Accuracy in Media

The long-awaited Starr report failed to present the issues surrounding the sex and perjury scandal as part of an overall pattern of corruption in an administration up to its neck in scandal. Instead, it only briefly mentioned White water, and barely referred to the other areas that Independent Counsel Ken Starr was asked to investigate. He laid out a case, in lurid detail, convincingly accusing President Clinton of such impeccable offenses as perjury, obstruction of justice, witness tampering, and abuse of power. But his report also provided ammunition to those who say that Starr has come up empty on other scandals, including the Foster death, Filegate, Travelgate, Hubbell’s hush money and White water. They say that after four years and $44 million dollars, all he could pin on Clinton was lies about sex.

Why did Starr’s report fail to address potential impeccable offenses in these other matters? The report’s answer to that question is, (quote) “From the outset, it was our strong desire to complete all phases of the investigation before deciding whether to submit to Congress information – if any – that may constitute grounds for an impeachment. But events and the statutory command…have dictated otherwise.”

Starr further states that his investigation is still ongoing and nearing completion, and that final decisions will soon be made regarding events related to the Rose Law Firm’s representation of Madison Guaranty Savings & Loan. Linda Tripp is said to be, (quote) “a witness in three ongoing OIC investigations.” Besides Filegate and Travelgate, the other is most likely the investigation into the White House handling of documents in Vincent Foster’s office following his death. Starr’s pathetic and dishonest report on his three-year investigation of Foster’s death provides a warning of what is to come.

There is reason to doubt that Starr is pursuing the truth in these other scandals. A week before the delivery of his report, he went to court to stop Judicial Watch from deposing Linda Tripp. Larry Klayman, the chairman of Judicial Watch wanted Tripp’s testimony for his class action lawsuit against the administration for having illegally acquired FBI files on more than 900 American citizens. Klayman says Tripp may have valuable information about this because she had been the secretary of former White House Counsel Bernie Nussbaum. Klayman has seen little evidence that Starr has been seriously investigating Filegate and Travelgate, though his rationale for blocking Tripp’s testimony was that it would interfere with his own probe of Filegate.

There is irony in this. Starr actually subpoenaed videotapes of depositions that Larry Klayman had taken of two high Pentagon officials, Kenneth Bacon and Clifford Bernath, because they were potentially useful to him in investigating the illegal release of information from Linda Tripp’s personnel files.

Starr has given the House ample evidence on which it can base an impeachment investigation. But it is unfortunate that it is limited to the Lewinsky case when there are so many more serious impeccable offenses that Starr could have suggested the House consider. It should view the Starr report as the beginning, not as the defining limit of its probe.

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