June 1, 2016: Netanyahu welcomes the Saudi “Peace Initiative.” No one blinks. Almost fifteen years earlier, the eyes of Americans blinked when they learned on 9/11 that 15 of the 19 terrorists who destroyed the World Trade Center and attacked the Pentagon were Saudi nationals. It was the American State Department that covered up the sins of Saudi Arabia.
Saudi complicity and State Department cover-up
In his book Sleeping with the Devil (2003), Robert Baer points out that according to the 1952 Immigration and Nationality Act dealing with tourist visas, all 15 Saudis who took part in the 9/11 attacks should have been turned down for visas! By issuing those visas, the State Department violated the law. No one blinked: the Saudis mean oil and petrodollars, the lubricant of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East (and never mind Israel, an expendable ally).
Baer also faults State for having “zero political sense.” State knew that Osama bin Laden was a Saudi by birth. It knew that Saudi citizens blew up the National Guard facility in 1995 and the Khobar barracks in 1996. State also knew that two Saudis hijacked a plane to Baghdad in 2000, and that the Saudis were almost certainly behind the attack on the U.S.S. Cole. Finally, State knew the Saudis were involved in hundreds of other terrorist attacks, from the U.S. embassies in Kenya to Tanzania. Baer asks: “How much more evidence did the State Department need to figure out that the Saudis were the world’s new terrorists and needed to be tightly screened and interviewed. The way they ran Visa Express, Osama himself could have slipped through.”
But was it merely a lack of political sense that led to State’s colossal oversight and 9/11? Baer provides a wealth of evidence to the contrary.
“The State Department,” he writes, “has given Saudi rulers a pass on almost everything. It shielded the Saudis from human-rights groups. It supported them in the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.” Moreover, in the Saudi section of its 1999 report “Patterns of Global Terrorism,” State declared: “The Saudi Arabian Government, at all levels, continued to reaffirm its commitment to combating terrorism.” “Commitment” indeed: Not only are Saudi secondary schools and universities breeding grounds for terrorists, but Saudi Minister of Security, Prince Na’if, released from prison two clerics who had issued Fatwas to kill Americans. One of them, Safar al-Hawali, inspired Osama bin Laden.
Furthermore, the 15 Saudi hijackers were apparently recruited and indoctrinated in Saudi mosques; and thus far Riyadh has blocked U.S. efforts to interrogate the families of those terrorists! Nor is this all.
Again Baer: “State not only turned a blind eye to Saudi Arabia’s radical Islamic foreign policy, it occasionally abetted it. State knew that Saudi Arabia’s plan to run gas and oil pipelines across Afghanistan, from Central Asia to Pakistan, would help the Taliban stay in power and ensure that bin Laden had a safe haven, Nevertheless, State went along, even encouraging an American company, Unocal, to participate.” Here we get to the heart of things.
Follow the money
Saudi Arabia and Washington have long been engaged in mutual seduction. The Saudis have been spreading money everywhere. Lobbyists, PR firms, lawyers, and former public officials, including American Secretaries of State, Congressmen, Senators, and deputy CIA Directors, live off Saudi money!
The White House has used Saudi Arabia to finance pet projects that Congress wouldn’t fund or couldn’t afford. Recipients of Saudi largesse include the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and every presidential library of the last thirty years. Every Washington think tank, from the supposedly nonpartisan Middle East Institute to the Meridian International Center, took Saudi money. American University received a Saudi gift of $5 million. Saudi money pours into other universities. Ever wonder about the pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel stance of academe?
But the big bucks involve American corporations: (1) long term contracts with American oil companies worth tens of billions of dollars; (2) a $4 billion contract with AT&T to expand the Saudi telecommunications network; (3) a Saudi license to a consortium of U.S. contractors to build three thousands new schools in the kingdom at a cost of $3.5 billion; (4) a $7 billion dollar contract to purchase 61 jetliners manufactured by Boeing McDonnell Douglas, with engines from General Electric, Pratt&Whitney, and Rolls-Royce.
7 billion bucks can provide work for 100,000 Americans and a political windfall of 116 electoral votes given the states in which these corporations and their subsidiaries are located.
“Every deal with the Saudis,” writes Baer, “involves rake-offs, commissions theft, bribes.” Rhetoric aside, Israel is small potatoes, expendable.
Most active in the two-way trade between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia is the Carlyle Group. Its senior counsel is James Baker, Secretary of State in the first Bush administration. Carlyle deals with defense giants like Boeing and Lockheed Martin. Are these among the prime movers of the State Department? And are we witnessing, in the latest Saudi “Peace Initiative,” a replay of the Saudi Road Map to a Palestinian state, endorsed by the U.S. State Department and Netanyahu? Who is wielding the leash, and is Netanyahu merely a poodle?☼
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