in Kevin's blood was 97.9 nanograms per milliliter, consistent with having smoked two marijuana cigarettes over the previous few hours. Don Henry's level was slightly higher, but not nearly enough to induce collapse.

"The preponderance of evidence in this case indicates that Kevin Ives and Don Henry sustained injuries prior to impact with the train, that these injuries were inflicted on them by another individual or individuals, that their bodies were placed on the track."

It was at this stage that the Clinton administration in Little Rock began to exhibit the body language of alarm. In May 1988 Governor Clinton's chief of staff, Betsey Wright, deflected an attempt by the grand jury to subpoena two outside pathologists who had looked at the train deaths during a review of the Arkansas crime labs. Wright responded with an affidavit asserting that the doctors had not been contracted "to provide second opinions on specific cases."

It was gratuitous obstruction. The grand jury, highly irritated, then issued a subpoena for Betsey Wright herself. For weeks she defied the order.

Shortly afterward, a team of state police investigators assigned to help with the case -- at the insistence of the Henry and Ives families -- were reined in by the head of the Criminal Investigations Division. One of the investigators was Trooper L. D. Brown. "I was told it had something to do with Mena and I was to leave it alone." [16]

Meanwhile, with a panache that has to be admired, Dan Harmon had managed to take over the case, first as a concerned private attorney and then as a special deputy prosecutor appointed by his friend, Judge John Cole. He took command of the grand jury, promising to turn over every stone until the fiendish killers were caught and brought to justice. Linda Ives believed him.

"I thought he was our knight in shining armor. He was the only one helping us when nobody else would, it didn't make any sense that he'd do this if he'd been involved himself," she said. "I was so naive, back then."

"People had been telling me all along about his drug use, but he'd explain it all, and I was easy to pacify. Dan Harmon can make you believe anything, if you want to believe it," she said. "It makes me shudder to think that I was on the phone to him every day, pouring out my heart." [17]

In December 1988 the grand jury reached the end of its natural life and was disbanded. Sadly, explained Harmon, the investigation had failed to crack the case, but the capable officers of the Saline County Sheriffs Department would press on. It was only later that Linda Ives would be told by two frightened jurors that Harmon had prevented the grand jury from calling witnesses.

Already, people associated with the case were beginning to die in what amounted to a reign of terror among young people in Alexander, Arkansas.

Keith Coney, who told his mother he knew too much about the railway deaths and feared for his life, died in a motorcycle accident after a high-speed chase. Coney had been with the two boys a few hours before their deaths. Linda Ives now believes that they met up again at the tracks. "I'm sure now that there were three of them out there, at least, and he was one who got away," she said. [18]

Boonie Bearden, a friend of the boys, disappeared. His body was never found.

Jeff Rhodes, another friend, was killed with a gunshot to the head in April 1989.

And on it went. The killing fields.


There had always been rumors that the railway tracks were a drop-zone for drugs. It was assumed the deliveries were coming by train. But in June 1990 the undercover officers of Jean Duffey's Seventh Judicial District task force stumbled on evidence of a much bigger trafficking operation involving aerial drops. [19]

Aircraft with no lights were observed flying very low over the tracks at night. One informant staked out the area and observed a twin engine plane coming in at approximately 3:00 AM at least once a week. "It would fly in extremely low over the field, reduce speed, before throttling up again. By the field is a children's colony [20] that is lit up each night like a 'Christmas Tree.' That was the 'beacon.'" [21]

Image

[Baby Born Addicted to Crack] DA-DA!
[Da-Da] CIA


The deeper the undercover officers looked, the more certain they became that the operation was protected at the highest levels of law enforcement in Saline County, Pulaski County, and Little Rock.

Three years later, long after Duffey had been driven into exile, a Saline County detective named John Brown came to much the same conclusion. A brave, stubborn, emotional man, with rugged good looks, he ignored all warnings that it would be wiser to leave the case alone. It came to a head at a tense closed-door meeting with Robert Shepherd, the man appointed by Bill Clinton to be Arkansas's drug czar.

