Time: Sun Dec 14 20:34:18 1997
From: Paul Andrew Mitchell [address in tool bar]
Subject: SLS: "Coverup and Coercion," Washington Weekly
Bcc: sls

>Wow.  This is quite long, but well worth the time.
>The Washington Weekly
>December 15, 1997
>COVERUP AND COERCION--Things The Media Would Rather Not Tell Us
>By Edward Zehr 
>Did Lt. Col. Cogswell of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology mention
>that embarrassing hole in the head of the late Ron Brown? At the time of
>his death, Brown was Clinton's Secretary of Commerce and up to his ears
>in criminal investigations that were potentially disastrous to the
>administration. And did the colonel even go so far as to suggest that
>the hole looked rather like a bullet wound? 
>Never mind, the bureaucracy have ways of handling such awkward
>situations. Exhume the body? Perform an autopsy and determine what
>actually caused the wound? No need for that -- that would be doing it
>the hard way. All the bureaucrats really need to do is silence Cogswell,
>search his home and seize any evidence he might have that would support
>his allegations. That way, if citizens should be so gauche as to ask
>inconvenient questions they can be told, without fear of contradiction,
>that Cogswell can't prove a thing. 
>Did James Sanders obtain samples of fabric from the seats on TWA-800 and
>have them analyzed, showing that the residue found on them contained the
>ingredients one might expect to find in rocket fuel? No problem -- just
>wait until Sanders gives his remaining samples to CBS "News" -- they'll
>be off in a shot to hand it all over to the FBI and tattle anything
>Sanders may have told them. It's not as though they had the slightest
>curiosity about what was in the residue. What do you think they are,
>reporters? The government will tell them anything they need to know. And
>even if they fail to tell us about it, they will only be misleading us
>for our own good. The shills at CBS have the old three-monkey drill down
>to perfection, but then they've been practicing it for a very long time
>-- remember Camelot? 
>Of course, journalists such as Sanders can be quite a nuisance. They
>distract the public's attention from the work of mainstream reporters
>who adhere to the correct procedure -- sitting up on their haunches,
>with their front paws primly folded in a mendicant posture, like
>faithful little puppy dogs, and waiting patiently for table scraps to be
>thrown them by the bureaucracy. Why -- what do you expect them to do --
>the difficult work of a reporter? These are college grads, I'll have you
>know. They cannot be expected to do menial labor. 
>There are ways of handling troublemakers such as Sanders. For example,
>he can be arrested on trumped-up charges of "stealing" evidence, and,
>for good measure, the guy's wife can be arrested as well. The prospect
>of a stiff 10- year stretch in the slam ought to soften them up a bit.
>The Gestapo found such methods to be quite effective. It goes without
>saying that anyone with so much as half a brain will realize that they
>are being punished for attempting to learn the truth, but don't worry,
>the prevailing public attitude -- so what, who cares? -- will carry the
>Mind you, one must be wary of uppity jurors who have the temerity to use
>their minds instead of just blindly obeying the rules. A recalcitrant
>jury recently refused to convict Carol Howe, after the feds had gone to
>a great deal of trouble trumping up evidence against her for telling
>tales out of school about how they had blown (so to speak) the big sting
>operation in Oklahoma. And then ABC went and put her on "Prime Time
>Live." What's gotten into those guys at ABC? Just the previous week they
>did a special on Seymour Hersh's scandalous revelations about JFK. Is
>nothing sacred? Where are the Keepers of the Flame now that we need
>them? Roone Arledge, call your office. 
>As though that were not enough, Howard Kurtz, the Washington Post's
>"media critic," weighed in last week with a piece on the "Demise of a
>Buddy System." The reference is to what Kurtz described as a "cozy
>culture in which writers were not embarrassed to ingratiate themselves
>with the president." 
>Do tell. What I find noteworthy in this is not the revelation that there
>was fraternization between the press and the prez. That was, after all,
>just a step beyond the far side of screamingly obvious to anyone who
>viewed the political tableau with aught else than the rose colored specs
>thoughtfully provided by the mainstream media. No, what has me bemused
>is, why a nice media critic like Howie Kurtz is telling us all this a
>scant 30 years or so after the fact. Why, the dust has scarcely had time
>to settle. 
