Conspiracy Nation -- Vol. 5 Num. 59

("Quid coniuratio est?")

And Where It Stops, Nobody Knows (yet)
By Wesley Pruden
[Washington Times, National Weekly Edition, July 17-23, 1995]

The spinning is under way, so this must be Whitewater time again. The White House gave its Whitewater file, all but marked "Sanitized for Your Protection," to selected reporters and (surprise! surprise!) there were no surprises in it.

This is supposed to be the complete file that was taken out of Vincent Foster's office sometime on the evening of the day he was found in Fort Marcy Park, his hands neatly at his sides after a gunshot wound in his mouth that hardly mussed his hair, wrinkled his shirt or spoiled the crease in his trousers.

Then the file was taken upstairs to the family quarters where Bill and Hillary, thoughtful tenants that they are, made a closet available until it could be taken to the office of their lawyers. The lawyers made room for it, too, though they had to move a lot of stuff out of the way. You know how lawyers' offices are, with so many files full of ethics and stacks of scruples and tons of tenets and sixpacks of principles lying about. There's hardly any room to sit down.

Whitewater, and particularly the incredible Foster coincidences, is unseemly for a lot of the reporters. Even to ask good questions is bad form. According to the Los Angeles Times, the file the White House so generously made public on contains "very incomplete records of the land deal but does not support speculation that the project was a fraud, or that Foster was excessively concerned about the matter."

The file, reports USA Today, "contains nothing damning to President Clinton or first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton." The Washington Post assured its readers that O.K., there may be a few "irresolvable discrepancies in the recollections of various officials" (called "lies" in plain English) but, gee, guys, there certainly was "no concerted effort to hide anything."

Perhaps not, since this White House has never learned how to make concerted efforts, but the hysterics are out to discount everything everyone knows about Whitewater so that nobody gets hurt when Al D'Amato and his friends take the first hard, honest, official look at Whitewater.

Newsweek magazine, in fact, suggests that the hearings could even be called off because it has conducted its own investigation and everyone can relax, it didn't find anything really bad.

"What emerges," the magazine reports, "is a detailed account of how aides -- driven in part by a desire to protect the Clintons from any embarrassment -- reacted after [Vincent] Foster's death. White House officials concede that the staff was sloppy, but deny attempts to cover up or obstruct justice."

Very little of the stuff reported is new, so the grand offer to open the Whitewater file smells like plea bargaining in the court of public opinion, cheerfully conceding a misdemeanor (sloppy staff work) while denying the felony (obstructing justice). Left not asked is the obvious question, why would anyone about to go on trial, particularly in the court of public opinion, open a file to reporters if it hadn't been sanitized?

The salient issue, as Newsweek delicately phrases it, is whether the White House "exercised enough care in preserving evidence after Foster's death -- and specifically, whether anything was removed from his office that suggests Foster killed himself over Whitewater... there is no document, memo, note, or scrap of paper suggesting that Foster, the Clintons or anyone else was orchestrating a cover-up."

The campaign to discredit anyone and everyone who asks questions about Whitewater, and particularly about the Foster death {1}, will intensify as the days dwindle down to July 18, when the Senate hearings commence. This campaign is not so much to silence the questions, but to intimidate the Republicans in the Senate, and Al D'Amato in particular.

Frightening Republicans sufficiently to shut them up is often child's work, and so may it be this time. But the questions are clearly frightening to the administration, too. Vince Foster may well have shot himself; you can find lots of people in Washington who believe he did. [But] it's easier to find someone who believes Elvis did it than to find someone who believes Mr. Foster did the deed at Fort Marcy Park.

Nobody thinks the Clintons made a bundle on their Whitewater investment, but a lot of people -- beginning with a lot of people in Little Rock -- confidently believe they robbed their little bank, and in just about the way that David Hale, the Little Rock investment banker who first laid out the scam, says they did.

Bill and Hillary and their accomplices have succeeded so far in skating by, avoiding the real questions by answering the questions nobody asked. This week, for the first time, the right questions may get asked for the first time. It's enough to scare some people to death. {2}.

---------------------------<< Notes >>--------------------------- {1} Regarding the pre-Whitewater hearings media blitz, pooh- poohing the enormous amount of evidence against the Clintons and their associates: it is reminiscent of the media blitz which came down hard on Oliver Stone's film JFK, weeks before it had even been released. In both cases we have an obvious attempt at damage control.

{2} You may not be able to obtain a copy of the Washington Times at your local library or retailer. To subscribe to their national weekly edition, phone 1-800-363-9118.

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Coming to you from Illinois -- "The Land of Skolnick"