Progressive Politics Research and Commentary by Janette Rainwater
 
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The Starr Chamber and the Future of American Democracy The Starr Report

1 2 4 5                                                                          p.3

On June 30, 1994 Robert Fiske, the original Whitewater Independent Counsel, filed a report that Vincent Foster had committed suicide because he was depressed over the "mean-spirited and factually baseless" editorials about him in the Wall Street Journal---- and not because of anything to do with Whitewater and no one had murdered him. On August 5th Fiske was fired by the three-judge panel and replaced by Kenneth Starr. (The panel had been selected by Chief Justice Rehnquist, who was originally appointed by Nixon and promoted to Chief Justice by Reagan.) Starr re-opened the Vincent Foster inquiry (imagine how painful that must have been for his family) and refrained from issuing his yes-it-was-suicide report until after the 1996 election.

As described by Bruce Shapiro in "Men in Black (robes)", there's an important history behind Starr's appointment. Rehnquist appointed Judge David Sentelle, a big buddy of North Carolina's two senators, Jesse Helms and Launch Faircloth. Sentelle lunched with Faircloth (who had been working for a long time to get Fiske fired) and soon after appointed Starr. Starr is a senior partner in the law firm of Kirkland and Ellis whose principal client is the Tobacco giant, Brown and Williamson. Starr continued to work for the firm (at around $1 million a year) for most of his tenure as Independent Counsel. North Carolina is a big tobacco growing state. In Clinton's six years much has been accomplished to prevent kids from learning to smoke and to make the tobacco companies liable for damages caused by their products. Get the picture?

Starr had other conflicts of interest that would have prevented a more honourable man from accepting the position.
1---- As Joe Conason and Murray Waas reported two and a half years ago in The Nation, at the time of his appointment his law firm was being sued for professional negligence by the Resolution Trust Corporation; the Whitewater probe would involve Starr investigating the very officials in the RTC responsible for bringing the suit against Kirkland and Ellis.

2---- Starr had advised the attorneys for Paula Jones.

3---- Starr later accepted an appointment to be the dean of a new school at Pepperdine University which was funded by the super conservative billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife who also funded the clandestine Arkansas project. The function of this group was the promulgation of scurrilous rumors about Clinton---- murder, drug running, you name it. The Arkansas Project also paid money to convicted felon ex-Judge David Hale, Starr's key witness in Arkansas, the man whose testimony was needed to indict Jim McDougal and Jim Guy Tucker. See Jonathan Broder and Murray Waas' "The Road to Hale".

Starr made life miserable for everyone in Arkansas with any remote connection to the Clintons, yet turned a blind eye to the probable perjuries and other felonies of four of his witnesses, as described by Gene Lyons in "See Some Evil, Hear Some Evil". Recently on KPFK Lyons said Starr has "power and ruthlessness instincts that are close to totalitarianism".

And yet there was NOTHING about Whitewater in the report Starr sent to Congress! Nor Filegate. Nor Travelgate. Despite the many, many people he subpoenaed to appear before both the Arkansas and District of Columbia grand juries. Despite the fact that he forced the Clintons to produce massive quantities of documents and every canceled check for the last fifteen years. (According to a Reuters dispatch he sent someone to search the private quarters of the White House, including even Chelsea's underwear drawer, looking for some allegedly missing document.) He obtained and scrutinized their phone records for the same period.

So Starr was coming up empty and possibly was close to giving up when he got that phone call in December from Linda Tripp. He listened to the tapes she had surreptitiously taped of her "friend" Monica's confidences, then sent a wired Tripp to further interview Monica. At the end of that Monica was confronted, held without counsel for several hours by his investigators and threatened with prosecution and jail time if she refused to wear a wire and go see Clinton. Isn't that called "entrapment"?

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This site was last changed November 28, 2001. It was created on March 20, 1997.

© Janette Rainwater 1997-2001

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