Editor’s note: This is the second installment of a two-part report revisiting discrepancies in the Fiske and Starr reports on the death of White House Counsel Vince Foster. Read part 1 here.

On Aug. 16, OpinionJournal.com republished a Wall Street Journal editorial from July 5, 1994, about former Special Counsel Robert Fiske’s investigation of the death of White House Counsel Vince Foster.

“Barring some unimaginable new disclosure, we find no reason to
doubt that the former Deputy White House Counsel committed suicide in Fort Marcy Park, as first reported,” WSJ editorialized. Since the first publication of the editorial, new information has come to light that challenges both Fiske and Kenneth Starr’s reports on the death. Some of those facts were discussed yesterday. Others, including questions about the medical reports and autopsy, are dealt with today.

Fiske and Starr failed to report that the Park Police chief made a false statement about alleged identification of the gun.

Starr also failed to explain why Park Police Chief Robert Langston falsely told the public at a press conference on Aug. 10, 1993, that the official death gun had been identified by the Foster family as one of Foster’s guns. By the time of the press conference, Lisa had not identified the black
official death gun, in part because it was the wrong color, and Foster’s sister Sharon Bowman failed to give a credible identification of the official death gun. By Aug. 10, 1993, nobody in the Foster family identified the black official death gun as one previously belonging to Foster. Indeed, Fiske and Starr failed to tell the public that, largely because of its color, the black official death gun could not be identified by Foster’s nephew, who was the surviving family member most familiar with the family’s guns.

In papers filed with the district court, the OIC did not dispute these facts, except to disagree with my conclusion that Bowman’s statement about the gun photo she was shown did not justify Langston’s statement to the public. The OIC stated: “It would appear that the recollection of Ms. Bowman is consistent with the statements attributed to the Chief of the Park Police.”

Contrary to the OIC’s statement, Langston was not justified in telling the public that Bowman had “identified” the black official death gun after being shown a photo of it. Undisputed by the OIC is the fact that the person who showed Bowman the photo wrote: “I asked if she remembered any other features [other than the wavelike detailing at the base of the grip]. She did not.” So as far as Langston knew on Aug. 10, 1993, Bowman did not even remember the color of the gun as a feature she remembered seeing. A gun “identification” that does not include the color of the gun is not an identification. Naturally, both Starr and Fiske failed to mention this additional portion of Bowman’s “identification” of the black official death gun.

Under these circumstances, Langston was unjustified in telling the public that the “family” thought the gun had been in Foster’s possession. Fiske and Starr let him get away with it and the OIC and DOJ defends it to this day.

Fiske and Starr failed to report important information about the on-site medical report.

Starr’s discussion of the medical evidence also is deceptive. The official government story says there was no neck wound and that Foster shot himself in the mouth, leaving a 1 x ? inch exit hole in the back of the head, three inches from the top. Starr dismisses a report by one of the paramedics that there was a small bullet-like entrance wound on the right side of Foster’s neck.

But the only medical doctor to view Foster’s body at the park wrote a two-page report that is internally inconsistent. On the first page it states that the death shot was “mouth-head,” but on the second page it states that the death shot was “mouth to neck.” Moreover, the report appears to have been improperly altered. Underneath the “mouth-head” language on page one, there appears to be the remnants of a “whited out” four-letter word that was replaced with the word “head” slightly to the right of the concealed word.

Both Fiske and Starr failed to tell the public all the facts about this medical report. Fiske completely ignored it and Starr quoted from the apparently altered language, while failing to tell the public about the apparent alteration, and about the unaltered language mentioning a neck wound. Starr also failed to explain why the report appears to be altered and what, if anything, is written underneath the apparent alteration.

In papers filed with the district court, the OIC did not dispute any of these facts.

Another FOIA lawsuit of mine revealed that the OIC’s copy of this medical report does not contain the apparent remnants of a “whited out” word, thereby making the OIC’s copy of this report different from the copy that was later obtained from the Virginia Office of Chief Medical Examiner. Despite this evidence that raises the question of whether the Virginia authorities presented the OIC with a fraudulently altered version of the medical report or somebody at the OIC fraudulently altered the report, the OIC and the DOJ have given no indication that they have investigated these possibilities, even though they have presented the OIC “clean” copy to the district court, which could be a fraud upon the court.

