Clinton's pardon buddy Marc Rich has popped up on the OilyGate radar again. The New York Post reports that Rich is facing a subpeona should he return to America regarding allegations he brokered illegal deals for Iraqi oil. Mr. Rich, number six on the Justice Department's outstanding fugitives list at the time of his 2001 pardon, currently lives a life of luxury in Switzerland. Law enforcement officials also are trying to determine if some of the ill-gotten funds made their way to Rich's ex-wife Denise, a huge contributor to both the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton Library (look here for a summary of Rich's shady past pre-pardon).
Captain Ed thinks this puts a huge dent in Hillary's 2008 bid, but I'm not so sure. As of now, we're looking at allegations, it's important to remember. It's a long way to 2008, also (but not too long away for me to devote my entire blog to it, of course). Hillary is sure to claim that she had no role in the pardon, as well, if it becomes necessary for her to comment.
Rich denies the allegations, of course, and there has been no comment from Bill Clinton or Denise Rich.
What's the real issue here? Of course, Bill Clinton has no direct knowledge of Rich's involvement with Oil-For-Food, but he should have known, given Rich's past associations with Iran, Iraq, and oil, that no good could come from letting Rich off the hook. The pardon stunk then and stinks worse now. It's a powerful tool, this presidential pardon; does it really serve a purpose anymore? Reagan pardoned his Iran-Contra subordinates, of course, and Ford famously pardoned Nixon, but aren't all these pardons political? Sure, there are probably dozens, if not hundreds, of people who have been pardoned on the merits, but surely there must be a better way to consider those cases.
What if, instead of a pardon, a president could choose a certain number of cases at the end of each year to send back to the appellate courts for review? That would surely weed out the most egregious pardons; a random selection of the court could be made to avoid the picking of one sure to be favorable to the request. I admit, I haven't really researched the issue, maybe that's fodder for another post. Any legal eagles out there know of a good source on this? Did the Federalist Papers mention the issue? We'll get back to this, I'm sure.
On a related noted, Oil-For-Food hero Claudia Rosett has an excellent article at OpinionJournal about the Ukraine and democracy...
Update 12/18/04 8:28 central: A federal grand jury is now looking into the Marc Rich link, specificially whether funds from Rich were sent to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers.