An interesting postscript to the Marc Rich story is that the businessman went to his final reward without ever having availed himself of the politically costly pardon issued him by Bill Clinton during the president's last days in office. He was never to set foot on American soil again after he left for sanctuary in Switzerland and Israel.
In a kind of counterpoint, Mr. Rich's ex-wife Denise Rich, after they'd divorced, returned to America, making big splashes in New York, Southampton and Los Angeles on her blameless wife's share of the ill-gotten and untaxed loot that Marc had acquired. Denise was instrumental in seeking the pardon President Clinton gave her former husband (donating a million dollars to the Clinton library, and, I believe, a coffee table to the decor of the Chappaqua house) so it was an odd outcome that in subsequent years Denise Rich renounced her United States citizenship, in an effort, it is said, to avoid the cost of having to pay U.S. taxes.
Table of Contents:
Part I: An Overview of the Scandal and The Scheme - Main Essay,
Part II: Evasive Responses from Barak And Top Officials,
Part III: Barak Wasn't the Only One,
Part IV: Pollard In Prison: "I Was Betrayed",
In his last days in the White House, Bill Clinton pardoned Mark Rich, a speculator who did business with Khomeini at a time when American hostages were being tortured in Teheran. He was indicted for the largest tax evasion in the history of the United States (48 million dollars), and was facing 300 years in prison for the more than 50 charges against him when he fled to Switzerland, escaping the law by the skin of his teeth.
Rich invested a fortune in Israel and succeeded in harnessing Barak, Peres, Ben-Ami, Burg, and many others in a sophisticated campaign to gain an American pardon. The tactic: the Israelis would ask Clinton to pardon both Jonathan Pollard and Rich, with Pollard as the throw-away.
Rich's people believed that Clinton wouldn't free the Israeli spy and counted on getting the Rich pardon as a consolation prize, instead.
Correspondence that has been obtained and examined by the American congressional committee investigating the pardon leaves no room for doubt. As far as Rich and his people are concerned, Prime Minister Ehud Barak - Israel's number one soldier - carried out his orders to the letter.
Pollard: "I feel as though I've been shot in the back."
Part I: An Overview of the Scandal and The Scheme
In the middle of the month of December 2000, at a time when the Prime Minister of Israel was facing a storm of enormous challenges - dealing with the violence in the territories, trying to achieve a last-minute agreement with Arafat to stave off political disaster in the approaching elections - Ehud Barak found the time to become involved and to assist a private individual by the name of Marc Rich. Five years earlier, Shimon Peres had tried to appeal to the heart of American envoy Dennis Ross to do something for Rich. "That's a hot potato," exclaimed Ross, shocked at the mention of the fugitive criminal's name, and he rejected Peres' request out of hand.
Barak threw the full weight of his office into pleading for Rich at meetings, by telephone and in letters, to convince Bill Clinton, the outgoing President of the United States, to grant a pardon to a man who was considered one of the most-wanted criminals in the United States, but who was also one of the largest, most important donors to organizations, officials and politicians both in the U.S. and in Israel.
In a brilliant, secret operation which was co-ordinated by others and spearheaded by Barak, the two clemency requests by Israel - Jonathan Pollard and Marc Rich - were deliberately linked to each other. The idea was that Clinton would not free Pollard and this would pressure him to compromise by granting a pardon to Marc Rich, instead.
It is not clear and Barak stubbornly refuses to admit if he was aware of the cynical linkage that Rich's people had made between the two pardon requests and if he knowingly co-operated with them; or perhaps the Prime Minister of Israel was actually the victim of a sophisticated manipulation by Rich's people and he naively presented the two clemency requests together, without realizing the true intent of the linkage
But this much is clear: whether in the correspondence that Rich's people carried on among themselves, whether according to Clinton's people or whether from Pollard, himself, there is the same insistent assertion: the Israelis knew what they were doing when they linked the two clemencies together for the exclusive advantage of Marc Rich.
Thus, Pollard the devoted agent of the State of Israel, will continue to rot in prison many long years - it will now be more difficult for an Israeli prime minister to seek clemency for him - while the fugitive donor remains comfortably in his luxurious villa in exile, well-protected in a millionaire 's colony in Switzerland, the winner of a dubious pardon obtained during Clinton's last days in the White House.
Last week in the United States, a criminal investigation was launched against the former President. This is in addition to two other investigations being carried out by Congress and the Senate. Three investigations are trying to clarify if the President abused his executive clemency powers to pardon a criminal in return for donations made to organizations affiliated with him. If a connection is found between the Marc Rich pardon and, say, the donation of 450 thousand dollars by his ex-wife Denise Rich to the Clinton Library (and many other donations), the President could be tried for accepting bribes, or even impeached. In the United States a president can be impeached even after he leaves office and stripped of all the benefits he would otherwise receive as a former president.
