The Crimes of Mena:


"Conspiracy theorists let imagination run riot over Whitewater scandal
Murder, arson, burglary, drug trafficking . . . they're all part of
he plot, if the Clintons' accusers in the press are to be believed"

March 24, 1994
By Martin Walker IN WASHINGTON

        Contract killings and big-time cocaine smuggling, unusual
crashes of private planes in good weather, mysterious fires and
burglaries, and attacks on journalists visiting Little Rock to
steal their papers - the paranoid subculture of the Whitewater
affair is reaching weird heights.
        After months of probing the sexual habits of Governor Bill
Clinton in Arkansas, more months sorting through the entrails of
Arkansas law firms and banks, the president's implacable foes in
the conservative press have gone beyond questioning the suicide of
the White House aide Vince Foster to suggest a Mafia-style pattern
of murder and intimidation.
        The Murdoch-owned tabloid New York Post, which first questioned
Foster's suicide, yesterday listed a series of misadventures under
the headline; "Mysterious Attacks: Linked to Whitewater?"
      - Last September 26, Luther "Jerry" Parks was hit by 10 bullets
        as he left a Mexican restaurant in Little Rock. His company,
        American Contract Services, had provided the security for the
        Clinton campaign offices in Little Rock and for his transition
        headquarters. The previous week, the Parks home had been burgled,
        the telephone lines cut to breach a security system, and files on
        Governor Clinton stolen.
      - On March 1, Herschel Friday, an Arkansas lawyer who had been
        on the Clinton campaign finance committee, died when his small
        plane crashed on a dusk approach to a private airfield he had used
        often before. The runway was illuminated, flying conditions were by
        no means poor, and Friday was an experienced pilot.
      - On March 4, another private plane went down near Lawton,
        Oklahoma, killing an Arkansas dentist, Ronald Rogers, who was about
        to meet one of the reporters investigating Mr Clinton's Arkansas.
        (Accidental aircraft deaths average about 1,000 a year in the US.)
      - Journalists covering the Whitewater story have experienced
        some unusual difficulties. L. J. Davis, whose cover story on the
        Rose law firm and the Arkansas bond and financial networks
        dominates the current issue of The New Republic, was assaulted in
        his Little Rock hotel room and knocked unconscious. Some of his
        files were stolen.
      - The American Spectator, which launched the new phase of the
        Whitewater enquiry last year with its long account of Mr Clinton's
        sexual adventures by Arkansas state troopers who served as his
        bodyguards, has experienced three burglaries since its inquiry
        The offices in Arlington, Virginia, were broken into twice last
year, and other premises in New York were burgled by intruders who
seemed to be searching files, rather than stealing.
      - The Little Rock fire department dismisses as "routine" the
        fire which broke out just before midnight on January 24 on the 14th
        floor of the Worthen Bank headquarters in Little Rock. This
        partially destroyed the offices of the accounting firm
        Peat-Marwick, which performed the official audit of the Madison
        Savings & Loan bank, run by James McDougal, the Clintons' partner
        in the Whitewater development.
        Peat-Marwick spokesmen say no documents were destroyed in the
fire, which took place immediately after the appointment of Robert
Fiske as special prosecutor and after the conservative Washington
Times first reported the shredding of documents at the Rose law
       "Editors and reporters have to grapple with a flood of stories,
charges and rumours of violence and even deaths in Arkansas," said
       The Wall Street Journal's editorial yesterday. "The state seems to
be a congenitally violent place, and full of colourful characters
with stories to tell, axes to grind and secrets of their own to
       The atmosphere in Washington is extraordinary, with Republican
congressmen gleefully forecasting Mr Clinton's resignation "by the
end of June" over dinner tables, and even some Democrats indulging
in black humour about how much they look forward to President Gore.
      "I'm troubled by the presumption of guilt against the White
House," President Clinton acknowledged in an interview published
yesterday in USA Today. "The presumption is that something is wrong
and you have to prove it right."
      From the original piddling investment in Whitewater, the
conspiracy theorists are wading into very dark waters, involving
the Iran-contra scandal which almost toppled President Ronald
Reagan. Speculation about supply operations for the Nicaraguan
contras run from the Mena airfield in Arkansas, merges into hints
of CIA money-laundering through the Arkansas bond markets.
      Hillary Clinton's Rose law firm is also facing scrutiny for its
role in helping the discredited Bank of Credit and Commerce
      International acquire its US banking arm, First American. Rose was
the law firm for the Arkansas financial group Stephens Inc,
America's biggest investment firm outside of Wall Street, and its
associated Worthen bank.
      Stephens Inc owned part of the holding company, Financial
General, which controlled the First National Bank of Georgia.
Stephens Inc and the Rose law firm helped BCCI to creep into the US
banking market through its purchase of shares in Financial General.
      This in turn leads on to the murky world of bond-trading and
whether the Nicaraguan contras were being financed by
cocaine-smuggling. Governor Clinton was indeed the only Democrat to
send his state National Guard to Honduras to train alongside the
       In the 1980s, Mr Clinton's main campaign contributor was Daniel
Lasater, who did $664 millions of Arkansas state bond business. Mr
Lasater was later imprisoned for cocaine trafficking, and his
business was then taken over by his chief assistant, Patsy
Thomasson, who is now head of administration at the White House.
       She joined the former White House counsel Bernard Nussbaum in
his late-night search of the office of Vince Foster after his death
last July but before the police were allowed in.
       All this smacks less of Godfather Clinton growling out orders
for contract hits than of an American pathology, a fevered distrust
of government and a readiness to believe absolutely anything, which
takes us back to the archetypal conspiracy theory: that of the JFK
       There is even, on the small hillock where Foster shot himself
last July, that essential ingredient of any good conspiracy, a
grassy knoll. Just like the one in Dallas.

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