"Shepherd put on his overbearing cop manner and said 'Brown, those two kids are dead. There's nothing you do can bring them back. Your career will prosper a lot more if you'd concentrate your efforts somewhere else,'" recalled Brown. "I walked to the door, and just as I was leaving I turned and said, 'Guys, unless somebody wants to discuss the big secret with me, and tells me why everybody wants me to leave this alone, I've got two kids dead and I still consider that murder in Arkansas.' I walked out and thought, 'Oh shit, have I got problems.'''

Brown's career did not prosper. Forced out of the Saline County Sheriff's Department, he was reduced to digging ditches at $6 an hour to support his young wife Karen and two small children. But he never cracked. Once, when I visited him at his home in the country, there was a volunteer providing protection around-the-clock. The man was unarmed, but at least there would be a witness if anything happened. I have no doubt that it was this informal network of friends and supporters that kept him going, and perhaps kept him alive, through the worst months. [22]


It was John Brown who finally broke Sharlene Wilson and extracted her confession. He then discovered a fresh witness, a lad who had been out with two friends that night looking for a marijuana patch. The witness had been about sixty feet away, hidden below the bank, watching a group of men talking on the tracks. "One of them I definitely recognized as Dan Harmon. Then I noticed two more people, Kevin and Don, walking down the railroad tracks."

At first it looked as if Harmon was just talking to the boys, but then a shot rang out. The witness turned and ran. [23]

At this point the FBI took charge. Phyllis Cournan, an athletic, single-minded agent from Philadelphia, had recently arrived in Little Rock on a routine assignment. An idealist at heart, eager to see the best in people, she was discovering to her shock and disgust that the rampant drug trafficking in Arkansas was being protected by the highest levels of the political machine. The most offensive abuse was the murder of Don and Kevin. If she could break that case open, she believed she could shake things loose in Arkansas. [24]

Cournan immediately gave the boy a polygraph test, which he passed, and placed him in the witness protection program. It was the beginning of a lonely FBI probe into the blackest narco-corruption of Bill Clinton's Arkansas. Cournan contacted Jean Duffey in Texas, persuading her to open the files of the drug task force. She went to see Sharlene in the penitentiary.

"She asked me if Roger Clinton had been on the railway tracks that night," said Sharlene. "And she asked me about Bill Clinton and whether he was into cocaine." [25]

Cournan was now being accompanied by an FBI agent from the Hot Springs office, Floyd Hayes. As the investigation progressed -- that is to say, as she established with near certainty who had murdered the two boys -- Hayes was assigned to be her partner. She also began to feel the presence of "The Machine," day and night. Her telephones were no longer secure. She had bouts of insomnia. Being a federal agent, she discovered, was no protection. Not in Arkansas.

Then, after eighteen months, the probe suddenly collapsed. In November 1995 Linda and Larry Ives went to see Special Agent Bill Temple, the number two man in the FBI office in Little Rock, and were given a taste of the bullying insolence of the FBI.

"He was so arrogant and smug," said Linda. "He said, 'Maybe in light of the fact that there was no physical evidence, maybe it's time for you all to realize that no crime occurred.' I slammed down my notebook and said, 'I don't have to listen to this bullshit' and walked out." [26]

"I think he intended to make me mad. I was crying throughout the entire meeting, and I cried for days afterward."

She went public, accusing the FBI of working to cover-up the murder of her son. The chief of the FBI's Little Rock office, I.C. Smith, countered in the local newspaper, The Benton Courier, saying that the Bureau had a "very real problem" establishing federal jurisdiction in the case, and anyway it was not clear that the boys had been murdered. [27] He said that Linda Ives had "badly misquoted" Agent Temple's remarks.

"He never even asked me or Larry what had happened," said Linda. "He just came out and called me a liar."

For Linda Ives it was the last straw. She telephoned Phyllis Cournan, who had been present at the meeting. With the tape-recorder running, Linda Ives extracted from Cournan an acknowledgment that Temple had been quoted "verbatim."

Armed with evidence of FBI mendacity, Linda took her campaign to the airwaves. It was a harsh way to treat Phyllis Cournan, a dedicated agent Linda Ives admired in many ways. But Linda had learned that there was no use giving quarter to Louis Freeh's FBI. "I'm fighting a war, and I'll fight it any way I can," she said.