Clinton has never been known as one for whom truth lights the way. He has already paid a price for this when he recently lost his license to practice law for 5 years because of his false testimony in the Monica Lewinsky scandal. In that case as well, Clinton proclaimed his innocence, of course. But, if in the Monica Lewinsky scandal the President received public support because some claimed that the issue was personal and private; in this case the American people have turned against him for defiling the principles of law and justice.
The obvious line of defense used by Clinton and his advisors is that the president was not influenced by the donations that were made by organizations and people close to Rich to those organizations affiliated with the President. As they put it, "If the President was influenced at all, he was influenced first and foremost by the repeated and persistent appeals of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak." Even in an interview with Geraldo Rivera at the end of last week Clinton claimed, "Israel influenced me profoundly."
Meanwhile, as America is actively investigating the President's pardon of Rich, not a single government office in Israel is investigating two key questions that should concern them: (l) What motivated Prime Minister Ehud Barak, Shimon Peres, Shlomo Ben-Ami and a number of other Israeli officials and public figures to press for the Rich pardon? (2) How, and by whom, was the Rich pardon tied to the clemency request for Jonathan Pollard?
HOLY IN ISRAEL, A TRAITOR IN WASHINGTON
Mark Rich, whose fortune is estimated in the billions of dollars and who is among the largest American donors to Israel, began to transfer huge sums of money, millions of dollars, to organizations and foundations in Israel - from the Diaspora Museum to hospitals and even to the Habima Theatre and to the Movement for Quality Government - only after fleeing from a series of criminal charges in the United States 17 years ago. These were not ordinary white collar crimes, but serious criminal offenses.
"Rich profited by trading with every possible declared enemy of the United States," said Congressman Dan Burton, head of the congressional investigation. Until he received the pardon, Rich was facing up to 300 years of imprisonment on federal charges, had the FBI and Interpol succeeded in arresting him and bringing him to trial.
Meanwhile in the United States, as revelations continue to unfold, the embarrassment of the Jewish community is growing over the participation of the Jews in the Marc Rich pardon. Rich's people also tried to enlist Elie Wiesel to make a personal appeal to the President but without success. Ehud Barak, who dubbed the Deri Law "a disgrace", to date has not seen fit to explain the reason for his own supplications on behalf of Rich who has never served a day in prison.
In the 1980's, one step ahead of the law, Rich fled to the city of Zug in Switzerland and renounced his American citizenship. Congressman Dan Burton, head of the congressional committee investigating the pardon, told the opening session how Rich's partner, Pincus Green, smuggled incriminating documents, for which there was a court order, out of the country in a private plane in order to avoid the possibility of further charges against them.
In order to understand how serious the issues are, in particular from Israel 's point of view and especially as concerns Barak, it is worth reading an excerpt of the exchange between Christopher Shays, a member of the Senate who took part in the hearings, and Jack Quinn, Rich's attorney:
Shays: "Did Rich trade with Iran?"
Quinn: "I understand that there was trade."
Shays: "In the last 20 years, did Marc Rich or any of his companies trade with Quadaffi?"
Quinn: "I don't know."
Shays: "Does it matter to you?"
Quinn: "A pardon request deals only with legal steps. I am not a character witness."
Shays: "Did Marc Rich trade with Iran during the time that the American hostages were held captive?"
Quinn: " I don't exactly know. I believe that he traded with Iran."
Shays: "In the last 12 years did Marc Rich trade with Iraq?"
Quinn: "I don't know."
Shays: "Did you try to find the answers?"
Shays: "You didn't feel a need to tell the President that Rich traded with Iran, Iraq and Libya? You didn't feel it was your obligation to tell him?"
Quinn: "It was my obligation as a lawyer to concentrate on the legal side. Moreover, as you know, the Prime Minister of Israel, Ehud Barak - someone that you would expect to be concerned if such trading had occurred - was not particularly vocal about this issue when he voiced his own support for the pardon."
A SHORT HISTORY OF RICH
Marc Rich, who was born in December 1934 in Antwerp, Belgium, settled in the United States with his family (originally Reich), after they fled Europe in fear of the Nazis. In America the young Rich, who never finished his academic studies, very quickly became king of the commodities and the futures markets, and especially oil. All of his life was devoted to making deals in which he gambled, as is the nature of this market, on tomorrow's prices. Most of his bets paid off. He became known as a relentless trader with a lust for money, who was ready to do business with anyone in order to amass more.
On December 4, l979, hundreds of inflamed Iranians burst into the American Embassy in Teheran and for the next 14 months held 53 American diplomats hostage. Every night, thousands marched around the Embassy chanting, "Death to the Americans!" American paratroopers were killed in a failed rescue attempt when their helicopter crashed in the desert. There was massive outrage in America and the United States imposed a total embargo on trade with Iran.
One man defied the embargo - Marc Rich. According to the indictment against him, in April 1980, while the hostage crisis was still at its height, he made arrangements to buy 6 million barrels of oil from the Iranians. The payments were made via American banks without their having any knowledge of where the money was going. According to estimates, Rich recycled 800 million dollars in world trade markets.
