|Clinton Body Count|
Conspiracy theorists use the term “Arkanicide” (based on Clinton’s home state) to describe the allegedly mysterious deaths. The sinister version of the conspiracy theory posits that Clinton played a direct role in the murder of some or all of his associates.
The more benign version argues that individuals or groups working without the knowledge or approval of Clinton are responsible for the deaths. Admitting an inability to link Clinton to many of the deaths, Linda Thompson, who developed the original body count list, hypothesized that “people trying to control the president” are responsible for the deaths.
The Clinton Body Count originated as a list of thirty-four suicides, accidental deaths, and unsolved murders posted by Thompson in 1994 on a website entitled “The Clinton Body Count: Coincidence or the Kiss of Death.” Thompson is a conservative activist who quit her one-year-old Indianapolis general law practice in 1993 in order to start and run the American Justice Federation.
According to Thompson, Clinton was directly connected to twenty-eight of the thirty-four individuals on her list. Thompson described as “collateral deaths” an additional four people on the list who allegedly died because of their relationship with an associate of Clinton’s, and also included on the list two individuals (James Bunch and John Wilson) with a possible connection to Clinton.
Former Republican representative William Dannemeyer brought the conspiracy theory to the attention of the U.S. political elite by mailing a letter to the congressional leadership, with copies going to all the members of both chambers of Congress in 1994.
In the letter Dannemeyer identified twenty-four individuals associated with Clinton who had died under “other than natural circumstances.” Most of the names listed by Dannemeyer in the letter could be found on the website maintained by Thompson. Arguing that the number of suspicious deaths “has reached a total that can only be described as frightening,” Dannemeyer called for congressional hearings into the deaths.
Pat Matrisciana, founder and president of Jeremiah Films, brought the conspiracy theory into U.S. popular culture by producing and distributing several videos that accused Clinton of complicity in the murders. Bill and Hillary’s Circle of Power and The Clinton Chronicles are two videos produced and distributed by Matrisciana that propagate the conspiracy theory.
Jerry Falwell, who founded the Moral Majority and is a leader of the Religious Right, helped Matrisciana promote and distribute two of the videos. Falwell promoted Circle of Power on his cable television show for four consecutive weeks and helped Matrisciana sell more than 60,000 copies of The Clinton Chronicles. To date, Matrisciana has sold an estimated 300,000 copies of The Clinton Chronicles.
Talk radio has also played a role in promoting the conspiracy theory. Stan Solomon claims that Thompson first announced the list on his conservative talkradio show. Gary Park, whose murdered father was the head of Clinton’s gubernatorial security team, has spoken on approximately 2,000 conservative talk-radio shows. Larry Nichols, who was one of the narrators on The Clinton Chronicles, has also been a very popular guest on the talk-radio circuit.
According to Thompson, there are three possible types of victims: an insider, a New World Order, or a bodyguard. An “insider” is a person with a close personal relationship to Clinton or his inner circle of business associates. A “New World Order” is someone who had planned, observed, or opposed Clinton’s plans to use U.S. military personnel in domestic or United Nations military operations. A “bodyguard” is an individual responsible for protecting or escorting Clinton during or after his first presidential campaign.
Deputy White House Counsel Vince Foster and Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown are the two most prominent individuals included in every variation of the list. On 20 July 1993, U.S. Park Police discovered the body of Vince Foster in Fort Marcy Park with a single gunshot wound.
Secretary Brown, along with thirty-four other passengers and crew members, died when the air force jet transporting them from Tuzla, Bosnia, to Dubrovnik, Croatia, crashed into a mountainside on 3 April 1996. Despite the fact that Independent Counsels Robert Fiske and Kenneth Starr ruled that Foster had killed himself, some conspiracy researchers continue to speculate that someone may have murdered Vince Foster.
Even though the air force released a twenty-one-volume crash report that blamed flawed procedures and crew errors for the crash, conspiracy theorists still believe that Clinton ordered the murder of Brown in order to assure his silence about possible illegal acts.
Opponents of the Clinton Body Count conspiracy theory offer several criticisms. First, many of the individuals on the list have little or no apparent connection to Clinton. For example, James Bunch, who appeared on the original list, supposedly had a “little black book” with names of influential Texans who had hired Texas prostitutes. Thompson fails to explain the connection between Bunch and Clinton, who has never lived in Texas.
Proponents of the conspiracy theory also fail to offer a sufficiently believable motive for Clinton to authorize the murders of many of the individuals on the list. For example, four members of Marine Helicopter Squadron One, who are responsible for transporting the president, died on 19 May 1993 when their helicopter crashed during a routine maintenance evaluation flight.
Marine spokesperson Chief Warrant Officer Robert Jenks blamed the incorrect installation of a spindle pin for the crash. Thompson placed the four men who died in the crash on the Clinton Body Count list even while admitting that she did not know Clinton’s motive for the supposed murder.
Thompson speculated that the men “could have been privy to information about Clinton’s plan for Bosnia” without offering any details. The Clinton Body Count conspiracy theory also ignores one of the realities of national politics, which is that public figures, such as the president of the United States, are going to have a larger circle of friends and acquaintances than the average citizen.