If Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr thinks he’s going to put the Vincent Foster case to rest by hiding his report on the mysterious death of the White House deputy counsel from the public, he is sadly mistaken.

There’s a reason this case remains of peak interest to a growing subculture of millions across the nation who express their opinions on talk radio shows and on the Internet. The facts don’t add up to a suicide in Virginia’s Fort Marcy Park. As Rep. Jim Traficant, D-Ohio, said recently, “The case just stinks.”

It doesn’t take a “conspiracy theorist” to recognize you have a problem when a high government official is found dead in a secluded park and the handgun at his side has none of his own fingerprints on it. The previous investigation concluded that the prints might have melted away in the hot July sun. It couldn’t explain, however, why other fingerprints — still unidentified — survived the elements.

No one has yet explained to the American people how Foster got to that site in the park without getting a trace of soil on his shoes. No one has told us how he managed to drive his car to the park without the benefit of car keys. We’re still eagerly waiting to hear how Foster left a note, tore it up into 27 pieces and managed to avoid getting any fingerprints on it. If Foster shot himself in the park, why didn’t several intensive searches turn up the bullet? And it will be of great interest to all of us skeptics to find out why there was only a faint trickle of blood under Foster’s head and why he was covered, from head to toe, in carpet fibers.

But, even if Starr can answer all of those questions, he still has a lot more to do.

Why did he discourage Miquel Rodriguez, the original prosecutor assigned to the Foster aspect of the Whitewater probe, from conducting an aggressive investigation? Why did he retain the same FBI agents who conducted the first investigation Special Counsel Robert Fiske to review their own work? Why have photographs suggesting the possibility of a second wound on Foster’s body been kept secret? Why was the testimony of a key witness, Patrick Knowlton, altered and distorted? Why was that witnessed later harassed and intimidated by Starr’s prosecutor before the grand jury and later by other government agents? Why did he permit his top deputy to go to work for a legal outfit which represents the Rose Law Firm in Washington on Whitewater-related matters?

And which experts did Starr choose to review the case? O.J. Simpson’s favorite forensic pathologist, Dr. Henry Lee, and Dr. Brian Blackbourne, the San Diego medical examiner who happened to be the former assistant and close friend of the lead pathologist in the Fiske probe. This is professionalism? This is independence?

With all of the doubts this case has raised in the minds of the public and with the controversy over missing x-rays and photographic evidence, why didn’t Starr exhume the body and perform a second autopsy?

These are serious questions and deserve serious answers. They don’t deserve another official cover-up and they especially don’t warrant a public blackout. The people who have raised these questions are not militiamen who see black helicopters flying over their houses. No, in fact they are just a few of the hundreds of inconsistencies discovered by two investigative reporters — Christopher Ruddy and Ambrose Evans-Pritchard — who have spent more time than any others examining the evidence, interviewing the witnesses, poring through documents and dodging unfair broadsides from their less-informed colleagues in the press for the last four years.

Meanwhile, Kenneth Starr has been floating trial balloons about this exhaustive report of his for two years. Now it is finally finished, but still being withheld from the American people.

It’s an outrage. If Starr has, indeed, answered the questions, unraveled the mystery and solved the riddles, why not release the report? Why seek the approval of the three-judge panel that hired him? This is no way to end the controversy. This is no way to put this issue to rest. And this is certainly no way to restore the faith of the American people in their system of government.

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