Reed Irvine
Chairman, Accuracy in Media

March 15, 2001

When Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr released his report on the death of former White House Deputy Counsel Vincent W. Foster, Jr. in October 1997, he refused to make public reports written by three consultants that he had hired to study the case. Accuracy in Media (AIM) sued the Office of the Independent Counsel (OIC) to obtain these and other documents that should have been made public long ago. The three reports by Starrís consultants were recently given to AIM. They appear to hurt Starrís case more than they help it.

Take the report submitted by Dr. Brian Blackbourne, the San Diego County medical examiner. Its text is only 3-1/4 single-spaced typewritten pages. Dr. Blackbourne reports meeting with Dr. James Beyer, the 75-year-old Northern Virginia medical examiner who performed the autopsy on Foster. He says, among other things, "I discussed the autopsy x-rays with him."

That suggests that there were autopsy x-rays to discuss, but Dr. Beyer has testified under oath that he did not take any x-rays, even though he checked the "x-rays taken" box on the autopsy report. When asked about that discussion of the x-rays, Dr. Blackbourne admitted that it was actually about the absence of x-rays. He told me Dr. Beyer had explained their absence, saying that his x-ray machine was not working on the day he performed the autopsy. That was what he had told the FBI and the Senate Whitewater committee.

When Dr. Blackbourne was told that the first call to service this brand new machine was made over three months after Fosterís death, he was shocked. He asked, "Do you mean that they couldnít take any x-rays for three months?" No, it meant that Dr. Beyer was lying about the machine not working. What is worse, Starrís investigators, and presumably Starr himself, knew that the claim that the machine was not working was false. We know that because the record of that first service call on Oct. 29, was included among the documents AIM obtained from the OIC. They had investigated Dr. Beyerís excuse and had found the proof that it was false, but they did nothing about it.

Dr. Beyer had checked off "x-rays taken" and had told a Park Police officer attending the autopsy that they showed no bullet fragments in the skull. The x-rays were undoubtedly taken. Crucial evidence had vanished, but Ken Starr and his investigators did not disclose that fact, and there is no indication that they tried to find what had become of them. They didnít even tell Dr. Blackbourne that they had evidence that exposed Dr. Beyerís lie.

It turns out that Dr. Beyer is an old friend of Dr. Blackbourne, whose faith in his honesty appears unshakeable. He didnít know that his old friend had used "Clintonspeak" to cover up his lie about the x-rays when he testified under oath before a Senate committee. When asked when the machine was repaired, he responded that he had no x-rays in his files between two dates that spanned the day of Fosterís autopsy. He was allowed to get away with that evasion.

Dr. Beyer claimed to have found an exit wound about the size of a half dollar in the back of Fosterís head that no one else saw. If that were true and the shot had been fired where the body was found, there would have been a bloody mess, but the police and rescue workers and Dr. Donald Haut, the county medical examiner who examined the body at the scene, all said there was very little blood visible on the body and none on the surrounding vegetation. Park Police Sgt. John Rolla had tried to find an exit wound by feeling the back of Fosterís head. All he could find was a soft spot, and he reported that the bullet did not exit.

Dr. Haut told the FBI investigators that there was very little blood and that he had seen more damage done by a .25 caliber bullet. The gun found in Fosterís hand was a .38 revolver and the casing of the expended round was HV, high velocity. If that had been fired into Fosterís skull through his mouth, there would have been a large exit wound and torrents of blood.

Starr stacked the deck in hiring Dr. Beyerís friend to evaluate his work. Dr. Blackbourne wonít admit that the evidence indicates that his old friend has lied about the x-rays, but he should have been informed before he wrote his report. Those who concealed that evidence should be called to account no matter what positions they now hold or hope to get.

Reed Irvine can be reached at

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