On December 19, 1983, Rich was indicted in absentia on more than 50 charges, including lying, falsifying information, trading with the enemy and evading 48 million dollars in taxes - the largest tax evasion in the history of the United States. He was holed up at the time in his villa at 28 Himmerlich Street, in the City of Zug, Switzerland. He refused to turn himself in to the American authorities.
Rich never did respond to the indictments that were filed against him and he did not stand trial. Consequently, a court order for his arrest was issued and he was declared a fugitive from justice. His people explain that he fled on account of the "lynch atmosphere" which prevailed at the time in New York thanks to the chief prosecutor, Rudy Giuliani. According to them, Rich had zero chance of having his claims heard or of convincing a court of law.
Giuliani enlisted all the forces at his disposal against Rich and his partner, Green. First and foremost among them was the New York media, which fed for weeks on stories of Rich's shady dealings with the Ayatollahs of Iran at a time when American hostages were still languishing in Teheran. In this atmosphere there was a certain logic for Rich and his advisors to wait it out in Swiss exile until the rage subsided.
It wasn't only Giuliani but also Rich's people who participated in the war for public opinion. In 1985 when A. Craig Copetas, a senior investigator for the Wall Street Journal, wrote a book about Rich, all the copies mysteriously disappeared from the bookshelves. "In one of the bookstores," Copetas recalled about two weeks ago, "I saw somebody buying up all the books in stock. I chased after him and the parcel of books until he entered a building which housed the offices of Marc Rich." As a result of the systematic buy-out of the book, it became a collector's item which passed from hand to hand for $400 a copy. Next month it will be re-released with the addition of a new chapter on recent developments.
In 1992, after Bill Clinton's electoral victory in Washington and Yitzhak Rabin's victory in Israel, Rich began to foster relationships with political officials, particularly on the left of the political map. In Lucerne he founded a fund for the advancement of education and social services. It was the philanthropic arm through which Rich made contacts both in the United States and in Israel (in Israel it works with the Dorot Fund). In the 1990's Rich also became an Israeli citizen and began to make many donations in support of the peace process, to organizations close to the Labor Party, and to those following the political and diplomatic path set by Yitzhak Rabin, z"l.
In July of 1999 Marc Rich hired the services of Arnold and Porter, one of the most expensive legal firms in Manhattan. Rich contracted to pay the firm a minimum of $55,000 a month plus expenses for the services of lawyers Jack Quinn and Kathleen Bihan to advance the issue of a presidential pardon for him and his partner, Pincus Green. Quinn had been one of the legal advisors to Bill Clinton during the Whitewater affair and was known as a man with excellent connections to the White House.
On the 11th of December 2000, attorney Jack Quinn officially presented his pardon request for both Rich and Green directly to the attention of President Clinton. The main claim that was raised in the petition spoke of an injustice for which the two had already paid close to 2 million dollars to the American tax authorities. The petition also claimed that because of the inimical attitude of prosecutors in general towards Rich in the U.S., and particularly in New York, there was no chance - even today, almost 20 years after the events - to have a fair hearing of the facts. Therefore the only solution, it was claimed, was a pardon
The petition included as an attachment a heartrending letter from Rich's ex-wife, Denise. Denise Rich is known in the United States as a woman with impressive connections in the upper echelons of Washington society. Rich enlisted her friend, Beth Dozoretz. Also known as a big American donor, Dozoretz was appointed to head the fundraising committee of the National Democratic Party. Dozoretz wrote a letter to the President in which she asked him to end "this glaring injustice" against Rich.
A short time after this, when she was on a ski vacation in Aspen, Dozoretz received a telephone call from Clinton. The President said that he was "impressed by her efforts for a pardon for Rich". Denise Rich, by the way, has refused to answer investigators' questions about the affair, and is insisting on her Fifth Amendment rights to avoid testifying.
PROJECT: RICH/ POLLARD
On the home page of the official web site for Justice for Jonathan Pollard is a cartoon. "Look how naive we've been," says one of the characters to another. The next frame reads, "Instead of raising the issues, we should have been making donations."
Rich's people, attorneys Jack Quinn, Kathleen Bihan, and his full-time advisor, Gershon Kokast, knew that his request for a pardon would never be accepted without the help of the appropriate people in Clinton's circle. Among other things they prepared a telephone book-sized file of written appeals to the President from many prominent personalities. Among the letters were those of the King of Spain, Juan Carlos, and the recipient of the Nobel prize and friend of the Clintons', Elie Wiesel. The lion's share of the letters were written by Israeli VIP's.
The secret campaign, which went into effect last November, was carried out with the help of a written document which later became an exhibit in the congressional investigation. This document identified the media as being at the top of the list of all possible problems that might torpedo the pardon plan. For this reason it was important to the Rich people that not a word be leaked.
