Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Bill Clinton Legacy

Oh the 90s! So much prosperity!

And the scandals! How could I forget the scandals?

So frivolous and spiteful, those Republicans were! Remember that, Bill? Stupid little sex scandals and half-important real estate deals from 30 years ago - remember when they tried to remove you from office for having do-it?

Can't wait to have another go-round, myself!

From the New York Times: (so sorry I was insinuating biased pro-Clinton coverage the other day)

Unlike more established competitors, Mr. Giustra was a newcomer to uranium mining in Kazakhstan, a former Soviet republic. But what his fledgling company lacked in experience, it made up for in connections. Accompanying Mr. Giustra on his luxuriously appointed MD-87 jet that day was a former president of the United States, Bill Clinton.

Upon landing on the first stop of a three-country philanthropic tour, the two men were whisked off to share a sumptuous midnight banquet with Kazakhstan’s president, Nursultan A. Nazarbayev, whose 19-year stranglehold on the country has all but quashed political dissent.

Mr. Nazarbayev walked away from the table with a propaganda coup, after Mr. Clinton expressed enthusiastic support for the Kazakh leader’s bid to head an international organization that monitors elections and supports democracy. Mr. Clinton’s public declaration undercut both American foreign policy and sharp criticism of Kazakhstan’s poor human rights record by, among others, Mr. Clinton’s wife, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.

Within two days, corporate records show that Mr. Giustra also came up a winner when his company signed preliminary agreements giving it the right to buy into three uranium projects controlled by Kazakhstan’s state-owned uranium agency, Kazatomprom.

The monster deal stunned the mining industry, turning an unknown shell company into one of the world’s largest uranium producers in a transaction ultimately worth tens of millions of dollars to Mr. Giustra, analysts said.

Just months after the Kazakh pact was finalized, Mr. Clinton’s charitable foundation received its own windfall: a $31.3 million donation from Mr. Giustra that had remained a secret until he acknowledged it last month. The gift, combined with Mr. Giustra’s more recent and public pledge to give the William J. Clinton Foundation an additional $100 million, secured Mr. Giustra a place in Mr. Clinton’s inner circle, an exclusive club of wealthy entrepreneurs in which friendship with the former president has its privileges.

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In a statement Kazakhstan would highlight in news releases, Mr. Clinton declared that he hoped it would achieve a top objective: leading the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which would confer legitimacy on Mr. Nazarbayev’s government.

“I think it’s time for that to happen, it’s an important step, and I’m glad you’re willing to undertake it,” Mr. Clinton said.

Mr. Clinton’s praise was odd, given that the United States did not support Mr. Nazarbayev’s bid. (Late last year, Kazakhstan finally won the chance to lead the security organization for one year, despite concerns raised by the Bush administration.) Moreover, Mr. Clinton’s wife, who sits on a Congressional commission with oversight of such matters, had also voiced skepticism.

Eleven months before Mr. Clinton’s statement, Mrs. Clinton co-signed a commission letter to the State Department that sounded “alarm bells” about the prospect that Kazakhstan might head the group. The letter stated that Kazakhstan’s bid “would not be acceptable,” citing “serious corruption,” canceled elections and government control of the news media.

In a written statement to The Times, Mr. Clinton’s spokesman said the former president saw “no contradiction” between his statements in Kazakhstan and the position of Mrs. Clinton, who said through a spokeswoman, “Senator Clinton’s position on Kazakhstan remains unchanged.”


Sorry, Bill. Thanks to that funny movie, we're all aware of the existence of a place called Kazakhstan.

So nice to see Mr. Clinton jet-setting around the world with James Bond villains. I especially liked the part where the former President of the United States decided to support an authoritarian dictator's pledge to lead a UN organization on elections in exchange for a mining contract for a uranium magnate - all over caviar.

No wait, the best part was when his charitable organization got 30-some million dollars from the uranium tycoon in exchange for the exclusive uranium mining contract that shocked the mining world.

No, the best part was when Mr. Clinton's actions in support of an authoritarian dictator directly contradicted with US foreign policy principles, and the statements of his own wife, who only happens to be running for US President.

Oh man!

I hope Moneypenny and Q aren't waiting up. Clinton, Bill Clinton is going to get the girl!

