Vince: We Hardly Knew Ye
Being a recap of the death, and various ongoing investigations into same, of White House aide Vincent Foster, jr.
(With apologies to his family, who prefer to "let sleeping Fosters lie.")
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With the U.S. about to invade Bosnia in order to promote peace ("War is peace"); with things getting a little hot in Washington (and not just the weather) for that big, lovable clown from Arkansas; with investigations heating up; with the "special people" beginning to panic -- how convenient for the comfortable classes that the situation in Bosnia should heat up just about now.
So that the commissar class doesn't get too comfortable, I thought I'd offer a bit of a history lesson on the death, as well as the on-and-off investigations into same, of Vincent Foster, jr.
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IN-DEPTH INVESTIGATIVE REPORT ON VINCE FOSTER SUICIDE
Congressional Record (Vol. 140, No. 104)
House of Representatives, Tuesday, August 2, 1994
<Transcribed from the RECORD by Christopher Dunn, firstname.lastname@example.org>
Part 1 of 2
The SPEAKER pro tempore:
Under the Speaker's announced policy of February 11, 1994, and June 10, 1994, the gentleman from Indiana [Mr. Burton] is recognized for 60 minutes as the minority leader's designee.
Mr. BURTON of Indiana:
Mr. Speaker, over the past several weeks there has been a lot of questions about the death of Vince Foster and the connection of his death to the Whitewater investigation, and I have had nine people on my staff at the Republican Study Committee and my personal staff and some outside sources investigating this, because the Committee on Banking, Finance, and Urban Affairs here in the House that is doing the Whitewater investigation on a party line vote has limited the scope of the investigation to such a degree that one Member said that if the same principles had been applied to the O.J. Simpson case, the one thing you could ask O.J. Simpson is "How was your trip to Chicago?" You couldn't ask any other questions. That is how limited the investigation is. There is a deliberate attempt to minimize the investigation and, I think, to cover up a lot of the facts.
On the Senate side we have a similar problem. It is not quite as bad over there, but nevertheless a lot of the information that must come out regarding Vince Foster's death and his connection to the Whitewater matter needs to be explored.
<19:20> (The Record indicates time of day.) So tonight, even though I have been castigated by a lot of
the people in the media, even though some Members of the Senate committee and the House Banking Committee have indicated that we have made some comments that are not very understanding as far as Mr. Foster's family is concerned, I feel compelled to go through this tonight once more with one addition. Because we have been taken to task because of things I have said on the floor, I went out and found the confidential witness, the man that found Vince Foster's body, and I got a sworn statement. He swore before God that the things that I am going to read to you tonight are factual.
So I am going to go into the entire litany, the entire chronology of Vince Foster's death and the connection to Whitewater. Then I will read to you excerpts -- very important excerpts. I would read the whole thing to you, but we would be here all night because it is a 50-page sworn statement. But I will read to you excerpts that verify everything I have been saying before this body.
On July 20, 1993, Vince Foster left his White House office at 1 p.m. He was later found dead by a confidential witness at Fort Marcy Park. The confidential witness is the person that gave this sworn testimony to me. Nobody knows who he is except two FBI agents, G. Gordon Liddy, and myself.
Emergency medical service personnel discovered the body shortly after they arrived at the park at 6:09 p.m. The confidential witness was interviewed by G. Gordon Liddy on March 27. He was interviewed by me on July 21, and in between he was interviewed by the FBI agents who Mr. Liddy urged him to talk to.
The confidential witness told Mr. Liddy and me that he approached to within two and one-half to three feet of Vince Foster's head and he leaned over and looked directly down into Mr. Foster's eyes. He stated very specifically that the head was looking straight up and that the hands were at his side, palms up with no gun in either hand.
The Fiske report quotes the confidential witness as saying that he may have been mistaken and that there may have been a gun in Foster's hands, that he did not see because of the dense foliage and the position of the hand.
The confidential witness told me that the FBI agents pressed him on the issue of the gun, asking him as many as 20 to 25 times if he was sure there was no gun. And according to the confidential witness, the FBI said, "what if the trigger guard was around the thumb and the thumb was obscured by foliage and the rest of the gun was obscured by the foliage and the hand?" In other words, the trigger guard would be around the thumb, the gun would be underneath the thumb, and a leaf would be over that and you would not see it.
