Saturday, July 07, 2007

Getting Rich

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.
Two other companies, large oil concerns with names you know, were charged with doing the same thing as Marc Rich's company did. Their offenses were treated as technical tax code violations, and therefore civil matters, not crimes at all; they paid the back taxes and some fines, and that was it.

In the case of Marc Rich, however, a politically ambitious NY/southern district US Attorney decided he would invent a novel application of the RICO laws in a civil matter as had never been done before, and which results devolved into such a travesty of justice that now DOJ guidelines for prosecutors forbid them from pursuing civil RICO charges against anybody. (That US Attorney? One Rudy Giuliani, and this provides an excellent window into his bullying character and why he should never be allowed near the Oval Office).

Rich did not 'flee' the country as a fugitive from indictment-- he maintained a residence and business HQ in Switzerland at all times, and left the country to return there as per his normal travel patterns before any indictments were returned. (Note, this was a civil matter involving no criminal indictments at all for the other two companies). Rich wasn't additionally charged with being a fugitive, because the terms of that charge didn't apply to his situation because it was as described above, despite how these terms are loosely thrown around to describe what he did.

The Marc Rich case went through all the normal procedural hurdles for presidential pardons, including review by the special DOJ pardon section, seeking the comments pro or con of the original prosecutor, and etc. The complete 'regular order' of things was honored, including, most importantly perhaps, that the aggrieved party actually submit a pardon request, but all the rest of it as well. Additionally, Marc Rich's company PAID IN FULL ALL THE TAXES OWED, AND THE FINES, amounting to several hundred million dollars.

(To be sure, normally, such a petitioner could not remain 'at large,' sought by authorities, and must instead have surrendered himself to the authorities. And normally, the president would require a positive recommendation from the DOJ pardon officer and whatever other panels he consulted, and in Rich's case, those parties recommended no pardon. But the situation was unique, unprecedented, and the DOJ and the prosecutor were loathe to admit they'd badly abused their authority in the first place to get these indictments, although that was exactly what they had done.)

But the Libby case featured no such formalities whatsoever. Libby didn't apply for any presidential relief. He hadn't begun serving his time, nor cease pursuing his appeals. He didn't repent or express remorse. He didn't pledge on-going cooperation with the prosecutor, still less deliver on such a proffer. And Bush didn't go through ANY DOJ process, ask ANY official opinion of anyone-- he simply trashed the system for this, and rashly substituted his opinion for any due process as it exists in DOJ guidelines.

In assuring that Libby served less time than the original time Paris Hilton did before she was prematurely released, Bush appears to be saying that ANY JAIL TIME more than ZERO was excessive, and his slap-dash lightening quick 'review' of this matter has more the appearance of a heavy-handed obstruction of justice, accessory after the fact kind of thing, rather than a righting of any injustice.
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.


Driver said...

Excellent post, I've sent it around.

Shimmy said...

"Harsh! Harsh!" went the death of law.

"Hooray for our chains!" went Brit Hume.

Perry Logan said...

And of course, bringing up Bill Clinton is simply chanigng the subject--the logical fallacy of DISTRACTION.

Since wingers have no real defense for themselves, they prefer to change the subject and make up stories about Bill Clinton for a while. This is how degenerates always behave.

Joseph Cannon said...

I should note that this post attracted a surprisingly polite message from a tranny, who thought that a few kind words could turn me around. Cue Bugs Bunny impersonation: "He don't know me vewy well, do he?"

But since he WAS polite, perhaps I should not have rejected his comment. I will simply take this opportunity to remind readers of the rules for comments, here:

There's a link to this page right below the cartoon in the upper left hand corner -- the one of me and my dog.

Note especially condition 5. And 3. and 2. And...

...well, you get the idea. I am sorry that there have to be rules of any sort, but trannies are far worse than cockroaches -- you allow one or two to show up on your site, and suddenly the WHOLE DAMN site turns into a nonstop discussion of trannyism, 24/7. And a very ugly discussion it soon becomes, as those who were around toward the end of last year will recall.

