In May 1992, the Review became the first publication in America to present a comprehensive report on what has now come to be known as the Clinton scandals. Outside of conservative media no other publication has so consistently told this story
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Dr. Cyril Wecht, a pathologist at the University of Pennsylvania, says that it is possible for a self-inflicted gunshot to cause a reflexive grasping of a gun, but not in the rearrangement that seems to have occurred in the case of Vincent Foster. Wecht says the reflex would also not account for Foster's arm being parallel to his body, "laid out like for a casket," in the words of an EMT on the scene. Other inconsistencies abound. For example, Clinton aides maintain that Foster's suicide note was found in his attaché case some days after his death, but a police officer who looked into the case right after the suicide, says there was no such note in it. Who was the man who told a park maintenance worker to call 911 and report a body? The man has disappeared. Why did White House aides obstruct FBI agents attempting to examine Foster's office? Why does the White House claim its search of Foster's office took only a few minutes while police observers, blocked from entering during the interim, say it took a couple of hours?
CBS reports that the Rose Law Firm has sent a letter to a potential client saying that it had "developed relationships with officials who are now in the Clinton administration."
You may remember that Hillary Clinton thrilled all right-thinking Americans during the campaign by saying, "I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas. But what I decided to do was pursue my profession, which I entered before my husband was in public life." Forgotten, however, is what inspired this homily: accusations that Ms. Clinton had represented Whitewater business partner Jim McDougal's S&L before her husband's government.
Here's what the New York Times reported on March 17, 1992:
Hillary Clinton said today that she did not earn "a penny" from state business conducted by her Little Rock law firm and that she never intervened with state regulators on behalf of a failed Arkansas savings and loan association. . .
I'm not like you guys in the media laying around in some swanky hotel in Little Rock. I'm out here on the farm wading in the mud, and I don't feel like I have to tell anybody anything. Besides, I'm a politician, and as a politician I have the prerogative to lie whenever I want -- Charles Peacock, when asked by the Washington Times why he had changed his story about a contribution to the Clinton campaign in 1984.
Mrs. Clinton said today that she had done legal work for Madison Guaranty but that it was not related to the S&Ls dealing with state regulators.
"For goodness sake," she said. "You can't be a lawyer if you don't represent banks."
Part of the White House Whitewater spin is that there should not be concurrent congressional hearings during the special prosecutor's investigation. But Jake Lewis, formerly on the staff of the House Banking Committee and supervisor of several S&L investigations, wrote the Washington Post to point out that:
In my 27 years at the [committee], I do not recall a single major oversight effort that was not conducted concurrently with other or potential civil and criminal investigations and prosecutions.
When Congress fails to take up oversight while issues are fresh, it loses the opportunity to mobilize public opinion behind reforms and, perhaps more important, to reassure the public that its government is willing to lay out the facts in public forums even when high officials may be pained. Special counsels, accountable to no one and operating behind closed doors at their own pace, are poor substitutes for the role that the Constitution gives Congress.
The Wall Street Journal has reported that two employees of the Madison S&L were told by superiors that if they donated to Bill Clinton's 1985 fund-raiser they would be reimbursed. One of the employees rejected the idea; the other declined to reveal who had reimbursed him: "It could be incriminating."
Sleazy supermarket stuff
A few readers have expressed distress at our reportage of President Clinton's sexual activities. Your editor has been seized neither by a fit of priggishness nor any noticeable surge in his preexisting taste for the salacious. It is simply that Clinton's behavior has been noteworthy in its obsession, recklessness, bad judgment, tawdriness, arrogance and excess, not to mention its abuse of government funds and employees. It is surely not unreasonable to argue that a governor should avoid using state troopers to procure the sexual services of other state employees, or to express some concern when it is alleged, as noted below, that a woman was threatened with injury should she reveal details of her affair with the governor. If it does seem unreasonable, then perhaps we all owe an apology to Justice Thomas and the Senate should drop its proceedings against Senator Packwood forthwith. After all, Packwood did his groping without the aid of armed state cops.
So here's this month's roundup of news from our sleazy supermarket tabloid presidency. Those likely to be offended should put on their green glasses and move promptly to the next section :
A 27-year-old Arkansas woman has accused President Clinton of sexually harassing her while he was governor. The woman, Paula Jones, was a state employee at the time, working for the Arkansas Industrial Development Commission. The White House denied the accusation and said Mr. Clinton does not recall having met the woman. According to Ms. Jones, she was approached by a state trooper who said the governor wanted to see her in his hotel room. While there, Clinton asked to engage in a sexual act. She declined.
London's Sunday Telegraph has reported that Sally Perdue, a former Miss Arkansas living in St. Louis (where she works with adults who have Downs syndrome), says that state troopers often dropped Clinton off at her place in his jogging gear. Said Perdue: "He saw my Steinway grand piano and went straight over to it and asked me to play. " He later took to bringing his sax and they would play '50s rock numbers together. Their musical interests led to sex and, according to Perdue, "he had this little boy quality I found very attractive." The relationship lasted about four months.