The man placed in charge of mobilizing support in Israel, Avner Auzlai, is the head of the Rich Foundation and the millionaire's representative in Israel. Azulai, a former Mossad agent, proved to have amazing ability to coordinate the project. He enlisted ministers Shimon Peres and Shlomo Ben-Ami, the Speaker of the Knesset, Avrum Burg, and so on. Their role - and Shimon Peres is only one example - was not only to write letters but also to make direct appeals to Clinton by telephone.
But the crowning glory of Azulai's achievements was to harness the Prime Minister, Ehud Barak, for Project Rich. Azulai met with Barak a number of times in recent months. Azulai also had all-encompassing contacts with those surrounding the Prime Minister. For example, Michal Herzog, the wife of Cabinet Secretary Yitzhak Herzog, a close associate of the Prime Minister, was employed as an administrator of the Rich Fund in Israel which Azulai heads.
In the month of November 2000, it must be remembered, it was not yet clear whether or not Barak would make it to the elections with an agreement with Arafat in his pocket. In Florida the recount of votes was still dragging on and in Washington Clinton had begun to clear his desk. At that time Barak, who was in telephone contact with Clinton, tried to clear up a number of outstanding issues between the two governments. Some of these were secret, others were open. The Pollard issue was in the twilight zone. The Rich issue was one of the secret ones. Up to the last days of Clinton's presidency, the Rich clemency request remained known to very few people in Washington. "It has to stay below the media's radar," Rich's people agreed among themselves.
Whose idea was it originally to link Rich to Pollard? A clerk in the legal department at the White House at the time remarked with disgust, "It was an unholy union, driven by Rich."
Exhibits which have been collected by the congressional investigating committee show that Barak raised the two clemency requests - that of the agent and that of the millionaire - linked one to the other in a telephone call with President Bill Clinton. A senior official in the White House told 7 DAYS that there were at least three such telephone calls between Clinton and Barak in which the clemency requests for both Rich and Pollard were raised together. According to this official the first call took place in December 2000; two other phone calls took place in January 2001, one at the beginning of the month and the second on the 18th of the month - in other words, two days before the Rich pardon was granted.
In the first half of the month of December 2000, Clinton took a farewell trip to Ireland. He understood that the Middle East would not yield any further accolades and sought at least to sweeten his legacy with the fragile peace that he had achieved in Northern Ireland. On December 12, 2000 while the President was still on his trip, the New York Times published an article by David Johnston which was entitled "Pressure Is Again Emerging to Free Jonathan Pollard." The article said, among other things, "The Prime Minister of Israel, Ehud Barak, brought up the subject with the President on Tuesday and the President again offered the same routine response, that he would examine the request for Pollard along with the rest of the requests for clemency."
Quinn sent photocopies of the article (which would later be seized and presented to the congressional investigation as exhibit numbers 13 and 14) to Beth Nolan and Bruce Lindsey, members of the legal department at the White House who were dealing with clemency requests. Quinn wrote: "Beth, I've been told that Barak also brought up the issue of Marc Rich with the President of the United States - J.Q (Jack Quinn)". To Lindsey, who was thought by Rich's people to be more supportive, Quinn wrote: "I have been told that Barak also brought up the issue of Marc Rich with the President and so did at least one other person who told him that you and I should talk about this. Great seeing you in Belfast."
For Quinn the article in the New York Times was perfect. Rich's name wasn't even mentioned whereas on the issue of clemency for Pollard, the President was quoted coldly. This was exactly what Rich's people wanted to hear.
On the 4th of January 2001 an email was sent by Avner Azulai to Jack Quinn (exhibit 91) which summed up the situation. Among other things Azulai wrote: " At the end of this week, Mr. R. (Rich) is scheduled to meet with PM (the Prime Minister) and SP (Shimon Peres) as well as E.W. (Elie Wiesel). If possible, it would help a lot to ask the WH (White House) to hold off making a final decision on the pardon until the above-mentioned have the opportunity either to make or to repeat a personal appeal... I can also confirm the information about JP (Jonathan Pollard). The issue was dealt with in a telephone call dealing with the President in the framework of the negotiations for an agreement with Arafat. The release of JP (Jonathan Pollard). is being considered as a sweetener which will help the Israeli public to swallow the more bitter pill of an agreement with Arafat. I am convinced that the President is aware of the fact that releasing JP is going to be a big problem with the intelligence community and Mr. R. (Rich) can be included in this since less attention will be paid to him. On the other hand if he says no to JP (Jonathan Pollard), then this is another reason for him to say yes to Mr. R (Rich)."
In other words, the Azulai email clearly spelled it out: if Pollard were not released then Rich's chances for a pardon would increase.
An example of the close relationship between Barak and Rich at that time is evident in an another email that Azulai sent to attorney Jack Quinn on January 12 ,2001 (Exhibit number 65) after a meeting between Barak and Marc Rich himself. "The PM (Prime Minister) ...called the President of the United States. The President said he is well aware of the case. He said he is examining the case and looking at two very thick books (the letters of recommendation) which were prepared by these people. The President sounded positive but made no concrete promises."
