James Baker’s Double Life

Here’s a question the White House should answer: How can James Baker, President Bush’s envoy to the world for Iraqi debt relief, expect any cooperation from Iraq’s creditors when he’s pushing a secret deal to make Iraq pay what it owes Kuwait? This is in exchange for a modest $1 billion investment in the Carlyle Group, a firm in which Baker holds an estimated $180 million stake?

This stinks.

The Carlyle Group also boasts as advisors former British prime minister John Major and former president George H.W. Bush.

How does Carlyle explain this apparent conflict of interest?

Chris Ullman, vice president and spokesperson for Carlyle, said that “neither the Carlyle Group nor James Baker wrote, edited or authorized this proposal to the Kuwait government.” But he acknowledged that Carlyle knew a proposal was being made to the government of Kuwait and that Carlyle stood to land a $1 billion investment. “We were aware of that. But we played no role in procuring that investment.”

Asked if Carlyle was “willing to take the billion but not to try to get it,” Ullman answered, “Correct.”

Ri-ight. I repeat, this stinks.

Don’t gloat, Democrats. Other members of the Carlyle team include Mack McLarty, once Bill Clinton’s chief of staff, billionaire Democrat George Soros, and Alice Albright, daughter of Clinton’s Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. And another major player in the consortium that offered its debt collection services to Kuwait is the Albright Group, Madeleine Albright’s consulting firm.

This slop covers both sides of the trough.

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