>Perhaps the most telling comment in Kurtz's piece is a quotation from a
>book by Michael Beschloss, titled "Taking Charge," of a statement made
>by Marshall McNeil, a reporter for Scripps Howard Newspapers, to Lyndon
>Johnson, who was at the time the President of the United States: "I
>thought you were just cuter than a pig on that television last night....
>I get prouder of you -- damn your ornery hide, Mr. President -- day by
>What's missing from this statement? Is it the respectful distance that
>one expects a journalist to maintain when addressing a national leader
>who also happens to be the object of the reporter's professional
>evaluation, or is it perhaps the cutthroat adversarial relationship that
>mainstream journalists have always assured us they maintain with respect
>to all government officials? 
>"The conversation," Kurtz informs us, "was not atypical of the
>pre-Watergate era, when relations between the White House and the Fourth
>Estate were far less adversarial." 
>I don't mean to be contentious, but what about the female reporter who
>is said to have been sleeping with the current occupant of the Oval
>Office? That doesn't sound very "adversarial" to me. Wait, don't tell me
>-- I am prescient about such things. This is just another of those
>unfounded rumors that seem to stick to this president the way crazy glue
>sticks to velcro, right? I suspected as much. I won't give it another
>thought -- until the next time it turns up on the Net. 
>Or consider this encomium, delivered by Joseph Alsop who had advised LBJ
>on how to handle his endorsement of a commission to investigate the
>death of his predecessor, Kennedy: "You've already made a marvelous
>start. You haven't put a damned foot one quarter of an inch wrong, and
>I've never seen anything like it." 
>Given the atmosphere of adulation exuded by the national press, it is
>hardly surprising that they neglected to inform us of a few tacky little
>details about LBJ, such as the fact that he had been getting payoffs
>from the Carlos Marcello organization, which was at that time the Gulf
>coast branch of the Mafia. According to David Scheim ("Contract on
>America"), mob payoffs to Johnson have been confirmed by at least two
>witnesses. Dallas gangster Jack Halfen gave incriminating information on
>Johnson to U.S. Marshal J. Neal Matthews in 1956. Halfen disclosed that
>a gambling network controlled by organized crime "had given $500,000 in
>cash and campaign contributions to Johnson over a ten year period while
>Johnson was in the Senate," according to Scheim. 
>What did Johnson have to do for that kind of money? Not much, really.
>When anti-racketeering legislation came up in the Senate, he used his
>position as Majority Leader to have it killed. And if that could not be
>arranged, he saw to it that the bill was watered down. He also diverted
>congressional investigations into organized crime. The Kefauver
>committee, which investigated the Mob during the '50s, never made it to
>Dallas. For that matter, they also bypassed Bill Clinton's home town,
>Hot Springs, Arkansas (for which the Mob can thank the late Sen.
>Jack Sullivan, once an administrative assistant to Sen. Daniel Brewster
>of Maryland also testified that Johnson had taken payoffs from the Mob.
>Brewster was indicted by a Baltimore grand jury in 1969 for corruption,
>and convicted. 
>Robert Caro, author of "The Years of Lyndon Johnson," a monumental
>biography of the former president, two volumes of which have been
>published thus far, wrote in the Atlantic Monthly: 
>"For years, men came into Lyndon Johnson's office and handed him
>envelopes stuffed with cash. They didn't stop coming even when the
>office in which he sat was the office of the Vice President of the
>United States. Fifty thousand dollars (in hundred-dollar bills in sealed
>envelopes) was what one lobbyist -- for one oil company -- testified
>that he brought to Johnson's office during his term as Vice President." 
