Whitewater and Clinton Scandal Clips

from The Progressive Review

1992-1997 Part 6

 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

Index of Clips

Clips Feb '92 - Feb '94 Whitewater Clips Vol. 1

Clips Mar '94 - Feb '96 Whitewater Clips Vol. 2

Clips Mar - Sep '96 Whitewater Clips Vol. 3

Clips Oct 96- Mar 97 - Whitewater Clips Vol. 4

Clips Mar 97-July 97 - Whitewater Clips Vol 5

Clips Aug 97 - Whitewater Clips Vol 6

Back to the Review's home page

January-February 1998

Foster factoid quiz . . .

The lead Park Police investigator at the Foster death scene checked in Vince Foster's pockets but found no keys. Later, at the morgue, two sets of keys were found in Foster's pockets. How did Vince Foster drive to Ft. Marcy Park without any keys? For extra points, tell who put the keys in Foster's pockets.

All we've got . . .

Official Washington, from the White House to Congress to the town's law offices, hates special prosecutors because they're wild cards and spoil the game. The media has picked up the vibes. But for all the faults of men like Starr (especially his mishandling of the Foster and Mena investigations), the special prosecutors and the Internet are currently the most important restraints on the corruption and criminality of the Clinton Administration. Congress is a poor third and the traditional media hasn't even rounded the first curve. Also bear in mind:

Starr's record is much better than is generally admitted. He has a dozen guilty pleas or convictions from friends and associates of Clinton including a governor, a deputy attorney general and two business partners. Others are in the works. If Clinton weren't president and a favorite of Washington pressies he would hit hard for his Arkansas underworld connections.

One of Starr's biggest faults is not his overzealousness, as admitted even by his Democratric ethics advisor Sam Dash. Says Dash, one who watched Starr at work "would observe overcautiousness and restraint rather than the buccaneering conduct of his imagination."

Key question unanswered. . . .

We know Bill Clinton doesn't believe that oral sex is adultery, but does he believe it is a mutual act? A totally unscientific survey by TPR suggests that citizens are of different minds on this matter. This could skew poll results. For example, a citizen might view mutual oral sex as Clinton's own business but an act in which the only pleasure is that given the president as predatory and abusive.

 

Prominent pathologist
backs need for Brown autopsy

Dr. Cyril Wecht, who has done more than 13,000 autopsies, says there is "more than enough" evidence to suggest possible homicide in the Ron Brown death and that an autopsy should have been performed: "It is not even arguable in the field of medical legal investigations whether an autopsy should have been conducted on Brown." Wecht made his comments to Christopher Ruddy, who broke the story of a mysterious hole in Brown's forehead and other evidence that raises questions about the manner of his death.

CHRIS RUDDY SITE: http://www.ruddynews.com/

MORE ON BROWN: http://emporium.turnpike.net/P/ProRev/index4.htm

With the indictment of Henry Cisneros, the crime rate among President Clinton's cabinet may end up exceeding that of the rest of Washington, DC. There are fourteen cabinet departments and two cabinet officials (Espey and Cisneros) have been indicted. That's one out of every seven department heads. The DC police arrest only about one out of every 13 citizens each year and many of these are repeat offenders.

 

How to police the White House

The independent counsel law, for all its faults, is at the moment a desperately needed check on an out-of-control White House. Could we do better? Yes, and here's one good way how:

We could have direct election of the attorney general, similar to the way that states and localities use the election of attorneys general or DA's to keep governor's and mayors in check.

An elected AG, which would require a constitutional amendment, is an example of the sort of populist reforms that could finally bring some pressure to bear on the country's corrupt elite. The AG would be elected in an off-year election.

Not only would the position provide us with a true presidential watchdog, but the campaign for AG would increase public attention on issues such as the drug wars, civil rights and constitutional protections.

