Aida 203 Clinton
SUSPICIONS that Democrats were not above soliciting illegal contributions through fronts for the real donors surfaced briefly early in the Clinton Presidency. They opened with a scandal, quickly buried by the US Establishment media, involving Clinton's association with Grigori Loutchansky, president of the Moscow-based trading company, Nordex, a man described by Time magazine as "the most pernicious, unindicted criminal in the world."
According to German intelligence, Nordex was launched in 1989 with foreign exchange accumulated by the KGB. It is said to own more than 100 Russian companies and some 40 Western businesses. The CIA has described it as "an organisation associated with Russian criminal activity."
Loutchansky was invited, and attended, a fund-raising dinner with Clinton in a Washington museum in October 1993. By then Loutchansky had been barred from entering England and Canada. When questions were asked, Clinton spokesmen claimed that their "vetting process" had broken down, but that the invitation had been withdrawn. Loutchansky did not attend the function, but obviously Democratic fund raisers had viewed him as a prime pigeon for plucking.
Official records do not disclose any contributions from Loutchansky, but interestingly Clinton sent him a personal letter thanking him for his support. If this incident reflected on Clinton's less-than-exacting sense of Presidential propriety, more, much, much more, was waiting. And now it was not so much a question of corruption, but of national security: the possibility of penetration of the Clinton Administration by assets of Communist Chinese intelligence and military/industrial complex.
On December 20, 1996, it was disclosed that China's No 1 arms merchant, Wang Jun, was among a handful of officials granted access to Clinton for an intimate get-together on February 6, 1996. According to a Democratic spokesman, Wang's White House visit was arranged "as a favour to Charlie" that is, Taiwanese-born Charles Yah Lin Trie, a major Democratic Party fund raiser, international businessman and a Clinton friend from Little Rock days.
A month later, March 1996, Trie, an American citizen with residences and business interests in banks in the US and Beijing, attempted to provide Clinton's Legal Defence Fund with $639 000. A "significant" portion of this, it is now claimed, came from suspect sources. Shortly after Trie made the contribution, Clinton appointed him to a White House advisory body, the Commission on UN/Pacific Trade & Investment Policy.
The timing of Wang's White House visit could certainly be defined as diplomatically inopportune. It came just one week after US Naval Intelligence confirmed that Beijing had sold ship-to-ship cruise missiles to Iran. It also coincided with US protests to Beijing over persistent pirating of US products and copyrights, plus the flooding of US markets with cheap, slave-labour goods.
In an interview with The New American, Justin Yu, a senior editor on the Chinese language publication, World Journal, pointed out that "Wang is a major player in Communist China's military/industrial complex. He's deeply involved in arms sales to Iran, Iraq and other hostile states, as well as commercial ventures that enrich the People's Liberation Army (PLA). His ministry is also actively involved in commercial piracy that harms US business interests."
White House spokesman Mike McCurry insisted that Clinton "had no idea who Wang was" when the two met. However, as A M Rosenthal observed in The New York Times, "Mr Wang, whose job is to make money and build power for the Chinese armed forces by peddling weapons worldwide is known to every Chinese expert, spook and high military officer in the world."
For purposes of his White House visit Wang was identified as the head of China's principal investment company, The China International Trust & Investment Corporation, a ministry-level conglomerate with global assets of US$21 billion. He is also chairman of the Poly Group, a subsidiary of which, Poly Technology, is an arms company operated by the PLA.
In May 1996 details began leaking out of an 18-month investigation, codenamed Operation Dragon Fire, begun in 1994 after sophisticated weaponry began turning up in the hands of Northern Californian criminal and street gangs. It was now disclosed that the US Customs "sting" operation had uncovered a Chinese arms smuggling ring preparing to supply at least 2 000 Chinese-made AK-47s to the Californian gangs. Source of the arms? Poly Technology.
