By Cliff Kincaid
  2002 Report #08 June 7, 2002  

FOURTH ESTATE COVERS FOR FIFTH COLUMN

 THIS ISSUE:
  • A Pretty Face
  • America Accused of Terrorism
  • See No Evil
  • Muslim Extremists Also Ignored
  • Justifiable Detention
  • Media And Far-Left File Suit
  • Guns, Lies And Terrorists
  • Whose Side Are They On?
  • O’REILLY ON THE ATTACK
  • Al-Arian’s Defenders
  •  What You Can Do
  • NOTES FROM THE EDITOR'S CUFF
  • The Washington Post assigned 19 reporters to cover an April 20 pro-Palestinian demonstration in Washington, D.C. but none of them either discovered or reported a critical fact-that the main organizer of the event, Brian Becker, is a hard-core Marxist affiliated with the Workers World Party who had been in Havana, Cuba, in October 1997, getting instructions on how to conduct world revolution.

    Becker reported for Workers World news service that the conference was called “Socialism Toward the 21st Century” and was hosted by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba. “Participants debated and discussed the prospects for socialism and the validity of Marxism and Leninism as the doctrine of the revolutionary struggle to overcome oppression, poverty and exploitation,” he said. Communist delegates from Vietnam, China, North Korea and Laos attended. In addition to the Workers World Party, delegates from the U.S. came from the Socialist Workers Party, Socialist Action, the Freedom Socialist Party and the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism, a group that includes some of the old Soviet-era CPUSA veterans. There is supposed to be a ban on travel to Communist Cuba but it was relaxed by the Clinton administration to accommodate extremists like Becker and his comrades.

    These Marxists, who have now made common cause with Islamic and Palestinian groups and causes, are still dedicated to the destruction of our democracy and free enterprise system. They are skillful at manipulating front groups and the media to conceal their true aims. They brought between 70,000 and 100,000 people to Washington, D.C. on April 20, many of them Arabs and Muslims, making it the largest pro-Palestinian demonstration in the U.S. ever. Becker, who appeared on C-SPAN, was described as being with a group called International ANSWER, which stands for Act Now to Stop War & Racism.

    This is a new front group created for the occasion. He is also associated with the International Action Center, a group founded by former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark. Becker and Larry Holmes, another Workers World Party operative, have been the main spokesmen for this group for several years. Its Web site proclaims, “Activism, and Resistance to U.S. Militarism, War, and Corporate Greed, Linking with Struggles Against Racism and Oppression within the United States.” Holmes got his picture in the Washington Post as he was speaking at one of the rallies. The Post identified him only as being with International ANSWER.

    The photo was reproduced on the International Action Center Web site to show their success with the media. It also showed up on the Workers World Web site. This site includes an eyewitness report from North Korea by one of its members, who claims the people of North Korea are united behind dictator Kim Jong Il, and says, “The biggest obstacle to reunification is U.S. military occupation of the south, which began in 1945 and still has not ended.” That is hard-core Communist propaganda.

    A Pretty Face

    On C-SPAN, Becker debated Kristinn Taylor of the D.C. chapter of the Free Republic, who had helped organize a counter-demonstration on April 20 featuring former Congressman Bob Dornan. C-SPAN presented Becker as a liberal dedicated to the First Amendment. He was asked about the impression that he was angry at times, but he was on his best behavior. He avoided the Marxist clichés he usually employs when writing about world events. His articles show a liberal use of terms such as “imperialist” and “ruling classes” and “white supremacy” when attacking the U.S. The discussion might have taken a different turn if Becker’s record as an apologist for a philosophy that killed as many as 100 million people during the last century had been exposed. C-SPAN aired live coverage of Becker’s demonstration but ignored the rally featuring Bob Dornan. The moderator had no excuse for this, saying he didn’t make decisions on what to cover.