Perdue had revealed the relationship, but not the details, when she appeared on the Sally Jesse Raphael TV show during the campaign. She was subsequently visited, she says, by a man who described himself as a "Democratic Party operative" who warned her not to reveal specifics of the affair:
He said there were people in high places who were anxious about me and they wanted me to know that keeping my mouth shut would be worthwhile. . . If I was a good little girl, and didn't kill the messenger; I'd be set for life: a federal job, nothing fancy but a regular paycheck. . . I'd never have to worry again.
But if I didn't take the offer, then they knew that I went jogging by myself and he couldn't guarantee what would happen to my 'pretty little legs.'
Perdue said she found a shotgun cartridge on the driver's seat of her Jeep and later had her back window shattered. Said the "operative" to the Telegraph: "That woman is childish. You people are foolish. I don't know a thing about the Clinton thing."
Said Perdue of Clinton:
When I see him now, president of the United States, meeting world leaders, I can't believe it. . . I still have this picture of him wearing my black nightgown, playing the sax badly. . . this guy tiptoeing across the park and getting caught on the fence. How do you expect me to take him seriously?
Finally, Bill Clinton on the subject of sex to a group of Southeast Washington high school students: "This is not a sport, this is a solemn responsibility." He told the young men at the gathering that they should stop having sex "when they're not prepared to marry the others, they're not prepared to take responsibility for the children and they're not even able to take responsibility for themselves."
Sleazy supermarket tabloid stuff
Those who keep talking about "no evidence of criminal wrongdoing" would do well to review the February issue of the American Spectator which contains a list of federal and state laws potentially involved in the Whitewater scandal and the penalties attached thereto. They range from Section 5-52-101 of the Arkansas Criminal Code which makes it a crime for a public servant to trade in public offices (up to one year, $1000 fine) to 18 US Code 201 which makes it a crime to offer or promise "directly or indirectly" anything of value to someone with the aim of influencing that person's testimony under oath. (up to 15 years and disqualification from any federal office.)
And what if there are no criminal charges? According to the current political and media paradigm, the Clintons would be home free for it is thought that the penal code -- rather than some more refined sense of morality such as one might extrapolate, say, from religion -- defines acceptable behavior. This dismal standard probably got rolling about the time that Nixon said, "I am not a crook." Since then non-criminality has become sufficient qualification for high public office in the minds of many politicians and journalists.
Our interest in this matter has always been decanonization rather than impeachment. The media adulation of the First Persons has done neither democracy nor citizens any good . . . Which is not to say that there may not be grounds for impeachment. Since the matter could arise, it may be worth rehashing Alexander Hamilton's thoughts on the subject in Federalist Nbr. 65:
The subjects of [the Senate's] jurisdiction are those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse of violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be called POLITICAL [sic], as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself.
While the White House clearly wants to deal with the issue only within the narrow confines of conventional criminal law, this is not what impeachment is about. In fact the Constitution explicitly limits the punishment that Congress can mete out ( to loss of present and future public office) and states that "the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law." In other words, an impeachment and trial is in addition to, and not a substitute for, the conventional law.
To a less postmodern way of thinking, the mere assumption by the Clintonites that beating a rap is the same thing as exoneration suggests how this mess developed in the first place. Here are a few things we know already: that our president and his wife did business and/or were pals with a cocaine dealer, another man whose activities ended up costing taxpayers $50 million in S&L repair costs, and a lawyer whose activities have been referred by all his partners to the state bar association for possible disciplinary action. We also know that the Clinton staff obstructed law enforcement officers attempting to investigate Vincent Foster's death, that numerous documents related to the Clintons were shredded, that Ms. Clinton represented a failing S&L before an agency of her husband's government and that both Clintons have lied to the American people about aspects of these matters. None of this may prove to be a crime but it's certainly newsworthy, not particularly lovable and a poor recommendation for a second term.
It used to be that if you that if you wanted a little ex parte conversation involving a regulatory matter, you tried to keep the number of witnesses down. Not in the Clinton White House, where even the unethical is overstaffed. According to the New York Times some 40 administration officials responded to a subpoena for information from those who knew about a federal investigation in the Madison Guaranty S&L.
One of the stories that the mainstream media has missed is why the supposedly independent Resolution Trust Corporation was run on an ad hoc basis for more than a year by a close political buddy of the president's, Roger Altman, instead of by a proper appointee who would be able to function with the independence the law establishing the agency envisioned. The way Clinton played it was a little as if George Stephanopoulus had been allowed to participate in Supreme Court decisions while awaiting the confirmation of Judge Ginsberg.
. . . A Little Rock attorney, Philip McMath, in writing about Clinton recently recalled the part in All the King's Men where it is asked whether Willie Stark is interested in money. The answer was:
He's interested in Willie. Quite simply and directly. And when anybody is interested in himself quite simply and directly the way Willie is interested in Willie, you call it genius.
Like Willie Stark, Willie Clinton is interested in Willie, quite simply and directly. Like Richard Nixon, Clinton has to win; "the important thing is to win."