>Johnson's position became perilous when his secretary Bobby Baker was
>forced to resign after being charged with corruption. Baker stonewalled
>it during Senate hearings, taking the Fifth rather than rat out his
>former chief, LBJ. The damage Baker might have done to Johnson was
>suggested in a book, "The Washington Payoff" by former Washington
>lobbyist Robert Winter-Berger, who happened to witness the following
>tirade by Johnson while visiting the office of House Speaker John
>McCormack. Johnson stormed into McCormack's office and, without seeming
>to notice Winter-Berger, bellowed: 
>"John, that [obscene reference to Baker deleted] is going to ruin me. If
>that [expletive deleted] talks, I'm gonna land in jail... I practically
>raised that [expletive deleted], and now he's gonna make me the first
>President of the United States to spend the last days of his life behind
>This little speech was noted by National Review at the time the book was
>published and ignored by practically every other media outlet in the
>country. Johnson was later to be opposed for reelection by Barry
>Goldwater, a man the media loved to hate. It seems the Mafia is not the
>only organization that observes the law of omerta (silence). Apparently
>the mainstream media would rather be ruled by the Mob than governed by a
>There is a little more involved in the media's behavior towards Lyndon
>Johnson than the shameless toadying portrayed by Kurtz. They were
>helping to cover up the massive corruption of the Johnson administration
>-- and they're still at it. Although mainstream media publications such
>as The Washington Post were instrumental in exposing the Bobby Baker
>scandal, they were careful to keep Johnson insulated from any hint of
>corruption. No doubt they would have us believe that they really didn't
>know about all that at the time. But that doesn't explain why they still
>refuse to talk about it. When the second volume of Caro's book was
>published, which hardly reveals more than the tip of the iceberg, it was
>savagely attacked by columnists at the Post. Because LBJ's agenda was
>politically correct they apparently expect us to overlook the fact that
>Johnson took envelopes full of cash from the Mafia. 
>Ah, but they've changed -- or so Mr. Kurtz would have us believe. Notice
>the implication of his statement: 
>"The conversation was not atypical of the pre-Watergate era, when
>relations between the White House and the Fourth Estate were far less
>But the press have turned over a new leaf, Kurtz would have us know: 
>"Once the Vietnam War began to turn sour, so did Johnson's relations
>with many journalists. And White House coverage was never again so
>chummy after the Nixon presidency." 
>Get it? They were willing to lie and dissemble for the ornery critter so
>long as his policies were in line with their own deeply felt prejudice,
>but Vietnam changed all that. What reason is there to believe that
>people who are so profoundly dishonest and lacking in personal integrity
>are capable of changing? These people have no incentive to change --
>their intellectual iniquity has been richly rewarded. The only thing
>that might bring about change in their deceitful behavior would be a
>reassertion of their own standards of personal integrity, but they have
>repeatedly and resoundingly demonstrated that they do not have any such
>Isn't that why, when Seymour Hersh's book appeared, the mainstream press
>immediately took out after Hersh, pointing out that a few of the
>documents he had originally used as background information were obvious
>forgeries? The part of the story that sort of dropped down through the
>cracks is the fact that Hersh himself withdrew the material from his
>manuscript when he learned that the documents were false -- all of this
>took place before publication. 
>Old habits die hard. It is obvious that the kneejerk response of the
>mainstream press continues to be a swift kick aimed at anyone who dares
>to look askance at one of their icons. The fact remains that our vaunted
>"free" press lied brazenly to us about the Kennedy administration and,
>even after 34 years have passed, they refuse to make a credible effort
>to set the record straight regarding the fantasy of Camelot which they
>created, in collusion with the Kennedy machine. The recent documentary
>aired by ABC is a laudable exception to the continuing mendacity of the
>mainstream media on this issue. 
>So, what is all of this leading up to? Howie seems to have set the stage
>for the main topic of his piece by implying that whereas the mainstream
>press have lied like dogs in the past, we can now trust them implicitly.
