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The Arkansas State Troopers

In response to:

Anything Goes from the August 8, 1996 issue

To the Editors:

With reference to my review of Roger Morris’s book Partners in Power [NYR, August 8]:Some readers have questioned my characterization of Arkansas State Troopers Larry Patterson and Roger Perry’s failure to testify at Senate Whitewater hearings on the basis of a statement made by their lawyer in The Washington Times last February 15. I wrote that “when Perry and Patterson were subpoenaed… they suddenly decided they didn’t want to repeat that story under oath.” Their attorney, longtime Clinton nemesis Cliff Jackson, contends that his clients stand ready to testify, but were never called.

For the record, the troopers were scheduled to give a discovery deposition to Whitewater committee staffers. Supposedly they were prepared to tell a tale about a telephone call made by a White House aide named Helen Dickey on July 20, 1993, informing Perry, said to be on duty at the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion, that Vincent Foster had shot himself in a White House parking lot. The troopers claim that Dickey called some time before Foster’s body was discovered across town in Fort Marcy Park—thus lending credence to various conspiracy theories regarding his death. Ms. Dickey testified that her call to the Governor’s Mansion was made hours later, after 10 PM. Others confirmed her account.

According to minority counsel Richard Ben-Veniste, when Perry and Patterson’s attorney was notified that the committee had issued a subpoena for the troopers’ duty rosters and time sheets for the day in question, he asked to have the deposition postponed until the records could be reviewed. “One could read between the lines,” Ben-Veniste told me, “and get the impression that they were afraid the records would contradict their story—which was, of course, completely ludicrous on its face.”

Faced with the delay, the Republican majority on the Whitewater committee decided it could do without Perry and Patterson’s testimony. They were never called.

I should add that the story I referred to in my review about Gary Aldrich’s book appeared on the front page of The Washington Post of July 1, 1996, not that of The New York Times.

Gene Lyons
Little Rock, Arkansas

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