The confidential witness, after being asked about 20 to 25 times, said, "If what you describe were the case, then I suppose it could be possible because I did not count his fingers, but I am sure that the palms were definitely opened and facing up."
At this point the confidential witness still had not seen a copy of the photograph of Foster's hand that was shown on ABC news. The photo showed the right hand palm down with the thumb trapped in the trigger guard. He had not seen that. When I went to see this gentleman, I showed him the photo. He was sitting at his kitchen table, and he stood up and walked around the table twice, saying, "This is not the way it was; that is not the way it was! Those hands, that hand was moved!"
Why did he get so angry when he saw the photo? He told me not only that the hand had been moved, but that some of the things he told the FBI were not mentioned in the report. For instance, the vegetation at the bottom of the body had been trampled like somebody had been walking around there. Why was no mention of the trampled vegetation in the Fiske report?
The confidential witness also reported that he saw a wine cooler bottle near Mr. Foster's body. Such a bottle was not noted in the Fiske report. We are going to talk about these wine cooler bottles a little later. There was, in the Fiske report, a blood stain on the right side of Mr. Foster's face. Mr. Fiske's report noted that the blood stain on Foster's right cheek and his right shoulder were inconsistent with the head being upright. In other words, if the head was sitting up, how did the blood get on the cheek and the right shoulder? So somebody had to move the head.
But the problem is, before the police or anybody got there, the head was already straight up. So who moved the head? The report describes the stain on his cheek as a contact stain, typical of having been caused by a blotting action such as would happen with a bloodsoaked object brought in contact with the side of the face and taken away.
So at sometime his face had to be in contact with his shoulder, according to the report. Mr. Fiske's report assumes that one of the early emergency personnel that came to the park move the head. But the confidential witness said the head was already moved. And he was the first person to see the body before anybody got there.
In addition, Mr. Fiske, after interviewing all the people at the scene, fails to identify anybody that admits to touching the body and moving the head. So he assumes it was moved by somebody after the body was found, but he does not know who it was. Yet the confidential witness that found the body said it was already straight up. Why did Mr. Fiske assume that one of the persons who arrived after the confidential witness moved his head, when the confidential witness was the first person to find Foster's body? He said the head was facing straight up at the time.
Now, the FBI did not find the bullet or skull fragments at the park. On July 20, 1993, the park police conducted a search for the bullet that killed Foster using only one metal detector. And they found nothing at all after a lengthy search. Why did they only use one metal detector? This is one of the highest-ranking people in the Clinton White House. They had one metal detector running around through the woods there, and this did not find anything. Then, nine months later, on April 4, 1994, sixteen FBI agents and experts searched Fort Marcy for the bullet and they found twelve -- not one, not two, but twelve -- modern-day bullets. But they did not find the one that killed Vince Foster.
The FBI searched immediately beneath where Foster's body was found by digging and hand-sifting the soil and other debris. They excavated down a foot and a half. They found no bullet and no bone fragments. In the search for the bullet, the FBI personnel marked out a grid of the most likely area for the bullet to be found after passing through Foster's skull. The area was searched using a metal detector. Once again, twelve modern-day bullets were found, but the FBI lab determined that none were the one that shot Vince Foster or came out of his gun.
Now, I contacted a ballistics expert in California who stated that after passing through a man's skull, a .38 caliber bullet should travel no more than 1,200 to 1,600 feet -- or about 300 to 500 yards. The FBI should have been able to find that bullet with all the people that were out there and all the expertise they had, if the bullet was in the park. So why was it not found?
Get this. Once again, this is very important. There were no fingerprints on the gun, and there were no fingerprints on 27 separate pieces of the suicide note. Can you imagine a suicide note torn into 27 pieces without a fingerprint on it? You would have to wear surgical gloves. Here is how he explained that. The FBI found no fingerprints on the .38 caliber Colt revolver. The Fiske report states, "the latent fingerprints can be destroyed due to exposure to heat."
