Who is Vince Foster?
Jude Wanniski
August 12, 1999


Memo To: Robert Bartley, WSJ editor
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Same Old Question

The new book, Bill and Hillary: The Marriage, opens up that old question you posed in a lead editorial back in 1993 -- "Who is Vince Foster?" -- not long before his lifeless body was found in Fort Marcy Park, several miles from his desk at the White House. I always could appreciate the anger you felt when the spin-doctors at the White House came up with the story that Foster committed suicide in a depression brought on by the editorial. As you will recall, we had several conversations at that time in which I passed on comments to you that I had received from a friend with ties to the FBI about foul play and the possibility Foster was murdered. I still believe that no matter how he died, it did not happen at Fort Marcy. Whether he committed suicide and was taken there or bumped off and taken there, I don't know. But it was one or the other. The book's revelations about a long-time love affair between Vince and Hillary is of course no surprise, as rumors were rampant back in 1993, and, in light of what we have since learned about the marriage, perfectly credible. The book, though, has stirred the pot again, which may reopen the potential for inquiries that will lead in new directions. Here is one comment from a friend that sounds right:

Vince's firing of FBI Director Webster at Hillary's insistence on or about July 16 was without doubt the "trigger" for Vince's untimely demise -- which I suppose was suicide. But not at Fort Marcy. He lived in Georgetown with his sister, had only been in the DC area for 6 months and could not have even known that park was there. People who travel the GW parkway every day don't know it's there. It has a T-bone entrance, there are no off-ramps or on-ramps. I suppose Vince committed suicide in the WH parking lot, just as the Arkansas State troopers at the Governor's Manse -- where Hillary was when they found her to tell her about Vince -- were originally informed. And the National Park Service -- the custodians of the White House -- moved his vehicle and body to the nearest place under their control where it wouldn't be found for quite a spell. The nearest such place under their control to the White House was Fort Marcy. It is an absolute miracle that his body was found so soon, being laid out way to hell at the back of the Park, off any foot path and on the slope down to the Potomac. Ordinarily the Park would have only been searched after a car had been found parked there overnight and it was found to have been his. If they had just found any old car there, they would have just put a ticket on it. And after a few weeks worth of tickets they might have checked.

The friend is just a fellow who lives near Fort Marcy and knows it well, and immediately was suspicious about the accounts of the suicide. He's read everything reported about the event, mulled it over many times, and has a working theory that Foster did commit suicide, for a reason that makes better sense than any other I've heard: "The scenario is that Vince committed suicide because of the confrontation with FBI Director Webster with respect to his direct responsibility for the Waco Massacre. In the early months of the Clinton Administration, we now know that Hillary was Co-President and had 4-5 Cabinet Departments under her. One was Justice and she ran it through Vince in the White House and Webb Hubbell at the Department of Justice. She tried to run the FBI through Kennedy but Webster wouldn't take orders. At that point Reno still didn't know where the Ladies Room was. Acting on info supplied by FBI that the Davidian children were being abused, Hillary told Vince to fix it! Rescue those children! So Vince-Webb-Webster did and the kids were incinerated. This could have bothered Vince more than somewhat and he blamed himself. Hillary blamed Webster for Waco and the travel office firing debacle and insisted he be replaced with one of their people. Webster refused to go quietly and Vince had to personally fire him in a contentious meeting at Justice. Webster may even have threatened to spill the beans on Hillary-Vince. Webster fell and broke his elbow on the curb at Justice when exiting the meeting. Two or three days later Vince committed suicide."

What do you think? It sounds plausible, especially when you throw in all the other stuff Vince may have known was coming down the pike... In case you missed it, here is the latest from the London Daily Telegraph.

7 August 1999

Hillary's Lover, the FBI and the Vital Questions
By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard

Hillary Clinton was warned. If she used her position as First Lady to launch a candidacy for the US Senate, she would forfeit her privileges and immunity. Suppressed stories would come to light. Her on-off, 15-year love affair with Vincent W Foster would find its way from the fringes of right-wing, talk-radio to the pages of the great metropolitan newspapers. As a politician, she would be fair game. And so it has happened this week, through the unlikely medium of "Bill and Hillary: The Marriage," a soap opera of re-heated allegations, mostly without identified sources.

But by dint of good timing, it has at least succeeded in breaking the Hillary-Vince taboo. That is progress. But the greater taboo still stands. No newspaper, no magazine, no political party, no element of the US power structure will dwell on the fact that Mrs Clinton's lover met his early end in the shrubbery of a Civil War park, with an untraceable Colt .38 revolver wedged in his hand, ostensibly by suicide. But even that taboo may not last forever.

She called him Vincenzo Fosterini. They downed Chianti over their long lunches at La Villa in Little Rock, soul mates drawn together by the suffocating Philistinism of Arkansas. A secretive, loyal, elegant, 6ft 4ins litigation attorney, with a devilish smile, it was he who recruited her as the first woman lawyer at the Rose law firm, and gave her first case before a jury -- her brief was to defend a company being sued because a hillbilly had found a dead mouse in his tin of pork and beans. Welcome to Arkansas.

Vince was the master: Hillary was the besotted, mesmerised apprentice, even though she was the Yale-educated northerner, the veteran of the Nixon impeachment inquiry. She picked up his fastidious little ticks. Never fold your clothes when you're packing. You roll them up. "Vince taught me that," she lectured her daughter's nanny, Becky Brown. But then, she spent more time traveling with Vince than she did with her own, feckless spouse: to London, to New York, and to Chicago.

