Here, now was a veritable gold mine of new evidence which one could use to see how wellFiske's conclusions stood up, but as with a gold mine, a good bit of digging was requiredto get at the more valuable nuggets. Since his conclusions had not been very wellsupported by the evidence that accompanied his report, one would not have expected thatthey would have done much better by the initially suppressed evidence. The expectations,as it turned out, were realized, in spades. Determined excavation by some new handsrevealed a whole new collection of inconsistencies and anomalies in the government"suicide" case.
If his real purpose was to keep the lid on the Foster case, Starr was even bettersuited than Fiske. A cry rose up from the Democrats akin to Br'er Rabbit's protestationagainst being thrown into the briar patch. One of the three federal judges was said to beespecially close to arch- conservative, Republican Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina,and Starr himself, having served in such a high- level political position, wascharacterized as simply too partisan, though many newspapers not noted for theirRepublican leanings spoke of his fine reputation and his integrity. Starr, unlike Fiske,did not shrink from public appearances and on such occasions was not reticent aboutflaunting his devotion to his Christian faith and using such pious expressions as"civic virtue."
In spite of all that has transpired over the past three and a quarter years, the lackof real progress in the Foster case is what stands out. Originally, we were waiting for adetermination by the Park Police. That lasted only fifteen days, but then we were told towait for their report. Even before it came out, that wait was replaced by the wait for theFiske Report. Now we have been told to wait for the upright, but partisan Republican,Kenneth Starr to render his verdict, and the wait has now gone on for two and a quarteryears. With any kind of pressure from the press, the wait, itself, would be a major issue,but there has been none. In fact, over the entire unsatisfactory state of affairs, thepress has voiced, when it has bothered to voice anything, virtually nothing butsatisfaction.
Though the committee made it quite clear that they were not doing their owninvestigation of Foster's death, that has not stopped media defenders of the governmentline from referring to the numerous "investigations" that have all come to theconclusion of suicide. In reality, to date, there has not been even one deathinvestigation worthy of the name. As we have seen, just as the Senate did nothing tosecond guess Fiske, Fiske did very little to second guess the Park Police. He never toldus what the Park Police did to rule out murder. His strongest evidence of suicide camefrom the findings of the original autopsy doctor which conflicted with what otherwitnesses saw. He could have resolved the conflict by exhuming the body and having anotherautopsy performed, but he did not. In short, Fiske invested the utmost confidence in theefforts of the Park Police, but what he tells us of those efforts comes to a scant six andone half lines of type, and when the FBI lab came up with new avenues of inquiry for him,he failed to go down them.
On July 29, 1994, a month after the release of the Fiske Report, the United StatesSenate showed that it, too, could enjoy the indulgence of having its cake and eating it,too. It would like to show that it was taking heed of the public concern over the smell ofcover-up surrounding the Foster death, but an actual, full-scale Senate investigationcould only cause problems. If it were to produce a report that concluded that there was,indeed, a cover-up, it would have fostered a major national crisis. Covering up a murderis serious business. On the other hand, if it were to conclude that it was, indeed,suicide, the Senate would have to lay out its evidence in writing, and we have alreadyseen a little of how Fiske's partial effort could be so easily picked apart. What was donewas to let the Senate Banking and Urban Affairs Committee hold a half day of show-and-tellfeaturing some of the players in the Park Police/Fiske investigations (Remember, Foster'sdeath had been tied to the Whitewater Development Corporation which was, in turn,connected to Madison Guaranty Savings and Loan. Hence, the Banking Committee hadjurisdiction.) The opening statements of the chairman and the members would make it clearthat they were not there to question whether or not Foster committed suicide. As a groupthey had no quibble with Fiske's firm conclusions. What they were there for, in fact, wasto lend their authority to the official suicide line, but in the unlikely event it were toblow up in their face, they could always say truthfully that they never reallyinvestigated it.
There were three obvious reasons why Fiske's report should not have been immediatelyembraced as the final word on Foster's death. First, he separated his investigation intotwo parts. The second part was to be addressed to the actions of the White House staff inthe hours and days after the death. Did those actions constitute obstruction of justice,and if so, for what purpose? The report that Fiske released did not deal with thatquestion. Second, apart from the FBI lab reports already mentioned and the autopsy report,Fiske gave us very little supporting documentation for his conclusions. The Park Policereport was still held back. Fiske talked of conducting 125 interviews, but there were notranscripts of the interviews. What is at least as bad, in contrast to the Whitewater partof his investigation, he had not convened a grand jury to hear the Foster witnesses andnone of the testimony had been made under oath. The absence of the threat of a perjurycharge seriously weakened the credibility of the testimony. Fiske also told us what anumber of Polaroid photographs of the crime scene showed, but the one leaked to ABCremains the only one that the public has been permitted to see. And, in a confessed ParkPolice blunder that should have raised eyebrows, he admitted to the kernel oftruth in Chris Ruddy's charge about the crime scene photographs. The 35 mm photos taken bythe Park Police crime scene photographer were said to have been spoiled from under-exposure. In light of such a curious development, a critical reader had to wonder if theevidence we weren't shown really did support Fiske's conclusions.
With the Fiske Report providing cover, a collection of documents totaling some 100pages was quietly released shortly afterward by the Park Police. It did not include all ofthe paperwork accompanying the original police inquiry, and numerous parts of thedocuments were inexplicably "redacted" or blacked out, but in the absence ofanything better, this would have to serve as the long- awaited "Police Report."At any rate, not just the new anomalies it revealed, but news of the release itself, wasblacked out by the American press.