Accuracy in Media

The question of whether the Office of Independent Counsel (OIC) under Kenneth Starr and his successor, Robert Ray, has obstructed justice is scheduled to be argued in the district court in Washington, D.C. on August 16. Accuracy in Media, Inc., which I head, has successfully sued the OIC under the Freedom of Information Act for the release of documents relating to the investigation of the death of the former White House Counsel, Vincent W. Foster, Jr. The OIC has failed to deliver many important documents, claiming they cannot be found. AIM’s attorney will argue that if these documents cannot be found, it is because they have been removed or destroyed in violation of federal laws.

These include documents that were turned over to Starr by his predecessor, Robert B. Fiske, Jr. Redacted copies of most of the interview reports (302s) by FBI agents working for Fiske were submitted to the Senate Banking Committee, which conducted its own investigation of Foster’s death. They were published in a thick volume that was released to the public in 1995, but some were held back. One is believed to be the FBI’s report of an interview of Rose Procopio, a CNN employee who was in the White House making up President Clinton for his appearance on Larry King Live on the night of July 20, 1993, the day Foster was found dead.

Miss Procopio is said to have told FBI agents who interviewed her that while she was making up the president in the Map Room, a man came in and informed him that something had been found in Foster’s office. This incident would have occurred at least 15 minutes before the Larry King Show was to begin at 9:00 p.m. It was treated as a state secret for a very good reason. The president claimed that he was not informed of Foster’s death until after 10:00 p.m., when the Larry King Show ended. In fact, toward the end of the show he had even told Larry King that he would be willing to continue the interview for an extra half an hour, and Larry King had informed the audience of the president’s generous offer.

That offer was retracted during the next commercial break. The president told King that he had been reminded that he had another engagement. But the airing of the offer served an important purpose. Bill Clinton had sent a message to the millions of viewers that he did not know that Vincent Foster, his friend and trusted aide had been found dead four hours earlier in Ft. Marcy Park. But if Rose Procopio was telling the truth, the president had been informed before 9:00 p.m. that a search had been made of Foster’s office and that something of importance had been found. What it was has never been disclosed. And, if it exists, Rose Procopio’s 302 remains a closely guarded secret to this day, protected by the FBI and by Special Prosecutor Robert B. Fiske, Jr. and by Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr.

We have reason to believe that it does exist, because when the FBI questioned Bruce Lindsey, President Clinton’s close confidante, they asked him about a man coming into the Map Room, closing the door and reporting to the president. Mr. Lindsey denied having any knowledge of this. This was treated as secret. The question and Lindsey’s answer were both blacked out in his FBI 302 that was published by the Senate Banking Committee. But someone blundered. They neglected to black out the question and Lindsey’s answer in the FBI agent’s handwritten notes that were released in response to an FOIA suit filed by Christopher Ruddy, the reporter whose stories in the New York Post resulted in Robert Fiske reopening the Foster investigation in January 1994.

The Foster investigation has been closed, and the OIC admits there is no longer any justification for redacting 302s and withholding evidence on the ground that its release might adversely affect an ongoing investigation. However, the release of such sensitive documents as Rose Procopio’s 302, might expose the complicity of Fiske, Starr and the lawyers and FBI agents who worked for them in concealing what the Clintons knew about Foster’s death and when they knew it. We will soon see if the courts will allow the OIC and the FBI to get away with removing or destroying important documentary evidence in the Foster case to conceal the truth about why and how Vince Foster died.

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