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." 
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.  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. 
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. 
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.  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.  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." 
"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. 
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." 
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." 
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. 
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.  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. 
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." 
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." 
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." 
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." 
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. 
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. 
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  that is lit up each night like a 'Christmas Tree.' That was the 'beacon.'" 
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. 
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. 
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. 
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." 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." 
"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.  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.
--The Secret Life of Bill Clinton: The Unreported Stories, by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard