Kenneth Starr was pretty persuasive in his opening remarks to the House Judiciary Committee impeachment hearing yesterday — especially if you didn’t know anything about how he has really carried out his duties as independent counsel for the last four years.

Toward the end of his statement, Starr told the nation what a great job he did on his previous referral to Congress — his report on the death of White House deputy counsel Vincent Foster.

“We were painstaking in examining evidence, questioning witnesses, and calling upon experts in homicide and suicide,” he said. “We were criticized during that investigation for being too thorough, taking too long. But time has proved the correctness of our approach. After an extensive investigation, the office produced a report that addressed the many questions, confronted the difficult issues, laid out new evidence, and reached a definitive conclusion. Over time, the controversy over the Foster tragedy has dissipated because we insisted on being uncompromisingly thorough both in the investigation and in our report.”

As a key participant in a parallel investigation of Foster’s death, let me state unequivocally that Starr is dead wrong about both the thoroughness of his own probe and the accuracy of its conclusion that the Clinton friend and top aide died by his own hand in Fort Marcy Park in July 1993.

The evidence — physical and circumstantial — simply doesn’t add up to such a verdict.

Starr’s report on Foster doesn’t even deal with some of the thorniest issues raised by Foster’s death — the second wound, the inability to find the bullet, the eyewitness testimony insisting Foster’s car was not in the parking lot an hour before his body was found, the lack of fingerprints, the confusion over the identification of the gun and more.

Starr’s own words seem to betray his real agenda with the Foster case. He’s pleased that the controversy has dissipated. That, he believes, justifies his findings. It does not. He also seems to raise the Foster report in an effort to show how fair and even-handed he is with respect to Clinton.

A false dichotomy is emerging from these hearings: Either you support Starr, or you support Clinton and his Democratic Party sycophant cronies on the committee. That is a bad choice. That is no choice. And Americans do not have to accept such bogus alternatives. They should, instead, demand the truth — wherever it may lead and no matter how much controversy it stirs.

Starr found no evidence of wrongdoing by Clinton in the Filegate and Travelgate scandals. Do you know why? Because he didn’t investigate them.

Larry Klayman of Judicial Watch points out that in deposition after deposition, his organization has asked key Filegate witnesses if they have ever talked to Starr’s staff. The answer is almost always no.

“Even Mack McLarty, the president’s closest friend and the White House chief of staff when the FBI files were illegally obtained, was not questioned,” he says. “Nor was Terry Good, the keeper of the FBI files. And, Hillary Clinton, who Dick Morris has called the mastermind of Filegate, and who hired Craig Livingstone — a bar bouncer — was questioned for only nine minutes, and then over tea and coffee.”

Judicial Watch, which has interviewed Linda Tripp, indicates she will testify she witnessed FBI files being misused in the White House Counsel’s Office. When Klayman deposed William Kennedy, Livingstone’s supervisor, he literally choked when asked if he had Republican FBI files in his office. When asked specifically if he reviewed James Baker’s file, he went silent, then asked which James Baker he was being asked about.

This White House has a pattern of maintaining files on its enemies — both real and perceived. I can testify from first-hand experience that the White House Counsel’s Office began keeping files on me beginning in 1994. Yet it has refused to yield those dossiers claiming a bogus exemption under the Freedom of Information Act.

Could it be that Starr, who touted his own string of court victories in his remarks yesterday, will only advance cases that are, well, slam dunks?

Even Clinton’s own FBI director, Louis Freeh, has admitted that the release of the FBI files to the White House was an “egregious violation of privacy … without justification.”

“Ken Starr — who may become known as the next Gil Garcetti, after Judicial Watch wins its Filegate lawsuit — disagrees,” says Klayman. “Let’s hope that Starr’s lack of competence is not intentional and that he will, at a minimum, be remembered as a modern-day Inspector Clouseau, rather than the pliant pawn of a Congress that wants to dump impeachment.”

Agreed. Now how do we go about getting an investigation of the investigator?

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