Foster factoid quiz #2

Following is a list of the approximate times a Honda was spotted in the Ft. Marcy parking lot on the afternoon and evening of Vince Foster's death. Also included is the color of the car as described by different witnesses in one or more interviews or reports as reported by independent investigator High Sprung. Incidentally` Foster owned a 1989 pure medium gray Honda with no brown or taupe coloring:

4:30-4:35 PM: "rust brown colored car with Arkansas plates." Year: c. 1984 (witness subsequently picked out a color from samples that was only available on Hondas in 1983-84).

5:00-5:45 PM: "tannish/dark color," "brownish in color," "brown car" Year: mid-1980s

5:40 PM: "possibly light blue or tan," "light tan or light brown," "light brown or cream colored," "brown or cream colored"

5:45 PM: Above witness discovers Foster's body.

6:00 PM: "a lighter gray or silver" (as recorded by Park Police), "tannish brown" (later to a reporter) and "light tan or brown" (to another reporter). This is the first mention of a gray car.

6:10-6:11 PM: "Brwn Honda AR tags." (from paramedic)

6:12 PM: "A gray/brown Nissan 4dr with Arkansas registration RCN504" (from second Park Police officer on scene. Note: license plate number is Foster's)

6:35 PM: "1989 Gray Honda Accord" (lead Park Police investigator)

c. 6:30 PM: "4dr, grey, Honda Accord" (Park Police evidence technician)

The Honda described in the Fort Marcy parking lot was predominantly brownish before Foster's body was found and predominantly gray afterwards. Explain how this happened? Was the color change a manufacturer's defect? Or were two different cars being described?

Could Clinton get
security clearance?

The following is from Justice Department guidelines for "determining eligibility for access to classified information:"

"Contacts with citizens of other countries or financial interests in other countries are also relevant to security determinations if they make an individual potentially vulnerable to coercion, exploitation, or pressure. . ."

"Conditions that could raise a security concern and may be disqualifying include . . . compulsive or addictive sexual behavior when the person is unable to stop a pattern of self-destructive or high-risk behavior or that which is symptomatic of a personality disorder . . . sexual behavior of a public nature and/or that which reflects lack of discretion or judgment. . . .

"Conduct involving questionable judgment, untrustworthiness, unreliability, lack of candor, dishonesty, or unwillingness to comply with rules and regulations could indicate that the person may not properly safeguard classified information. . . refusal to . . . provide full, frank and truthful answers to lawful questions of investigators, security officials or other official representatives . . the deliberate omission, concealment, or falsification of relevant and material facts. . . . a pattern of dishonesty or rule violations . . . a pattern of high-risk, irresponsible, aggressive, anti-social or emotionally unstable behavior."

 

Gravescam

Add C. Everett Koop to the list of those getting favored treatment in the form of a waiver of requirements so he could spend eternity at the Arlington military cemetery. Problem is that Koop never served in the armed services until he became Surgeon General and head of the US Public Health Service. Arlington is supposedly reserved for long-serving veterans, those killed or wounded on active duty, and recipients of high honors. The story is in today's Washington Times which also broke the news that a political campaign contributor who had given to military causes but had never served had been promised a grave. The donor withdrew his request after the gravesite controversy hit the media.

Furthermore. . .

Washington Post legal columnist David Segal notes that Monica Lewinsky may not need blanket immunity. He quotes one lawyer as saying, "As a practical matter, an independent counsel who provides use immunity never goes after your client."

American export

The Economist reports that Tony Blair now has the first interns ever at 10 Downing Street. According to the magazine, Hillary Clinton "persuaded the Blairs of the glories of the White House interns program on a recent visit."

Feedback

I've been reading and enjoying the Progressive Review on line for a long time. While I admire your verbal and political talents - you are an astute and savvy observer of the American scene, I am beginning to wonder why you don't spread some of that finely-honed analysis in other places as well. Don't you think there's something uncomfortable if not downright sinister about the association of so many right wing conservatives in the current imbroglio?