A few months later I had a final dinner with Agent Phyllis Cournan and her husband, a Secret Service Agent from Minnesota. Charming, educated, with a strong sense of duty, they were everything that one could hope for in the rising generation of federal agents. But priorities were changing. They had a baby now, the center of their lives.

We went to an Italian restaurant in Little Rock -- at their expense, they would not let me bill it to my newspaper -- and talked about the amazing mores of Arkansas. None of us wanted to poison the evening by mentioning the train deaths, but the issue had to be confronted.

The boys were murdered, said Phyllis, and the FBI knew who did it. But the forensic evidence was contaminated. "We couldn't get anything out of the DNA," she said. "All we had were witnesses with huge credibility problems; we couldn't go to trial with that .... What were we supposed to do?"

She was putting the best face on it, trying to convince herself. I could sense her slipping away into the embrace of the Bureau. She had poured her heart and soul into the case, but when it came to the crunch she was going to be a team player.


Linda Ives now shifted her campaign into high gear. Incensed by the conduct of I.C. Smith, she joined up with a California film producer named Pat Matrisciana to make a documentary on the deaths. It was called Obstruction of Justice. The video, tightly documented, was a heart-wrenching expose of "The Machine."

Journalist Micah Morrison then took up the cause on the editorial pages of The Wall Street Journal. (The rest of the media stayed away, with the exception of Phil Weiss in The New York Observer.) In one article, Morrison put in a plug for the "Train Deaths" website that Linda Ives and Jean Duffy had constructed on the Internet. The site received 32,000 hits the next day. Angry letters poured into the offices of I.C. Smith in Little Rock.

The FBI was losing control. The nasty methods that the Bureau had been using for years, and getting away with, were suddenly being exposed for all to see on the Internet. Of course, the political Left had always understood that the Bureau could be abusive, with the mind set of a deformed cult. Now the Right was finding out, too.

Special Agent I.C. Smith was badly shaken. Once billed as a star agent picked by Louis Freeh to clean up the Bureau's operations in Arkansas, he suddenly found himself being recast as the new villain. Scrambling to recover, he shifted the investigation into Saline County corruption into higher gear. Nobody was going to be able to say that I.C. Smith was prostituting himself for Dan Harmon and his miserable accomplices.

Linda Ives, the housewife from Benton, had outmaneuvered the Bureau. But she still did not understand what it was about her son's death that had caused a federal grand jury probe to be shut down in early 1991, or why the FBI had backed away in November 1995, or indeed why the Justice Department's prosecution of Dan Harmon in June 1997 was confined to racketeering, when they knew perfectly well -- or so she had to assume -- that he had murdered her son.

Linda Ives, Jean Duffey, and John Brown all came to the same conclusion. They were pitted against Dan Lasater -- the Dixie Godfather, and the friend of and provider for the Clinton brothers.
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 27854
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: The Secret Life of Bill Clinton: The Unreported Stories

Postby admin » Sun Jul 03, 2016 2:28 am

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN: THE DIXIE MAFIA

BANNED BY EDICT from smuggling drugs, the Italian American Mafia missed out on the most lucrative crime wave of the twentieth century. It was left to others to profit from the $100 billion a year market in cocaine, marijuana, and methamphetamines. Those best placed, by geography and criminal tradition, were the loose-knit groupings of the South, known to law enforcement as the "Dixie Mafia."

The term was first coined by Rex Armistead, the Director of the Organized Crime Strike Force in New Orleans in the 1970s. [1] Less famous than the Cosa Nostra, the Dixie Mafia was, and still is, far more dangerous. During a ten year period from 1968 to 1978 when the Italian Americans were in the headlines for a spree of thirty murders, their redneck counterparts quietly dispatched 156 victims.

"There wasn't a well from Mississippi to West Texas that didn't have a dead body floating in it," said Armistead. "The big difference was the lack of ceremony. It was just 'I'm going to get rid of Ambrose today; I don't need permission; and I go out and do it.' As simple as that. And that's the end of Ambrose. It hasn't changed much either."