Starr misled the public about police observance of the autopsy.

The medical evidence was further distorted because Starr falsely implied that the Park Police observed the entire autopsy when they did not do so. Starr reported that several Park Police officers observed the autopsy, and quoted one of the officers who wrote that after he briefed the autopsy doctor, the doctor “started the autopsy.” But Starr failed to tell the public that the next sentence in the officer’s report says, “Prior to our arrival, the victim’s tongue had been removed as well as parts of the soft tissue from the soft pallet [sic].” Starr’s omission is significant given that this is an autopsy of a man who allegedly fired a gun into his mouth while leaving behind unresolved questions about a right-side neck wound whose track might have gone through the tongue and soft palate.

Additionally, Starr failed to tell the public that the autopsy doctor violated policy by beginning the autopsy before the police arrived, and that the autopsy doctor refused to tell the police the identity of his assistant.

In papers filed with the district court, the OIC did not dispute any of these facts.

The FBI memo that states “no exit wound” was not discussed by Fiske or Starr.

Two days after the autopsy, an FBI agent sent a memo to the director of the FBI stating, “Preliminary results include the finding that a .38 caliber revolver, constructed from two different weapons, was fired into the victim’s mouth with no exit wound.” Neither Fiske nor Starr mentioned this memo. Nor did they explain the conditions that would make it possible for a .38 revolver to be fired in the mouth without making an exit wound. Also unmentioned is whether the FBI director did anything to resolve the contradiction between this memo and the official autopsy report of an exit wound. The memo was released in response to a FOIA lawsuit. There is no publicly available information indicating that Fiske or Starr ever questioned the FBI agent who wrote this memo.

In papers filed with the district court, the OIC did not dispute any of these facts.

Starr failed to report evidence that Foster’s car was not at the park at the time of death.

Starr also omitted important evidence about Foster’s arrival at the park. Starr mentioned four people who were in the park before 6:00 p.m., at a time when Foster was probably already dead and his gray car should have been in the park’s parking lot. Starr mentioned that one of these people reported seeing a brown car, not Foster’s gray car. But Starr failed to mention that the other three people also reported seeing a brown car, not Foster’s gray car. Yet, Starr inexplicably concluded that Foster’s gray car was in the lot at this time.

In papers filed with the district court, the OIC did not dispute any of these facts. Instead, the OIC stated that Starr’s report “analyzes each of the private citizen statements as to the car. …” However, the important issue is the quality of that analysis and whether Starr concealed evidence from the public that would destroy his conclusion that Foster’s car was in the parking lot when he died. The fact is that Starr’s “analysis” did conceal such evidence.

All four of these witnesses reported seeing a brown car, not Foster’s gray car, and Starr only told the public that one of these witnesses reported seeing a brown car. Starr failed to tell the public that the other three witnesses also reported seeing a brown car. Instead of admitting that this episode alone makes the Starr report untrustworthy and is strong evidence of intentional deception, the OIC deceptively tried to make it appear that there is additional support for Starr’s conclusion that Foster’s gray car was in the parking lot when he died. In papers filed with the district court, in an attempt to show that there was a sighting of a gray car before 6:00 p.m., the OIC stated that the Starr report “analyzes” the statement of “one citizen who saw a dark metallic gray Japanese sedan. …” However, the Starr report stated that this citizen “was shown photographs of Mr. Foster’s car” and “that the license plate on it differed from that which he recalled.” Therefore, in the papers filed with the district court, the OIC implied that this citizen saw Foster’s car, but failed to tell the district court that the Starr report itself reports evidence that this citizen did not see Foster’s car.

It is significant that in the papers filed with the district court, the OIC had no defense for one of the Starr report’s most misleading statements. In trying to show that there were no suspicious people at the park who may have caused Foster’s death, Starr referred to the statements by two of the witnesses who had reported seeing a brown car, not Foster’s gray car, and stated that “According to the reports of their interviews at the scene on July 20, 1993, C3 and C4 [the two witnesses] did not see anyone in or touching Mr. Foster’s car.” They did not “see anyone in or touching Mr. Foster’s car” because, according to their statements, they did not see Mr. Foster’s car! But Starr did not tell the public this fact. Starr’s implication that Foster’s car was seen by these two witnesses is false.

