Does a Real Opponent Hire Fake Opposition?
Donald Trump Brings David Bossie Onboard
“Trump Hires the Original Hillary Hunter,” screamed the September 1 headline of The Daily Beast online. They were talking about David Bossie, the head of the conservative organization, Citizens United, whom Trump had just appointed as his deputy campaign manager. Here’s a sample of the misinformation that the left-leaning web site doled out under the headline:
Bossie certainly knows how to dig up dirt, and his appointment signals that the Trump campaign may be revisiting the anti-Clinton playbook that Bossie helped write in the 1990s.
Bossie knows the litany of Clinton scandals better than most; he’s been bird-dogging the powerful couple since before Bill became president, and helped get the anti-Clinton attack machine up and running in Washington.
In the Trump campaign, Bossie will be steeped once again in some of the darkest conspiracy theories surrounding the Democratic nominee, including that Hillary Clinton was involved in or even responsible for the death of White House deputy counsel Vince Foster, whose body was found in July 1993 in a Washington-area park with a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Please note the use of the ever-popular “conspiracy theories” pejorative, meaning, as always, explanations for heinous crimes that differ from those given by the government and the mainstream press, and the clever way in which The Daily Beast assures you that in one notorious case the alternative explanation is false. Rather than stating as though it were a proven fact that Vince Foster committed suicide, they say that his body was found “with a self-inflicted gunshot wound,” which is just another way of saying precisely that.
Ruth Marcus in her follow-up opinion piece in The Washington Post had this to say:
If Bossie’s name doesn’t ring a bell, you’re lucky, because it means that you haven’t been immersed for the past two decades-plus in the mucky minutiae of the right’s no-holds-barred war against Bill and Hillary Clinton.
This is a war in which Bossie has risen from foot soldier to general, in large part thanks to his willingness to do anything in pursuit of his prey. He is the Captain Ahab of Clinton haters.
Bossie’s Clinton Popgun
No, Ruth, I have been observing Bossie much more meticulously and objectively than you have for a long time, and when it comes to Clinton scandal hunting I can say with some confidence that he is much more the Elmer Fudd than the Captain Ahab of the Clinton hunters. “I’m going to get you, you wascally wabbit.” Not only have I observed him, but I have documented my observations. The following passage is from my January 27, 2012, article, “Who Is Citizens United?”
In Dreyfus 5 we saw one very good way of identifying members of the propaganda sub-strata. That is the unjustified publicity they often receive from those on the crust. The Washington Post told us how Citizens United had two full-time researchers looking into the death of Deputy White House Counsel, Vincent Foster, researchers who curiously didn't seem to be scoring any hits in what the military would call a target-rich environment. Here is part of the relevant passage:
Before leaving the subject of apparent cloak-and-daggery involved in the Foster "political firestorm," we must mention a couple of very curious organizations showcased by [Dan E.] Moldea [in his book Washington Tragedy, How the Death of Vincent Foster Ignited a Political Firestorm]. Referring to a March 13, 1994, article in The Washington Post, he writes, "[Michael] Isikoff also spotlights Floyd Brown, the chairman of Citizens United, a nonprofit conservative group, which has hired two full-time investigators to investigate Foster's death. One of the investigators is David Bossie, known by some as a young attack dog who has been brought on, specifically, to investigate President Clinton in a practice known as opposition research." He also reminded us that Brown had been behind the production of the Willie Horton commercials which played on racial fears and made Michael Dukakis, in his presidential campaign against George Bush in 1988, appear to be soft on crime.
That Isikoff article—and particularly that passage—had jumped out at me when I first read it, but certainly not because I believed it was true. I surmised that what I was witnessing was the propaganda technique that would later reach its finest flower in the Moldea book. The Post, I suspected, was intentionally showcasing Citizens United to give the group free publicity, building them up as legitimate, though unscrupulous, overzealous, and exceptionally-partisan conservative opponents of Bill Clinton. Those thinking of themselves as conservative would then gravitate toward the group rather than form their own groups while everyone else would be given an easy explanation as to where all these scurrilous, irresponsible and unfounded charges against the Clintons might be coming from. For their part, Brown and his group could be counted on the create a lot of sound and fury primarily about minor and complicated Clinton financial shenanigans centered around the joint vacation-home investment with the McDougals [Jim and Susan] known as Whitewater, with perhaps a sexual peccadillo or two thrown in for spice.
