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After blowing the whistle on the Pentagon’s cover-up of the suspicious hole in Ron Brown’s head, Air Force Lt. Col. Steve Cogswell went from being rated “the number one forensic pathology consultant in the Department of Defense” to being labeled a troublemaker, “disruptive” and “immature.”

After coming to Cogswell’s defense, Navy Chief Petty Officer Kathleen Janoski, head of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology’s forensic photography unit, was kicked out of her offices.

And, coincidentally, all four officers who criticized the AFIP for not insisting on an autopsy for Brown — Cogswell, Janoski, Army Lt. Col. David Hause and Air Force Maj. Thomas Parsons — were ordered to cancel their planned trips to the American Academy of Forensic Sciences conference in San Francisco earlier this month. Every other AFIP officer was allowed to attend.

These are serious developments, because they amount to brazen witness tampering and obstruction of justice by top AFIP and Pentagon officials. The whistle blowers are being punished. It could only happen because the news media watchdogs are allowing it to happen.

Why? Because they’re only capable of dealing with one scandal a month. For the last 30 days it’s been the Monica Lewinsky affair. And, then, of course, you’ve got the little diversion of Iraq. The establishment press, after all, wasn’t that crazy about the Ron Brown head wound case to begin with.

It just seemed crazy from the start. How could it happen? That was the question on everyone’s mind. Did he get shot before, during or after the plane crash? All three scenarios seemed implausible. So the acknowledged, uncontested fact that Brown has a .45-caliber hole in his head has been dismissed.

But what about these experts who saw it? What about the expert charged with investigating the cause of that wound? Four of them have stood brave and tall during this ordeal, despite political and professional pressure to drop the whole matter.

None of these officers is politically motivated. None are part of Hillary’s imaginary “vast, right-wing conspiracy.” In fact, Janoski had previously served as a volunteer in the Clinton presidential campaign and in the White House. Cogswell, Janoski, Hause and Parsons simply reported their own truthful and candid observations based on years of objective scientific training.

What did they see? They’re pretty certain they saw a bullet hole in the head of the late Commerce secretary. You would think every member of the Clinton administration would want to get to the bottom of that mystery. After all, a member of their team may have been murdered. The plane crash that killed 34 others in Croatia could have been an elaborate cover-up for the murder of a Cabinet official.

But, strangely, that’s not how this administration reacted. Instead, it went into full cover-up mode. Now the careers of good people are being destroyed to hide the truth.

Cogswell, whose evaluations had been so exemplary before the Brown case, says his chances of future promotions are gone. He says he’s “absolutely certain” the actions of his superiors are a direct result of his outspokenness in the Brown case.

“In our opinion, there has been a cover-up of the facts,” says Janoski. “I have 22 years in the Navy, and I’ve never been treated like this. My career is down the toilet.”

Hause says the atmosphere at the AFIP resembles Salem during the witch trials.

What could cause such a chill at the Pentagon? Maybe pressure from the commander-in-chief.

In light of the obvious cover-up surrounding Brown’s death and the blatant attempts to punish those who tried valiantly to expose it, maybe it’s time to play connect the dots.

Larry Klayman of Judicial Watch reports that Brown’s close friend and business partner, Nolanda Hill, said the Commerce secretary met with President Clinton just before the Croatia crash. Brown, who was set to be indicted by an independent counsel investigating Commerce Department corruption, reportedly told Clinton he was set to make a deal with the prosecutor — to tell him what he knew in exchange for leniency.

Clinton reportedly responded coldly to the plan. Only weeks later, the president was videotaped laughing at Brown’s Arlington Cemetery funeral. When he noticed the camera, the actor-in-chief tried to look distraught. It was one of his worst performances of all time.

It’s time for Independent Counsel Daniel Pearson to reopen the Brown probe — starting with the tragic circumstances of his death.

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