In its papers filed with the district court, citing the Starr report, the OIC stated: “The only non-official cars positively identified and known to law enforcement and the OIC were those of Mr. Foster, and two other citizens.” This proves nothing. The brown car reported by the four witnesses and a paramedic who arrived after 6:00 p.m., was never “positively identified” and made “known to law enforcement and the OIC,” because apparently the government deliberately failed to look for the brown car. There is no evidence in the Fiske or Starr reports that the government searched for the brown car reported by all these witnesses.

Starr failed to report evidence refuting Henry Lee’s credibility regarding the body being dragged.

At this point you might be comparing Starr’s OIC with O.J. Simpson’s criminal defense team, and you would have good reason. Simpson’s discredited expert witness, Dr. Henry Lee, was hired by Starr. Starr said Lee’s examination of Foster’s clothes revealed no evidence that Foster’s body had been dragged. But Starr failed to tell the public that according to the Park Police, they dragged Foster’s body when it began to slide down the hill during an examination. Starr failed to mention these Park Police descriptions of the body sliding up and down the dirt path and failed to reconcile them with Lee’s apparently erroneous conclusion.

The OIC’s response to this was: “Obviously Favish and Dr. Lee did not use the term ‘dragged’ in the same context.” No further explanation was provided. Contrary to the OIC’s non-sequitur response, the Park Police reported that Foster’s body “was starting to slide down the hill,” “began sliding down the hill,” “slid down,” and was “slipping down the hill” in a “slide,” which is why they “pulled him back up.”

Starr said “examination of Mr. Foster’s clothes by Dr. Lee revealed no evidence of a struggle or of dragging.” Starr said Lee reported that “No dragging-type soil patterns or damage which could have resulted from dragging-type action were observed on these pants.” Starr said “Dr. Lee found no ripping, tearing, or scratch or scraping-type marks on the shirt.” Therefore, both the Park Police and Lee are talking about the exact same thing: the movement of Foster’s body across the ground. Lee found no evidence that it happened and the Park Police stated in testimony and a statement to the FBI that it happened. The OIC refused to provide a credible explanation of why it was appropriate for Starr’s report to ignore the Park Police statements and treat Lee’s conclusions as if they were valid.

In papers filed with the district court, the OIC did not dispute any of these facts.

The OIC and DOJ are blocking testimony by former OIC employees who allegedly quit because of government obstruction of justice in the Foster case.

As part of my lawsuit I am seeking to compel the testimony of a former OIC prosecutor, Miquel Rodriguez, and his former assistant, Lucia Rambusch, who have allegedly witnessed obstruction of justice at the OIC in connection with its Foster death investigation, including tampering with at least one of the subject photos that allegedly shows a neck wound. The allegations were made in two books published by major United States publishers in 1997, “The Strange Death of Vincent Foster: An Investigation” by Christopher Ruddy and “The Secret Life of Bill Clinton: The Unreported Stories” by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard. I want these former OIC employees to testify under oath about whether these allegations are true because if so, then the courts cannot trust the OIC and FBI to produce the original pristine Polaroids for inspection by the courts. The OIC and DOJ are trying to block that testimony.

When the WSJ wrote its editorial in July 1994, it did not have the benefit of being able to compare Fiske’s report with the government’s own official investigative record. That excuse is no longer available. To maintain what credibility they have left, the WSJ and the rest of the dominant media that have publicly supported the government’s story now must explain the basis for their present support of that story. This is especially true given that the OIC and the DOJ continue to this day to file documents in federal court that fail to refute the facts as I’ve presented them and fail to provide a plausible version of the suicide story.

But what little that I’ve presented to the courts establishes that those reports cannot be trusted. Because the dominant media will not do its job, and the Bush-Ashcroft DOJ is just as determined as the Clinton-Reno DOJ to keep the evidence from the public, the only hope appears to be with the judges that hear these lawsuits.


Allan J. Favish is an attorney in Los Angeles, Calif., specializing in civil litigation. Visit him online.

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