Time: Mon Jul 07 04:02:50 1997
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Date: Mon, 07 Jul 1997 04:00:19 -0700
To: (Recipient list suppressed)
From: Paul Andrew Mitchell [address in tool bar]
Subject: SLS: STARR WARS II (fwd)

>                        STARR WARS II
>              The Imperial Presidency Strikes Back
>By Edward Zehr
>The recent accretion of bad news for Mr. Clinton in the  form  of
>Supreme  Court  decisions  and  new revelations of scandal in his
>administration, some of which involve the president directly, has
>called  forth  the predictable response -- an orchestrated attack
>upon Mr. Clinton's potential nemesis, independent counsel Kenneth
>In recent weeks Mr. Clinton has  been  bedeviled  by  revelations
>that his ace fund raiser, John Huang, was observed making lengthy
>long distance  calls  to  the  Far  East  right  after  receiving
>classified  briefings  in  the  Commerce  Department (Mr. Huang's
>connections within the Chinese government have been  the  subject
>of  much  discussion  lately)  and  that records show Mr. Clinton
>himself solicited campaign funds from the White House  (which  is
>illegal).   Add  to that the fact that Mr. Clinton's former close
>associate Webster Hubbell, who is suspected  of  obstructing  the
>Whitewater  investigation  in  return for hush money, is facing a
>new indictment,  a  judge  has  just  refused  to  release  Susan
>McDougal  from jail where she has been sent for contempt of court
>after refusing to tell a grand jury whether or  not  Mr.  Clinton
>promoted  an illegal $300,000 government loan to her, Paula Jones
>is proceeding with her lawsuit against him, thanks  to  a  recent
>Supreme  Court decision, and Mr.  Starr is rumored to be ready to
>announce a new series of indictments at the end  of  summer,  and
>it's  easy  to  see  why  the president has been feeling none too
>perky of late.
>Riding to the rescue, the mainstream media unleached a  withering
>propaganda   blitz  against  Mr.  Starr,  alleging  that  he  has
>overstepped the bounds of propriety by allowing his investigators
>to  delve  too  deeply into the intimate details of Mr. Clinton's
>private life.
>The kickoff of the media campaign was signaled by an article that
>appeared  in the Washington Post under the byline of Bob Woodward
>and  Susan  Schmidt.  Actually,  Whitewater  is  Schmidt's  beat.
>Woodward's   participation   was   apparently  intended  to  call
>attention to  the  fact  that  the  story  should  be  considered
>significant  by  the rest of the mainstream press. It could use a
>bit of puffery -- the "news" contained in  the  article  is  four
>months  old.  As  revealed  in last week's Washington Weekly, the
>article is a rehash of a story that  appeared  in   the  Arkansas
>Democrat  Gazette in mid-February and was later disavowed for its
>The gist of it is that two Arkansas state troopers,  Roger  Perry
>and Ronald Anderson, said a new line of questioning that began in
>the spring, "asked about 12 to 15 women by name, including  Paula
>Corbin  Jones,   a former Arkansas state employee who has filed a
>civil lawsuit against Clinton alleging he sexually  harassed  her
>in 1991."
>According to the Post article, "sources said  a  total  of  eight
>troopers,  who, like Perry and Anderson, served on Gov. Clinton's
>personal security detail, had been questioned so far."
>"In the past, I thought they were trying to get to the bottom  of
>Whitewater,"  Perry,  a  good  ol'boy  who knows how to work both
>sides of the street, told The Washington Post. "This last time, I
>was  left  with  the impression that they wanted to show he was a
>womanizer... All they wanted to talk about was women."
>Perry's implied moral indignation was placed in question -- or as
>the Post delicately put it, "Perry's apparent surprise at some of
>the questions -- offered a certain  amount  of  irony"  --  when,
>many  paragraphs  later,  it was mentioned that "Perry was one of
>four members of the security detail whose allegations  that  they
>had  facilitated  clandestine  meetings  between the governor and
>some women formed the basis of  explosive  stories  published  in
>December  1993  in  the  American  Spectator magazine and the Los
>Angeles Times."