While you so adeptly skewer Clinton & Co., I never see a word from your arena about the Jerry Falwell's of this world. Are you just looking the other way when you focus that fine gift of criticism , or what? That whole conservative consortium, including Kenneth Starr, doesn't look very appealing either. -- Judith Nagib

I have criticized Starr on a number of occasions particularly over the Foster investigation. I think, however, that the notion that Starr is some sort of avenging wacko doesn't hold up. Even his Democratic ethics advisor Sam Dash seems to think he is overcautious. My reading is that Starr is a rather typical self-interested conservative establishment lawyer who is willing to follow the case as long as it doesn't go too deep. Hence no real investigation of either Mena or the Foster case, in fact more of a cover-up.

Starr is not alone. As noted here, the Republican investigation on a number of occasions has pulled up short when bipartisan wrongdoing emerged. This helps to explain the start-stop nature of the congressional hearings. Starr has, on the other hand, gotten guilty pleas or convictions from 12 of Clinton's friends including one governor and one deputy attorney general. As scandal investigations go, this is not bad at all.

Your question comes up in different guises at different times and I think the best generic answer is that one only has so much time and I long ago figured it was best to concentrate on those with the most power. Clinton runs the country, not Starr or Dan Burton. The sins of the latter simply aren't as important. Clinton' virtue does not rise and fall by comparison with Starr's.

I could, I suppose, rerun my list of questions for Colin Powell, but how many readers would be interested? One of the pieces I wrote in 1992 was the most extensive listing of George Bush's curious background to have been published anywhere. But it's sort of irrelevant at the moment. In short, to paraphrase bank robber Willie Sutton, I write about Clinton because that's where the power's at. --s.s.

A few reasons
Americans aren't
upset about Clinton

If Americans seem extraordinarily laissez-faire about corruption the White House, among those Clinton should thank are the major networks. An article in Investor's Business Daily by Brent Baker of the Media Research Center tracked the network news prime show response to a number of breaking Clinton scandal stories. Baker found:

The discovery in the trunk of a car of a Madison Guaranty check for $27,000 made out to Bill Clinton. CNN broke the story, NBC followed up. Zilch on ABC and CBS.

Ex-mistress of former Housing Secretary Henry Cisneros pleads guilty in conspiracy and hush money case involving Cisneros. CNN covered but not ABC, CNS, NBC

The indictment of Cisneros. NBC covered, ABC gave 18 seconds, CBS nine seconds.

Tyson Foods vice president and lobbyist indicted in connection with payoffs to the Agriculture Secretary Espy. Nothing.

Conviction of Espy's top aide: Nothing.

Court ruling fining White House for lying about the makeup of the health care panel: Nothing.

Former Commerce Secretary Mickey Kantor admits to helping Webster Hubbell obtain a do-nothing contract with the LA government: Nothing.

In short, CNN and NBC covered two of these seven stories while ABC and CBS only reported one.

Just wondering. . .

 If Clinton were a master sergeant instead of commander-in-chief what the charges would be

 If Michael Kelly, now that's he becoming skeptical of the president, might wish to apologize for that nasty piece of work in the New Yorker a few years back in which he accused Clinton's critics of paranoia.

DECEMBER 1997

Verbatim: Lying for Hillary

One of the issues that came up in a lengthy suit (American Physicians and Surgeons, Inc, et al. v. Hillary Rodham Clinton, et al.) was whether White House aide Ira Magaziner, speaking on behalf of Hillary Clinton's health task force, told the truth when he claimed that only federal employees were members of the group. This was found to be false and Judge Royce Lamberth issued an opinion, part of which follows:

[I]t is clear that the decisions here were made at the highest levels of government, and that the government itself is--and should be--accountable when its officials run amok. There were no rogue lawyers here misleading this court. The court agrees with plaintiffs that these were not reckless and inept errors taken by bewildered counsel. The Executive Branch of the government, working in tandem, was dishonest with this court. . . .

The Department of Justice has a long tradition of setting the highest standards of conduct for all lawyers, and it is a sad day when this court must conclude, as did the United States Attorney in his investigation, that the Department of Justice succumbed to pressure from White House attorneys and others to provide this court with "strained interpretations" that were "ultimately unconvincing."