Anonymous said...

Some final points about Marc Rich. As part of his on-going negotiations with DOJ regarding his pardon, he was prepared to surrender himself to US authorities. But he wanted assurances that he would be granted bail and be free during the rest of the process. It was refused (that assurance, that is; perhaps they would, but no guarantee they'd recommend that ahead of time).

This is yet another parallel with, and distinction from, the Libby case. If Libby had been granted bail while his appeal proceeded, most likely Bush would have taken the opportunity to delay this disgraceful action until much closer to the end of his term of office (and then make it a pardon rather than a commutation).

If DOJ had assured Rich bail some time before the end of the Clinton years, he'd likely have fulfilled enough of the normal preconditions of pardons to qualify for a pardon recommendation, defusing the controversy entirely.

Another difference is that Bush does not claim Libby's innocence, or raise that point in defense of his action, and to the contrary, agrees that Libby should receive harsh punishment (including the fine, felony status, and etc.) Clinton notably DID view Rich as innocent of the charges, making that point in his published defense in the NY Times.

Lastly, although Clinton was not pardoning Rich for a crime in which Clinton or any of his administration officials could have been involved in, that is exactly the case for Bush.


Anonymous said...

you've attempted to defend ONE of clinton's pardons, but what about the other 139 and at least 38 commutations (not to mention scores more while clinton was governor)?

your thoughts?...

p.s. - i have read and understand your 'comment rules' and i respect them. therefore, you may chose whether to post this or not.

Anonymous said...

As I recall, the fact that the Israeli government strongly desired the Rich pardon was a rather open secret at the time. In fact, the Rich pardon was seen as a consolation prize to the Israelis for Clinton not pardoning the spy Polak.

Anonymous said...

That would be POLLARD, not Polak.

On the subject of the rest of Clinton's pardons and commutations, I think his record is very defensible. As a matter of fact, only a bare handful of those created much controversy at all, which indicates about 95% to 98% plus of them were unassailably just and warranted, as they really did reverse injustices, or showed reasonable mercies.

By far, most of the pardons qua pardons were for persons who'd already served their entire sentences and parole periods, and those pardons simply cleared their records (sometimes even posthumously). For the commutations, those were for persons who'd served substantial parts of their sentences already-- NONE were pre-emptive of any prison time, as this Libby case commutation is.

Probably the greatest furor (other than for the Rich case) was created in the case of the FALN Puerto Rican separatist terrorists. That was entirely defensible, as shown by the list of those advocating for their receipt of presidential mercy, including the Archbishop of the NY diocese, former President Jimmy Carter, and etc. The fact was that they declined as a matter of principle to offer any defense at their trial or argument at their sentencing hearing, and therefore received imprisonment terms far beyond what their convictions merited for the standards in place at those times. Had they been sentenced with respect to average standards, they would have already been freed years prior to Clinton's actions.


Anonymous said...

I am pretty shocked that anyone would defend Marc Rich. Yes- he was a fugitive-and he was convicted in absentia.
Yes- it is his MO to violate embargoes via trading - or as Australia's states:
(has history) of busting UN embargoes to profit from corrupt or despotic regimes.
You may find that people use this pardon to attack Clinton, but if you recall, Bush closed down the inquiry on the pardon. No doubt, Libby had a hand in that.

I could go on and on with all the errors here and the simplistic nature of anyone who discounts this pardon, but I do have to work- so here are a few "mainstream" links that support what I am stating.,8599,99302,00.html

Joseph- you forgot about Pollard..........that was the real pardon pursued by Israel and passed up by Clinton. Compromises with deep pockets-Marc Rich. Rich has bought off half of Israel's forgiveness. He controls them far more than they control him. Everyone has a price, and Marc Rich knows how to pay em off.