>The Post was not much interested in this  story  in  December  of
>1993 and paid scant attention to the troopers. Their appraisal of
>Perry's credibility seems to wax and wane on the basis  of  whose
>ox  is  being  gored  by his testimony. For example, they paid no
>attention whatever to his allegation that  White  House  employee
>Helen Dickey had called the Arkansas governor's mansion with news
>of Vincent Foster's death before the White House is  supposed  to
>have been notified.
>Even so, the  Woodward/Schmidt  story  is  fairly  well  balanced
>compared  to some of the hit pieces it inspired in the mainstream
>press.  It  quotes  deputy   Whitewater   counsel   John   Bates'
>explanation:   "We  are  continuing to gather relevant facts from
>whatever witnesses, male or female, who  may  be  available.  Our
>obligation  is  to  acquire  information  from  friends, business
>associates or other acquaintances or confidants."
>Bates elaborates that it is "perfectly appropriate  to  establish
>the  circumstances  of  the  contact  for  a  potential  witness,
>including whether Clinton  had an intimate relationship or affair
>with the person."
>The Post article also made the point that the investigators  were
>attempting  to locate people that Clinton was close to during the
>1980s "to ask them what Clinton might have told  them  about  the
>Whitewater  investment,  the McDougals or Madison Guaranty -- the
>Arkansas savings and loan owned by James McDougal..."
>The article even mentioned Susan  McDougal's  refusal  to  answer
>questions about the illegal $300,000 loan that Clinton is alleged
>to have promoted for her.
>Such balance was utterly lacking in the media blitz that used the
>Post article as its point of departure. The Media Research Center
>reported that, "On the weekend talk shows some top reporters were
>more  concerned  about the scope of Kenneth Starr's probe, urging
>him to wrap it up immediately, than in  White  House  delays  and
>obfuscation. These reporters seem more interested in discrediting
>the investigator than in learning what misdeeds Clinton may  have
>The  report  noted  that,  "Gwen  Ifill,  Gloria  Borger,   Linda
>Greenhouse,  Margaret Carlson and Al Hunt all launched attacks on
>Ken Starr." Several examples  were  provided  to  illustrate  the
>point, for example:
>Time magazine's Margaret Carlson on CNN's June 28 Capital Gang:
>  "It looks like he's on a fishing expedition, and  a  prurient
>  fishing  expedition  at that, x-rated. Since this is a family
>  show, I won't go into it. But there were many questions asked
>  that  didn't  have  anything  to  do with Madison Savings and
>  Loan.  And I don't know any pillow talk  that  involves  land
>  transactions  and  closing costs and sewer hook-ups and other
>  things like that."
>The Wall Street Journal's Al Hunt on the same program:
>  "One is tempted to say that if he really is  going  to  delve
>  into  everyone  that  Clinton  supposedly slept with, this is
>  going to be an awfully long  investigation...  It's  time  to
>  finish  this  investigation.  And the point of an independent
>  counsel is to give credibility to a very  sensitive  inquiry.
>  Ken Starr has flunked that test."
>New York Times Supreme Court reporter Linda Greenhouse chimed in:
>  "I think what Starr is doing here, he's got his  prosecutors'
>  explanations and so on, but what he's really doing is playing
>  with the long-term credibility of the institution of  special
>  prosecutors."
>According to another MRC report, "NBC portrayed Starr as the  bad
>guy, reporting the story as the tale of improper personal probing
>of Clinton's sex life instead of as a  story  of  an  independent
>counsel   trying   to   locate   potential   witnesses  with  key
>Time magazine was even more tendentious in its  determination  to
>smear Starr while being careful to keep the relevant facts of the
>investigation safely out of focus. In a July 7  article   Michael
>Duffy  and  Viveca  Novak misrepresent the Post article as a one-
>sided  diatribe  against  Starr,  saying  "the  Washington   Post
>reported that Starr investigators seemed to have strayed from the
>probe's central mission by questioning  Arkansas  state  troopers
>about  women  with whom Clinton may have had extramarital affairs
>when he was Governor."
>In fact, that is not the conclusion of the Post article at all --
>it  is merely an inference drawn by one of the troopers. The Time
>article briefly mentions Starr's side of the argument,  but  only
>for the purpose of shooting it down:
>  "Starr immediately  denied  that  he  was  probing  Clinton's
>  personal  life  and  defended  his use of "well-accepted law-
>  enforcement methods" to identify witnesses who may have  been
>  close enough to Clinton to know whether he's been truthful in
>  his sworn accounts to Starr. But it was hard to  square  that
>  rationale with some of the questions the troopers say Starr's
>  agents were asking, such  as  whether  one  woman  had  borne
>  Clinton's child--and whether the child resembled Clinton."