Billions of dollars, fine cognac, cigars, private jets, presidential palaces, uranium, dictators, tycoons, and the former President of the United States of America - in Kazakhstan? Sexy time, alright!

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Um......... so.......... Mr. Clinton?

Um......... if your wife, er, if Senator Clinton becomes the President........

What........ will..........

What exactly will your role be, anyway?

Do we get a cut?

Obama for President.

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Here are some more pretty shocking snippets from the article, this whole secret world of international billionaire tycoons is both fascinating and sinister:

Indeed, in December 2005, Mr. Nazarbayev won another election, which the security organization itself said was marred by an “atmosphere of intimidation” and “ballot-box stuffing.”

After Mr. Nazarbayev won with 91 percent of the vote, Mr. Clinton sent his congratulations. “Recognizing that your work has received an excellent grade is one of the most important rewards in life,” Mr. Clinton wrote in a letter released by the Kazakh embassy. Last September, just weeks after Kazakhstan held an election that once again failed to meet international standards, Mr. Clinton honored Mr. Nazarbayev by inviting him to his annual philanthropic conference.

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Within 48 hours of Mr. Clinton’s departure from Almaty on Sept. 7, Mr. Giustra got his deal. UrAsia signed two memorandums of understanding that paved the way for the company to become partners with Kazatomprom in three mines.

The cost to UrAsia was more than $450 million, money the company did not have in hand and had only weeks to come up with. The transaction was finalized in November, after UrAsia raised the money through the largest initial public offering in the history of Canada’s Venture Exchange.

Mr. Giustra challenged the notion that UrAsia needed to court Kazatomprom’s favor to seal the deal, contending that the government agency’s approval was not required.

But Mr. Dzhakishev, analysts and Mr. Kurzin, one of Mr. Giustra’s own investors, said that approval was necessary. Mr. Dzhakishev, who said that the deal was almost done when Mr. Clinton arrived, said that Kazatomprom was impressed with the sum Mr. Giustra was willing to pay and his record of attracting investors. He said Mr. Nazarbayev himself ultimately signed off on the transaction.

Longtime market watchers were confounded. Kazatomprom’s choice of UrAsia was a “mystery,” said Gene Clark, the chief executive of Trade Tech, a uranium industry newsletter.

“UrAsia was able to jump-start the whole process somehow,” Mr. Clark said. The company became a “major uranium producer when it didn’t even exist before.”

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In February 2007, a company called Uranium One agreed to pay $3.1 billion to acquire UrAsia. Mr. Giustra, a director and major shareholder in UrAsia, would be paid $7.05 per share for a company that just two years earlier was trading at 10 cents per share.

That same month, Mr. Dzhakishev, the Kazatomprom chief, said he traveled to Chappaqua, N.Y., to meet with Mr. Clinton at his home. Mr. Dzhakishev said Mr. Giustra arranged the three-hour meeting. Mr. Dzhakishev said he wanted to discuss Kazakhstan’s intention — not publicly known at the time — to buy a 10 percent stake in Westinghouse, a United States supplier of nuclear technology.

Nearly a year earlier, Mr. Clinton had advised Dubai on how to handle the political furor after one of that nation’s companies attempted to take over several American ports. Mrs. Clinton was among those on Capitol Hill who raised the national security concerns that helped kill the deal.

Mr. Dzhakishev said he was worried the proposed Westinghouse investment could face similar objections. Mr. Clinton told him that he would not lobby for him, but Mr. Dzhakishev came away pleased by the chance to promote his nation’s proposal to a former president.

Mr. Clinton “said this was very important for America,” said Mr. Dzhakishev, who added that Mr. Giustra was present at Mr. Clinton’s home.

Both Mr. Clinton and Mr. Giustra at first denied that any such meeting occurred. Mr. Giustra also denied ever arranging for Kazakh officials to meet with Mr. Clinton. Wednesday, after The Times told them that others said a meeting, in Mr. Clinton’s home, had in fact taken place, both men acknowledged it.

1 comment:

jeffrey said...

It's just so awful in its utter unsurprisingness (ding! unsurprisingness!)

What is less unsurprising is that "change" inspired Democrats are lining up behind the next generation's Clinton (Obama) in the expectation that he will be something different.