These were my suspicions because, active as I was in looking into the Clinton administration misdeeds by this time and although I lived and worked in the Washington area, I had never heard of Citizens United. Most importantly, in the small world of people nosing into the Foster death the paths of the "two full-time investigators" had never crossed mine. Bossie had not been named as one of them, as Moldea implies, and, at any rate, I had not heard of him either. I also wondered how, if they were spending so much time on the case they were yet to come up with anything that had been made public, considering all there was to come up with. I tracked down a phone number for the group and called them, asking them who the two Foster investigators were. The woman on the other end of the line didn't know what I was talking about and couldn't find anyone there at that moment who did. I requested that she have one of their two investigators call me so we could compare notes should she ever ferret him out and asked her to send me some of the group's material. I never heard from the "investigators," but I did get some material from them although it took at least a month to arrive. The literature was slick and expensive-looking, with a number of boxes to check at the bottom of the last page for how much money I would send them, ending on the top end at some outrageously high figure, but the disclosures of Clinton misdeeds were so bland and the organization had been so languid in responding to my initial inquiry, one had to wonder why anyone would be moved to send them a dime. The distinct impression left with the perceptive reader was that the plea for contributions was there to give the group some visible means of support. To this day I have never read or heard of the first thing with respect to the Foster case that this organization has ever uncovered or publicized.
Later when I learned that Bossie had ended up, in spite of his lack of legal, law-enforcement or even journalistic experience, as Rep. [Dan] Burton's chief investigator of the Clinton scandals, I was not at all surprised. I was even less surprised when he turned out to be the guy held responsible for the Burton-discrediting selective release of Webb Hubbell's prison tapes. It is no less than what one should expect of a fake-right operative.
Republican Dan Burton Also Fake Opposition
As one could have well expected, Bossie’s performance for Burton, particularly when it comes to the Foster case, was every bit as feckless as it was when he was working for Citizens United. One can get some appreciation of his untrustworthiness and unreliability right off the bat in this taped telephone conversation between Burton and Reed Irvine of Accuracy in Media. At the beginning of the conversation Irvine tells Burton that he has a contact who has some hot information on the crash of TWA 800 that he would like to share with key members of Congress like Burton but he has one big reservation, that is, that it might fall into the irresponsible hands of Bossie who might leak it prematurely.
The full conversation reveals that as fake opposition goes, Burton and Bossie were really a perfect match. I have analyzed it in “Taped Exchange Exposes ‘Pit Bull’ Dan Burton as Yapping Lap Dog.” Key background for understanding the significance of the conversation is in this passage:
When the Republicans had gained control of the House of Representatives the previous November and Burton had unexpectedly been elevated to the chairmanship of the Government Reform and Oversight Committee, critics of the government in the Foster case had good reason to believe that, at last, a truly independent inquiry would be made. A leader among that group was a man who had already done quite a bit of investigation of his own, Reed Irvine, the head of the conservative media watchdog organization, Accuracy in Media. His most notable discovery known at the time to those of us who had also looked into the Foster death was that the X-ray technician responsible for maintenance of the X-ray machine that was to have been used in the Foster autopsy reported that the machine had been installed only a little more than a month before the autopsy, and no problems with it had been reported. This contradicted autopsy doctor James Beyer’s report that no X-rays were available because of a faulty machine with which he said they had had “numerous problems.” (See Part 3 of my “America’s Dreyfus Affair, the Case of the Death of Vincent Foster.”)
In the phone conversation Irvine’s exasperation is palpable as it becomes evident that Burton, with Bossie by his side, is going to welch on his promise to Irvine that he would, with his new power of committee chairman, investigate the Foster death.