>The authors summarily dismiss  as "Clintonesque  damage  control"
>the statement of "a source close to Starr" to the effect that the
>interview notes "contain no reference" to such questions and that
>the agents "have no recollection" of asking them.
>Notice how the word of a state  trooper  to  whom  Time  magazine
>would  not  give  the  time  of  day  back  in  1993, when he was
>spreading stories about Clinton's womanizing, has been  suddenly,
>magically  transformed into Revealed Truth. As hidden agendas go,
>Time's is not very well hidden. So long as this man  said  things
>that were damaging to Clinton, he was considered to be a liar and
>a scoundrel, in the pay of sinister right wing forces  determined
>to  destroy their hero. But he only has to say something that can
>be used against the independent counsel in order for his words to
>acquire instantaneous verisimilitude in the opinion of these Time
>But wait -- several paragraphs later the authors of  the  article
>reverse their previous judgment:
>  "There's ample reason to  doubt  the  officers.  Two  of  the
>  troopers  admitted  lying  about  a  car  accident. And in an
>  affidavit obtained by  TIME,  trooper  Ronald  Anderson  says
>  three  of  his  colleagues  were given a contract by Arkansas
>  lawyer Cliff Jackson guaranteeing them jobs  paying  $100,000
>  annually  for seven years in return for making allegations in
>  December 1993 that  they  arranged  and  covered  up  Clinton
>  dalliances.  Jackson, a longtime Clinton opponent, denies the
>  story."
>The authors might have mentioned that the  other  three  troopers
>deny  the story as well, leaving trooper Ronald Anderson the only
>one who asserts the veracity of this  unverified  allegation.  So
>what  are  we  to  conclude  from  all  this  -- the troopers are
>sufficiently  credible  to  impeach  the  integrity  of   Starr's
>investigation,  but  will  readily make up lies about Clinton for
>$100,000 per year? Or perhaps the two authors of this article did
>not have time to read each other's copy before it went to press?
>Newsweek's take on this story, presented in an article by Michael
>Isikoff and Howard Fineman, was a bit less rabid if somewhat more
>ambivalent. After running through the  repertoire  of  obligatory
>insults,  e.g.  "Starr's gumshoes say they were looking for loose
>talk, pillow talk, late-night slip-ups or soulful confessions  to
>an   intimate..."   or  "The  Trooper  Project,  which  ended  in
>February, was apparently a dud," the article conceded  that,  "In
>white-collar  criminal  work  you  follow  the  man, not just the
>money. If Clinton had spent his spare time playing poker, Starr's
>men  say,  card  sharks  would  have been high on their interview
>But then, almost as an afterthought, the authors  added:  "Still,
>The  Trooper  Project  made Starr look seedy, grasping and lost."
>How's that for having it both ways? Even while conceding that his
>investigative  methods  were  perfectly  legitimate,  Isikoff and
>Fineman conclude that Starr was nevertheless wrong. Why?  Because
>--  well,  because  the conventional Washington wisdom demands at
>this point that he be "wrong."
>Reading this article is somewhat like watching  a  tennis  match.
>After trashing Starr the authors are quick to concede that:
>  "...in some respects the Post story was overstated.  In  all,
>  the FBI asked about more men than women. In a later interview
>  with NEWSWEEK, Perry acknowledged  that  he  had  volunteered
>  much  of  the information about alleged liaisons. Sources say
>  the FBI reports--"Form 302s"--show that little of what  Perry
>  says  he  discussed  was passed on to higher-ups and that the
>  agents asked for specifics only to test his credibility."
>In  other  words,  Newsweek  appears   to   confirm   what   Time
>contemptuously  dismissed as "damage control." After reading this
>paragraph wouldn't any reasonable person conclude that  there  is
>really  nothing  to  this  story  but  a bit of White House spin,
>amplified by Clinton's boot-licking  lapdogs  in  the  mainstream
>press?  Never  mind  --  reason  has  nothing to do with it. This
>article was written for people who still believe  that  they  are
>getting the news when they read Newsweek.
