ACCURACY IN MEDIA - Reed Irvine, Chairman http://www.aim.org/ July 17, 1997 STARR ENDS THE CHARADE As the fourth anniversary of the death of Associate White House Counsel Vincent W. Foster, Jr. approached, Ken Starr finally ended pretense that he has been seriously investigating Foster's death since January 1995. That was when Miquel Rodriguez, a young prosecutor hired by Starr, launched the first and only grand jury probe of Foster's death. Rodriguez studied the evidence collected by previous investigations, one by the U.S. Park Police, one by Independent Counsel Robert B. Fiske, Jr. and a third by the U.S. Senate Banking Committee. He saw that the Park Police had violated the rule that a violent unattended death must be investigated as a possible homicide until sufficient evidence is gathered to rule out that possibility. Park Police Sgt. John Rolla, who was assigned to investigate the crime scene at Fort Marcy Park because he was new on the job and needed experience, told the Senate Banking Committee that he was aware of that rule. He said he ignored it because in this case it was so clear to everyone that it was a suicide. It was not clear to Richard Arthur, a paramedic, who was one of the first persons to see Foster's body. Arthur told Senate investigators he had dealt with perhaps 30 gunshot cases and "quite a few" were suicides. He thought Foster's death was a homicide. He described the scene as "weird." The body was on a steep slope, lying perfectly straight, as if ready for a coffin. He wondered how the gun could have ended up partially tucked under the victim's right leg. He saw what appeared to be a small-caliber bullet wound in the neck, too small to have been made by that gun. He thought it unlikely that anyone would seek out this out-of-the-way spot, and "sit down in all this shrubbery and shoot himself." Nevertheless, the Park Police conducted no serious investigation of Foster's death. They officially ruled it a suicide before they had the gun tested to see if it would fire. The fact that the gun found in Foster's hand was not one of the two handguns that he owned and kept in his Washington home did not bother them. When his clothing was checked nine months later, the FBI found carpet fibers, blond hair and semen on his underwear. Those may have been important clues, but they were not investigated. The Park Police found Foster's eyeglasses thirteen feet in front of his body. The FBI found a speck of gunpowder on them, indicating they had been on or near Foster's head when the fatal shot was fired. No one has come up with a plausible explanation of why the glasses flew so far if Foster shot himself. The FBI Crime Lab also noticed a bloodstain on the right side of Foster's face that showed that his head had rested on his bloodied right shoulder at some point. But he had been found lying face-up. When was the head moved and who moved it are questions never answered. There was no mess. No bone, brain tissue or blood was spattered on the vegetation, and very little blood was visible on the body or the ground even though Foster had supposedly put a .38 revolver in his mouth and blown his brains out. Robert Fiske's team of FBI agents was no better than the Park Police at explaining away the evidence that undermined their claim that Foster shot himself in the park. They tried to manipulate the evidence to fit their conclusions. For example, they said Mrs. Foster had recognized the revolver found in Foster's hand, even though it was blue/black and old and she was talking about a modern silver gun. Miquel Rodriguez knew there was no basis for Sgt. Rolla's claim that Foster's death was such an obvious suicide that no homicide investigation was necessary. Even though he had been given to understand that Starr wanted the case wrapped up quickly, he began to investigate it by the book--as a possible homicide. Park Police were called before the grand jury. They were grilled so aggressively that they protested, demanding to know if they were targets of the probe. Soon after, Rodriguez was reined in. Rather than be a party to what he viewed as another coverup, he resigned and returned to Sacramento in March 1995. That appears to have ended the first and last effort to investigate Foster's death as a possible homicide. Subsequently, Starr spent seven weeks futilely combing Fort Marcy Park for the bullet that killed Foster. Why? He needed a bullet to prove that Foster died there. But he refused to exhume Foster's body, a measure urged by those who want to find out why the autopsy X-rays vanished and whether or not Richard Arthur really saw a neck wound. The consultant who insisted on the search for the bullet, has said he did not recommend exhumation because he knew Starr opposed it. Why? It might prove Miquel Rodriguez was on the right track. That would humiliate Starr and his team. It would also embarrass the tame journalists who refuse to study the mass of available evidence and dismiss those who do as "conspiracy theorists."
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