    The media, including the networks, focused on the faces in the crowd rather than the organizers and speakers. The Post even suggested it was a good event for families. Manny Fernandez wrote, “Tens of thousands converged on downtown Washing-ton yesterday to demonstrate for a variety of causes, but it was the numbers and passion of busloads of Arab Americans and their supporters that dominated the streets. Eager to make their presence felt and their voices heard in the nation’s capital as never before, Arab and Muslim families marched and chanted for an end to U.S. military aid to Israel, overwhelming the messages of those with other causes in a peaceful day of downtown rallies and marches.” Stephen Labaton’s New York Times article about the protest began: “Tens of thousands of Arab-Americans blended with demonstrators against the military campaign in Afghanistan and those criticizing international financial institutions during protests today in Washington, with the cause of the Palestinians and criticism of Israel turning into the main message of the multifaceted crowd.”

    There was a violent tone to much of the rhetoric, as support for the Intifada against Israel was voiced repeatedly and was met with cheers from the not-so-multifaceted crowd. Since September 2000, this uprising has resulted in over 1000 Palestinian and 400 Israeli deaths. There have been about 80 suicide/homicide bombings during this new phase of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal sent taped remarks from prison. He said the war on terrorism was actually designed “to make the world safe for capital exploitation and unbridled commerce.” Pleas were made on behalf of form-er Black Panther H. Rap Brown, who is now a Muslim known as Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin. He was convicted of killing a sheriff’s deputy and wounding another two years ago.

    America Accused of Terrorism

    New York Times reporter Stephen Labaton appears to be unfamiliar with the tactics and strategies of Communists and their front organizations. The Post’s Fernandez fumbled coverage of an April 17 news conference where some other protest organizers had announced their plans for the weekend. One of the speakers was Emad Fraitekh of the Committee in Solidarity with the Palestinian People, whose biography said he was “in contact” with officials of the Palestinian Authority of Yasser Arafat. Fraitekh, who demanded halting all aid to Israel, was said to be a journalist from the West Bank. However, he has been in the U.S. since the early 1990s writing for publications such as the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.

    Eric LeCompte, head of “School of the Americas Watch,” said his group would march on the Capitol to protest U.S. support for the war against terrorism in Colombia. LeCompte charged that the U.S. government is training “assassins, dictators and death squad leaders” at the School of the Americas, which is now known as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. It trains Latin American military personnel, and it has long been a leftist target. LeCompte spoke as one who had been arrested many times in previous demonstrations. President Bush was frequently attacked and given no credit at all for directing a successful war on terrorism. Until a journalist asked about the events of September 11, no speaker at the news conference bothered to denounce that terrorist act.

    See No Evil

    Fernandez’s story in the Post did not include a key revelation at this news conference. Protest leader Terra Lawson-Remer was asked to explain or justify the involvement of the Communist Party USA as an “endorser” of the demonstration. “I can’t speak to that,” she said, but she continued to insist that the demonstrators believed in freedom and democracy. The CPUSA was only one of several Marxist, Communist and Socialist groups officially endorsing the protest and listed on the organizers’ Web site. Two different umbrella groups, Becker’s International ANSWER and Lawson-Remer’s April 20th Mobilization, combined forces for the demonstration and the follow-up march to the Capitol.

    On Saturday, April 21, several hundred demonstrators broke away to attempt to disrupt the weekend meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. These were organized by the Mobilization for Global Justice, led by Robert Weissman. Saying former Vice President Al Gore had given the go-ahead to attack the Bush administration on issues other than the war, Weissman, who is also co-director of Essential Action, a Ralph Nader-founded group, appeared with Lawson-Remer at the April 17 news conference. Lawson-Remer, a Yale University student, had herself been arrested during the riots against the World Trade Organization in Seattle in 1999.

    The AFL-CIO, headed by John Sweeney, has participated in and funded Weissman’s Mobilization for Global Justice demonstrations in the past. This time, the AFL-CIO kept its distance from the controversial protests. However, the Democratic Socialists of America, to which Sweeney belongs, was one of the backers.

