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Clinton Crazy, New York Times  New York Times Crazy Clinton, 1997, and file
Clinton Crazy By PHILIP WEISS Published: February 23, 1997 The day before the election last November, Larry Nichols met me at Gibson's 286 Family Restaurant in Conway, Ark., a half hour from Little Rock, and after a lunch topped off with chocolate pie, drove with me in his mother's gold Mercury Marquis to a ranch house on the south side of town. Nichols is a pale, slightly doughy man of 46, and he wore a blue Adidas track suit and chain-smoked Trues. Tuning the oversize television in the living room to CNN, he sat down in a recliner with a view of the front door and a handgun at his side. ''They may just kill me,'' he said. ''You'll read one day that I got drunk and ran into a moving bridge. Or Larry Nichols got depressed over everything and blew his head off.''

Larry Nichols was performing for me now, as he has performed for any number of journalists since Bill Clinton first announced he was running for President more than five years ago. ''They'' in Nichols's universe are shadowy Arkansas characters who have one way or another been connected politically to Clinton. Nichols himself was once a Clinton man. As Governor, Clinton hired him to be the marketing director for the Arkansas Development Finance Authority. Clinton later fired Nichols, charging that he had made unauthorized phone calls to Central America. Nichols, for his part, became convinced that Bill Clinton himself had some vague but sinister Central American connection during the time he was Governor.

It's a connection that in Nichols's view involved cocaine shipments, money-laundering and gun-running, all in and around the Mena airport in western Arkansas while Clinton was Governor. Nichols sued Clinton to contest his firing. He charged not only that Clinton was remiss in not investigating Mena but also that he had misused state funds to romance five women. Nichols eventually dropped the suit, but later, after Clinton became President, it would grow in significance. You might think of it as the declaration of war by those I've come to think of as Clinton crazies.

In January, the White House counsel's office released a report called ''Communi-

cation Stream of Conspiracy Commerce,'' which castigates Nichols, among others, for spreading vicious reports about Bill Clinton that place him and some of those closest to him in criminal conspiracies. Probably no sitting President has been so vilified: Kennedy was dead before the stories about Judith Exner and mob ties were circulated. Clinton can read the scandalous stories about himself in countless pamphlets and books and on numerous Web sites. There are claims that his cronies smuggled drugs through Mena; there are any number of women he is said to have had sexual relations with; there are murders, perhaps more than 50, that his political ''machine'' is said to have ordered or acquiesced in or covered up. Oh, and there is the claim that his mother was involved in two killings at the hospital where she worked as a nurse. And there is, most prominently, the death of White House Deputy Counsel Vincent W. Foster Jr., which no full-blooded Clinton crazy believes was a simple suicide.

The Clinton crazies -- I'd first heard the term used, with tongue only slightly in cheek, by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, a British journalist who is one of them -- are of different types. There are haters like Nichols and Pat Matrisciana, a film maker, who have developed a monstrous view of Clinton as Satan's nephew. Then there are the professional reporters of a conservative and sometimes conspiratorial bent who tend to portray the President as a figurehead for a corrupt political organization that has its roots in Arkansas. Evans-Pritchard, who writes for The Sunday Telegraph of London, is in this group. Martyrs are in another class: they tend to be Arkansans who feel they have been victimized by what they see as Clinton's political machine, and they have been embraced by anti-Clinton warriors. Finally there are the freelance obsessives, the people for whom the Internet was invented, cerebral hobbyists who have glimpsed in the Clinton scandals a high moral drama that might shake society to its roots. Prominent in this group is Hugh H. Sprunt of Farmers Branch, Tex., who has made himself an expert in the matter of the death of Vincent Foster. Clinton Crazy E-MAIL Print Single-Page Save Share Del.icio.usDiggFacebookNewsvinePermalinkBy PHILIP WEISS Published: February 23, 1997 The number of influential Clinton crazies is probably no more than a hundred, but their audience is in the tens of millions. The percolation of questions about the Foster case from Web sites to newsletters to talk radio to newspapers like The New York Post and The Wall Street Journal motivated the White House counsel's office to draft its report on conspiracies just before the Senate Whitewater hearings in the summer of 1995. ''The right wing says we're a shark chasing minnows,'' Christopher S. Lehane, special assistant counsel to the President, who compiled the report, told me early last month. ''But if you work in the White House with some of these stories getting circulation, you often feel like a minnow chased by sharks.''

Those fingered in the report characterize it as a Nixon-style enemies list aimed at delegitimizing Clinton's critics. But on a central point the Administration and its enemies are in perfect agreement: because of new forms of communication -- talk radio, newsletters, the Internet, mail-order videos -- a significant portion of the population has developed an understanding of Bill Clinton as a debased, even criminal politician.

Consider the Helen Dickey phone call, which is cited in the White House report. An Arkansas state trooper says that around 7 P. M. Eastern standard time on the day in 1993 that Vincent Foster died, Helen Dickey, a White House staff assistant, called him at the Governor's mansion in Little Rock and told him of the death. If the trooper is telling the truth, that would contradict the White House's statement on when it learned of Foster's death -- more than an hour later. The story took on a life of its own in right-wing circles; an extra hour would have given the White House time for untold malfeasance. Both Evans-Pritchard and Michael Reagan, a Los Angeles talk show host and a son of the former President, take credit for reporting the story in 1995. Evans-Pritchard's story in The Sunday Telegraph soon made it onto Web sites; Reagan's reports were carried on 150 stations, which he says reach two million listeners. Later, the story was mentioned in The New York Post and on The Wall Street Journal's editorial page. Ultimately, Senator Alfonse D'Amato's Whitewater committee called Dickey to testify in the summer of 1995 -- the committee, among other things, looked into the aftermath of Vincent Foster's death -- and under oath she said she placed the call not around 7 P.M. but later that night. The trooper was not called to testify, and Dickey's denial has done little to dampen interest in the story in the anti-Clinton underground.

According to a time/cnn poll taken during the Senate Whitewater hearings, only 35 percent of the 1,000 adults surveyed were convinced (as the U.S. Park Police, the F.B.I., an independent counsel and Foster's wife were convinced) that he had killed himself in Fort Marcy Park in Virginia.

''The mainstream media are fooling themselves when they believe that they are the main disseminator of information to Americans,'' says Mark Fabiani, formerly the White House's counsel on Whitewater matters. ''In fact, there are an increasing number of sources of information, and some of these are manipulated by people for their own personal and political profit, and those sources are having an impact.''