So if it was a real hot day, they are saying, the fingerprints could have melted off the gun. Yet they do not explain why, when they took the trigger guard off the gun, there was a fingerprint on it that had been on there probably for years. But the fingerprints that Vince Foster allegedly put on the gun were melted off. I went out to the site and walked all over that area. There is no sun that hits the place where they found his body. The sun could not have done that. Even on a hot day, it is very doubtful, according to forensic experts I talked to, that there would be no sign of any fingerprints on the gun, but it was completely smooth, no fingerprints on the gun, except a little bit on the trigger guard where they found his thumb. I do not know how you could hold a gun with one or both hands and not leave one fingerprint.
In addition, the note that was found in Foster's briefcase was torn, as I said, in 27 pieces and had no prints. It was not exposed to the heat. So why were no fingerprints found on either the gun or the note? Makes no sense.
There was no dirt on his shoes. There was a little bit of mica, but there was no dirt on his shoes. When Mr. Foster's clothing was examined by the FBI lab, "it did not contain any coherent soil."
<19:30> They did find small parcels of mica, which is off of leaves,
on much of Foster's clothing, including his shoes, which is consistent with the soil in Fort Marcy Park.
The Fiske report states that it was dry on the day Foster died and that foliage leading up to and around Foster's body was dense. It concludes that "it was unlikely that there was a great deal of exposed moist soil in the park that would have soiled Foster's shoes."
Foster would have had to walk a long way from his car to the second cannon. I walked all the way from the parking lot up to that second cannon, and it was a dry day and I had dust all over my shoes. It is about 300 yards.
For them to say there was no dirt on his shoes does not make any sense, unless possibly he had been moved to that position. Even on a dry day his shoes would have been stained by either grass or dirt or at least dust. Why was no dirt or dust or grass found on his shoes?
Now, there was blond to light brown hair that did not match Mr. Foster's hair found on his tee shirt, pants, belt, socks, and shoes. In response to a question from Robert Novak, Mr. Fiske said, "While we have not concluded where the blond hair came from, there is not evidence to suggest that it provides any evidence of circumstances connected to his death." How does he come to that kind of a conclusion?
Carpet fibers of various colors were found on his jacket, tie, shirt, shorts, pants, belt, socks, and shoes. Did they check his office to see if the carpet fibers were off of his office carpet? Did they check his home to see if the carpet fibers were out of his home, and if they were not from either one of those places, where did those carpet fibers come from?
It is not mentioned in the report. You just forget about that. Yet everybody, the media and everybody, is accepting this report at face value, even though the confidential witness that found the body said the hands were moved and so was the head.
Why didn't Mr. Fiske attempt to find out who the blond hair belonged to? Why didn't Mr. Fiske attempt to determine where the carpet fibers and wool fibers found on Foster's body came from? Why would Mr. Fiske assume that this evidence was not relevant without investigating it first?
Then 70 pages of the report are devoted to the credentials of the four forensic experts that wrote the report on Mr. Foster's death. They had four experts that wrote a report saying it was a suicide at Fort Marcy Park, but they based their conclusions, probably 90 percent of them, on the coroner's report.
Now if the coroner made a mistake and he screwed up the report, then their report has to be questioned as well. Let us check on the coroner. He testified two days ago before the Senate.
Fiske goes to great length to highlight the credentials of thee four pathologists, as I just mentioned. Their resumes take up 70 pages of the report. Yet none of these people ever saw Foster's body, because he had been dead and buried for 9 months before they wrote the report. Their findings were wholly reliant on Dr. James Beyer, northern Virginia's deputy medical examiner.
He said that Vince Foster's death was consistent with a selfinflicted would, but according to the Washington Times, Dr. Beyer, the coroner, overlooked critical evidence in the 1989 Timothy Easley stabbing and supported a police finding that the death was a suicide. The death was later changed to murder -- homicide -- after an outside expert, Dr. Harry Bonnell, noted that Dr. Beyer's original report contained glaring errors, including a missing stab wound in the victim's hand where he was defending himself and getting the color of his hair wrong.
The coroner did not even get the color of his hair right. This is the guy on which they are basing the entire forensic report of Vince Foster. The autopsy report said Tim Easley's hair was gray when his hair was dark brown.
Regarding the stab wound in his hand, Dr. Bonnell said, "I cannot understand how any competent forensic pathologist would miss a stab wound in the hand." Dr. Beyer later said, "The cut on Easley's right hand was consistent with a needle mark," though he noted no such mark on his report. Forensic pathologists are supposed to make note of everything in their reports.