"I see."

The Dixie Mafia formed a ring of interlocking interests that covered Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Tennessee, and above all Arkansas. Their spiritual capital was Bill Clinton's hometown of Hot Springs, famous for its racetrack, its ornate bathhouses, its casinos, its prostitution, and its epic defiance of Prohibition.

The coat-and-tie yuppies of the modem Dixie Mafia are the children and grandchildren of bootleggers, a provenance they share with Bill Clinton. The trade has evolved. Clinton's grandfather used to serve moonshine from behind the counter of his store in Hope. Now the business is a high-tech operation involving fleets of aircraft, off-shore banking, and deep reach into the U.S. federal government.

Armistead warned me not to push my luck anywhere in the old Confederacy, but especially not in Arkansas. That counsel was on my mind as I drove through the backroads of the state with a box of documents slipped to me by dissidents in law enforcement. I had been given comprehensive intelligence files from the Criminal Investigations Division of the Arkansas State Police, going back as far as the early 1970s. I was told to copy what I needed, check that I was not being followed, and return the archive within 24 hours. I did exactly that, and as I fed the stack of papers into a photocopy machine at a Kinko's in Little Rock, I was scarcely able to believe what I was seeing. Among the famous names of the Arkansas oligarchy that jumped out from page after page of criminal intelligence files was Don Tyson, the billionaire president of Tyson Foods and the avuncular patron of Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton.

A gruff barrel-chested man with a cropped beard and a reputation for ruthless business practice, Don Tyson is one of the great characters of Arkansas. He presides over the biggest chicken processing operation in the world from his "Oval Office" -- a replica of the real one -- with door handles in the shape of eggs. He usually wears khaki overalls with "Don" stitched on his breast pocket, and gets his hands dirty working side by side with his 54,000 employees. It is said that half of all American people eat a piece of Tyson chicken every week. The family business, based in Springdale, has grown at an explosive rate since the 1960s, swallowing up rival companies in a relentless quest for market share. "There's no second place. First place is the only place in the world," says Tyson.

But it was a high-wire act getting there. By 1979 the company's debt-to-equity ratio had soared to 1.3 at a time when interest rates were soaring. Already faced with a mushrooming debt service cost, Tyson was then hit by a severe cyclical downturn in the poultry industry. "It's like an airplane running out of gas," said Tyson at the time. "I can feel it. The engines are getting rough." But somehow he managed to prosper. Over the next five years Tyson foods was one of the fastest-growing Fortune 500 companies in the country. The turnaround was a feat of magic, a testimony to his inventive spirit.

The documents I was looking at made me wonder about the origins of his liquidity. Here were files from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, marked DEA SENSITIVE, under the rubric of the "Donald TYSON Drug Trafficking Organization."

One was from the DEA office in Oklahoma City, dated December 14, 1982. It cited a confidential informant alleging that "TYSON smuggles cocaine from Colombia, South America inside race horses to Hot Springs, Arkansas." It cited the investigation tracking number for Don). Tyson, a/k/a "Chicken Man," as Naddis 470067. A second document from the DEA office in Tucson, dated July 9, 1984, stated that "the Cooperating Individual had information concerning heroin, cocaine and marijuana trafficking in the States of Arkansas, Texas, and Missouri by the TYSON Organization." The informant described a place called "THE BARN" which TYSON used as a "stash" location for large quantities of marijuana and cocaine. '''THE BARN' area is located between Springdale and Fayetteville, Arkansas, and from the outside the appearance of 'THE BARN' looks run down. On the inside of 'THE BARN' it is quite plush."

The files contain raw police intelligence. Such allegations have to be treated with great caution. But these DEA informant reports are buttressed by a much bigger collection of state intelligence documents. Files marked "Very Confidential" trace allegations about Tyson and drug trafficking as far back as 1973.

