Eleanor Clift (accessed by way of Josh Marshall
) has offered the wisest "take" on Libby. Remember when we all expected Scooter to sing a song implicating Cheney and/or Rove? Instead, his lawyers barely put up a defense. Libby must have known all along that he would never do one day behind bars.
The President's commutation of Scooter Libby's sentence has caused W's defenders to dredge up Bill Clinton's pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich. We have already taken one retrospective look at the Rich affair (scroll down or go here
), and we have noted a delicious irony: Clinton's thinking was swayed, in part, by Rich's lawyer -- Scooter Libby.
Sofla, one of our readers, offered a comment that deserves wider attention, hence this post. She places the Rich affair in context -- and that context has a name: Rudolph Giuliani.
I would add this.
It is well known that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak begged Bill Clinton to pardon Rich. It is also well-known that Rich forged ties with Iran's leader, the Ayatollah Khomeini, at a time when Khomeini was considered by America to be public enemy number one. Rich's Iran dealings were at the heart of his little tax problem.
Rich is fiercely pro-Israel. Khomeini was fiercely anti-Israel. So why did Rich form the business arrangements with Iran that have caused him so much trouble?(To read the rest, click "Permalink" below)Let's take another look at the "October Surprise" theory of the 1980 election -- the theory that, at the time of the Iranian hostage crisis, the Reagan campaign struck up a secret deal with Khomeini's government to keep the hostages captive until Jimmy Carter left office.
One noted proponent of this thesis is Gary Sick, former Carter adviser and career officer in Naval Intelligence. This is from a 1991 statement by Sick:
What this evidence shows is a consistent pattern of secret contacts between the Reagan-Bush campaign and Iran. The contacts began early in 1980, from about the moment that William Casey became the campaign manager for Mr. Reagan. They continued through the summer of that year in Madrid, where the first outline of a deal was reportedly proposed and accepted and where Israeli participation was first introduced. The terms of the bargain were reportedly made final in the second half of October in Paris. The hostages were released minutes after President Reagan had taken the oath of office, and arms began to flow to Iran from Israel, with U.S. government acquiescence, almost immediately thereafter...
Third, there is a considerable body of evidence that military equipment began to flow in substantial quantities from Israel to Iran almost immediately after the Reagan inauguration and that these shipments were known to, and approved, by the new administration.A far more complete account is here:
In early 1980, Israel went to the administration, offering to broker an unusual deal: The Iranians would free the hostages in exchange for desperately needed weapons. Israel's proposal was based on several explosive factors that lurked beneath the surface of the crisis, largely unseen by the American people. Israel's oil came from Iran. Israeli arms sales to Iran were crucial to its economy. And militarily Iran was a counterweight to Israel's feared enemy, Iraq's Saddam Hussein.(Emphasis added.) The afore-cited piece goes on to detail the many pieces of evidence linking Israel to secret arms sales to Iran. (Scroll down to the section titled "Israel and Arms.")
What did Israel get from the deal? Obviously, it got political leverage -- the impolite phrase would be "blackmail material" -- on the incoming Reagan administration. More importantly, Israel received large amounts of a certain black and viscous substance. Iran played an important role in the Israeli economy during the days of the Shah, and Israel wanted to maintain a relationship even after the revolution. The two countries, officially enemies, did business throughout the hostage crisis, especially after the Iran-Iraq war made Iran desperate for military parts. That war began in September of 1980, although the two countries had been snarling at each other for some time.
Marc Rich played a key role in brokering these deals, arranging for millions of barrels of Iranian oil to reach Israel. Gordon Thomas (a source I would use with some caution) claims that Rich was a Mossad "sayyan," or helper. His right-hand man, Avner Azulay, is Mossad. See here:
...Vincent Cannistraro, a former spook and a Middle East expert...said the Mossad used Rich as a "conduit for financial transfers" and to pass messages to Iran when necessary. He is a very wealthy man, so he is not on the payroll per se. He was a very close friend of the Israeli government and has been cooperating with Israeli intelligence since the early 1980s.I believe that the cooperation began a bit earlier than that.
Khomeini, of course, adopted a fiercely anti-Israel stance in public, just as the Reagan administration adopted a fiercely anti-Iran stance in public. The strange bedfellows had to keep their affair very hush-hush.
And hush-hush it was -- until the Iran-contra scandal broke open.