More “Six Degrees of Adnan Khashoggi”

In an earlier item, Chatterbox introduced readers to the game “Six Degrees of Adnan Khashoggi.” To play, you build a chain linking the shadowy international arms merchant to any scandal that occurred during the past 40 years. Players rarely need more than one link. Chatterbox was able to link Khashoggi to Iran-Contra, Wedtech, the Marcos Philippine kleptocracy, BCCI, the death of Princess Di, the Kennedy assassination, Watergate, and the breakup of the Beatles. (There were also a few others.) None of these connections, Chatterbox hastens to add, is meant to suggest criminal activity on Khashoggi’s part. Rather, they’re meant to suggest that if Hollywood had made a movie about Khashoggi during the 1940s, he would be have been played by Sidney Greenstreet or Peter Lorre.


As the Clinton pardon drama has widened to include Hugh Rodham and other character actors, Chatterbox has wondered when the Khashoggi connection would reveal itself. Poking around news databases, Chatterbox quickly found it: a 1990 Fortune article by Mark Colodny with the headline, “Khashoggi To Team Up With Marc Rich?” Apparently, Khashoggi had plans in the early ‘90s to sell Western luxury goods in Moscow. The problem was what to do with the rubles that Russians would use to buy the stuff since the currency couldn’t leave the country. Khashoggi’s solution, he told Fortune, was to hook up with fugitive financier Marc Rich and swap the rubles for Soviet petrochemicals, which could then be exported. What the piece neglected to explain was how this deal could be made to seem attractive to Rich. When Fortune contacted Rich’s Swiss lawyer, he said that Rich had not discussed any such deal with Khashoggi. And indeed, Chatterbox can find no evidence that the deal ever occurred. Still, it’s a connection! Khashoggi maintains his perfect record.

[Update, March 3: An article by Bradley Burston in the March 2 Forward finds a link between Khashoggi and yet another last-minute Clinton pardon, this one to Adolph “Al” Schwimmer, convicted in 1950 of conspiring to violate the U.S. Neutrality Act and export control laws by smuggling arms to the newly created state of Israel. Khashoggi, Schwimmer, and Hank Greenspun, the eccentric former publisher of the Las Vegas Sun, collaborated on an abortive Middle East peace plan two decades ago. The pardon was sought by Greenspun’s son Brian, who attended Georgetown University with Clinton.]