If you're looking to get away with a crime, it helps to have somebody on the inside. And, as events this past week demonstrate, we all know that the ultimate insiders reside at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

On Thursday, the Securities and Exchange Commission crowed about "a major victory" in extracting a $550 million settlement from Goldman Sachs in a mortgage securities fraud case begun in 2007 after the firm failed to inform investors of a key fact: The supposedly neutral counterparty in a series of deals -- a firm owned by hedge fund manager John Paulson -- would get a massive financial windfall at their expense if the investments failed, as they did.

Paulson's firm made $12 billion betting against mortgage securities that year, and Goldman made hundreds of millions brokering the deals. The $550 million settlement is pocket change compared to Goldman's $162 billion in assets that are readily convertible to cash. Goldman's stock soared with the SEC announcement.

Why did Goldman get off so easy? The Obama administration's White House Counsel, the deputy director of the National Economic Council, the Treasury secretary's chief of staff and multiple other top administration officials are Goldman alums. Finding a sympathetic ear probably wasn't too hard.

But wait, there's more. BP officials admitted last week they pressured the Scottish government to speed up release of the Libyan terrorist behind the Lockerbie plane bombing that killed 190 Americans. At stake for BP was an offshore oil drilling deal with Libya.

A source told the Washington Post that White House outrage over the terrorist's release was feigned: "The Libya deal was done with the full blessing of the U.S. government." Why? Someone should ask White House chief of staff Rahm Emmanuel.

For years, Emmanuel lived rent-free in the basement of Stanley Greenberg's home, possibly in violation of congressional ethics rules. BP is a major client of Greenberg's storied Washington public relations firm, Greenberg Quinlan Rosner.

The firm "helped BP plan and evaluate its successful re-branding campaign, focusing the company's branding on energy solutions, including the development of solar and other renewable energy sources," according to the Next Right, a conservative Web site.

As chairman of the House Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Emmanuel paid Greenberg Quinlan Rosner hundreds of thousands of dollars for services rendered.

Also last week, Swiss authorities rejected a U.S. request to extradite Polish filmmaker Roman Polanski for raping a 13-year-old American girl years ago. Swiss officials said their decision stemmed from U.S. refusal to turn over certain sealed court records.

But the Los Angeles district attorney's office says it never even got the request for the records. According to reports, the request was denied by the Justice Department. Just coincidence, right?

This past September, the New York Times reported Polanski's legal defense team hired Reid Weingarten, "a close friend and associate of Attorney General Eric Holder Jr.," who was to "push hard on the Washington end of the case." A few months later, Holder's Justice Department withholds key documents in the case and Polanski walks away a free man.

There are no smoking guns in these cases, but it's hard to miss all the White House fingerprints left at the crime scenes. Nobody expects Obama's in-the-tank press corps to pursue the political angles to these stories with the same dogged, pound-the-table outrage routinely seen with lesser scandals in the Bush administration.

Skeptics have always viewed politics as little more than a thinly veiled criminal enterprise. Obama can call it the era of hope and change, but, with all those fingerprints, it seems the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Mark Hemingway is a editorial page staff writer for The Washington Examiner. He can be reached at mhemingway@washingtonexaminer.com.