>Now get this -- notwithstanding their pious putdown of Starr, the
>authors,  quivering with prurience, leeringly disclose their take
>on Susan McDougal's obstinate reticence regarding Bill  Clinton's
>alleged role in obtaining that illegal loan for her:
>  "Her husband, James, also  in  jail,  told  investigators  he
>  knows  one  reason:  she  and Clinton, McDougal alleges, were
>  lovers.  Sources close to Starr's inquiry tell NEWSWEEK  that
>  Susan  has privately talked to friends about her relationship
>  with Clinton--and her discomfort at the  idea  of  having  to
>  testify about it."
>Enough of their "do as I say, not as  I  do"  principles  --  any
>attempt  to  make sense of the "principled" position taken by the
>mainstream  press  on  this  issue   is   clearly   a   frivolous
>undertaking.   After  all,  these are the same people who hounded
>Gary Hart out of contention for the presidency  for  having  just
>one extramarital affair and touted a none too credible rumor of a
>geriatric affair between Nancy Reagan and Frank Sinatra that  was
>apparently  invented  by  Kitty  Kelly -- a writer whose previous
>work had been of interest mainly to  the supermarket literati.
>As if that were not enough, Matt Drudge, who  has  recently  been
>acting  as  Isikoff's  herald  and  chief  bell  ringer, reported
>recently in his newsletter  that,  "Reports  have  surfaced  that
>Isikoff has been in contact with a former White House staffer who
>may offer 'pattern' evidence of improper sexual  conduct  on  the
>part  of  the President."  The lofty principles of these paragons
>of propriety might be a little more palatable  if  they  did  not
>wallow so ostentatiously in the "seedy, grasping" practices which
>they so freely impute to others.
>Isikoff and Fineman  conclude  their  article  with  yet  another
>iteration of the shopworn story predicting the release of Starr's
>long overdue Foster report, saying,  "he  will  release  a  final
>report  on  Vince  Foster's  death,  which  had  been  delayed by
>questions about procedures in the FBI crime labs where the Foster
>evidence  was  examined.  Starr will repeat the conclusion he was
>set to make months ago: that Foster committed suicide."
>Yes, well -- seeing is believing and  we  haven't  seen  anything
>yet.   As  reported elsewhere in this issue, Starr's spokesperson
>Deborah Gershman said: "Yeah, every couple of months  these  guys
>write the same story and hope by chance they will eventually have
>a scoop."
>She then categorically denied that any such information had  come
>from  Starr's  office.  What  is actually going on here? Have the
>mainstream   press    really    been    playing    the    Charlie
>Brown/Lucy/football game with Starr's office? Joseph Farah of the
>Western Journalism Center believes that  they  have  indeed  been
>doing so:
>  "For two years now, Independent  Counsel  Kenneth  Starr  has
>  been  leaking  to  select  members  of  the  press  that  his
>  investigation into the death of White  House  Deputy  Counsel
>  Vincent  Foster  is  closed  and  that his office is about to
>  issue a final report concluding that it was a case of  simple
>  suicide."
>But why? Farah seems to think that  Starr  is  just  testing  the
>water to get some indication of how the report would be received.
>I think there would have to be  more  to  the  story  than  that.
>Surely,  after  the  second round or so, nobody in the mainstream
>press (with the possible exception of Charlie  Brown)   would  be
>very  keen on playing this game. Some of us are cynical enough to
>suppose that certain reporters are not above  acting  in  concert
>with the White House to create the impression that the matter has
>already been settled. If they  announce  often  enough  that  the
>report  is  about  to be issued the less attentive members of the
>public will assume at some point  that  it  has,  in  fact,  been
>issued and that it supports the position stated in the bogus news
>stories.  What's in it for the  reporters?   What  they  lost  in
>credibility   with   the   public   by  making  all  those  false
>announcements might  be  more  than  made  up  through  increased
>accessibility to White House insiders.
>A story that appeared in the  Evans-Novak Political Report, dated
>May 28, had quite a different slant:
>  "...word has leaked out  directly  from  Independent  Counsel
>  Kenneth  Starr  that he is seriously investigating a cover-up
>  in the Vince Foster death and what provoked his suicide."