It seems that some government officials never learn that the cover-up can be worse than the underlying conduct. Most shocking to this court, and deeply disappointing, is that the Department of Justice would participate in such conduct. This was not an issue of good faith word games being played with the Court. The United States Attorney found that the most controversial sentence of the [Ira] Magaziner declaration--"Only federal government employees serve as members of the interdepartmental working group"--could not be prosecuted under the perjury statute because the issue of "membership" within the working group was a fuzzy one, and no generally agreed upon "membership" criteria were ever written down. Therefore, the Magaziner declaration was actually false because of the implication of the declaration that "membership" was a meaningful concept and that one could determine who was and was not a "member" of the working group. This whole dishonest explanation was provided to this court in the Magaziner declaration on March 3, 1993, and this court holds that such dishonesty is sanctionable and was not good faith dealing with the court or plaintiff's counsel. It was not timely corrected or supplemented, and this type of conduct is reprehensible, and the government must be held accountable for it.

 

Federal judge fines Clintonistas for lying

Eric Holder: doing what it takes to get ahead

How today's journalists might have covered yesterday's stories

CHICAGO MOBSTERS SAID
TO LOSE CONFIDENCE IN FBI HEAD

NIXON CLEARS ADMINISTRATION OF
WRONG-DOING IN WATERGATE

Send your suggestions to The Progressive Review

 

Verbatim I

[Representative Dan] BURTON: Mr. Freeh, over 65 people have invoked the 5th Amendment or fled the country in the course of the committee's [Clinton scandals] investigation. Have you ever experienced so many unavailable witnesses in any matter in which you've prosecuted or in which you've been involved?

[FBI Director Louis] FREEH: Actually, I have.

BURTON: You have? Give me, give me a rundown on that real quickly.

FREEH: I spent about 16 years doing organized crime cases in New York City and many people were frequently unavailable.

Verbatim II

[Representative Dan] BURTON: Now, with respect to (former Assistant Attorney General) Webster Hubbell . . . don't you believe you would have an inherent conflict investigating matters regarding Mr. Hubbell, who was your No. 3 Justice Department official and ran the (department) with you in 1993 and '94?

RENO: I don't know what you mean by ''inherent conflict.'' It would depend on the circumstances, sir. . . .

BURTON:. . . But in any event, do you think . . . there would be a conflict of you investigating his relationship with a number of the principals involved in this investigation and/or the president?

RENO:It would depend on the circumstances, sir.

BURTON: In other words, Webb Hubbell, . . . who received $100,000 from the Riadys, the Lippo Group, after 10 meetings at the White House involving (the president), James Riady, John Huang, and Webb Hubbell, you don't (think) that those three, many of whom are being investigated for large sums of money being illegally funneled into the (Democratic National Committee) and to the president's re-election committee and to the president's legal defense fund, you don't believe that there might be a conflict of you investigating him?

RENO: What I have said, sir, is that as we continue investigations I cannot discuss them. But if at any time the statute is triggered, I will do so. . . .

 

 

 

"You'd think Republicans would be appalled by the kinds of activities offered in this letter. They're offering meetings with elected officials in exchange for contributions. -- DNC chair Stephen Grossman attacking a GOP fundraiser at which donors got to meet with Republican senators. Reported in USA Today on October 16.

I don't think it's unseemly. It's open. It's transparent. It's accessible. . . People can feel comfortable that even though our major supporters are involved in a significant way that the event itself is one that reflects credit on all of us. -- DNC chair Stephen Grossman defending a $50,000-a-head weekend at which Democratic donors got to play and talk with Clinton, Gore and other leaders. Reported in the Washington Post on October 22.

Ron Brown (cont'd)

Shooting the messenger

NOVEMBER 1997

 

OCTOBER 1997

HEAD OF TWO BOTCHED PROBES NAMED FBI DEPUTY DIRECTOR

Robert M. Bryant, who supervised the FBI's botched probes into the Oklahoma City bombing and the Vince Foster death case, has been named deputy director the agency. Bryant had previously been promoted to chief of the FBI's national security division following his direction of the Foster investigation.

