Five months before Bill Clinton’s shocking pardon of billionaire fugitive Marc Rich and his partner, Pinky Green, the FBI was tipped off that the pardons were coming, yet they never did a thing about it. This bombshell was reported by Paul Rodriguez, the editor of Insight magazine, and has received no coverage by the mainstream media. The tip included details of alleged financial payoffs totaling millions of dollars to ensure that the pardons were granted.
Rich and Green were well known to the FBI as tax cheats and fugitives who had purchased oil from Iran at a time that was illegal in this country. Their company had pleaded guilty to seventy-eight felony counts, and instead of facing tax and other charges, they fled the country. It was apparently unimaginable to the FBI back in August that these two could possibly be considered for pardons, since no fugitives had ever received such a presidential favor.
Insight reported that the agent who received the tip sent a written report to FBI headquarters, but the top officials at the FBI and the Justice Department never received the report. Nor were they told about the millions of dollars alleged to be deposited in secret bank accounts for Clinton and others involved in securing the pardons. Officials at both Justice and the FBI assured Insight that had they known about this, they would have definitely intervened to stop these pardons.
According to the report, FBI director Louis Freeh was never made aware of the tip before March, nearly two months after the pardons were granted. That is when an unnamed retired federal agent made calls to get the ball rolling, incredulous that even after the tipster had clearly been vindicated, the information was not being pursued. Clinton had defended his pardon in an op-ed piece in the New York Times, but his arguments were shot down by the prosecutor who had handled Rich’s case. As late as this past May, the information was still being kept from Mary Jo White, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York who is investigating possible criminal activities related to the last minute pardons granted by President Clinton. It is unclear whether anyone, including the House Government Reform Committee which held hearings on the pardons, was investigating this lead.
The article suggests a couple of possible reasons for the lack of follow up. Perhaps the FBI didn’t believe the information was credible. Maybe, according to one federal agent, “They just couldn’t advance the ball beyond what the tipster provided. It happens sometimes.” But one current U.S. government official calls it “a total screw up.” It’s one thing to not investigate it before it happened, but once it happened, it is inconceivable that no one would follow up.
This is a real test for new FBI director Robert Mueller and Attorney General John Ashcroft. It is one more powerful piece of evidence of the corruption of the Clinton administration and a black eye for the FBI. Is the Justice Department going to “just move on” again, and as with TWA 800 and the death of Deputy White House Counsel Vince Foster, ignore the evidence and let the Clintons off the hook.