The news that former Associate Attorney General Webster Hubbell was about to be indicted broke Wednesday, March 11. NBC News, in an exclusive report citing confidential sources, said Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr was about to charge Hubbell with income tax evasion, making false statements and fraud.
The network said its sources provided the unexpected tidbit on Tuesday, March 10. That same day, a source with a name, Charles S. Hayes,-- purported master CIA spook, hacker extraordinaire, public frontman for the legendary “Fifth Column,” convicted criminal -- had a thing or two to say about Mr. Hubbell from the visiting room of the Federal Medical Center in Lexington, Ky.
The conversation was, at the time, centered around the sex scandal involving President Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. But Hayes, in his characteristically disjointed, off-handed style, tossed an observation in sideways: “There’s one thing that people better start paying attention to and that’s one thing,” Hayes said. “You’re going to see Hubbell turn state’s evidence, because they are going to go back on other charges with him. They’re not through with him yet, feller.”
Lucky guess? Prescience? Can Hayes still gaze through a crystal ball behind the filter of a prison wall?
Hubbell, who was convicted in 1994 of federal mail fraud and tax evasion charges connected to the notorious Rose Law Firm in Little Rock, Ark. (where Hillary Clinton also was a partner in the 1970s and ’80s), had no comment on the report, nor did Starr immediately confirm it. Nonetheless, Hayes’ seemingly prophetic utterance comes as no surprise to those who’ve heard his outlandish predictions, and had their healthy skepticism eventually overcome by the passage of time and the truths thereby revealed.
For the benefit of those readers who may not have followed the published saga of Charles S. Hayes from its inception (August ’95 MB), and for those who might benefit from a quick refresher course, the essential Hayes file is printed below. We will wait right here while you first consult it, to aid in the comprehension of that which follows. For those already versed in the fantastic claims of Col. Hayes, let’s jump right in. The Fifth Column is alive and well, Hayes said during the scant two-hour interview granted by prison officials. No pictures, they said. A picture would have revealed that Hayes, in his plain beige prison garb, has dropped a few pounds in the hoosegow. Although he otherwise seems well, at least on the surface, Hayes claims prison officials Ric Azar fail to adequately monitor his high blood pressure. James McDougal, a former Lexington inmate, had high blood pressure too, Hayes noted, two days after McDougal was found dead in a federal medical facility in Fort Worth, Texas.
However, in a bizarre discovery last year, a canceled cashier’s check for $27,000 from McDougal’s S&L to Clinton was discovered in the trunk of an abandoned car by a junkyard mechanic, and turned over to Starr’s office. Although apparently paid, the check was not endorsed. The mysterious find bolstered the story McDougal was telling the Office of Independent Counsel.
Hayes intimates that the mechanic didn’t just make a timely, lucky find. Chalk another one up to the pesky Fifth Column: “That carload of papers they found in that Mercury, in the junkyard, relative to Whitewater, the banks and everything else? I’d say the Fifth Column has been blamed for it,” Hayes said, explaining that in this instance, the Fifth Column was “not falsely accused.”
McDougal, who was serving a three-year sentence for fraud and was scheduled for a September 1999 release, was transferred from Lexington to Fort Worth on Aug. 26. Hayes said he and McDougal spoke occasionally, but declined to address whether McDougal may have related “anything that might be of use to somebody else.”
“That’s awful to say,” he said. “Let me just leave this one down here temporarily, OK? We ate in the same mess hall, and I know McDougal, how’s that? I don’t want to say I was chummy with him because that’s not exactly right, either.
“Now, to put this back on what happened with McDougal down there in Texas. They’re bringing doctors in here that don’t know their ass from a hole in the ground. If you have high blood pressure as McDougal does and I do, I can’t get my [expletive] blood pressure checked unless I go down there to sick call today and go through one helluva lot of [expletive]...If you’re lucky, they’ll check it every two or three months. “Now, they said they had McDougal [in solitary confinement] for not taking a drug test. Let me ask you this, have you ever seen a time when a man tell you to piss and you couldn’t if you had to? They say he did not cooperate. It’s not a matter of not cooperating, it’s a matter that he couldn’t piss... because of some of the medication he was taking,” Hayes said. “It’s more than a possibility, it’s a probability...Listen to me. If they thought he had drugs in his body, they would have done a blood test whether he liked it or not.
“Another thing, why did they transfer him out of here? Nobody knows. And here they have one of the finest cardiac centers, at the University of Kentucky, that you got going anywhere.”
