Scandals / Corruption

Brown, Floyd G. "Slick Willie": Why America Cannot Trust Bill Clinton. Annapolis MD: Annapolis Publishing, 1992. 192 pages.

Deborah Stone, president of Annapolis Publishing, was editor of the Dartmouth Review in 1986-87. This book, her company's first title, sold 35,000 copies in four months. In 1988 Floyd Brown produced the famous Willie Horton ad against Michael Dukakis, and in 1992 he set up the Gennifer Flowers Hotline which played tapes of conversation between her and Bill Clinton.

Even if one disregards the portions that deal with Clinton's womanizing (they are solid, but some will consider them irrelevant), this book still leaves a substantial amount of documented material regarding Clinton's background, and evidence reflecting on his character. There is little question that the major media was unusually kind to Clinton in 1992 -- particularly on the Gennifer Flowers issue, as compared to the number they did on Gary Hart in 1988. To a lesser extent it was also true on the draft issue: his draft dodging was more calculated than portrayed in the media, and so were his explanations of it during the campaign. This book also includes some background on Hillary Rodham's career. Unfortunately, it misses Clinton's connections to East Coast elites (who apparently use Southern governors as cover), and concentrates more on his record in Arkansas. Nevertheless it is more valuable than those two or three fawning biographies that were available on bookstore shelves as of early 1993.

Cockburn, Alexander and Silverstein, Ken. Washington Babylon. New York: Verso, 1996. 316 pages.

With wit, humor, sarcasm, and some vulgarity, this is a refreshing indictment of official Washington. The six chapters are titled "Babel's Tongues" (the press and the pundits), "Congress," "The Lobbyists," "Pork Central," "The Green Establishment," and "The Presidency." Each chapter is thick with names, detailing the hypocrisy, conflicted interests, frequent stupidity, and profiteering of the folks in Washington. The most interesting chapter is the one on ecology. It describes the role of major foundations and corporate philanthropy, as they deploy "engulf-and-neuter" tactics (the awarding of huge grants, ostensibly for grassroots issues, but designed to co-opt those advocating such issues into positions that ultimately sustain their opposite).

Alexander Cockburn writes a regular column for "The Nation." With Ken Silverstein he also edits "CounterPunch" (PO Box 18675, Washington DC 20036), described as "a fortnightly newsletter about power and evil in Washington." "Washington Babylon" is not recommended for Clintonistas and other liberals, as it's a major step beyond the hand-wringing of a William Greider, or of Barlett and Steele's "What Went Wrong?" By the time you're into the last chapter, you don't care about regressive tax laws or term limits. Instead, you feel like nuking Washington and making them start all over again.

DeCamp, John W. The Franklin Cover-up. Published in 1994 by AWT, Inc., P.O. Box 85461, Lincoln NE 68501 ($9.95 plus $2 postage). 288 pages.

In 1984, John DeCamp came in at number five in an Associated Press listing of the ten most powerful people in Nebraska, as ranked by media editors and publishers. In Vietnam he worked with William Colby in CORDS, and later initiated Operation Baby Lift in 1975. Back in Nebraska he served 16 years as a state senator. This book is about a cover-up that involved Lawrence E. (Larry) King, Jr. and his Franklin Community Federal Credit Union. Franklin was raided in November 1988 by federal regulators, and King, a wheeler-dealer with Washington connections, went to jail. The Nebraska legislature launched a probe, only to have their chief investigator, among others, die violently under suspicious circumstances. What began as a financial swindle ended up as a "hideous tale of drugs, Iran-contra money- laundering, a nationwide child abuse ring, and ritual murder." DeCamp was involved with the probe from the beginning, and became the attorney for two of the abuse victims. The investigation, unfortunately, fizzled out.

William Colby was secretly hired by the legislature's committee to look into the investigator's death. Colby warned DeCamp to stay away, or he could end up dead as well, because "sometimes there are forces and events too big, too powerful." Nevertheless, DeCamp wrote this book, which documents untold corruption in the American heartland.

Lasky, Victor. It Didn't Start With Watergate. New York: Dell Publishing, 1978. 478 pages.

Victor Lasky is a conservative who has written negative books on the Kennedy brothers and Jimmy Carter. He was also a public relations executive with CIA-funded Radio Liberty in New York City from 1956-1960. His mission in "It Didn't Start With Watergate" is to convince the reader that Nixon didn't do anything that various Democrats since FDR haven't done many times over. He almost succeeds. Better still, the book is fun to read.

