Conrad Black vs. Buckley and Kissinger

Pithy convicted felon Conrad Black: " ... Mr. Kissinger is an 84-year old fugitive from Nazi pogroms, and has made his way famously in the world by endlessly recalibrating the balance of power and correlation of forces in all situations. ... "
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Conrad Black Hits 'Friends' Buckley & Kissinger in 'Sun' Column

By E&P Staff
December 18, 2007

CHICAGO Fallen press baron Conrad Black -- in his first New York Sun column since he was sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison on federal fraud and obstruction convictions -- takes to task two longtime "friends," William F. Buckley Jr. and Henry Kissinger

Buckley last month wrote what Black called "an extremely generous and unjustifiably flattering letter" to U.S. District Court Judge Amy J. St. Eve in Chicago as she was considering his sentence in the conviction for misappropriating millions from the parent company of the Chicago Sun-Times.

"Given his great prestige and celebrity, it was surely useful," Black wrote in the column "Kissinger, Buckley, and Me"

But Black also noted that on the Web site of Buckley's National Review magazine, the celebrated conservative had other things to say about the Lord Black of Crossharbour.

"He confirmed that he was a friend, and that all our mutual friends were 'close to unanimity of opinion that Conrad Black has nobly enhanced the human cause,' which is embarrassingly high praise," Black wrote. "

"However, he also wrote that he had been asked by one of my lawyers to write to the judge for me, and that this was a 'painful commission. ... It seemed to this friend, as to quite a few others, that he [i.e. I] probably was guilty on at least one of the charges.' He helpfully advised his readers that the convictions are 'not quite the same thing as' what Lee Harvey Oswald did to John F. Kennedy; that I had presented an alternative defense of innocence and, even if not innocent, that what I did wasn't illegal, and that he had had to restrain himself from writing to the judge about the law and facts of the case."

Buckley concluded that "the tragedy is now complete in the matter of Conrad Black." Black's friends, Buckley wrote, were left with "just terrible sadness that it should end like this."

Black responds in the Sun column that he is "disappointed" with Buckley's piece -- especially the assertion that Black's friends believe he was "probably at least partially guilty as charged." Anyone who thinks that is "not familiar with the facts and the current state of U.S. criminal procedure," Black added.

"Friends don't usually act like that," he wrote.

Black devotes much of the long column to rebutting Buckley's assertions point-by-point.

But as for Kissinger -- whom Black appointed to the well-paid position of director of Hollinger International Inc. -- Black dismisses him in 165 acidic words:

"Knowing Mr. Kissinger as well as I do, I suspected that he would behave as Richard Nixon told me he generally did when a colleague came under pressure: privately declare solidarity with both sides and separate himself, so that neither side would confuse him with the other side, until it became clear which side had won. He promised more, and I hoped for more, but Mr. Kissinger is an 84-year old fugitive from Nazi pogroms, and has made his way famously in the world by endlessly recalibrating the balance of power and correlation of forces in all situations.

"The correlation of forces between the U.S. government and me has obviously been generally unpromising, and Mr. Kissinger has less natural affinity for the principles involved here than Mr. Buckley does. His statements, publicly and to the FBI, that I am probably guilty of something but that he 'never deserts a friend,' are not heroic or even accurate, but on past form, not altogether a surprise either."

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