Dr. Bonnell also said that it was doubtful that the Easley stab wound to the chest could have been self-inflicted. He said it could not have been self-inflicted, and yet the coroner said it was.
Eventually, it was found out that Easley's girlfriend, Candy Wharton, was the killer, and she admitted stabbing Easley to death. So he missed it.
He made a terrible mistake, and he missed very important things that any forensic expert would have found, according to Dr. Bonnell -- any competent expert.
Then in December 1991, in another autopsy, Dr. Beyer ruled the death of Thomas Burkett, Jr., as "consistent with a self-inflicted wound," and this was a gunshot to the mouth, much like Vince Foster's. According to the New York Post, a second autopsy conducted by a Dr. Erik Mitchell detailed serious omissions in the Beyer autopsy.
This second autopsy came after the family had the body exhumed. They dug him up. It noted trauma and discoloration to this gentleman's right ear, which could indicate he was beaten to death before the shot was fired into his mouth. His ear had been all smashed up, and at the funeral they noticed it and they thought he had been shot in the ear. But he had not been. He had been shot in the mouth.
Burkett's family noted that the ear was so disfigured and bloody, they thought he had been shot there. Dr. Beyer never even mentioned the trauma to the man's ear in the report.
Dr. Beyer also failed to identify a fractured lower jaw. His jaw was broken. He did not mention that in the report, which could also indicate a beating.
The second autopsy also noted that Burkett's lungs had not been dissected, although the report said they had been. He said he did a complete autopsy, cut open the man's chest, checked his lungs. When they exhumed the body and did the second autopsy, they found he lied. He did not even do that. This is the man on whom they based their findings in the Vince Foster case.
The second autopsy in this case also found no trace of gunpowder in the mouth, and Dr. Beyer said he inadvertently left the section for powder burns off the gunshot wound chart.
So why did Mr. Fiske's pathologists base so much, if not all, of their report on the conclusions of a medical examiner who has been challenged in his past for flawed and erroneous autopsies? Why did Mr. Fiske's pathologists base so much of their report on the autopsy of a medical examiner who has a history of omitting important evidence from his autopsy reports?
The Fiske report states that Dr. Beyer was unable to take xrays of Mr. Foster's head because his x-ray machine was broken. However, the Park Police report, which was submitted last summer, quotes Dr. Beyer as stating that the x-rays of Mr. Foster's head indicated that there was no evidence of bullet fragments in his skull.
Determining if there are bullet fragments in the skull is very important to determining how far the bullet would have traveled. Did Dr. Beyer take x-rays of Vince Foster's head or didn't he? At the Senate the other day, he said he did not, so why did he tell the Park Police he did? I don't know.
Mr. Speaker, the security guards, directly, about 100 yards away from the place they found Vince Foster's body, across Chain Bridge Road -- there is the Saudi Arabian Ambassador's residence. There are five trained security guards there all the time. There are three that roam around, one in a van and one in a little security guardhouse there.
Their people were there all the time. They even checked that park across the street occasionally, because they were concerned about somebody trying to get to the Saudi Arabian Ambassador, and they said that day they heard no gunshot. The Fiske report says that as a result of traffic out there and construction traffic, and because with a gun in the mouth in that position there would not have been a lot of noise.
We, at my house, with a homicide detective, tried to re-create a head and fired a .38 cal barrel into that, to see if the sound could be heard from 100 yards away. Even though there was an earth mover moving around in the background, making all kinds of racket, you could hear the bullet clearly.
Now, this is the information that I have used in the past. I went out to see the confidential witness, and when I showed him the picture, he was upset. He told me that rather than me writing down a statement for him to sign, he wanted to give me a statement in his own words. I let him dictate a statement to me in his own words and he signed it.
I came back to this body and I gave my colleagues that signed statement. I did not give his name, because I promised I would keep his confidence. However, I read into the record what he said, and I sent it out to many people in the media.
Mr. Speaker, some people said, "We don't know if Burton is credible or not, we do not know if he is making this up," so they started questioning whether or not I was just once again beating a dead horse.
What did I do? I called the confidential witness there to get his sworn statement.