At face value it is understood from the email that the conversation between Barak and Rich and, it appears, Azulai as well, took place in the Prime Minister's office. The way that Azulai can so accurately quote the President and the obvious direct contact he had - with no middleman - speaks volumes about the way that Rich' s people were able to employ Barak in support of the pardon effort.
"The tactic of Rich's people was simple," said a former White House official. "To link Rich's pardon to Pollard's, knowing that given the current political situation the latter would not be released. Look, the President couldn't say no to all of Barak's requests, so they figured that this way Rich's chances would be much better. They used Pollard as a ladder to achieve a pardon for Rich. They knew that either way they had nothing to lose."
Rich's attorney, Jack Quinn, made a similar observation in an email that he wrote to Azulai (exhibit 18) about a conversation that he had had with Beth Nolan, "...In the end, I told her that if they release JP (Jonathan Pollard) that it should be easy for them to pardon Mr. R (Rich), but if they do not release JP then they must pardon Mr. R. (Rich) ...She confirmed that they are in touch with the GOI (Government of Israel)."
Rich's people's strategy of harnessing Barak, it turns out, was a good one. George Stephanopoulos, a Clinton White House official was interviewed on ABC last Thursday when the story broke that a criminal investigation against the former president was being launched:
THE INTERVIEWER: "Quinn said that Barak appealed to Clinton on the matter (of a pardon for Rich)."
STEPHANOPOULOS: "Several times...Barak brought the full weight of his office to bear on the President in the Oval Office and in phone calls to the President. Remember, he presented the two clemencies together - that of Rich and that of Jonathan Pollard, the former spy. Barak did not expect to get Pollard. Mark Rich was a big donor to many philanthropic organizations in Israel... so the President, who was trying to secure Barak's cooperation in the political process (in the Middle East), felt the pressure."
In another interview that Stephanopoulos gave he said: "Barak asked for both. He asked for Rich and he asked for Pollard. He knew that Clinton wouldn't grant clemency to Pollard. Rich gave a huge amount of money to Israeli charities and also to the [Labor/One Israel] party."
One thing that was clear to Rich's people was the necessity of redirecting any accusing finger to point at Barak in order to avoid possible charges of bribery against Clinton himself. A week earlier Joseph diGenova, now Quinn's attorney, had already testified, "As you know, the Israelis, in the person of Prime Minister Ehud Barak, very strongly supported the Rich pardon and they supported clemency for Jonathan Pollard. They wanted both. They got the pardon for Rich... Barak had a personal interest in the matter and he spoke directly with President Clinton... When Israel, which is considered one of our closest allies, speaks directly with the President about a pardon then I can tell you the President has a very clear idea of how important the issue is."
Jake Siewart, former White House spokesperson, commented: "The Government of Israel saw Rich as an important ally and the President took that very seriously in deciding to grant the pardon."
It is important to remember that Barak has never denied his direct appeals to Clinton for Rich; but he simply has never provided any information on the linkage that he made between the clemency requests for Pollard and for Rich.
By the way, the only celebrity who refused to make the linkage between Rich and Pollard was Elie Wiesel, the Nobel Prize winner. Wiesel, who claims to have pressed the president for Pollard repeatedly over the last few months, refused the request to link the two clemencies together. "Pollard has sat in prison and suffered long enough. I was afraid that if I did this (linked the two) it would have a negative effect on the request for Pollard," Wiesel explained last week.
The pressure that Barak brought to bear on the White House was influential in several ways in getting Washington to grant the Rich pardon. In addition to personal requests Barak made to Clinton, appeals also flowed to the professional level in the White House. From there it was brought to the awareness of Eric Holder, the Deputy Attorney General in the Justice Department.
At first Holder was opposed to the pardon but in the end he changed his mind and supported it. Last week he expressed his regret for the decision: "I do not remember who it was who directed my attention to the fact that Prime Minister Ehud Barak had invested the full weight of his office in the pardon request, but this is what convinced me to support it. With this piece of information in mind, I told Ms. Nolan that I am currently neutral and leaning positively towards clemency.... As far as the Pollard clemency is concerned, it is known and it is documented that I have consistently opposed it. Perhaps if it had been proposed in a different context, such as contributing to peace in the Middle East which would then be in America's foreign policy interests, I would have changed my position."
In other words, Holder confirms the assertion made by attorney Jack Quinn that both Israel and the White House regard Pollard as a bargaining chip - a hostage of the peace process - and that both sides consider his release to be reserved as a sweetener for the Israeli people to swallow with the bitter pill of an agreement with Arafat.
The big question is why the Prime Minister of Israel got involved in seeking clemency for Rich, a private individual, whose case he then tied to one that was of national importance both morally and legally, namely, the release of Pollard, an Israeli agent.
The straightest answer was supplied by Jack Quinn, Rich's attorney, when he was asked by the congressional investigator:
Question: "Did Barak write concerning the issue of the pardon?"
Quinn: "He spoke to the President at several opportunities and he (Barak) supported it."