McDougal’s first “refusal” to urinate resulted in seven days in Fort Worth’s “special housing unit” beginning Oct. 23. The latest such incident brought seven scheduled special-housing days beginning Saturday, March 7. McDougal died March 8.
The urine sample was “requested as part of the routine and random urine-surveillance program at the institution,” said Sue Beasley, public information officer for the Forth Worth Federal Medical Center. A blood-test is “not a part of our standardized procedure. Under BOP [Bureau of Prisons] policy, an inmate is presumed to be refusing if he fails over a two-hour period to provide a urine sample.” She added that inmates placed in the “special housing unit” are “more closely monitored by the health staff than inmates in the general population.” The Office of Independent Counsel was notified the day of McDougal’s death, Beasley said.
With regard to McDougal’s transfer from Lexington, the spokeswoman said inmates “often receive a secondary designation once they are evaluated by the medical staff. It was determined Mr. McDougal should be designated to FMC Fort Worth, as it is a facility able to accommodate his medical condition and also be closer to his release residence.”
Preliminary autopsy results revealed that McDougal died of “cardio-pulmonary arrest,” said Michael Floyd, investigator for the Tarrant County Medical Examiner. Once lab tests, including a toxicology report showing the presence of any drugs in McDougal’s system, are reviewed by doctors, a final autopsy report should be released by the end of April, Floyd said.
McDougal was known to suffer from a variety of ailments, including heart disease and blocked arteries. Still, the circumstance and convenience of McDougal’s demise remain suspect, with Hayes saying “there’s a good chance” McDougal was murdered, “but I don’t know it for a fact.” Furthermore, Hayes claimed to have it “on good authority” that McDougal “was getting ready to talk about Mena...he was sharing information with some other people about Mena, in Texas he was doing this. Mena hasn’t stopped, dammit, not Mena, but six miles from there.”
The people with whom Mr. McDougal spoke about the notorious government cocaine-smuggling operation in rural Arkansas, Hayes claimed, were “federal investigators.” Meanwhile, prominent Internet scribe Matt Drudge reports that McDougal left behind a book that will now be rushed into publication.
“How’d you meet her?” one might wonder.
“If you let this out I tell you I will absolutely...” Hayes, purported to be a very dangerous man, answered the question. His response checked out, as far as one can go on deadline. Who knows?
Linda Tripp vaulted to the center of Starr’s investigation in January, when it was learned that Tripp had secretly taped Monica Lewinsky contradicting her own sworn testimony, given in the Paula Jones case, that she did not have a sexual affair with the president. A career civil servant who worked as a White House executive assistant before transferring to a public-relations post at the Pentagon, Tripp befriended Lewinsky when the former intern herself arrived at the Pentagon.
Tripp’s involvement in the case can be traced through Kathleen Willey, who with her husband was a major contributor to Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign. After Clinton assumed office, Willey worked as a volunteer handling White House correspondence, then took a paid part-time position. Later, Willey learned that she and her husband -- a lawyer under investigation for alleged embezzlement -- were in deep financial straits. Willey needed a full-time job, and approached the president for help. After she pleaded for the favor in the Oval Office (while unknown to Willey her spouse was committing suicide) on Nov. 29, 1993, Clinton allegedly and with some aggression kissed and fondled Willey, who broke away, left the office and ran into Linda Tripp, to whom she related what had just transpired.
Somehow, Willey’s name came to the attention of Starr’s grand jury, and she swore under oath in a deposition as to the president’s alleged sexual advance. The president denied her claim, also under oath. Somebody is lying. Somebody committed perjury. But not just anybody can be impeached, and that’s why Willey makes Willie nervous.
Tripp explained her part in the scandal via a statement released by her attorney, James A. Moody. “Until January 1998, I had never voluntarily or intentionally inserted myself into any alleged scandal which has tarnished this administration,” Tripp wrote. “Because I worked on a daily basis with President Clinton and the counsel to the president, I, along with many others, was subpoenaed by the independent counsel and by Congress to testify in numerous investigations, including Whitewater, the tragic suicide of Vince Foster, and Travelgate.