BTW- there were several times that Marc Rich escaped capture via private plane.

Anonymous said...

ps- I just saw that you did make a note of the several times Marc Rich escaped capture. this is an obvious reason his "bail" was never agreed upon, "have plane will travel/break bail".
Rich made demands that would never be met, because they knew better. They had tried for years to charge him, these were the ones that stuck. Rich does not follow the rule of law because - in most cases - he can get away with it.
And he aids many that will return the favor.

There are many crimes Rich has not been charged with. Kind of like Bush/Cheney/Libby.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, the preferred media 'storyline' concerning the Marc Rich pardon was how unconscionable and corrupt Clinton was, just as the preferred media 'storyline' was how the outgoing Clinton administration absolutely trashed the White House and stole the furniture and silverware. While there may have been reason at the time to take such reports at face value, we now know, or we should now know, that rather these were deliberate attempts at smearing the well above average president in favor of the incoming Bush administration, and were false.

Two of the most prominent tax authorities in the country, tax professors at prominent universities, determined that in actuality, not only weren't Rich and his partner Pincus guilty of any crime, they didn't even owe any tax at all in the first place. (One of them, Prof. Ginsburg, is Associate Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's husband.)

And in a later similar case involving Atlantic Richfield Oil Company, the US Dept. of Energy pointed to the accounting method that the Rich company used as the CORRECT and PREFERRED way to do the accounting, rather than some criminal dodge for tax evasion purposes.

Whatever Rich's past and at the time future transgressions, being charged with RICO (not allowed by DOJ guidelines for tax matters whatsoever now) and being made to pay taxes not due by law was not right.

While you cannot easily find this analysis in the media reports current at that time, that was because of an unwarranted media trashing of Clinton, as their unrequited bid for his conviction and removal on impeachment charges increasingly unhinged their reason and multiplied their venom.


Anonymous said...

I have never heard anyone defend Marc Rich's "daisy chain" accounting as perfectly legal. They may have said that it was not criminal (meaning it should be tried as a civil case)-but that wasn't the whole case against Rich.
He ripped off many people during the oil crisis of '73 via Noriega's corrupt regime.
And then continued with similar corrupt practices - over and over in whatever country would let him get away with it.

Regardless, Rich has committed far greater crimes than tax evasion--and the mere fact that most focus on the tax evasion issue, rather than the fact that while there was a hostage crisis going on in Iran, Rich was profiting off of it.
Libby even went so far as to state that Rich broke the law - or to quote was a traitor (not to be confused with trader)- it is stated in the CNN article Joseph mentioned previously:
"At a later point, Libby said he thought Rich was a traitor for his company engaging in trades with Iran at a time when that country was holding U.S. hostages. "I did not condone it, I didn't advise it, I don't admire it," he said."

I can't believe that democrats feel the necessity to defend such a pardon, when if anything, this is a classic example of how screwed up our two party system has gotten with $$ in the middle.

As for Libby- he made roughly $2 million (that we know about) in his 15 years working on team Rich. Whereas, the democratic party didn't quite hit the mark with Denise's "philanthropy."

But that doesn't anger me nearly as much as the fact that we paid for Libby's get out of jail free card with the $260,000 per year salary he made as Cheney's chief of staff. It's no wonder he could quickly execute a signature on that check for a mere $250,000.

Anonymous said...

ps- i typed an incomplete sentence - should have stated:

Regardless, Rich has committed far greater crimes than tax evasion--and the mere fact that most focus on the tax evasion issue, rather than the fact that while there was a hostage crisis going on in Iran, Rich was profiting off of it is; blatantly suspect and negligent to our justice system. Just because someone has not so guilty of one crime, yet guilty of another, does not make him/her innocent. ...

One must remember that this case against Rich was over 20 years old and many changes in the law had occurred, as well as many interpretations morphing into the main points of the case. Not all points were covered when Clinton came to his own defense in the NY Times, nor did the tax law experts dismiss the case of trading with Iran (unless you have seen something I haven't).