The FBI has been severely criticized for its handling of the cases by independent investigators. Former FBI director William Sessions says the Foster probe was "compromised" from the beginning. Sessions was fired by Bill Clinton the day before Foster's death. Among the complaints is the charge -- from key witness Patrick Knowlton, for exmaple -- that statements were altered by FBI agents.

Says investigative journalist Christopher Ruddy, ""Bryant is the man who put the FBI's seal of approval on the U.S. Park Police handling of the investigation of Foster's death." Ruddy is the author of an important new book on the Foster case.

Some independent investigators have also sharply questioned the FBI's handling of the Oklahoma City bombing. There is evidence that the federal government had been warned by one of its own informants that the attack might be made -- based out of a rightwing encampment that provided for some major figures investigators have showed an strange indifference to ask questions about.

Here's how Timothy McVeigh's former lawyer, Stephen Jones, described it recently on Meet the Press:

"There is an abundance of evidence that suggests, at a minimum, the ATF, and probably the FBI, on the night of April the 18th, knew that federal buildings in Oklahoma were at risk. The government had an informant in [the rightwing group]. They regularly polygraphed her. I've read her notes -- all of which was given to the government before April the 19th. And I think they acted on the suspicion -- that's why we have proof and evidence of people who saw the bomb squad trucks around the Murrah Building early that morning, saw the sniffer dogs and so forth. And then the government didn't find anything and pulled them off, only to find a couple of hours later that the bomb went off. The government cannot admit that it knew and didn't act responsibly, because there are rather expensive civil suits with very good plaintiffs' lawyers breathing down the government's neck."

For more on this, see Ambrose Evans-Pritchard's new book on Clinton.

DIRTY TRICKS RETURN

Why are civil libertarians and liberals so unwilling to criticize dirty tricks by the Clinton administration, when they were so certain such improprieties threatened the Constitution during the Nixon era? The mythology that Democrats are honest and Republicans are crooks can't bear thirty seconds scrutiny in the light of American urban and southern political history, which in no small part is the tale of corrupt Democratic politicians. Partisanship stops at the law's edge -- for those crossing the line the only ideology becomes greed and power.

While Clinton may want, in the phrase of Hanna Arendt, to turn every issue of fact into a question of motive, it is pathetic, masochistic and, in the end, immoral, for liberals to follow suit. The silence, for example, of liberal organizations and media concerning the White House seconding of 900 FBI personnel files for its own purposes makes these groups co-conspirators in a growing ethic that permits anything as long those engaged in it are on one's own side. This is what Nixon believed and why we thought him a scoundrel. How can these liberal groups and media claim any moral superiority after accepting the same values?

Those who would like to break this unfortunately trend might consider the case of the conservative Western Journalism Center. We are not political fans of this outfit nor of its rightwing funders, but we are absolutely convinced that our own freedom can not be assured as long as someone in power feels that they can with impunity burglarize the offices of the WJC's director, tap his home and office phone lines and subject the group to a punitive tax audit. After being cleared of wrong-doing and filing a Freedom of Information request to the IRS, the group received, amongst heavily censored matter, a cryptic letter, according to WJC director Joseph Farah, "explaining that other documents were being withheld because they involved 'inter-agency' memos and 'government privilege.' In other words, the IRS all but admitted that they had discussed the WJC case with government officials outside the agency.

Then there is the case of Cindy Hays, who was director of the Paula Jones Legal Fund. In a sworn statement to the court handling the Jones case, Hays objected to the Clinton lawyers' request for a list of donors to the fund. Said Hays, ""confidential donors to the Paula Jones Legal Fund ... reasonably can fear reprisal if its discovery is had." Hays said her group had been subjected to break-ins, wiretaps, stolen files, and tampering with its office alarm system.

When such things happened to people in the 1960s and 1970s, liberals and leftists were loud in their denunciation, persistent in their court suits, and strong in their support of decency and democracy. Now that the victims are no longer -- at least momentarily --on the left, they have fallen into a cowardly silence. 

