Last week on TheToday Show, Linda Tripp declared that she had received "threats to my life, threats to the lives of my children" from the president (via Monica Lewinsky). Similarly, Dick Morris referred last month in the Washington Post to "the list of the 25 people who have died in mysterious circumstances in connection with [the Ken Starr] investigation." Does the president's scandal-management team include a hit squad? Who allegedly has been bumped off? Are any of the charges true?
Lists of supposed Clinton victims have circulated on the Internet web for the past few years. (Click here to see one list.) The lists may have originated with The Clinton Chronicles, a video produced in 1993 and since hawked by conservatives such as Pat Robertson, Rush Limbaugh, and Jerry Falwell. The Chronicles explain that as governor of Arkansas, Bill Clinton supervised a drug-smuggling and money-laundering enterprise that stretched from Central America to the Reagan-administration's CIA to west Arkansas. The video alleges that eight people were killed because they knew too much about the operation.
Since Chronicles, the body count has multiplied: Some lists now include more than 60 "victims." The lists include the most familiar dead Clinton associates (Vince Foster, Ron Brown), but also a cast of lesser-known characters, from a Little Rock dentist to former Clinton bodyguards. Some lists include people entirely unconnected to the president, such as Abbie Hoffman and Nicole Brown Simpson.
According to the lists, each Clinton scandal has a body count. Whitewater's victims include James McDougal, who suffered a heart attack in prison. The fundraising scandal's victims include C. Victor Raiser, a Clinton fundraiser who perished in a private plane crash, and Paul Tully, the former political director of the Democratic National Committee, who died of an apparent stroke. The Paula Jones suit's victims include Bill Shelton, an Arkansas state trooper, and Kathy Ferguson, his fiancee, who both committed suicide. (Ferguson's ex-husband was named as a co-defendant in Jones' suit.) Flytrap's victims include Ed Willey, husband of Clinton-accuser Kathleen Willey, who committed suicide, and Mary Mahoney, a former White House intern gunned down in a holdup at a Starbucks.
Along with the murders, the lists detail their elaborate cover-ups. They were concealed through false suicide notes (Navy Admiral Jeremy Boorda, who committed suicide after the media discovered he had misrepresented his military experience); faked autopsies (Sandy Hume, a Washington journalist who committed suicide; and Ron Brown, who was supposedly shot before his plane crashed); and witness-less "accidents" (Paula Grober, a "very attractive" speech interpreter for the deaf who worked for Clinton when he was governor, and died in a car crash).
None of the lists directly accuse the president of actual cold-blooded murder. One tallies "persons who have recently met their demise in suspicious circumstances who appear to have some connection to the Clintons;" another simply lists dead people under the catchy title "All the President's Men." They imply that the deaths are too plentiful to be coincidental. They do not speculate on the organization or modus operandi of the Clinton killing operation.
Authorities have investigated most of these cases and found no connection to the president, members of his administration, or his personal friends. The U.S. Park Police and independent counsel Starr, for example, both investigated Foster's death and concluded that it was a suicide.
This item was written by Jodi Kantor.
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