Why have the crazies had an impact? For one thing, Bill Clinton is vulnerable generationally. One of the youngest Presidents, he shared many experiences of the 60's counterculture. He demonstrated, grew a beard and tried smoking pot. He could never be a Presidential father figure. But Clinton's vulnerability has to do with more than being a boomer. Nearly half the electorate polled last November said they questioned the President's truthfulness. An independent prosecutor has gained convictions in the Whitewater scandal, and while the President himself has not been implicated, there may be more indictments on the way. The matter of Paula Jones has moved in the last six months from the newsletters and Web sites of the Clinton crazies to the Supreme Court and the media mainstream. And who can dispute that Bill Clinton's Arkansas was a poor rural state where a network of bigwigs and politicians at times looked the other way while friends cut deals? The White House report argues that much of the Clinton scandal-mongering is ideologically driven and that there is right-wing money behind the fanatics, which is true. But it is hard to imagine, even with the money that Richard M. Scaife, a right-wing publisher, has provided to disseminate some of the more alarming accusations, such scandals visiting Al Gore or Bill Bradley or even someone to their left like Paul Wellstone.

Still, in America now, paranoia runs deep, and the Clinton crazies' influence taps into that climate. Nearly half the population believes the C.I.A. was involved in the assassination of President Kennedy; 1 in 10 adults thinks the moon landing was a hoax. The lines have been blurred by Oliver Stone's historical visions, docudramas and ''The X-Files.'' The claim that friendly fire brought down TWA Flight 800 last summer thrived on the Internet for weeks before Pierre Salinger spoke out about it.

''No matter what you decide about Whitewater,'' says Gene Lyons, a columnist for The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and a well-known defender of the Clintons, ''I don't think you should conclude that Bill Clinton has done anything to merit this hatred, other than be a symbol of everything some people fear and despise about the modern world. These are tales from the fundamentalist apocrypha. He's been accused of everything but devil worship.''

People seem to want to believe the worst. They don't trust the networks, the newspapers, the Government. They're ready to hear what Larry Nichols has to say.

''I didn't take on a President,'' Nichols said as he got up to let the dog out. ''I started fighting a two-bit tinhorn politician in Arkansas.'' When the dog hesitated, Nichols shook his head and said, ''Even my dogs don't believe me.''

We set off into town. Nichols, a former jingle writer, slipped in a tape of himself playing in a soft-rock band, and he said his wife and daughter urge him to drop his obsession with the President. '' 'Leave this alone, get a regular job, leave Clinton alone. They're just going to kill you. They'll try to put you in jail,' '' he said they told him. ''I'm telling you, smart says do that but I can't.''

We passed the yellow-stone Faulkner County Courthouse.

''I've been in that jail right there ----.''

''When?'' I said.

Which time? They trumped up a deal that I had failed to yield at a yield sign. Then I got beat up by two guys furloughed from prison on a weekend pass. I broke one of them's finger with a tire tool. I said, Who sent you? Clinton.''

Susan McDougal, the former Friend of Bill's, was then being held in the jail for failing to testify before the Whitewater grand jury.

''She's treated like a queen,'' Nichols said. ''She'll get pardoned after the election. Clinton has to pardon her or he will be led out of the White House in handcuffs.''

''Devil With a Blue Dress On'' came on the cassette player. ''That's me on guitar,'' Nichols said, turning it up. ''Not bad for an old guy, huh?''

Larry Nichols turned out to be wrong about Susan McDougal's being pardoned, just as he was wrong when he told me that Senator J. William Fulbright was a hard drinker who met his downfall with the stripper Fanne Foxe. (That was Representative Wilbur Mills.)

On election night I called Larry Nichols from my Little Rock hotel. He'd already done eight call-in shows. ''Tonight's a pretty downer bummer for me,'' Nichols said.

' 'There go morals. In the back of your heart you've still got this feeling that when they go into that booth they're not going to pull that darn switch for a criminal. At least I can say I've done my part.''

Martyrs and Murders: The Body Count

N ichols gave me complex directions to a ''speckled brick'' house some distance from Little Rock that involved driving up to the base of a mountain and taking a turn. I was in the bind that many on the far right find themselves in: Nichols is scurrilous and vengeful, but his information can be useful. The directions were good, and when I knocked on the door of the speckled house, a rugged, dark-haired man with soft green eyes, wearing shorts and a designer baseball cap, came out and we stood talking in the carport next to a motorcycle. Gary Parks chain-smoked Marlboros and tossed the butts into a wooden box. A dog came up -- Zeus, a stray he had taken in a month before -- and Parks petted him as he talked about the downward spiral of his life, which he believes Clinton's cronies may have had a hand in. Parks, who is 26, says he has been in Clinton's company three or four times. ''He's a fun guy to hang out with, a real person,'' he says. One of the strangest things about Arkansas is just how many people in the small, poor state have led a life, or part of one, that brushed against Clinton's or was brushed by it.

''Till I was 19, I lived in the right place, I knew the right people, I got invited to the right parties, I dated the right girls,'' Parks said. ''I grew up with all the people in the state that had all the money. But that was the good-old-boy system. I would compare Arkansas politics to Chicago politics in the 30's.''

A cow mooed nearby, and Parks talked about his father. Luther (Jerry) Parks was a private investigator who owned a security company in Little Rock. He was a big man who is sometimes described as a bully, and in 1991 he contracted to provide private security for the Clinton campaign headquarters in Little Rock. Later he argued with campaign officials over money he felt he was owed. ''I knew he was in a hassle with the White House,'' says Gene Wirges, a newspaper journalist famous in Arkansas for his crusades against official corruption in Conway County in the 1960's. He just complained about it at a couple of meetings I attended of people who were hacked about the Clinton machine.''

On Sept. 26, 1993, Jerry Parks was gunned down as he drove up to a wooded intersection at the edge of Little Rock, by a man in another car using a nine-millimeter semiautomatic handgun. Clyde Steelman, the homicide sergeant of the Little Rock police force, says the killing looked to him like a professional job, an ''assassination.''

After his father's murder, Gary Parks said, he ''freaked out.'' He walked off his job as the ''go-to guy'' at a car dealership. Later, he told me, he ran a female escort service. He helped his mother, who was afraid for her life, go into hiding. He turned down money from The National Enquirer, he said, and refused to talk to national reporters.

''I didn't trust the East Coast media,'' he said. ''Just in talking to them on the phone, their intentions came through. I didn't care if they were liberal or conservative. It was, did I feel they were going to print what I said or print what they wanted to say that I said?''

A hornet buzzed him, and Parks flicked it onto the concrete slab. ''That's not getting up again,'' he said.

Jerry Parks had quarreled bitterly with a former partner, but Gary Parks came to believe his father's death was connected to political forces loyal to Clinton. He says his father had told him about a file he had built up on Clinton's peccadilloes when he was Governor. Gary Parks says he believes his father was using the file, which has never been produced, to try to blackmail the Clinton campaign. After the death in 1993 of Vincent Foster -- whom he says his father knew and who, he also maintains, knew of the file's existence -- Gary Parks says his father told him he was a marked man.