In such a world the Bill of Rights becomes a fine legal distinction and there are no sins or crimes any more -- only technical fouls in the game of success. The worst that can happen to a politician anymore is a few years in the penalty box of public opinion. Then it's back to the ice.
And so Bill Clinton and Spiro Agnew and George McGovern and Elliot Richardson went to California to honor Richard Nixon. And the torch was passed.
The Washington establishment quickly circled the wagons around the "institution of the presidency" after Paula Corbin Jones made her sexual harassment charges. There was, as always, less interest in protecting the institution of the Constitution and thus various legal experts were on the talk shows suggesting that Clinton be spared the rigors of law and order until he had completed his presidency.
Few noted another alternative for a politician so tainted with scandal and so immersed in personal controversy -- namely that in the best interests of the country and his party he resign. If Clinton had been a British prime minister he would not be trying to fiddle with the statute of limitations or construct some monarchical legal theory of the presidency; he would have quit or called a general election.
We need not worry about a national trauma should Clinton prematurely return to Little Rock. Charles DeGaulle (as James Carville reminded us the other day in connection with Danny Rostenkowski) once noted that cemeteries are filled with the bodies of indispensable men.
Robert Fiske's first report on a few of the events generically known as Whitewater reveals him as something less than a hard-bitten investigator. While White House aides had an extraordinary 20 meetings with Treasury officials concerning Whitewater related inquiries, Fiske limited his conclusions to the lack of criminal behavior. The White House immediately declared the non-indictment a vindication. Yet as the New York Times pointed out:
Mr. Fiske asserts that these officials did not criminally obstruct justice as defined in Section 1505 of the US Code. But an action does not have to rise to the level of criminality to be labeled stupid, irresponsible and improper behavior by government officials. That is the only way to describe the three meetings at the heart of Mr. Fiske's inquiry.
In the matter of Vince Foster's death, Fiske provided considerable forensic and other evidence to support the thesis that Foster killed himself. He also, however, presented a reconstruction of Foster's motivations and mindset based heavily on the unsubstantiated testimony of friends and political co-workers whose major attributes include an obsession for spinning facts. The result is perhaps the first special prosecutor's report that could be run unedited in People magazine but one that is hardly a model of dispassionate inquiry. Fiske seemed to be trying too hard to explain something no one yet understands. It was not a good precedent for his further investigations.
There are some who have not been as comfortable with Fiske as has most of the mainstream media. They note that Fiske was professionally involved with former White House counsel Bernard Nussbaum, with the latter referring clients to the former. The pair were on the same side in at least two legal cases and Nussbaum recommended Fiske for a job with Iran-Contra prosecutor Lawrence Walsh.
Further, Fiske worked with Robert Bennett, now Clinton's lawyer, in the BCCI case of Robert Altman and Clark Clifford, as did current Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick. Given the tie-in between BCCI and various financial dealings in Arkansas now under scrutiny, the history is not insignificant.
Things have always moved a little too smoothly in the BCCI investigation and prosecution, leaving scores of unanswered questions and, so far as can be determined, hardly anyone to blame. Some journalistic investigators say a full inquiry into BCCI would blaze a bi-partisan path through some of the most powerful offices in Washington. Meanwhile, Swaleh Naqvi, BCCI's number two man, has been given a mild sentence -- over the objections of Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau. Naqvi's plea bargain with Justice in the major bank fraud appears to be a case of what the Wall Street Journal called "sweetheart justice." Said the Journal:
When drugs and money laundering arrive, political corruption cannot be far behind. If we had an explanation of how BCCI got away with its illegal purchase of First American, we could afford to dismiss such ambiguous connections as lawyer-client relationships. But we have no such answer, and are left to speculate why, in the Naqvi plea-bargain, the Justice Department does not seem to be pressing for one.
If the Whitewater probe, as it very well may, crosses paths with the far larger BCCI scandal, it will be telling to see how Fiske handles his own ethical problem.
Jerry Seper of the Washington Times came through again on Oct. 19 with a story that Arkansas state trooper LD Brown had overheard Bill Clinton, in a reference to the notorious $300,000 SBA backed loan (part of which ended up in Whitewater) ask Judge Hale: "David are you gong to able to help Jim and me out?" Clinton denies any knowledge of the loan, which has attracted major attention by the special prosecutor.
The Oct. 18 Wall Street Journal contains a good summary of the suppressed investigation into drug running through the Mena, AK, airport. The feds apparently sabotaged the investigation and Clinton's administration, while aware of the situation, looked the other way. The WSJ story recounts the ten year struggle of IRS investigator William Duncan to expose the Mena operation. Despite nine separate federal and state probes, nothing happened. Says Duncan -- who eventually quit in disgust: "The Mena investigations were never supposed to see the light of day." They were "interfered with and covered up, and the justice system was perverted."