“I did not volunteer to become a witness in the Paula Jones lawsuit. Kathleen Willey named me to the press as a corroborating witness. I was subpoenaed to testify about Ms. Willey and any other women who may have had an intimate relationship with the president. I went to the independent counsel to report potential crimes, which included the possibility of obstruction of justice and perjury. I was being solicited to participate in a plan to conceal the true nature of the relationship between Monica Lewinsky and President Clinton...I felt especially at risk if I told the truth in my deposition in the Jones case because the president, through his counsel, Robert Bennett, was quoted in the national media last August as saying, ‘She is not to be believed.’ ”
A competing version holds that Tripp is more than a simple civil servant -- she purportedly is a seasoned operative who has long monitored alleged national-security breaches emanating from the Clinton White House. Tripp’s own resume notes she worked as an “operations assistant” for Delta Force at Fort Bragg, N.C. in the late 1980s, and earlier as an “administrative assistant” at U.S. Army Intelligence Headquarters at Fort Meade, Md., according to NBC News, which obtained a copy.
Linda Tripp was among a few White House aides to whom Deputy White House Counsel Vincent Foster offered M&Ms before he departed around 1 p.m. on July 20, 1993, saying he’d be back later. To the contrary, Foster’s ultimate destination was Fort Marcy Park, where his neatly laid-out body, gun in hand, was found around 5:45 p.m. Foster was, at the time, under investigation for passing national security secrets to the government of Israel, according to James Norman, former senior of Forbes magazine, writing in Media Bypass (Aug. ’95 MB). Hillary Clinton also had been implicated in the spy scandal.
Hayes was asked to confirm whether, to his knowledge, Tripp was part of any counter-intelligence operation that had Foster, Mrs. Clinton, and others in the inner White House sanctum under surveillance on suspicion of espionage. Reverting to his customarily cryptic ways, mindful of the setting and aware that others might be listening in, Hayes said while barely nodding in apparent agreement: “I don’t like answering that, but as you can guess, you can understand what I’m saying to you...You got me behind the rules here...She has S-2 [security] clearance. That’s just a little thing you pick up.”
Is that the highest?
“No, I got a S-1,” he chortled. Hayes said Tripp is “with the good guys,” and bet his life that her purported intelligence duties did not include involvement in foul play regarding Foster’s death.
The weekend before his demise, Foster and his wife were found at the posh eastern Maryland estate of Michael Cordozo, head of Clinton’s legal defense fund. Other notables in attendance included one Webster Hubbell -- there “by coincidence,” according to the Whitewater report of Starr’s predecessor Robert Fiske -- and Cordozo’s father-in-law, big-time Democratic contributor and D.C. real-estate developer Nathan Landow (sometimes spelled Landau). Hubbell claimed the weekend was just a laid-back gathering for tennis and poolside chit-chat. Not so, Norman wrote.
“According to sources connected to the CIA, Justice Department and another intelligence agency, the meeting was under heavy surveillance. The agenda? Heavy duty damage control. Foster was grilled. To whom else could the Swiss money be traced? How could the scandal be contained?”
Foster had discovered, just days earlier and to his horror, that his $2.73 million account at the Banca Della Svizzera Italiano in Chiasso, Switzerland, filled with illgotten gains and encoded for supposed safety, had been electronically transferred to an escrow account at the U.S. Treasury. Foster then canceled his plane ticket for a oneday jaunt to Switzerland, purchased on his American Express card through the White House travel office, according to documents obtained by a private investigator.
The weekend gathering at Landow’s estate purportedly included discussion of hush money as part of the scandal-containment effort; Foster may have been hesitant to play along, thus sealing his fate. At any rate, in a strange case of deja vu all over again, Landow’s name surfaced recently in the same context of White House damage control: ABC News reported on Feb. 27 that Willey claimed she had been “encouraged” by one Nathan Landow to change the story she gave to Starr’s grand jury.
In a March 15 interview on CBS News’ “60 Minutes,” Willey said Landow met with her several times, but she declined to confirm that Landow had applied “pressure,” the nature of which remains unclear.
“I can’t say at this time,” Willey told correspondent Ed Bradley. “Because of all that has been going on [with the investiga-tions]”. She declined further comment on the advice of her attorney. The FBI reportedly has opened an investigation into Landow, who declined to be interviewed.
“Don’t expect Whitewater prober Kenneth Starr to spill any beans. He was in-house counsel to Reagan Attorney General William French Smith at the time the Inslaw PROMIS software was expropriated for intelligence use,” he wrote. “Later, as Solicitor General, he recused himself from an Inslaw-related matter without explanation. It seems likely Starr would have been personally involved in launching this covert bank-spy effort, which Washington is so nervous to keep secret. All in the family, you might say.”