Parks's murder has never been solved. Steelman, the homicide sergeant, says he has discounted Gary Parks's and his mother's theories of Jerry Parks's killing as ''unsubstantiated, nothing to grasp.'' Without the Clinton file Jerry Parks was supposedly keeping, he says, he cannot investigate the assertion that the murder had a political dimension. Steelman resents the reporters who have called him from England, Australia, Japan and elsewhere, trying, in his view, to use the Little Rock police to blacken the Clinton White House. ''If he told you this room was pink, would you believe that too?'' Steelman asked me, sitting in an office painted white.

Parks cooperated with the makers of a Clinton-bashing mail-order video. ''I feel that Bill Clinton had my father killed,'' Parks says on the tape, offering no evidence. Parks now feels he got carried away: ''I'm the first to admit some of the things I said on the video were wrong. I'd just come out of my trance. I don't think my head was completely back on straight.'' Even so, he continues to believe that politics was behind the killing and that the authorities don't care. He has repeatedly said as much on conservative radio talk shows. He has done, he told me, about 2,000 of them. In a couple of cases, radical-right militia members called in to the stations to offer him help. The radio hosts got their numbers, and Parks called back. Militia members arranged for a job for Parks at a Colorado ski resort and places to stay.

''The fruity ones were the guys who had crates of guns and ammunition shoved up in the mountains, buried,'' Parks recalls. ''I was uncomfortable around them because I was almost put into a demigod situation. They called their friends and their friends' friends. I was sitting there watching TV, drinking beer, and all these people would show up and ask me what I thought was wrong with the country and what they could do to fix it and did I think a call to arms was necessary.''

Parks's father's death became a key item on what are called Body Count lists. These lists connect scores of violent deaths to Clinton. They are picked up on talk radio; are in ''reports'' like ''Murder in the First Degree,'' which was prepared by a group calling itself Wall Street Underground, or get posted on Web sites like the one that was maintained by a Dartmouth graduate student from Idaho named Preston Crow, who is cited in the White House report. As many as 56 murders have been connected to Clinton and his cronies by the Clinton crazies. Thirty-five of those deaths came in one swoop: the crash of the former Commerce Secretary Ron Brown's plane in Croatia last year. Another person on the list is a Resolution Trust Corporation investigator who leapt to his death from an apartment complex in Arlington, Va. Dave Emory, who has a syndicated radio program called ''One Step Beyond,'' which originates in the Santa Clara Valley in California, has concluded that the mortality rate in the Clinton campaign and Administration is greater than what would ordinarily be expected according to the laws of statistical probability.

The notion of a Body Count list apparently began with an Indianapolis lawyer named Linda Thompson, a feverish woman who was incited by the 1993 burning of the Branch-Davidian compound outside Waco, Tex.

''Linda first announced that list on my program,'' says Stan Solomon, a right-wing talk-show host. ''It was very early in the Clinton Presidency that she started connecting these deaths. She is a very analytical person, although I think she has succumbed to a great deal of pressure. She later sent me letters every day on my being a Government agent.''

The lists make sad reading, and ridiculous reading, but not entirely -- and here one can glimpse how a legitimate question gets spun into a conspiracy. Notable on all the lists are ''the boys on the tracks.'' This is the case of two small-town teen-agers in Saline County, just outside Little Rock, who were killed late one night in August 1987. They were clubbed and stabbed and their unconscious bodies were laid on the railroad tracks to be mutilated by a train. Their murders have never been solved. One theory given a lot of credence by those who have looked into the case is that ''the boys on the tracks'' had wandered in on a drug drop.

The medical examiner under Governor Clinton, Fahmy Malak, did a terrible disservice in the matter. He said that the boys' deaths were accidental, that they lay down on the tracks in a marijuana stupor. It took years for the families to undo this ruling.

Clinton's own connection to the murders in Saline County is plainly indirect. But he did stand by Malak, even as The Arkansas Democrat and a group of enraged citizens called for his dismissal. (Malak left the job for a state health department position in 1991.) Linda Ives, the mother of one of the boys, says: ''My agenda is not Bill Clinton. The only goal I have is arrest and conviction in my son's case.''

Still, the deaths of the boys have taken on huge emblematic significance to the far right, people who believe that government regularly covers up brutalities. The legend of the boys is reminiscent of the legend surrounding the 1992 killing by an F.B.I. sharpshooter of Vicki Weaver, a white supremacist, as she held her baby in her arms in northern Idaho. Ives told me that she has heard of highway overpasses in the Middle West painted with the message ''Bill Clinton Knows Who Killed Kevin Ives.''

The Virulence of Video: ''The Clinton Chronicles''

On a cool, sunny day late last November, a tall man in a blue chambray shirt, with a sweep of white hair over a chiseled face, walked into the Mission Inn in Riverside, Calif., and he and I got a table for lunch in the courtyard, under an orange tree. Pat Matrisciana had gently demurred when I proposed to meet him at his big ranch in Hemet, 45 miles away. I imagine he did not want me to judge the splendor of his surroundings. Matrisciana's earnings are the subject of great speculation. He told me that he lives in a double-wide trailer, though one that has been handsomely improved. Matrisciana ordered seafood and talked of all the things wrong with the media and the Government. He is a religious film maker who has long inveighed against the drug culture in Berkeley and gay-rights advocates in Washington.

''Christianity says don't lie, cheat or steal,'' he said to me. ''I appeal to Bill Clinton to come clean, confess his sins to the American people and repent.'' Yet for all his righteousness, Matrisciana has something of a worldly air. He has been married twice and has traveled widely.

The film maker went to Arkansas in early 1994, about the time many other enterprising conservatives were also landing in the state. They were prompted by two signal events in December 1993. The American Spectator, an epicenter of anti-Clinton reporting, had published a story in which Arkansas state troopers said they had served as intermediaries for Governor Clinton in arranging sexual liaisons. The White House denounced the stories as lies. Also in December 1993, The Washington Times reported that files had been removed from Vincent Foster's office on the day, five months earlier, that he died. For those with an ideological distaste for Clinton, the story was a wisp of smoke that suggested a big fire.

''The thing I noticed was there was definitely a climate of fear,'' Matrisciana said of his first trip to Arkansas. ''People behaved more like Jews or Christians in a Muslim country than people in a free society. There was an attitude of paranoia.''