    Muslim Extremists Also Ignored

    The Washington Post, like the New York Times and many other media, not only overlooked the involvement of Communists in the demonstrations, but it also ignored the role played by many radical Muslims, some of them allegedly linked to terrorist groups and causes. Several groups fielding speakers, including the Muslim Public Affairs Council, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, and the American Muslim Society, figure prominently in Steven Emerson’s new book, American Jihad, as examples of “terrorist support networks” in the U.S. It was Steven Emerson who was behind a documentary called “Jihad in America” that aired on the Public Broadcasting Service years before the U.S. Government officially acknowledged an Islamic terrorist threat within this country. This is one reason why the video has been released again. It features an endorsement from former FBI official Oliver Buck Revell, who says Emerson knows more than the bureau itself about the terrorist threat.

    Mahdi Bray, the emcee of the April 20 rally at the Washington monument, is the political adviser for the Muslim Public Affairs Council, an organization whose officials have supported the Hamas and Hizballah terrorist groups. Hizballah bombed the American Marine barracks in Beirut in October 1983, killing 241 U.S. military personnel. But the Post and most of the media mentioned none of this. Another speaker, veteran leftist Helen Caldicott, delivered a speech that bordered on the hysterical, calling Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld “wicked,” and saying that the U.S. and Israel were the real “rogue states” in the world today. She then described the Washington monument as a “phallus,” and suggested that American missiles represented male genitalia. The U.S., she claimed, suffered from “missile envy.”

    Justifiable Detention

    It is not known exactly why America has been spared another terrorist attack after the events of September 11 and the delivery of anthrax letters that killed 5 people. We all hope that national security has been strengthened, and the war in Afghanistan and U.S. military operations in other countries have certainly disrupted the activities of Al Qaeda. But the detention of several thousand people, including some suspected terrorists or their associates, may be another explanation. In the U.S., about 700 immigrants have been the subject of closed Immigration and Naturalization Service hearings because the government doesn’t want to disclose the nature of the evidence against them or how it was obtained.

    Media And Far-Left File Suit

    While the major media showed no interest in identifying the backgrounds of the speakers at the April 20 demonstration, or how they’ve managed to remain here, some news organizations have been relentless in trying to undermine the government’s case against the detainees. In Michigan, which has a large Arab community, both Detroit newspapers had filed suit to get access to papers in court hearings for Rabib Haddad, a 41-year-old Muslim activist and citizen of Lebanon who had been living in Ann Arbor. Haddad has been in government custody since December 14, accused of overstaying his visa, which expired in 1999. On the day federal agents arrested Haddad, they raided the offices of the Global Relief Foundation, which he co-founded, in Bridgeview, Illinois. The Treasury Department said the foundation and another charity raided the same day in Bridgeview were suspected of funding Al Qaeda terrorists.

    To get government documents in this case, the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit on behalf of The Detroit News, the weekly Metro Times, and Rep. John Conyers, a far-left member of Congress, while the Detroit Free Press and The Ann Arbor News filed a separate suit. The Detroit News is owned by Gannett Co. Inc., the Free Press is owned by Knight Ridder, and The Ann Arbor News is owned by Advance Publications.

    Guns, Lies And Terrorists

    Some records from the closed immigration hearings in the case were released on April 19 to these news organizations. The files show that Haddad is alleged to have met abroad with leaders of terrorist groups associated with Al Qaeda. The papers include U.S. Immigration Judge Elizabeth Hacker’s decision explaining why she refused to free Haddad on bond. She concluded that he is a flight risk. She said he had filed a false statement to obtain a hunting license in Michigan, had lied on an application to rent a federally-subsidized apartment and had evaded questions about his means of support.