Question: "And Mr. Rich made a number of meaningful donations to organizations in Israel?"
Quinn: "Yes, and as I understand it, Mr. Barak understood that part of those donations would be to support the peace process."
Avner Azulai, manager of the Rich Fund, this week refused to give details about Rich's donations to Israel. Michal Herzog, who works with him, said in a telephone conversation, that she "only works as a freelancer, just a few hours a week, and Avner Azulai is the only person who is authorized to respond." The Fund which is registered in Lucerne, Switzerland is not obliged to register contributions made to Israeli NPOs (amuhtoht) or to give an accounting to any statutory body in any other country.
On January 20, his last day as President of the United States, Bill Clinton pardoned Marc Rich and Pincus Green. When the list of pardons and clemencies was published the next day, many including some of the top officials in the Justice Department who had invested years pursuing the two, were astonished to learn that they had been granted presidential clemency.
It now appears that the criminal investigation of the President that has been launched as a result will be infinitely more trouble for him than the entire Monica Lewinsky affair. In that one, perjury was the issue; in this one the issues are far more weighty, from suspicion of bribe-taking to deception and abuse of presidential powers.
At this point Clinton is still sticking to his story that his decision was not influenced by financial contributions but rather by personal appeals, especially those of the Prime Minister of Israel, Ehud Barak. Clinton's version and the mounting evidence that supports it, point to the need for an investigation into why a pardon for Marc Rich became such a priority item for the Prime Minister's office during Barak's last months in office.
In spite of this, the following statement was made to 7DAYS by the spokesperson for the Israel Ministry of Justice on behalf of the government' s legal counsel: "The Marc Rich pardon is not a subject that is known to the Ministry of Justice other than what has been learned from recent news clippings after the fact. Therefore we will not comment on the issue."
"I imagine that the same questions regarding the motives of the Israeli gentlemen who worked to advance the cause of Marc Rich, should also be asked in Israel," said John Cardarelli, a spokesman for the congressional committee. "A subpoena to Ehud Barak and his colleagues to testify on their involvement in the pardon is up to the U.S. Attorney, MaryJo White, who has started a criminal investigation. She is the one who should perhaps consider issuing a summons."
The US Attorney's office responded that the federal prosecutor will not comment during the course of the investigation. American Justice Department officials stress that she is the one who has the authority to subpoena "the Israeli gentlemen" to testify. -30-
Part II: Evasive Responses from Barak And Top Officials
Bill Clinton asserts that his decision to pardon Marc Rich was influenced principally by the intervention of Ehud Barak and top Israeli government officials and public personalities. Israeli politicians, however, prefer to think otherwise. 7DAYS submitted a series of specific questions to Prime Minister Ehud Barak, to Minister Shimon Peres and to Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami and others and received sketchy and evasive answers.
Barak's office stated: "The Prime Minister has worked ceaselessly and at every opportunity for the release of Pollard and brought up the issue with President Clinton at every opportunity and even in a special letter at the end of Clinton's term in office. By comparison, the Rich matter was simply a marginal issue which he mentioned to the President in the course of a telephone conversation about another matter entirely - no connection whatsoever to Pollard - which the Prime Minister felt was the right thing to do, to speak directly to the President, because this was a man [Rich] who had made large contributions to Israel, both in the field of social welfare and in sensitive security matters related to 'pikuach nefesh'."
In response to the questions: "Are any of your family or close friends employed by Marc Rich, and is the Prime Minister aware of monetary donations Rich made via his people or organizations, to organizations involved in the policy-making or political activities of the Labor Party, or to other organizations related to the Labor Party?" Barak's office responded: " The Prime Minister does not deal with such matters and he has no idea about or interest in such questions."
Minister Shimon Peres, like Barak, ducked responding to questions about his involvement in the recent campaign to secure a pardon for Marc Rich, and of course all of the questions about Rich's donations. Peres' response focused on his efforts to soften up the Americans towards Rich in 1995. "When he was the Foreign Minister in 1995," his office relayed, "he approached various international bodies in the framework of world trade, and among them Marc Rich's company, to seek assistance in developing trade relations between Israel and other countries in the Middle East. At that time Rich's company, which was one of the world's largest world trade and guarantee companies, was the only company willing to extend guarantees on behalf of Israel. In order to further respond to Peres' request, Rich asked Peres to help him secure freedom of movement throughout the world so that he could travel wherever he needed to. It was in this context that Peres appealed to the American ambassador on Rich's behalf."
Jonathan Pollard named Knesset Speaker Avrum Burg as an example of those Israeli politicians who had helped Rich, a criminal fugitive, but who had never in 16 years helped him, an Israeli agent, in any way.
Burg's spokesperson responded to 7Days that the Knesset speaker feels that there is no comparison between the two. "Avrum Burg never had anything to do with the issue of Jonathan Pollard. He does not believe that as Speaker of the Knesset he should involve himself personally on behalf of Pollard, who was indicted in the United States for espionage and who hurt American national security."