In March 1996 two undercover US Treasury Officials met with the Chinese agents to discuss arms purchases. The undercover US operators suggested that their "clients included terrorists in Ireland and rightwing extremists in the US." The Chinese offered to provide hand-held rocket launchers, 60 mm mortars, surface-to-air missiles powerful enough to bring down a jumbo jet, a variety of automatic weapons without serial numbers.
Clinton has been almost paranoiac in his support of the US anti-gun campaign. You would think therefore that he would have been delighted to trumpet the success of the "sting." Instead, though Wang was never named in the Customs probe, US government leaks that fatally wounded Operation Dragon Fire occurred within weeks of the coffee klatch with Clinton. Coincidence?
We now turn to Clinton's association with the Jakarta-based Lippo Group, a US$12 billion banking conglomerate operating in the US, Australia, Indonesia, Hong Kong and Singapore. Lippo is headed by Mochtar Riady and his son, James, Indonesian citizens of Chinese origin, with legal residence in the US.
The Riadys took over the Worthen Bank in Little Rock in 1984. In its annual report that year, chairman James Riady made the curious statement that assets were not important to the bank's business. What was important, he said, was "personal contact and business connections." James brought in a team of Lippo workers from Jakarta.
Prominent among these was John Huang, also a Chinese Indonesian, who was to become the Lippo Group's senior executive in the US. Clinton says he has known Huang since 1985. By 1992 Huang was a vice president of the Worthen Bank in Little Rock. When the 1992 Clinton campaign was confronted by a fund-raising crisis as a result of the Jennifer Flowers affair, it was the Worthen Bank that arranged a $3,5 million loan just in time for the New York primary, a loan that arguably saved the campaign.
Furthermore, James Riady, being legally resident in the US, was able to contribute more than $100 000 to Clinton's 1992 election campaign. There was, naturally, a pay-off. In 1993 James Riady assisted in setting up a meeting between Clinton and Indonesian President Suharto. Indonesia at the time was the subject of US trade sanctions because of unfair trade practices and human rights abuses in East Timor.
Against the advice of the State Department, Clinton agreed to meet Suharto in Tokyo during the 1993 Group of Seven summit. That meeting resulted in highly advantageous trade spin offs for Indonesia.
In July 1994 Clinton appointed John Huang as Assistant Secretary of Commerce for International Policy, without any of the required security checks. An Associated Press report, 21.12.96, stated that Huang "got an exemption from background security clearance six months before he started his job." According to Commerce Department documents, this waiver was arranged by then departmental head, the late Ron Brown, who had a "critical need" for Huang's "expertise."
Others, too, apparently appreciated Huang's "expertise." When he left Lippo's employ, he received a severance cheque of $878 000 before becoming what Mochtar Riady referred to as "my man in the Clinton Administration." Huang's new position entitled him to receive weekly intelligence briefings on Asian concerns from the CIA as well as frequent access to privileged information on terrorism and diplomatic developments. In particular, he was privy to the development of policy ending restrictions on US trade with China.
Phone logs obtained by Congressional investigators record that Huang remained in close touch with the Lippo Bank in Los Angeles, making at least 70 such calls while at Commerce.
The Riadys met with Clinton and top White House officials on many occasions, sometimes discussing US foreign policy. Press Secretary Mike McCurry confirmed last year that the Riadys had visited the White House between 15 and 20 times since 1993: again, with profitable results. The Lippo Bank of California escaped a Federal money-laundering probe with a slap on the wrist. Whether this was associated with drugs, spying or political payola is not known.
There is also growing evidence that Commerce Secretary Ron Brown, later himself killed in mysterious circumstances, helped the Lippo Co win several billion dollar deals in Communist China.