    Haddad is being held in Chicago and has appeared before a federal grand jury investigating Global Relief. He refused to testify, citing his right against self-incrimination. He could face criminal charges for owning a 12-gauge shotgun after his visa expired. During his arrest, Haddad retrieved a passport from a briefcase containing four to six stacks of currency, according to testimony given by INS agent Mark Pilat. He said the stacks were two or three inches thick.

    Nevertheless, hundreds of people have staged “Free Rabih Haddad” demonstrations around the country. Sami al-Arian spoke at one of them..

    Associate Attorney General Jay Stephens said the release of transcripts in this case “will not cause irreparable harm to the national security or to the safety of the American people. Until now, we have been able to justify the detention of Mr. Haddad without relying upon or revealing extremely sensitive material. Although we have filed more sensitive material regarding Mr. Haddad under seal in federal court, we have not yet used that information in the immigration proceedings. The court order does not require us to release that information, and we will not do so. If it becomes necessary to use that information in the immigration proceedings, we will seek to close the hearings pursuant to regulation.”

    Whose Side Are They On?

    Last November the Washington Post reported on the activities of Muqtedar Khan, a Muslim political scientist. In “A Memo to American Muslims” posted on his Web site, He said his fellow Muslims were “practicing hypocrisy on a grand scale” by protesting Israeli treatment of Palestinians but ignoring far worse human rights abuses by Muslim governments. He criticized Muslims who “love to live in the U.S. but also love to hate it.” He added, “It is time that we acknowledge that the freedoms we enjoy in the U.S. are more desirable to us than superficial solidarity with the Muslim World. If you disagree, then prove it by packing your bags and going to whichever Muslim country you identify with.” Such sentiments led to the creation of Muslims Against Terrorism USA.

    Many Muslims disagreed. Altaf Husain, president of the Muslim Student Association (MSA) and a featured speaker at the April 20 rally called Khan “uninformed” and said, “He’s not addressing American Muslims.” He added that “our enemies are waiting for something like this to happen.” The MSA has over 100 campus chapters and has raised money for the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, Benevolence International and Haddad’s Global Relief Foundation. All three have had their assets frozen because of their alleged connections to bin Laden’s al Qaeda network or the Hamas organization. The AP quoted Altaf Husain as saying his organization had no plans to stop raising money for various groups unless federal authorities crack down. He called suspicions about terrorist links “hype,” saying it is up to the government to trace the money.

    O’REILLY ON THE ATTACK

    One prominent speaker at the April 20 demonstration, whose appearance was ignored by the Post and other media, was Osama “Sami” al-Arian, a Palestinian living in America who has been under investigation since 1995. Al-Arian’s status as a professor at the University of South Florida (USF) and his alleged association with terrorist organizations resulted in a guest appearance on the Fox News Channel’s O’Reilly Factor on September 26, 2001. Al-Arian, who seemed evasive about his alleged links to terrorist groups, was put on indefinite paid administrative leave after he was grilled by Bill O’Reilly.

    Emerson’s chapter about al-Arian, titled “Jihad in the Academy,” says that al-Arian’s campus offices and home were searched by federal officials on November 20, 1995, six months after the Oklahoma City bombing, for evidence of perjury and immigration-related infractions. When entering the U.S., he had reportedly failed to identify his connections with the World and Islam Studies Enterprise (WISE) and the Islamic Committee for Palestine (ICP), even though he was a founding officer of both. A federal affidavit stated that he had placed phone calls to a Sudanese official later implicated in a 1993 bombing plot in New York, to the Iranian Interest Section in the U.S. (the equivalent of an embassy) and the Sudanese embassy, both of which are on the State Department list of nations supporting terrorism.

    The ICP had brought terrorist leaders into the U.S., including Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman (convicted in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing). Al-Arian himself had spoken at rallies in the U.S. urging Jihad and “Death to Israel.” Tarik Hamdi, a WISE board member, “personally delivered a satellite telephone and battery pack” to bin Laden in May 1998, Emerson reports. WISE, a non-profit organization supposedly dedicated to scholarly pursuits, had a formal affiliation with the University of South Florida. Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, who had been an adjunct professor of Middle Eastern Studies at USF, showed up in Syria in October 1995 as secretary-general of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. His predecessor, Dr. Fathi Shikaki, had been assassinated, presumably by Israeli agents.

