Do I think people involved in the deal got too cozy with Bill and Hillary? Yes. Do I think this sort of thing goes on all the time? Again, yes.
This is now, according to the Times:
And shortly after the Russians announced their intention to acquire a majority stake in Uranium One, Mr. Clinton received $500,000 for a Moscow speech from a Russian investment bank with links to the Kremlin that was promoting Uranium One stock.This was a quarter-century ago, less than a year after Ronald Reagan left the White House:
The Reagans are being paid roughly $2 million to tour the Japan of Nobutaka Shikanai, the right-leaning founder of the Fujisankei Communications Group and one of Japan's most successful and most controversial entrepreneurs. Even though there is a growing practice in Japan of hiring big-name American power brokers, the company has been stung by criticism that it is taking this idea to an extreme. Still, it is hardly passing up the chance to let Mr. Reagan help showcase the $5 billion-a-year conglomerate.Reagan was criticized for that -- but conservatives would still sing hosannas if he became the fifth face on Mount Rushmore.
... the younger Mr. Shikanai, who is joint chairman and chief executive of Fujisankei, has quickly set the company's sights abroad for the first time. A month ago Fujisankei purchased 25 percent of Britain's Virgin Music Group for $150 million, giving Fujisankei access to some of Virgin's biggest hits and an overseas outlet for its Japanese recording artists.
The company has invested an additional $10 million in the film maker David Puttnam, a former president of Columbia Pictures, and Hiroaki Shikanai says he might be interested in a movie studio someday, following in the steps of Sony, which recently bought Columbia.
And were the insider connections to the Clintons decisive? The Times would suggest they were, but Susie Madrak is right to note the way the Times story downplays the exact decision-making process. From the Times:
Since uranium is considered a strategic asset, with implications for national security, the deal had to be approved by a committee composed of representatives from a number of United States government agencies. Among the agencies that eventually signed off was the State Department, then headed by Mr. Clinton’s wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton.Madrak writes:
The Committee on Foreign Investment in the US (this one) is a multi-agency committee chaired by the US Treasury, not the State Department....It consists of the heads of the Treasury, Justice, Homeland Security, Commerce, Defense, State, and Energy Departments, plus the U.S. Trade Representative and the head of the Office of Science & Technology Policy. Madrak writes, regarding Hillary:
She used her magical powers to force every single one of these agencies to do her nefarious bidding -- and override the security interests of the United States to allow these evil Rooskies to have access to uranium?I'd add one more person: the president. He believed, rightly or wrongly, that the Russians could be dealt with as reasonable people. Approving this deal was in sync with that idea, not in contradiction. How does it represent the Evil Clintons gone rogue?
... And not one of those people ever made a peep. It's a conspiracy! Because Clinton!
I also want to talk about Frank Giustra, the Canadian mining magnate whose business machinations ultimately led to the deal that's the subject of the article. Giustra is a friend of Bill Clinton and a donor to Clinton's causes.
But, see, as a society we like guys such as Giustra. Conservatives have their Giustras and liberals have theirs -- fat cats who give generously to admirable causes and who, not incidentally, hobnob with high government officials.
Giusta got a philanthropic award last year from the Dalai Lama. He does good deeds:
Mr. Giustra donates to a broad-range of charities locally and internationally. Ranging from local charities including The Boys Club Network, StreettoHome and internationally like the Elton John Aids Foundation and the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership (yes, he has President Bill Clinton on speed dial). He established The Radcliffe Foundation in 1997 which supports a wide variety of international and local charities. Focusing on issues ranging from disaster relief, economic development and homelessness to offering children around the world hope for a better future.And he does this in conjunction with Clinton and other swells:
[There are] charity events with U2 front man Bono, fundraisers co-hosted with jazz diva Diana Krall, face time with supermodel Petra Nemcova in the name of tsunami relief. And, of course, he has been welcomed into Clinton's inner circle as a bona fide Friend of Bill, or FOB.This is how we think social problems need to be solved, because both liberal and conservative elite politicians, in the post-Reagan new Gilded Age, agree that business leaders are a huge force for good in the world. Yes, there are politicians who don't feel this way, but they scrounge for pennies while the politicians favored by swells run (or ostensibly run) the country.
That's how system works, folks. It will take a hell of a lot more than just examining the habits of the Clintons to change that fact.