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Barak Alters Story On Rich Pardon

Wednesday, August 29, 2001 | Tag Cloud Tags:

In yet another twist in the troubling "pardon-gate" saga, Israel's former Prime Minister Ehud Barak has changed his story regarding the number of times he spoke to US President Bill Clinton about pardoning fugitive billionaire Marc Rich.

The change of story comes as Barak is awaiting questions from the US House Government Reform Committee, sent after three of Clinton's former top White House aides recently told the committee that Barak's support of Rich's petition was key to Clinton's decision to grant him a pardon. The Clinton aides said that Barak spoke to the Clinton about it as many as four times. This was at odds with what Barak's spokesman were saying at the time - that the two leaders spoke about the matter only once. The discrepancy prompted the committee to send written questions to Barak.

Barak's office is now saying that, after a "more thorough" review of the records, the two men spoke by phone about Rich "approximately three times" during the waning months of Clinton's presidency, and not on only one occasion. A source close to Barak said that in one of these discussions, Clinton brought up Rich, and that at no time in any of the conversations did Barak ask for a pardon. Barak understood that the issue was on Clinton's agenda and that he only wanted Clinton to know that Rich was involved in numerous philanthropic and humanitarian projects in Israel. But Barak's office was "surprised" that Clinton aides told Congress that his involvement played a key role in the decision to grant the pardon, since it was never a main topic of discussion. "Barak, was much more forceful in asking for a pardon for Jonathan Pollard, and Clinton did not grant him one," a Barak source said.

Those close to Barak are somewhat bewildered by the whole questioning process, since US presidential phone conversations are taped by the White House and if the committee wants to know exactly what was said, and in what context, it could easily find out by listening to the tapes.

Used with Permission from International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.

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