Indeed, those few dogged researchers who have since probed the voluminous underlying record of Foster’s death, including regular MB contributor Hugh Sprunt [who met with and provided documentation to Starr’s investigators], claim Starr ignored glaring evidence suggesting that the “suicide” in Fort Marcy Park was anything but. The question that begs answering: Should Starr inspire confidence as an honest seeker of truth?
“Don’t underestimate Mr. Starr,” Hayes said. But while the Fifth Column has purportedly provided Starr with reams of scandal-related information, Hayes said he has “been asked not to answer” whether he has continued cooperating from behind barbed wire. He would not elaborate.
“A railroad track’s got two rails,” he continued. “You got one rail in Arkansas and one in Washington -- he’s got two grand juries and they’re going full blast, and I’ll tell you now he’s coming out with stuff.” He said Starr had to concentrate “limited resources” on aspects of the wide-ranging investigation that he deemed “most easily provable.”
And then came the Lewinsky scandal. “The only reason Monica Lewinsky worked at the Pentagon is because Bill put her over there. She could not even have passed the security clearance without somebody interceding,” Hayes said. “Ms. Lewinsky was [fornicating with] everybody around and you’re [expletive] right that makes her a security risk. Tripp probably made it a point to be her friend, that’s quite a possibility in my opinion.”
Hayes discounted speculation, based on circumstantial evidence, that Lewinsky may have been operating on behalf of the Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which Clinton apparently had angered by pressing for compliance with the Israeli-Palestinian peace accord. Among many curiosities, the Lewinsky scandal erupted during a visit by Netanyahu and Yassir Arafat to the White House. Bottom line, Hayes says, is that Lewinsky is too dumb to be an intelligence operative. She was operating on behalf of herself, he says.
“If you rolled her brain out flat you wouldn’t have enough material for a bikini to cover a gnat’s ass,” Hayes chuckled. “She figured that if she got the president where she wanted him, she could get anything she wanted...She was hungry for money, power, whatever she could get. But Linda worked her...Linda had to know something. When they transferred Monica [to the Pentagon], do you think Linda Tripp, some of the people been around in this kind of work, knew what was going on? That was a big red flag.”
Hayes predicted that ultimately, Starr’s investigation will (perhaps in a roundabout way) confirm the help of the Fifth Column, address the issue of White House espionage and bring Clinton’s resignation in the face of impeachment
Paxon’s stunning reversal, which sent tremors through Republican ranks, came just months after his wife and fellow rising Republican star, Susan Molinari, quit Congress, ostensibly to take care of their new baby. She then signed a reported $3 million contract to become a talking head on “CBS News Saturday Morning.”
“I looked at my daughter and...I said to myself, I cannot do this to her and I cannot do it to Susan, who gave up a promising political career to be at home,” Paxon told reporters.
Where have we heard such lame excuses before?
From some of the more than 50 unexpected congressional retirees who fled Capitol Hill in late 1995 through mid-1996. The bipartisan exodus, unprecedented in U.S. political history, included such entrenched (read: virtually unbeatable) heavy-hitters as Sens. Sam Nunn, Bill Bradley, Nancy Kassebaum, Paul Simon and Alan Simpson, and Reps. Patricia Schroeder, Kweisi Mfume and dozens of others. Besides going to play with the kids, stated rationales included the desire to go fishing, or escape the incivility that they said plagues Congress.
Since that initial flurry, several more abrupt congressional retirements have arisen, including Sen. Dan Coats and Rep. Lee Hamilton, two Hoosiers at the height of power. Molinari, Paxon, Rep. Bob Livingston and Rep. Joseph Kennedy are but the most recent defections which, depending on whom you believe, may or may not be attributable to the workings of the mysterious Fifth Column.
The skepticism expressed in Huffington’s March 5 column was extraordinary, and echoed a headline on congressional defections, courtesy the Fifth Column, in the February 1996 Media Bypass: “Congresional retirees leaving voluntarily -- and we should all believe in Mother Goose.” For her part, Huffington wrote:
“The unexpected departure from the House of Representatives of one of its rising stars would usually trigger a frenetic round of questions and navel gazing. But instead, the pols and pundits alike seem determined to break with 200 years of history and accept a public figure’s dubious explanation at face value.The columnist said she spoke with Paxon, and found it “implausible that the day after he spent hours drumming up support for a race he had been masterminding for months, he decided to put an end to his political life.” As to the abruptness of the resignation, Paxon told Huffington, “My press secretary also counseled me to drag it out over a month so as to not shock people. But I wanted to close that door. I don’t want to run for office, and I don’t want to be on TV.”