A memo by the Criminal Investigative Section, dated March 22, 1976, states that Don Tyson "is an extremely wealthy man with much political influence and seems to be involved in most every kind of shady operation, especially narcotics, however, has to date gone without implication in any specific crime. TYSON likes to think of himself as the 'King of the Hill' in northwest Arkansas, and quite possibly this might not be erroneous." The memo was triggered by a dispute between Tyson and the Teamsters Union over allegations of drug dealing and prostitution at a Teamsters' -owned hotel leased by Tyson. [2] Two sets of documents refer to alleged hit men employed by Tyson to kill drug dealers who owed him money. Another report alleged that Tyson was using his business plane to smuggle quart jars of methamphetamine. All told, it was a staggering portrait of a drug baron. [3]

None of the allegations led to criminal charges, and it would soon become clear why. Police officers who tried to mount a case against Tyson were destroyed by their superiors in the State Police. The first to try was Beverly "B. J." Weaver, then an undercover narcotics officer in Springdale. Working the streets and bars of northwest Arkansas, disguised as a deaf woman, she collected detailed intelligence on Tyson's alleged smuggling network.

"There were loads going out with the chickens," she explained. [4] "They'd put the coke in the rectums of the chickens, live chickens. That's how they'd move it."

As the allegations from her informants mounted, she requested the intelligence files on Don Tyson. That is when her problems began. Her colleagues in the Springdale office -- who she now believes were "on the take" from the Tyson machine -- put out the word that she was "not stable," that she had "flipped out." Then it got rough. "They started passing out my photo on the streets, which put my life in danger. I became paranoid. I didn't trust my phone line. There was nobody I could really trust."

She drove to Little Rock to seek the support Colonel Tommy Goodwin, the commander of the State Police. He brushed her off. "You narcs are all paranoid," he said. "You see too many shadows in the dark." [5]

By 1987 her position was untenable. Her career in ruins, she resigned from the police and found a job as a security guard in the Bahamas. "I went as far away as I could go, just to fade into nothing," she told me.

After she left, the State Police drove the knife in even further, accusing her of making off with police funds, a charge she vehemently denies. She felt so ashamed she could not face her own family. "For seven years I haven't been home again," she said, weeping.

When I visited her in 1994 she was working at the cosmetics counter of a department store in Florida. Brittle, highly emotional, she had not come to terms with her ordeal. "I believed in what I did, and I was proud of what I did," she kept saying, plaintively. But they had broken her spirit.

The next to take up the challenge was Trooper J. N. "Doc" Delaughter, then 38, who drew on Weaver's work to launch a second investigation of Don Tyson in 1988. A soft-spoken man, with a cherubic face and golden hair, he had been elected Sheriff of Arkansas's Nevada County four times before joining the State Police. He came from a wealthier background than most officers in the force. With a modest inheritance from his father, and an extra stipend from his duties as a captain in the Arkansas National Guard, he enjoyed a degree of independence that was extremely threatening to the old-boy network. He also had ties to federal officials through his service in the National Guard. In July 1988 friends in the Guard set up a meeting with Michael Fitzhugh, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, who agreed that the allegations against Tyson were serious enough to warrant a full-scale investigation. [6]

The next day Delaughter fired off a memo to the chief of Criminal Investigations at the State Police. "The conversation was centered around Don Tyson's illegal use and distribution of cocaine. Mr. Fitzhugh told this investigator that he was interested in prosecuting a criminal conspiracy to process or distribute a controlled substance. Mr. Fitzhugh went on to say that he wanted a combined investigation team of the FBI, DEA, IRS, and the State Police." [7]

The memo set off alarm bells at the headquarters of the State Police. Sergeant Larry Gleghorn warned Delaughter that he would be hammering "the nails in his own coffin with this department" if he persisted. [8] Delaughter was pulled off the case soon afterward. The Tyson matter would be transferred to the Springdale office, he was told by Major Doug Stevens, the head of criminal investigations. That was the end of it. The U.S. Attorney said that he did not know why the probe fizzled out, when I interviewed him years later. "The ball was in their court. For whatever reason I never heard another word from them about the thing," he said. [9]

The State Police commander, Colonel Goodwin, said that "there was not enough information to start an investigation." Asked about the DEA intelligence documents, he told me that "they weren't in the Tyson file back then." [10] This was not true. The DEA files were already available to State Police investigators.

