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Date: Fri, 21 Nov 1997 11:22:43 -0800
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From: Paul Andrew Mitchell [address in tool bar]
Subject: SLS: Can whole nation be fooled? (fwd)

>Many supporters of the official conclusion that White House
>counsel Vince Foster killed himself in Fort Marcy Park implicitly
>assume it's impossible for an *official government investigation*
>--with its vast resources of people and money--to be wrong.  
>While small errors are to be expected, for an official government
>investigation to err it its *main conclusion* would mean the
>people who ran it were either incompetent or corrupt.
>For many good, honest Americans, either of these choices would be
>too unsettling to contemplate.  For them, there's essentially no
>option: the government's conclusion *must* be correct.
>If you're fairly new to the Vince Foster controversy, and tend to
>believe those who disagree with the official story are a bit
>wacko, this essay is for you.  Because history contains dozens of
>cases in which an *entire society* said, in effect, up is down. 
>Two of these are described below: One is the famous Dreyfus case,
>from France.  Another is from closer to home.
>Much of what follows is from a post by Mike Rivero, who in turn
>credited David Martin (DCDave) for an essay on "America's Dreyfus
>Affair: The Case of the Death of Vince Foster."  I thought it was
>great stuff.  I've added some ideas and edited freely, but credit
>for the core material belongs to either Dave or Mike.  Gentlemen,
>I hope you won't feel I've ruined your good work.
>  In 1894, just after the Franco-Prussian war, a document filled
>with French military secrets was intercepted on its way to
>Germany.  One suspect in this espionage was Captain Alfred
>  Convinced *a priori* of his guilt, prosecutors and the French
>media convicted him in the press: stories by the most respected
>journalists of the day claimed (falsely) that Dreyfuss had
>confessed to the crime.  Virtually every member of the French
>government, press, and society elite joined in condemning him. 
>That he was Jewish did not help the matter.
>  There was no actual evidence that he was guilty, but the
>government wanted to be seen as acting swiftly and decisively and
>Dreyfus was convenient.  Evidence was manufactured to make him
>appear guilty, and prosecutors concealed documents showing his
>innocence.  Not surprisingly, he was convicted and imprisoned.  
>  Over the next few years, however, evidence continued to surface
>showing Dreyfus was innocent and that the real spy was Major
>Ferdinand Walsin-Esterhazy.  But as accusations of government
>misconduct and coverup increased, many people began claiming that
>it simply wasn't possible, both because the government just
>didn't do such things and because such a conspiracy--and its
>coverup--would have had to involve so many people that secrecy
>could never be maintained.  (They were right about that, though
>not in the way they expected.)
>  Facing mounting criticism, defenders of the official story
>began claiming that the buzz about Dreyfus's innocence was being
>spurred by a "syndicate" of Jewish interests.  Those who publicly
>accused government officials of framing Dreyfus were imprisoned
>for libel.  Those who noticed that the espionage for which
>Dreyfus had been convicted continued in his absence were ordered
>to keep silent.
>  Finally a public challenge on the authenticity of the evidence,
>and the discovery of at least one forged document that had been
>used to frame Dreyfus, resulted in a new trial (though not until
>several years after the forgery was discovered). 
>  With the new trial the conspiracy was revealed, and shortly
>thereafter one of the men who helped frame Dreyfus confessed (the
>man later committed suicide).  With the evidence against him
>shown to be a forgery by the very military prosecutors who had
>originally convicted him, Dreyfus was at last exonerated.  
>  Later, memoirs by the German military attache, Maximillian von
>Schwarzkoppen, confirmed that Major Walsin-Esterhazy had indeed
>been the spy all along.
>  While the Dreyfus case is fascinating for its courtroom drama,
>it's far more important for what it reveals about human nature: 
>Virtually all of French society had strongly supported the
>official story even after it was clear that substantial evidence
>existed showing the official story was full of holes.  
>  Such behavior was to be expected from poorly educated folk, of
>course.  But this was different: so many *smart*, well educated
>people--the elite of French society--for years stood shoulder to
>shoulder in defense of a provable lie.  It was unsettling: How
>could *intelligent* people have been wrong for so long, in the
>face of clear evidence that the official story was false?
>  Nearly a century later, of course, we finally know enough about
>group psychology to find such a question amusing.
>  The Dreyfus affair shows not only that conspiracies can exist,
>but more important, that they can dupe an entire nation for
>years.  Obsessed by the desire never to be seen to be in error,
>the entire government of France spent years--and nearly all its
>credibility--defending a conspiracy that framed an innocent man.  
>  Ah, you say: that was France; such a thing could never happen
>here!  Then consider the Lindburgh kidnapping case.
>  Prior to the execution of Bruno Hauptman, it was known by
>several officials, including New Jersey Governor Harold Hoffman,
>that the Lindburgh baby had not actually been kidnapped at all. 
>Instead, members of the Lindburgh household leaked word--before
>Hauptman's execution--that Elizabeth Morrow, sister of
>Lindburgh's wife Anne, had killed the baby in a fit of rage. 
>Indeed, it had been a standing order in the Lindburgh household
>that Elizabeth was never to be left alone with the baby. 
>  Following the announcement of the "kidnapping", Elizabeth's
>whereabouts were so kept from the public that newspapers
>speculated that she too was missing.  In truth she had been
>barred from the family and died soon after.