    Emerson claimed that the search of al-Arian’s office and home turned up “one of the largest collections of terrorist fund-raising and propaganda material ever seized in the United States.” Federal officials found one al-Arian letter written to a Kuwaiti citizen soliciting funds for Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) for what Emerson describes as an “operation” that appears to have been suicide bombings in Israel that killed 19 people. The letter also described relations between PIJ and Hamas “making steady progress.” O’Reilly said the document was incriminating.

    Al-Arian’s Defenders

    Eric Boehlert of Salon.com attacked O’Reilly for smearing an innocent man. He also suggested that al-Arian’s lawyers, who were pressing to get USF to let him teach, “should train their attention” on O’Reilly and other “media players,” including NBC’s Dateline, which aired an October 28 story accusing al-Arian of aiding terrorists. For a time, O’Reilly backed away from the charges. But when New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof wrote that al-Arian had been an innocent victim of those who want to stifle free speech, O’Reilly went on the attack again, showing Kristof on his show that al-Arian had sent fund-raising letters for groups with terrorist links.

    “The larger point,” Kristof had written, “is that a university, even a country, becomes sterile when people are too intimidated to say things out of the mainstream.” Kristof attacked O’Reilly’s criticism of a letter al-Arian had written. “First of all,” Kristof said, “what you referred to as a fund-raising letter wasn’t actually a fund-raising letter, it was a private communication that he sent. And I certainly agree with you that one can disagree about anything that he wrote, but he wasn’t fired for any of these things, he was fired because of the reaction that was generated when he came on the O’Reilly Factor.”

    O’Reilly responded that the letter was intended for a wealthy individual “to give money to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. You don’t call that a fund-raising letter?” Kristof replied, “The Kuwaiti fellow wrote to him, he wrote back. In other words, it wasn’t a larger, some kind of a fund-raising appeal.” Kristof added, “Apparently there was no violation of the law in writing this… Now, it may indeed be completely inappropriate, he may have said very inappropriate things, but fundamentally, again, it comes back to firing somebody for what he says, and that makes us all worse off...”

    Al-Arian still maintains that he doesn’t have anything to do with terrorism. And as Emerson himself concedes, he has not been charged with any crime, “much less convicted of one.” The failure of the FBI to file charges in the case is a mystery. But columnist Diana West asked, “Should al-Arian’s role in two terror-linked organizations come under the protective cloak of ‘academic freedom’? In a word: heck no. First Amendment protections start wearing pretty thin once the speech in question goes toward raising not just eyebrows, but money for the latest in explosive-packed belts for the well-dressed suicide bomber. That is, there is little that is ‘academic’ about activities that end up aiding and abetting those who seek political gain through the routinely grotesque slaughter of unarmed civilians.”

    What You Can Do

    Send the enclosed cards or your own cards or letters to:

    NOTES FROM THE EDITOR'S CUFF BY      By Reed Irvine

    ABC NEWS HAS BEEN GROOMING GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS TO TAKE OVER AS THE anchor of its Sunday talk show, “This Week.” Howard Kurtz, the media critic for both The Washington Post and CNN, predicts that he will probably replace Sam Donaldson and Cokie Roberts by this fall. He says this has sparked criticism from conservatives concerned about Stephanopoulos’s past services to Bill Clinton, but Paul Friedman, the executive vice president of ABC News, says they have had no complaints about his fairness in covering the news. Friedman apparently doesn’t know that George is sitting on information that could blow open the biggest cover-ups of the Clinton administration.