For Delaughter it was the end of his career in law enforcement. He was transferred to highway patrol, and his department began a nitpicking scrutiny of everything he did. When that did not provoke his resignation, they sent him off for a mental evaluation. It was the B.J. Weaver treatment, tainting him with comments about his mental stability. The police psychologist deemed him a "danger to society" on the grounds that he had "built up a lot of anger" and was confrontational. [11] It was recommended that Delaughter be suspended from service. An evaluation by a private psychologist disputed these findings, but by then Delaughter knew that he was beaten. He resigned in 1990 and went into the lumber business.

"Trying to bring these guys down is not conducive to a good career," he said, with a wry smile as we sat drinking beer on the veranda of his remote lakeside cabin. "You develop leprosy. Fast."

But the past is beginning to catch up with Don Tyson. He has been named as an official target in a criminal probe by Independent Counsel Donald Smaltz, who was appointed to investigate bribery allegations against Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy, who was later indicted. His chief lobbyist, Jack Williams, has been indicted for lying to investigators in the case. From small beginnings, the Smaltz investigation has widened into a full-scale probe of the Tyson business empire, provoking vehement accusations that it is a "politically motivated witch hunt."

The Espy affair is a textbook case of Arkansas mores penetrating the U.S. federal government. CBS News's 60 Minutes reported that Espy was flown to Arkansas to seek the blessing of Don Tyson before he was nominated to his cabinet post. Once installed at the Agriculture Department, Espy proved to be a friend of the chicken industry. The department scuttled a plan for tougher standards on poultry fecal contamination. This required shifting the bureaucratic machinery into reverse gear. The plan had already been drawn up, approved, and was set for implementation. The effect was to reduce the likelihood that Tyson products would face random inspection.

The Smaltz probe has produced a surprising spin-off. In December 1994 Time magazine reported that Joseph Henrickson, 43, the number two pilot of the company's aviation division, had been interviewed for three days by Smaltz and a team of FBI agents about alleged deliveries of cash to the Governor's Mansion. Henrickson said that he carried sealed white envelopes containing a quarter-inch wad of $100 bills, on six occasions, from Tyson's headquarters to Little Rock. He was led to understand that the envelopes were going to Bill Clinton. In one case, a Tyson executive handed him an envelope of cash in the company's aircraft hangar in Fayetteville and said, "This is for Governor Clinton."

"I nearly fell off my chair when I heard Joe make the allegation. I took over the questioning," Smaltz told Time. But Smaltz did not have the mandate to investigate Bill Clinton. His probe was confined to the alleged "gratuity giver," Tyson Foods. After Henrickson was called to testify before a federal grand jury in Washington in early 1995, Smaltz made a formal request to the Justice Department for broader jurisdiction. Attorney General Janet Reno refused, ordering Smaltz to stick more closely to his original brief.

In light of the Henrickson allegations, and the fact that two investigations into Tyson's alleged drug activities were shut down by the upper echelons of the Arkansas State Police, any commerce that ties Don Tyson to Bill and Hillary Clinton demands close scrutiny. This includes the brokerage account in Hillary Clinton's name that turned $1,000 into $99,537 between October 1978 and July 1979· This speculative venture was the initiative of James Blair, the general counsel of Tyson Foods.

Having done a fair amount of trading myself on exotic markets, often with high leverage, the ratios in themselves do not surprise me. These sorts of profits can be made. But they are not made in the way that Hillary Clinton made them. The trades began three weeks before the 1978 elections, when Bill Clinton was riding high in the polls and seemed set to win his first term as Governor of Arkansas. It was shortly after the Clintons had signed up with Jim McDougal in a sweetheart land deal called Whitewater. Perhaps this was coincidence, but I doubt it.

The first transaction was a bet that rising cattle prices were due for a snap correction, a temporary fall in a buoyant market. That is exactly what happened. By the end of the day, October 11,1978, cattle prices had fallen one and a half cents a pound. Mrs. Clinton netted an instant profit of $5,300. Within a couple of weeks she felt confident enough to start making large cash withdrawals from her account: $5,000 on October 23; another $15,000 for Christmas. The money was rolling in.