Gradually, the relationship changed. She became First Lady of Arkansas, bought some clothes, condescended to wear make-up, switched from pebble glasses to contact lenses, and turned herself into a celebrity, more beautiful with age. She moved on. He fell deeper in love, willing to do anything for her, and as I discovered investigating Foster in the early 1990s, she took advantage of this blind loyalty to take care of dirty business, first in Arkansas and then in Washington, where he was installed as Deputy White House Counsel.

It is a known fact that Foster served as the Clintons' general factotum at the White House, handling their tax problems, their blind investment trust, and the continuing fall-out from the Whitewater property deal. That much is beyond dispute. It is also known that a raiding party entered Foster's office shortly after his death on July 20, 1993. A Secret Service officer observed Hillary Clinton's chief of staff, Maggie Williams, leaving the office that night with an armful of files. Finally, it is known that Foster had a fear that his phones were being tapped at the White House.

These facts alone should give pause for thought. Foster, after all, was the highest ranking official to meet a violent death in unexplained circumstances since President John F Kennedy. Even if it is true that Foster drove himself to Fort Marcy Park in his Honda Accord -- a big if, since the police could not find his car keys (they turned up later in his pocket at the morgue after a visit by White House aides) -- and even if he walked into the park and shot himself in the mouth, as we are told, it is still quite a story.

He never left a suicide note: the scraps of paper without fingerprints found six days later in his briefcase after it had been searched were just random jottings. And there was no apparent motive: the claim that he was depressed was largely invented later.

But did the First Lady's lover in fact shoot himself, or was he murdered? Kenneth Starr, the hapless scourge of the Clintons, certainly concluded that it was suicide. That is authority enough for most people. It has clearly dissuaded the Republicans from asking any more questions...for now. But it is not enough for those who have stepped deep into this swamp, and, ultimately, it may not stand up in court.

A crime scene witness, Patrick Knowlton, is quietly fighting a federal lawsuit against the FBI, alleging that agents falsified his witness statements and intimidated him as part of a conspiracy to cover up the death. His court filing tears the Starr report to shreds.

Those who say that Bill Clinton's nemesis would not have missed a chance to get to the bottom of the Foster case misunderstand the argument. The central allegation is that the Washington office of the FBI orchestrated a cover-up immediately after Foster's death. Once this had occurred there was no going back. The FBI and the Justice Department were institutionally committed. It would have taken a granite prosecutor to crack this open. Mr Starr was not a man who was going to tangle with the FBI.

Some of his staff tried, nevertheless. Mr Starr's lead prosecutor in the case, Miquel Rodriguez, the man who conducted the witness cross-examinations, suspected that Foster's death was staged to look like a suicide. As he tried to probe, FBI agents began to obstruct him. Planted stories appeared in the press stating that his investigation was closing down, when in fact it was cranking up. Mr Starr looked the other way. Rodriguez discovered that the FBI had doctored the key surviving Polaroid taken of Foster's head and neck. By sleuth, he obtained the original, which I have examined. It shows a black stippled neck wound, half way between the chin and the ear, exuding blood. It looks like a small calibre gunshot fired at short range, probably a .22 handgun pressed into the neck. In the FBI's doctored photo, the wound has disappeared.

Why does it matter? Because the FBI engaged in flagrant evidence tampering, and because it invalidates the official story that Foster put a revolver in his mouth and blew his brains out. It confirms the testimony given by the paramedics who first handled the body. Long before I saw this photo, one of them jabbed his fingers in my flesh, below the jawline. He said: "Listen to me, and listen to me hard, because I'm only going to say it once. Vince Foster was shot in the neck."

We will probably never know why Foster met his bad end, but I suspect that it is linked to the equally bad end of one Luther "Jerry" Parks, shot two months later in Little Rock. Case unsolved. Parks had been security chief for the Clinton presidential campaign in Little Rock in 1992. But his ties go back further. According to his widow, Jane, he carried out sensitive assignments for the Clinton circle for a decade, taking his instructions from Foster.

In the late 1980s Foster asked Parks to carry out surveillance on Governor Bill Clinton himself. "Jerry asked him why he needed this stuff on Clinton," his wife told me. "He said he needed it for Hillary." It appears that Hillary wanted to gauge how reckless her husband was being before subjecting herself, and her daughter, to the media glare of a presidential campaign.

Over time Parks was drawn in deeper. In late 1991, Jane Parks discovered hundreds of thousands of dollars in the boot of her husband's Lincoln. "It was all in $100 bills, wrapped in string, layer after layer," she said. Parks told her that he was paid to pick the money up at a remote airport in eastern Arkansas and deliver it to Foster.

Months after the presidential election, roughly mid-July 1993, Foster called Parks from Washington to say that Hillary had worked herself into a state about "the files." A few days later, almost certainly July 18, Foster called again to say that he had "made up his mind" and that he was going to give the files to Hillary, and wanted to be sure he had a complete set.

Parks protested angrily. "You can't give Hillary those files, it's a violation of our agreement." But Foster was adamant and said he was going to meet Hillary at "the flat," using the British word for apartment. Two days later Foster was found dead. When Parks heard the news on television, he went pale with shock. "I'm a dead man," he blurted out. Two months later he was indeed dead.

Foster cannot have met Hillary at "the flat" or anywhere else. She was in California on July 20, and flew that evening to Little Rock. But that does not preclude the possibility that Foster thought he had an assignation. As for the files, who knows?

The American press has ignored the life and death of Jerry Parks. Needless to say, the name is not even in the index of Bill and Hillary: The Marriage. But if Hillary Clinton wants to be a senator, and then president, perhaps they should take a look.