>It would seem that the object of this all too brief visit to the
>confessional was to lighten the burden of past sins as a way of getting
>ready for Ruddy. Investigative reporter Christopher Ruddy seems to evoke
>deep- seated guilt feelings in the flinty hearts of mainstream
>journalists, if only because he continues to do the job they are unable
>or afraid to do. Obviously the man has become a nuisance and must be
>made to atone for the inconvenience he has caused his professional
>Under the rubric of "Ruddy Redux," Mr. Kurtz begins by telling us: 
>"For those who might be depressed about the fading conspiracy theories
>involving the death of Vincent Foster, take heart. Now a conservative
>newspaper is raising questions about the death of Ron Brown." 
>There is a wealth of innuendo in that opening sentence. First there is
>the insinuation that anyone who does not accept the preposterous notions
>advanced in the official version of Vincent Foster's death is, at the
>very least, neurotic. (Perhaps this is intended to mask the fact that
>Kurtz has not been man enough to even discuss the Foster case in public,
>preferring to make his points, such as they are, with snide, hit-and-run
>insults such as this one). Then there is the assertion that the
>controversy over Foster's death is fading. By what criteria? Talk radio
>has been inundated recently with interviews of Ruddy and Patrick
>Knowlton, whose lawsuit against the government is still pending. The
>Internet has been clogged with messages regarding the Foster case and
>Ruddy's book appears to be headed for the best seller list. This does
>not even take account of Ambrose Evans-Pritchard's new book which deals
>extensively with the Foster case, or the book that investigative
>reporter Dan Moldea is said to be writing about Foster's death. 
>But those who work the one-way street of the mainstream media do not
>have to worry too much about back-sass. If the relevant facts prove
>uncongenial to Kurtz's thesis he is at liberty to ignore them. He
>couldn't get away with that on Internet, but print media journalists
>have the option of creating their own cozy fantasy world when the real
>world proves a bit too harsh to accommodate their limited reasoning
>ability. If Kurtz prefers to believe that the folks at the Pittsburgh
>Tribune-Review are the only ones interested in the irregularities
>surrounding the death of Ron Brown he is free to do so in his
>solipsistic fantasy world. Of course this does not square too well with
>the fact that both the Associated Press and United Press International
>carried the story last week, but since when are print journalists
>required to make sense? 
>After ringing the obligatory bells and tooting the traditional whistles
>regarding "conspiracy theories" and "the media food chain," Kurtz gets
>around to telling us that, "Outlandish as it sounds," the story is not
>based on anonymous sources, but derives from Ruddy's interview with Lt.
>Col. Steve Cogswell, a deputy medical examiner with the Armed Forces
>Institute of Pathology. 
>Just as a matter of curiosity, why does the story sound so "outlandish"
>to Kurtz? I would think that such stories were becoming quite
>commonplace inside the Beltway. First Vince Foster turns up in the
>shrubbery with a hole in his head, then Admiral Boorda "shoots himself"
>because Newsweek didn't like the way he wore his medals, then a Commerce
>Department employee, Barbara Wise, is found dead in her office amidst
>rumors that she shared a suite of offices (and a shredding machine) with
>John Huang, and now it turns out that her boss, Ron Brown, who was
>ostensibly killed in an air crash while under investigation for
>corruption, also has a hole in his head that some say resembles a bullet
>The biggest mystery of all is why Mr. Kurtz would find it outlandish
>that anyone should find this, well -- outlandish. One would think that
>it were a matter of routine for Commerce Department employees to find a
>corpse or two in the office when they arrive for work in the morning --
>especially after a long week-end. And, as for admirals, best that you
>not stare too fixedly at the medals they are wearing -- you know how
>sensitive they are. This particular admiral had cited deep differences
>he had with the Clinton administration in a conversation with a
>colleague, who admonished him not to resign. It seems that by acceding
>too readily to Clinton's politically correct agenda and sacrificing the
>careers of key officers for the sake of political expediency, Boorda had
>forfeited the respect of his fellow officers. I don't suppose that could
>have had anything to do... Naah -- must have been the medals. 
>Noting that Col. Cogswell said the "circular hole" in Brown's head
>resembled a .45 caliber gunshot wound, Kurtz was quick to identify "one
>problem" with the story: "Cogswell never actually examined the body." 