Writing in the Oct. 9 London Telegraph, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard wrote that Arkansas was a "major point for the transshipment of drugs" during the 1980s and "perilously close to becoming a 'narco-republic' -- a sort of mini-Columbia within the borders of the United States." Evans-Pritchard also alleges that by "1986 there was an epidemic of cocaine, contaminating the political establishment from top to bottom," with parties "at which cocaine would be served like hors d'oeuvres and sex was rampant." He adds that Clinton attended some of these events.
One of the biggest story in town has yet to be published. "The Crimes of Mena," by Sally Denton and Roger Morris, is a well-documented account of drug and Contra operations in Arkansas during the 80s. It was finally pulled by the authors after eleven weeks of internal sturm und drang at the Washington Post. The paper's bosses were split, with the Sunday Outlook section wanting to run with the piece but being overruled by higher-ups. In fact, Outlook was prepared to pay its highest price ever for the story.
While portions of the Mena affair have been reported elsewhere (including here), the Denton/Morris piece is significant in two ways. First, it is based on more than 2000 documents from the files of ex-drug smuggler -- and sometime intelligence asset -- the late Barry Seal. This is the most extensive collection of evidence yet about the role of Arkansas as a sort of domestic narco-republic during the 1980s. Second, its appearance in the Washington Post would have provided credibility to the Mena story -- necessary for those journalists and establishment figures who heel to the Post much as many right-wingers follow the lead of Limbaugh and Robertson. To have run the story would have marked a major turn in the Post's take on Whitewater. As recently as last July, it published a lead Style section piece making fun of the Mena affair, saying "allegedly dark deeds at Mena have helped foster the cult of conspiracy that has taken root among some of Clinton's more virulent opponents."
The Denton/Morris story tells of "literally hundreds of millions of dollars in drug profits" being developed by the Mena operation, of CIA involvement, and of nine different official investigations being stifled under two presidents (Reagan and Bush) and one governor (Clinton).
The story does not directly implicate Clinton but raises deep questions. As one law enforcement official noted, Clinton may be the first president to have such close buddies who were targets of intense narcotics investigations. Yet in sum, Mena has much more in common with the multi-faceted and bipartisan corruption of the S&L scandal or BCCI than with a who-done-it. There may be no smoking gun here, only a shocking tale of how America's political and intelligence establishment became partners with the international drug trade it was purporting to battle.
Why did the Post pass up this blockbuster? There are a number of theories. One is that it would have caused too much trouble for its pals at the CIA. Another is that the Post is still trying to keep the Clinton administration from drowning -- and shrank from the prospect of causing it further damage. Perhaps it was a combination of motivations, including a realization of how the story would hurt Americans' faith in their elite. In any case, it was a futile effort as this story will soon be published in a national magazine and Denton and Morris will finally get the credit the Post denied them.
According to the New York Post, an extraordinary 100 FBI agents are working on the Whitewater affair in Little Rock. That's more than were used in the John Gotti investigation.
Among other finds by the New York Post: in Sept. 1992, just before the election, an auditing firm issued a confidential report saying that the Arkansas Development Finance Authority "was not complying with its board approved policy regarding loan review." The firm pointed to four loans that were made without any documentation as to why they were "approved over the staff's recommendation." The NY Post also notes that ADFA in 1986 borrowed $5 million from a Japanese bank so it could buy stock in a Barbados reinsurance firm -- Coral Reinsurance -- that is managed by American International Group, an insurance company whose board Lloyd Bentson just joined. The deal was put together by Goldman Sachs, former home of the current treasury secretary, Robert Rubin. The SEC is looking into the mysterious Coral.
The Vincent Foster case just won't go away. Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, one of the hardy band that has stayed on the Whitewater case, reported recently in the London Telegraph that a member of the Foster family now says "he no longer believes the official verdict of suicide. He suspects the death may have been a political murder with elements of government complicity. He says some other members of the family are increasingly willing to entertain that idea." Evans-Pritchard also cites an anonymous high level FBI source as expressing suspicions of a Park Police cover-up in the case. Questions concerning the Foster death include whether the body had been moved to the location where it was found, why Foster's fingerprints were not on the gun, why there were no skull fragments found, why there was no investigation of the carpet fibers and blond hair on Foster's clothes and even where the body was really discovered.
Meanwhile the Wall Street Journal ran a front-page story recently pooh-poohing Whitewater, which has fed fears in some quarters of a bipartisan cover-up. The argument is that the Republicans were all for exposing Whitewater (although according to their own time schedule) until the Denton/Morris expose on Mena broke water. This story may prove more embarrassing to Reagan, Bush and North than it will to Clinton. Besides it threatens to revive interest in the BCCI scandal, with bipartisan damage. . . Another view is that this story is out of anyone's control and will come out one way or the other.
On the other hand, here's the take of Whitewater bird-dog William Rees-Mogg of the Times of London:
At certain historic moments, Washington is not just strange but positively weird, a hallowe'en city in which all the ghosts walk . . . It is like that now, a heartsick city powdered in February snow.