WHITEWATER RIPPLES

One of the tiny handful of reporters left of the right who take the Clinton scandals seriously is longtime journalist Sarah McLendon. McLendon recently reported that a rift is "escalating between President and Mrs. Clinton and Vice President Albert Gore. . . This has proceeded to the point where the Clintons are talking about who should succeed Gore if the Vice President should be scandalized extensively enough to cause him to resign . . . Gore is the object of distrust because it is believed he would be too independent if he became President and would initiate certain reforms especially in connection with the Central Intelligence Agency, whose officials wish to avoid any change in their covert operations." . . . There's another reason why Gore might be targeted: to pave the way for a subsequent Clinton resignation. If Gore resigned first, a new vice president approved by establishment leaders could be chosen and in this fashion avoid the possibility of Newt Gingrich ending up in the White House after a twin resignation by Clinton and Gore. . . . Meanwhile, some see ominous signs in Bob Woodward's targeting of Gore for special attention. The Washington Post's Woodward has rarely had a scoop that wasn't based on material provided by that part of the capital quaintly known as the intelligence community.

Within standard deviation? We have had three declared suicides of Clinton administration figures as well as others in the Greater Arkansas periphery of the Clinton crowd. Is this unusual? Yes. If Vince Foster committed suicide then he is the highest ranked official to do so since a Truman cabinet member in 1949. Further, in the general population there are about eight suicides for every ten murders, suggesting that the Clinton administration is not only suicide prone, but murder immune. . . Also consider a 1994 story by David Zucchino in the Philadelphia Inquirer about the disputed suicides of seven Navy personnel. Zucchino reported that between 1979 and 1993, the military declared 3,375 deaths to have been suicides and only 1,460 to have been homicides, a substantial reversal of the national percentages.

We have previously mentioned the extremely belated discovery of an oven mitt in Vince Foster's car -- it actually first showed up in, of all places, the special prosecutor's report. The item wasn't mentioned by the investigators who came to the scene. Did they just overlook it as they were going through the glove compartment? Well, consider these items they did inventory, according to noted independent investigator Hugh Sprunt: "a guitar pick, the number of coins of each type found in the car, the date on a Mexican coin, and the brand of an empty cigarette pack."

 

FOSTER DEATH MYSTERY GROWS FOLLOWING STARR'S REPORT

The Vince Foster death case has not been solved. With the release of a report by special prosecutor Kenneth Starr, the mystery concerning the death of Vincent Foster has compounded itself. Far from being, as the mainstream media suggests, a final answer to rightwing conspiracy theorists, the report raises more questions than it answers including a particularly ominous one: did Starr and his prosecutors deliberately twist or subvert their legal responsibilities in order to bring in a conclusion of unadorned suicide?

That the mainstream media has accepted Starr's conclusions without question means nothing. Not one of these media that we know of has conducted a significant independent investigation into Foster's death that would justify such acceptance. In fact, every serious inquiry into the Foster case has raised serious questions about the investigation of the death and what caused it.

Christopher Ruddy, investigative reporter and author of The Strange Death of Vincent Foster: An Investigation, states the matter bluntly: "The circumstantial, physical and forensic evidence so strongly points toward homicide and a movement of the body that Starr's office needed three years to find new experts who would bolster the earlier findings, "new" evidence to disprove legitimate claims that Foster's body had been moved, and "new" changed testimony of key witnesses to make all the accounts fit the official story." Meanwhile, Starr avoided steps as obvious and simple as a second autopsy.

Key to concerns over the Starr report are multiple examples of testimony and evidence changed late in the investigation. For example:

Then there is the long list of anomalies still not addressed. Ruddy mentions a few of them: "Why were Foster's car keys not found in his pockets when his body was searched? Why were his eyeglasses some 19 feet from his head? Why does Arkansas state trooper Larry Patterson claim he knew of Foster's death 15 minutes before Foster's body was found? " And why does Foster's doctor claim that he was complaining of anorexia at a time when his body weight was increasing?

