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On 9/11, Obama Picks Saudis Over American Families

In mid-February, I wrote a column headlined “Saudis Wage Violent/Economic Global Wars”. I detailed how recent years have shown Saudi Arabia‘s kingdom advancing with global aggressive war — either violent or economic — detrimentally affecting every continent.

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Saudi King Salman and Obama

Events over the last two weeks have shown Riyadh expanding its destructive force even more. In the most forceful of these events, the Saudis threatened to pull $750 billion from the U.S. economy if Congress allowed families of 9/11 victims to sue the kingdom for supporting the 2001 terrorist attacks.

The threat, following Riyadh learning that Congress is considering legislation to allow such lawsuits, led to an irate response from victims’ families. According to the New York Daily News: — in detailing specifics of the families concerns about Saudi involvement — reported:

Outraged 9/11 families accused Saudi Arabian officials Saturday [April 16] of blackmailing the U.S. to hide their alleged role as financiers of the World Trade Center terrorists.

Families who lost loved ones in the terror attacks say President Obama, who is lobbying intensively to derail the bill, according to The New York Times, is on the wrong side of the issue.

Obama, who visited Saudi Arabia this past week, made clear to the kingdom he would oppose Congressional legislation supporting the families. His administration argues, quite generally that a lawsuit might open up the U.S. to lawsuits from other countries, and expose U.S. soldiers and diplomats abroad.

But Obama reportedly also said he would release at least a portion of the still-classified 28 pages of the government’s 838-page 9/11 report, an obvious response to public pressure in the U.S. where many feel the Saudi government was involved — particularly since 15 of the 19 plane hijackers were Saudi citizens.

Brookings Sees Saudi Terrorist Sponsorship

Meanwhile, on April 20, the Brookings Institution — a Washington think tank respected by both conservatives and liberals — issued a report entitled “What does it mean to sponsor terrorism?” The report authored by Daniel L. Byman, research director for Brookings’  Center for Middle East Policy, looked at both active and passive terrorist support from Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Belgium.

Regarding Saudi Arabia, Byman writes:

Before the September 11th attacks, Saudi Arabia acted as what I called a ‘passive sponsor’ of al-Qaida: the regime knowingly tolerated activities related to terrorism, but to my knowledge did not sponsor the group directly. A range of Islamist non-government organizations (NGOs) flourished in Saudi Arabia, some of them sympathetic to jihadist causes. Indeed, al-Qaida personnel often posed as members of these NGOs as cover for their terrorist activities.

Saudi Arabia also spread its often-extreme Salafi [Wahabbi] interpretation of Islam and allowed its institutions to back jihadist causes in the Balkans, Chechnya, and elsewhere. Then-Treasury official Juan Zarate declared that al-Qaida ‘has taken advantage of state-supported proselytizing around the world.’ Terrorist groups, or at least the causes they support, seemed legitimate to much of the Saudi public. From the regime’s point of view, placating public opinion made sense when the group appeared to pose little direct threat.

911-victims families

9/11 victims’ families hope to sue Saudis.

Not everyone agrees with Byman’s passive assessment. For example, former U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, who headed up the 9/11 report hearings, last week told CBS’s “Sixty Minutes” that he believed the Saudis were directly involved, including supporting the terrorists financially.

An article in Atlantic quotes former U.S. Sen. Bob Kerrey:

‘You can’t provide the money for terrorists and then say, I don’t have anything to do with what they’re doing,’ Bob Kerrey, the former senator and a member of the 9/11 Commission, told 60 Minutes recently. ‘In general, the 9/11 Commission did not get every single detail of the conspiracy. We didn’t. We didn’t have the time, we didn’t have the resources. We certainly didn’t pursue the entire line of inquiry in regard to Saudi Arabia.’

On April 21, The New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof blasted the Saudi regime in a column entitled “Obama in Saudi Arabia, Exporter of Oil and Bigotry”. He said:

The much better reason to be concerned with Saudi Arabia is that it has promoted extremism, hatred, misogyny and the Sunni/Shiite divide that is now playing out in a Middle East civil war. Saudi Arabia should be renamed the Kingdom of Backwardness.

Knowing Obama, he’ll do everything he can to redact the controversial 28 pages of the 9/11 report if he does release them — his effort to protect the Saudis. Or is there just too much concrete evidence in those pages to redact? We’ll see.

Meanwhile, the president will continue doing anything he can, it seems, to curry to the kingdom that is a lucrative source of weapons sales from America — the kingdom that is also manipulating low oil prices that hurt Russia and other countries Washington would like to control. And the instigator of Mideast chaos that helps the U.S. government continue its dedication to endless war.

Roger Armbrust

Roger Armbrust's articles and columns have covered labor and management, Congressional legislation, and federal court cases, including appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court. He formerly served as national news editor of Back Stage in New York City, where he also taught a professional writing course at New York University. His recent book of sonnets -- oh, touch me there: Love Sonnets -- is available from Amazon and other book sites. He is an associate curator of The Clyde Fitch Report. He is also co-founder and co-curator of reality: a world of views.

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