If one reads the Washington Post, one might believe that the government of the United States is proceeding more or less normally. Admittedly, one might be surprised to read that only $600,000 has been subscribed to the President's legal aid fund, though nearly $1,600,000 has already been spent on his costs over Whitewater and the comparatively trivial Paula Jones case. Yet otherwise one might think that the political process was going along much as usual.
Nothing could be further from the truth. As soon as one starts to talk to Washington insiders, one realizes that President Clinton is trapped by a process of inquiry from which he would be unlikely to escape even if he were wholly innocent of any wrongdoing. And he is far from that.
The original Whitewater was the sort of resort land hustle that TV reporters win local press awards for exposing. As the name Whitewater assumes more mammoth proportions, it is worth keeping in mind such humble beginnings as the ads placed in Mother Earth News to lure buyers. According to the Washington Post, some "put up houses or cabins, others slept in vans or tents, hoping to be able to live off the land." Many lost their property before it was over. Even back then, Bill Clinton managed to con environmentalists.
The media blackout of Whitewater news continues; hence you may not be aware of the degree to which questions continue to arise concerning the death of Vincent Foster. That his body was moved after his death now seems a reasonable hypothesis. Here is what is being reported by a few journalists:
At issue is the timing of a phone call to the Arkansas governor's mansion by a White House aide telling of Foster's death at least an hour and half before the White House says it got word. In that call, according to an affidavit by a state trooper, the aide "told me that Vince got off work, went out to his car in the parking lot, and shot himself in the head." A Secret Service memorandum made that night reported that "US Park Police discovered the body of Vincent Foster in his car."
The discrepancy in timing and the fact that Foster ended up in a park are more than curious. But even curiosity seems beyond the establishment media and the story has been left largely to conservative journalists whose findings have been discredited not because of their facts, but because of their politics.
The irony is that the pressies are doing their establishment no favor. Instead of forcing the issue to a head while there was still time for the Democrats to recover, the worst is likely to explode right just as the 1996 election campaign is getting underway.
As the White House tries to spin Whitewater away, we will leave you with one story. Early in the Clinton administration your editor had dinner with, among others, a high White House official -- a lawyer. The conversation turned to marijuana. The lawyer said that numerous staffers had asked how they should respond to FBI queries on the matter. The official's reply was that they should remember that they would only be in the White House for a short while but the FBI files would be there forever. And what if friends or relatives actually saw them using pot? The White House lawyer's response: "If you can't look an FBI agent straight in the eye and tell him they were wrong, you don't belong here."
A few things we do know about Whitewater. . .
A new genre of journalism, counter-investigative reporting, has sprung up in recent years. Unlike an investigative journalist, who goes rooting around for mis, mal, and non-type feasance, the counter-investigative reporter is dedicated to proving that everything is all right and that other journalists not willing to subject themselves to repeated ridiculed by their peers had best drop the case. The genre was inspired by the still murky assassinations of the 1960s, developed to something of an art by Steven Emerson during the Bush years, and now -- judging from the coverage of Whitewater -- has become the journalistic norm . . .
Even the special prosecutor's renewed interest in the Vincent Foster death fails to move the counter-investigators. When the FBI came back to Fort Marcey Park (once again) as part of a reopened investigation of the Foster death, the Washington Times put in it on the front page, the Washington Post buried it in its gossip column. To such counter-investigative media, Whitewater is something trumped up by rightwing journals and that's that.
For those, however, who prefer the more traditional investigative journalism, here are a few things we already know about Whitewater:
Bill and Hillary Clinton were partners in a resort land scheme of the sort local TV reporters win awards for exposing. More than half of the purchasers lost their land thanks to the sleazy form of financing used.
Although the Clintons have consistently claimed to have been passive investors Whitewater, numerous facts refute this claim. For example, an Oct. 12, 1981 letter from Hillary Clinton to partner James McDougal states, "If Reagonomics works at all, Whitewater could become the Western Hemisphere's Mecca."
The nearest grocery store to this Reagonimics Mecca was fifty miles away.
Whitewater was bought from the 101 River Development company for twice the per-acre price 101 had paid a few weeks earlier for a larger parcel of which Whitewater was a part.
The secretary of 101 was the president of the Citizens Bank of Flippin, Ark., which gave the Clintons and McDougals a $182,000 loan three months before Clinton was easily elected governor.
This loan, combined with a $20,000 loan from another bank, allowed the Clintons and the McDougals to get 100% financing for the land.
One year later, Governor Clinton named James McDougal a state economic development advisor.
In 1984, Clinton borrowed $50,000 from a bank run by Maurice Smith, one of Clinton's own aides.
One year later, Clinton named Maurice Smith director of the state highway department, which handled more patronage than any other state agency.
In 1980, Hillary Clinton got a $30,000 loan from James McDougal's own Bank of Kingston in order to build a pre-fab house on Whitewater land. In the two years since the original purchase on 100% borrowed money, none of the debt had been paid back.
Whitewater failed to file corporate income tax returns for several years.
