Saudigate

Jewish Light Editorial

An Associated Press story by Deb Riechmann on Monday reported that President Barack Obama is “poised to release secret pages from the 9/11 inquiry.”  Some 28 pages comprising a chapter of the official congressional inquiry on the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, which claimed just under 3,000 mostly American lives, have been the subject of intense debate over the past few weeks.

Widely reported “unnamed sources” have indicated that the redacted 28 pages reveal what is termed “specific sources of foreign support for some of the Sept. 11 hijackers while they were in the United States.”  Some 15 of the 19 hijackers on 9/11 were natives of Saudi Arabia, and Osama bin Laden himself was a member of a wealthy Saudi family.

Many questions were raised in the immediate aftermath of the most lethal attacks on American soil in history, including why the path was apparently greased to allow scores of Saudi nationals to abruptly leave the United States for home a short time after the attacks.

It it is an established fact that the House of Saud, which rules the oil-rich kingdom with an iron fist, has essentially “bought protection” from extremist groups like al-Qaida, and has encouraged fanatic Wahabi clerics to set up mosques in Western capitals to foment violence against “infidels.”  Many of the most extreme Islamic terrorists were recruited and cultivated by leaders of Saudi-funded mosques.

Bob Graham, who was co-chairman of the bipartisan panel that conducted the inquiry into the causes of the 9/11 attacks, is quoted by the AP as saying that the missing 28 pages “point suspicion at the Saudis.” 

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Both Republican and Democratic administrations have in the past looked the other way as Saudis aid and abet the sworn enemies of the United States and its Western allies because America “needs Saudi oil.”  With the current global glut of crude oil and the falling per-barrel price of petroleum, the Saudis are no longer in position to blackmail the United States into doing its bidding.

Saudi leadership has gone beyond expressing outrage over the prospect that the potentially explosive 28 pages might be released, even threatening to withdraw more than $700 billion in Saudi investments in the United States in retaliation if the documents are released.

The 28 pages were withheld from the 838-page report on the orders of then-President George W. Bush, who said the release could divulge intelligence sources and methods. While that might be true, the major reason for withholding the pages could be protecting U.S.-Saudi relations.

Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser, said the president asked National Intelligence director James Clapper to review the papers for potential declassification.

“When that’s done we’d expect that there will be some degree of declassification that provides more information,” Rhodes said in Riyadh last week, where Obama met with King Salman and other Saudi leaders.

The White House told AP that the 28 pages did not come up during the discussions.

Much more is at stake in this matter than the need to protect U.S.-Saudi relations.  Saudi Arabia has always needed, and is likely to continue needing, U.S. military and foreign assistance to assure its continued stability, and the world of realpolitik sometimes creates very “strange bedfellows.”

The longer those 28 pages remain sealed, the more of an issue they will become. It would be far better to level with the American people and release the documents, worrying about protecting our relations with the royal family in Riyadh later.