Late in 1994, James Riady and his lawyer agreed with Clinton himself to reassign John Huang to the job of chief Asian fund raiser for the 1996 Clinton re-election campaign. Now enters another player: Taiwan. Here great political uproar followed allegations published last November in the Hong Kong-based Chinese-language newspaper, Yazhoo Zhoukan. The paper claimed that Liu Tai-yin, chairman of the Business Management Committee of Taiwan's ruling Kuomintang, offered to contribute US$15 million to the US Democratic National Committee at an August 1995 meeting in Taipei, attended by Mark Middleton, a former White House aide and DNC fund raiser. The contribution was allegedly to have been made in exchange for "closer contact with the White House."
A Newsweek report, 4.11.96, further claimed that James Wood, an Arkansas lawyer and friend of Clinton, improperly solicited contributions in Taiwan for the Clinton re-election campaign. Newsweek reported Wood as having told Taipei businessmen that Clinton "deserved" to be rewarded "for granting a US visitor's visa to Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui then steering them to John Huang." The pattern persisted.
In 1995 the White House sent a routine get-well card to Hashim Ning, co-founder and major shareholder in the Lippo Group. Soon afterward, Hashim's daughter donated $425 000 to the Democratic fund raisers.
Among the most sharply criticised of Clinton's policies has been the continued granting of Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to Beijing, and the flabbiness of his administration's responses to continued Chinese human rights abuses. Republicans contend that the Riadys should have registered as foreign agents. Among other things, "they certainly had an interest in the status of Most Favoured Nation treatment for China." The Riadys also sought to influence US relations with Vietnam. On 9.3.93, Mochtar Riady wrote to Clinton, urging that his administration lift the trade embargo against Vietnam and move towards normalising relations with the Communist regime. At that time, the Lippo Group was developing commercial interests in Ho Chi Minh City.
Writing in The Washington Inquirer, 30.12.96, Arthur Randall commented: "The highest goal of spying is not just to gather information about your enemy and his plans, but actually to shape his policies. Recent investigations make one wonder whether not just the Clinton foreign policies toward Asia but the very creation of the Clinton Administration is owed to deep penetration by Asian interests represented on the surface by the Riady family financial interests."
Many questions were asked last year about how the Democratic Party managed to raise $120 million for its 1996 presidential campaign. The answer, it would seem, is that it took record amounts of dirty, highly suspect payola. Even Vice President Al Gore, always at pains to present himself as "Mr Clean," has become tainted, this involving his dubious record of attending fund raisers he "knew nothing about" at Buddhist temples.
The Chinese Daily News disclosed that Gore attended a fund raiser at a Californian Buddhist temple, accepting a total of $140 000, this though the temple was required to be non-political and the Buddhist nuns and priests had taken oaths of poverty. One of the nuns confessed that she wrote a cheque for the National Democratic Committee after a complete stranger gave her $5 000 in cash to cover it.
In another case, a young Indonesia landscape architect, temporarily resident with his wife in the US, was apparently so enamoured of Bill Clinton that he donated more than $450 000 to his re-election campaign, some of it after he had returned to Indonesia. Coincidentally, his father-in-law was a top Lippo Bank official.
Others were climbing into the act. In May Yogesh Gandhi, a Californian businessman related to Indian leader Mohandas K Gandhi, gave $350 000 to Democratic fund raisers. Gandhi claimed that it was his own money, that he was independently wealthy. Tax returns obtained by ABC News indicated that he owed $10 000 in back taxes and did not even own his own home.
As The Washington Times observed, "This administration has essentially hung out a shingle declaring 'Foreign Policy For Sale.'
Further Indogate Congressional hearings begin next march. So: how much more time does Clinton have? Ross Perot believes him to be dangerously vulnerable, that "enormous dangers" lurk both for Clinton and the US itself in the months to come. There are people who still say that a 1930s-type depression can never repeat itself. Indogate could prove them wrong.
Nixon's impeachment proceedings in 1973/74 brought the Dow down by 45%. Investment fundis internationally fear that any similar constitutional crisis involving the Clinton administration could trigger the greatest financial crisis the US has suffered since Watergate. But just what did American voters expect?
They voted for a man they believed
to be "unprincipled, deceitful and a liar." Clinton
has simply behaved in character.
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