>Kurtz goes on to cite Col. William Gormley (he's the one wearing the
>white hat), who maintained that Brown died from injuries sustained in
>the air crash and dismissed the possibility of a gunshot wound because
>he had not noticed an exit wound. Of course Gormley was the officer
>responsible for concluding that Brown's death was accidental. I wonder
>if Kurtz has any inkling of the "merde-orage" (pardon my French) that
>would ensue if Gormley now reversed himself and allowed that, come to
>think of it, the hole in Brown's skull probably is a bullet-wound after
>all? I have to assume that Kurtz was never in the military, otherwise it
>surely would have occurred to him that Gormley is anything but an
>objective, disinterested party at this stage of the game. 
>And then, as if to settle the matter once and for all, Kurtz produced
>the statement of "an Army spokesman" who said with a definitive air of
>finality, "this is a closed case." Excuse me, but one other little
>problem has cropped up quite recently. I quote from a UPI story dated
>December 9." 
>"A published report says a second Armed Forces medical examiner says the
>corpse of Commerce Secretary Ron Brown seemed to have a bullet hole in
>the top of the head." 
>Oops -- this could prove downright embarrassing. According to the
>report, U.S. Army Lt. Col. David Hause told the Pittsburgh
>Tribune-Review that he saw what appeared to be a bullet wound in Brown's
>head, "supporting the account of forensic pathologist examiner Air Force
>Lt. Col. Steve Cogswell." 
>Hause told reporter Chris Ruddy that several of the allegations made by
>Cogswell and reported in a previous Tribune-Review article are true. He
>also criticized the military for its treatment of Cogswell following
>publication of the article. 
>While it is true that Cogswell was not present when the wound in Brown's
>head was examined, Hause was there -- his examination table was two
>tables away from the one where Brown's body lay. According to Hause,
>somebody said, "Gee, this looks like a gunshot wound," causing a
>"commotion." At that point Hause walked over to the table on which Brown
>was laid out and examined the wound. 
>Hause said that the wound "looked like a punched-out .45-caliber
>entrance hole." He recalls saying to those crowding around the table,
>"Sure enough, it looks like a gunshot wound to me, too." Hause told
>Ruddy that he did not discuss the wound with Col. Gormley. 
>Neither Hause nor Cogswell, who has been involved in over 100 aircraft
>accident investigations, could recall seeing such a wound in the head of
>a plane crash victim prior to this incident. Hause has five years
>experience with AFIP and is considered one of their foremost experts on
>gunshot wounds. Both agreed that it was possible for parts of the
>aircraft to pierce the skull, but said that such an object would likely
>leave a jagged or irregular hole after exiting the wound. 
>Gormley maintains that since Brown was a civilian, he had no authority
>to order an autopsy, absent the suspicion of foul play. Cogswell
>disputes this, saying that the nature of the wound should have triggered
>an autopsy in view of the implication that Brown's death may have been a
>homicide. As a cabinet officer, Brown is covered by the Presidential
>Assassination Statute. 
>While agreeing that professional standards dictate that an autopsy be
>performed in such circumstances, Hause told Ruddy that he understood
>"political and administrative" factors made this difficult. Hause
>characterized Gormley as a competent pathologist, but described his
>experience as being more in the area of airplane crashes than gunshot
>wounds. Hause, on the other hand, has both professional and personal
>experience with this type of wound, having received the Purple Heart in
>Vietnam. He subsequently became a pathologist and has been involved in
>autopsy procedures since 1972. He served for a time as the Army's
>regional medical examiner in Germany. 
>The crux of the argument seems to hinge upon the severity of the wound.
>Gormley asserted that the hole had "no open communication with the
>inside of the head," that is, the hole did not penetrate the skull --
>the punched out bone had simply been depressed into the skull, covering
>the brain. Had the hole penetrated the skull all the way to the brain,
>Gormley told the Tribune- Review, that would have raised suspicion. 
>Both Cogswell and Hause contradict Gormley on this point. "What was
>immediately below the surface of the hole was just brain. I didn't
>remember seeing skull," Hause told the Tribune-Review. Cogswell said
>that an X-ray, taken from the side, shows the "bone plug" displaced into
>the brain. This was confirmed by another expert consulted by the paper. 