William Sessions, who was sacked by the White House as FBI director one day before Foster's death, says the Foster investigation was "compromised from the beginning." That's about as mild as one can put it. In fact, it is still being compromised to this day and Starr's report is the latest evidence that whatever happened to Vince Foster there are some very powerful people who don't want us to know about it. For the full Ruddy report see http:/tribune-review.com/ruddy/101297.html

 

WHITEWATER RIPPLES

Not since the days of the Kefauver investigations have so many sought-after congressional witnesses flown the coop. In its investigation of Clinton scandals, Congress has found 58 witnesses to be unavailable. Eleven of these have fled the country; eleven are foreigners who refuse to be interviewed, and 36 witnesses have pled the Fifth Amendment. Just like they say at the White House, everybody does it.

Cindy Hays, the former director of the Paul Jones legal fund says she has been harassed since January with break-ins, wiretapping and files stolen out of the office. She is fighting a subpoena in the Jones case on the grounds that releasing a list of donors would lead to reprisals against the contributors.

Even with scandals breaking all about them, Clinton and Gore can't get it right: Latest line crossing involves Gore taking free legal assistance from Nashville attorney James Neal. Neal claims he would be working on a "pro bono basis," ignoring the full phrase pro bono publico, or for the public good. Keep a vice president out of criminal trouble hardly qualifies and would seem by any reasonable standard an extraordinarily improper gift of services.

Recently released tapes indicate that LBJ thought Fidel Castro was involved in the JFK assassination. We suppose this adds Lyndon Johnson to the ever-growing lists of conspiracy theorists.

 

SEPTEMBER 1997

It was somewhat grudging and a tad snotty, but the New York Times review of Christopher Ruddy's new book, The Strange Death of Vincent Foster, represented a turning point in the handling of the Foster case by major media. Until now, it was not permissible in the Times or most of the other majors to even suggest something was amiss in the Foster death. In his review, Richard Brookhiser of the National Review chastised Ruddy for mentioning the possibility that Foster might have been murdered: "If Ruddy didn't want to make such an Oliver Stone argument, even hypothetically, he should have left his rhetorical teasers on the cutting-room floor." But Brookhiser also admits that "Zealous colleagues [not even overzealous?] may have rifled Foster's office; why not his body?" Brookhiser ends his review:

"Political journalists journalists don't like the Foster story because it is not the kind of thing they are trained to cover. Political journalism is a combination of policy wonkery and new journalism; its practitioners write about ideology and personality, not crime scenes and grand juries. If they don't like the fact that the story has been taken over by crusaders like Ruddy, they have only themselves to blame for ceding it."

LD Brown, a former Arkansas state trooper who worked on Clinton's security details, claims he was approached on a bus in England and offered $100,000 and a job to change his Whitewater testimony. A second offer was allegedly made in Little Rock. Brown has also hired a lawyer to consider filing a suit against Clinton and staffers for libel. The claim is that Clintonistas told various media that Brown had murdered his mother. In fact, his father had tried to commit suicide in front of the young Brown and his mother and his attempt to get the gun away, his mother was killed. Brown says a false version of the story was circulated in order to discredit his comments on Whitewater. . . .Which brings up a question that we've been meaning to ask: why are Arkansas state troopers the only cops in America the major media are unwilling to believe?

That giant sucking sound you hear is Senator Fred Thompson running away from the campaign finance story just as it was hitting pay dirt. Why is anybody's guess, but the fact is that Thompson will probably spend only $2 million of the $4.35 million he was given for the probe, or less than one-third what he asked for last January.

 Timothy Maier of Insight Magazine has followed up his stunning story of Clinton administration bugging of over 300 locations during the 1993 Seattle Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Conference with word that FBI videotapes of diplomatic suites "show underage boys engaging sexcapades with men in several rooms over a period of days." The operation involved the FBI, CIA, NSA and Office of Naval Intelligence. Bugged were hotel rooms, telephones, conference centers, cars, and even a charter boat. Some of the information obtained was apparently passed on to individuals with financial interests in Asia. Also involved: alleged kickbacks on purchases of surveillance equipment by the spooks.