    ONE OF THEM IS THE CAUSE OF THE CRASH OF TWA FLIGHT 800. IT IS HIGHLY IMPROPER for a journalist to conceal important evidence relating to the cause of a disaster that resulted in the death of 230 people. On 9/11, George was on the air with Peter Jennings discussing the disaster that had just occurred and its aftermath. Pressed to make conversation, he said that it was not necessary to fly the President to Offutt Air Force Base, where there is a secure situation room with excellent communication facilities. George said there is a comparable situation room in the White House. He said he knew about it because he had been at meetings there in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing and the “bombing of TWA Flight 800.”

    THE OFFICIAL LINE IS THAT THE PLANE CRASHED AS A RESULT OF A FUEL-TANK EXPLOSION. Why call that a bombing, and why hold a meeting on it in the White House situation room? We could not get to Stephanopoulos to get his answers to those questions, and neither could anyone else. ABC’s investigative reporter Brian Ross promised to try, but if he got any answers, he never reported them. The evidence is strong that missiles shot down the plane. James Sanders said in his book, The Downing of TWA Flight 800, that there was a high level meeting in the White House situation room that night. The FAA had informed the White House that a radar tape showed a rapidly moving unidentified object “merge with” the airliner. The National Transportation Safety Board tried unsuccessfully to get the FAA to order its technicians to repudiate that report. The letters they exchanged are reproduced in Sanders’ book.

    THE FINAL OIC REPORT REVEALS ANOTHER SECRET THAT STEPHANOPOULOS MAY BE hiding. It is the story that we told on the last page of AIM Report 2002 #7 about the CNN make-up artist, Rose Procopio, who was called “CW” for Confidential Witness in the OIC report. She told the FBI that five senior White House staffers were conversing in the White House map room between 9:15 p.m. and 9:45 p.m. on the day Vincent Foster died. She named them all. One was Stephanopoulos. She said she heard one of them say that a note had been found. The OIC says that all five denied having said that. The OIC is resisting AIM’s FOIA request for the reports of the interviews of Procopio and the staffers she named. That plus putting her story in its final report suggests that the OIC thought it was important.

    THE SECRET SERVICE AND THE WHITE HOUSE LIED ABOUT THE TIME THEY LEARNED OF Foster’s death, claiming it was at 8:30 p.m. even though there is evidence that the Secret Service got the word closer to 6:30. Clinton claimed he wasn’t told until he finished doing the Larry King Live show at 10:00 p.m., a lie that he tried to make credible by offering to extend the interview and withdrawing the offer a few minutes later. These lies and Procopio’s story imply a search that found something pertaining to Foster’s death that had to be protected by a bodyguard of lies, to borrow a phrase from Winston Churchill. George Stephanopoulos lied on ABC’s “This Week” five years ago when he protected Clinton by denying Gary Aldrich’s charges of lax security and drug use in the White House and trying to discredit Aldrich’s book, “Unlimited Access.” Denying any knowledge of a secret search to protect Clinton would have been easy for him. A news organization that would give him a highly-paid job as a journalist without requiring him to reveal important information that he has sat on for years is, in effect, sitting on those secrets as well. I suggest that you use the enclosed card to convey that fact to the executive vice president of ABC News, Paul Friedman.

    CAROL BAXTER’S EFFORTS TO KEEP THE POLICE REPORT ON THE DEATH OF HER HUSBAND, Cliff Baxter, the former vice chairman of Enron, from being made public has delayed the release of the report and the death scene photographs at least until June. As reported in our 2002 #7 report, the reason her lawyers gave for wanting to keep the suicide note from being released was shown to be false when the Texas attorney general’s office ordered that copies of the note be released. The same argument-that intimate family facts would be exposed for all to see-was made with respect to the police report. The attorney general ordered that released also. Mrs. Baxters’s attorneys got a temporary restraining order on the release of both items, but it didn’t reach the Sugar Land police until copies of the note had already been given to reporters. It is delaying the release of the police report.