Bossie Meets DC Dave
My one personal encounter with Bossie came in the summer of 1998, a little more than a half-year after Kenneth Starr’s team had released its report concluding, once again, that Vince Foster had committed suicide. To those of us who are concerned with truth and justice, the really important thing about that report is that the three-judge panel that appointed Starr forced him to include at the end the submission by the lawyer, John Clarke, for the aggrieved witness in the case, Patrick Knowlton, that, to my mind, thoroughly demolishes the suicide conclusion. At least as important as that fact is the further fact that the American press completely blacked out the news of this addition to the report. In Part 3 of “America’s Dreyfus Affair, the Case of the Death of Vincent Foster” I called it “The Great Suppression of ’97.” They continue to suppress that news to the present day, and it is only because of that suppression that they can get by with scoffing at critics of the official suicide-from-depression conclusion and calling them schoolyard style names. One would expect that, in contrast to the mainstream media, the leading investigator for the leading Congressional critic of the Clintons would be all over this Clarke-Knowlton submission and would, indeed, be wielding it like a club. At least, that is what one might expect from a genuine Clinton opponent. Here is my report on our encounter:
David Bossie, former lead investigator for Rep. Dan Burton's Committee on Government Oversight and Reform, in response to a question at a small gathering at the National Press Club, said that he had only read "part" of the report by Kenneth Starr on the death of Vincent Foster and expressed surprise to learn that there was a 20-page addendum to the report submitted by the lawyer for Patrick Knowlton, the witness who is suing members of the FBI for harassment and intimidation. He also demonstrated annoyance at getting questions on the Foster death case, saying that he was unprepared, when he came to the gathering presided over by veteran journalist, Sarah McClendon, to talk mainly about his experience with the Webster Hubbell prison tapes.
Contradicting a 1994 report by Michael Isikoff in The Washington Post, he said that when he worked for Floyd Brown's Citizens United, he was the only investigator the organization had. Isikoff reported that the organization had "two full-time researchers working on the Foster case alone." He claimed at the gathering tonight that he had interviewed some of the emergency workers who were at Fort Marcy Park the night the body was discovered, but could remember no names.
Bossie excused his former boss, Burton, for not pursuing the Foster case (and challenged a questioner who proclaimed that Foster was murdered by asking, "How do you know? Were there witnesses?) by saying that Burton had done more than any member of Congress to advance the case and he had been pilloried for his actions by both Democrats and Republicans. More investigation of Foster, he intimated, would interfere with their inquiry into such serious matters as the funneling of funds from the Chinese government to the Clinton campaign. He said the D'Amato Committee had already called witnesses on the Foster death and there was no point in going through that again.
Bossie also revealed that he, like reporter Christopher Ruddy, is a product of Morton Blackwell's Leadership Institute.
Media Creation Bossie
In spite of Bossie’s humiliating dismissal from Burton’s staff, later in the year he got some gratuitous free publicity from one of the newspapers blacking out the crucial part of Starr’s report on Foster, the “conservative” Washington Times. Here is a sample of what I wrote about it at the time:
Page A4 of today's Washington Times, in a section labeled "On Media," has this headline: "New web site focuses on Clinton scandals." What follows is 17 column inches of free, totally uncritical advertising for the new web site nominally attributed to the infamous David Bossie who "...was forced to resign in May after a complex Capitol Hill flap. Under Chairman Dan Burton, Indiana Republican, the committee publicly released doctored transcripts of Webster Hubbell's jailhouse conversations, which cast the first lady in a poor light, indeed."
"President Clinton called the edited material a 'violation' of Mr. Hubbell's privacy."
"Yet Mr. Bossie has enjoyed a reputation as a straight shooter among many Hill denizens and media members."
You will never see [the URL for “America’s Dreyfus Affair, the Case of the Death of Vincent Foster”] given in The Washington Times like the Bossie site (dead link) that they give us in their article. They tell us further, with breathless enthusiasm, that "With no more publicity than a mention in Roll Call last Friday, his new Web site has already been visited by 500 users."
With this article they are doing their best to elevate that number.
Bossie’s Revealing Taped Phone Conversation
Virtually as I am composing this essay, the most damning evidence yet of Bossie as Clinton-hunter has come to light. Irvine didn’t just talk to his employer Burton; he talked on the phone to Bossie, as well, and Irvine taped all his phone conversations. Here we get to listen to Bossie tout to Irvine the just-published book Blood Sport by James Stewart, a book that Hillary had urged him to write, Stewart tells us in his prologue. It is also a book that claimed, most improbably, that Foster had laid bare his marital troubles to Clinton crony Susan Thomases just a few days before his violent death. Bossie pushes that story strongly to Irvine, who is skeptical. Bossie’s stumbling effort to overcome Irvine’s skepticism is very revealing.
