NY Post, Wash. Post editorials distorted key facts regarding Clinton's Kazakhstan trip

››› ››› SARAH PAVLUS

A New York Post editorial about President Bill Clinton's September 2005 trip to Kazakhstan with Canadian mining financier Frank Giustra misleadingly characterized Giustra as "a newcomer to uranium mining" and suggested he was able to secure mining agreements because of his connection to Clinton; in fact, Giustra reportedly had been involved in other Kazakh mining deals at least as far back as 10 years ago. And a Washington Post editorial misrepresented a New York Times report of a quote by Moukhtar Dzhakishev, the president of the Kazakh company that reached the uranium mining deal with Giustra, falsely suggesting that Dzhakishev had acknowledged that Clinton's presence had played a role in Dzhakishev's willingness to reach a deal with Giustra.

In February 4 editorials, the New York Post and The Washington Post distorted or omitted relevant facts concerning President Bill Clinton's September 2005 trip to Kazakhstan with Canadian mining financier Frank Giustra. The New York Post editorial misleadingly characterized Giustra as "a newcomer to uranium mining" and suggested he was able to secure agreements giving his company the right to buy into uranium mining projects in Kazakhstan because of his connection to Clinton. In fact, Giustra was not a "newcomer" in general to mining in Kazakhstan, reportedly having been involved in other types of Kazakh mining as least as far back as 10 years ago, as Media Matters for America has documented. The Washington Post editorial misrepresented The New York Times' report of a quote by Moukhtar Dzhakishev, the president of the Kazakh company Kazatomprom that reached the uranium mining deal with Giustra. The editorial noted that according to a January 31 New York Times report, Dzhakishev said Giustra's relationship with Clinton had "of course made an impression," but it excluded the very next line of the Times report: "Mr. Dzhakishev added that Kazatomprom chose to form a partnership with Mr. Giustra's company based solely on the merits of its offer."

Additionally, both the New York Post and Washington Post editorials repeated the New York Times article's assertion that Clinton praised Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev for "opening up the social and political life of your country," despite a conflicting report -- published at the time of Clinton's visit -- that Clinton actually said: "I applaud this statement you have made about opening up the social and political life of your country and [it's] a good point that you made this statement before the election this year" (emphasis added).

From the February 4 New York Post editorial:

Bill Clinton just can't seem to keep his sleazy private dealings out of the news: This time, it's a 2005 dinner he shared with a wealthy mining mogul and Kazakhstan's president, after which the businessman wound up with a coveted contract in that country.

The sordid story - about Clinton's meal with Kazakh strongman Nursultan Nazarbayev and UrAsia Energy Ltd. head Frank Giustra - ran on the front page of Thursday's New York Times.

Reporters Jo Becker and Don Van Natta Jr. deserve kudos: They describe how Clinton praised the Kazakh dictator, absurdly, for "opening up the social and political life of your country" and suggesting his nation lead Europe's chief security agency - which would confer legitimacy on Nazarbayev's regime.

They also recount how Giustra, at the time a newcomer to uranium mining, won a deal with Kazakhstan to buy into three of its uranium projects - just two days after the dinner.

From the February 4 Washington Post editorial:

FRANK GIUSTRA is a Canadian mining tycoon who has given generously -- more than $130 million -- to support the charitable enterprises of former president Bill Clinton. Mr. Giustra's good works alongside Mr. Clinton may also have been good business. As the New York Times detailed in a front-page story last week, Mr. Giustra traveled with the former president in September 2005 to Kazakhstan, where Mr. Clinton announced an agreement to let that nation purchase discounted AIDS drugs and where he attended a midnight banquet with Kazakh strongman Nursultan Nazarbayev. Although he met with Kazakh dissidents, Mr. Clinton praised Mr. Nazarbayev for "opening up the social and political life of your country." And, in contrast to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's previously expressed reservations, Mr. Clinton embraced Kazakhstan's bid to head the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which works to promote human rights and fair elections, two characteristics that Mr. Nazarbayev's regime has been sorely lacking.

Within a few days, Mr. Giustra had in hand preliminary agreements giving his company the right to buy into uranium projects controlled by Kazatomprom, the state-owned uranium agency; Mr. Giustra had longtime business dealings in Kazakhstan but was a new player in uranium mining. And within several months, Mr. Giustra had pledged another $31.3 million to the William J. Clinton Foundation, adding to his previous $100 million donation.

The president and the businessman insist that these events are unconnected. Mr. Clinton knew of Mr. Giustra's mining interests in Kazakhstan but was "unaware of 'any particular efforts,' " a Clinton spokesman told the Times. Mr. Giustra told the paper that there had been "no discussion" of the deal with Mr. Nazarbayev or Mr. Clinton. But Kazatomprom's president said otherwise: Mr. Giustra discussed his proposal directly with the Kazakh president -- and his relationship with Mr. Clinton "of course made an impression."

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy
Network/Outlet
New York Post, The Washington Post
Stories/Interests
Hillary Clinton, 2008 Elections
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