Matrisciana began working with a camera operator, John Hillyer, a nervous, excitable man who felt that countless political brutalities had taken place in Arkansas. The first video produced by Matrisciana's Jeremiah Films was called ''Clinton's Circle of Power.'' It was followed by ''The Clinton Chronicles.'' Narrated in part by Larry Nichols, it is a hodgepodge of sometimes-crazed charges that are thrown off with an air of knowingness but little documentation; the tape charges, for instance, that as a college student visiting Moscow, Clinton ''did business'' with the Russians ''against the United States Government.''

Several people who participated in ''The Clinton Chronicles'' were upset by it. Linda Ives was disturbed by its anti-Clinton agenda. So was Bill Duncan, now the chief investigator with the Arkansas Attorney General's office. As an I.R.S. agent in the late 80's he began making strong charges about an official cover-up of crimes at Mena.

''I would not have willingly been a part of it had I known where that footage would end up,'' he says. ''It was used by people for purely political purposes.''

As the White House's ''Conspiracy Commerce'' report notes, ''The Clinton Chronicles'' became a cause celebre. President Clinton referred to it bitingly; Jerry Falwell sold it on his ''Old Time Gospel Hour.'' ''Falwell sold 60,000,'' Matrisciana told me, adding that he, Matrisciana, got only a small take of that. In the end, about 300,000 copies of the cassette made their way into circulation. During last year's Presidential campaign, one could see demonstrators at rallies holding up signs saying ''Stop the Media Blackout -- Broadcast 'Clinton Chronicles.' ''

During the time ''The Clinton Chronicles'' was being shot, an apartment Gary Parks was renting in Little Rock became a locus of paranoia. Parks, Nichols and Matrisciana all told me they found electronic bugs in the fixtures. Parks says that one night someone broke the door down, then ran off when Parks chambered a round in the Heckler & Koch .40-caliber semiautomatic he kept at his bedside.

A Little Rock urologist named Samuel T. Houston told me: ''They all carried guns. Hillyer carried a gun, Parks carried a gun. I mean there were guns lying around the room . . . they had electronic stuff to screen the room for wiretaps. I was scared.''

Houston began carrying a gun himself when he took up with the Clinton crazies. ''I'm a fairly normal, straightforward person, and I just got caught up in something,'' he says. ''Sometimes I wish I didn't know as much as I know.'' Houston says he was already outraged by stories he had heard about everything from Mena to womanizing when the murder of a friend got him thinking along the lines of Matrisciana and company. He worked with Kathy Ferguson, a 38-year-old clerical worker at Baptist Memorial Hospital in North Little Rock who is now featured prominently on the Body Count list. Formerly married to Danny Ferguson, a state trooper who Paula Jones says summoned her to a hotel-room meeting with Bill Clinton, Kathy Ferguson had told Houston and other friends stories about salacious goings-on at the Governor's mansion. Then in May 1994 Jones filed suit against the President and Danny Ferguson. Five days later Kathy Ferguson was found dead of a shot to the head in a boyfriend's apartment. The police ruled the death a suicide. Many on the far right have challenged that ruling.

Hillyer, Matrisciana's camera operator, seized on the case. Late one night he visited the home of Sherry Binder, a nurse who had known Ferguson and saw her wounds in a funeral home. As he set up his lighting equipment and laid his gun within reach, Hillyer spoke fervently about the importance of her cooperating with him. Her car's back window had been bashed in? That was the Clinton machine's calling card, its way of letting her know they were on to her.

Binder felt invaded and manipulated. ''The political system here is crooked, and nothing would have pleased me more than to call it a Clinton conspiracy, but you can't look at the facts emotionally,'' Binder told me.

After spending hours reviewing the case file at the Sherwood, Ark., Police Department, it seemed obvious to me that in Ferguson's case, the zealots had let their imaginations, or their politics, get the better of them. Several people reported that Ferguson had quarreled with her boyfriend for two-timing her. A friend told of pleading with Ferguson not to take her life. The note Ferguson left to her boyfriend seemed to the point: ''I can't stay here any longer. Things will never be the same for us. I can't handle that.'' Most important, the head wounds were simply not as the Clinton haters describe them. (They and other elements of the crime scene were documented in 51 photographs by the Sherwood Police Department.)

Houston, the urologist, told me he still carries a gun at times. Matrisciana is producing more videos. ''We're going to continue stirring the pot,'' Matrisciana said. ''I think the floodgates are going to open up.''

From the Fringe to Mainstream, via London

Sometime this summer, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard will leave the Washington suburbs for his next posting for The Sunday Telegraph. ''I'll write about Italy -- I'll move on, bang, gone,'' he says dryly. He will leave behind a country where he has had a considerable influence as a journalist. He was on the Paula Jones story, the Troopergate story and a number of other Clinton-scandal stories early, and the White House singled him out in its report as a principal bridge between the Internet and the mainstream. For his part, Evans-Pritchard says with satisfaction, ''The Internet is undermining the official version of events.''

A week after the election, I met the 38-year-old Englishman for lunch at the posh Occidental Grill on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington and was surprised by his mild demeanor. He is round-shouldered and pink-cheeked, with a shock of gray hair. We got a table next to the ABC White House correspondent Brit Hume. I soon learned that Evans-Pritchard's grandfather was the South African delegate to the United Nations, that his father was a renowned anthropologist and Oxford don, and that Evans-Pritchard had studied at Cambridge before setting out on several years of ''culture-slumming'' through America, which led to his becoming a journalist.

''I'm not an investigative reporter, never have been,'' he said. ''I'm more of an adventurer. I'm doing cultural fieldwork in the United States. One doesn't have to believe in black helicopters to see that the post-cold-war era in this country is a gold mine for journalists.''

Evans-Pritchard calls his politics ''Tory hooligan.'' (He saw Clinton as ''mendacious'' for embracing a tax increase in 1993.) He has become a hero among the crazies for bringing a certain Fleet Street flair to rumors circulating in Little Rock, writing in July of 1994, for example, that Clinton ''faces potentially devastating allegations that he engaged in regular use of cocaine and marijuana during his rise to political prominence in Arkansas.'' In early 1994, Evans-Pritchard had made his way to Arkansas along with several other professional journalists. One was Micah Morrison, a Bennington graduate who became an ideological samurai for Midge Decter at the Committee for the Free World, worked for The American Spectator and later signed on with The Wall Street Journal's editorial page; another was Chris Ruddy, a ferociously dogged reporter who says he lost a job at The New York Post partly because he would not let go of the Vince Foster story. Ruddy now works for The Tribune-Review, a right-wing Pittsburgh paper, and his stories are reprinted in newspaper advertisements around the country, paid for by the Western Journalism Center in Sacramento, Calif. Richard M. Scaife, an angel of the far right, owns The Tribune-Review and contributes money to the center.

