ABC News reports tonight that oil shipping records show that the fugitive financier pardoned by Bill Clinton in the last hours of his presidency played a significant role in Saddam’s fleecing of the UN Oil-For-Food program. Marc Rich, who received a pardon from Clinton despite being on the run and over the objections of the Department of Justice, provided a middleman for Hussein and major oil companies looking to keep their hands clean from scandal:
Former American fugitive Marc Rich was a middleman for several of Iraq’s suspect oil deals in February 2001, just one month after his pardon from President Clinton, according to oil industry shipping records obtained by ABC News.
And a U.S. criminal investigation is looking into whether Rich, as well as several other prominent oil traders, made illegal payments to Iraq in order to obtain the lucrative oil contracts.
“Without that kind of middleman, the system would not work because the major oil companies did not want to deal with Iraq because there was a mandated kickback,” said human rights investigator John Fawcett.
So when Bill Clinton allowed Marc Rich to go free — coincidentally just after his wife, Denise Rich, donated $450,000 to Clinton’s presidential-library fund — he set loose one of the conduits that helped Saddam steal $21 billion from his own people and funnel it to his military and, probably, Islamist terrorists. Not only did he allow Rich to escape prosecution for his earlier crimes, he also eliminated any chance of trying him for any crime committed before the pardon was issued in January 2001. While the fortune Rich funneled to Saddam gets used to kill American servicemen and Iraqi civilians, Bill Clinton wanders around his presidential library, wrapped in the loving embrace of the American media.
However, I suspect this will make a huge dent on Hillary’s chances for the presidency in 2008, especially if this administration manages to capture and try Rich for his part in UNSCAM. After this report, you can bet that they’ll be issuing warrants for his arrest and extradition. (via Instapundit)
UPDATE: Deltanine reminds me that I wrote about Marc Rich’s inclusion in the Duelfer Report on October 7th:
At the time of the pardon, many people puzzled over why Bill Clinton would pardon a man who fled the country and whose status as a fugitive had been under negotiation with the FBI just prior to Clinton’s action. Instead of cutting a deal with Rich to get him back to the US to face charges, Clinton pulled the rug out from under the FBI. Without the leverage of the charges, Rich had no further motivation to cooperate with the DoJ on any outstanding investigations.
At the time, the presumption was that Rich’s wife had donated enough money to buy the pardon. Now, however, the question may be whether Clinton knew about the corruption and feared that an aggressive Bush administration policy would uncover Rich’s participation in undermining Iraqi sanctions while Rich raised funds for both his presidential library and Hillary’s election. Or maybe the issue runs even deeper than that?