11. THE STRANGE DEATH OF DANIEL CASOLARO
more than a year, Danny Casolaro, a Washington, D.C.-based freelance journalist,
had been sorting through a web of intrigue -- the S&L debacle, BCCI, Iran-contra,
the contra-connected Wackenhut Corp., the Wackenhut-connected Inslaw case, and
the Inslaw-connected "October Surprise." The "Octopus," as
Casolaro called it, began with the U.S. Justice Department which, according to
a federal bankruptcy court for Washington D.C., "stole" computer software
(called Promis) from Inslaw Corp., a private firm, 'by trickery, fraud, and deceit."
the week of August 5, Casolaro told a number of friends that he had just come
back from meeting with a source, and that he now knew everything about Inslaw
and Promis. He also told them that he was going back to West Virginia to meet
a source who was to help him nail down the last piece of evidence in his investigation.
Saturday, August 10, Casolaro was found dead in Room 517 of the Martinsburg, W.Va.,
Sheraton. His body was found with twelve incisions in his arms in a bathtub of
bloody water. Though police have ruled Casolaro's death a suicide, Casolaro's
family and many familiar with the case find suicide implausible. Unexplained questions
Death threats. In the weeks before his death Casolaro had spoken
frequently about threats on his life. In fact, just before he left for Martinsburg
he told his brother, "If anything happens to me, don't believe it's an accident."
For reasons unknown, Casolaro's family wasn't notified of his death until two
days after his body was discovered. And by that time, his body had already been
embalmed illegally. Additionally, the hotel almost immediately brought in an industrial
cleaning company to sanitize the room, thereby greatly diminishing any opportunity
for an independent forensic investigation.
The day before he died, Casolaro
met with a source at the same hotel. But the stack of documents given to him by
the source, as well as his tape deck and a briefcase containing a draft copy of
his book, which he always carried with him, have never been found. Also unexplained,
is a half-empty bottle of red wine and a broken wine glass that police found next
to the bathtub, and an empty can of beer found inside the tub. No alcohol was
found in Casolaro's bloodstream.
'The key thing about the death of Casolaro,"
says former Attorney General Elliot Richardson, who is representing Inslaw, "is
that although others were seeking to delineate ... the 'octopus,' he was the only
one who told people who have no reason to misrepresent what he said that he had
hard evidence, and was on the point of getting conclusive evidence. ... The idea
that he committed suicide with a razor blade under these circumstances seems highly
SSU CENSORED RESEARCHER: DARK LO
SOURCE: VILLAGE AGE VOICE, 36 Cooper Square, New York, NY 10003, DATE:
TITLE: 'The Last Days of Danny Casolaro"
AUTHORS: James Ridgeway and Doug Vaughan
SOURCE: THE SAN FRANCISCO BAY GUARDIAN, 520 Hampshire St., San Francisco,
CA 94110-1417, DATE: 8/28/91
TITLE: "Dead Men Tell No Tales"
AUTHOR: Vince Bielski
SOURCE: IN THESE TIMES, 2040 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, IL 60647,
DATE: September 4-10, 1991
TITLE: "Murder in the Martinsburg Sheraton?"
AUTHOR: Joel Bleifuss
COMMENTS: Reporter Joel Bleifuss, who also investigated the
related Inslaw software theft issue, said "While the death of Journalist
Danny Casolaro was given some initial notice by the mass media, that
media ignored the context in which his mysterious death -- murder --
occurred. Casolaro was investigating what are possibly interconnected
scandals -- the October Surprise, the Inslaw case, the 'private' security
firm Wackenhut, BCCI, organized crime and the Pentagon's procurement
process -- none of which has been seriously examined by the national
media." Bleifuss added that fuller coverage of Casolaro's death,
would help focus public attention on the various scandals he was investigating.
'That the mass media did not take this apparent murder more seriously
is one more indication that this nation's press corps has abandoned
its role as the public watchdog," Bleifuss concluded.
Journalist Vince Bielski charged that while "A
number of mainstream outlets carried the news of Danny Casolaro's death, no outlet
did a serious investigation. The story was forgotten, as is the case with many
controversial stories." Bielski adds that the "public needs to know
that reporters have been killed because of their work. This may or may not have
been the case with Casolaro, but the public certainly deserved more information
to help people make up their own minds."