So last Thursday night on July 28, I took two other Congressmen, Congressman DANA ROHRABACHER of California and Congressman JOHN MICA of Florida, with me, and we took a court reporter from the Block Court Reporting Services and we recorded 49 pages of statements from the confidential witness.
So tonight, Mr. Speaker, I want to read into the RECORD excerpts from that which will verify everything that I have said. This man was sworn and he took an oath before God that what he is saying is absolutely correct.
So we started off. I said, "Why don't we start off by reading into the record what you said?" Here is the confidential witness reading into the record:
"Involving the statement about the gun in Vince Foster's hand, I made it very clear that the palms of his hands were facing up and at his sides. The agents investigating stated that the gun was hooked on his thumb and partially obscured by the back of his hand. Based on their explanation of how the gun was being held, I conceded that all that was visible -- that if all that was visible was the trigger guard on his thumb, and the dense foliage, that I could have missed seeing it. I again stated that I saw both of the man's palms, but did not count his fingers.
"After having seen the photo of the hand and the gun, I am sure the hand had been moved, because the palms were both face up when I saw Mr. Foster's body."
<19:40> Then I started questioning him as well as did Congressman ROHRABACHER and Congressman MICA. "Would you tell us how close you were to the body and how close you got to his face, his hand and everything else?" The confidential witness said, "I stood directly over the top
of his head at the head of the berm. My right foot, I'm sure that it was my right foot, was somewhere between 24 and 30 inches from the top of his head. No closer. At that point, leaning over with my left foot extended behind me, I looked directly down into his eyes from about 3 feet to 4 feet maximum above his face, my face from his."
I said, "You were directly above him?" He said, "Directly above him, looking straight down the
body. The man's head was facing straight up. If it was tilted, it was tilted very slightly because I looked into both eyes. I was questioned numerous times by the agents about are you sure the head wasn't tilted, and I kept telling, no, I looked straight down into both eyes. Do you want me to go on and explain what I saw?"
I said, "Yeah. Go ahead and explain what you saw." He said, "I saw blood traces on his nose and around his lips. There was not streams of blood on the side of his face. There
was not trickles of blood as indicated in the Foster report. I was looking straight down into the man's face and saw the blood." On his mouth and nose.
Congressman Mica said, "Was there a gun in the hands?" The confidential witness says, "There was no gun in his hand. His -- both palms were face up, thumbs out to the side." Congressman MICA: "You did not see a gun?" He said, "I did not see a gun next to the body." Congressman MICA, "Did you touch the body or did you shake him?" The confidential witness said, "Oh, God, no. I wouldn't touch him for no amount. I mean, no way would I disturb evidence, period." Then I said, "I want you to look at this picture because you say you saw no gun in the hands." And I showed him once again the hand that was on ABC News, the picture. He said, "I also, when I saw nothing in his hands, I leaned to
both sides of his head and to the back of his head to see if he had been hit in the head and saw nothing visible."
Congressman MICA said, "Did you look at his hands again?" He says, "I did not look at his hands again because I clearly
saw his hands were empty and he had no signs that he had, was defending himself or something."
Then I said, "Now, you said -- what did you see beside the body?" He said, "There was a wine cooler bottle laying I would say 24
to 30 inches to the right, between his shoulder and his elbow, laying on the berm but on the down side of the hill being held up by some twigs because it's a very steep grade."
Then I said, "Was it sitting straight up or just laying on its side?"
He says, "Laying sideways still probably one quarter of its contents in the bottle."
Then Congressman MICA said, "Did you see -- you said the palms were out?"
And the confidential witness said once again, "The palms were face up."
I said, "Both? Both palms?" He said, "Right beside him neatly. Just like that." And he showed us, just like that. He said, "So that they were not in this position?" Congress MICA rolled his hands over. He said, "It was not in that position as all." Then I said, "Tell me about the picture. You -- the FBI -- you asked the FBI what, about the picture, and the head?" The confidential witness said, "Numerous times." I said, "What did you ask them about the head and --" He said, "If you will show me the picture." This is what he said to the FBI agents. He said, "If you will show me the picture of the head and the
picture of his hands that you said there was no gun in -- that I said there was no gun in and you said there was, then I could tell you point blank if somebody tampered with it, with Mr. Foster's body."