In Clinton's own words, he said that he had more sympathy for a man in Rich's situation after personally facing the prosecution of impeachment. But-Sympathy for the devil doesn't not excuse the crime.

Just as Libby should be held accountable for his crimes against our nation (I think Fitzgerald was soft on all the crimes against the State that Libby could have been charged with), so should Rich- no matter who might have compromised for the $deal.
I do think it is quite ironic that Libby would whore himself out for a man who he knew was guilty of committing crimes against the state on the level of treason--and yet Libby would sit as the vice president's chief of staff--for over 6 years,thereafter. Yet-somehow Clinton took the fall on this one-even after stating that he had taken Libby's legal view into account, while making such a decision. Tells you something about the mastery of the Bush spin doctors aka press. And people are so easily trained to follow......

okay- enough on this one-sofla ---you may now have the last word ;-)

Anonymous said...

Anon, you've been working with half the information-- the prosecutor's brief only. Of course, referencing only that, Rich was guilty, guilty, guilty, as are all parties, until granted their defenses.

However, there ARE these facts you haven't heard of, because they really weren't covered much or emphasized, even though the principals involved (Clinton, Jack Quinn, Leonard Garment, Scooter Libby, et al.) ALL MENTIONED THESE EXCULPATORY FACTS in their written commentary. (Damned liberal media again, carrying all the water for Clinton all the time!)

Two of the most prominent and reknown international law experts did indeed state that the Rich prosecution misconstrued the facts and the law in the case, and that in consideration of these errors, Rich had neither committed a crime nor owed any tax liability.

This alone might be enough for a presumption of Rich's innocence, and it wouldn't be the only time Rudy Giuliani invented a crime where none existed. A couple of Wall Streeters he got convicted were acquitted on appeal, on the grounds that what they did was not a crime (?!?!).

But, wait, you might say-- weren't those two professors JEWISH, and therefore, possibly biased towards Rich for the same reasons various Israeli PMs also pled Rich's case to Clinton? Racial, religious, or loyalty to Israel considerations?

Perhaps, or at least, that is a colorable claim. They surely do have Jewish surnames, although that may not mean they were dishonest out of some other agenda in this case.

But the Dept. of Energy instruction to Atlantic Richfield is additional highly credible evidence, and harder to discount. And, of course, you didn't hear about that either, because it wasn't emphasized in the media, although written of by Clinton or Quinn or Leonard Garment, etc.

(If you want to see what they had to say, which is only fair, the Marc Rich website has a list of publications, and links to various pieces they wrote on this subject).


Anonymous said...

ack- Sofla-now you would even attempt to lower this debate with anti-semitism? Now that's low. If anything I said that Rich had more control over his Israeli allies, than the other way around (did not mention jewish heritage - only the country- big difference). Perhaps, that is your usual op here in cannonfire's battle with trannies, but you are assuming a great deal to attempt that with me. I am surprised that Joseph would even allow that sort of dialog here after all that he has seen, but I suppose he knows you better than an anon and figures you have some validity. I used to post on a forum where the anti-semitism got out of control and those who wished to have a sincere debate just left (me amongst many others-primarily those who were jewish). In any case, I do not wish to have that sort of dialog in my internet life, so I won't bother you here in the future.
Now-you can choose to ignore Rich & Co.'s trade embargo busting or all of the other crimes Rich has committed.......... or you can read this book- which was written long before Clinton ever pardoned him:
them addressed the issue of

As far as the ARCO defense, that is in reference of the "daisy chain" scam- which ARCO has denied any knowledge had nothing to do with trading with Iran during the hostage crisis. Some countries would call that treason- you might have another term for it - but in my book, greed is greed. criminals are criminals and it has nothing to do with what country you may be from or your heritage.
peace be with you
- exits stage left................