Excerpts from The New York Times Magazine

The New York Times Magazine
Sunday, February 23, 1997



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 [Thompson] 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 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.

Copyright 1997 The New York Times