When New York Times reporter Jeff Gerth first broke the story in 1994, Hillary Clinton claimed that she had conducted the transactions herself after studying the market pages of The Wall Street Journal. This caused a good deal of mirth on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. "Buying iceskates one day, and entering the Olympics a day later," wrote Mark Powers, editor of The Journal of Futures Markets. The White House subsequently retreated step by step until it was acknowledged that Hillary Clinton's broker had exercised complete discretion in handling the day-to-day trades.

His name was Robert "Red" Bone, a former truck driver and personal bodyguard for Don Tyson. Bone rose to become vice-president of Tyson Foods, where he was in charge of the egg division. It was a position he used for lucrative insider trading -- both for himself and for the Tyson operation -- until regulators suspended him for a year in 1977 for allegedly trying to comer the eggshells futures market. He was later sanctioned by the Chicago Mercantile Exchange for "repeated and serious violations of recordkeeping functions." When he regained his broker's license he joined the commodity brokerage firm REFCO, which had privileged information about daily movements in cattle prices. Indeed, REFCO chairman Thomas Dittmer had such vast cattle holdings himself that he could flood the market and cause snap changes in futures prices.

In his book Blood Sport, James Stewart offers a detailed account of Bone's modus operandi at REFCO's offices in Springdale. It describes how Bone gleaned his inside tips each day on the hotline to REFCO's headquarters in Chicago. Stewart implies that although Bone was engaging in shady practices, Hillary Clinton's transactions were clean. But in the lightly regulated commodities markets of the late 1970s it was easy to "cherry pick" trades at the end of the day, allocating gains to one account and losses to another. This loophole was well-known in financial circles. It was part of market folklore that the most effective way to carry out the illicit transfer of money from one party to another was through a "straddle." By placing one bet that the market would go up, and an off-setting bet that it would go down, the profitable trade could be allocated to the beneficiary, while the "donor" swallowed the loss. It was absolutely foolproof. "During the late 1970s and early 1980s, straddles were used for all kinds of illegal activities, ranging from tax evasion to money-laundering and bribes," wrote David L. Brandon, former chief of the commodities section of the IRS, in an article in The Wall Street Journal.

To make it look plausible, the beneficiary would have to have a few losing trades mixed in with the gains, but in reality there was no risk at all. An investigation by the Chicago Mercantile Exchange in 1978 suspected that REFCO was doing precisely this. One of REFCO's Springdale brokers in fact admitted under oath that the office had been manipulating the futures contracts by "allocating them to customers after the market closed."

Stewart reports that Hillary found the experience nerve-racking and decided to retire from the market after a fresh windfall of $40,000 in July 1979, which brought her total profits to almost $100,000. But three months later, she was plunging back into the commodities market, this time with a broker at Stephens Inc., in Little Rock. When CBS News's 60 Minutes asked Don Tyson if Hillary Clinton's cattle trades were a "payoff" from him, he vehemently denied it.

If Tyson was funneling money to the Clintons, it is possible that the Clintons were not entirely aware of what was being done. This is the notoriously grey zone of mens rea, but it would not be the first time that a political family was suborned by degrees like a lobster being cooked slowly in the pot. The thought occurred to me after I was told an anecdote by Larry Patterson, an Arkansas State Trooper assigned to the Governor's detail in the mid to late 1980s.

He remembers standing in the foyer of Tyson's house one evening, waiting for Clinton to finish dinner. Tyson appeared, struck up a conversation and invited him to take a trip on his 63' yacht in Baja California. "Bring your friends along," Tyson added, offering his corporate aircraft as transport. Tyson put his arm around Patterson, pressing the invitation, just as the Governor appeared.

"What was all that about?" Clinton said, as they got into the limo.

"He asked me out on the yacht."

"Listen to me," said Clinton sternly. "Don't go. If Don Tyson gives you something, it's because he wants something back. You'll never shake him off." [12]
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 27854
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

PreviousNext

Return to Wackenhut / Inslaw Promis Software / Arkansas-Contra

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest