FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Conspiracy, Death and Jeffrey Epstein

Within minutes of news about his death in a Manhattan jail cell Saturday morning, theories spread with pestilential vigour. Was Jeffrey Epstein murdered? Accepting the premise without qualification, the next question followed: Who did it? MSNBC host Joe Scarborough was not giving anyone time to wonder. “A guy who had information that would have destroyed rich and powerful men’s lives end up dead in his jail cell. How predictably…Russian.”

There had been a potential trigger: the unsealing of documents by a Federal court from a lawsuit by one of Epstein’s accusers directed against socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, the woman behind the man behind the women. In 2017, Virginia Giuffre, who had accused Maxwell of procuring young girls for sexual abuse by Epstein, settled. The depositions were duly salacious, linking the procurement to the Epstein circle, which, by all accounts, was rather large. Specific to Giuffre were claims that Maxwell had issued her instructions “to serve”, amongst others, Britain’s Prince Andrew, former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, and scientist Marvin Minsky.

Epstein was the insider mogul, a deeply connected, even embedded figure holding the confidences of the rich and powerful even as he pampered them. Having become a sordid archive of sorts, to have him accused of trafficking in underage sex was a powerful incentive for the narrative of silence to charge forth on an unruly stead. To have the Epstein largesse was to have its taint. And in Donald Trump’s USA, the conspiracy machine furnishes the means of settling scores and scuttling accounts; never mind the facts, those silly little things that tend to be bound up in order to die in isolation.

Anyone involved with Epstein in any intimate way could hardly have denied that sinister gothic element to his life, itself sketchy about details as college dropout, high school teacher in Manhattan and money manager. What proved striking was a pseudo-intellectual leaning in his circle: the need for a permanently horny financier to be with the bright in order to arrive at some justification for, as Andrew O’Hagan observed, “personally impregnating countless women”.

His home on East 71st Street in New York sported a stone satyr over a fifteen-foot front door leading to a home with décor “of the Gothic Quagmire school”. When he sparked interest in the authorities – of the unhealthy type – he tended to wriggle out of it, using heavy artillery lawyers to do his bidding. Operation Leap Year, conducted by the FBI over a period of 14 months some twelve years ago, found evidence that 34 underage girls had been solicited by Epstein. Not so, claimed the Alan Dershowitz-led team: the girls were not underage. A “non-prosecution” agreement was struck, allowing Epstein to escape incarceration.

The details, since released, show that Dershowitz convinced Miami prosecutors that Epstein could avoid federal charges provided he owned up to two counts of soliciting, one of them being with a minor. Immunity would also be provided for “any potential co-conspirators”. Epstein’s accusers were not to be informed of this nasty jigging of the legal system, a point in clear violation of the Crime Victims’ Rights Act. (The legal eagle soaring over the proceedings, it should also be said, had been accused by Giuffre of being one of the Epstein inner circle she was to sexually service.)

Such a resume has commanded much suspicion in terms of timing and result. New York mayor Bill de Blasio deemed it “way too convenient”. To reporters, he asked what Epstein could possibly have known. “How many other millionaires and billionaires were part of the illegal activities that he was engaged in?” In the social media scape, facts were already being killed off as rapidly as they were conceived.

President Donald Trump relished a chance to muck in, retweeting a post by comedian and commentator Terrence K. Williams sceptical about the “24/7 suicide watch”. Here was a chance to aim a few blows at his old sparring partners, the Clintons. The rancid smell of dough and sex from the fictional paedophile rings associated with “Pizzagate” in 2016 had reappeared. “#JeffreyEpstein had information on Bill Clinton & now he’s dead.”

That whole matter was preceded by a retweet of a post by BNL News: “BREAKING: Documents were unsealed yesterday revealing that top Democrats, including Bill Clinton, took private trips to Jeffrey Epstein’s ‘pedophilia land’.” The president felt in the pink of things, launching thick salvos against the media he regarded as “lamestream”. “Think how wonderful it is to be able to fight back and show, to so many, how totally dishonest the Fake News Media really is. It may be the most corrupt disgusting business (almost) there is!”

Clinton spokesman and press secretary Angel Ureña added to the news cycle with a statement that, “President Clinton knows nothing about the terrible crimes Jeffrey Epstein pleaded guilty to in Florida some years ago, or those with which he has been recently charged in New York.”

The Daily Beast indulged a scenario in mocking fashion. Perhaps that other part of the Clinton duo, Hillary, “performed a flawless HALO parachute jump onto the roof of the Manhattan Correctional Center, rappelled down the elevator shaft”, in the process infiltrating cell, killing Epstein and making off “with her blonde hair perfectly in place and not a single stain on her tactical pantsuit”.