    WE CAN ONLY SPECULATE ABOUT WHAT MIGHT BE IN THAT 40-PAGE REPORT THAT CAROL Baxter does not want the public to know. Perhaps it is related to rumors that their marriage was not as solid as the media have portrayed it to be. The New York Times reported on Jan. 27 that Dan Nagao, a long-time friend, thought that it was odd last year when “the usual Christmas card with the long, handwritten note and the photo of his family did not arrive from Mr. Baxter.” He regretted not having phoned to ask if there was anything wrong. If Carol Baxter treated her husband anything like she has treated a national news reporter who tried to interview her and Dr. Ronald Graeser, a forensic pathologist who sent her his analysis of the report on the gunshot residue found on her husband’s hands, their relationship might have been under some strain.

    MRS. BAXTER CALLED THE REPORTER, RESPONDING TO A RECORDED MESSAGE LEFT FOR her. The reporter says that she launched into a tirade, complaining about journalists trying to win fame and fortune from the death of her husband. She demanded to know what, if anything, the reporter had learned about the evidence in the case that was new. The reporter mentioned the small glass shards in Baxter’s T-shirt. Mrs. Baxter demanded to know the source of that. When the reporter declined to reveal the source, she complained of the cowards who say things and refuse to let their names be used. After the reporter’s story aired, Mrs. Baxter called to make some sarcastic comments. She also called Dr. Graeser’s wife, asking what kind of ghoul her husband was and how she could live with him. She demanded that Graeser call her, and when he did she proceeded to call him a ghoul and accuse him of making money from her husband’s death, which was not true. Dr. Graeser, whose analysis had supported the suicide theory, now thinks the evidence points to homicide.

    ONE THING THAT ATTRACTED HIS ATTENTION WAS THE EVIDENCE THAT BAXTER TOOK a very heavy dose of Ambien, a strong hypnotic sleeping tablet, on the night of January 24. A prescription for 30 tablets had been filled on the 23rd. It prescribed only one tablet a day, but it appears that he may have ingested four on the 24th because only 25 tablets were left in the bottle. The medical examiner’s toxicology report says that Ambien was present in both his stomach and blood, but it was not quantified. Celexa, an antidepressant, was also found in his blood. It was not quantified either. A prescription for 90 Celexa tablets had also been filled on January 23, but that bottle could not be found. The medical examiner, Dr. Joye Carter, had none of this information when she concluded that Baxter committed suicide. That was premature. Anyone taking one Ambien tablet is advised to got to bed immediately and not to drive. If Baxter ingested as many as four Ambien tablets, he would not have been able to drive. An e-mail sent to me reads, “My husband has taken the sleeping pill Ambien and there is no way a person could take that much and drive himself anywhere. He would be drugged out of his mind.” I checked this with Dr. Graeser, the forensic pathologist. He agreed 100 percent. He emphasized the importance of finding out how much Ambien was found in Baxter’s blood.

    IF BAXTER INGESTED AS MANY AS FOUR AMBIEN TABLETS ON JANUARY 24, HE COULD not have driven his car to the spot where it was found with his body inside. If he didn’t drive his car, he didn’t kill himself. On May 1, at her assistant’s suggestion, I faxed Dr. Carter a request for the quantities of Ambien and Celexa that were found in his blood. Several phone calls since then have produced no results. Her chief toxicologist told me two days ago that they could not supply the quantitative information because they had not done the calculations. Her Toxicology Section Leader told me, “I believe we did. I thought we did.” She said that if they didn’t, it was probably because it had been determined that the cause of death was suicide by gunshot, and even though they screened for drugs, they didn’t think it necessary to calculate the quantities. The Sugar Land Police have ruled it was a suicide and have closed their investigation. I have urged the detective who ran the investigation to find out the quantity of Ambien found in Baxter’s blood, explaining that if it confirms that he was overdosed, he would have evidence that would require a retraction of the suicide finding. He said, “I appreciate it.”


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