Evans-Pritchard is an admirer of Ruddy's, and no doubt of Scaife's too, but as a foreign correspondent, he has his own approach to Clinton and his past. On his first visits to Arkansas, Evans-Pritchard told me, he felt there was a deep vein of important stories that had nothing to do with Whitewater. ''I realized that something bad had been taking place,'' he said. Arkansas, he went on to say, is like El Salvador: ''You tell the people in San Salvador that their air force is carpet-bombing the campesinos, they say that's impossible.''

In part because of his willingness to credit views like a belief in ''death squads'' in Arkansas, Evans-Pritchard has made contacts in the anti-Clinton underground that are the envy of other reporters. After months of talking to Gary Parks, Evans-Pritchard got to see Parks's mother, Jane, who has talked on the record only to him. ''Ambrose tells you how he feels,'' Gary Parks says. ''He's straight and to the point, and he doesn't give up. That's the thing I like about him. Ambrose refuses to give up if he thinks they're lying to him.''

Evans-Pritchard's greatest coup may have been unearthing Patrick Knowlton. From sketchy Park Police notes about a Thrifty rental- car driver who had visited Fort Marcy Park on the afternoon that Vincent Foster's body was found there, Evans-Pritchard located Knowlton, a ruggedly good-looking construction consultant, in Etlan, Va., in September 1995.

That meeting changed Knowlton's life. Evans-Pritchard showed him write-ups by F.B.I. agents of interviews they had done with him a year and a half before. Knowlton was staggered. He said the write-ups (called 302's) misrepresented key observations he related to the agents about the Fort Marcy parking lot that day, like the features of an unsavory-looking man who had got out of another car to watch Knowlton, who had come into the park to relieve himself. (One Foster fanatic I spoke to calls Knowlton's appearance in Fort Marcy Park that day ''the urination that saved the nation.'')

After Evans-Pritchard reported these discrepancies, Knowlton, who had voted for Clinton, was subpoenaed by Kenneth Starr, the Whitewater independent counsel now looking into the Foster death, and in the days leading up to his grand jury appearance he says he suffered a terrible hazing on the streets of Washington. Administration supporters are angered that Kenneth Starr has taken so long to issue his report on Foster's death, thereby lending an air of mystery to a case they feel should have been closed three years ago, with the report of the independent counsel, Robert B. Fiske Jr. In Democratic circles, it is widely held that Starr has taken so long with the report because he is, by one account, ''terrified'' of the response of Fosterites who have studied the case record closely.

''Starr is a deer in the wingnuts' headlights,'' one Democrat close to the Congressional Whitewater investigation told me.

Evans-Pritchard is half-mischievously proud of his role in the matter. The only reason Starr has taken so long, Evans-Pritchard says, is because of the crazies. ''We've basically held his feet to the fire.''

In the Belief That Some Kooks Turn Out to Be Right ...

Hugh sprunt is an accountant with a bachelor's degree and a master's degree from M.I.T. and a law degree and a business degree from Stanford, and his report on ''omissions and curiosa'' in the Foster death has a true cult following among anti-Clinton zealots. You can download it on line or get it, for the costs of paper and handling, from a copy shop in Texas or Maryland. I ordered mine from Bel-Jean, a Maryland printing company, for $34.95. A few days later a box containing the spiral-bound, red-jacketed ''Citizen's Independent Report'' clunked against my door, and I made arrangements to take the red-eye flight into Dallas to meet the author. The Sprunt report may well be a classic of conspiracy literature. Its author has spent endless hours studying thousands of pages of Congressional testimony and exhibits with deep care and emerged with a hundred or so chapters examining contradictions in the investigative reports that lead to the conclusion that Foster shot himself in Fort Marcy Park, near Washington, on July 20, 1993. The lurking ''author,'' who refers to himself frequently in the third person and is pictured in the report wearing dark glasses outside the White House, plainly believes that things are not as they are represented to be and charms the reader with a devilish, if unintended, post-modern sensibility.

One short chapter, for instance, focuses on the President's speech to White House staff members a day after Foster's death, in which he said that there would always be mystery and unanswered questions around the death. ''I hope when we remember him and this, we'll be a little more anxious to talk to each other and a little less anxious to talk outside of our family,'' Clinton said.

To which Sprunt responds: ''WJC's statement is somewhat elliptical, but the author believes that there were those present who understood these words far better than the author does, even today. Were these words a warning?''

My flight got into Dallas near 6 A.M. and I took a cab to Sprunt's home in suburban Farmers Branch. There was an old white Cadillac with a Libertarian bumper sticker in the driveway. Sprunt came to the door wearing a tie and a sweater vest and escorted me into the kitchen, where his 15-year-old daughter was preparing to leave for school.

We ate breakfast, I washed up using the C.I.A.-insignia golf towel that hung in the bathroom, then Sprunt escorted me into the living room, where he draped a microphone over an armchair between us and, clapping his hands to test the sound level, announced the time and circumstances of the interview and we began.

Hugh Sprunt is 57 years old and was born into a prosperous Memphis family. Phillips Exeter Academy led to M.I.T. (''I went to M.I.T. to find a wife'') and then to Stanford, then on to the Navy. Since being downsized as a partner at a big accounting firm six years ago, Sprunt does tax consulting, even offering advice on a 900 number. His M.I.T.-graduate wife is a geophysicist who leaves out copies of Physics Today with articles flagged for him.

Taking me to a fancy dining-room table, Sprunt unrolled aerial photographs of Fort Marcy Park and used silver candlesticks and an antique silver spoon warmer to hold down the edges. He has, he told me, no real hobbies. ''With me, Foster is like golf, but it's less expensive and takes less time,'' Sprunt said.

The obsession seems to have two sources. One is ideological. Sprunt is a libertarian. He does not trust the political system, which he sees as obscenely corrupt. (''The honest politician is the one who stays bought,'' he likes to say.) He votes Libertarian (though he scores the party as bad marketers: ''I don't think they could sell a heater to an Eskimo''). He reads Ayn Rand and holds the belief that we have the leaders we deserve but that the possibility exists that people will yet recognize that they are ruled by liars. The Foster case, he believes, could just be the means to that end -- ''a wake-up call; let's dial back some of Government power, the extralegal uses of Government power.''

The Foster case also called to Sprunt for personal reasons. He has roots among eastern Arkansas gentry, and this, he told me, made him feel kin to Foster. And on Christmas Day 1969, Sprunt's cancer-ridden grandfather committed suicide with a .38 Colt revolver similar to the one the police and the F.B.I. concluded was used by Foster. Sprunt recalled his grandfather's calling him into his dressing room to announce his intentions. ''I said I did not think it was a good idea,'' Sprunt told me. ''He said it was much more valid for him to make the decision than I. I had to agree.''