Then I said, "What did they say when you asked them to see the pictures?"
And this is what he said the FBI people said. "Well, it will jeopardize our investigation. I cannot show it to you at this time. We will be more than glad to show it to you when all this investigation is over and that was the common answer I got from the FBI every time."
Then I said, "Over how long a period of time -- how many times did they say that to you?"
He said, "4, 5 times I directly inquired, let me see the picture."
They never let him see the picture of the hands. Congressman MICA said, "You have never seen this picture before?" The confidential witness said, "I had never seen that picture
until the Congressman" -- that is me -- "handed it to me. Mr. Liddy had told me that that picture had been published somewhere but I had never seen it or I would have probably been -- I know I would have been screaming."
Then I said, "So you were no more than 2 feet, 3 feet above his head?"
He said, "I would say 2 to 3 feet. I had said 24 to 30 inches, my face was from his face."
The he went on to say that he thought he had been there for a while because his clothes were very tight. There was a stain, just about like that, he showed me, on his shoulder.
Congressman ROHRABACHER said, "What color?" He said, "On his right shoulder. It was a -- the stain on his shoulder was --" "Was it red? Or was it blood?" said Congressman ROHRABACHER. The confidential witness said, "No, it was very light purple, almost identical color of the wine cooler." I said, "So you don't think it was blood?" He said, "I do not think it was blood. In the very center of --
it looked like he had thrown up on his right shoulder. In the very center there was one small speck area, probably no larger than a silver dollar that was black, that could have been blood in the very center of it."
The reason I'm skipping through is there is a lot of repetition here because we kept asking the questions over to make sure that we had it correct.
Congressman ROHRABACHER said, "Hold on. Let's make this point very clear. The FBI, when they were talking to you and when they kept going on, this question referred to the palm being up and the gun being underneath the palm?"
The confidential witness says, "He, the FBI agent, demonstrated with his hand like this with his palm up."
And he showed the palm to us like this and said that the trigger guard was on the thumb and the gun could have been obscured underneath the hand and that leaves might have been covering the thumb so he would not have seen the trigger guard.
Congressman ROHRABACHER said, "So the question -- when they claim that you had in some way conceded that, well, maybe perhaps you didn't see it, if indeed it was below the palm, that was based on a description by the FBI that the palm was up and that the gun was underneath the back of the hand?"
Then I said, "But it's not possible. Look at this." Because I had a gun and I put it on my thumb to show. Congressman ROHRABACHER said, "No. But that's not what this picture shows." The confidential witness said, "Exactly." Then I said, "But if the thumb is in there, look at this, you can't --" The Mr. ROHRABACHER said, "The more important part is that the FBI was describing something to him that was not --" The confidential witness said, "Exactly right." Then I asked him, "But in the report they say you believed that the palms were up, but you say there was no doubt?" He said, "I never said I believe it. I know it." That the palms were up. Congressman ROHRABACHER said, "Okay." Then the confidential witness says, "And he said the
confidential witness believes it, and that's as straight as they can be."
Mr. MICA. "But you never indicated --" He said, "Otherwise, those palms were up always." Congressman MICA. "And both palms?" Confidential witness. "Both palms, neatly at his side and they were just like that." Congressman MICA. "With nothing in them?" He said, "Nothing in the hands." Congressman ROHRABACHER. "And when you made the concession to
the FBI after repeating that you didn't believe there was a gun in the hand, over and over again, when you finally made the concession it was based on a description by the FBI that the gun was found with -- the man was found with has palms up and that gun was underneath the palm?"
He said, "That was all that would have been visible, was the trigger guard, would I have missed seeing a gun, with the dense foliage? If that being the case, it's possible I could have missed it."
In other words, if it was only the trigger guard and if the gun was obscured under the hand. But when we put the gun in the hand in the position it was in in the picture and we rolled the hand over, the butt of the gun was up or the gun was lying across the palm of the hand. You could not have missed it. It would have been impossible. And I do not know why Fiske did not check that out. A blind man could see it. Yet everybody is accepting this report at face value, saying it is a great report, and forensic experts are perfect, everything else is perfect and it is so full of holes you could not put water in it. It is terrible. It makes me sick.
[End part 1 of 2]
Coming to you from Illinois -- "The Land of Skolnick"