If Lasky were to update the book, he could have a field day with the politically-correct interests that have taken over the Democratic Party, paralyzing it at the very time that broad-based New Deal reforms might otherwise be on the table.

But rather than exonerating Nixon, Lasky ultimately manages to incriminate the entire system. Any leftist can find ample confirmation here that Democrats and Republicans are two moments of the same corrupt historical dialectic. It's small wonder that fewer citizens bother to vote these days.

Peters, Charles and Branch, Taylor (eds). Blowing the Whistle: Dissent in the Public Interest. New York: Praeger Publishers, 1972. 305 pages.

This is a collection of 17 essays from "Washington Monthly," a DC journal with a warm spot in its pages for the occasional government whistle- blower. An introductory essay by Monthly co-managing editor Taylor Branch, who at the time was working with Bill Clinton on McGovern's 1972 campaign, depicts whistle-blowing as an emerging variant on America's turn-of-the- century muckrakers. Branch is an excellent writer, but his optimism is unfounded. Whistle-blowers usually defy their own interests in favor of the public interest, and all societies need this sort of spirit. But if things get so bad that liberals begin to depend on them, then it's already too late; whistle-blowing is too rare to make a major impact on the system. Now that buddy Bill is president, for example, Branch's own whistle is gathering dust.

Still, some of these essays are classics: Adam Hochschild on the Reserves and National Guard (pp. 30-42); Patrick J. McGarvey on the Defense Intelligence Agency (pp. 43-76); the bureaucratic dismantling of OEO's Office of Legal Services (pp. 77-100); Christopher Pyle on domestic political surveillance by the U.S. military (pp. 109-120); A. Ernest Fitzgerald on defense procurement practices (pp. 195-221); Taylor Branch on the Otto F. Otepka case (pp. 222-245); and an interview by Branch with Daniel Ellsberg (pp. 246-275).

Stich, Rodney. Defrauding America: A Pattern of Related Scandals. Expanded second edition published in 1994 by Diablo Western Press, Inc., P.O. Box 5, Alamo CA 94507, Tel: 1-800-247-7389. 654 pages.

Rodney Stich began his whistle-blowing career when he was a safety inspector for the Federal Aviation Administration in the 1960s. Before that he had been a Navy and airline pilot. More than a mere whistle-blower, Stich was something of a pest with his petitions and lawsuits against public officials and judges. This landed him in jail for contempt, where he met Gunther Russbacher, a self-described deep cover agent for the CIA who was able to clue him in on every major covert action of the past twenty years. (There are numerous intelligence documents in the book with Russbacher's name on them -- but they lack routing marks and could conceivably be bogus.)

Assuming that Russbacher was only half-reliable, that still leaves the other half. The problem is, which half is which? Stich supports Russbacher's evidence with names and dates, and claims to have corroborated most of it. He also covers many conspiracies where Russbacher doesn't play a role, always giving more names and dates to back up his narrative. This self- published book is simply amazing. It is a tribute to the sincerity, energy and dedication of author Rodney Stich, but beyond that it's difficult to evaluate objectively. Fortunately, we don't have to -- we just throw all the names into NameBase.

Thomas, Kenn and Keith, Jim. The Octopus: Secret Government and the Death of Danny Casolaro. Portland: Feral House, 1996. 181 pages.

Danny Casolaro was found with his wrists slashed in a motel bathtub in Martinsburg, West Virginia on August 10, 1991. He was a struggling writer and something of a romantic. Recently he had also styled himself as an investigator, contacting a variety of spooks-turned-victims and weaving their stories into an "Octopus" theory. This would be the book of his career: Danny as dragon-slayer. Now it was a year later, and documents were missing from Casolaro's motel room. Was it suicide or murder?

This book involves Inslaw, Inc. and its Promis software, as well as Michael Riconosciuto, a child prodigy who became a secret agent and drug pusher, and still keeps a bevy of fringe journalists busy by dispatching leads from his jail cell. Mix in several years of affidavits flying like shrapnel, mostly due to Inslaw's reasonable claim that Promis was stolen by the Justice Department. Add Riconosciuto's unreasonable claim that he hacked Promis, making it so magical that U.S. intelligence tried to install it everywhere as a Trojan horse. Include more prominent names than you can shake a stick at, each with loose but spooky connections to everyone else, and throw in a few more investigative trails that end in corpses. Ultimately it just doesn't fly: any philosophy major can tell you that something this big is very nearly the same as nothing at all.

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