Regarding his involvement in the Marc Rich pardon, Burg's spokesperson said: "The Knesset Speaker was not aware of the criminal record of Marc Rich or of his trade deals with Iran which have recently been exposed. Burg simply responded to the request of Israel Singer, head of the World Jewish Congress, that he assist in efforts to secure a pardon for Rich. The efforts in Israel were organized by such officials as Shimon Peres, Shlomo Ben-Ami and Prime Minister Ehud Barak. Knesset Speaker Burg was not personally acquainted with Marc Rich, but was aware of his philanthropic activities in Israel."
Part III: Barak Wasn't the Only One
Marc Rich's people did not satisfy themselves with the support of Ehud Barak alone. All the elite of Israeli society from Shimon Peres to Gila Almog were enlisted to participate in the mighty effort to convince President Clinton to sign the presidential clemency papers during his last hours in office. An example of the way that support was solicited can be seen in exhibit 42 of the congressional investigation. It is an email that was sent to attorney Kathleen Bihan on December 19, 2000 by Avner Azulai. It read: "Would another personal appeal by a VIP to the President help? I can approach the Speaker of the Knesset Avrum Burg. He was the keynote guest speaker at the annual Marc Rich Seminar which began this evening. Among the other speakers tonight were the President of Israel and other VIPs, ambassadors etc... I don't know how he will respond. Burg is on good terms with Hillary and knows the President from previous contacts. Burg, by the way did send a letter appealing to Clinton on behalf of Rich."
Minister Shimon Peres also intervened orally, in a call to President Clinton, and this is apparent in exhibit 84, an email from Azulai to Clinton on December 25, 2000: "Shimon confirmed that he spoke with the President on Monday, December 11, and that 'he took note of his involvement'."
The Rich people still faced a problem from Rudy Giuliani, the charismatic Mayor of New York and former U.S. attorney who led the battle against the millionaire. They toyed with the possibility that they might even be able to enlist him on behalf of Rich. How? Via the Mayor of Jerusalem, Ehud Olmert, who had repeatedly declared his great friendship with Giuliani. But Avner Azulai in an email on the 27 December 2000, (exhibit 46) expressed some doubt: "As far as Olmert is concerned, PG (Pincus Green, Rich's partner) is not so sure that this great friendship with Giuliani that he always talks about is as close as he makes it out to be. At this stage, it is too soon to think about how to neutralize the Giuliani hangover."
On December 30, a confused Quinn wrote in an email to his friends in Israel: "Maybe it is possible to convince Mrs. Rabin to call the President? He had deep feelings for her husband." The same day, Avner Azulai answered him, "The idea of contacting Leah Rabin is not bad at all. The question is how to do it. Leah died last November."
In the end, they found another member of the Rabin family. According to an email that Azulai sent to Quinn on 10 January 2001, "I met Rabin's daughter today. She is going to call the President tonight or tomorrow."
Rabin-Philosof (Rabin's daughter), this week: "At this time I do not have any interest in addressing this. I understand that Rich knew my father. I never met him. I know that they wanted to approach my mother but in the end did not. Beyond that I have no comment."
7DAYS indicated that the congressional committee is planning to subpoena the White House telephone records in which the name Rich is mentioned. Rabin-Philosof: "They won't find me there. I did not speak to Clinton about Marc Rich."
One who did appeal to the White House for Marc Rich was the former head of the MOSSAD, Shabtai Shavit. Shavit stressed Rich's contribution to the security of Israel to the President. Was Rich connected to or involved in the MOSSAD's activities? In a letter from Shavit to Clinton, he wrote that Rich had assisted the MOSSAD in searching for the Israeli MIAs and for Jews in enemy countries who had disappeared. Rich's oil deals with such nations as Iran and Iraq surely did not escape the notice of the MOSSAD. Vincent Cannistrano, a former senior official in the CIA claims that Rich was not a paid employee of the MOSSAD, but rather an "international businessman who because of his contacts could easily pass along messages, information and money for various operations. The MOSSAD found his connections in Iran useful."
Rich's people in Israel collected other letters of appreciation and thanks, among others from the former Mayor of Jerusalem, Teddy Kollek, and the head of Shaarei Tzedek Hospital, Dr. Yonatan HaLevy. Even the Minister of Health for the Palestinian Authority added his letter of support to the book of recommendations. Some of those who wrote thank-you letters were unaware that their letters would be included in the pardon request to Clinton. According to the American media, both Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami and former Minister Yaacov Ne'eman added their own letters of support.
Avner Azulai again sums it up best in an email: "I want to add as well that the list of supporters who have appealed to Clinton is wall to wall, politically. This should remove any possibility that this initiative can be used to hurt any one specifically ... You may understand from my caution what it is that worries me. It is up to us to do everything we can to avoid having the issue politicized or traced to the names of senior officials as, of course, the media loves to do." In another correspondence he adds: "Please keep Barak out of the media. We have enough other names on the list, other than his. It is important to keep the names of all the politicians out of this business. It is election time here and this has the potential to explode."
