Conspiracy Nation -- Vol. 5 Num. 31

("Quid coniuratio est?")

By Reed Irvine
Chairman, Accuracy in Media Inc.

Watergate would have died a quiet death had it not been for the persistence of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, who had the support of a few editors who sensed that they might be on to something big and who were willing to pursue a story that their peers derided. Not intimidated by the consensus of this pack, their paper brought down a president and won a Pulitzer.

The consensus of the pack today is that there is nothing to the evidence that the death of Vincent Foster involves a scandal that could dwarf Watergate. Only two reporters, Chris Ruddy of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review and Ambrose Evans-Pritchard of the London Sunday Telegraph, are doing the kind of investigative reporting that Mr. Woodward and Mr. Bernstein did on Watergate. They have exposed serious flaws in the investigations conducted by the Park Police and the FBI, but their findings are ignored by the journalistic pack.

Why? Dean Baquet, an investigative reporter for the New York Times, told me that while some very good questions have been raised about Mr. Foster's death, the New York Times would not try to find the answers because he believed they would just turn up more unanswered questions. That is a terrible excuse, but it is better than the non-answers we have had from others, including the Washington Post and the Washington Times.

Accuracy in Media is challenging those papers to tell their readers the facts about Mr. Foster's death by paying them to run full-page ads in which we charge:

  1. That the police jumped to the conclusion that Mr. Foster committed suicide before they had done any investigation.
  2. That the forensic evidence was overwhelmingly against the finding that he shot himself at the spot where his body was found.
  3. That the official reports ignored or misrepresented evidence that cast serious doubt on conclusions prematurely reached.
  4. That Kenneth Starr's investigation appears to have been derailed.

Mr. Starr, who succeeded Robert Fiske as independent counsel, reopened the investigation of Mr. Foster's death. He assigned Miquel Rodriguez, a hard-driving assistant U.S. attorney, to handle the grand jury probe.

Mr. Ruddy has reported that Mr. Rodriguez was doing what Mr. Fiske should have done until his politically active Democratic superior, Mark Tuohey IV, began putting obstacles in his way. Mr. Rodriguez, not wishing to be part of another cover-up, resigned, and the investigation's course was altered.

This reminded some of President Nixon's effort to derail the Watergate investigation by firing special counsel Archibald Cox, but it didn't excite any interest on the part of the media, including the Washington Times.

A serious weakness in Mr. Fiske's report was the flimsiness of its reason for Mr. Foster's alleged suicide -- his being upset by three critical Wall Street Journal editorials and by the White House travel office mini-scandal. A week after Mr. Foster's death, White House press secretary Dee Dee Myers said she would "never intimate" that he would kill himself over such trivial matters. But finding nothing better, Mr. Fiske made these the official explanations.

Mr. Evans-Pritchard has now turned up what may be the key to the Foster mystery. In a story in the May 21 Sunday Telegraph, he claimed that Mr. Foster made at least two secret unofficial short trips to Switzerland and cancelled a third 12 days before his death. This was news even to his widow.

If true, all explanations of Mr. Foster's death must be put on hold until more is known about these trips.

The papers spirited out of Mr. Foster's office may contain the answers. Those who took custody of those papers must tell what they know to the grand jury.

Mr. Foster's credit card and travel records should be subjected to scrutiny as thorough as that given the records of the late William J. Casey when charges that Mr. Casey travelled to Europe in July 1980 to block the release of American hostages held in Iran were reported by the media in 1991.

[From "Letters To The Editor", Washington Times, National Weekly Edition, 6/19-25/95, p. 38.]

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