Sprunt, 20 years old at the time, coolly retreated, then, when the gunshot sounded, opened the door. The head injury and mess his grandfather created with his revolver (''the heart was still pumping, there was blood all over the place'') was, Sprunt maintains, far greater than the mess that Vincent Foster is said to have made with a gun with identical ballistics. And so the hero of the Sprunt report: ''VWF,'' a hugely ethical man who is asked to do things he doesn't approve of, who is racked by anxiety till he resolves to resign, to ''get out of the River Tiber,'' and then is leaned upon in mysterious discussions in the days before his death by all the Arkansas tribe up to the President. Sprunt thinks it most likely that Foster was murdered. He believes with certainty that ''shenanigans'' took place in Fort Marcy Park.

We talked for several hours. Time and again he rose and clapped his hands to check the sound level, worrying aloud that if the conversation went on much longer, he might have to steal one of his children's Smashing Pumpkins tapes. I told Sprunt that many of the discrepancies struck me as intriguing but explicable; all the time things happen that seem to defy logic. Sprunt agreed but compared his position to that of someone walking in the woods.

''I see a number of airplanes crashed in the woods,'' he said. ''I'm reading reports that say no airplanes crashed in the woods. I see 47 that crashed. All I've done is raise my hand.'' Later: ''I'm sitting here going, Wow, doesn't anybody else see this?''

He said that he had an ongoing conversation with investigators from Kenneth Starr's office. He had met with them, and they had asked him to send on updates of his report. They assured him that many of his questions would be answered by Starr's report. Sprunt believes he has had other Government contacts as well. He told me he had been trailed by people he believes to be Government agents on two occasions -- once on a plane when a man came and sat beside him and had a long discussion about who he was (''I think he was in soft clothes from Air Force intelligence''), another time when a man walked behind him for several blocks in Washington.

''Basically I'm a wimp,'' Sprunt offered. ''If someone came to me and said, 'We're going to burn your house down and kill your wife and kids unless you desist,' I'd say, 'We've got a deal.' ''

I'd been with Sprunt several hours now. Fake logs continued to ''burn'' with a gas flame in the fireplace. Sprunt said that he was resigned to the possibility that the mystery would never be answered, even by Starr's report. ''It's sort of like the perpetual war for perpetual peace,'' he said. ''I will continue it in part for principle but also because the process of reaching a hoped-for goal is really interesting intellectually and satisfying emotionally. You have to be a truly committed person -- I don't want to say fanatic.''

Did he know about the controversies over Dealey Plaza, 15 miles and 34 years away? Sprunt squinted and said, ''I can't even remember if I read a Kennedy book.'' We might have been talking about the age of Gibbon.

I suggested he was a conspiracy theorist.

Sprunt said: ''I'm not sure that's a useful term. In the progression of ideas, some kooks always turn out to be right. Not all kooks. But some. Galileo went against a whole set of revealed truths, on the science side, and you can picture someone in the Catholic Church saying, Galileo is part of a conspiracy to undermine the Catholic Church. The question is, how do we go about getting at the truth? A lot of kooks turn out to be wrong; that's why we call them kooks. But some turn out to be a source of progress. Abolitionists were probably called kooks. The kooks turn the intellectual crank and we all go forward. One of the disgusting things to me is all the name-calling. Scurrilous kooks -- the same standard is not applied to people who advocate the official line. If you tried to have them explain the Fiske report in a calm way, virtually without exception they refuse to do so. In certain stratums of the government or media, you have a great deal to lose by putting yourself even in that arena. You're really going down-market.''

I finally left. Sitting outside the doorway was a cardboard box containing the new edition of Sprunt's other publication, a massive book on the arcana of tax law.

In the Snare of the Co-Belligerents

A week after the election, Patrick Knowlton and his attorney, John Clarke, stepped out of the Federal courthouse in Washington to face about 25 reporters, including a row of cameras from all the networks, and announce the unsealing of a lawsuit against the F.B.I. charging a violation of civil rights. Most of the questions came in foreign accents; the next day there was virtually nothing on American television about the case. The steps were swirling with Foster fanatics. A short man holding a cigar asked me how well-paid mainstream reporters like me could justify ignoring the Internet, where those holding forth about Foster know far more about the case. ''This man is a hero to us,'' he said, pointing out Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, in a long gray coat. Someone else told me about how the late Commerce Secretary Ron Brown's plane accident was no accident, and I soon got into an argument about the media with a man named Dave Martin, who began chanting at me. It was a limerick:

I may not be very insightful

But I do find it less than delightful

That way cross the sea

They can read more than me

About goings-on here that are


I wasn't faring all that better with other Clinton crazies. The Wall Street Journal attacked me twice on its editorial page as a White House dupe and said I was planning to undermine its coverage of the Linda Ives case. The Journal said Ives said the White House had ''sicced'' me on her. But the former Whitewater counsel, Mark Fabiani, had spoken of her case to me in rather neutral terms, and as I told Ives, I thought official inaction in her son's case merited further investigation. I had told the Journal reporter, Micah Morrison, that I admired his coverage of the boys on the tracks.

Reed Irvine of Accuracy in Media, the conservative watchdog group, called me to comfort me about the Journal's treatment. But he also quizzed me about whether I had read what he called the ''green bible,'' the Senate report on the Foster matter, which is loaded with primary documents.

''At least Izzy Stone took the trouble to read Government documents,'' Irvine said.

''Did I really hear you praise I. F. Stone?'' I said.

''Izzy did a great great job for the K.G.B., but he dug stuff out of documents that no one was looking at,'' Irvine said.

(Of course there were no more copies of the report available from the Senate -- those two volumes had been cleaned out by the zealots; Irvine sent along one of his sets, bound with duct tape.)

Other skirmishes were more rattling. Representative Barney Frank yelled at me over the phone for giving credibility to Patrick Knowlton's report, which he termed ''ludicrous,'' and Chris Ruddy, the reporter, said that Knowlton felt I had treated him as a ''pawn'' of Ruddy and Evans-Pritchard. I yelled back at Frank, and quarreled with Ruddy over whether The Guardian, a newspaper he had started on Long Island, was conservative. He said it wasn't -- despite the fact that his name appeared over a full-page anti-abortion ad that spoke of ''100,000 children . . . killed yearly in our Metropolitan area abortion clinics,'' and that typical headlines in The Guardian were ''Pirates' Van Slyke at Bat for Family Values'' and ''Pat Robertson's ACLJ Is Piling Up Legal Victories Against the ACLU.''

The arguments reminded me of the intensity of the revolutionaries in Dostoyevsky's novel ''The Devils.'' Dostoyevsky was describing the dawning of Russia's industrial age, when classes contended over the means of production. In the information age, the battles are between classes of information. Who has information? Whose information will be privileged? Whose believed?

