Real Reason for Rich Pardon: Israeli Pressure

It's a taboo topic in DC, as evidenced by Holder's hearing
By Gabriel Winant,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 16, 2009 8:59 AM CST
Real Reason for Rich Pardon: Israeli Pressure
Attorney General-designate Eric Holder is sworn in on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009, prior to testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on his nomination.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

For the sake of a quiet confirmation, attorney general nominee Eric Holder is letting us forget the real reason for Bill Clinton’s controversial Marc Rich pardon. Clinton didn’t let Rich off the hook because of his generous wife, writes Joe Conason in Salon. He did so because of pressure from Israel, but that fact seems to be a "forbidden" topic in Washington.

At the end of his presidency, Clinton was looking for anything he could use as leverage on the Israelis to accept a peace deal. And Israel wanted to protect Rich. “Winning the pardon was a top priority for Israeli officials because Rich had long been a financial and intelligence asset of the Jewish state.” Holder takes much of the blame for the pardon, and unfairly so. It was Clinton's decision, and the need to sway Israel drove it.
(More Eric Holder stories.)

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