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The death of deputy White House counsel Vincent Foster – one of the most bizarre events of the Clinton years – was ruled a suicide by two independent counsels and considered a closed case by the mainstream media. Any suggestion that officials covered up the “murder” of Bill and Hillary Clinton’s loyal aide and close friend has invited only scorn from lawmakers. Just a handful of media outlets have ever followed up on evidence and testimony from witnesses that contradict the conclusions of government investigators Robert Fiske and Kenneth Starr.
But as the 10th anniversary of the July 20, 1993, death nears, the voice of one of Starr’s key investigators is challenging the official line, insisting the probe’s result was predetermined, only a few plotters were required to engineer the result, the crime scene was altered and that major newspaper editors have killed stories by reporters pursuing the truth.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Miquel Rodriguez is no longer speaking to the press, but a newly released audio recording purportedly contains excerpts of his candid comments on the case.
“This whole notion of [Fiske and Starr] doing an honest investigation is laughable,” Rodriguez says, according to the tape.
The accepted verdict, that Vince Foster killed himself at Ft. Marcy Park near Washington, was predetermined by a “higher authority” at the start of the investigation, asserts Rodriguez, who noted he did extensive interviews with major newspapers, including the New York Times, that were never published.
“All I know is that things did not happen the way Fiske says that they happened, and the reports don’t support what Fiske said,” Rodriguez stated. “There is nothing consistent with [Foster] committing that kind of violent act at all.”
Rodriguez, who was hired by Starr in 1994 to lead his grand jury investigation, is now an assistant U.S. attorney in Sacramento, Calif.
He was no conservative, wrote London Telegraph reporter Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in his book “The Secret Life of Bill Clinton.”
“He had no ideological investment in the matter,” Evans-Pritchard wrote. “Indeed, when he arrived from California with his ponytail, his earring, and his leather jackets, there were comments among the hard-liners that Kenneth Starr had gone too far in his efforts to recruit Democrats, liberals, and ethnic minorities to his team.”
The recording was produced by Patrick Knowlton – a witness in the case whose court-ordered appendix to Starr’s Foster report alleged a cover-up – and his attorney John Clarke.
Clarke told WorldNetDaily he cannot divulge how Knowlton acquired the tapes but notes that by publishing the recording, he is putting his career on the line.
“If I were to put out ginned up tapes of an assistant U.S. attorney, they would revoke my license immediately,” he said. “It’s probably a criminal offense.”
A lifelong Democrat who voted for Bill Clinton in 1992, Knowlton told WND the tapes of Rodriguez were legally recorded, legally obtained and come from a “very reliable source.”
Knowlton said he wished he had the recording when he sued the FBI in 1996 for witness tampering.
He says he pulled into Fort Marcy Park to relieve himself at about 4:30 p.m. on the day Foster’s body was found there. The implication of his testimony to Park Police and the FBI was that Foster’s car was not at the park when the body was discovered.
Two years later, Knowlton was shocked to find out from Evans-Pritchard that the FBI report of his testimony had been altered to fit the suicide theory.
Since 1995, Knowlton and Clarke have initiated their own investigation, summarized in a 510-page book, “Failure of Public Trust,” which uses official documents from the case. A website offers access to related material.
“I have not let up on it,” Knowlton said. “My persistence in looking for and talking to people has brought me to this information.”
Determined from get-go
Starr hired Rodriguez in October 1994 to lead the grand jury investigation into Foster’s death but resigned the next spring out of frustration.
“I was told what the result was going to be from the get-go,” Rodriguez said. “This is all so much nonsense; I knew the result before the investigation began, that’s why I left. I don’t do investigations to justify a result.”
Rodriguez said his supervisor, Mark Touhey, who headed Starr’s Washington office at the time, squelched his efforts to issue subpoenas and call witnesses.
“My office was searched by him,” he said of Touhey. “I know what he’s capable of doing, and that includes throwing a tantrum and throwing chairs.”
Like Knowlton, Rodriguez claims the FBI threatened him, not only targeting his career reputation, but his “personal well being.”
“The FBI told me back off, back down,” Rodriguez said. “I have been communicated with again and been told to be careful where I tread.”
According to the Starr Report, the Secret Service said they were notified of Foster’s death at 8:30 p.m., about two and a half hours after paramedics were called.
This apparent delay occurred despite the fact that Foster’s White House identification was clearly visible to police on the scene.
But Rodriguez believes the White House knew before the first 9-1-1 call was placed.
“There was notification made well before the time the EMTs were called,” he said.
Rodriguez says, according to the tape, he has told his story to many reporters and producers from media such as Time magazine, Newsweek, ABC’s Nightline, New York Times, Boston Globe and Atlanta Journal-Constitution – but none have done anything about it.
“This matter is sealed so tightly,” he said.
Many reporters with whom he spent considerable time called back and said their editors would not let the story go to press.
“The accepted media here have always had a certain take on all of this, and there has been a storyline from the get-go,” he said.
Rodriguez noted he was with a New York Times reporter for about six hours.
“I know the guy knows that there’s a lot more,” he said. “I know the New York Times knows. I know that they won’t do anything about it.”
Change of scenery
When Rodriguez began probing Foster’s death, he followed the standard rule that a violent, unattended death is treated as a homicide until evidence rules it out. He discovered, however, U.S. Park Police had ruled it a suicide from the start despite the determination of experienced paramedics on the scene who reported it as a homicide.
He said the paramedics who first arrived reported seeing little blood – which would not support the suicide theory – but various personnel who came later saw a considerable amount.
Rodriguez said that blood came from lifting the body, pulling it to the top of the berm and laying it crossways, allowing blood to gush out.
The body was moved in the presence of officer John Rolla, the chief of the Park Police probe, and the coroner, Rodriguez said.
The tampering with crime-scene evidence included the relandscaping of the entire area, he said, hindering future probes.
“It was landscaped on the sly long ago,” he said.
Rodriguez also notes a paramedic who arrived on the scene testified he found an automatic pistol in Foster’s hand, in contrast to later reports of a 1913 Colt revolver.
The official conclusion was that Foster shot the pistol through his mouth, but Rodriguez points out both paramedics observed a wound on his neck.
One paramedic stuck with his original observation, despite the FBI’s attempt to “shake him,” Rodriquez said.
The other was confused by the FBI, he said, “and kept saying what he saw, but they kept writing it a different way.”
“I saw pictures that clearly indicate that there is trauma on the neck,” Rodriguez said. “I believe it’s a puncture wound to the neck.”
Takes only a few
Rodriquez addressed the notion that predetermining the conclusion to the investigation would be impossible because too many people would have to be in on the secret.
“Everyone makes a very big mistake when they believe a lot of people are necessary to orchestrate some results,” he said.
“All people need to know is what their job is, not why – be a good solider, carry out the orders.”
“There are a lot of people, starting at the very night the body was investigated, all the way down the line … told to do certain things” who “don’t necessarily know the big picture,” he said.
Only a couple of people is all that is needed to “control the central figures in the investigation,” he said.
Rodriguez said it is very misleading to say there were several investigations done.
“In fact, all of the investigations were done by the same people, the FBI.”
The Senate Banking Committee conducted an investigation in 1994, but not into Foster’s death. The scope was limited to whether or not the White House improperly influenced the probe by park police.