The following friends of Bill and Hillary have been indicted: both their partners, Hillary's former law partner, their real estate agent, their SBA loan broker, their real estate appraiser, their banker, and Bill's successor as governor.
The following friend of Bill and Hillary is dead under mysterious circumstances: their personal lawyer, Vincent Foster.
The following friends of Bill and Hillary have been convicted on drug charges: Dan Lasater, the head of the state development agency.
On September 26, 1993, Luther 'Jerry' Parks was ambushed and shot in a mob-style killing. Parks had been investigating Clinton's infidelities for about six years and had accumulated a substantial file. His home was broken into and the Clinton files stolen, shortly before his murder.
Clinton's Arkansas security chief, Buddy Young, was described by a judge in a 1990 court case as having a "reckless disregard for the truth." The case involved charges made by Young against Contra drug connection whistleblower Terry Reed. The judge declared that "no jury could find by reasonable doubt that the defendant was guilty. There are too many holes in the chain of proof."
Buddy Young was subsequently named by Bill Clinton to a $92,000 a year job in the Federal Emergency Management Administration.
Mena, Arkansas, a Contra training and supply base, was used as a major drug importation facility during the 1980s. Hundred of millions of dollars in drug profits flowed through the town. Governor Bill Clinton was told about what was going on at Mena and did nothing to investigate.
Prominent friends and backers of Clinton have been under extensive investigation by the DEA or the FBI, according to investigative reporters Sally Denton and Roger Morris. Said one law enforcement official, "This may be the first president in history with such close buddies" who have been targeted for protracted investigations.
Bill and Hillary Clinton have misrepresented their role in Whitewater and related financial matters. Bill Clinton misrepresented his relationship with Genifer Flowers; Hillary Clinton misrepresented hers with Madison Guaranty S&L.
The White House has misrepresented and withheld facts concurring the death of Foster and the White House travel scandal.
The White House obstructed the FBI and Park Police investigation of the death of Foster.
The White House obstructed a Justice Department investigation into the travel office scandal by concealing the existence of Vincent Foster's notebook on the subject.
Hillary Clinton made a substantial sum in the futures market in a manner unexplainable by either skill (she was a neophyte) or chance.
Hillary Clinton made a $44,000 profit on a $2000 investment in a cellular phone franchise deal that involved taking advantage of the FCC's preference for locals, minorities and women, and then almost immediately flipping the franchise to the cellular giant, McCaw.
Hillary Clinton's law firm, working on contract for the Resolution Trust Corporation, got the RTC to settle a lawsuit involving the $65 million collapse of Madison Guaranty for only one million. This was later reduced by canceling a $600,000 debt from Seth Ward, Webster Hubbell's father-in-law. Much of the remaining funds went to Rose for counsel fees.
Whitewater special prosecutor Kenneth Starr has filed 21 charges, including 14 felonies, against 12 Arkansas residents
The special prosecutor has several score FBI agents still working on the case and has extended the term of a grand jury investigating aspects of the matter for another six months.
[Oops -- ed.] Your editor has publicly predicted (on Washington's WMAL and Channel 19) that Clinton will not be running for re-election due to the Whitewater scandal. If things go well for Clinton, he may emulate LBJ and Truman and announce his decision in late March. If the current drip-drip-drip of revelations turn into a torrent, it may happen sooner.
Your editor has put his money where his mouth is and owes several Washington correspondents a free meal if he is wrong. Of more consequence is that if he is wrong, the GOP will have a field day telling the voters in campaign ads what the pro-Clinton media has declined to tell them in the news. Whitewater is the worst covered national story in decades. The sooner Clinton leaves, the better for the Dems.
Left of the hard right, few journalists have given the scandal the respect it deserves. Two exceptions have been Alexander Cockburn, and Christopher Hitchens. Cockburn and Hitchens are Brits, from a land which specializes in scandals and knows a sordid story when it sees one. In fact, readers of London's Telegraph know a good deal more about Whitewater than the average American.
Why is the Washington media so aggressively disinterested in pursuing the story? Habit and culture probably offer more clues than any dark and sinister hypothesis. Listening to the Clintonites and their media supporters you find that one key reason they feel Clinton is clean is because the Republicans are so rotten. Evidence is being dismissed not on the basis of its merits, but based on who speaks of it. Thus, Al D'Amato or the conservative Western Journalism Center are cited as proof that Clinton did nothing wrong. It is, however, a syllogistic error of the first water to hold facts to blame for those who point them out. If cops could only accept evidence from upstanding individuals, they would solve few crimes.
The corporate media is finally getting around to noticing Whitewater. Nearly four years after the broad outlines of this major scandal became apparent, the press has begin to suspect that something is wrong. Here, for example, is an excerpt from a Chicago Tribune editorial of January 10:
"The legal issues will sort themselves out in time. But one thing has become all too clear. Bill and Hillary Clinton and their aides have made a concerted effort to deceive official investigators and the American public with half truths and outright lies . . . It's not clear what the Clintons want to conceal, but it's clear that they have made extraordinary efforts to do so."