The White House calls the people I have met participants in ''conspiracy commerce.'' Hugh Sprunt has his own name for this loose alliance: the ''co-belligerents.'' When I told Ruddy that term, he promptly disagreed.

''I don't see myself as being involved in a war,'' he said. That seemed the craziest statement of all.

The Foster Fixation

The body of the Deputy White House Counsel Vincent W. Foster Jr. was found on July 20, 1993, in Fort Marcy Park in Virginia, not far from Washington. He had a revolver in his hand and a bullet hole in his head. After a yearlong investigation into Foster's death, an independent counsel, Robert B. Fiske Jr., concluded what the police and most other people already had: Foster had killed himself.

A typical Clinton hater might respond, Not so fast and simple: haven't you seen the Sprunt report? This is shorthand for ''Citizen's Independent Report: Material Errors, Omissions, Inconsistencies, & Curiosa Re: The Death of White House Deputy Counsel Vincent W. Foster Jr.,'' which was written and published (in binder form) by Hugh H. Sprunt, alawyer and leading Clinton conspiracy theorist. Sprunt suggests that Foster was killed and that his body was then moved to the park; he also hints that the President had something to do with this. Above all, he believes, as he writes in the introduction to his report, that Foster's death is '' 'the thin edge of the wedge' that . . . will demonstrate the need for fundamental reform at the Federal level,'' which may or may not explain why Foster's death is at the heart of the heart of darkness the Clinton haters perceive. Outlined below are a number of matters about which Sprunt disagrees with the conclusions reached in the Fiske report. Here is the Clinton conspirator's mind at its most, well, conspiratorial

The independent counsel concludes that ''the condition of Foster's body and clothing at the time he was found precludes his having been moved to Fort Marcy Park from another location following his death.'' Sprunt, noting that the Fiske report mentions carpet fibers found on Foster's clothing, suggests that ''Foster could have been transported to Fort Marcy Park while in contact (for at least some of the time) with a carpet.'

The independent counsel concludes that the keys to Foster's Honda were located in Foster's pants pocket. Noting that the keys were not found until Foster's body was in the morgue, Sprunt writes ''Wild!'' and faults the Park police for not immediately treating the death as a homicide.

Noting that Foster's eyeglasses were found 19 feet from his head, the independent counsel concluded that the glasses had been flung from Foster's head by the force of the gunshot. Sprunt writes: ''Were $(Foster's$) body to have been carried into the park, jolting over the uneven ground (a possibility never officially considered) . . . glasses in either his shirt pocket, his pants pocket . . . or on his face might well have eventually fallen completely out (or slid off) when the slope changed from 'downhill' to 'uphill.'

The independent counsel concurs with the Park Police that Foster's right thumb was looped in the trigger guard of the gun -- a .38 Colt revolver -- when the body was found, and that the gun was one that Foster's wife recognized. Sprunt says the wounds are not consistent with those created by a .38-caliber bullet, and that the revolver is a ''drop gun'' placed in Foster's hand, though by whom he does not speculate.

The independent counsel, citing an F.B.I. lab report, notes that no ''coherent soil'' was found on anything Foster was wearing, and draws no conclusion from this. Sprunt does: Why was there no dirt from the path into the park on Foster's shoes? ''In my opinion the reason is that the body was transported to the park.''

The independent counsel concludes that ''nothing significant to the investigation'' was found in Foster's car. Sprunt believes the presence on the front seat of a Washington-area road map that included Fort Marcy Park was significant indeed, writing, perhaps cryptically: ''If $(Foster$) had merely selected $(the park$) as a good drive-in suicide spot on a real-time basis, he would have needed no map to guide him to opportunistic venue.''

The independent counsel concludes that Foster walked from his parked car to the embankment where his body was later found. Sprunt ''expects that it would be difficult for those who knew him well to visualize $(Foster$) striding some 750-800 feet through an open public park with a revolver in his hand.''

Correction: February 23, 1997, Sunday

An article on page 34 of The Times Magazine today, about people who dislike President Clinton and suspect that he is guilty of or has knowledge of various crimes, misstates the age of Hugh H. Sprunt, who published a report about the death of Vincent Foster. He is 47, not 57.

The article also refers incorrectly to Mr. Sprunt's career right after he attended Stanford. He worked for the National Ocean Survey, a branch of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and was not in the Navy.


Kämpferische Freunde Von Christiane Hoffmann search Franklingate

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Beziehungsreich: Auch Hillary Clinton pflegt den Kontakt zu Aipac 19. November 2006 Im nachhinein erscheint der Aufsatz von John Mearsheimer und Stephen Walt vom März dieses Jahres wie der Auftakt zu einer Debatte über das amerikanisch-israelische Verhältnis, die spätestens mit dem Libanon-Krieg im Sommer auch die amerikanische Politik erreicht hat. Die amerikanischen Professoren hatten in ihrem Artikel „Die Israel-Lobby und die amerikanische Außenpolitik“, der als wissenschaftlicher Aufsatz daherkam, aber polemische Untertöne zeigte, argumentiert, die uneingeschränkte Unterstützung für Israel sei nicht im amerikanischen Interesse.

Im Krieg gegen den Terrorismus sei Israel keine Stütze, sondern eine Belastung für Amerika. Die Autoren warfen der „Israel-Lobby“ vor, die amerikanische Politik so weit wie keine andere Lobby von dem abgebracht zu haben, „was im nationalen Interesse liegt, während sie gleichzeitig die Amerikaner davon überzeugte, daß amerikanische und israelische Interessen identisch seien“.

Aipac ist die zweitmächtigste Lobby des Landes

„Wir propagieren eine bestimmte Politik, weil wir glauben, daß sie im amerikanischen Interesse ist“, sagt dagegen Deidre Berger, Leiterin des Berliner Büros des American Jewish Committee (AJC), einer der wichtigsten amerikanisch-jüdischen Organisationen. Die Rede von der „Israel-Lobby“ habe den Geruch von Kabale und jüdischer Weltverschwörung und sei schon deshalb falsch, weil es eine Vielzahl jüdischer Organisationen mit unterschiedlichen Ausrichtungen gebe, die sich nicht untereinander abstimmten. „Und wir haben keinen so großen Einfluß auf die amerikanische Politik, wie behauptet wird“, sagt Deidre Berger.

