Guest Blogged by BRAD BLOG D.C. Correspondent Margie Burns
Looking into the combination high-level and shadowy backstory of Marc Rich, pardoned unpardonably by former President Clinton on the latter’s last day of office, will throw further light on the longterm Libby-Cheney relationship.
While this little item below went rapidly down the memory hole, back in early 2001 (very early) the incoming Bush administration made little noise (very little, very quickly ceased) about revoking Rich’s pardon. No public emphasis by the administration that Libby, the new chief of staff for Cheney and Special Assistant to Bush, had recently been Marc Rich's attorney for twelve years.
The following short 2001 article was published in Globes Publisher Itonut, ‘Israel’s Business Arena’ [online]...
Bush administration may revoke Marc Rich pardon;
The loophole: Marc Rich has not been personally served with the pardon.
Vice President Richard Cheney: The Justice Department is looking into the issue. Congress will also examine the affair.
BYLINE: Ran Dagoni, Washington
The Bush Administration is looking into the possibility of revoking the pardon granted by former President Bill Clinton to Marc Rich, a billionaire holding US and Israeli citizenship, who fled the US, and has been living as a fugitive from justice in the Swiss town of Zug for 17 years.
Clinton pardoned Rich at the end of his term, following intercession by Prime Minister Ehud Barak, former Mossad chief Shabtai Shavit, and other Israelis. Rich donated millions of dollars to Israeli cultural institutions and hospitals, and according to some reports, was also involved in enhancing Israel's security interests.
Clinton's decision to pardon Rich provoked public anger, which intensified after it turned out that Rich's former wife was a major contributor to the Democratic Party, and donated to Hillary Clinton's Senate election campaign. This prompted the new Bush Administration to examine the issue. "Newsweek" reports that Bush Administration legal experts have succeeded in finding a way to revoke the pardon without undermining the presidential prerogative in this respect.
A White House official confirmed that the Administration was reviewing the spate of pardons issued by Clinton on his last day in office. "Our lawyers are examining all information on the pardons," the official was quoted as saying by "The Washington Post".
Vice President Richard Cheney's comments in a television interview cast doubt on whether the Administration will indeed try to use the theory that pardon and arrest warrant are similar in that they must be personally served on the individual concerned to challenge the validity of Rich's pardon.
Published by Israel's Business Arena on 29 January, 2001
Talk about a story with no legs. For some reason, it seems to have gone nowhere.
One notes with sorrow but no surprise that Cheney’s television interview apparently did not remind the public that Cheney’s incoming chief of staff, I. Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby, was coming onboard the administration fresh from a 12-year stint as Rich's attorney.
Note: To be fair, the fact that Libby was among Rich's lawyers was reported by the MSM --- to some extent. Checking all transcripts for December 2000 through February 2001, there are 1) 1,000+ hits for 'Marc Rich'; 2) 250 hits for 'Marc Rich' in combination with 'Cheney'; and 3) exactly 50 hits for 'Marc Rich' combined with 'Cheney' and 'Libby' added. Even Fox News mentioned the item --- exactly 3 times, out of 171 hits on Fox for 'Marc Rich' in these months. Two of those mentions were to emphasize Libby's denial of any involvement in the pardon; the other to note that Libby had been subpoenaed by Republican Rep. Dan Burton's Congressional committee (see below) looking into the matter
So, a question to revive – or ask for the first time? – about the Marc Rich pardon: behind the scenes, did incoming Vice President Cheney support Rich’s pardon? Did Cheney help Libby get the job with Rich in the first place? Did Cheney help Libby bail just at the juncture when leaving Rich would give Libby plausible deniability on the Clinton pardon?
Regrettably, candor from either the Clintons or Bush-Cheney on this question is not a given.
But looking at the underlying situation, realistically we should consider the question. After all, just starting with common information, we already know that Libby is historically regarded as “Cheney’s Cheney.” Libby had worked under Cheney – Undersecretary of Defense to Cheney’s SecDef – in earlier years, going into corporate life as Cheney did in the out-of-power 90's, returning to government officialdom when Cheney did. Shortening this narrative somewhat, basically Libby moved from service with Cheney to service with Rich back to service with Cheney.
Is there any realistic possibility that Libby would have repped a figure like Rich, without Cheney’s approval? Or that Marc Rich could have been in the running for a pardon, partly via Libby’s representation, without Cheney’s knowledge? Or that Cheney would have taken/kept Libby under his wing in the new George W. Bush administration, if Cheney had heartily disapproved of the Marc Rich-Scooter Libby relationship?
Shortly after the Bush administration came into office, Congressman Dan Burton (R-IN) began conducting hearings into the Rich pardon. Asked why Burton discontinued the hearings, press secretary Clark Rehme said in a short telephone interview that the “bottom line” was that the presidential pardon power is “not reversible” – it’s a power on which there are “no checks and balances.” Rehme added that Rich, who had been living abroad, had already said in interviews that he had no plans to return to the U.S. Generally it seems to have looked unlikely, to the public, that there would be any further movement on the Rich case.
As with the Iran-Contra scandal, the whole Marc Rich story is looking like another unsavory instance of unholy collaboration linking the Bush-Clinton-Bush administrations. One of the first things Clinton did after getting into the White House was shut down further congressional investigation of Iran-Contra. One of the last things Clinton did on leaving the WH was pardon Rich, linked to Iran-Contra. One of the first things the new lockstep Bush admin did after getting into the WH was shut down investigation into Marc Rich, while making a big public stink about Clinton’s purported relationship with Rich’s wife, a Dem donor as well as a NYC socialite.
And now Bush 43 has commuted all prison time for Lewis Libby, Cheney’s man and Marc Rich’s lawyer, in a defensive crouch against an investigation into the CIA leak – which, btw, has the giant footprint of Richard Armitage, longtime Cheney man, one of the Plame leakers par excellence – and another alumnus of Iran-Contra, all over it.
How long will we keep paying for the wholesale behind-the-scenes conversion of our intelligence service from defensive/protective intelligence gathering to invasive/sleazy clandestine ops?
The logrolling continues...