From The Sunday London Telegraph
March 2, 1997


PICTURE POINTS FINGER AT WHITE HOUSE

By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard


A CRIME scene photograph from the investigation into the death of the White House aide Vincent Foster appears to prove that the federal authorities have lied about the case and perpetuated a cover-up that continues to deceive the Foster family, the US Congress, and the American people. The photograph is one of the few surviving pictures taken by a Park Police officer soon after Foster's body was found in Fort Marcy Park on July 20, 1993. It reveals that Foster suffered trauma on the right side of his neck, just below the jawline. On the photograph there is a clearly visible wound about the size of an old sixpence, marked by a black "stippled" ring suggestive of gunpowder burns. It has the appearance of a small-caliber gunshot wound.

 

The photograph is undoubtedly authentic. A prosecutor on the staff of Kenneth Starr, the independent counsel appointed by a panel of judges to investigate President Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary, has shown it to individuals "off the record", including a leading forensic scientist in New York.

 

It is devastating evidence. The official report issued by Robert Fiske, the Independent Counsel, in June 1994 which included that Foster shot himself in the mouth with a Colt .38 revolver, said "there was no other trauma identified that would suggest a circumstance other than suicide". Dismissing the testimony of paramedics who described seeing a wound on Foster's neck when they found the body, the Fiske Report stated that "the photographs taken at the scene conclusively show that there were no such wounds".

 

In fact, the photograph confirms the eyewitness account of the paramedics. Four testified in 1995 that they saw trauma to the neck. Two described it as a probable gunshot wound. One rescue worker, Richard Arthur, explained in a deposition to the Senate Banking Committee that he "saw blood all over the right side of the neck . . . I saw what appeared to be a small gunshot wound here near the jaw line. Whether the coroner's report says that or not, fine. I know what I saw."

 

The autopsy report said that the only external wound was a gaping hole in the back of Foster's head where the bullet supposedly came out. The bullet was never found. But it is doubtful whether such a wound existed when the paramedics arrived. Sgt George Gonzalez said in a deposition: "I didn't see an exit wound."

 

Corey Ashford, who lifted Foster from behind the shoulders, cradling the head, told the FBI that he "did not recall seeing any blood while placing Foster in the bag". He said that "Foster's head was intact and he had not observed an exit wound".

 

Dr Julian Orenstein, the doctor who certified death at the Fairfax Hospital, said he did not see an exit wound. "I never saw one directly. I didn't spend too much time looking back there."

 

Tom Wittenberg, head of the Reubel funeral home in Little Rock where Foster's body was taken, gave a bizarre answer when asked to describe the exit wound. "What if there was no exit wound at all? I'm telling you its possible there wasn't." Then he refused to say another word.

 

The story of the crime scene photos is disturbing. The first photographs taken that evening, by Franz Ferstl, a Park Police officer, have all disappeared. So have most of the photographs taken by detective John Rolla. The entire set of 35mm photos taken by technician Peter Simonello were under-exposed and deemed useless. All that remains is a motley mix of 18 Polaroid photographs that reveal little.

 

There are, of course, autopsy photographs but the investigation had already been compromised by that stage. The X-rays from the autopsy have vanished. Consequently, the photograph examined by The Telegraph is a unique record of the crime scene as it was when the paramedics arrived. It is all the more shocking to discover that this photo was never presented to the panel of four forensic pathologists brought in by the Fiske investigation to review the case in 1994. "I never saw anything like that. If I had it certainly would have piqued my interest," said Dr Donald Reay, Seattle chief medical examiner.

 

Instead, the panel was shown an enhanced blowup of a second generation photograph which had been cleverly distorted. An informed source said the mischief occurred at the FBI crime laboratories, the same ones plagued by allegations of evidence tampering in a series of key cases. This sham photograph was shown to investigators on the Senate Banking Committee and Congressman Bill Clinger's House Oversight Committee, tricking the Republicans on Capitol Hill into believing that nothing was amiss. In the distorted picture the stippled neck-wound looks like a smear of blood. The Fiske panel was misled into concluding that it must have been a "contact stain". But because Foster's head was pointing straight up, and was not in contact with any blood, the panel speculated that one of the paramedics must have jolted the head.

 

This theory might have held if it had not been for Miquel Rodriguez, the tenacious prosecutor appointed by Mr Starr to reopen the investigation into Foster's death. Mr Rodriguez discovered that the photograph circulated had been touched up. After a struggle with the FBI he obtained the original, which he sent outside FBI channels to the Smithsonian Institution. The enhancement work was done by Asman Custom Phto Service, in Washington. Mr. Rodgriguez resigned soon afterwards, complaining that he was overruled by his immediate supervisor Mark Tuohey, then head of Mr Starr's Washington office. Mr Touhey had indicated from the start that the Foster investigation was largely for show and that it would be ill advised to challenge the official version of suicide. When Mr Rodriguez appealed to Mr Starr, the response was vacillation.

 

Mr. Starr risks committing himself to a position that could haunt him for the rest of his life. Although sources close to the Starr investigation acknowledge in private the authenticity of the photograph, the original has not been provided to the two outside pathologists brought in to evaluate the Foster case.Brian Blackbourne, the San Diego medical examiner, told The Telegraph that he had not seen anything that would indicate trauma on Foster's neck. Henry Lee, the world famous forensic scientist, said that he could not remember if he had seen it, a laughable evasion. Mr Blackbourne and Mr Lee have submitted reports that tend to buttress the ruling of suicide. For two years Mr Starr has been making tactical leaks to newspapers, encouraging them to say that the Foster phase of his investigation is over. Last week The Los Angeles Times announced that the final document was ready. Mr. Starr had better be ready to explain why a crime scene photograph shows a .22 caliber bullet wound in the neck of Hillary Clinton's closest friend.

 

From the London Sunday Telegraph


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