Part IV: Jonathan Pollard In Prison: "I was betrayed."
"I've become disillusioned," said a heartbroken Pollard. "This is the hardest thing for me... I'm a nationalist, I admit it. My eyes well up with tears when I hear Hatikvah. But what has shaken me to my very bones is to finally realize, after 16 years, that I made a mistake. For 16 years I have been desperately waving the Israeli flag, crying out for help to the Israeli political establishment. But since the Marc Rich campaign, I realize that I made a mistake. All those years I should have waved something else to get their attention. I should have waved a dollar bill in front of them and convinced them that I had a lot of money. That is the depths to which we have sunk as a nation, that an agent has to bribe his own government to rescue him. That is how low we have sunk.
"Esther and I are pinching pennies in order to stay alive. Israel has never assisted us. But this Marc Rich fellow, with all of his millions, he's the one that everyone in Israel is breaking their backs for. You have to understand that at the same time that Israeli politicians are coming to the US to be wined and dined and celebrated at cocktail parties in Washington, Esther and I are just barely surviving.
"The greatest tragedy is what this says about the treatment of all of Israel 's MIA's and prisoners of war. It proves that if you don't have money to bribe the top Israeli officials, you will be relegated to a back burner and dismissed as a problem that can't be solved."
"If you look at how the Marc Rich pardon campaign was run," said Jonathan Pollard to 7DAYS, "every person involved knew that if this initiative leaked, it would explode. It was done quietly, at the last moment, in back rooms, in utter secrecy.
"What Prime Minister Ehud Barak and the Israeli officials and politicians did for Marc Rich in 16 days, they have never done for me in all of the 16 years I have been rotting in prison. I feel like the government of Ehud Barak placed a gun at the back of my head and then pulled the trigger.
"Barak, the politicians, and all those who were involved, were corrupted and debased by Marc Rich's money. Every one of them was corrupted at some level or another. The corruption and the repulsiveness that characterized the Rich pardon campaign is appalling.
"I feel that what was done to me was a personal betrayal which even the top levels of the Mossad participated in. There is no room here for error. I worked for LAKAM, not the Mossad. The Mossad takes care of its own people, and to hell with everyone else.
"The claim that Rich helped the Israeli intelligence services is a barefaced lie, calculated to promote a self-serving deception. This whole effort to secure a pardon for such a dubious character, an unethical tax cheat, was debased and unjust.
"Rich was living like a king; yet the whole Israeli national security and government establishment in Israel ran to his aid.
"I have been languishing in prison for years. Marc Rich appears, and they succeed in arranging a pardon for him in a matter of days - something they've never been willing to do for me. What's the deal, here? He, after all, was living like a king, yet suddenly they all ran to rescue him? Why did Israel do this? Because they are corrupt - morally and legally corrupt.
"The Knesset Speaker, Avrum Burg, for example, is one of those who assisted the pardon request for Rich; but he has never done a thing to help secure my release. I know that the last time he came to Washington he asked that my name not even be mentioned at the cocktail parties he attended in order not to ruin the atmosphere with "the smell of Pollard" - and that's a quote."
Jonathan Pollard hopes and prays that Prime Minister-elect Ariel Sharon will act differently from his predecessor. "Sharon simply has to call George W. Bush and let him know that the issue of my release is beyond negotiation. To make it clear to him that my release is a top priority. If Sharon wants me home, he has to pick up the telephone to Bush. He simply has to run the same kind of intense campaign for my release that was run by Israel to secure a pardon for Rich."
Esther Pollard, Jonathan Pollard's wife, adds, "I am disgusted. Ehud Barak took an active role in running Jonathan as a spy when he, Barak, was the head of Israel's military intelligence. "For the last 16 years we have watched Israeli politicians go to Washington. They always claim to be raising the name of Jonathan Pollard there. What they neglect to tell you is that they raised Jonathan's name as number 50 on an agenda of 50 items. Obviously, when they raise Jonathan's name in this way, it is clear to the Americans that they are only going through the motions. If this is how Israel treats its agents, who would ever want to serve the State?"
Esther continues, "The biggest lie that is still being perpetrated by Israel is that it was impossible for President Clinton to let Jonathan go because of the objections of the American Intelligence community. This is a lie of the first order. The list of commutations and pardons granted by President Clinton includes 14 unrepentant FALN terrorists, whose release was met by a solid wall of opposition from the Justice, Intelligence and Defense departments - the same agencies that oppose Jonathan's release. Clinton just ignored them and freed the FALN terrorists to gain favor with the Hispanic community for his wife's Senate campaign.
"Israel has simply never bothered to make a case in America for the release of Jonathan Pollard"
SEE ALSO on the web http://www.jonathanpollard.org: Denise Rich Accompanied Clinton to Funeral of Yitzhak Rabin (coming soon) Conference Was Told Agencies Would Not Oppose Pollard Clemency (coming soon) The Clemency Page The Facts Page