>Cogswell also told of seeing an X-ray that showed tiny metallic
>fragments imbedded within Brown's head, which he characterized as a
>"lead snowstorm" such as might be produced by a disintegrating bullet.
>That X-ray is now missing, according to Cogswell, however, he has a
>photographic image of the X-ray, and so does the Tribune-Review. 
>As a matter of fact, according to Cogswell, all of the X-rays of Brown's
>head have disappeared. Hause confirms this, noting that when he and a
>colleague were asked to review Brown's file, they went through all of
>the X-rays, and found that there were none of Brown's head. Sound
>familiar? All the X-rays of Vince Foster were missing as well (as were
>most of the crime scene photos). The reason given was that the medical
>examiner's X-ray machine was broken, so he did not take any. But
>maintenance records do not support this explanation. Furthermore, the
>medical examiner had indicated X-rays were taken in the official
>document he filled out. 
>But why make the originals disappear if photos of the X-rays exist? The
>official explanation of the "lead storm" in Brown's head is that it is
>an illusion "caused by a defect in the reusable X-ray film cassette,"
>according to the Air Force. Without the original X-ray negatives, there
>is no way to check this contention. It has become, more or less,
>standard procedure to explain inconvenient images that show up on
>photographs as "scratches" or "defects" in the film. The FBI used the
>same "explanation" in the TWA-800 investigation. One can but wonder why
>such "defects" keep showing up at strategic locations in the very photos
>that the authorities find most awkward to explain. 
>Hause does not believe that the AFIP has reacted in an appropriate
>manner to the questions raised by Cogswell. "It looks like the AFIP is
>starting its usual procedure of, upon receiving bad news, immediately
>shooting the messenger," he told Ruddy, referring to the repressive
>action the Air Force has taken against Cogswell since the story broke. 
>A little more than a week ago, Cogswell was given written orders that
>forbad him to discuss Brown's death with the press. He was informed at
>the time that he was the subject of a "command investigation" conducted
>by the Air Force. Later the same day, military police arrived at
>Cogswell's office to escort him to his home, which they methodically
>tore apart in their search for additional evidence that might prove
>detrimental to the coverup. It goes without saying they did not have a
>Cogswell is presently restricted, while on duty, to the floor on which
>his office is located. He is not even allowed to leave for lunch without
>permission. According to a source within the AFIP, the punitive measures
>taken against Cogswell are "unheard of for a ranking military officer." 
>In effect, Cogswell has been placed under house arrest for daring to
>tell the truth about what must seem to him to be the possible coverup of
>a homicide involving a member of Clinton's cabinet. It would seem that
>Cogswell has a measure of personal integrity and civil courage that his
>immediate superiors clearly lack. That is disturbing. If military
>officers are prepared to send men to their deaths in combat, shouldn't
>they be equally ready to put their careers on the line rather than
>dishonor themselves by participating in an obstruction of justice? 
>As for the mainstream press, the concepts of honor and personal
>integrity are so foreign to their nature it seems idle to invoke them.
>We are talking about an entire "profession" whose spokesmen looked us
>squarely in the eye thirty years ago and assured us, with an expression
>of utmost sincerity, of their complete objectivity and absolute devotion
>to reporting the truth, when all the while they were playing footsie
>under the table with a man who was possibly the most corrupt politician
>ever to desecrate the Oval Office. 
>Pseudo-sophisticates such as Kurtz no doubt find this amusing and
>clever, but there is a price to be paid when a society so completely
>loses its moral orientation that scoundrels who lie and cheat and
>dissemble are rewarded and advanced, while those who display evidence of
>personal integrity and civil courage are punished and degraded. I happen
>to know this because I lived for almost a decade in Germany, and talked
>to people who had to pay the price.
>Published in the Dec. 15, 1997 issue of The Washington Weekly
>Copyright  1997 The Washington Weekly (http://www.federal.com). 
>Reposting permitted with this message intact.

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