Not everyone is up to speed, of course. NPR's Cokie Roberts is fighting a rearguard action on behalf of Hillary. And the Boston Globe's Tom Oliphant wrote a Christmas eve column that accused D'Amato of wielding "the big lie." Oliphant attacked D'Amato's treatment of White House aide Maggie Williams, saying "her word remains unchallenged by anything more than politics and libel."
Other journalists, however, are entering the carefully repositioning phase of scandal coverage. In this phase, journalist buddies of the politician in trouble urge full disclosure and make helpful suggestions as to how this can be carried out. Broadcast personalities rush to do lob-shot interviews that will make it seem that they're investigating something when in fact they're only providing free infomercials. And so forth. The lesson they all know is this: those that live by dropping names die when the names drop.
Having inveighed against political ghostwriting for over thirty years, it comes as no surprise that Hillary Clinton's book-like substance was produced with significant editorial aid -- in fact, $120,000 worth. My position has been that the standard for politicians in such matters should be at least as high as that for college freshmen. If the latter were to pay someone to write their papers, the full weight of academia would come crashing down upon them. At the higher levels of society, however, such behavior is considered normal and even admirable. At the very least, however, politicians should be required to list the names of their ghostwriters on the ballot and to resign from public office should their scribes decide to change clients.
What is amazing is that Ms. Clinton should actually have tried to conceal the assistance she received, adding to this deception the absurd claim that she wrote her bookoid long-hand in six months. If true, it would have been the greatest literary feat since Alexander Dumas wrote three books in one year. When he finished The Count of Monte Cristo, he drew a line on the sheet of paper, and immediately commenced The Three Musketeers.
Twice I have written books -- real ones -- in six months (one on a typewriter and one on a computer) and I can assure you it is only barely possible even with mechanical aids. If Ms. Clinton is to make the claim -- unsupported by any excerpts I've seen -- that she is a writer as well as a lawyer, then I think she should adhere the rules of our trade as closely as those of the ABA. Ours are not as well codified, but they include the notion that one does one's own work, that if you are unable to do so, you hire a real writer and give them decent credit, and finally that you observe what Thoreau called the first rule of exposition, which is to speak the truth. -- Sam Smith
Ambrose Evans-Pritchard of the London Sunday Telegraph reports that official logs kept by the Secret Service indicate that White House aide Patsy Thomasson met with a team of intelligence agents at her office more than an hour before the White House has claimed it was notified of Vincent Foster's death. Thomasson slammed down the phone on Evans-Pritchard when he started to question her about the meeting with the "MIG Group." The Secret Service initially denied knowing of the group but later said it was a team of technicians that had gone to Thomasson's office to do a routine alarm check. Others, however, told Evans-Pritchard that the name stands for "military intelligence group," a highly classified unit that conducts high tech counter-espionage.
Jim Leach of the House Banking Committee is reported running into stonewalling on the grounds of "national security" as he investigates drug smuggling and money laundering out of Mena, Arkansas. As Insight magazine points out in its January 29 issue, there have been nine separate federal and state probes over the last decade that "have managed to establish that Mena was indeed the center of a brazen narcotics-trafficking operation, but none cast much light on CIA complicity." Says Insight, Leach is "bothered by the signs that serious money laundering took place down there -- that it may be connected to Iran Contra operations is neither here nor there. And if Republicans are also hurt, then the chairman's attitude is, so be it."
The American Spectator reports that on her recent Asian tour, Hillary Clinton told New Zealand television that she had been named after Sir Edmund Hillary. Pretty good trick, since Hillary was an unknown beekeeper the year of Mrs. Clinton's birth.
Just to remind you of what Whitewater is about, here are just some major areas of concern that help to explain why special prosecutor Kenneth Starr has reportedly asked for still more FBI agents and assistant US attorneys to help complete his probe:
-- Drug trafficking: Arkansas was a major drug importation center during the 1980s. At the very least, the CIA knew about and encouraged this. It was a part of a long-standing hook-an-American-for-peace policy under which drug traffickers were given free rein in return for assistance in the agency's cold war games of the moment -- in this case the contra's war against Nicaragua. Federal investigations of the Mena, Arkansas, drug operation were quashed and Clinton refused to take up the matter despite being urged to do so. How big a deal was it? Well, the IRS thought that just one of the Arkansas drug operatives -- Barry Seale -- had failed to report some $80 million in illicit profits. To get a idea of how another small southern state (Kentucky), was thoroughly corrupted during the drug war years, read Sally Denton's excellent book, The Bluegrass Conspiracy.
-- Drug profit laundering: Latest word from Starr is that he is not going to touch Mena -- in which Republicans like Reagan, Bush and North were involved as well -- but he hasn't ruled out the effects of Mena. If all this drug money was flowing through Arkansas, a state with less population than the DC metropolitan area, who laundered it? Was it Arkansas financial institutions? Or the Clinton-created state development agency, which was clearly also used as a piggy bank for campaign supporters?
