Scott Beauchamp,  March 5, 2015

For Love of Country (and Money)

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“I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America,” Rudy Giuliani said recently to a room of right-leaning businessmen at Manhattan’s 21 Club. ”He doesn’t love you, and he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country.”

Giuliani was right; it was a horrible thing to say. Following an expected pattern, he later walked his remarks back a bit. In a Wall Street Journal editorial, Giuliani claimed that he “didn’t intend to question President Obama’s motives or the content of his heart.” That’s quite a humble concession coming from someone like Giuliani. He’s right that we can’t know the content of man’s mysterious heart. But we can know the contents of his bank account.

Giuliani is a rich man. One of the ways he has amassed such a fortune is through his consulting firm’s ties to the country of Qatar. It’s a strange business partner for a soapbox jingoist, Qatar. The tiny oil rich kingdom is an ally, but they’re also ruled by a royal family that is…let’s say “soft” on terrorism. So Rudy Giuliani’s firm has provided security consultation to a country that, according to The New Republic, “is believed to have directly supported some of the most radical groups fighting in the Syrian war through much of 2013. This may have included Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, the Nusra Front.”

Former CIA agent Bob Baer has said that Giuliani’s consultations with Qatar are “a huge conflict of interests. He is metaphorically taking money from the same accounts that paid [Khalid Sheikh Mohammed].” Giuliani may not know this, but the thing about the Nusra Front and KSM is that they don’t love you, and they don’t love me. They just weren’t brought up the way we were brought up, with love for our country.

It would be unfair to focus solely on Rudy Giuliani. He’s not even running for president anymore. But Hillary Clinton almost certainly will be, and she and her foreign financial ties deserve the same scrutiny. Last month the Washington Post reported that “The Clinton Foundation (now known as the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation) accepted millions of dollars from seven foreign governments during Hillary Rodham Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state, including one donation that violated its ethics agreement with the Obama administration.”

That latter violation was a half million-dollar donation from the Algerian government, ostensibly for earthquake relief to Haiti. The potential for shady dealings is obvious; it’s illegal for foreign governments to directly donate to American political candidates, but the Clinton Foundation is potentially a way to violate the spirit of the law while holding to it in letter.

One example of how unscrupulous this tit for tat can be is the case of Alisa Flatow. A New Jersey resident, Flatow was killed in an Iranian terrorist attack in Gaza in 1995. The Anti-Terrorism Act of 1996 allows victims of attacks to bring suit against responsible governments, and so after an investigation, Flatow’s family was awarded $247 million from the Iranian government. Unsurprisingly, the Iranians refused to actually hand the money over, so a court decided that Iranian government assets in America would be seized. But things got complicated, fast. As Seth Lipsky reported last year in Haaretz:

When it came time for Flatow to collect, an incredible thing happened. The Clinton administration went into court and took the side of Iran against Alisa.

It had panicked when Flatow, aiming to enforce the judgment he’d won, sought to claim a building that the Iran ambassador had used as a residence in Washington. Enforcing the judgment, the Clinton administration claimed, would wreak diplomatic havoc. Eventually, the U.S. government paid Flatow and a number of other terror victims a small settlement out of taxpayer funds. In exchange, the U.S. government, at least in theory, will eventually get to settle up with Iran.

One of the assets the court tried to seize was a building in Manhattan owned by the Alavi Foundation—which the Clinton Administration tried to argue was not an Iranian asset. The courts disagreed (the Alavi Foundation is run by the Iranian government), and at least two banks pled guilty to helping Iran illegally access the American financial system. The Alavi Foundation came out all right though, don’t worry; their most recent tax records, from 2007, show that they made $4.5 million solely from renting out property they own. In 2006, they began donating to the Clinton Foundation, and made another hefty donation in 2008. Simply put, an Iranian shell company associated with a terrorism case is a donor to the Clinton Foundation.

As Jackson Lears astutely points out in his review of Hillary Clinton’s candidate’s memoir Hard Choices, it’s Clintons’ modus operandi to trade political influence for money. This is why Iranian front groups, and so many others, donate to the Clintons. It’s also why Qatar has anything to do with the clownish Giuliani. People that operate on this political and financial level are continually trading money for access, and vice versa. Maybe this shadowy trade is evidence of a love of country too subtle for me to understand. Or maybe I just wasn’t brought up that way.

Scott Beauchamp is a writer and veteran who lives in Maine. His work has appeared in The AtlanticRolling Stone, and the Village Voice, among other places.

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