Writing in the house organ AIM Report, Irvine tells us why this story that Stewart attributes to Thomases is almost certainly not true:
Stewart says Foster killed himself because he was seriously depressed. He claims everything in Foster's life was falling apart, including his marriage. He got that from Hillary Clinton's good friend, Susan Thomases. He put it in his book, not knowing that an FBI interview report dated 6/14/94, records that Thomases saw no change in Foster's appearance or demeanor and was completely shocked by his death. She "could offer no reason or speculation as to why he may have taken his life."
Stewart has repeated these serious errors even after they were called to his attention. He apparently feels safe in doing so. The New York Times and other big media won't expose such flaws even when it is clear that they are based on lies and deceit.
Why? Because the Times and other big media, like James Stewart, are so committed to the suicide theory that they refuse to acknowledge its weaknesses.
In his phone conversation, Irvine provides supporting evidence for his assertion that Foster was hardly the sort of man to have confided such intimate things to anyone, much less to the sort of person that Susan Thomases was. For what he means by his poke at Thomases, we turn to page 228 of Joyce Milton’s 1999 book, First Partner Hillary Rodham Clinton:
Thomases shared many of Hillary’s more abrasive qualities, except that unlike Hillary she made little attempt to keep them under control. She monitored other people’s smoking and eating habits, and had an unjustified faith in her own snap judgments and used up a lot of the energy in whatever room she happened to be in at the moment. “I’ll kill you for that” or “You’ll never work again in this business” was her idea of a mild rebuke, and she was soon embroiled in feuds with the Democratic National Committee chairman David Wilhelm, campaign counsel David Ifshin, Dee Dee Myers and even Al Gore.
This writer has also weighed in previously on the improbability of this little encounter, and further, the great insensitivity of relating it:
And they say it’s the skeptics who don’t care about the feelings of the Foster family.
The fact that Vincent Foster had to be savvy enough to realize how it would certainly be taken for him to run down his wife after nightfall in the privacy of another woman’s boudoir, even if he didn’t mean it that way, is reason enough to doubt firmly that this extraordinary conversation ever took place. The fact that Ms. Thomases neglected to tell the FBI about it when they interviewed her as a part of Robert Fiske’s investigation is another strong reason to doubt it. What she told her FBI interviewers is that she last saw Foster on the previous Wednesday or Thursday, about the time of the belatedly reported nocturnal tete a tete, but she believes they had lunch together with some other people. "She noted no change in his demeanor or physical appearance...His death came as a complete shock to her and she can offer no reason or speculation as to why he may have taken his life." And that would include marital difficulties, we must infer.
Now we learn that the press-touted “Clinton hunter” David Bossie energetically pushed the story at the time and, by his own assertion, played an important role in putting the Hillary Clinton-inspired book together. One must wonder if Donald Trump realizes what sort of man he has hired as his deputy campaign manager. If he does, we must wonder further what sort of game is being played here.
September 8, 2016
I have discovered this 2010 interview question by John Hawkins of the Internet site rightwingnews.com and Bossie’s response:
Now I need to ask you one more Clinton question because you were also involved in the Whitewater investigation. There’s one question that comes up a lot about that, still to this day, and you hear people ask about it, more in private than in public — but simple question, Vince Foster — do you think he killed himself?
I actually was on the crime scene the next day and evaluated the crime scene. I have been a firefighter in Montgomery County, Maryland now for 21 plus years. At the time I had only been there several years. But I’ve seen a lot of things and received a lot of training related to walking up on folks. It just doesn’t seem like there was any other way.
At the time, there were concerns and questions. My biggest question at the time was about the cover-up at his office. His office was sealed and you had law enforcement, including the Secret Service, kept at bay. The Justice Department lawyers were kept outside, while you had Bernard Nussbaum, Patsy Thomasson, and Maggie Williams…man, I haven’t thought of these names in years. All of them were seen by a Secret Service officer by the name of Henry O’Neill. Why I remember all these things I have no idea….
Forget the second paragraph. It’s all misdirection. What about the evidence that Bossie says he gathered from his visit to the scene at Fort Marcy Park the day after Foster’s death, the evidence that he says persuaded him that it was a suicide. Does that make any sense to you? I didn’t think so. Imagine what follow-up questions Reed Irvine might have had if he had been the interviewer, or think of what questions you would like to ask. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t even want the guy fighting a fire at my house, although he might be just the sort that Dr. Matthew McNiece would want working for him at Howard Payne University. Bossie would not exactly intimidate him with his intellect, and he strikes me as the sort who would be quite good at sucking up to his boss.
September 21, 2016