>Wishful  thinking?  Perhaps  --  but  Evans  and  Novak  have  an
>impressive  reputation  for  accuracy. In any event this rumor is
>not incompatible with that reported by Isikoff  (which  was  also
>mentioned in the Time article).
>The truth about Starr is that he has tried so hard to avoid being
>partisan  that  some  observers  believe  this  has  blunted  his
>effectiveness. Many who have closely  followed  the  Foster  case
>fault  Starr  for  failing  to pursue the matter seriously -- for
>political reasons. Mr. Farah says of Starr, "this is the guy  who
>forced  the resignation of prosecutor Miquel Rodriguez because he
>wanted to question U.S. Park Police officers aggressively  during
>the grand jury phase  of the investigation."
>Was giving the  Clinton  administration  a  pass  on  the  Foster
>investigation the price Starr had to pay for cooperation from the
>Democrats? Is that why every time criticism of Starr wells up  in
>the  media,  the  rumor  surfaces  that  he is about to release a
>report declaring Foster's death to be a suicide? If this  is  the
>carrot  he is offering Clinton's apologists in the media might it
>also be the stick with which to threaten them for not  living  up
>to  their  end  of  the bargain? Surely his failure to issue this
>report after almost three years must be a source  of  concern  to
>Clinton  partisans  and  reports such as the one put out by Evans
>and Novak would not do much to allay their anxiety.
>Certainly Starr is open to criticism in his role  as  independent
>counsel,  but  the complaint that his investigation is proceeding
>too slowly seems quite unfair in view of the fact  that  most  of
>the  delay has been caused by the dilatory tactics of the Clinton
>administration. And the criticism that he  has  not  accomplished
>anything in his investigation seems completely off the wall.
>Try to imagine how the mainstream press  would  have  reacted  if
>Ronald  Reagan's two closest business associates had been sent to
>prison (not to mention his top man in the Justice Dept.) and  his
>successor  as  Governor  of  California  had  been  convicted  of
>criminal fraud. And then imagine their reaction  if  two  of  his
>former  business  associates  had  accused  him  of soliciting an
>illegal  government  loan  to  an  alleged  former  paramour  who
>subsequently  went  to  jail  rather  than  confirm  or  deny the
>allegations about the loan.  The resulting media  feeding  frenzy
>would  have  made Watergate seem a pink tea. Nor would there have
>been any squeamishness about the veracity of the accusers.
>The frenetic posturing of the mainstream  press  in  this  dismal
>episode makes them appear tendentious and absurd. The pretext for
>their mock display of moral indignation is a  months  old  story,
>long  since  discredited  and  disavowed,  based upon conflicting
>statements by sources whom they have treated with disdain in  the
>past.   Furthermore,  many of the mainstream journalists involved
>with this story have engaged in  the  very  practice  which  they
>presume to castigate with such high-minded righteousness.
>Surely their motives are transparently obvious  to  any  but  the
>most  naive  consumers  of their product. Nine out of ten of them
>supported Clinton in his first run for  the  presidency  and  now
>they  are  attempting  to  help  him  by smearing the independent
>counsel with the phony allegation that the methods  used  by  his
>investigators are improper. This story lacks internal consistency
>-- the careful reader cannot help but notice that the allegations
>made with such vehemence at the outset have collapsed in a sodden
>heap by the end of the piece.
>The clock is running for  the  mainstream  press.  This  sort  of
>cynical, intellectually dishonest propaganda may continue to work
>for a while, but modern communications technology is  enabling  a
>growing  number  of  people to compare notes and understand where
>the media are coming from. Ultimately, the  "Ministry  of  Truth"
>will  find  itself in the predicament where most compulsive liars
>wind up eventually -- they will  be  the  last  to  realize  that
>nobody any longer believes a single word they say.
>  Published in the Jul.  7, 1997 issue of The Washington Weekly
>  Copyright 1997 The Washington Weekly (http://www.federal.com)
>          Reposting permitted with this message intact
>-> Send "subscribe   snetnews " to majordomo@world.std.com
>->  Posted by: kalliste@aci.net (J. Orlin Grabbe)

Paul Andrew Mitchell                 : Counselor at Law, federal witness
B.A., Political Science, UCLA;  M.S., Public Administration, U.C. Irvine

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