>  A ransom note was found in the Lindburgh home--a note that
>exhibited some odd traits, such as having allegedly appeared in
>an already searched location.  The note indicated that
>instructions would be delivered for payment of a ransom.  
>  At this point a forger and con-man named Jacob Nosovitsky--
>apparently sensing an opportunity for a fast buck and oblivious
>to the risks--sent a note to the Lindburgh family claiming to be
>the kidnapper.  The Lindburghs could hardly announce that he was
>not, and a meeting was arranged at a local cemetery to transfer
>the money.  A family friend, Dr. Condon, would handle the payoff.
>  Nosovitsky fit the description given by Condon of the man he
>met at the cemetery. 
>  Shortly after the ransom was paid, the baby's body was found,
>buried in a shallow grave *within sight of the Lindburgh
>  Bruno Hauptman was charged with the crime after he spent some
>of the money paid to the cemetery man.  A friend had asked if
>Hauptman would keep some money for him temporarily.  The friend
>owned Hauptman a small sum, and Hauptman unilaterally decided to
>settle the debt. 
>  The money was the only solid evidence linking Hauptman to the
>crime.  Virtually every other piece of evidence was coerced or
>outright fraud.  A wooden ladder, allegedly used by the kidnapper
>to enter the second-floor nursery window, showed clear signs of
>having been altered to match wood and nail holes inside the
>Hauptman garage. 
>  To describe the atmosphere surrounding the "kidnapping case"
>and later trial as frantic would be an understatement, and the
>press led the frenzy.  Eager to exploit what they were calling
>the crime of the century, the press printed story after story of
>testimony that never occurred, evidence that didn't exist, and
>confessions never made.  It was the Dreyfus case all over again.
>  Spurred on by public outrage, the case rolled toward its
>inevitable conclusion.  Despite a new investigation by Governor
>Hoffman (which ended his political career), Bruno Richard
>Hauptman was electrocuted on April 3rd, 1936.
>  As more information has gradually become public, it now appears
>certain that the state executed an innocent man.  But at the time
>the switch was thrown, all America believed Hauptman was guilty,
>because the media had told them for months that he was, and
>because prosecutors were willing to ignore all contradictory
>evidence.  Perhaps most disturbing is that even though at least
>some state officials knew the baby had never been kidnapped, they
>kept quiet while an innocent man was executed.
>  Like people in other organizations that claim a high degree of
>elitism and prestige, people in government and the media seem to
>be astonishingly resistant to the idea of admitting to the public
>that they may have made a mistake.  To do so would show feet of
>clay--fallibility that would diminish the prestige of the
>organization.  And of its often-arrogant members.
>  Thus once such an organization has committed to a particular
>story and the first few public pronouncements have been made by
>officials and the media, then even if later evidence shows it's
>wrong, the we-don't-make-mistakes reflex is usually strong enough
>to ensure that this story will be acted on as if it *were*
>correct, regardless of any adverse consequences.  
>  It isn't surprising that any group whose prestige is linked to
>being right will to defend its version of things.  What *is*
>surprising is how viciously such a group typically fights to make
>its version prevail, long after evidence surfaces that something
>is gravely amiss in its story.
>  The good news is that a competent, uncorrupt outfit--whether
>government or press--should get things right most of the time. 
>The bad news is that in those cases when the chosen theory or
>explanation is the wrong one--whether due to error or malice--
>then the nation is almost always committed for the whole ride,
>regardless of the outcome.
>  In the case of the death of Vincent Foster, the official story
>is suicide.  Yet the official record contains literally scores of
>items inconsistent with suicide, like the *complete absence* of
>any fingerprints from the exposed smooth metal surface of the gun
>supposedly used by Foster.  (No, he wasn't found wearing gloves.)
>  It's important to note that this absence of prints (to take
>just one example) isn't just some conspiracy tale.  It's part of
>the *official body of evidence* put on record as part of the
>Senate investigation.  And there are *scores* of things of this
>scale inconsistent with the government's official conclusion.
>  Supporters of the official government conclusion claim that
>between the imperfect observation or memory of most interview
>subjects and inevitable clerical errors in transcription, almost
>all cases show a few such inconsistencies.  Agreed.  But how to
>explain when two or more *independent* witnesses report the same
>observation inconsistent with suicide?  And how many so-called
>"clerical errors" do we accept before most objective people
>conclude that something more than random error is at work?
>  Defenders of the government's version of Foster's death also
>contend that the charges of coverup--and the identification of
>evidence in the official record contradicting the suicide
>story--are being advanced by shadowy right-wing figures.  While
>many on the political right would no doubt like to bring down the
>Clinton administration, it's worth recalling that in the Dreyfus
>case, defenders of the French government's frame-up blamed the
>appearance of contradictory evidence on a shadowy "syndicate" of
>Jewish interests.
>  By demonizing its critics as tools of an unpopular group, the
>French government and its friends in the press were able to hold
>off the truth about the Dreyfus case for another year or two.
>  But in the Dreyfus affair, at least, truth finally prevailed.

Paul Andrew Mitchell, Sui Juris      : Counselor at Law, federal witness 01
B.A.: Political Science, UCLA;   M.S.: Public Administration, U.C.Irvine 02
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