Zum Thema

Vereinigte Staaten: Nuklearabkommen mit Indien Bush hat in Vietnam auf alles eine Antwort Israelische Armee: Palästinenser benutzen Flüssigsprengstoff Palästinenser wollen Verurteilung Israels wegen Angriffen in Gaza Als „erfolgreichste Lobby Washingtons“ hat Bill Clinton einmal Aipac, das „American Israel Public Affairs Committee“, bezeichnet. Die Organisation, die der konservativen israelischen Likud-Partei nahesteht und in den vergangenen Jahren deren Politik des Rückzugs aus den besetzten Gebieten ohne Friedensverhandlungen unterstützte, hat durch ihre Nähe zu den Neokonservativen in den vergangenen Jahren einen Einfluß gewinnen können, der weit über ihre Basis in Amerikas jüdischer Gemeinschaft hinausgeht. Mit einem Jahresbudget von 47 Millionen Dollar, landesweit 100.000 Mitgliedern und einem Washingtoner Büro mit mehr als hundert Lobbyisten, Analytikern, Publizisten und Organisatoren rangierte Aipac in einer Aufstellung des „National Journal“ 2005 als zweitmächtigste Lobby nach der amerikanischen Waffenlobby „National Rifle Association“. Wenn bei der jährlichen „Policy Conference“ von Aipac die Liste der Sympathisanten in der amerikanischen Politik verlesen wird, dauert das fast eine halbe Stunde. In diesem Jahr standen die Mehrheit der Senatsmitglieder, ein Viertel des Repräsentantenhauses, mehr als 50 Botschafter und Dutzende Regierungsbeamte auf der Liste. Gastredner der Konferenz war Vizepräsident Dick Cheney.

„Aipacs Ziel ist es, Einfluß auf den amerikanischen Kongreß zu nehmen, um die Beziehungen zwischen Amerika und Israel zu stärken“, sagt Keith Weissman, langjähriger Iran-Experte der Organisation. Lobbyarbeit sei ein Prozeß mit vielen Facetten, an dem in Washington Tausende von Leuten beteiligt seien. Der Schlüssel zum Erfolg von Aipac seien Finanzhilfen für die Wahlkampagnen der Abgeordneten. „Das heißt nicht, daß man mit Eimern von Geld vor dem Kongreß steht“, sagt Weissman. Aipac verteilt nicht selbst Geld, sondern verschafft vor allem den Zugang zu Sponsoren. Dafür erwartet man, daß die Abgeordneten im Sinne Aipacs abstimmen: ein legales und in der amerikanischen Politik übliches Vorgehen.

Geheimmaterial an Aipac weitergegeben

Für Israel, so Weissman, sei Aipac von außerordentlichem Wert. Der Verband habe sehr enge Kontakte zur Regierung in Jerusalem. „Sie geben keine Anordnungen, aber es gibt intensive Beratungen.“ Der israelische Ministerpräsident Ehud Olmert hat es einmal so ausgedrückt: „Gott sei Dank, daß es Aipac gibt, den größten Unterstützer und Freund, den wir auf der Welt haben.“

Einen Einblick in die Verbindungen zwischen Aipac, Israel und amerikanischen Regierungsstellen gab der sogenannte „Aipac-Spionageskandal“, dem Weissman vor zwei Jahren zum Opfer fiel. Im Januar dieses Jahres wurde Lawrence Franklin, ehemals Mitarbeiter der amerikanischen Botschaft in Israel und später als einer der Falken im Pentagon mit Iran befaßt, zu zwölfeinhalb Jahren Haft verurteilt, weil er Geheimmaterial zur amerikanischen Iran-Politik an Aipac weitergegeben hatte.

In der auch als „Franklingate“ bekanntgewordenen Affäre werden Weissman und dessen Vorgesetzter Steven Rosen beschuldigt, die von Franklin erhaltenen Dokumente an die israelische Botschaft in Washington, einen amerikanischen Think Tank und Journalisten weitergegeben zu haben. Aipac mußte Rosen, den langjährigen politischen Direktor der Organisation, und Weissman entlassen. Zum Prozeß kam es bisher nicht. „Was wir taten, ist gängige Praxis“, sagt Weissman. „Alle anderen tun das auch.“ Franklin sei es darum gegangen, die Unterstützung von Aipac für einen Plan zum „Regimewechsel“ in Iran zu gewinnen. Offenbar sollte Rosen helfen, Franklin einen Posten im Nationalen Sicherheitsrat zu verschaffen, um ihm den direkten Zugang zum Präsidenten zu eröffnen.

Vereint im Kampf gegen den Terrorismus

Obwohl die Bush-Regierung engere Beziehungen zu Aipac unterhält als ihre Vorgänger, gibt es im Kongreß mindestens ebenso gute Verbindungen zu den Demokraten. Nancy Pelosi, die neue Sprecherin des Repräsentantenhauses, gehört zu den standhaftesten Unterstützern von Aipac im Kongreß, schreibt Michael Massing in der „New York Review of Books“. Und Hillary Clinton, heißt es dort, habe für die jüngsten Wahlen mehr „Pro-Israel-Gelder“ erhalten als jeder andere Kandidat.

In der amerikanischen Bevölkerung hat der 11. September die Sympathiewerte für Israel nach oben schnellen lassen. Seither sah man sich vereint im Kampf gegen den islamistischen Extremismus. In der Folge stellte sich die Regierung Bush ohne Einschränkungen hinter die israelische Politik und gab ihre Rolle als Vermittler im Nahost-Konflikt weitgehend auf. Wichtige Unterstützung erhalten die Verfechter enger amerikanisch-israelischer Beziehungen von Amerikas christlichen Konservativen. Die Evangelikalen, eine bedeutende Wählerbasis der Republikaner, sind nach Umfragen deutlich proisraelischer als andere Amerikaner. Ihre Sympathien für Israel sind religiös begründet: Einige von ihnen sehen die Gründung des Staates Israel als wichtigen Schritt auf dem Weg zur Wiederkehr des Messias.

Spätestens seit dem Libanon-Krieg im Sommer mehren sich in der amerikanisch-jüdischen Gemeinschaft die Stimmen derer, die der Lobbyarbeit Aipacs kritisch gegenüberstehen. Eine neue Lobby, das „Israel-Project“ ist im Entstehen. Zwar wird dort versichert, man sehe sich nicht als Gegen-Lobby zu Aipac, gleichwohl ist die Zielsetzung eine deutlich andere als bei dem mächtigen Verband: Man wolle die Ansicht fördern, „daß Israels Sicherheit davon abhängt, daß der Konflikt mit den Palästinensern friedlich beendet wird“, sagt Jeremy Ben-Ami, einer der Organisatoren. Auf dem Verhandlungsweg soll eine Zwei-Staaten-Lösung erreicht werden. Israel, so heißt es, wäre besser gedient, wenn sich Washington wieder stärker für eine friedliche Lösung des Konflikts engagierte.