-- The SBA loan: SBA-middleman David Hale has accused Bill Clinton of pressuring him to make an improper SBA loan. Hale is already in legal trouble over similar scams involving others. Is he just trying to wangle a little leniency or is there a pattern here? Incidentally, we are talking felonies and not misdemeanors -- involving hundreds of thousands of federal dollars.
-- The cattle futures: The chances of Hillary accomplishing her cattle futures trick through just dumb luck are about the same as Hillary Clinton and Genifer Flowers having identical DNA. If it wasn't dumb luck, then who helped her, how and to what end?
-- The S&L scams: There's a thicket of financial manipulations involving the Clintons's' business partner Jim McDougal. So far the connections with the Clintons are hazy but curiously frequent.
--Whitewater itself: The sleazy land hustle that gave this scandal its name. Now well eclipsed by other matters but still brimming with unanswered questions.
-- The Foster death. Contrary to the impression given by the Clintophilic Washington media, many reasonable doubts remain. These do not, however, necessarily point to murder, but rather to a suicide that took place at an inconvenient time or in an inconvenient place or leaving inconvenient evidence. Whatever questions there are about the nature and cause of death seem far surpassed by the those raised by the strange behavior of so many involved -- from the White House to the Park Police -- in the time following the death.
-- Other cover-ups: Just as there was clearly an attempt by the White House to cover up something after the Foster death, similar attempts at suppressing inquiries or evidence have occurred on a number of other occasions related to Whitewater.
BCCI update: There are also some curious links between BCCI and Arkansas financial institutions, but there is little indication that these are being taken seriously. In fact, the American BCCI investigation has been riddled with lassitude, probably owing to heavy bipartisan involvement in the international swindle. One reporter investigating BCCI has estimated that up to a hundred Washington lawyers, officials and politicians were probably illegally involved with the bank.
Now comes word that Swaleh Nagvi, number two man at BCCI, will get enough time knocked off his 11-year sentence that he could be free within four years. The US extradited Naqvi from Abu Dhabi last year and while his lawyers say he has assisted American prosecutors, the Wall Street Journal reports that both NY District Attorney Robert Morgenthau and Britain's Serious Fraud Office opposed a reduction in his sentence, saying that he had not cooperated in their probes. As the WSJ asks: "So why the get-out-of-jail-early pass? We continue to wonder if the ruling family of Abu Dhabi under Sheik Zayed al-Nahyan, BCCI's central financier, would have extradited its chief banker without some assurance that nothing embarrassing would emerge. Nothing has."
The New York Post's John Crudelle reports evidence that the White House learned about Vince Foster's death between 7:15 and 7:30 on the night of his death and not at 8:30 as it claims. This ties in with evidence from Secret Service logs as reported by the London Telegraph's Ambrose Evans-Pritchard as well as other accounts that the Clinton's nanny, Helen Dickey, called Arkansas at 7:30 to report the death. Dickey disputes the timing, but state trooper Roger Perry has said in an affidavit that he received the call around 7:30 PM. Why is the time difference so important? What was going on at the WH during this period? Crudelle also reports that the special prosecutor is looking into windfall futures market profits by Hillary Clinton other than the notorious cattle option deal.
Christopher Ruddy of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes that the FBI has gone out of its way to cast doubt on a witness who claims agents lied in preparing his interview statement about what he saw at Fort Marcey Park. Patrick Knowlton claims he spotted an Hispanic-looking man standing next to Foster's Honda . The FBI had reported that Knowlton couldn't identify him.
Dan Rather, still hanging tough with the president, gratuitously referred to Kenneth Starr recently as "the Republican special prosecutor." Does Rather think that Dole and Gingrich appointed him? Rather is the man who told Clinton during an interview for a CBS affiliates meeting that "if we could be one-hundredth as great as you and Hillary Rodham Clinton have been in the White House, we'd take it right now and walk away winners."
Senator Bob Kerrey, who had Clinton sized up a long time ago, was quoted in the January Esquire as calling the President an "unusually good liar." The remark took weeks to make it into the mainstream press even though Kerrey is chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and even though similar remarks by William Safire about Mrs. Clinton got swift and widespread attention.
When the establishment media decides to distance itself from one of its former heroes, an early sign are the articles pondering errors of judgment, style and management. Substance rarely enters these discussions, for to do so would raise questions about the media's own judgment. A classic example of this technique appeared on the front page of the February 9 Washington Post, which went on for several jumps about Hillary Clinton's difficulties in adjusting to the Washington style and values with nary a hint that part of her current problems may stem from having served as a lawyer for the unsavory of Arkansas.
The Republicans have their own Whitewater problem. Many of the leads -- such as those involving BCCI, Iran-Contra and the drug trade -- have a bipartisan tenor. The GOP wants to get Clinton out without revealing its own part in the Arkansas story. Consider this, for example: Senator D'Amato is Robert Dole's NY campaign manager. One key figure in the Arkansas story is financier Jackson Stephens. Stephens, who supported Clinton last time, is now a major backer of Dole.
Still more Whitewater stories
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