“Here is the Paxon chronology, and why it doesn’t add up: On Monday, Feb. 23, Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, came out with a front-page story titled, ‘With Newt’s Help, Armey Fights to Save Job’... ‘Furious that Gingrich and Armey are working to undermine him,’ the piece reported, ‘Paxon on Friday called dozens of members from home and said he is now ‘seriously considering’ jumping into the race soon. Then, on Wednesday morning, Paxon announced to the Republican Conference that on Saturday he had made up his mind not only to refrain from running against Armey for majority leader but to retire from politics altogether. Why the big rush?”
Concluding, the incredulous Huffington wrote, “In the absence of a plausible explanation, the vacuum is filled with rumors. But the most persistent question remains: Was Paxon’s decision the result of pressure, even a threat, and if so, by whom? In October, Sandy Hume, the talented ‘Hill’ reporter who shot himself last week, wrote, perhaps prophetically, that according to one Republican member, ‘There is a concerted effort to take Bill Paxon out before he becomes a bigger threat to Gingrich than he is.’ ”
Rumors have surfaced that Paxon and Hume, 28, the son of television newsman Bret Hume, were having a homosexual affair that somehow spawned both Hume’s death and Paxon’s resignation. But you can’t believe that cyberspace crap, or what you read in The Enquirer... can you? Then surely you can believe what’s reported in The Jerusalem Post...can’t you?
In a March 5 column, the Israeli newspaper described Hume as a “brilliant 28-year-old journalist” who committed suicide, “as the story goes,” over a homosexual affair with “the leader of the plot...a senior Republican...confirmed supporter of Israel.” The article, by the Post’s Avinoam Bar-Yosef, did not name Paxon.
There is at least one other possibility to explain Paxon’s resignation -- one not involving baby’s faces nor homosexual affairs. An alternative explanation involves new notches etched into the Fifth Column’s Cray supercomputer, the grim tally rising even as the star player languishes in prison.
But what about the wife? How to explain her equally abrupt resignation last fall? Did she suddenly come to believe that baby and career, at least a political one, were incompatible? Or was she too gay at heart and beyond? It should be noted that the Fifth Column, as best is known, is not in the business of outing homosexuals, nor in assisting suicide.
Molinari, chosen by George Bush to give the keynote address at the 1992 Republican Convention, held significant political stock, and was being groomed as a moderate model to attract more women to the GOP. Her book, “Representative Mom,” is due out in May. According to reviewers of an advance copy, Molinari says she left Congress to devote more attention to her kid, and because she could no longer “work for the ‘good of the order’ with people who found it convenient to shove my husband out of the picture.”
“You can do whatever you want with that,” Hayes said. “I’d say the Fifth Column paid [both Paxon and Molinari] a visit, that would be a good probability... How would I know what’s going on out there [expletive], I’m in jail! The Column has been busy with that and a lot of other things people don’t want to give them credit for, and that’s the way the Fifth Column likes it. The Column’s not out for any fame or glory, we’re interested in cleaning it up.”
So jail means you’re out of touch with the fellow Fifth Columnists?
“I’m pretty close to them, yes sir,” Hayes said.
“You’ve got to understand here that I’m in prison,” Hayes said. “I answer some of these questions...I mean give me a break. You have no idea.”
There was a time when Hayes boasted that if any move were ever made against the Fifth Column, utterly damning documentation targeting corrupt officials would be released “in a flood.” With Hayes’ conviction last year on what many saw as a trumped-up case of soliciting murder, it was clear that a major move had been made against a member of the shadowy group.
“The Column wanted to come out with everything, absolutely,” Hayes said. “But we have our credibility, we ain’t worried about it. There’s a date set, when if it hasn’t come out by then, it will come out in a flood.” Besides, Hayes said he doesn’t need the leverage (and enhanced credibility) such documentation would provide in order to shed his prison garb. He claimed to have a letter from a “high-ranking intelligence official” stating that if he were willing to “do certain things,” Hayes could be released “in 48 hours.” Hayes declined to detail what was required, but said he may cooperate “under certain circumstances.” Another avenue to freedom would be the success of his appeal which seeks to overturn the conviction on grounds of tainted evidence and other alleged trial irregularities.
“I do not intend to spend much more time in prison,” said Hayes, who is scheduled for release in 2005.