• Text smaller
  • Text bigger

Bernard Schwartz, chief executive officer of Loral Space &
Communications, tells The New York Times he considers President Clinton
a friend, “but not the kind of friend that you can call upon for
favors.”

We’re supposed to believe that Schwartz invested $1.3 million in
Clinton’s political campaigns without the expectation of special
treatment. If that’s true, you would expect Loral stockholders to demand
an explanation for such reckless disregard of their interests. I doubt
you’ll see such a move. Because Loral got plenty of bang for its buck.

“I can say absolutely, categorically, I have never spoken with the
president about any Loral business, except on one occasion,” he says.
Notice the careful wording of that statement. Never … except on one
occasion. Furthermore, it’s clear Schwartz and his company did ask the
president and his administration for favors — for special treatment –
on more than one occasion.

Last February, Schwartz needed a quick decision from the government
about the launching of a Loral satellite aboard a Chinese rocket later
that month. Within two weeks the president gave Loral permission –
overruling the advice of his Justice Department, which was investigating
Loral’s satellite deals with China. Clinton also broke with past policy
and the advice of his State Department and Pentagon.

When was the last time you got an answer — any answer — from the
federal government in less than two weeks? This was a big favor — a
huge one. By working with the Chinese, instead of U.S. satellite
launchers, the deal saved Loral potentially hundreds of millions of
dollars.

Nevertheless, Schwartz maintains he never personally asked the
president for anything that would benefit his company. These are
lawyerly word games — the kind America has become accustomed to since
this administration came to power.

This was just the most recent favor. In 1994, Schwartz pushed hard
for a seat on a trip to China led by Commerce Secretary Ron Brown. The
trip paid off in spades for Loral. A meeting in Beijing with a top
official led to Loral winning a deal to provide cellular telephone
service to China, an agreement that will soon be worth $250 million
annually.

Later, in May 1996, Schwartz wrote to Clinton urging him make the
Commerce Department the clearing house for approval of export licensing
of commercial satellites rather than the State Department. Once again,
Schwartz got his way.

But still, we’re supposed to believe that Clinton would have made the
same decisions with the same timing had Schwartz not been the single
biggest donor to the his political career. For Pete’s sake, last year
Clinton even threw Schwartz a birthday party at the White House.

None of this stuff is really new or particularly earth-shaking,
however. Money has always been linked to political influence. No matter
what kinds of campaign finance reforms America adopts, it simply seems
to get worse. But the real horror, the real crime, the real treachery of
the Clinton-Loral-China axis comes in the substance of the deals with
China — the dirty little details about technology transferred to China
because of this political patronage.

This is a scandal unlike any other in American history. Clinton and
Schwartz have nothing on Benedict Arnold. The sensitive technical data
shared with the Chinese for simple greed and power has apparently
enhanced the reliability of Beijing’s long-range nuclear missiles –
missiles, by the way, targeted at the United States.

Schwartz doesn’t like such talk. He objects when people like me
suggest he placed his own avaricious business interests ahead of
national security. But, you know what? I don’t really blame Schwartz.
There are always greedy businessmen willing to sell out their country’s
long-term interests for a little short-term financial gain. What is
shocking, however, is to consider the fact that we have a president of
the United States who is willing to make such treasonous decisions.

“To attach words like ‘treason’ and ‘traitor’ to these activities is
a deeply disturbing development,” moans Schwartz.

I’ll bet it is. It’s always disturbing when a criminal gets caught.
It’s even more disturbing when our highest elected officials, entrusted,
first and foremost, with protecting the nation’s vital interests, sell
their political souls to nuclear-age tyrants. The only trouble I have
with words like “treason” and “traitor” is that they don’t seem harsh
enough to describe the shameful activities of Clinton and Schwartz.

  • Text smaller
  • Text bigger
Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.