How did such a major scandal escape exposure? According to Maier's sources, those agents who complained were told that pursuing any crimes would have endangered a major national security operation. Writes Maier: "Some claiming direct involvement say they are outraged and are willing to come forward and tell what they know under oath before a grand jury or congressional committee. Others, fearful of reprisal and career damage, will not step into the limelight but are deeply troubled by what they did -- or what they did not do."

IS AL GORE IN SERIOUS TROUBLE?

Veteran Washington correspondent Sarah McLendon reports that the Clintons are talking about who should succeed the Vice President if Gore is forced to resign. If McLendon's story is correct, it represents a significant turnabout in the covert, complex relationship between the Veep and Clinton. Prior to the 1996 campaign there were hints that Gore or his staff was orchestrating efforts to edge Clinton out of the race. Certainly some of Gore's people were known to be unusually interested in anti-Clinton material. The unprecedented selection of one Gore man, Jack Quinn as White House counsel and another, Peter Knight, for a key campaign role suggested that some sort of truce had been struck between Gore and Clinton.

Then came Gore's campaign finance scandal and the inelegant manner in which he and his aides have handled it -- including the disingenuous argument that a fundraiser was actually a "donor maintenance" event. Now, according to McLendon, the shoe is on the other foot and the Clintons spent much of their vacation discussing the future of Gore.

History does not offer either man much succor in any case. Less than a year after Nixon got Spiro Agnew to resign to help take the pressure off the Watergate investigation, Nixon himself left office in shame.

WHITE HOUSE MATH

Johnny Chung made 50 visits to the White House and lined up $400,000 for the Democrats. Bang/buck ratio: $8,000 per visit

James Riady made up to 20 trips to the White House and donated some $1 million to the Democratic Party. Bang/buck ratio: $50,000 per visit.

John Huang channeled some $3 million to the Democrats and visited the White House 67 times. Bang/buck ratio: $44,776.12 per visit.

Pauline Kanchanalak gave more than $230,000 to the Democrats and visited the White House 10 times. Bang/buck ratio: $23,000 per visit.

Charlie Trie gave the Democrats at least $257,000 and visited the White House 23 times. Bang/buck ratio: $11,173.91.

WHITE HOUSE MISSING PERSONS UPDATE

Persons named above who are taking the Fifth Amendment: 2 (Chung and Huang).

Persons named above who have fled to Indonesia: 1(Riady)

Persons named above who have fled to Thailand: 1 (Kanchanalak).

Persons named above who have fled to China: 1(Trie)

WHITE HOUSE SLEEPING ARRANGEMENTS UPDATE

Michael Espy was recently indicted on 39 counts --including charges that he accepted $35,458 worth of gifts such as lodging entertainment and tickets to sporting events. Under the law applied in Espy's case no reciprocity on the part of the donor had to be proved.

Bill Clinton, his boss, recently spent several weeks at the home of a multi-million developer with major matters before the federal government. The home at which he stayed is near one that was recently rented for two months at the rate of $19,000 a week. There is no information available on whether any entertainment or sports tickets were provided, but the gift was worth at least $60,000. Bill Clinton has not been charged with anything.

EVERYBODY DOES IT, DON'T THEY?

FROM THE BOSTON GLOBE: "Gangster turned informant Stephen J. "The Rifleman" Flemmi asserted yesterday that an FBI contact assured him and his criminal partner, James J. "Whitey" Bulger, they could continue to commit crimes -- short of murder -- without fear of prosecution."

Buddy Young, one of the most interesting and least covered Clinton cronies, has been promoted to a deputy directorship in FEMA. Young, formerly in charge of Clinton's security, distinguished himself in Arkansas by helping to bring charges against CIA contract pilot Terry Reed that were later tossed out of court. The charges were filed after Reed started making noises about his CIA experiences.

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