Not wishing to be outdone, anti-Trump tweets have aggressively followed in the wake of claims that the Clintons were intent on silencing Epstein, leaving, along the way, a good number of corpses. The hashtag #TrumpBodyCount was a response as measured as that of #ClintonBodyCount.

Epstein’s death is being covered, interpreted and heaved over in a scattergun environment resistant to news. Any news account must, by its Trump inflected nature, be a set-up, a contrivance, a concoction of power. “He reportedly tried to kill himself two weeks ago,” snorts Scarborough. “And is allowed to finish the job now? Bullshit.”

This leaves such questions as those posed by O’Hagan in the London Review of Books lukewarm in their intensity, however sensible they might seem. “When guilty men kill themselves, are they acknowledging their guilt, or is it more like an act of self-pity?” Epstein’s suicide terminated “a judicial process that he spent millions to disdain”; it also negated a life in prison he sought to avert. Any answers found by the Metropolitan Correctional Center (New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wants “lots of them”) are bound to fall short in the current milieu of celebrated pandemonium.

More articles by:

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

Weekend Edition
August 07, 2020
Friday - Sunday
John Davis
The COVID Interregnum
Louis Yako
20 Postcard Notes From Iraq: With Love in the Age of COVID-19
Patrick Cockburn
War and Pandemic Journalism: the Truth Can Disappear Fast
Eve Ottenberg
Fixing the COVID Numbers
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Every Which Way to Lose
Paul Street
Trump is Not Conceding: This is Happening Here
Robert Hunziker
The World on Fire
Rob Urie
Neoliberal Centrists and the American Left
John Laforge
USAF Vet Could Face ‘20 Days for 20 Bombs’ for Protest Against US H-Bombs Stationed in Germany
Andrew Levine
Clyburn’s Complaint
Kavaljit Singh
Revisiting the Idea of Pigou Wealth Tax in the Time of Covid-19
Paul Ryder
Here Come the 1968 Mistakes Again
T.J. Coles
Fighting Over Kashmir Could Blow Up the Planet
David Macaray
Haven’t We All Known Guys Who Were Exactly like Donald Trump?
Conn Hallinan
What’s Driving the Simmering Conflict Between India and China
Joseph Natoli
American Failures: August, 2020
Ramzy Baroud
Apartheid or One State: Has Jordan Broken a Political Taboo?
Bruce Hobson
The US Left Needs Humility to Understand Mexican Politics
David Rosen
Easy Targets: Trump’s Attacks on Transgendered People
Ben Debney
The Neoliberal Virus
Evelyn Leopold
Is Netanyahu Serious About Annexing Jordan Valley?
Nicky Reid
When the Chickens Came Home to Roost In Portlandistan
Irma A. Velásquez Nimatuj
The Power of the White Man and His Symbols is Being De-Mystified
Kathy Kelly
Reversal: Boeing’s Flow of Blood
Brian Kelly
Ireland and Slavery: Framing Irish Complicity in the Slave Trade
Ariela Ruiz Caro
South American Nations Adopt Different COVID-19 Stategies, With Different Results
Ron Jacobs
Exorcism at Boston’s Old West Church, All Hallows Eve 1971
J.P. Linstroth
Bolsonaro’s Continuous Follies
Thomas Klikauer – Nadine Campbell
Right-Wing Populism and the End of Democracy
Dean Baker
Trump’s Real Record on Unemployment in Two Graphs
Michael Welton
Listening, Conflict and Citizenship
Nick Pemberton
Donald Trump Is The Only One Who Should Be Going To School This Fall
John Feffer
America’s Multiple Infections
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Thinking Outside the Social Media Echo Chamber
Andrea Mazzarino
The Military is Sick
John Kendall Hawkins
How the Middle Half Lives
Graham Peebles
The Plight of Refugees and Migrant Workers under Covid
Robert P. Alvarez
The Next Coronavirus Bill Must Protect the 2020 Election
Greg Macdougall
Ottawa Bluesfest at Zibi: Development at Sacred Site Poses Questions of Responsibility
CounterPunch News Service
Tensions Escalate as Logging Work Commences Near Active Treesits in a Redwood Rainforest
Louis Proyect
The Low Magic of Charles Bukowski
Gloria Oladipo
Rural America Deserves a Real COVID-19 Response
Binoy Kampmark
Crossing the Creepy Line: Google, Deception and the ACCC
Marc Norton
Giants and Warriors Give Their Workers the Boot
David Yearsley
Celebration of Change
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail